February 28, 2006

To Be or Not to Be—Shakespeare?
Over the years, controversies about the playwright who produced Hamlet have littered the landscape of literature. In a straight forward analysis of the recent controversy and all prior controversies, Roy Hattersley in the Guardian notes: What Shakespeare looked like doesn’t matter a jot: it’s his writing that counts.

NYC Readings
James Laughlin and recent Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Daivd Rivard will read from Rivard’s poetry collection Sugartown at the Bower Poetry Club (308 Bowery and Bleecker) on March 19th at two in the afternoon and at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th St.) on March 20th at seven thirty in the evening.

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Bloglogo5.jpgThe DaVinci Code Thief
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln claim that Dan Brown plagiarized The DaVinci Code from their The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. If they win, it would bar Random House from publishing the book and might prevent the release of the movie adaptation starting Tom Hanks. There is more on the story in the Scotsman.

Google Book Search in the Crapper?
Judge A. Howard matz of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Google’s use of thumbnail-sized reproductions violatged the copyright of Perfect 10. Spokespeople for Google and the Authors Guild dispute the significance of the ruling, according to an article by Edward Wyatt for the New York Times.

Talk about Confidence
“I’m not just another writer. I don’t think people understand my relationship with this city, and they don’t understand what I’ve achieved,” Kate Braverman, author of Lithium for Medea, declares in a Los Angeles Times interview.

Free Speech
“A friend of mine took his young daughter to visit the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, explaining to her that the place is important because years ago it sold books no other store would — even, perhaps especially, books whose ideas many people found offensive,” writes Catherine Seipp in an Op-Ed piece for the Los Angeles Times.

February 25, 2006

Angels at his Back and the Guardian
BlogLogo5.jpgIn “Omens and Poetic Licence” for the Guardian, John Banville describes the “angel at his back” moment when he decided to plunder the lives of Louis MacNeice and Anthony Blunt to creat Victor Maskell. Gerlad Clarke in the same publication goes into the nature of Truman Capote and his love of movies—from adolescence to his script gig in Italy.

Guardian.gifActually the Guardian ranks as one of the best publications for writers and readers. For example, click this link, and you could read excerpts from Enemy Combatant, the biography of Moazzam Begg, the start of Jay McInerney’s The Good Life, John Updike’s reaction to paintings by Winslow Homer from Looking the Overlooked, a portrait of a writer from Javier Marias’s Written Lives, the horror of Kurt Vonnegut about American hypocrisy in his new memoir A Man Without a Country. And there are more.

Let’s not forget the Original Fiction section.

February 24, 2006

Reading/Writing Programs Coming Up
On March 3 at 7:30 in the Prince George Tea Room, the New York Writers Coalition will sponsor a reading by Kimberly Lyons, Kate Hunter, and others. The Prince George is located at 14 East 28th St. between Fifth and Madison avenues. The Writing Aloud reading series presents writers from the NYWC community reading alongside established and emerging writers. The fees are six dollars for non-members and three for NYWC members.

On May 13, a book festival will be held in Ann Arbor.

On June 3rd, the NYWC will conduct its Write-A-Thon at the Bowery Poetry Club. Participants will write together, attend workshops, and enjoy lunchtime conversations with guest authors.

February 23, 2006

The Vatican Copyright?
Frances D’Emilio reported recently for the Associated Press that the Vatican is demanding that individuals “respect [the] copygiht of the pontiff’s writings and pay for their use.” The question arises: How can an institution that wants to spread its teachings demand royalties for what amounts to dogmatic teachings, as in Pope Benedict’s first encyclical God Is Love, a best seller.

Book Standard Launches Sales Service
Let’s say you want to know how your book’s sales are moving—or that of a friend or enemy. You can get the information on a pay-for-play basis from Nielsen BookScan, which formerly operatedon a subscription basis.

BBA Shortlists Out
In a month, the British Book Awards, which it calls the Oscars of the publishing industry, will present a variety of awards to authors of 2005 in 12 categories, such as the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year and the W.H. Smith Book of the Year.

The big story could be the event. Grosvenor House, the hotel hosting the event, has requested an “exclusion zone” between Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson. The authors have feuded publicly—resorting to fists two years ago.

Benefits of Self-Censorship
“Self-censorship isn’t an enitrely useless faculty: it’s part of the wider set of restraints that can help brash, in-your-face cultures from toppling into utter incontinence.” That’s how Jeremy Harding, contributing editor of the London Review and author of the soon to be release Mother Country, reacts to the furor about the Muhammad cartoons and the cries for protection of freedom of expression.

Why Another Imprint
Juliet Annan writes in the Telegraph: “We are always being told that there are far too many books, and publishers ought to publisher fewer. The big book chains are reducing the range of titles they carry. Celebrity biographies and Dan Brown dominate the bestseller lists. It is harder for small publishers to succeed when they have to contend with th emight of the chains and comnpetition from major publishers.” Read on; there’s hope.

February 22, 2006

Technorati Profile

PEN/Faulkner Awards for Fiction Goes to…
E.L. Doctorow for his novel The March.That gives him two, the first for Billy Bathgate in 1990. The other finalists included: William Henry Lewis (I Got Somebody in Staunton), Karen Fisher (A Sudden Country), Bruce Wagner (The Chrysanthemum Palace), and Jaems Salter (Last Night). Bob Thompson provides a good overview of the authors and their works in “Doctorow’s “The March’ Wins Top Honor” for the Washington Post

New or Beautiful—What’s More Important?
I become confused easily. I visit a friend’s home, recently built or remodeled, and more often than not, my friend celebrates the newness of the thing, how it does not look old. Grayson Perry in a London Times article finds the same thing in art [which I believe extends into writing]:

“We live in an age addicted to newness. It is a core attribute of any successful person or product in our consumer society. The whole economic system in the developed world depends on our continuing desire for new things that we often do not need. Do you remember the Innovations catalogue?

“How long has being new been a way of saying something is good in art? When did this quality take on a life of its own apart from being beautiful or thought-provoking? When I see something I have not seen before, a binary switch is thrown in my head and the memory is tipped into the box marked ‘new experience.’ This gives me a little thrill and I take it for granted that I have seen ‘a good thing.’”

Plagiarism
Stephen Watson, a poet and chair of the University of Cape Town’s English department, recently accused Afrikaner author Antjie Krog of plagiarizing. Rory Carroll covers the story for The Guardian in “South African Author Accused of Plagiarism.”

Meanwhile Dalia Gal says that Mary Higgings Clark stole the plot, characters, and key scenes in The Second Time Around from Gal’s screenplay about the drug industry. You can get more of the story from the “Daily Dish” in the Daily News.

Slash Fiction?
I must confess that until I read “Slashing through the Undercult” in The Telegram, I never heard of Slash Fiction, a bizarre genre spawned by the Internet and obsession with pop-cultural heroes.

Freedom of Expression?
When the European press published the pictures of the prophet, editors and writers came to its defense, but where are their voices when Jordanian writer Jihad Momani and editorial writer Muhammad al-Assadi published portions of the cartoons in articles that condemned the disrespect for the prophet. They were arrested. At the same time, Cocuk-Der is attempting to ban the movie Valley of the Wolves, a Turkish movie based on actual events depicts American troops in Iraq as villians. In the same New York Times piece, there are reports about actors being detained, bishops condemning South Park, and a Hindu organization protesting a French comedy. Where’s the outcry.

How do free press
advocates answer Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa’s question: “What about freedom of expression when anti-Semitism is concerned? Then it is not freedom of expression. It is a crime.” Moussa was referring to the sentencing of British historian David Irving for three years for the crime of Holocaust denial.

February 19, 2006

Technorati Profile

Get Some Great Times Today

Blog021906_html_mc2becce.jpg“In the summer of 1979, just when Yvette Santerre thought her children were all safely launched and out of the house, her granddaughter came to stay in Hermosa Beach and came down with a fever, and then a rash.” That’s the first sentence for the first chapter of Maile Meloy’s novel A Family Daughter. (The illustration was created by Andre Carriho for the New York Times.)

There’s also the first chapters for two other well-received novels, Company by Max Barry and The Good Life by Jay McInerney.

Keither Gessen in “In Search of the Great American Hockey Novel” wonders why hockey has played such a marginal role in American literature. I guess he had not read “Vancouver Dreams” by Frank Zafiro, which appeared in the Summer 2005 edition of SNReview.

The Return of the Serial Novel?
Claire Bott in Publishing News Online believes that she is detecting a trend toward the serial novel, such as At Risk which appeared in the NYTimes. The Guardian has also been running several.

How the Novel Works
Someone knows? Well John Mullan is pretending, and he does a good job. In the Guardian article “Style and Substance,” he discusses John Banville’s use of the first person narrative: He “has a liking for first-person narration and for narrators who fell compelled to go back to things, to go back over things.”