Karrie Higgins: “When I first started writing ‘forensically,’ I thought forensic science was going to be THE way for me to understand the world and convey what was happening inside my head. This constant push-pull and intense desire to expose reasonable doubt—a kind of confidence in doubt as the only viable narrative. When I got to Utah and started embracing the more magical elements of Mormonism, I started to think differently about forensics.”
“It is time for writers to come up with books that address what matters to them most as they enter into their ‘Second Adulthood’.”
“The literary appeal of the pseudonym and of the reclusive genius tend to go hand in hand.”
“After a judging session described as ‘truly contentious,’ [a biography of Ted Hughes] was joined on the shortlist by five other titles, with subjects including autism, the digital age and Guantánamo Bay.”
“We asked the staff to turn down the music, and they just stared at us and said we needed to talk to the manager, who was not there. There were about five readers, and a cluster of people who wanted to hear them. TV screens were locked on some kind of game, the music was blasting. We were trapped. And then, hats off to the late David Poindexter, publisher of MacAdam, he grabbed a chair and hoisted it over his head, and we all followed him through the bar and out onto the sidewalk.”
Listening to the people who lived through some of the greatest political tragedies of the 20th century, she seeks to “chase the catastrophe into the framework of the everyday and try to tell a story”.
Roger McGough: ”People in other countries get very jealous that there is so much interest in poetry in this country. We should pat ourselves on the backs. In my day, poetry was seen as intellectual or dull.” He says in the past, “if people wrote poetry, they generally kept it to themselves. But these days, the profile of poetry is bigger.”
The Governor-General’s Literary Awards, which have been handed out since 1937, announced finalists in seven categories in both official languages on Wednesday. The winners, who each receive $25,000, will be revealed on Oct. 28.
“When will Philip Roth win?” has been the question since 1993, when Toni Morrison became the last American to win the prize. At this point, I doubt even Roth cares. (OK, he probably cares a little bit.) But his partisans care deeply, and they grumble loudly every year he’s overlooked.
Since the poem has existed in fragments since the 18th century BC, there has always been the possibility that more would turn up. And yet the version we’re familiar with — the one discovered in 1853 in Nineveh — hasn’t changed very much over recent decades. The text remained fairly fixed — that is, until the fall of Baghdad in 2003 and the intense looting that followed yielded something new.
Svetlana Alexievich’s works often blend literature and journalism. She is best known for giving voice to women and men who lived through World War II, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that lasted from 1979 to 1989, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.
“Super Thursday is the day when publishers release many of the big titles expected to greet eager readers, and elderly relatives, on 25 December. In 2015 there are 404 of them: that, remarkably, represents something of a record, last year we counted 315. In other words: it is a big moment for a book business still highly reliant on gift purchases, and a time of extreme activity for booksellers. And excitement, too, of course. This is fun.”
“When he’s on a job, leaving fake signs and objects in his gym, at IKEA, in book stores, in chain stores, on the street or at a museum, he tries to be sneaky. Once the deed is done, ‘I run away as fast as possible,’ he says. Since January, Wysaski, a Los Angeles comedy writer who runs the website Pleated Jeans, has been planting jokes in the real world. “
“Containers matter. They shape stories and the experience of stories. Choose the right binding, cloth, trim size, texture of paper, margins and ink, and you will strengthen the bond between reader and text. Choose badly and the object becomes a wedge between reader and text.”
“One of the oldest narratives in the world got a surprise update last month when the Sulaymaniyah Museum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq announced that it had discovered 20 new lines of the Babylonian-Era poem of gods, mortals, and monsters.”
Said the Islamic Republic’s deputy minister for culture and Islamic guidance, “This has been organised by the Frankfurt book fair and crosses one of our political system’s red lines. We consider this move as anti-cultural. Imam Khomeini’s fatwa on this issue is reflective of our religion and it will never fade away. We urge organisers to cancel his address.”
“For many observers, this Catch-22 is the fittingly complex legacy of a woman nicknamed La Mamá Grande for her ferocious protection of her authors — she used to set up some of her most promising authors in Barcelona apartments, paying them salaries so they could write full-time — and her sometimes grandiose, “après moi, le déluge” style. Her agency was as much a cult of personality as an institution.”
“Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to Jesse Sheidlower, author of The F-Word, about a recent discovery about the history of one our most enduring expletives. (podcast)
“Why is that always the question fiction writers are asked? Why do readers insist on knowing if the story that held them enthralled was ‘real’? … Readers are nosy. People are nosy. Part of the question is simple nosiness. But only part.”
“Leslie Jamison and Charles McGrath discuss whether, 50 years after Sylvia Plath’s ‘Ariel’ was published, the confessional mode has been co-opted by the memoir.”
“Whenever society starts to think about, what does gender mean, what does sexuality mean, she’s just one of the names that comes up, and people start thinking about her, and talking about her, and portraying her all over again.”
“Much has been said recently about the growth of world literature in the age of globalization, but this has overwhelmingly come from those writing in English and/or dealing with literatures in the Romance languages.”
Here is the thing about how discrimination works: No one ever comes right out and says, “We don’t want you.” In the publishing world, they don’t say, “We just don’t want your story.” They say, “We’re not sure you’re relatable” and “You don’t want to exclude anyone with your work.” They say, “We’re not sure who your audience is.”
The Journal‘s Speakeasy blog looks at the six contenders currently topping Ladbrokes’s list, five of whom have been mentioned for years and one – the current leader, as it happens – whose name will be unfamiliar to many of us.
“There has been ongoing debate at the company about what to do about the limit, a feature unique to Twitter that has created its own lingo and quirky style of brevity but has had its obvious constraints. Users have come up with workarounds to the character limitation by attaching screenshots of longer text or by linking tweets together in a so-called ‘tweetstorm.'”
“Twitter’s character limit is more than a pragmatic concern – it’s an aesthetic and cultural one, too, and it defines the tone and nature of the platform itself. Twitter is a thing constantly in motion, and changing the nature of the tweet will correspondingly change the nature of the tweetstream for the worse.”
For Craig Mod, it isn’t just the tactility of print books that matters (though he loves that quality): “The pile of unread books we have on our bedside tables is often referred to as a graveyard of good intentions. The list of unread books on our Kindles is more of a black hole of fleeting intentions.”
Michael Moynihan, the journalist who uncovered Jonah Lehrer’s inventions and copyings, lays out the case against Roberto Saviano’s ZeroZeroZero.
“We publish here for the first time T.S. Eliot’s review of two books by the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead … Foxy Grandpa was the title character of a popular American newspaper comic strip (1900-1918), in which Grandpa consistently outwitted his two trickster grandsons.”
As the art of pricing books rapidly dissipates, so does that of describing them evanesce.