Archive for April, 2008

Wednesday Quote of the Night

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

“The crown of literature is poetry. It is its end and aim. It is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.”

- Somerset Maugham



L.A. Bookstores Getting Punked

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

While the Nigerian email scam can potentially be quite lucrative, it sucks having to wait so damn long. A good grift is a quick and dirty one, as pranksters in L.A. have started to learn.

The L.A. Times is reporting on a recent spike in bookstore hoaxes, in which the scammer calls the bookstore posing as an author scheduled for a book signing, for instance, whose transportation situation has been complicated, say, by having his or her car impounded and asking for cash to get it all together.

The payoff, of course, is when the real author shows up and everyone has an awkward moment followed by creepy laughter.

Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 loved Etgar Keret’s collection of shorts, THE GIRL ON THE FRIDGE.

Mark Sarvas has an interesting book blog and hails Nobel-prize winner J.M. Coetzee’s new novel, DIARY OF A BAD YEAR, as possibly the best book of the year.

SILVER, by Edward Chupack is a TREASURE ISLAND redux that’s only for the die-hard trivia buff.

Barbaro of the unbeatable legs and huge heart is remembered by the jockey who loved him well in, MY GUY BARBARO.

Afternoon Viewing: Alice Walker Reads Sojouner Truth

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Alice Walker reads the 1851 speech of abolitionist Sojourner Truth as part of a reading from Voices of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove:

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Unpaid: Scottish poet Gillian Ferguson gives away 1000 page poem  on the Internet.

Paid: Beat poet and Pulitzer winner Gary Snyder takes $100,000 poetry prize.

R.I.P. Bo Yang

Robin Cook’s latest novel Foreign Body gets the Web TV treatment from Michael Eisner and Big Fantastic.

Australian fantasy author John Flanagan discusses his Ranger’s Apprentice series in a Reuters Q&A.

Tuesday Quote of the Night

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

– George Orwell


NY ComicCon: The Voice Gets It

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

The Village Voice’s Carol Cooper went to last week’s New York ComicCon—and apparently lived to tell the tale. Part journalism and part musing on the very nature of comics, Cooper offers up a wonderfully-nuanced exploration of what appears to be a very strange place.

Though you might trip over Sailor Moon–costumed mangateers on your way to an erudite presentation on political graphic novels, there’s nothing about this convention that’s just for kids. From top-selling fantasist Gaiman referring to ants eating elephant cum during an anti-censorship fundraiser, to a sensitive male at the “Women in Comics” round-table confessing to writer Gail Simone that the racy covers make him embarrassed to read Catwoman on the subway, encounters here between creative icons and their public were honest and intimate.

You can check out the entire piece here.

Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

A nice page of reviews by I can’t exactly turn away when one selection is titled, FOOD, SEX AND SALMONELLA: WHY OUR FOOD IS MAKING US SICK.

The history of hamburgers!

Sex in the city, but which city? Try Hugh Miles’ PLAYING CARDS IN CAIRO: MINT TEA, TARNEEB AND TALES OF THE CITY.

Jack Handey is back with ponderables in bigger portions with WHAT I’D SAY TO MARTIANS AND OTHER VEILED THREATS.

Who is Nancy Pelosi? Find out quick.

Afternoon Viewing: Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

A tribute to the late writer in the form of a 2005 NOW interview:


NPR’s Spring Bouquet of Poetry

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

NPR celebrates the waning days of National Poetry Month by highlighting five noteworth volumes of verse:


As National Poetry Month draws to a close, we recognize five new volumes that celebrate the form, including verse probing the darkness at the edge of everyday life from U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic and hard questions posed in comic fashion from Jane Shore.

Check out the piece here, along with its companion audio clip.

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Bloomberg decides against sharing his wisdom as presidential candidate; writes book to share his wisdom instead.

Let’s face it: Rap parties are dangerous, even when it’s only a book-release shindig.

Hirsi Ali takes on religious and cultural bigotry in a new children’s book.

Got £50,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Bonham’s auction house has just the thing for you.

Bestseller lists gone wild.

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, April 28th, 2008

“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.”

- Phyllis A. Whitney


Writers on Writing

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Here’s a virtual treasure trove for you: The New York Times maintains an excellent (and growing) archive of writers discussing the craft, aptly enough called Writers on Writing.

Diverse and deep, the listing includes heavyweights like Updike and Vonnegut, along with some of the best contemporary writers on the scene.

Highly recommended (and addictive…)

Monday Evening Book Reviews

Monday, April 28th, 2008

THE PLAGUE OF DOVES by Louise Erdrich weaves such a complicated history set in rural North Dakota that drawing a map as you go won’t help. But according to The Washington Post, that’s part of its fabulous mystique.

Pulitzer-winner, Tony Horwitz fleshes out the century between Columbus and Jamestown in A VOYAGE LONG AND STRANGE: REDISCOVERING THE NEW WORLD.

Leif Enger follows up his 2001 successful debut, PEACE LIKE A RIVER, with a tale of “self discovery and redemption disguised as a cracking good adventure tale” in SO BRAVE, YOUNG AND HANDSOME.

Can it really have been eight years sine Jennifer Weiner’s, GOOD IN BED?  Apparently so.  Cannie Shapiro reappears in the warmly received follow-up, CERTAIN GIRLS.

The Denver Post likes OLIVER KITTERIDGE, by Elizabeth Strout – thirteen short stories connected by the title character.

Afternoon Viewing: Charles Bukowski

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Charles Bukowski reading his poem “The Secret of My Endurance”:

He’s Baa-aack. James Frey’s Having Another Go.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

James Frey probably figures the worst has already happened. Having to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show to take a beating is hard. That’s a lot of people snickering and pointing. Especially after you’ve preened on the self-same sofa before Her Majesty, basking in, perhaps, undeserved praise for baring a soul that was a figment of your imagination. Still, that which does not kill you…

A MILLION LITTLE PIECES has established a new popularity as a tainted nic-nack, like a handkerchief used stiff by Clyde Barrow. According to the New York Sun, it remains one of the most frequently borrowed library books. But Clyde’s, I mean Frey’s, coin is still legal tender in the art world, and it’s his circle of artists and art-promoters who’ll have his back to launch his new novel, BRIGHT SHINY MORNING.

I was a little surprised not to see ‘a novel’ in blinking neon above the byline on the new cover, but apparently, Harper Collins found it cost-prohibitive. Notoriety, however, is its own money press. The book, a catch-all chronicle of present-day Los Angeles, goes on sale May 1st. For flourish, there’s a companion art volume by notable book and art dealer, Johhn McWhinnie, selling for $150, and a signed, racy special-edition set looking to take in $30,000 to $50,000 from some daffy collector. Apparently, it’s good to be naughty.

The book’s promotional circus will avoid dry bookstore signings and we’re pretty sure Oprah won’t be gold-starring it. Instead, look for events at rock venues in New York, L.A., and San Fransisco, complete with local heavy-metal bands and Hell’s Angels on hand to provide security. I’m serious. Look, if I was going to make something up, why would it be that? See?

I just have to hope it brings the goods. Mavericks are fun. They make history. And far be it from me not to stick my tongue in my cheek and chuckle along with the rest. But only if it’s worth it.

Here’s hoping.

Monday Morning LitLinks

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Alan Furst chats it up with Publishers Weekly about the role of historical research in compelling writing.

Laura and Jenna Bush team up for a children’s book.

Poet Brad Leithauser explores a massive new biography of Elizabeth Bishop in the Wall Street Journal.

The Sunday Times’ Young Writer of the Year shares his advice on “getting started, getting published and getting noticed”.

The Guardian Book Page offers up an extract from the autobiography of eccentric and outspoken singer Mark E Smith.

Sunday Quote of the Night

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

- Mark Twain

Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

The Houston Chronicle gives us a three-fer of novels with darkness as a central theme – personal darkness, physical darkness, and social darkness.

USA Today gives us a book-gifting list inspired just for Mother’s Day.

And gives ten mini-reviews and two random links for new releases.

What?  You’re still here?  That was twenty-two books to sniff.  Fine.  Try this:

The New Yorker’s James Wood reviews LUSH LIFE by Richard Price and diagrams why great dialogue in literature should make us all sew our lips shut.

That ought to keep you busy until tomorrow.

Afternoon Viewing: Stephen King

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Stephen King discusses his most recent (and 51st) novel, Duma Key in an interview from earlier this year: