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Hearsay Archive:

Here we store old Hearsay items (including their discussion links). You don't have to register or sign in for discussions, you can just click the "Post a new message" button and go.

Some of the links are likely to rot over time. Sorry about that, but our fridge isn't working.


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September 2005:



Do white people loot?
One of the photographers in the "looting" vs. "finding" photo-caption issue (see post below) explains his choice of words. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Challenges to library books on the rise

But it's not as bad as during the Clinton years.

"A lot of people were worried that challenges would go up under President Bush, but the highest numbers were during the Clinton administration," Gorman says. "I think that came from resentment among conservatives that Bill Clinton was president. You had the whole thing about gays in the military. You had people who believed that somehow Clinton was not a legitimate president."

Uh, what? (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

"There's a lot of opportunity in hospitals."

Indigo's new market.

the company is now in talks to boost its presence inside hospitals, Ms. Reisman said.
Indigo began experimenting with the concept in June with the opening of an Indigospirit store in Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. Two months into the trial, the company is now seeking additional sites.

Well, hey, why not? (discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Houellebecq decries Islam but embraces the Raelians?
I'm sure this is the result of a steady diet of p'tit café and double cream brie. It's a brilliant set-up though. Get a cult to rally around one's book. Maybe they'll adopt is as a sort of Bible; now that'd be post-modern. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Double posthumous
Marlon Brando and Donald Cammell (a poet who suicided, sigh, in 1996) have risen from the dead to help pay someone's bills. Many people are trying to get us excited about a pirate book that neither author had much interest in. And you may ask, What about my action filled, dialogue heavy, saccharine piece of tripe? Why not publish my crappy, locquacious, politically incorrect pulp fiction? You say, I'm not famous but at least I could go on tour with it. BINGO, SUCKER! Is there nothing not embarassing about the publishing trade? They've issued it in hardcover.Yes, a pulp fiction in hardcover. Anyway, it's called (I'm blushing, here) Fan-Tan. Go ahead, buy it if you want to. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

I love America
A rocket scientist and his son and another rocket scientist go on a treasure hunt, following clues in a kid's book written and promoted by a rich guy (you can buy it here, but why bother, it's too late, right?) and find a sparkly.

"We've created a legacy now; a legacy that Todd, when he's a grandfather, will tell his grandson, 'Look what I did when I was a boy.'"

Oh, God, I'm all warm and fuzzy. Look at me, I'm weeping. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Magazine gossip
Chatelaine editor leaves. Apparently it's the publisher's fault. Hm. Where have we seen this before? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Podcasting books
All we can hope is that those poor poor people who have been taken over by those white ear slugs from planet Conformo-ubiquititus (in the Automaton sector), are at least getting good books read to them in dulcet tones. Perhaps by Michael Caine or someone pleasant. (discuss) (Posted by George)

She actually said it aloud
Well, it's been said: Head wants Indigo to be Wal-Mart. Mm. Classy.

The company also plans to focus on its gift sales and children's book and merchandise sales, and will expand its "Trusted Advisor" program, which takes book recommendations from professional experts. The program has boosted sales of medical and health-related books 33 per cent since it began in 2004.

Reisman added the company would continue to improve operating efficiency. "Essentially," she said, "our goal has always been to get as close to the Wal-Mart level of excellence as we could."

You should be proud, Head. You're nearly there. Just a few more smiley faces and shelves of smelly plastic merch and you're good to go. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Turkey charges Pamuk with "public denigrating of Turkish identity"
Frightening. And they think of themselves as part of the EU. If you could get charged with this sort of thing here, I would so be rotting in jail right now. (discuss) (Posted by George)

RIP: Ninjalicious
Zinester guru Jeff Chapman, dead at 31. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Booker page
The Guardian has collected links to reviews and excerpts of the Booker longlist. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Look for Coetzee's new release next year
To be titled: You Gotta Know When to Holdem: How I Parlayed Social Reticence into a Multi-million Dollar Internet Gambling Empire! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Reclaiming Ray
Every time Bradbury manages to crawl out of the muck, they DRAG HIM BACK IN! (discuss) (Posted by George)

A little understanding for poor wee Posh
Apparently lots of other people can't finish books either. It's a fine time to be an anti-intellectual, ain't it? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

How will we discover our favourite writers are perverts?
If nobody's keeping their e-mail?

Today, a new challenge awaits literary biographers and cultural historians: e-mail. The problem isn't that writers and their editors are corresponding less, it's that they're corresponding infinitely more -- but not always saving their e-mail messages. Publishing houses, magazines and many writers freely admit they have no coherent system for saving e-mail, let alone saving it in a format that would be easily accessible to scholars. Biography, straight up or fictionalized, is arguably one of today's richest literary forms, but it relies on a kind of correspondence that's increasingly rare, or lost in cyberspace.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Elegy for New Orleans
Richard Ford.

My wife and I are walking home from a friend's house down tree-shrouded Coliseum Street. It is 2003 and eleven on a warm January night. We are only steps away from our door, just in a cone of street light, when a boy hops out of a car that stops and says he will definitely kill us if we don't hand it over right away. He has a little silver pistol to persuade us. Let's say he's 16. And he is serious. But he laughs when we tell him we don't have a penny. And it's true. I pull my pockets out like a bum. 'You people,' he says, almost happily, his gun become an afterthought. 'You shouldn't be out here this way.' He shakes his head, looks at the pavement, then drives away. He, that boy - he'd be 19 now - I hope he's safe somewhere.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

I'd like to option the zeitgeist
When films resemble books. In development. By the same studio.

The novelist Michael Marshall Smith suggested it was the zeitgeist when asked about the similarities between his 1996 novel Spares and the new Hollywood film, The Island. Both tell the story of an escape from a farm where human clones are bred for body parts for transplants. In an e-mail to fans, Smith admits he is upset: the more so as his novel was in development at Steven Spielberg's production company DreamWorks, the outfit behind The Island.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Typographic tours of London
This is worth the trip alone. (From Design Observer) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

What would Derrida think?
An English prof is upset about some editing on Tommy Lee's reality show.

English professor Frances Kaye said she was talking about the wonders of childbirth, but on Tommy Lee's reality show Tuesday night, it appeared she was discussing the wonders of Lee's private parts. Kaye has told the Lincoln Journal Star she is not amused.

(From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Remember all those Jane Austen movies?
The people who went to them are still around.

The doors of the elegant Georgian town house in Bath swung open promptly at 10 yesterday morning and the first of the "Janeites" swept in. In the course of the day, 300 or so visitors were given scholarly insights into the city's impact on the life and work of Jane Austen, and a flavour of how Bath would have looked and felt in Regency times.
And then most of them were tempted into the Jane Austen Centre's gift shop, where they could choose souvenirs ranging from Austen fridge magnets to tea towels, from Austen cross-stitch kits to goat's-milk soap.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Perfume -- the movie
Patrick Suskind's classic is finally being adapted. But, like many writers, he wants nothing to do with the film (except for the money). The Times Online looks at why writers avoid Hollywood (but cash the cheques).

writers see their carefully-honed treasures head off to the film factory and wonder if they will come back stunted and deformed, faithfully replicated, or, worst of all, transformed into something so much better than the original book that no one remembers who wrote it in the first place.

(From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

What publisher will be the first to cash in on the hurricane?
Genuine charity efforts don't count. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Pirate Pix!
After all, who doesn't like pirates? (From Drawn) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

They're gone!!
Breathe, you lucky old folk with school-age kids. Enjoy! Get that book written. You've got until June. Go! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Good morning!
I think I'll make the start of the work week "good news day". So here we go: 2004's 20% rise in the number of books targeted for removal from library shelves is either an indicator of moral decay or an emboldened censorship movement from America's right, depending on how you look at it. Shit. I fucked that one up totally. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Get the CBC back online
Okay, enough's enough. Get things rolling again, people. (Former?) CBC radio producer (and loyal 'Ninja reader) Lisa Godfrey sends us this release:


CBC workers -- members of the Canadian Media Guild -- invite you to stand with us in protest against the ongoing lockout by CBC management.

It's now Day 21, and you may be feeling locked out, too: as program contributors and interviewees; as listeners, viewers, and online users; as Canadian taxpayers. So t his Friday, September 9th, come down to your local CBC building and join us for a national protest. Demand the return of public broadcasting, and support the rights of the people who make CBC programming.

WHEN: Friday 9 September, 1:15 p.m.

WHERE: Across the country, on the Canadian Media Guild picket lines at all locked-out CBC facilities. If possible, please RSVP and let us know that you're coming so that the CMG lockout coordinators can expect you, and we can furnish information and contacts, as needed. Write us at: writersunplugged@gmail.com

(In Toronto, the major site of protest, please gather at the CMG booth in Simcoe Park, on the north side of Front Street, a few steps east side of the CBC Broadcast Centre, between Simcoe and John Streets. Closest subway stations are St. Andrew or Union; closest streetcar stop is King St. W. at John.)

WHO: Writers and their friends from across Canada are invited. The Writers Union of Canada executive will be present in Toronto, and are inviting their members from throughout the country to participate locally.

WHAT: Make your own sign, join us on the picket line, or simply show support with your presence. If you can't attend this protest, please consider writing a letter: see http://cbcontheline.ca/whatyoucando.html for information. Please send a copy to us.

Check out CMG and this blog for more info. I'll try to be there. (discuss) (Posted by George)

TAs and editors rejoice!
Undergrads and journalists cower! The party's over. And I don't mean the kegger you went to with the time you gained by buying your essay. That's still going. In fact, I was just there. I have the ears of 15 fratboys dangling from my belt to prove it. (discuss) (Posted by George)

McCrum vs the New York Times
Is the novel really dead? Or should I say, Dead Again? (God, I loved that movie, right up until the last few seconds. It was a British movie with an American death bed. A giant scissors sculpture? Krikey.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Looking beyond the classics
Vintage has released its 100 modern classics list -- some good books, sure, but how arrogant is it to say we know now what will be considered a classic of the future?

In our violently consumer, winner and loser society, lists are a new catechism - excellent for dealing with books and circumventing the pesky act of actually reading them. Choosing from a list, we believe we somehow briefly have power over everything proffered upon it. I have always been tickled by that truism, "a list, by its very nature, is exclusive": classics, literary canons of "great" works, prize short-lists and long-lists, certainly are exclusive.

What these firing-squad lists declare is not only what we should be reading but, of course, what we should not be reading. Any list simultaneously eulogises the selected and actively condemns the dismissed. It is the negative side of that dialectic that is interesting. This corralling of literature is firmly to do with exclusion, with stemming and denying the vast, pressing tide of world literature out there, around us every day, demanding our time if we really are interested.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

The South of the South
Marchand takes a look at the literary lure of New Orleans. Not so sure that's a lure, but... (discuss) (Posted by George)

What poem would you fire into outer space?
That depends, is the rocket aimed at the sun or is it meant to act as an ambassador for our planet? Because mostly that will change my opinion. Mostly. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Allan Bloom: academic elephant
Is Bloom the poster boy for the conservatives or the liberals when it comes to reforming academia?

everyone seems to have missed the elephant in the room: Bloom's ostensibly conservative meditation in fact anticipated and repudiated almost every political, religious and economic premise of Kimball's and Horowitz's movement. Conservatives who reread Bloom today are in for a big, perhaps instructive, surprise.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

My name is Houellebecq
And I smell a cheque, yo - don't call my book dreck, yo. Ah, shitty white guy rap. I mean mine, of course. (discuss) (Posted by George)

English as She is Spoke

I think we linked to something like this a couple years ago, but BoingBoing's post found this little site, which is kind of nice. (discuss) (Posted by George)


NYTM funny pages
The New York Times Magazine is getting a ten page section of graphic novel excerpts. Now THAT's a reason to pick it up! Let's hope it isn't all funny. There's an opportunity for some serious reportage here too. (discuss) (Posted by George)

George Saunders interview
On Maud. That is to say, on Maud's site. (discuss) (Posted by George)

"No. Some people have got to be stopped."
True dat. But whatever happened to the old fashioned way of stopping someone? And speaking of that, how come they never hoist pianos up the sides of buildings anymore? (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

When worlds Fucking collide
Those whacky Brits; those crazy Austrians! Together they bring us the comedy thrill ride of the year! (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Readius
The e-reader is coming. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The new university social hot spot
The library.

Because research institutions can access a huge range of texts and research services through digital means, the need for students to look through actual books has dwindled. And with younger underclassmen having come of age in the era of computers and video games, those members of Generation Y are arriving on campus accustomed to doing work armed with little more than a laptop and a high-speed Internet connection. “Five years ago we didn’t have wireless in our libraries,” Alire says. “Now, instead of having work stations where you do your work, you aren’t bound by a permanent place. That’s what students are living.”

Alire says the one thing she sees happening, as a result, is that students want their undergraduate library to become more of a social space than a stuffy building filled with books. “They want library as place,” she says. “Before, the library was a repository for books and printed material and a place to get help from librarians—and we’re still as busy in reference as we’ve ever been—but when they come in [to the library] they come in because they want to work together. They still want quiet places . . . but they also want dynamic group-study places.”

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Writers expect unrealistic things of publishers
Like publicity.

We can expect this from the giant publishing corporations: Their bottom-line mandate is crystal-clear, and these days, only willfully naïve authors are surprised by the heartlessness with which their creations are treated. It’s not at all uncommon to hear big-house employees complain about authors getting too involved in their books; some of the editors and publicists at houses like this admit straight-up that they prefer minimal interaction with their authors.

What bothers me more than barely concealed disdain toward authors on the part of conglomerate functionaries is watching a similar dynamic take hold among independents.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


The Booker shortlist
Look here, and here.

The Sea, John Banville
Arthur & George, Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way, Sebastian Barry
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Accidental, Ali Smith
On Beauty, Zadie Smith

The Smiths have it locked up against the rest of these little guys. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Rock rock rock rock, rock-n-roll novels!
Bookslut's resident punk-assed-bitch (wait, is that still good?), Michael Schaub, throws down the rock novel gauntlet. I held my breath as I read this list, not wanting to kill someone who has become a good cyber friend. Luckily, he mentions Hard Core Logo. It's the same old story: how close we come to dealing out screaming, shuriken-addled deaths on a daily basis and don't even know. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Aimee Bender interview
Also at Bookslut. (discuss) (Posted by George)

12 British books that changed the world
Pfft. "Magna Carta"... Big freaking deal. I have five words for you: Guinness Book of World Records. I think they have a whole section on giant tumours. THAT's the kind of thing that changes the world. Plus, it has the word "Guinness" in it. Yum. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Tits to sell lits
Maud, and editor Rebecca Wolff, comments on how American cool-kids litmag Fence features a coyly posed Suicide Girl on the cover of the latest issue. I for one am not upset. (You know, that's not true. What upsets me about SGs is the fact that they've taken a great idea (punk women being naughty) and realized it with children, as in this picture. I picked up the SG book in a store one day and had to put it down because I was so disturbed by how young some of them looked. I mean, baby-fat and all. I quote my old pal Chris on the fine line between disturbing and sexy (regarding the advent of a saucy young songstress, last name of "Spears"), "A 16-year-old dancing in a private school girls' uniform is not sexy. However, a 28-year-old dancing in a private school girls' uniform is.") (discuss) (Posted by George)

Portrait of Rowling has less paint on it than Rowling
Actually, it's pretty darn good. The perspective lines are so fucked up. Or is it just me? I keep thinking her eggs are going to fall off the table. That's a symbol for infertility, you know. I know NUH-ZING! (discuss) (Posted by George)

And because you need to know
Molecular machines are coming. Let's hope they make pens out of them too. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Fun with accents... And racism!
From the Unjustified Complaints Dept. (From Bourgeois Nerd) (discuss) (Posted by George)


S.E. Hinton revealed
She's apparently now writing vampire novels. Cool.

The mystery of S. E. Hinton begins with her genderless name. Her most famous book, "The Outsiders," about teenage gangs and alienated youth in Tulsa during the 1960's, transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer adolescent world. Since it was published in 1967, the novel has sold 14 million copies, 400,000 of them last year alone.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Zadie Smith loves Britain but isn't too fond of the British
And Americans who read are weirdos.

America’s a big country. In America only a few weirdos read. I mean, it seems like a lot of weirdos, but that’s because you’re a very big country.

(From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Big boys off the list
McEwan, Rushdie and Coetzee (gasp!) off the Booker list this year. Why? Someone had to go, that's why. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Digital stacks
No, not Suicide Girls. Lie-berries. Students are leading the drive to dismantle our book palaces. Damn students and their forward thinkin ways. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The importance of closure
For those of you who don't know how to deal with those old manuscripts that never went anywhere: buy a gun.

Many a Hollywood screenwriter has bemoaned the brutal Darwinism of the movie business, has felt the dull pain of too many pages and too many years of orphaned work unproduced and unrecognized. Few, however, have found the path of catharsis and creativity discovered by Mr. Benedek.

(From Brenda) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The ten biggest stories ignored by the mainstream media in the last year
Only ten? (discuss)

One Katrina post
I've been trying to stay clear of the whole Katrina thing, mostly because my opinions on the matter won't be popular (poor countries offering a significant fraction of their GDP in aid for a country that threatens their sovereignty and offered a measly $15M to Tsunami victims? It's obscene!), but this blog post, brought to my attention by Lady Ninja, seems to sum all those feelings up in a way likely more palatable than my frothing about responsibility and socioeconomics. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Football Season is Over
Hunter's last words:

"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."

Not for long, anyway. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Ten stupidest utopias
They do say ignorance is bliss... (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

The academic novel and its discontents
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love tenure.

Perhaps we professors turn to satire because academic life has so much pain, so many lives wasted or destroyed. On the spelling corrector on my computer, when I click on English, the alternative that comes up is anguish. Like the suburbs, the campus can be the site of pastoral, or the fantasy of pastoral - the refuge, the ivory tower. But also like the suburbs, it is the site of those perennials of the literary imagination John Updike names as "discontent, conflict, waste, sorrow, fear".

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Can you really trust writers...
... when they're talking about themselves?

The writer too shy to be named has become a cliché, and a marketing tool. The Traveller, a first novel by the thumpingly pseudonymous John Twelve Hawks, is shooting up the bestseller lists, in part because the author has declined to be identified.
Yet there is also something deeply admirable, in the age of the ubiquitous author interview, in a writer who refuses to tell all, who deliberately obscures or distorts the past, or heads for the privacy of the hills. Writers like Salinger, Lee, Traven and Charrière are among the very few who managed to escape seeing their work banalised by public scrutiny of their own lives. They went on the literary lam, and got clean away.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

On recording Moby-Dick
I can't wait for the cellphone ring tones!

We put aside two weeks for Moby-Dick. Two or three-day sessions with a day or two of rest. He would come into the studio in the morning all fired up, rattle his way through a passage of Shakespeare (his warm-up routine) and take his first sip of his personal concoction — six drops of Tabasco sauce in a glass of water, a man’s recipe. In the eight days of the Moby-Dick recording, he went through the whole bottle of Tabasco. It was, he said, a first: he had never finished a whole bottle on one book. But it did the job — his voice remained clear and lively whatever Melville threw at it.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



I don't know who Jordan is
But she just got a six-figure advance for two novels. And she's never even written fiction.

Better known for her appearance on the show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and subsequent romance with her co-star, the former pop star Peter Andre, Jordan is adding fiction to her CV at the suggestion of the publisher.
Her first autobiography, Being Jordan, sold close to 500,000 copies and earned 4.7 million pounds when it was published by Blake last year.

Gotta go. My Drano tea has finished steeping. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

"That is an anti-humane education"
Philip Pullman attacks the state of current education. The solution to the problem? Do a better job teaching poetry.

Often, teachers not sure about poetry would merely translate it into prose. "You look at the poem and explain lots of words and look at the footnotes and look up references, and then you've 'done' the poem," he said.
"Except that you haven't. Unless you have listened to the thing, unless you've read it aloud, unless you've steeped yourself in the music and the rhythm of the words themselves, you're not getting it".

This rhythm -- will it be on the exam? (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Read the book or watch the movie?

We won't question a system that buys 10 times as many books as can ever be made into films, commissions five times as many scripts from those books as it can ever shoot, pushes them through rewrite after rewrite in an attempt to achieve the elusive balance of commercial elements, then inevitably picks the worst and makes a movie out of it. Those are all pathologies to be dealt with another time or, preferably, by someone else.

That's right, don't question. Take the money and pay off those student loans. Shhh.... (discuss) (Posted by Peter)



I'll miss the smell more than anything...
What if the future can only learn about the second-hand book store second-hand? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Hollywood loves books!
And in a similar way, tapeworms love you, too. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Barrels, Hammers, and Apes: The Novel
Other titles in this series: Who's Flashing Now, Bitch? A Ms Pac-Man Story; Hearts, Clubs, and Spades: A Rogue's Gallery; Ponged; and Frogger Meets Rygar: A Buzzsaw Tale. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

But... all those hands! Who can blame him?
Indian poet on trial for being aroused by goddess. People, they have the bomb. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Another criminal writes a book
Kenneth Walton, no farm boy, has written a book about the complex fraud he committed on eBay selling fake art, notably a Richard Diebenkorn painting.

The author traces how he went from being a relatively normal middle-class kid with a young law practice to being on the front page of the New York Times at the center of an international scandal, revealing the vagaries of the art world, the seduction of eBay selling, and the tricks of his mind that allowed him to rationalize his growing fraudulent behavior.

Okay, it isn't that interesting. I bring it to your attention because I love Diebenkorn and hope you will, too. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Egg on face
But who threw it? Even a swell, upstanding guy like Brian Mulroney has regrets.

A spokesman said Monday that Mulroney was stunned to turn on his television and learn that his private and often R-rated reflections would be on store shelves this week in a book written by Peter C. Newman. "'I was reckless in talking with Peter C. Newman,' " Mulroney said, according to spokesman Luc Lavoie.

What goes around comes around. This book sounds like the anatomy of a narcissist. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Grammar diagrams
Gertrude Stein loved it and you will too! More fun than Latin, more challenging than monkey bars; here's a step-by-step course in diagramming sentences. This'll imporve your writing or keep you happily out of our way. I promise. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

S.E. Hinton unveiled
Well, a little. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Rough drafts
A very cool and large gallery of drawings of famous authors and characters. Well done. (From Drawn) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Rick Moody and the icing on the cake
Otherwise known as Hollywood.

I had my Hollywood moment. It's not that I would turn down an opportunity to be adapted (there are a couple of stories by me optioned at the moment), but I don't need it. It's just icing on the cake. As I said in 1997, movies are a particularly good billboard for a book. Movies need fiction and literature more than vice versa, because literature is where most of the genuine takes place. I don't want more fame, power, or influence. I sort of get uncomfortable with that kind of thing. I just want to be able to keep writing.

I've seen The Ice Storm but never read a Rick Moody book. Don't know what that means. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

War and Peace now just War
Simple books for, uh, modern readers.

Some books achieve the status of cultural landmarks: Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and, more recently, acclaimed blockbusting novels such as Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. The guilty truth is, though, that imposing volumes of this size and significance tend to sit pristine on the bookshelf and are never read.
The publishing industry now has an answer. It is bringing out new editions of some of the great, often unread, works with a fresh emphasis on 'accessibility'. Some may call it dumbing down. The books will be, well, simpler.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


I'm waiting for the porn version
For those of you who can't get enough of The Hardy Boys, Simon & Shuster is working on promotional dolls – ones that can actually communicate in Morse code. There is a musical version in which the intrepid boys can-can their man all the way to the big house. Oh and for real? Ben Stiller is doing a post-modern revisioning called, I'm serious, The Hardy Men. Girls? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Australians would rather starve than read The DaVinci Code
A diet book is causing a stir in Australia and consequently outselling Dan Brown. Apparently, if you eat only one softcover a week, you're good to go. Great marketing strategy, no?

More than 60 per cent of Australian adults, or 7 million people, are overweight, with 2 million of those considered obese, while nearly a third of children are either obese or overweight.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that overweight and obese people cost the country more than $1.2 billion in 2000/01.

Yoiks. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Yvonne Johnson and her faint hope
The co-author (with Rudy Wiebe) of the 1998 Governor-General award nominated Stolen Life gets an earful from the family of the man she apparently violated and murdered.

Stolen Life began when Johnson, while in jail, read the novel The Temptations of Big Bear by Canadian novelist Rudy Wiebe. Johnson, a descendant of the Cree leader, began writing to Wiebe and the two eventually collaborated.

The book was nominated for a 1998 Governor General's Award and won the $10,000 Writer's Trust Non-Fiction award the following year. It spent weeks on the Canadian best-seller list.

This sounds not pretty. The quote from the family member is one of the most lovely bits of found poetry, though -- "Yvonne shared her story of the murder on the first day and on the second day made it all about her."(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Highbrow pedophilia?
A nice little article on Nabokov's Lolita.(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Hamlet -- the text adventure

From actual gameplay:

> kiss horatio
I don't think you and Horatio are close enough for that.

What? (From Boing2) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Library Thing
I have no idea how this would be useful, but what the hell -- we're Bookninja! (Mac users may want to check out Delicious Monster instead.) (From Metafilter) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

After You've Blown It
It'll be on the Web as a lesson for other book designers. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

n+1=the believer
OK, not really. But it's still an interesting article about the two newest, hottest magazines for the litterati. Love or hate.

At a time when older forms of media are supposedly being swallowed up by newer ones, the impulse to start the kind of magazine Partisan Review was in the late 1930's or The Paris Review was in the 50's might look contrarian, even reactionary. If you are an overeducated (or at least a semi-overeducated) youngish person with a sleep disorder and a surfeit of opinions, the thing to do, after all, is to start a blog. There are no printing costs, no mailing lists, and the medium offers instant membership in a welcoming herd of independent minds who will put you in their links columns if you put them in yours. Blogs embody and perpetuate a discourse based on speed, topicality, cleverness and contention - all qualities very much ascendant in American media culture these days. To start a little magazine, then - to commit yourself to making an immutable, finite set of perfect-bound pages that will appear, typos and all, every month or two, or six, or whenever, even if you are also, and of necessity, maintaining an affiliated Web site, to say nothing of holding down a day job or sweating over a dissertation - is, at least in part, to lodge a protest against the tyranny of timeliness. It is to opt for slowness, for rumination, for patience and for length. It is to defend the possibility of seriousness against the glibness and superficiality of the age - and also, of course, against other magazines.

I hear Eggers actually chews bark to make the paper for The Believer! (discuss) (Posted by Peter)



Serious crossover appeal
Northumberland County Council is proposing merging the public library system with local pubs. This way they better serve the glut of bartender/librarians in the municipality. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer and her book addiction.

Because of a lack of time, Schlichenmeyer said it's been two years since she's read a book for pleasure.

She said her favorite book of all time is "Salvation on Sand Mountain" by Dennis Covington, a book about the holiness of snake handling.

Her favorite books this year are "The Color of Love" by Gene Cheek and "Hero Mamma" by Karen Zacharias.

She said she forgets the plot of most books she reads within two weeks of reading them because she reads so many books and it's hard to retain everything.

(disgust) (Posted by Kathryn)

More glut
Mobile phone novels are the new karaoke in China.

"About two months ago, I happened to learn from the newspaper that a mobile phone mini novel contest would be held in Shanghai," she says. "Before that, I never thought of writing a story on a mobile phone. Out of curiosity and my love of literature, I decided to have a try."

Organized by the Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, China National Publications Import and Export Corp's Shanghai branch and Shanghai Oriental TV Entertainment Channel, the first mobile phone mini story contest was launched in early July and ends today.

In the two months the contest has been running, it has received nearly 2,000 works from all over the country through SMS (short message service). People of all ages — from young students to retired workers — have showed an unexpected enthusiasm for the event.

Nice. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

She does what no other person could ever do

No, not oscillate wildly in weight and personal health, we can all do that. Oprah makes Faulkner fun!

It looked like one of the oddest pairings around, and yet Oprah-meets-Faulkner turned out, in a curious way, to be an inspired match. It's easy to forget just how radical a writer Faulkner still is, because he's been so thoroughly absorbed into the canon: a process by which, as one critic once put it, "the idiosyncratic is distorted into the normative." Faulkner is anything but normative. Figuring out what is going on in a book like The Sound and the Fury is so hard—and demands such a leap of faith—that every reader struggles in similar ways. Its demanding textual challenges have a strangely democratizing effect. No matter how many lit-crit terms you can throw around, Faulkner's jagged, wildly original style is hard—and can jar confident readers as well as less confident ones. And I confess: At this point in my life, harried by e-mails, exhausted by obligations, tempted by TiVo, I needed some kind of nudging to get me to sit down and engage as deeply as the book was asking me to.

This from the new poetry editor at the Paris Review. (Second link from Brenda) (discuss) (Posted by George)

And in related news...
The dumbing down of literature continues apace.

Some books achieve the status of cultural landmarks: Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and, more recently, acclaimed blockbusting novels such as Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. The guilty truth is, though, that imposing volumes of this size and significance tend to sit pristine on the bookshelf and are never read.

The publishing industry now has an answer. It is bringing out new editions of some of the great, often unread, works with a fresh emphasis on 'accessibility'. Some may call it dumbing down. The books will be, well, simpler.

Somebody ought to take a serious look at One Duck Stuck in the Muck. That damn book of tongue twisters is very difficult to read. I think it's a disservice to our children to continue to allow its difficulty to undermine their self-confidence and futures in button pushing and lever pulling. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Curious George vs the Nazis
That monkey is always getting into trouble. Like in Curious George and the Threshing Machine. But it seems his authors lived an even more "adventurous" life. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Let the necrophilia begin!
Once again the publishing industry shows its zombie side by pouncing on the corpse of New Orleans. If it bleeds, it leads. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Come on everybody, do the Bloomsbury wiggle
Harry's publisher is trying to [link updated!] wiggle into the US market with a purse of £50M, but finding themselves priced out of the game. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Poetry reviews
That is to say, reviews of poetry in Poetry.

The rules for our omnibus reviewers are simple. (We bend the rules occasionally for other pieces, when there is a pairing of reviewer and book we especially want—Phyllis Rose and Richard Wilbur, for instance.) They can have no personal connection to any of the authors they are writing about. They do not get to select the books to be reviewed, though we do discuss the list with them and try to make the assignment interesting for them. They are given a strict total word count, which they are free to distribute among the various books as they see fit (e.g., eight hundred words for one book, four hundred for another, etc.). And finally—most importantly—they must express a clear opinion about each book reviewed.

Just the mention of Richard Wilbur makes me weak in the knees. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Playboy's going down
So to speak. (From Goodreports) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Some possibly good news
The more sexist you are, the shorter your life will be. Somehow that feels like it should be good news, but practically, sadly, I don't think it makes a difference. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

The Google library
Google and publishers are at odds again.

To prevent the wholesale file-sharing that is plaguing the entertainment industry, Google has set some limits in its library project: Users won't be able to easily print materials or read more than small portions of copyright works online.
Google also says it will send readers hungry for more directly to booksellers and libraries.
But many publishers remain wary. To endorse Google's library initiative is to say "it's OK to break into my house because you're going to clean my kitchen," said Sally Morris, chief executive of the U.K.-based Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. "Just because you do something that's not harmful or (is) beneficial doesn't make it legal."

When I worked at Harlequin, I once proofread a book in which a woman fell in love with a man who broke into her house and did the dishes. It worked out well for them. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Who's the most important person in publishing?
The writer? The reader? The editor? The buyer. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

In defence of fiction
Jay McInerney on the relevance of the novel. But who will defend McInerney?

We've been hearing about the death of the novel ever since the day after Don Quixote was published. Twenty years ago, it was common knowledge in American publishing circles that the novel was over. Even as he complimented me on my first novel, which he had just purchased for publication, Jason Epstein, then vice-president of Random House, told me over a lavish lunch that the novel had probably outlived its audience and that people my own age didn't seem to be interested in literary fiction. He was trying to prepare me for the obscurity that was my probable fate.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Why doesn't CanLit sell better?
Globe editor Martin Levin offers some thoughts on the publicity game.

In their scramble for the little selling edge that a prize short-listing can bring, publishers tend to bring out their big fiction titles in clusters; indeed, sometimes titles from the same house compete against one another in the same week. That makes getting significant attention from us, never mind the country's other book-talk venues, the number of which appears to be shrinking by the day, a chancy business. I've often suggested to publishers seeking the section front for an author that their best chance is to publish in February, or June, when competition is less ferocious, and good new books scarce.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Read this!
The Litblog Co-op has chosen Steve Stern's The Angel of Forgetfulness as its Autumn 2005 Read This selection.
The Rake voted for Lance Olsen's 10:01 instead, which can be read online here. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Neil Gaiman on the future of film
Ah yes, that pesky money-making problem.

I think we're heading soon to the point where a lot of things are going to be up for grabs. We're moving into a world in which the actual recording process is cheap and free. I would love to see a deep democratization of film, and I think that is actually on the border of happening. I think the Web will level the playing field, is already leveling the playing field, as broadband starts to become more of an international reality. If I wanted to make a film now and I wanted people to see it, I'd just put it up on the Web. There's not really a way to make money off that, which is one of the places where things sort of break down. I'm fascinated by people, like (filmmaker) Steven Soderbergh, who are saying they'll release (movies simultaneously) on the Web and on DVD. I don't know that the time for that has quite come yet, but it makes absolute sense that people will do it like that one day or that delivery methods will change.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


CBC lockout event
CBC workers are trying to publicize an ACTRA organized event for Wednesday night at Massey Hall in Toronto. I took the liberty of converting their press release to pdf. Feel free to distribute it widely. (discuss) (Posted by George)

$1.8 million royalty advance on sales
A 25 year old British army private has secured a major book deal for his autobiography. His short life reads like a Monty Python skit. You were lucky to have a ditch, that sort of thing. Wish I'd been heroic, wish I'd been raised dirt poor in Grenada, wish I'd experienced a coma; some folks has all the luck... (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Singapore Muslims get all hot and bothered
A new book marked X-rated will be the part of the Islamic religious education curriculum. Roman Catholics convert in droves.

The book will be introduced in November, Singapore's largest Muslim body confirmed on Monday. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore is putting out the book focusing on sexuality and emotions for Muslim teenagers as part of a bid to jazz up religious instruction.

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Indira Gandhi and the KGB
Great name for a rock band.

Russia's feared KGB spy service penetrated all levels of the Indian government under Indira Gandhi in the 1970s and became a major cash backer of her Congress (R) party, according to a book published on Monday.

The KGB operation in India during that period was its largest in the world outside the Soviet bloc and it even had to create a new department to handle it, according to The Mitrokhin Archive II based on the KGB's own secret files.

This seems less surprising the more I read about it. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Partying through the ages
Back when people used to dress up and carry their own spoon and life was simpler. The British Library rocks.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and directed by Professor Ronnie Mulryne, former director of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick, The Festival Books Digitisation Project features 253 books from the late 15th to 18th centuries, photographed and presented in full, with preliminary material, title pages, illustrations and dedications.

This list made me drool and then I linked to a few; this is the internet at its absolute best. No dust mites, no authorisation, no inclination to nick. Is not cyberia democratic? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


I, zombie
A woman in the U.S. has bought the right to name a character in the new Stephen King book for $25,100.
(From Maud) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Free Sci-fi
Metafilter has a nice roundup of free SF shorts online, from the classics to contemporary stuff. Some excellent stories here. (Also another Metafilter Calvino roundup here.) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

New York Times Funny Pages
For those of you those still ticked over TimesSelect, maybe the new Funny Pages will mollify you. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Audiobooks on the move
Coming soon to a commute near you.

Simply Audiobooks, a two-year-old audio book company that rents through the Internet, modeled after Netflix, is taking to the streets of Toronto, where it is based, to introduce its Cure for the Common Commute promotion.

According to a company spokeswoman, Alyson Fernandes, during the morning commute of Oct. 6, motorists taking a busy Gardiner Expressway exit will encounter a succession of actors outfitted with scrubs and stethoscopes and holding signs. (First: "How is your commute today?" Second: "Honk if you hate traffic." Third: "Cure your commute up ahead.")
At the next intersection, the actors will move among idling cars and hand drivers a sample CD.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Quentin Blake does the right thing
A new book of collected Roald Dahl work will be illustrated not just by Blake but by a slew of other notable kidlit illustrators. Sorry, I just wanted to say slew. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

I'd transgress with this man
Ian McEwan. Oh god, I'm weak in the knees just saying his name. Ian McEwan (I'll try again) handed (with his own immacualte hands) free books (free!) (books!) in his local park. On the green green grass. His hand brushed...; oh my! Is it any surprise that it was mostly women who took his gifts?

As in the 18th century, so in the 21st. Cognitive psychologists with their innatist views tell us that women work with a finer mesh of emotional understanding than men. The novel - by that view the most feminine of forms - answers to their biologically ordained skills. From other rooms in the teeming mansion of the social sciences, there are others who insist that it is all down to conditioning. But perhaps the causes are less interesting than the facts themselves. Reading groups, readings, breakdowns of book sales all tell the same story: when women stop reading, the novel will be dead.

He's forgotten all the other complex sociology at work in his gifting, though, hasn't he? How adorably guileless. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Tony Blair denies everything
Apparently Lance Price, former spin-doctor, uh, media advisor, to the Prime Minister, is a liar. Well, at least he's written a few things that have rather upset poor Mr Blair. Apparently, for instance, Blair did not "relish" sending troops into Iraq. Oh and in other biographical news, Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, do not practise voodoo with their toenail clippings. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Bookcrossing gets Euro-press
The biggest bookclub in the world. Too bad writers don't get royalties for each time their books are read.

A book critic claimed to have found an advance copy of the hugely anticipated new novel by best selling writer Michel Houellebecq on a park bench.

In his review, Angelo Rinaldi, literary editor of Le Figaro newspaper, attributed his find to "le bookcrossing." But in a telephone interview he conceded the story was a humorous way to disguise a leak of the book, "La possibilite d'une ile" ("Island"), which he panned.

"But I think it's a wonderful idea to share books," said Rinaldi, a member of the prestigious Academie Francaise, the watchdog of the French language. "When I take a train, I often leave a book behind. But I've been doing that for ages. I didn't know I was a pioneer.".

Ahh, that charming French arrogance! You almost want to bottle it. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


Google being sued
The great democratizer is up against copyright infringement. Wait, what was that I said about democracy? Hey, where's the Writers Union of Canada in all this? Get in there, kids.

The Authors Guild, a New York-based non-profit organisation, said its primary aim was to advocate for and support the copyright and contractual interests of published writers.

The group launched legal proceedings along with three authors - Herbert Mitgang, a former New York Times writer and the author of fiction and non-fiction books; Betty Miles, an award-winning writer of children's and young adults' books; and Daniel Hoffman, an author and editor of poetry, translation, and literary criticism, who was the US poet laureate in 1973-74.

"By reproducing for itself a copy of those works that are not in the public domain, Google is engaging in massive copyright infringement. It has infringed, and continues to infringe, the electronic rights of the copyright holders of those works," the guild said.

It's gonna be ugly. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Tom Wolfe is Charlotte Simmons
I bet he looks great in a cheerleader costume; well, it'd be an improvement on that creepy colonial safari white linen thing he ususally wears. Dapper? I think not. So anywayz, Tom Wolfe is a brand, now.

"We are using Tom Wolfe's name as a brand, rather than the title of the book. He is an icon himself," said Tanya Farrell, publicity director for Picador USA, which is printing more than 2 million copies of the 738-page novel in which the 74-year-old writer tries to infiltrate the minds of American college students.

'Tries' seems to be the operative, there. Folks, if a person is iconic, does that make them an icon? And how do we get from icon to brand, exactly? Yikes. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Mailer and Ferlinghetti to receive honourable National Book awards.

The National Book Awards will celebrate two senior literary rebels this fall, giving honorary awards to "Naked and the Dead" author Norman Mailer and to San Francisco-based Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Sounds about right. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

I think this speaks for itself. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


The Original Alice
The British Library strikes again. Turning The Pages is an amazing initiative; They've just posted The Original Alice; it takes a while to load but it is absolutely worth the wait. Audio by Miriam Margolyes.

The British Library’s award-winning Turning the Pages technology allows users to browse the handwritten pages of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and magnify full lines of text as well as Carroll’s original illustrations. Three-dimensional animation mimics the action of turning each page which, can be done by using a mouse or scrolling through each page individually. An accompanying text transcription and voiceover by Miriam Margolyes is also included. A series of features unique to this manuscript include a rotate function that allows you to turn Carroll’s illustrations so that they appear in landscape format and on the final page of the text users will be able to lift the photograph of Alice Liddell to reveal Carroll’s sketch underneath.

Now, that's awesome. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Is that a bad thing?
A reviewer once said my book lacked a moral centre. I guess it would fit in perfectly in this course.

Schools that abandoned traditional English programs in favour of "critical literacy" were trying to make students agents of social change, Cardinal George Pell warned yesterday.

In a speech in Canberra yesterday, the Catholic archbishop said some schools were placing too much focus on texts that normalised "moral and social disorder".

Right. Because there's no disorder in the bibles.

(From the Saloon) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Bookcast
Powells introduces a new mp3 talk/reading show and kicks it off with Aimee Bender. (From Moorish Girl) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Swearing through the ages
The US is about to up the ante for swearing on air, but the NYT tells us swearing is as natural taking a fucking shit. (For me, this article marks the demise of a favoured trump card in the etymological dance fights guys like me are wont to get into with guys like those I hang around with. In fact, it was just two days ago that I used "zounds" to stump someone. You know who you are, pussy. Bow to me.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Scotia Bank to fund Giller Prize
Lady Ninja has a baby doll Tshirt from Painted Bride Quarterly that reads "@#$% Me!", with a funding pitch for PBQ on the back. God bless her, I love it when she wears it. Oh, and something about an award. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Paperback writer hides from own book behind own name
In a clever marketing move, Picador has opted to disassociate the paperback release of Tom Wolfe's widely-panned I Am Charlotte Simmons from the negative reviews themselves by decling to print the offending (and ridiculous) title on the cover of the mass market edition. Hell, remove Wolfe's name as well and I bet your sales would be even better. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Sharon Olds has nads
Not only can she write a mean poem, she's got the cajones to back it up. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Newspapers as they were meant to be
Full of bustles. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)

You know, I've met some publicists I really, really like. People I can really talk to on a human level. Then there are other times when you bump into some publishing folk and you suddenly feel like you need to take a bath. This morning, for instance... Oop! Time's up! (discuss) (Posted by George)


Oprah-di Oprah-da, life goes on
Did 300 people read Faulkner or did they just buy the set and display it on their hastily-made book shelf, right under the velvet Elvis? (Velvis?) Anyway, Oprah's promoting graphic novels, now, ' cuz they have pictures and so can be 'read' by 60% more Americans. Is that kind, Kathryn? Go to your room. Right now. Here's Oprah on her decision:

"I wanted to open the door and broaden the field," Ms. Winfrey said in an interview. "That allows me the opportunity to do what I like to do most, which is sit and talk to authors about their work. It's kind of hard to do that when they're dead."

Gosh, she's so pragmatic. Buy James Frey's A Million Little Pieces here. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Diet for God
Now you can read The DaVinci Code and lose weight at the same time; just don't be eating loaves and fishes.

Warner announced this week that the book, "The Diet Code: Revolutionary Weight-Loss Secrets from Da Vinci and The Golden Ratio," will be the first in its new line of books called Warner Wellness, which will focus on health, fitness, relationships and similar topics. The book is scheduled for release in April 2006, with an announced first printing of 150,000 copies.

The diet is based on the Golden Ratio or Phi, a mathematical value that was used to built the pyramids and has since been found to exist most everywhere in nature. Da Vinci is said to have used the Golden Ratio to proportion the human figures in his paintings -- which is how it found its way into Dan Brown's best-selling book.

A diet based on the fibonnacci sequence, hmm. It'll work like this: you eat dimishing amounts of food, gradually losing wieght. Now, how'd he spin a book outa that?(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Asterix and Obelix
Albert Uderzo, the 78 year old creator of Asterix will publish the 33rd book mid-October to the delight of kids everywhere .

The new Asterix book, The Sky Falls On His Head, is out on 14 October but Uderzo has steadfastly refused to reveal any plot details.

But it is believed nothing too drastic has changed. The year is still 50BC, and the small village is still holding out against the Roman conqueror.

My guys die for Asterix; we once marched them for two hours up an old Roman route in the French Alps by telling them Asterix and Obelix had trod there. Two hours uphill; the littlest one was only four at the time. That's dedication.(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Taslima Nasreen wins court case
The Calcutta High Court has lifted a ban on Nasreen's novel Shame. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Yvonne Johnson given faint hope
Co-author of Stolen Life (with Rudy Wiebe) gets a chance out of life sentence for her part in a brutal rape and murder. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


Tolkien vs. Lewis
Cage match!

CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were the closest of friends, one struggling to make his fantasy world of Middle Earth a literary reality, the other trying to convince friends his first book about Narnia deserved to be published.

But new research has revealed that their friendship was riven by the most bitter and personal of rows on everything from literature to religion and even their choice of spouse.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Tales from the Vault
An awesome collection of Canadian pulp fiction. (From Metafilter) (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

More than words
Do good deeds, and you may wind up the heroine of a Harlequin.

The "More Than Words" award, which the romance publisher Harlequin presents to five women annually, is in many ways typical corporate largess. The honorees, founders of inspiring community organizations, each receive a $10,000 check for their programs, and the publisher occasionally sponsors fund-raising and other events for the causes.

But recipients also get something that they will never get from the United Way: an actual Harlequin bodice-ripper - or less steamy female-fiction variant - based on their organization.

I so badly want to be in a bodice-ripper. Maybe I'll get in this line instead. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Why aren't we going green?
Where are the books on climate change? I'd add a bunch of other topics to that "where are" question, but this is a good start. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Politics affect publishing?
Heaven forefend!

Two years ago, when I agreed to write an afterword to William Kaplan's sequel on the Airbus affair (a book in which I have no financial interest), little did I imagine the pre-emptive pressures that high-priced and well-connected lawyers could put on publishers.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Fighting censorship with art
How radical! This might finally be what does it, folks! I'm just so jazzed! Yeah! (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Corrections
Having the mistakes in your book corrected. Suuuuure... "mistaaaaaakes".

Corrections in books are rare. But the conclusion this implies - that books rarely contain errors - is itself incorrect. Books are not usually corrected because they can't be, not because they shouldn't be.

I wish we could also correct our royalty statements. I've had a sneaking suspicion for quite some time that those things are just plain wrong. (discuss) (Posted by George)

200,000 petitions
Challenging the Patriot Act, one signature at a time. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Evolutionary biology as linguistic tool

Articles like this make me all hot in my pants. But I just can't get off on anything less than 10,000 words. I need more time! I'm not a machine, you know! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Russia's pulp fiction crisis
Like the oil crisis, but for quality literature. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Write what you know...
I'm a sucker for The Family Guy, so a lit reference within must get serious linkage attention. Video clip. (I'm told this doesn't play on a MAC. So, to MAC users I say in advance: suckers!) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Left behind
What kind of books get abandoned on the subway?

While Moore loaded boxes, Blum opened several. The first had two “Harry Potter”s, “one of them the new one,” Blum said, and a lot of academic books. Peering into a box that had “Asst. softcover books” written on it, she said, “Here’s ‘Ulysses.’ And ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘West Side Story’ in the same book.”

OK, the same kind of books that get abandoned everywhere else. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Library fragments
Beautiful. Just read them. (From Wood) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Boing Boing vs. the Authors Guild
Xeni Jardin says it's OK to trust Google, while Cory Doctorow says the Authors Guild doesn't speak for him.

But the Authors' Guild has brought a class action suit on behalf of all writers who will be scanned by Google Print. That includes me, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Larry Lessig, and innumerable other authors who think that the AG is full of crap. In other words, the AG believes that Google shouldn't be allowed to opt writers in to its Google Print program (which will make money for writers and sell more books), but they believe that they should be able to opt writers into their costly, suicidal lawsuit against Google, which, if they are victorious, will reduce sales and take money out of writers' pockets.

The Authors' Guild represents a few thousand writers, an insignificant fraction of the writers whose works Google proposes to scan. They don't speak for me.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Hawking interviewed
This must be the most painful interview I've ever read.

Behind his shoulder, his assistant nods. There will now be some time for live questions. Stupidly, given that I have read all about it, I fail to realise just how arduous and time-consuming the process of live communication is. If I did, I wouldn't squander the time on asking a joke, warm-up question. I tell him I have heard he has six different voices on his synthesizer and that one is a woman's. Hawking lowers his eyes and starts responding. After five minutes of silence the nurse sitting beside me closes her eyes and appears to go to sleep. I look around. On the windowsill are framed photos stretching back through Hawking's life. There are photos of one of his daughters with her baby. I notice Hawking's hands are thin and tapering. He is wearing black suede Kickers.

Another five minutes pass. There are pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the wall, one of which has been digitally manipulated to feature Hawking in the foreground. I see a card printed with the slogan: "Yes, I am the centre of the universe." I write it down and turn the page in my notebook. It makes a tearing sound and the nurse's eyes snap open. She goes over to Hawking and, putting her hand on his head, says, "Now then, Stephen," and gently wipes saliva from the side of his mouth. Another five minutes pass. Then another.

This is Hawking on his new book, A Briefer History of Time. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Drug users getting younger all the time
Here's a classy idea from Australia. They don't even look like very interesting books.(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Kirkus reviews of censored and challenged books
The Book Standard has compiled reviews before the fact of the books America loves to hate. Books they'd hate if they could read well enough to have read them. Books they've heard might influence young minds and make them consider things like equality, normal sexual behaviour and joy. I see no cookbooks on this list. Where are all the banned cookbooks? Where are the banned exercise books? Where are the banned pop psychology books? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


To galley or not to galley
The Literary Saloon discusses the pros and cons of publishers sending galleys for review -- especially now that some of them are showing up for sale on Amazon.

At the Words Without Borders blog Dalkey Archive Press' Chad Post takes on a (not freely accessible online) Publishers Weekly article by Lynne W. Scanlon in All Books (and Jeans) Are Not Created Equal. Scanlon was apparently particularly upset to find galleys of new publications on sale at Amazon.com -- cheap substitutes book-buyers might opt for, thus denying publishers revenue they'd otherwise get (if the book buyer had no choice but to pay the higher retail price (though the buyer always has the option of simply not buying)).

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Immortalize your doom here
Damn, I should have bid on David Brin's offering. I would have paid at least $5,000 for the rights to Moon Base Darbyshire. Or maybe Ebola: The Darbyshire mutation.

The most unusual offering was probably from science-fiction author David Brin: "How about something original? Let the bidder choose between: The name of a rogue moon on a collision course with a doomed planet, an exotic and gruesome disease of unknown origin, or an entire species of wise, ancient extraterrestrials." The winning bid: $2,250.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

More money on the way for the Walrus

Feed the beast. Feed it!

Help for ailing The Walrus magazine appears to be on the way from Ottawa.
Yesterday, an official in National Revenue Minister John McCallum's office said "the minister is in the midst of considering" a policy change that would permit a non-profit magazine such as The Walrus to have foundation status. "A decision will be made in the next couple of weeks," an indication that the federal government is about to overturn the status quo.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Giller shortlist
The usual suspects and some others.

  • Joan Barfoot for her novel Luck, published by Knopf Canada
  • David Bergen for his novel The Time In Between, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Camilla Gibb for her novel Sweetness in the Belly, published by Doubleday Canada
  • Lisa Moore for her novel Alligator, published by House of Anansi Press
  • Edeet Ravel for her novel A Wall of Light, published by Random House Canada

Brand? Boyden? Heti? Urquhart? Crummey? Who wants to start the argument? (please discuss) (Posted by George)


The geek kings
Time interviews Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon. What fun. Especially the part about Hollywood.

JW: I find that when you read a script, or rewrite something, or look at something that's been gone over, you can tell, like rings on a tree, by how bad it is, how long it's been in development.

NG: Yes. It really is this thing of executives loving the smell of their own urine and urinating on things. And then more execs come in, and they urinate. And then the next round. By the end, they have this thing which just smells like pee, and nobody likes it.

(From Metafilter) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

If you like these books...

The politics of racial profiling in bookstores.

The dismantling of the Colored Section may help a writer like me. Front and center at Borders, The Untelling could catch the eye of "mainstream" readers who have heard my name before or seen the book reviewed in the major dailies. But where would this leave the other authors who rely so heavily on the browsers of The Colored Section?

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Don't buy new books
They depreciate as soon as you take them out of the store.

a landmark study released Wednesday confirms what publishers, authors and booksellers have believed -- and feared -- since the rise of the Internet: Used books have become a modern powerhouse, driven by high prices for new works and by the convenience of finding any title, new or old, without leaving your home.

(From Literary Saloon) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Weekend Edition:

Sony Librie unchained
Someone has produced a non-DRM version of Sony's nice but crippled e-book reader. (From Boing Boing) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

I do it for the groupies
Are writers the new rock stars? Minus the money and relevance, of course.

NO LONGER IS IT JUST ROCK stars who go on tour, attract groupies and perform live. Britain has gone crazy over writers and readings at literary festivals. There are now 207 UK festivals, from 20-seater village affairs to big-tent international events.
The key literary pit-stops are Hay-on-Wye, Cheltenham and Edinburgh. But there are scores more, as well as many abroad. The newest hotspot is Marrakesh, where Arts in Morocco (AiM) has invited some of the best British writers to provide a weekend of highbrow entertainment this month. Esther Freud, Hari Kunzru, Meera Syal and publishers and literary agents are descending on North Africa to talk up Eng lit.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

2005 Sunburst Awards
Sure, everyone's excited about all the wild and crazy Giller shortlist. But the 2005 Sunburst Award shortlist is pretty damn fine too. The winner will be announced this Wednesday. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The Booker that shoulda
The Guardian has a fun contest in which contestants can win a library of the Booker greats by picking a past book that was "robbed" of the prize. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Random-sentence reviews
Aren't they all?

by Herman Melville
“‘Am I a cannon-ball, Stubb,” said Ahab, ‘that thou wouldst wad me in that fashion?’”
People who enjoy witty banter will love this tale of two unlikely friends, Ahab and Stubb. One of them is very neat and the other is something of a slob. They are constantly making funny remarks to one another on account of their humorously contrasting approaches to life.
One word of caution: you’ll want to invest in a dictionary. Our comical heroes just happen to live in the time of Jesus, and Melville’s deft ear faithfully renders their old-timey lingo—though never at the expense of the comedy.

(From Jeff, who also points us to the seven habits of highly successful people) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)


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