like Alex Beam's moxy...
he cuts his jib ain't half bad either.
is, of course, the old-fashioned explanation for why the Buckleys,
the Winchesters, and the John Updikes of the world make the rest
of us look like clock-watching quill-pushers: hard work. But I
have dismissed the possibility that these writers might have studied
harder in school, read more books, or spent more hours at the
desk than a grasshopper such as I. Or that they are simply more
gifted than I am. They must be on something.
Ninja material. Particularly:
now I'm taking Thackeray, a great performance enhancer. I've been
taking Balzac for some years, although you do have to be wary
of the French products -- they can be very exotic. And you want
to be careful with the generic Canadian performance enhancers,
like Robertson Davies. You just don't know where they've been."
yourself an honourarily adopted shadowy minion, Mr. Beam. Now your
first mark, codenamed Wonderbread, is one D. Eggers. Sic! (discuss)
Amazon: Culture machine
US has just opened space on its pages for pundits
to discuss the upcoming election. This after recently adding
a feature that allows users to donate to political campaigns through
the site (and raising $300G for 14 campaigns at an average donation
of $43... sorry, policy analyst in me still dying slowly...). You
remember how Head said she wanted Indigo to be a one-stop culture
store... Nuh-uh. She can fill the racks with as many scented candles
and yoga mats as she can cram in, but will never be able to match
this kind of ingenuity and power. The book may not be dying, but
the bookstore sure seems to be. It's a different day. (discuss)
Bonfire of the Humanities
Village Voice can still trot em out.
humanities must now take steps to preserve and protect the independence
of their activities, such as the writing of books and articles,
before the market becomes our prison and the value of the book
becomes undermined. It was not always so. John Milton once wrote
that good books are "the precious lifeblood of a master spirit."
Today the humanist should look back to such expressions of illuminated
belief. The task is to engage in constant re-examination.
is all that counts, not the reception, not the human use. This
is production for its own sake and precious little else. If we
stay this course, we can achieve what Angus Fletcher calls not
economies of scale, but "bankruptcies of scale." Then
is it too late to change the system? A creative despondency almost
prevails. Yet we can get a perspective on our situation, even
though the academy and the free use of intelligence are too often
locked, not arm in arm, but in mortal combat. There's something
about an institution that loves walls. There is in fact a compartmentalizing
collusion operating between a managerial system that doesn't want
to be bothered with the details of innovation or content, and
those within the departments at universities who are the enemies
of innovation. This is not a synergy encouraging life, but rather
a cynicism, if only what has been called "cynical reason."
know, I was JUST saying that yesterday. (discuss)
Are the Booker judges class prejudiced?
Hm. It's difficult
to say, given what a sweeping generalization that would be.
(From Maud) (discuss)
New to Maisonneuve, but
not to blogging, is Wendy Banks's Wendyopolis.
I remember reading Wendy back in the olden days (90s), before Moveable
Type (the software) and before the internet (lowercase "i")
was jam packed with people doing this sort of thing. She posted
little mini-reviews on virtually anything, but particularly books.
She also syndicated a story about a monkey or something. There were
rhino graphics everywhere. I don't really remember. I just knew
that when it was time to get a new blogger for Maisy, I wanted her
her HER. Nowadays, she writes film for Now magazine in Toronto among
other things. She's wicked funny and one of the single smartest
people I know. In
this post she ruminates on the nature of the blog. (discuss)
people* are just SO marginalized. I can't believe no one's called
attention to this sooner. It's a cultural genocide! (I love it,
and by that I mean hate it, when the over-privileged seek marginal
spaces from which to cry foul. Excuse me, but, a) you're fucking
authors, not hard-labouring, health-insuranceless single parents,
and b) you and the people you prop up with your skewed "analysis"
run the fucking world. So go back to accumulating money off the
blood of poor and stop trying to occupy sites of moral outrage as
though they were oil-producing countries that dared give your daddy
lip. Oh, yeah, one more thing: fuck you.) (discuss)
It's here! It's here!
first book award long list! Oh, GOODNESS! You've made me the
HAPPIEST BLOGGER ALIVE!! (discuss)
More on the
An accomplished painter,
he had also studied music but lacked the confidence to pursue
it as a career. Such wide-ranging references inform without encumbering
his poetry - which also draws inspiration from popular thrillers.
All of which made him a more inspired teacher and critic than
many other poets who, like him, fetch up in academia. His poems
were rarely longer than a page, and there was no great bulk in
his total output.
I like "fetch
up in academia". Sounds lewd. Like renting a room in a whorehouse.
Die MAHNBÖKUH Mannschaften mit Bibliotheken
From a Booker mailing list press release (I find this vaguely creepy.
But I'm in a pissy mood today, as you might have guessed):
Prize longlist has been described as "diverse",
"intriguing" and "surprising".
In an exciting and ambitious new move with libraries across the
Man† Booker Prize website now hosts
designed microsite within www.themanbookerprize.com
This site will allow readers to pick books from the longlist choosing
them according to various criteria such as 'poetic', 'experimental'
Public libraries across the UK are involved in promoting the
Booker Prize, including buying longlist titles as they become
I mean, it's only 22
books.... Why do you need a search engine for 22 books? I think
this is part of a government plot to harvest our DNA through search
engine queries.Damn government. Always with the DNA harvesting.
(†Emphasis mine.) (discuss)
So you like ninjas?
you do. Hey, you got your ninjas in my Jeopardy! You got your
Jeopardy in my ninjas! (discuss)
sisters revealed! My brother and I just deal with with this
impulse by not talking to one another except with pinched faces
at quint-annual family gatherings... (From Bookslut)
Okay, I was
kind of cranky earlier
But now I've opened a bottle of Laphroaig
that Ailsa brought me from SF (all the best scotch passes under
the Golden Gate) and am slowly unwinding... Traditionally, I'm a
Bushmills man, but this is good scotch and I can be persuaded. Though,
I have to say, the little propaganda card that comes tucked in with
the bottle strikes me as a bit much. I mean, what do they think
I am, a booze tourist?
Woman of subtlety stuck with a simpleton?
Um, I don't know about half of that... You gotta be a bit of a simpleton
to get stuck with one... But then there's my Fulbright-winning wife...
Anyway, I really want to see this
Like many intellectuals,
[playwright] Kushner views Laura Bush, a former teacher and librarian,
as an enigma. Her husband is not known to share her love of language
and literature. If Dostoevsky is, as she claims, her favorite
writer, how can a woman attracted to contemplating the great Russian
novelist's complex characters and moral issues accept the less
ambiguous rhetoric that comes out of the White House?
Big success? NAW...
Saloon points to a writing programme designed to nurture the
talent of tomorrow that's failing
A plan to establish
Birmingham as the creative writing capital of Britain with a national
academy is floundering because of lack of funding.
The National Academy of
Writing, which is backed by some of the country’s leading authors,
was expected to discover and nurture tomorrow’s great literary
Its backers envisaged postgraduate
courses, glittering literary events and regular writers’ workshops.
But despite moving into
donated new premises in January, the two-year-old venture, which
has writer and broadcaster Lord Melvin Bragg as its president,
is currently not running a single course.
A little digging on
the Saloon's part turns up these
"current" course listings... Insert wa-wa-waaa sound
clip here. (discuss)
Alex Good's back
With some astute, funny commentary
on Penguin's Good Booking... (discuss)
Insert knife "a" into abdomen "b"
advance for a romance book rewritten into a kiddie fantasy title.
Why do I continue to live when it's becoming more and more apparent
that I am merely a life support unit for a monstrous sense of indignity?
Librarian cops: bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? whatcha gonna
do when they're shushing you...?
librarians catch sophisticated bookthief. Maybe we should put
them on the terrorist problem... Oh, wait, they're under suspicion
and surveillance. All that learnin' breeds violence, don't it? (discuss)
International Library of Fraud strikes again...
Please, someone, sue these
bastards and make the heartache stop. Please. (discuss)
Love, exciting a new...
Chinese schools introduce the word "love".
China's eastern financial
hub of Shanghai is adding a dash of romance to the school curriculum
to teach children about real love, as opposed to the Internet
No, wait, that was
a tenement project collapsing... the rest of society marches on.
Make way for the King!
Tingle Alley posts some
of Eggers readings past. (discuss)
Annie Proulx has a new
book on the way. While you wait, why not entertain yourself
with some essays.
here, move along
Hey kids, it's time for the new Project
Every year researchers at Project
Censored pick through volumes of print and broadcast news to see
which of the past year's most important stories aren't receiving
the kind of attention they deserve. Phillips and his team acknowledge
that many of these stories weren't "censored" in the traditional
sense of the word: No government agency blocked their publication.
And some even appeared ‚ briefly and without follow-up ‚ in mainstream
But every one of this year's picks
merited prominent placement on the evening news and the dailies'
front pages. Instead they went virtually ignored.
Worse than Watergate
writers speak out against Bush. Meanwhile, Republican writers
respond with... where are the Republican writers...?
'Part of the problem presented
by Bush and his gang is that they are so crude ... When you are
confronted with things that are so crudely brutal, the writer's
task of elucidating what lies beneath the surface is redundant.
These people believe in cruelty, vengeance and brutality. I think
Shakespeare would have done very well with these characters.'
The etymology of
The Star introduces a weekly
look at viral words. Brilliant.
Bling-bling's origins trace to
the 1999 release of rapper B.G.'s "Bling-Bling." The term inspired
by that tune found its way on to the national stage two years
later when basketball star Shaquille O'Neal and his Los Angeles
Lakers teammates adopted it as a mantra in rallying themselves
to a championship finish.
Today was one
of the stranger days in literature. But hey, that's show business.
On this day in 1607 Hamlet
was performed on board the merchant ship Red Dragon, anchored
off the coast of Sierra Leone. Scholars regard this amateur, one-show-only
production by the ship's crew as the first staging of a Shakespearean
play outside of Europe, one that predates any New World Hamlet
by about 150 years. Even if all went "trippingly on the tongue,"
it is anyone's guess what sense the bard's most puzzling play
could have made to the four local chiefs who attended the premiere
-- with filed teeth, nose rings, tattoos in the shape of exotic
animals, and no English.
The Guardian polls scientists for a top-10
SF writers list. I just finished books by Tony
Daniel and Richard
Morgan, and I expect to see them on the next list. (discuss)
Oz lit for dummies
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind presents a primer
on Australian lit. (discuss)
Maybe the thieves
were performance artists
Smith ponders the psychology of art theft.
People worship invisible traces,
as Christians have been known to preserve fragments of the true
cross. The objects have become sacred. It is possible that the
Munch paintings -- which have been carefully and beautifully reproduced
in full colour around the world -- have some kind of spiritual
significance to the thieves, as original and authentic sacred
Young, hip and ...
New M&S publisher Douglas Pepper wants
to make books matter again. Can't argue with that.
Pepper says he wants to find and
publish the most gifted writers of his own generation, as Jack
McClelland once did. "Buying them pretty young is the name of
the game, creating loyalty by publishing them well and exporting
them abroad," he says. "I want writers we feel have many books
in them, and we will be very aggressive about getting world rights.
When I left New York, other publishers said, 'Call me with what
Getting kids to read
Um, hello? Dirty pictures? Okay, or
shows that, with so many other things competing for the attention
of teenagers — from videogames to MSN — reading for pleasure starts
to decline at about age 12. Recent U.S. studies found an alarming
number of capable students rarely read unless required to as part
of schoolwork. Typically, the reason is lack of motivation rather
What makes Jefferson's approach innovative is that, instead of
pitting the computer screen against the book, she's bringing them
together. She wants to link reading to other things that motivate
13- to 19-year-olds, like computers, social connections and being
up on the latest "buzz."
But I bet dirty pictures would work. In related news: British
children no longer read, make political decisions for self.
Cooking the Book(er)s
How do you set
odds on something as strange as a literary award? With a straight
Poetry's got plans for da bling, yo
first step will to be to build a giant robotic Ezra Pound. Phase
two will involve a remote control and a GPS system that seeks open
30,000 books gone
in a German fire.* This time it was accidental and in a library.
Scottish women given second glance
Well, there's a first...
Haha, no, I'm kidding, and I'm allowed to: I'm half Scot (the prettier
half). But the wag in me wants to take this:
were among the ranks of the most popular writers in Scottish history
– but they lost the battle for enduring greatness because they
say, "No, they lost the battle for enduring greatness because
they were Scottish." (Quoth the raven: "It's shite being
Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth!
The most wretched miserable servile pathetic trash that was ever
shat on civilization. Some people hate the English. I don't. They're
just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. Can't
even find a decent culture to get colonized by. We're ruled by effete
Moight as well get down on the other half too, while I'm
Here's Roddy getting
medieval on Ireland's singing, prancing ass. (discuss)
Poet didn't kill self
But he didn't
live either... And still no one cares. (discuss)
Communicating with ET by the book
Apparently the e-book loses out again. Scientists (them that's is
always wit da sciences) think that it would be a better shot to
reach ET with something written
on a physical object than an interstellar email/phone call.
Shoot something into space and, so long as you aren't waiting for
a quick reply, someone will pick it up and read it. Like a pulp
novel left at the dentist. Well, I see one flaw in this reasoning:
space is awfully big. It's bigger than a Crapters and has just as
much junk in it. What if the whole scenario works more like poetry?
What if no one finds the damn thing - ever? (discuss)
Chinese fiction free of clichés
Except the cliché in which a
major North American media outlet devotes only 210 words to
ethnic writers... That cliché is sacred, man. (discuss)
How to... make love? ... like a porn star
is an unacknowledged loneliness in being German"
Being German, I prefer to think of it as self-reliance. But
I like the way this
article posits a German obsession with Ireland, particularly
as I'm soon to marry an Irish
In 1957, Heinrich Boll published
his famous travel book Irisches Tagebuch, which was later translated
as Irish Journal. The Irish hated it and the Germans loved
it. For the Irish it had too many donkeys and stone walls, too
much dreaming and backward innocence. For the Germans, however,
it was precisely these simple things that became so attractive.
They carried the book with them in their rucksacks, searching
for a kind of emotional connection to the people and the landscape.
It gave them a sense of innocence and belonging, an inner life
of feelings that was denied to them in their own country.
No, it's not what you think -- there aren't any pictures. But
who knew the
good book is so raunchy. (From Maud)
do you design a cover for Mein Kampf?
Bookslut has a great article about covers
for controversial books. See also, uh, great
comic covers. (Last link from Snarkout)
some old-time thinkers. So is The Communist Manifesto
tragic philosophy now or comic philosophy?
Sitting in a sticky Italian railway
station last summer, the publisher Simon Winder was surprised
and impressed when he noticed a book rack crammed not with blockbusting
bestsellers but philosophical texts. "It was odd that in this
hardscrabble part of Italy you could still turn up at a railway
station and pick up a copy of Nietzsche," he said, "We do not
really have that tradition in the UK."
Nietzsche, Italy, tradition, fascism...
I feel like that episode of Friends where Chandler can't
for men: Moby Dick cologne
based on books! If you've read Patrick Suskind's Perfume,
you'll appreciate this.
Smell being the most evocative
of the senses, it is not surprising that literature is full of
aromas. Now an Italian per fumiere , Laura Tonnato, has tried
to do justice to the olfactory imagination of some of her favourite
authors, concocting five scents to match five odorous moments
in classic novels.
not to sell your book
First you travel through a war zone, then you have to write
the damn book about it. And
then the hard part starts.
A few weeks later, waiting for
a call from her editor, Sullivan got a package in the mail containing
her 600-page ramble -- copyedited and with an attached index.
She panicked. "I had turned in what I thought was a draft
and I had gotten back this copyedited manuscript," Sullivan
says. "They were just going to print that. And it was so
rough. There was no way."
But the book was already on the
conveyor belt. It was listed in the next season's catalogue and
the sales representatives had begun pitching it to booksellers.
Everyone, including her agent, told her there was really nothing
to be done. But Sullivan insisted they pull the plug. "It
wreaked such havoc," she says. "They had to take it
off the production train, where it takes on a life of its own."
under: there's me, hugging fish
Everyone's crying foul about how stand alone books sections are
disappearing from major newspapers, but something's got me thinking...
Most writers who actually get press in Canada's
paper of record, get reviewed in the Globe's stand-alone
Saturday Books section. It's shaved off a few pages here and there,
but for the most part it's the best, and only, game in town. And
it's conveniently set aside so readers know where to look for reviews
on Saturday morning.
Looking at it another way, however, it can also be seen as being
set aside so those with no interest can steer clear of it and use
it to wrap fish. Is the books section then a literary ghetto within
What made me think of this is how a very small number of writers
profiles and other press outside the books section - the place
where everyone not necessarily already inclined toward book reading
(ie, the consuming public who buy things like clothes, cars, and
houses (ie, not other writers)) might stumble across the review
and <gasp!> be convinced to buy the book. Partially the work
of good publicists, partially... luck? contacts? karma? I don't
know. Given how my last book was handled on the publicity front,
I may never know unless the Irish heritage or good deeds kick in.
What good's the longlist...
When it doesn't mention the people I like? But there is a point
has been a very strong year for fiction, yet you will look in
vain on the list for Roddy Doyle, A L Kennedy, Jonathan Coe, Hari
Kunzru or Justin Cartwright, whose The Promise of Happiness has
received rapturous reviews. Less obvious, but no less worthy,
is Gwendoline Riley, with the superb Sick Notes; also Andrew Crumey's
dazzling Mobius Dick. David Lodge, like Doyle, has been snubbed
before he's even had his launch party. What about Andrea Levy's
wonderful Small Island? It won the Orange Prize - yet it's already
been swept aside.
And in place of all these fine writers... well, at first glance
we have a fair few who-hes and who-shes. There's no reason why
the longlist should become a forum for young debut novelists -
they have their own awards. Man Booker is one of the few prizes
that isn't ageist. More's the pity, then, that the judge Tibor
Fischer patronisingly remarked of Cartwright and V S Naipaul that
"the old lags have dun good". Not good enough, it seems.
that point seems to be: Tibor Fischer is a moron. (From PFW)
Alice in Potterland
tricked-out Alice for today's jaded Potter fan. (discuss)
Dennis Loy Johnson, former proprietor, now groundskeeper, of the
cemetery that is uberblog MobyLives
(our grandpappy), is now one of the more influential small publishers
in the US. He's
interviewed at Bookslut.
happens is when you start a publishing company, and you get involved
with publishing experts, attorneys, bankers, etc., everybody starts
talking to you about your niche. You're a small publishing company,
what's your niche going to be? Then you go to your distributor's
sales meetings, and you understand what they're talking about.
Every publisher gets up there and they sell knitting books, or
they sell testing books, or they sell woodcarving books. And so
small business is always about finding your niche. We have so
little interest in having a niche, I can't tell you. We thought,
here's a really good idea to be different. We'll be a general
interest, just like the big boys. Just like Random House. We'll
publish fiction and nonfiction and poetry and on we go. I want
to do a cookbook, we've got a great idea for a cookbook. We want
to do art books. We want to do what Random House does, but we
want to do it right.
Den-nis! Go Den-nis! Go! Go! Go Den-nis! (Perhaps the nicest guy
I met during my time in NYC.) (discuss)
And the Hugos go to...
Vinge, Gaiman, Gollum take
awards from a
rich field of nominees... (discuss)
Marketing ploys usually stink, but this....
has the whiff of great literature about it. (Not sure how much
I want to smell Proust. The name's always sounded like an anatomical
nether region to me... God, my proust is so itchy today, for some
Heaney: Milosz's master eulogist
know Milosz's poems only in translation, but they come through
so convincingly in the "target language," you forget
that their first life is in Polish. Reading him in English, you
are in thrall to a unique voice, a poetry cargoed with a density
of experience that has been lived through and radiated by an understanding
that has rendered it symbolic. It's not just that one trusts the
ear and the accuracy of those poets who have done the translating,
although their contributions in this regard have been indispensable.
It's more that one can hardly not intuit the sheer weight of human
presence, prose content, and musical transmission that must subsist
in the original, away beyond our linguistic reach.
Danforth returns, leaner, meaner, less flowery...
The Danforth Review is back after a summer off and Michael Bryson's
to say about the last five years of running the site. Oh, and
he's 86ed the poetry. (discuss)
Robert, Jesus doesn't have wheels...
Robert Pinsky, ex-poet laureate/Simpson's
cast member. (Homer: Got any of that beer that has candy
floating in it? You know, Skittlebrau? Apu: Such a beer does not
exist, sir. I think you must have dreamed it. Homer: Oh. Well, then
just give me a six-pack and a couple of bags of Skittles. --
Thanks, John for reminding me of this...) (discuss)
File under: discreetly fired six months later for "violation
of dress code"
author spared the pink slip (don't they all wear maids' outfits
there anyway?) (discuss)
Your daily Beleaguered gossip
Our shadowy minions report that the long time Executive Director
of the League of Canadian Poets
has recently been given the boot. In a bitter email to (presumably)
allies, Edita Page blames the League's financial troubles on the
Board for spending too much money on the last AGM and decries the
fact that the Board has decided to eliminate her position and go
with volunteer work to make up for the cash shortfall. She goes
on to enumerate her accomplishments (I'm sure there are more than
she lists, but it's an awfully short list for 12 years) and laments
that these will all "go". Yet
other grumblings from within and without the League lo these last
few years seem to point the flaccid fingers of indifference at Page
herself. Who's zoomin who here, people? Email
us if you have more info. We at Bookninja wish Page well and
hope that her years of experience at LCP lead to other equally high-powered,
vocationally electrifying positions. (Website
hasn't posted news... must be the lack of staff... or whatever
it was before that kept the site from being updated regularly.)
In related news: LCP looking for volunteers!
Just kidding. (discuss)
sci-fi dying? Hm. Eschatological musings from a sci-fi writer?
Who'd of guessed it. Does anyone else think Rebecca Caldwell is
just dreamy? Bookish. Good writer. Covers sci-fi. Gosh, if she's
ever been in the Silver Snail, I think I'm in love. (And in our
brief email exchange of yesterday morning, Caldwell slaps her head
over the "Fahrenheit 411" typo, so save the sarcasm brother
and sister nerds and let's give her the benefit of the doubt on
this one.) (discuss)
Diaries = headaches
a diary is bad for your health, say UK psychologists. They found
that regular diarists were more likely than non-diarists to suffer
from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems and social awkwardness.
three hours a night of this damn blog, I could have told you that!
(From Maud) (discuss)
if you've got what it takes to be a writer?
Why not send it to Fiction
Bitch and find out you don't. Remember, on the Internet everyone
can see you die. (From Metafilter)
and Why covers
I'd totally forgotten about these How
and Why books! I read Ants and Bees dozens of times as
a kid. Then we got cable and I abandoned my books for late-night
viewings of The Deer Hunter and A Clockwork Orange.
Oh, to be young and innocent again. (Thanks, Maud!)
horsemen in the middle of an apocalypse"
At the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore asks viewers
to imagine the last four years, from the Florida Putsch to the war
in Iraq, was a dream. Back in 2001, the Onion presented the
Bush reign as a nightmare. Someone's
added links, though, to demonstrate how the absurdly funny has
become the tragically real. (From Metafilter)
a crypt somewhere in Toronto, Heather Reisman points a talon at
a map marked with red pins
Eye weekly has a profile
of the oldest bookstore in Toronto. Anyone know which bookstore
is the oldest in Canada?
The sign on the window naming
The Book Mark, at 2964 Bloor W., the oldest independent bookstore
in the city has a bittersweet undertone to it. The claim to fame
comes at the expense of other, older independents that closed
up shop during the great Chapters onslaught of '95 and the Indigo
echo of ever-since.
21st-century Raymond Carver
Eye also has a profile of one of my faves, Adrian
Tomine. Nice issue, guys!
Yet, far from feeling like a wet
sock, Tomine's stories are some of the truest depictions of human
nature in all of comics, capturing his semi-fictional character's
subtle tics with the same precision with which he draws the furniture
in the background of his panels. He's a fussy, disciplined draftsman;
so meticulous, he once tore up a finished page, a week in the
works, when he discovered that the paper had been miscut, making
his panels look microscopically lopsided.
under: you were expecting maybe some honour?
Barnes & Noble's foray
into publishing* is raising some eyebrows and middle fingers.
most publishing companies, which announce their coming titles
with great fanfare months in advance, Barnes & Noble has kept
most of its publishing plans a secret. It said little to nothing
about its effort to repackage its line of classic novels, adding
footnotes, study aids and lengthy explanatory sections, before
the books appeared on the shelves last year. And although the
company commented at length about robust sales of the Norton paperback
"9/11 Commission Report'' this summer, it never mentioned
that it was preparing its own hardcover version.
the competition... clever. But wait, even when the competition wins
you still make money? Oh, B&N you're devilishly cheeky! Will
you marry me so I can divorce you in disgust? (discuss)
I am so in trouble for that headline. National
League of American Pen Women get the claws out.* And that. Rowr!
(And I'm not worried about you berating me... I'm used to that.
It's what goes on behind closed doors that frightens me...) (discuss)
The used book's new e-life
article on online used book selling.
size and usefulness of the three main sites becomes apparent when
comparison shopping. A search for a copy of Geoff Dyer's entertaining
account of DH Lawrence, Out Of Sheer Rage, finds 120 copies
available on Alibris. Its prices started at £1.60 for a
used paperback from a bookseller in Massachusetts. That seller
also had the book listed for the same price on Abebooks, but was
undercut by a £1 offer from a UK-based book shop. Abebooks
boasted 165 copies for sale, way ahead of Amazon.co.uk's 32 copies,
while Amazon's lowest price was £1.05.
comparison of Abebooks and Amazon is particularly useful. (discuss)
The quotable Wubblewoo
It's not all idiocy and bumbling incompetence for GW these days.
It's spin and edited history. That's why the people at Oxford have
him in their book. (From PFW)
Loneliness and writing
The good news is, many BAD books die
of loneliness* too. (discuss)
Shakespeare, all the time
All right, at least this weekend. The New Yorker considers
Stephen Greenblatt's new book on Shakes, while Greenblatt ponders
how Shakespeare became Shakespeare in the New York Times.
A new book alleges that Colin
Powell called the rest of the Bush administration "fucking crazies"
in a conversation with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The
only about this that doesn't make sense to me is why he's trying
to deny it. (discuss)
Locus asks six
sci-fi writers to predict
the future of society.
"Where are we going? If Kerry
should be elected, back to the Clintonian middle. But if Bush
is re-elected, straight into the worst fascist shitter this country
has ever experienced. We're on a cusp like that of the Roman Republic
about to degenerate into the Empire. Though in many ways it has
(From Boing Boing) (discuss)
File under: it takes some noive!
A reader sent these
into me a while back and I've been sitting on them. They're very
uncomfortable. Normally I wouldn't single someone out like this,
but it seems beyond the pale, no? Apparently I've been missing out
on this accomplished poet. (discuss)
The British Library has put online scanned
copies of Shakespeare plays printed in quarto before the theatres
were closed. You can read the originals and compare the differences
between copies. Kind of cool even if you're not an academic. (discuss)
left at the zombie"
Clive Thompson has an interesting take on video-game
guides as a new kind of travel literature. I finished Silent
Hill 3 recently and found it more innovative in terms of story and
character than most current books, so I'm inclined to give him the
benefit of the doubt.
Game guides aren't merely utilitarian,
though--the best ones point out intriguing bits of architecture
and design that might be overlooked otherwise. The Ghosthunter
guide suggests that you should enter a house and look down a dark
well, lest you miss the giant dead fetus. ("Creepy," the author
An amusing email
exchange between a writer and a Russian translator.
I'm so glad you finished PopCo!
The title will give a real headache to its translator. Besides
the obvious similarity to popcorn the sound of PopCo resembles
a Russian colloquial term for buttocks, so the translator will
have to show some inventiveness to avoid this. However, it's true
about all your titles. Literal translation of Going Out
-- "vykhod" -- is rather dull a title for such an interesting
book. I've decided to translate it as "vylazka" -- this word means
"a risque adventure of furtively going out to achieve a difficult
goal", so I think it's relevant.
I want to believe this is some sort of trick, but hey, if people
can draw naked women in ASCII, then why not the
Mona Lisa using a typewriter? (From Metafilter)
The literary 9/11
No one seems to be going
think that, if anyone would have published a literary work using
the attacks as a plot catalyst, it would be Joyce Carol Oates,
America’s most prolific and topical writer. Or maybe the conspiracy-minded
Don DeLillo, whose fiction is studded with shadowy governmental
plots and who wrote a best-selling novel about the Kennedy assassination,
“Libra.” Bear in mind, though, that DeLillo’s musing on Oswald
and the CIA came more than 20 years after the fact. If journalism
is the first draft of history, as the saying goes, then the literary
novel must be the fourth or fifth revision.
for one, am still processing it. (discuss)
New version of Ariel to prove Plath committed suicide
Um, shut up.
the first time, readers will be able to see an edition of the
poems complete and in their original order, instead of the heavily
edited version, published by her husband after her death. Many
blame that edition for giving the impression that her suicide
was the inevitable result of mental illness. The new version will
be fresh ammunition for her army of posthumous fans who say that
her death was triggered by Hughes's philandering.
I repeat: shut up. You have to be nuts to commit suicide over someone
of story. (discuss)
Sure, blame it on the little guy!
shifts blame to his research assistants for insertion of plagiarized
people use research assistants to gather information for them,
or sometimes to read and summarize material," said historian
Alan Brinkley, provost of Columbia University. "But it is
inconceivable to me that I would ever allow a research assistant
to alter a manuscript."
yes, but then how would he be rich AND lazy? Isn't it enough that
he put in a request for the slave labour? Shouldn't the book really
write itself from that point? There are undergrads to be ogled here,
Toronto Book Award
split decision means both authors go home half richer and half
poorer than otherwise... Does that make sense? (discuss)
has never been much interested in aesthetic theories and experiment
and when he talks about getting a story right he does so, like
any craftsman, with a practical understanding of the materials
he uses and the techniques needed to get the job done. In The
Ghost Writer, the ageing writer, EI Lonoff, tells 23-year-old
Nathan Zuckerman, the most disabused of Roth's stand-ins, that
he "has the most compelling voice I've encountered in years.
I don't mean style... I mean voice: something that begins at around
the back of the knees and reaches well above the head." Voice
in this sense is the vehicle by which a writer expresses his aliveness
and Roth himself is all voice. Style, in the formal, flowery sense,
bores him; he has, he once wrote, "a resistance to plaintive
metaphor and poeticised analogy". His prose is immaculate
yet curiously plain and unostentatious, as natural as breathing.
Reading him, it's always the story that's in your face, never
(apparently along with his wife).
'I would not know what to talk to another writer about. He would
be thinking about his book. And I would be thinking about mine.
And what would we think of to say to each other?'
my experience, this is when you see two writers absentmindedly taking
the stuffing out of a third, not present. In fact, I saw it today!
told BBC World Service's The Interview programme that she personally
remembered black people criticising civil rights leader Dr Martin
Luther King, asking: "What is he doing? We are going to lose
Nice fat paragraphs.
Milosz] the journey was not the goal, the goal was the goal. Irony,
for which he had a wicked appetite, was not adequate as a meaning
for life. He was a man without illusions, holding steadfastly
to a confidence in what he could not see.
Newsflash: Pittsburgh home to idiot journalist
You. Are. Not. Going. To. Believe. This.
the title of Christopher Ricks' entertaining and accessible book,
"Dylan's Visions of Sin," about the poetic influences
in Bob Dylan's lyrics somehow conjures thoughts of Dante, rest
assured, it was purely intentional.
And an altogether brilliant
idea, for Dylan is in many ways a modern Dante, the medieval poet
who artfully mixed religion and politics in his masterpiece epic,
"The Divine Comedy."
In the magazine business,
just like in porn, it's all about location location location...
The Erotic Review loses
its staff over a move. (DBC writes erotica? I imagine it would
go like this, "You do me first, baby, and then I'll return
the favour... Thanks. Bye.") (From PFW)
is the sincerest form of idiocy
McCrum on the
days gone by, sequel fever was only a mild affliction and usually
involved commissioning some tame novelist to finish off Jane Austen's
Sanditon or hammer out a follow-up to Gone With the Wind. But
now the pressure is on for a quicker hit. If last year's succes
fou was Eats, Shoots and Leaves, this year's oven-ready turkeys
will be the E,S&L imitations.
One of the saddest truths about the book world is that though
publishers must know that originality is inimitable, this never
stops them from indulging in the sincerest form of flattery: imitation.
(As opposed to the waterstained fiction I have stored in boxes...)
fiction is most important to women's lives?
is in the nature of lists to boil down eventually to a somewhat
predictable run of titles - the kind of list that emerged at the
end of all the excitement of the BBC's the Big Read. So we held
our breath as interviewees confided that Jackie Kay's Trumpet
had helped them at a moment of intense grieving, that Anne Michaels'
Fugitive Pieces was the most important book they had
ever encountered, that Meera Syal's Anita and Me had
helped them through a family catastrophe. Who would have thought
that Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting or Will Self's Great
Apes had proved invaluable in times of crisis? In the end,
though, the unfamiliar titles were eclipsed by the more familiar
Fiction vs. the Blogmonster: An Epistolary Exploration of
Agency in the New Information Hegemony
Back in university, I was always better at the stuff before the
colon... Now I run a blog*
with smartass headlines... go figure. (From Maud)
Ebony and Ivory
Sol Stein reflects*
on his literary friendship with James Baldwin.
Stein, a courtly man with a twinkling smile, suggested that part
of his kinship with Baldwin came from their outsider perspectives;
Baldwin "assumed his ancestors came to America in chains"
while Mr. Stein's parents made their way illegally from Russia.
But he was also drawn to Baldwin, he said, because he was exceptionally
It's not just for jihad anymore.
books became a political issue earlier this year when the
Bush administration launched its "greater Middle East initiative"
and blamed low output of books for a "knowledge deficit"
in the Arab countries. ("Knowledge", in this context,
is defined in western terms and automatically excludes such things
as memorising the Qur'an or knowing how to milk a goat.)
just saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night and am largely impotent with
sputtering rage. I'm practically an American Democrat. More stuttering
profanities another time.) (discuss)
For your most obscure reference and hexing needs: all
the plants in the Bible... (From Incoming
Maud Newton discusses
the pros and cons of blogging over at Maisonneuve. I
don't know, all the obsessive behaviour she describes seems so normal
I bought a round of drinks and
tried to stop thinking about the twelve links I'd emailed myself
earlier but hadn't posted. After all, we were at a bar. Our songs
had started to play on the jukebox. We were carefree and intoxicated
and could not have cared less about blogging. Except that, unlike
my friends, I went home at midnight and posted about books until
5 a.m. I might have stayed up longer, but my husband emerged from
the bedroom and gave me the raised-eyebrow look that means, "Maybe
you really should consider that Paxil prescription your therapist
this is why I don't go out at night. (discuss)
What if Bush wins?
The Washington Monthly brings together 16 writers to
consider what calamities may befall the world next. All I have
to say is keep an eye out for flying monkeys. (discuss)
It works on so many levels
For those of you missing George's Litterati cartoons, there's
Nerve Fall Fiction
by A.M. Homes. So you know it's going to be fucked up. Case
One morning Aloisius Weinberg
woke up and discovered a mustache on the end of his penis.
hate it when that happens. (From Bookslut)
On Writing 3
A bunch of writers are interviewed
about their craft. I've only had time to glance through it,
but it looks pretty interesting.
This year, Critique is
proud to present new contributions by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy
Collins; bestselling authors David Baldacci, Niall Williams, and
Yossi Ghinsberg; Newbery Medal Winner Jerry Spinelli; eBook pioneer
M.J. Rose; and many, many more. In addition, you'll find included
contributions to prior editions of "On Writing".
My eyes! My
Indigo: handing out
mental pablum to the mindless, all-consuming North American mall
don't mind if I call you 'Head', do you, Head?), you're so low
you can't even reach up to kiss my ass.
imagine over the next three or four years that books, which are
now 80 or 85 per cent of our offering, will evolve to be approximately
60 per cent of our offering, although the selection will still
be as meaningful," Reisman said.
lie through your capped teeth. Meaningful? You've already cut your
poetry sections at Crapters down to one lousy copy of each backlist
title that isn't reordered once sold, just so you could fit more
computer books in.
is also forming partnerships with experts in health, business,
religion and other fields who will advise the bookseller and customers
on the best resources for their needs.
like the Bush administration pay roster... You should be proud.
see our role as maintaining a vital interest in books during a
time when . . . reading as an art form is under stress,"
she said following the meeting.
do you sleep at night? (I mean besides on the mediocre thread-count
sheets from your housewares dept?) You're the CAUSE OF THE STRESS,
YOU BACKSTABBING HARPY!
we do to make our stores the place to come, means we sell more
Puke! Puke! Um, more of the SAME small number of books. What about
the 40% you cut out?
In short, Head, there is a special ring of hell reserved for you.
It will be filled with poets, mid-list novelists, and other vermin
you can't stand (thinking customers, engaged employees, etc.). And
we'll be the ones with the pitchforks. (discuss)
Blume gets award, Bloom continues to spin in his grave
While a far cry above Stephen King, in some ways, I'm pretty sure
Blume* does not a calm Bloom-colon make. In related news Metamucil
shares up 21 points... (discuss)
As far as I'm concerned, textbooks
are what Xerox was created for.
textbooks are a $300 million business in Canada, which will only
grow as enrolments climb, says Colleen O'Neill, executive director
of higher education for the Canadian Publishing Council, who says
about two-thirds of textbooks used in Canada are published in
the United States.
"The hard sciences,
especially medicine and nursing, are expensive books to create.
They often require the work of a number of people to gather the
content, and they must be designed to be easy to navigate, presenting
often complex material in a colourful manner for today's increasingly
sophisticated students," she said.
O'Neill dismissed a California
research report that came out earlier this year, called "Ripoff
101," that slammed textbook publishers for adding extras
such as CD-ROMs and study guides to shrink-wrapped "bundles"
that hike the price of the textbook but often go unused. The non-profit
California Public Interest Research Interest Group also accused
publishers of making minor changes each year that make earlier
editions needlessly obsolete.
some textbook advice for O'Neill: insert head (a) into rectum (b)
find corporate paycheque (c) and push it up intestinal tract (d).
The american werker
be; not only lazy, but not so good with the werds
A full third of US employees may not meet the literacy
requirements for their jobs. That's as many people as are currently
employed at McDonalds, where, to ease spelling difficulties and
warn of gastronomic eventualities, managers have recently decided
to change the product name from 'Big Mac' to 'BM'. (disgust)
Editor makes least of time at repulsive T&A mag
Aren't you just supposed to wink knowingly and say, "What happens
in the grotto, stays in the grotto"?
Mr. Itzkoff managed to dabble in potent drugs, interview many
seemingly available starlets and drink prodigiously, but the sexual
conquests that are the leitmotif of the magazine he worked at
constantly eluded him. At one particularly pathetic moment, he
calls an escort service, making sure to take down his Princeton
diploma from the wall before the prostitute arrives. He is a cartoon,
but a dark one.
Complete Willie Shakes to see stage: actors' union to hold
secret strategy meetings
The Royal Shakespeare Company will perform ALL
of Wil's work (including the sonnets, poems, and misc. crap) in
one seven month long festival ending in the ritual disembowelment
of Kenneth Branagh. Tickets are currently being sold with a Power
Bar and complimentary colostomy bag. (discuss)
Starbuck's work: not all corporate takeover
not especially surprising that Starbuck is now so overlooked:
Critics today tend to view wit as a poor substitute for humor.
Starbuck's major poems are all the things major poems should be—subtle,
intelligent, moving—but their distinguishing mark is almost always
cleverness, and cleverness is not a quality prized in contemporary
poets. There's much more room in the canon, at this point, for
the breezy humor of Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch than for Starbuck's
elaborately plotted pranks and rococo word-castles.
bit about the blurb at the beginning is outrageous, no? (From the
F&F at 75
Gosh, those books don't look a day over 74...
is perhaps the concept of "continuous
publishing" that marks Faber out from the literary crowd.
The traditional view is that they publish you until you die. It
was true of William Golding, Philip Larkin and, more recently,
Ted Hughes. Seamus Heaney has been published by Faber since 1966,
John McGahern since 1963.
Life: coming soon
to a theatre near you
Maud points to a very funny
bit by some Canucks from Montreal: "Trailers
for Everyday Life"
Will risk everything he has.
To prove to the woman he loves.
That the simple act of shutting the back gate.
Will keep squirrels out of the goddamn woodpile.
guerrilla librarian: hit and fade, hit and fade, hit and shhhh!
American librarians are pissed about the so-called Patriot Act and
back anyway they can.
worries that a researcher could check out a book on Islam and
suddenly end up on the no-fly list, forced to take the Greyhound
with Teddy Kennedy for the rest of her life. Or an HIV-positive
teen living in a conservative community could be outed after reading
about the disease. If this sounds far-fetched, two years ago,
in Punta Gorda, Florida, a British man was arrested in a public
library after visiting websites that posted material on mineral
supplements and the world's first chemical generator of electricity,
the Baghdad Battery.
West, for her part, has created a series of popular, quasi-legal
signs to warn users. One -- "The FBI has not been here. (Watch
closely for the removal of this sign)" -- was provided to
every library in the state by the Vermont Library Association.
the power, Mildreds. (discuss)
Coach House profiled
the beginning, Bevington, along with his editors and designers,
has made books that transcend mere bookdom—they are events. Coach
House volumes are special in the purest sense of the word, because
the publisher often produces letterpress or limited editions with
extra colour, object-oriented features and other special goodies.
Orange Word festival opens
Some lightweights like Martel, Naipaul, Haddon, Doyle, etc., at
rinky-dink thing. (Can you believe this: my local independent
bookstore here in sunny Guelph, ON, has booked Roddy Doyle for September
28, and has asked me to introduce him. Um, okay.) (discuss)
"It's not just some bald fat guy reading verse"
Well how the hell am I supposed to classify this, then? If I can't
rely on poetry readings to find my bald fat guys reading verse,
what can I rely on? Ladies and Gentlemen and assorted ho's, I give
Dennis: Maxim mogul, egomaniacal arborist, fat bald guy, poet.
week he launched a three-week, 14-city tour, complete with multimedia
effects including music and sounds to set the mood, and a full
stage set with several large screens behind him that show films,
images, live shots of his face, and the full texts of the poems.
"It's not just some
bald fat guy reading verse," Dennis says proudly.
And then there's the wine.
As an added incentive to
ensure large, happy crowds of listeners, Dennis is giving away
free wine - expensive, French wine - from his own cellars at each
stage along the tour. A spokesman said some 100 cases of wine
will be given away during the entire tour.
All told, the U.S. tour
is likely to set Dennis back about $600,000 - nearly twice of
what gross sales would be if the entire initial printing runs
out. But it is small change for a publishing magnate whose net
worth is close to $1 billion.
And while it's unusual for
an author to foot his own bill for a tour, it's also unusual for
an author, especially a poet, to go from reading to reading in
a Gulfstream jet while his entourage hauls around a bus full of
gear from gig to gig.
Dennis is quick to acknowledge
that he does not fit the profile of a struggling poet, and that
his work may never achieve critical success. "I'm swimming
against the tide," Dennis says. "I've got far too much
money for most English people, and I used to go on vacations with
is not a test. The tone you hear is in fact the EEG that is hooked
up to my formerly convulsing body. Please call EMS. Poet down. (From
are poor because they are lazy"
Slate offers a guide
to Kitty Kelly's book on the Bush gang. I've said it before,
but I'll say it again. If Dubya was born into any other family he'd
be working as a crew chief at McDonald's for the rest of his life.
aren't all books hoaxes?
Gordon Rugg revealed
the 400-year-old Voynich manuscript to be a hoax. Or is that
just what "they" want us to think?
By day, Rugg, a 48-year-old psychologist,
teaches in the computer science department of Keele University,
near Manchester, England. By night, as an intellectual exercise,
he has been researching one of the world's great oddities: the
Voynich manuscript, a hand-lettered book written in an unknown
code that has frustrated cryptographers since its discovery in
an Italian villa in 1912. How impregnable is the Voynich? During
World War II, US Army code breakers -- the guys who blew away
Nazi ciphers -- grappled with the manuscript in their spare time
and came up empty. Since then, decoding the book's contents has
become an obsession for geeks and puzzle nuts everywhere.
Then came Rugg. In three months,
he cooked up the most persuasive explanation yet for the 234-page
text: Sorry, folks, there is no code -- it's a hoax! Lifelong
Voynichologists were impressed with his reasoning and proofs,
even if they were a little chagrined. "The Voynich is such a challenge,"
says Rugg, "such a social activity. But then along comes someone
who says 'Oh, it's just a lot of meaningless gibberish.' It's
as if we're all surfers, and the sea has dried up."
Under the Influence
Are there any other kind? A neat little feature from Amazon
that inspired writers. (From Maud)
wrong with Lewis Lapham?
Slate goes after
the editor of Harper's, with some justification. I have to admit,
I've found Harper's anti-Bush editorializing almost hysterical
of late. Then again, I don't have to live in a country led by the
most ridiculed man in the world. (discuss)
poems about dancing, eh? I can do that...
Karen Kain is the
new head of the Canada Council for the Arts. (discuss)
70 things you should know about Leonard Cohen
Gosh, I still like this
One woman who resisted his charms was Nico, whom he met at Andy
Warhol's club in 1966. "The most beautiful woman I'd ever
seen." She said she preferred younger men, but introduced
him to Lou Reed, who had some of his books. "We told each
other how good we were."
Slack-jawed yokel plays big in the sticks (that is to say,
Do Bushisms actually help Bush? Well, they
aren't hurting him...
the road, Bush lets any malapropisms or gaffes just flow out.
This is Dubya unplugged, Dubya unworried.
After all, many of his supporters
adore Bush for his average-guy charm. So, in a way, his unpretentious
oddities can be a strength. Critics and late-night talk-show hosts
have spent four years ridiculing Bushisms, and yet there's no
evidence that Bush has been harmed politically.
Last week, Bush was finishing
a long bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, when he attacked
his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, over Iraq in a speech
in Erie, Pa.
He was launching into a
well-worn line about how Kerry voted no when Bush asked Congress
to provide the troops with "body armor and spare parts."
But in Erie, Bush melded the two. He recalled asking lawmakers
if they could buy "armor and body parts." And, he said,
he was furious that Kerry had refused to fund those items.
When reviewers don't read the books they review...
common than you think... (discuss)
Margaret Atwood interviews Matthew Fox
Lovely Margaret turns
the table on a somewhat badgered and bewildered colleague of
mine at Maisonneuve. This
is great stuff.
Who’s your agent?
MF: Ted Gideonse. (Pause)
He’s excellent. He works at the Ann Rittenberg agency in New York.
MA: Well, maybe you should
get a Canadian agent.
MF: I tried very hard to
get a Canadian agent, actually. It wasn’t until my book deal got
announced that any of them bothered to contact me.
MA: Ah, so you have a book
MA: (Laughing) I see where
these questions are going now! You want to know what to do when
your book comes out. That’s what this is.
MF: Well, this is all wonderful
advice for someone who is doing this for the first time.
MA: What sort of a book
MF: It’s a collection of
short stories, mainly set in Canada.
MA: And it’s going to be
MA: And they’re going to
put you on a book tour?
MF: I hope so. I think next
MA: All right. You should
make sure there are copies in the stores.
MF: Maybe I’ll just…
MA:… travel with your own.
MF: Yeah, that’s good advice.
I’ll make sure I have a box in the trunk of my rented car as I’m
driving across the country to do these readings.
MA: You’re going to drive?
that's not even covering the lecture on pharmaceuticals... (Matt,
I think you handled yourself quite gracefully.) (discuss)
Dear Joseph Epstein, would you like a job at Bookninja.com?
Writing in Poetry (a
magazine that, one would think, should be able to hire a decent
web designer now... ahem), Epstein examines
the "job" of Poet Laureate.
As a man who has published a single poem, my own position is that
I would like to be asked to be poet laureate of the United States
so that I could refuse it, for this seems to me a job that would
bring much greater glory to turn down than to take up. True, I
am not in danger of being asked to become poet laureate of the
United States—or even of Illinois, the state in which I live,
if it, like several other states, has a poet laureate (I’ve made
a note someday—though not too soon—to check). But I have been
a more than thirty-year subscriber to this magazine; I am someone
who came of age with Oscar Williams’s splendid A Little Treasury
of Modern Verse; and I continue to believe that, though the
calling and craft of poetry have been debased every which way
and in most others is in trouble, some of the best writing done
in America continues to be written by poets and to show up in
verse. Because I have great respect, affection, love for poetry,
I find the creation of the poet laureateship of the United States
a comical insult to a serious enterprise, and one which ought
properly to be mocked every chance one gets.
like you live inside my head, man. (P.S. Dear Poetry, would you
like to give me a job designing your site? I'll bill you in monthly
installments so the figures stay under the sixth digit until year
Got time for a trip to Buffalo to hear the
compositions of Ezra Pound?
music was influenced in this regard by such sources as Sappho's
poetry, Catullus, Provencal verse by northern Italian troubadours
and the work of George Antheil, the enfant terrible of modernist
composers. It is, said one critic, "of unsurpassing beauty
and illuminates the practice of 'prosody'—the elusive craft of
setting texts to music."
me how it goes. (discuss)
And I looked, and beheld a pale horse: and his name that
sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
Hilton to star in NSYNC-produced The Great Gatsby remake.
"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst
of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe." (discuss)
The perfume of books
Remember that bit on perfumes based on literary passages? Well...
burning whale] has an unspeakable, wild, Hindoo odor about it.
. .. It smells like the left wing of the day of judgment."
-- Herman Melville, "Moby-Dick"
passages would you like to see bottled and sold to the idly rich?
Ah, the internet's diversions
just get prettier and prettier... (From Clive)
Telegraph accuses publishers of misleading consumers.
Dozens of novels which are currently
in shops carry marketing slogans such as "Winner of the Booker
Prize" and "Winner of the Orange Award" despite not even having
been shortlisted for the accolades.
In each case, the victorious
work was a different novel by the same author, although this is
rarely, if ever, made clear. Critics point out that far from being
literary masterpieces, many of the books carrying the misleading
marketing have, in fact, received poor reviews.
don't know, this strikes me as something like a retail sign that
says "From $9.95." If you don't know you're being manipulated when
you look at marketing....
I remember a writer once telling
me he'd gotten his hands on some Governor General's award stickers
and had stuck them on his books in stores. I'm surprised more people
don't do that. Or do they....? (From Literary
Spelling? We don't need
no stinking spelling.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is banned
from a language conference because of his political views on,
uh, spelling. Long live the revolution!
The greatest living author in
Spanish has been barred from the International Congress of the
Spanish Language, a meeting organised every four years by national
academies of the Spanish-speaking countries.
Magdalena Faillace, Argentina's
secretary of state for culture, who is hosting the meeting, said
the author of One Hundred Years Of Solitude was excluded
because he had "made trouble" at the same conference eight years
"Spelling, that terror visited
on human beings from the cradle onwards, should be pensioned off,"
Garcia Marquez told that meeting, held in Zacatecas, Mexico.
I can't find irony or cynicism
Coupland on Terry Fox.
I mean -- you really have to stop
and wonder about what this guy did. And after doing so, at the
very least, his story can only make any of us wonder about what's
true and what's not -- it makes us re-prioritize our lives. He
certainly made me do that, and in the fall of 2002, after mulling
over the story of his life, I drove to the Terry Fox Library in
Port Coquitlam, B.C. There, inside a Plexiglas display case, the
library keeps Terry Fox's prosthetic leg, his running shoe and
his sock, all from his Marathon of Hope. With the permission of
Terry's brother Darrell, I was allowed to take the prosthetic
leg, still clad in an Adidas runner, and photograph it in an activity
room against a white seamless paper backdrop. The purpose was
to include a photo of Terry's artificial leg in my most recent
book on Canada, Souvenir of Canada 2, as a means of reminding
readers in a visceral way of what his run entailed.
Where have all the intellectuals
can I resist a book with a title like that?
The spooky music of Mastermind
says it all. Intellectuals are weird, creepy creatures, akin to
aliens in their clinical detachment from the everyday human world.
Yet you can also see them as just the opposite. If they are feared
as sinisterly cerebral, they are also pitied as bumbling figures
who wear their underpants back to front, harmless eccentrics who
know the value of everything and the price of nothing. Alternatively,
you can reject both viewpoints and see intellectuals as neither
dispassionate nor ineffectual, denouncing them instead as the
kind of dangerously partisan ideologues who were responsible for
the French and Bolshevik revolutions. Their problem is fanaticism,
not frigidity. Whichever way they turn, the intelligentsia get
it in the neck.
Everything you ever wanted
to know about Don Juan and the 17th century but were afraid
Can be found at this nice
little site. (From Metafilter)
Want to join in on a Bookninja
discussion but you're hesitant because you haven't read the book?
With the help of free
Cliffs Notes online, you don't have to. Now you can pretend
to have read every book ever published -- just like the rest of
us! (From Metafilter) (discuss)
Grand Theft Auto 3 is one of my favourite games (where else
can you pull Hummer drivers out of their vehicles and shoot them?),
so imagine my delight when I stumbled across Grand
Text Auto, a blog about digital narrative, games, poetry and
art. I've only had time to read the article about writing the narratives
for Fable a new Xbox game, but the rest of it looks pretty cool.
Apparently it's Maud
backup on this adaptation of one of my favourite songs of all
time, Iron Maiden's "Die With Your Boots On"! (discuss)
in a strange heehaw land
Cowtown likes Christian
Bok's "first" book, Eunoia. (Apparently the
umlaut hasn't reached that far west...or maybe it has, but like
most thinking accents decided to stay on the highway until it got
to Vancouver...) (discuss)
Midlist novelists, fear not!
Your lack of cloth covers has just come
America, important new books are nearly always published in hardcover
first; the paperback editions may not appear for another nine
months to a year. (In Europe, first-time publication in paperback
-- what's called a paperback original -- is more common than not.)
Last month, however, Random House published David Mitchell's ''Cloud
Atlas'' as a paperback original.
if only the crappy advance were a trend too... (discuss)
The Handmaid's Tale
The opera the English press loves, then hates. Can
it be loved again? (As opposed to the porn version, The Handmaid's
under: me want
Largest privately held poetry
collection donated to university.
away upstairs is the more expansive, unfolding collection of lesser-known
works. Enraged poetic discourse about the Vietnam conflict and
musings about the Spanish-American War share the room with archival
material from a poet's first experimentation with LSD. A wall
almost entirely devoted to W.H. Auden contains not just the poet's
writings, but his edited works, biographies, his personal collection
-- even an invitation to a party in Auden's honor.
wish more of these posts ended in "donated to George"
instead of "university"... (discuss)
Happy birthday, dear
remembers a life covering Cohen. (Leonard, though I'm embarrassed
to admit it now, you have no idea how many affairs I've had that
began with a drunken, after party rendition on "Suzanne",
or "So Long Marianne"... I could barely feel my fingers
on the strings, but I knew you would never steer me wrong. Thank
god you can't sing. You make it so easy for tuneless me.) (discuss)
Gumshoes and their music
That's right, see? I
like the music, so what are you going to do about it except
stand there looking guilty?
the inter-war golden age of crime fiction, classical music is
often just there to be name-checked as a status guide to the social
and intellectual standing of leading (and "good") characters.
Or it can be comic: opera is inevitably performed by loud, fat,
Mediterranean "foreigners", like Castafiore, the soprano
who appears in several Tintin adventures and drives his pal Captain
Haddock to drink.
down and shut up and tell me where you were when Luciano finally
stars are burning up the charts with their how-to sex books.
Um, I hope the books are instructionally better than the movies
because the only things those skin flicks show "how-to"
do is alienate your partner and put out your back. (From the racy
files of GoodReports) (discuss)
File under: only in Kentucky
ruminations on banned books, then take this quiz and help determine
books should and shouldn't be banned. Yep, you read that right,
Cletus. Ah-yhuk! (Someone should ban the colour-blind moron who
designs this site... Yeesh!) (discuss)
Great Day in London
Writers of Caribbean, African and Asian descent gather
for a photo.
grouped in this way can be a sensitive issue with people who have
often had to fight being trapped by unwelcome stereotypes. Would
there be anyone who didn't want to be defined by ethnic origin?
According to the organiser no one declined to come for that reason.
Even those who could not make it wished the project well. The
truth is that however temporary, shifting or partial our club
may be, right at this moment it seemed worth recording - celebrating
RIP: Virginia Hamilton Adair
Late blooming poet
dead at 91. (discuss)
Stephen King, profiled.
head left a many-tentacled crack in the windscreen. He broke his
right hip joint, four ribs and his right leg in nine places. His
spine was damaged in eight places. "The accident gave me
a real sense of mortality, a sense of hurry that I didn't have
before. Not immediately, but about a year after the accident I
was able to say: 'That guy nearly killed me.'" Smith died
of an overdose 15 months later on September 21, King's birthday.
that Bloom? 15 months... He can make it happen, Harry. (discuss)
Funny journalist wants to write a book ... DUCK!
meta column. It knows you know it knows it's a column.
all writers - newspaper journalists, public relations professionals,
the guys who do the ingredients labels - I've entertained notions
of someday writing a best-selling book. I'm aware of the obstacles
involved, such as the fact that I have no agent, no publisher
and no particular topic, and that just writing the 700 words to
fill this column tends to leave me feeling like there's a cinder
block welded to my forehead. But other than that, I'm sure there's
a bestseller inside me somewhere just waiting to get out, in much
the same way I know I have a spleen.
File under: know thine enemy
idiot worried about state of poetry! It'll be nice when the
pendulum swings left again and these trolls slink back under their
bridges. Hell, it only has to swing centre, doesn't it... (Moribund!Moribund!Moribund!)
Man Booker 2004 Shortlist
will be the next millionaire?
Achmat Dangor, Sarah Hall, Alan
Hollinghurst, David Mitchell, Colm Toibin and Gerard Woodward
are the six authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction
2004, the UK's best known literary award.
is just like that movie Underworld, where the vampires and
werewolves are at war
Anne Rice goes
after her critics in an Amazon review section of one of her
works, and her critics bite back!
Seldom do I really answer those
who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career
has been fueled by my ability to ignore denigrating and trivializing
criticism as I realize my dreams and my goals. However there is
something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just
about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things
you've said here that actually touches my proletarian and Democratic
soul. Also I use and enjoy Amazon and I do read the reviews of
other people's books in many fields. In sum, I believe in what
happens here. And so, I speak. First off, let me say that this
is addressed only to some of you, who have posted outrageously
negative comments here, and not to all. You are interrogating
this text from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren't even
reading it. You are projecting your own limitations on it. And
you are giving a whole new meaning to the words "wide readership."
A9.com earns you an Amazon discount
I've been using A9.com, the new
search engine from Amazon, for a while and kind of like its features,
particularly the way it remembers your search history and allows
you to customize its appearance. I just discovered it gives registered
users discounts when they order books from Amazon. Not much -- about
1.25 per cent -- but I thought I'd let people know. (discuss)
is why I never go anywhere
Esprit de corps, the Canadian military mag, has journalist
account of being kidnapped, tortured and threatened with death in
The sight of U.S. paid Iraqi police
forces monitoring traffic had seemed like a good sign that things
were still under control, despite the recent fighting. As I did
not have an exact address for my previous contact, I approached
a police checkpoint to ask for assistance. When I asked them to
be taken "to Dr. Yashar," they recognized his name as
a prominent local Turkmen official and eagerly nodded in the affirmative.
A senior policeman was summoned and he instructed me and Zeynep
Tugrul, a Turkish journalist who was serving as my translator,
and filing her own reports for Sabah, a daily national
newspaper, to climb into a nearby car containing four masked gunman.
As we clambered into the backseat, one of the gunmen said in excellent
English, "We will take you to Doctor Yashar -- please do
not be afraid."
I had presumed that these men
were some sort of special police force -- our own Canadian counter-terrorists
teams often wear ski-masks -- so I had no immediate cause for
concern. However, as soon as we entered Tal Afar, I saw that the
streets were full of similarly masked resistance fighters armed
with Kalashnikov rifles and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades).
I suddenly realized we were in the hands of the resistance. Still
believing that they were taking me to my friend's house, instead
we were ushered into a small courtyard outside a walled two ‚
storey building. There were about a half dozen armed men inside
-- none of them smiling.
Dooney's has got the first
chapter of George Bowering's "baseball autobiography."
There I was, a sixty-year-old
man in my old authentic Cleveland Indians road pants from the
double-knit days, a University of Guelph tee-shirt, lying on the
ground beside a really ugly baseball cap in the lush dying light
behind Magee High School.
One of the Secret Nine guys used
his cell phone to call the ambulance. They must have asked him
how old the victim was. He said that the victim was probably in
his thirties, maybe late thirties. I heard Gill, my dear friend
Gill, let out one of her famous snorts, then her famous laughter
that comes out between her teeth. Then she corrected the young
man. I don't know whether I was pleased or not pleased. I was
preoccupied with the thought of opening my left eye to find out
whether I could see. A part of me was adjusting to life with one
eye. You don't see very many infielders with one eye.
Nerd-boy here is headed up north with the telescope to take advantage
of the remaining mild weather and dark skies. Soon it will all be
snow and light-polluted urban sprawl. I'll try to get to some good
stuff tomorrow (today, if you're reading this in the morning) around
noon like a normal blogger.
Anne Rice feasts on blood of Amazon users
there's something you don't see every day...
all, the book has received 232 customer reviews on Amazon.com
since publication late last year. Not all of them are negative
but, evidently stung, Rice writes to the negative reviewers: "Your
stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander.
And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish
falsehood and lies."
like that these stories appear in the major dailies the day after
they appear here and on other blogs...) (discuss)
Captain Canuck returns!
Hoser hero resurrected
as donut scarfing slot jockey with bad knees and becapillaried nose.
comic was [originally] set in the futuristic world of the early
1990s, when Canada had become a respected superpower. RCMP officer
Tom Evans, Captain Canuck's alter ego, gained superhuman strength
after being shot with an alien ray.
In the new series, RCMP officer David Semple is a former peacekeeper
with a background in gymnastics and judo who becomes a costumed
crime fighter because of his thrill-seeking nature.
my idea seems more realistic, doesn't it? He could fight Heart Disease
Man and Dr. February von Blahs. He could struggle to have the Americans
recognize that what they sell in their diners as "Canadian
bacon" is actually just fried ham. He could be the Peameal
Avenger, the Saviour of Syrup, the Left-Leaning Man of Raw Materials.
It would be great. (From PFW)
Picture it: a barechested Jesus in billowing silk shirt
and tight black pants
Presumably he's put on a few pounds once taken to a life of piracy
at sea, but he's still the same old husband of a million nuns we've
always known. Sigh. Nothing
is sacred. Even the sacred is not sacred.
But for Ms. Billerbeck, authenticity also means a heroine who
connects not only with a man but with the Lord as well. "The
character always has to slow down and hear what God is saying
to them," she said last weekend while attending the third
annual convention of Christian romance and fiction writers. "I
try to present Jesus in a way that shows he's relevant to modern
wonder if she ever refers to Jesus's "manhood"... (discuss)
Newsflash: people not as cheap as they seem...
to pay for the 9/11 report when it's free online. Why? I think
we're underestimating the power of the souvenir. People want to
touch this disaster in whatever way they can. Back in the day, I
remember scumbags trying to sell bits of WTC metal on ebay (hell,
on the streets for that matter). One piece of shit had stamped the
recycled metal into commemorative disks with pictures of the towers
and the whole eagle head crap. I'd much rather people own this thing,
even if it is a pathetic smoke screen. (discuss)
RIP: Kathleen Smith
Maritime poet, dead
at 93. (discuss)
What's the Wall Street Journal?
In bimbo gossip news: apparently when told she was on the WSJ bestseller
list, Paris Hilton asked, "What's
The Wall Street Journal? Is that good?" (3rd item) No,
sweetie, it's not. It's evil. But it's good for you because your
kind is rich and running the world and saying "nukular"
in public without earning the contempt of the people because of
this kind of evil, so take heart and have another martini. (From
The Japanese have proven cellphone novels can sell. The
question is, will North Americaners read
them? I think so, at least until porn becomes readily available
on cellphones. Then it's all over for literature. (From Boing
Very cool project to create soundtracks
for classic sci-fi texts, so you can have some ambient noise
while reading. They've got a good list here, including 1984,
Billion Names of God" and good old We.
Ambitious list of future
projects too. I think I'll put these on all day to drown out
the apocalyptic cawings of the gulls outside. (From Metafilter)
wish I lived in England
Where the public broadcaster's mandate is to produce cool shit
for free, like this wild
comics site. Note: TV folk will appreciate "Work
Experience." (From Neil
suspect the magnetic poles are reversing or something like that
Curious. At the same time newspapers
seem to be rejecting the Web and thus ignoring tens (hundreds?)
of thousands of potential readers, academics
seem to be embracing blogging -- and some of them even seem
to like the idea that someone may read what they write! Crazy times.
Over the past decade, academics
have used mailing lists, discussion boards and learning journals,
but these have usually existed behind university firewalls. In
contrast, blogging can invite the rest of the world into the common
room -- and some believe that can only be a good thing.
"It was important to me that my
research be publicly accessible," says Anne Galloway (www.purselipsquarejaw.org),
who is doing a PhD on the effects of ubiquitous computing on space
and culture at Carleton University, in Canada. "My work is supported
by government scholarships. I wanted to see how weblogs could
be used to encourage greater academic accountability to the public
-- and greater public interaction with academic research."
This almost makes me want to get
back into academia. Luckily there's still the poverty side of things.
judges shock literary world by revealing slush pile is mostly crap!
Those cheeky, cheeky Brits! Trade secrets exposed to the harsh light
of the muggle world! My word! Most
of what gets submitted is "rubbish" and "drivel"?!?
This represents a complete paradigm shift in how I think about stacks
of books! (discuss)
All the famous folk in British history
And a few others to boot.
of National Biography rolled down the slipway into bookshops
and libraries with the mightiest of thuds - 61,440 pages long,
stretching to 60 volumes, a snip at £7,500 (reduced to £6,500
It can virtually claim -
as the News of the World once did - that all human life is here,
all British life at least. It offers contributions by 10,000 mostly
learned contributors of 50,000 distinguished or celebrated dead
people across 2,400 years of history.
for the writers too.
To be invited to contribute to the Dictionary of National Biography
is one of the more delightful literary honours of our time. The
material rewards are not immense: £70 in my case. But the
invitation carries a guarantee that one's name will live for ever,
or at least as long as one of the world's greatest reference works
lasts. For a journalist it is an unusual guarantee to have.
For me, initially, there
was a downside to the invitation. It meant becoming immortal solely
as author of an entry on Dame Barbara Cartland, the romantic novelist
and self-publicist who dyed her pekinese rose-pink. Why was one
not being asked to write about Keats, Shakespeare, Churchill,
Wittgenstein, Picasso, FR Leavis, Stanley Matthews, Isaac Newton
or Princess Diana? Because the DNB has found weightier, more illustrious
contributors on those, that's why.
of it, 2400 years of bad teeth and bloody colonization. Who wouldn't
want to own this?
Adrian Tomine cracks the colour barrier at Harbourfront
That's colour as in graphic novel. Could you imagine this
in the days of Gatenby? (Ah, Gatenbeast... Bookninja launched itself
into the furor of your departure. The ease of ridiculing your exit
set our tone of derision and cynicism. Where art thou now, noble
Indian uses the old "poet" defence
is a land that values its writers, but its newest poet is a little
more recherche than most. Ten years ago, V Radhakrishnan was convicted
of murdering a man ina courthouse. But while he has been on death
row, he has been earning acclaim as a poet.
Not only have several literary
figures hailed Radhakrishnan's volume- one said he was moved to
tears - but some are backing his plea for a presidential pardon
on the sole grounds that he is an accomplished writer.
Very shrewd... You can't kill
me because I'm a great poet. Nice. I'm going to try this
on the next cop who tries to give me a ticket for jaywalking. I'll
let you know how it goes. My bet is, he won't kill me. (discuss)
Drilling self in temple with pinched forefinger and thumb
books, you moron! Fuck this "literature" shit. (discuss)
No one understands your work?
Check out this rejection
letter Ursula Le Guin
received for her masterpiece The Left Hand of Darkness.
Philistines! (From Maud)
new definition of judicial activism
OK, Michael Moore's
Fahrenheit 9/11 may have had a, uh, creative
take on the events of the 2000 coup in the U.S. And media investigations
of the recount process have failed to clear up the troubling issue
of who actually won. A coalition of media outlets, including CNN,
AP and the Wall Street Journal, determined that Bush would
have won the election under the terms of the partial recount of
undervotes. Conservatives everywhere hailed this finding as validation
of the election results. Critics were quick to point out, however,
that a full and comprehensive recount -- including overvotes as
well as undervotes -- would
have resulted in a Gore victory. And there is a strong legal
argument that if the recount had been allowed to proceed, then a
full recount would have been required.
it's a moot point, as the Supreme Court didn't allow the recount
to proceed, thus forever casting a cloud of uncertainty over the
results and generating accusations of partisanship, given that the
court split along political party lines. Now an article
by Vanity Fair (PDF link, part 2 here)indicates
that these accusations have some merit. The September issue interviews
legal clerks who worked with Supreme Court judges, and they claim
the Republican judges, rather than concerning themselves with the
legal aspects of the case, instead actively sought to shut down
the recount and preserve the appearance of a Bush victory. One of
the judges said she was going to try to stop Gore from "stealing"
the election -- before the case had even come before them -- while
another publicly expressed dismay about the prospect of Gore winning.
It's no surprise, really, that even the legal profession in the
U.S. has expressed dismay and confusion over the resulting decision.
There was a moment when every vote could have counted, and a winner
could have been legitmately elected -- be it Bush or Gore -- but
the court decision guaranteed that would never take place.
the record, I would haven't voted for either of them. (From Metafilter)
proof that publicists aren't doing their jobs
of the author blog...
blogs are also the latest reminder of how times have changed since
writers simply wrote their books and let the publishers and the
work itself speak for them. Now, many authors arrange their own
tours, maintain Web sites, send e-mail newsletters and, in the
case of Weiner and others, offer ongoing personal commentary.
well, my publicist. (discuss)
Assigning your own book
I swear to god - if I could assign
my books to junior poets, I would ram one down their throats,
steal their wallets and dance as though I had just scored a touchdown,
all the while screaming, "In your face, maggot!". Okay,
I jest. But isn't that sort of what's happening here?
University's faculty is comprised of some of the most renowned
scholars in a virtually every field of academic study. It should
come as no surprise, then, that many professors use their own
books to teach their classes.
While some students may
feel awkward dishing out their dollars for a professor's book
at the request of said professor, others see it as an opportunity
to engage with an author and an expert. Professors said they are
aware of the potential pitfalls of the situation, but have found
assigning their books helpful to students.
Helpful to the "stuuudents"... (Seriously though, this
assigning thing is intriguing... If I had a dime for every time
someone has said to me, "Hey, I read your book in Chapters
the other day...!" Um, you die now.) (discuss)
Ladies and gentlemen,
the United States of America has officially tipped into cartoonish
Can I get an "a-yhuk!"...? I said, can I get
the parent company of The Book-of-the-Month Club, asked members
of eight of its direct-mail book clubs what President Bush and
Democrat John Kerry should be reading.
The readers' top recommendation for both candidates: the
This is a country of ideas and freedom that fights religious fundamentalists...
or it's a religious fundamentalist country devoid of ideas and freedom.
I can never remember which. (From Maud)
Agent on agenting
NYC lit agent Molly
How do you recognize a good manuscript? What qualities about the
work make you think that a particular story or novel will be successful?
Friedrich: The first thing
is that the first page has to be very good. I receive around 200-250
sub-missions a week, which means just the act of reading a letter
can be punishing due to the volume of over the transom or unsolicited
submissions, but I do believe in over the transom, which means
a query letter blind. I've been successful with these kinds of
submissions many times.
And I look for a spark of
any kind of original voice. I was at a mystery writer's conference
in northern California and a mystery writer who was having trouble
getting published asked what is an original voice-he obviously
didn't have one. And I said if you take any page of Tom Wolfe's
Bonfire of the Vanites, for example, and start reading out loud
you know that's Tom Wolfe's voice. It's not generic writing. The
cadences of his sentences belong to him alone. An original voice
is the hardest thing to acquire. Great writers are probably born
not made. Agents are always not hungry until they find something
great, and then they're near starvation. Everyone's looking for
the same thing. It is hard to find, but it's not hard to recognize.
Used books: the junkyard of the literary set
kinds of crap in here! And someone's paper junk too! (discuss)
At your Service
Who says nothing's going on in
the Yukon, baby?
day, Byrne, clad in period costume, would seat himself in a bentwood
rocking chair to read the poet's work at the edge of the forest
where gold seekers once toiled.
Shop here for great TV!
When some (usually undesirable) task took me into the cesspool of
New York City (Times Square) I was always surprised to find tourists
walking around with shopping bags from NBC or CNN... Disney I can
understand, even if I loathe it, but television networks? Are you
such sheep? Here's a map for you, if so... Baaaa!
Must ... not ... punch ... screen....
over there on the shelf -- it's a comic, it's a book, it's a text....
Eddie Campbell presents a revised Graphic
"Graphic novel" is a disagreeable
term, but we will use it anyway on the understanding that graphic
does not mean anything to do with graphics and that novel does
not mean anything to do with novels. (In the same way that "Impressionism"
is not really an applicable term; in fact it was first used as
an insult and then adopted in a spirit of defiance.)
What's the matter with
Thomas Frank's book tries
to find an answer to why the people most victimized by the economics
of the Republican platform are its strongest supporters.
a panorama of madness and delusion
... of sturdy blue-collar patriots reciting the Pledge while they
strangle their own life chances; of small farmers proudly voting
themselves off the land; of devoted family men carefully seeing
to it that their children will never be able to afford college
or proper health care; of working-class guys ... deliver[ing]
up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way
of life [and] transform their region into a "rustbelt," [and]
strike people like them blows from which they will never recover.
have found the answer at the Republican convention in New York
'The Muslims just hate us for
our love of freedom,' said a woman from Iowa wearing a cloth elephant
on her head. 'They don't have any culture and they hate us for
having a great one. And they hate the Bible.'
'Really?' I said. 'The Iraqis
had a culture for thousands of years before Jesus was born.'
'What you saying?'
'I'm saying Muslims were
building temples when New York was a swamp.'
'You support the Iraqis?'
'You support the killing
of innocent people going to work? People who have to jump out
'You aren't listening to
'No, buddy. You ain't listening.
These people you support are trying to kill our children in their
beds. Where you from anyway, the New York Times?'
Toronto's new poet
Giorgio Di Cicco.* (discuss)
A new low or a new high?
I can't tell which.
organizers of the first-ever Descant
Book Ball,* to be held Thursday, have concocted a truly unusual
fundraising scheme to support CanLit. For a nominal fee, guests
will be escorted to a private peep-show salon, where the ball's
organizers promise they'll get "up-close and personal"
with their favourite artist or literary figure.
go with high. Especially given the Louise Bak option. Brrooowwwrrrrr!
You gotta be psycho to plagiarize, these days
caught. It's the freaking internet, man. It's ruined the bird
course. And theatre.
Late fees: when the overdue book is overdue from the writer
history of procrastination and block,* and the bygone days of
people agree that the endless extension has gone the way of the
lavish book party, that it is now a luxury available only to the
most bankable authors. Editors tend to blame literary agents for
driving up advances to a level where publishers can no longer
afford not to turn up the heat when projects drag on. Literary
agents tend to blame the bottom-line-obsessed conglomerates that
have been gobbling up once empathetic independent publishing houses.
But while it may be endangered, the albatross book is by no means
I love the smell of oompa-loompas in the morning
I was reading an article about the universe the other day,
and it made the interesting point that in a universe that stretched
for infinity not only was everything possible, everything, in fact,
had to exist. Such as a hybrid
of Apocalypse Now and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
(From Memepool) (discuss)
Interesting idea. Audio stories
with flash accompaniment. Hope it catches on. (From Memepool)
Think you're a good typist?
to blow up the alphabet? (Just hit the letter keys to destroy
the appropriate letters.) (From A
Capital Idea) (discuss)
OK, so it is the toughest
word game on the Web. (discuss)
under: Hope for the hopeless
Kirkus Bribe List"? Is this the end of Kirkus or the evolution
of a new fleecing niche? (Fliche?)
Publishers Weekly and Library Journal might correctly predict
the success of a novel, you can always count on Kirkus to draw
Now, though, the reputation
of this journal which won't even contaminate its pages with advertising,
is on the line. VNU Business Publications, which owns Kirkus,
has introduced two new e-newsletters that critics say blur the
line between reviewing and marketing.
Kirkus Discoveries, rolling
out later this year, will allow self-published authors, long ignored
by the trade journals, to buy a Kirkus review for $350.
hope is there will be a lot of slightly poorer, totally disappointed
authors out there -- but that every now and then, something will
actually slip through. You'd almost think it was noble... if money
Of course, the
350 bones won't set this dude back...
deep pockets and an even deeper belief in his inner Hemingway,
first-time novelist Rich Shapero is taking vanity publishing to
a new level.
The Silicon Valley venture capitalist wrote his novel, founded
a company to publish it and then launched one of the biggest and
most colorful individual book giveaways ever.
try to be a good person. I really do. I want to wish the best for
people. I really do. But sometimes I also want to wish redhot fire
pokers in the urethra. I really do. (discuss)
The boom before the bust?
I can't help but be pessimistic when I see figures
April and May, worldwide sales of ebooks rose by 5 per cent to
389,882, while revenue from sales grew by 23 per cent to $3m (£1.7m)
compared with the second quarter of 2003, according to newly released
figures from the New York-based Open eBook Forum. The figures
were even better for the first quarter of 2004, leaping by 46
these kinds of articles lead to unsustainable investment and hurried
decision-making? Or does that just happen anyway...? (P.S. Notice
a pattern in the leading ebooks? Hm.. I wonder who it appeals to...)
I have something in my eye, I tell you!
Okay, this is just way too much for me.
is one of 35 female inmates at the jail participating in a program
Me A Story." The program, a partnership between the Arlington
library and the county sheriff's office, allows incarcerated mothers
to read books to their children on audiocassette tapes. The tapes
are sent to the child with the book selected by the mother.
little tykes. Poor mamas. I... um. I... ah... oh, god... Ninjas
don't cry! End communication! (discuss)
A Richard Yates upswing
But not for Richard
did not go to university, partly because he had imbibed some of
the artisanal anti-intellectualism of Hemingway, in which writers
supposedly swaggered into life and fightingly "took on"
their knuckly vocation. But Yates, unlike a thousand other parlour
soldiers, did just that: one of the most moving chapters in Bailey's
long book concerns barely more than a year, 1951-52, in which
the 25-year-old writer travels to France and England, doing little
else but writing. He sits in his rented room, chain smoking and
chain coughing - his lungs had been damaged by pneumonia during
his war service - and writes stories, and one after the other
is rejected. (The New Yorker, with priggish sanctimony, would
reject every story he ever sent them.)
Essay: The Essay
Send this to your
aren't enough. An essay has to come up with answers. They don't
always, of course. Sometimes you start with a promising question
and get nowhere. But those you don't publish. Those are like experiments
that get inconclusive results. An essay you publish ought to tell
the reader something he didn't already know.
"Poetry on oddly angled shelves"
My suspicion is that the shelves are straight... Welcome to the
Disneyworld of Books... The
Readiest Place on Earth (by decree of the state).
has only relatively recently become ‘Scotland’s Booktown’. It
wasn’t a tag earned by evolution, it was won. After losing its
local industries (dairy and whisky) Wigtown had become, according
to local boy and book festival director Michael McCreath, "rather
So when money became available
to manufacture a Booktown to rival the likes of Hay on Wye, Wigtown
entered and won. That was eight years ago. Now there are more
than 30 book-related businesses in town, from publishers to bookbinders.
Nineteen of them are second-hand or specialist bookshops. Most
have come from around the UK "purely on the basis that we
would become the next Hay.
Sarah Weinman's new column
in the Baltimore Sun* rounds up what's going on in the crime
world (crime fiction, that is -- her alleged ties to the mob are
just that: ties. I mean, alleged. I'm sorry Ms. Weinman... I promise
I'll make things right....) (discuss)
Speaking of mysteries: what really happened that
day in Spain? (discuss)
Greasy, grimy gopher guts, mutilated monkey meat, chopped
up birdie feet...
want their fiction slimy? Um, I wanted mine medieval, but with
good teeth. I wanted Eowyn. Hell, I STILL want Eowyn.
different about the books is that they are quite deliberately
aimed at boys: there is almost no description and no analysis
of what a character is thinking or feeling. Instead, the reader
gets a fast-paced ping-pong of dialogue and plenty of stomach-churning
action: falling into voids and steaming cauldrons are pretty much
There is also a satisfyingly
high "yuck" quota: little boys who get drenched in sewage
and maggots, hairdryers that spit out flames, slugs that talk
and a 100ft snake that burps, with unfortunate consequences.
not sure this is the way to go. How about just creating a pleasant,
non-gendered atmosphere around learning? How about being a compelling
writer? How about being an intellectual example for your kids instead
of handing them the kiddie version of a Dean Koontz novel? (discuss)
Oh happy day
I don't know what you have planned for the rest of the day,
but I'll be reading this history
of punctuation. It's full of handy information on weird punctuation
marks, such as the short-lived interrobang.
(From Boing Boing) (discuss)
this president does not know what death is."
Doctorow muses about the grim nature of Junta leader George W. Bush.
You see him joking with the press,
peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he
can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the
stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd,
smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.
He does not mourn. He doesn't
understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course
of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak
of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for
But you study him, you look into
his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel
in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it.
He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead
young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.
of the Worlds MP3
Next year Tom Cruise is starring in a Spielberg remake of War
of the Worlds. To get yourself in the mood, why not listen to
Mercury Theatre broadcast, the one that sent people fleeing
into the streets in a panic about weapons of mass ... uh, Martians.
(From Cultural Gutter)
books people don't want you to know about
they're mainly "ungodly" books such as the Harry Potter series.
Banned Books Week, sponsored by
the American Library Association and the American Booksellers
Association, runs through Saturday and shines a light on a growing
controversy in America -- what should our young people read, and
who should decide?
Christian groups like Colorado-based
Focus on the Family stand on what they consider to be high moral
ground and believe groups like the American Library Association
undermine parental preferences.
Arts Council Foundation Awards
to Sky Gilbert and Djanet Sears for winning the awards. And
congrats to Toronto for having such awards in the first place. (discuss)
busy day means bad ninja
Sorry guys, more updates later, I hope. Until then: lit
of the unpublished... Throw in a flaming lemur and a bucket
of jello shaped like Elvis and it's just a regular day around here...
TO poet laureate announced
City Council announced today that Pier Giorgio Di Cicco will be
Toronto's new poet laureate. Apparently he dressed in his priestly
uniform to accept the post. Overheard in the back of the room by
an annonymous ninja: "Kyle Rae whispering 'Should we ask him
how he feels about gay marriage?'" (discuss)
for the Bush/Kerry debate?
The Associated Press has pretty much written
their coverage of it already. Although this
has a stronger ring of truth:
Laying his head upon the podium,
Bush began to speak in a soft, high-pitched voice. His microphone
was able to pick up questions apparently aimed at his father,
former President George H.W. Bush, rather than his opponent. "Daddy.
Daddy. Daddy, why don't you love me?" Bush whimpered.
Cokie Roberts, in a post debate
roundtable on ABC, stated that such actions "clearly presented
a softer, sensitive side" of Bush, "that every man in America
will identify with."
in his cave! He's in his cave!"
Maclean's considers the impact of Fox
News moving into Canada.
An entire news cycle has passed
since I began monitoring what could soon be Canada's next 24-hour
news service, and it's clear the country is in for a jolt. Last
April, the nation's cable TV providers applied to the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for permission
to broadcast Fox News Channel, brainchild of Rupert Murdoch and
ratings sensation of the 2004 U.S. election campaign. They'd been
turned down once before, but this time their chances look better.
The public input phase wound up last month without a hitch, and
a decision is now imminent. By Christmas Day, Bill O'Reilly, the
network's pugnacious star, could be beaming into your living room.
Remember Aron Ralston, that hiker who cut his hand off after
it was trapped under a boulder? Now he's got a book out about the
experience, and the Guardian has published a few
extracts from it. (discuss)
are the way of the future.
The consequences of The Two Certainties
are profound: at some point the ascending digital line must cross
the descending print line. Not if, friends, but when. The Two
Certainties point to a future in which ebooks inevitably dominate
paper books. This might come to pass because print will die back
when we print-reading dinosaurs die off. Meanwhile the digital
generation will have become accustomed to reading off screens,
and may even prefer them. Or it might happen because of some breakthrough
in display technology, driven by economic pressure to take advantage
of the superior functionality of the ebook, which will make believers
out of even the crustiest of print fans.
Boing Boing) (discuss)
Make your own fonts!
(From Collision Detection)
Check out Maud's
new feature, complete with charming illustration.
the Secret Agent is an agent with
a small, but well-regarded, literary agency in Manhattan. In this
short interview, the Secret Agent will answer my own (boring)
questions, but after this week all responses will be to selections
from your inquiries about New York City publishing.
publishers get the pitchforks and torches out
legal forks and torches*... Bravo, regardless.
regulations, meant to keep Americans from trading with enemies,
require anyone who publishes material from a country under trade
sanctions to obtain a license before substantively altering the
manuscript. The publishers say that keeps them from performing
typical editing functions like reordering sentences and paragraphs,
correcting grammar and adding illustrations or photographs.
The regulations do not forbid
publication of existing works from those countries. They allow
publishers to print and distribute materials that come to them
in camera-ready form, that is, ready to be published without alteration.
But they also restrict marketing materials, which the publishers
say essentially prohibits publication.
The publishers argue that
the regulations do not allow enough room for them to prepare material
from foreign authors for the United States market and create a
"chilling effect" on them. "For all practical purposes,"
the suit states, "that means American publishers simply cannot
publish their books."
was just lamenting with some Random House people yesterday that
we Canadians, as a literary culture, don't riot nearly often enough.
Where are the lawsuits against Head and her plan to slowly kill
the book? In my dreams... (Mind you, now that she's killed off the
competition, it would be like suing your own heart. When the publishers
have only one customer there just ain't much you can do.) (discuss)
US election the best thing to happen to US letters
There's just so much to write about! And so
much to do. As reported much earlier here at Bookninja, Operation
Ohio pits famous writers against the sloth and beer-addled brains
of the average university student. Hey, wait, doesn't Contemporary
Literature 101 do that too? (P.S. I would have called it "Operation
Enduring Ohio"...) (discuss)
More on how Emory
got the Danowski collection.
over 30 years, the collection was stored first in a barn in Hertfordshire,
England, and later in warehouses in London and Geneva. It is uncatalogued
in any computer file and the only record of its holdings have
until now been in Mr. Danowski's mind. He said that he could envision
the library, virtually volume by volume, though he had never seen
it all assembled. It was shipped to Atlanta in about 1,500 cardboard
boxes and tea crates that filled two 40-foot-long and two 20-foot-long
One poem changes a life
That's what we all hope for. But what happens when it's the poet's
life that's changed? Amiri
Baraka has regrets, it seems.
"I don't think ultimately, historically, it will affect me,"
said Baraka, 69. "But for the rest of my life, that label
of anti-Semite will stick with me. It's a very painful and terrifying
kind of silliness."
Ask the Eggman
The Dave answers the people's questions. He is a charming sort.
does non-fiction end and fiction begin?
I'm just now learning that
distinction. I'll tell you in another few years.
Ban Comic Sans
The revolution has
believe in the sanctity of typography and that the traditions
and established standards of this craft should be upheld throughout
all time. From Gutenberg's letterpress to the digital age, type
in all forms is sacred and indispensable. Type is a voice; its
very qualities and characteristics communicate to readers a meaning
beyond mere syntax.
Early type designing and
setting was so laborious that it is a blasphemy to the history
of the craft that any fool can sit down at their personal computer
and design their own typeface. Technological advances have transformed
typography into a tawdry triviality. The patriarchs of this profession
were highly educated men. However, today the widespread heretical
uses of this medium prove that even the uneducated have opportunities
to desecrate this art form; therefore, destroying the historical
integrity of typography.
you hear that? That's actually the sound of Peter drooling 5000km
away... (From Clive)
Someone's going to Heaven
me a postcard.
Books has piloted a digital bookmobile -- a van outfitted with
a laptop, laser printer, bookbinding machine and cutter -- in
remote areas of Uganda to print free books for children since
November 2003. Now the project has plans to expand to Ghana and
Good satire hurts
I long to write about the thrill of leaping out of an airplane
at 10,000 feet! To describe the sensation of being completely
and utterly in the moment, confronted by death itself. It would
be the high point of my life, to look down and see my own story
listed on the cover of GQ.