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Tuesday, August 31

Books As Dating Aid? "The London-based arm of the venerable Penguin publishing house has begun to advertise its books as dating aids. According to Penguin, you’re not good looking—or Good Booking—unless you’re holding a book. 'What women really want is a man with a Penguin. You may not even need to read it, just bend the covers, let it stick out of your pocket and the book will do the talking'!" Poets & Writers 09/04

American Readers - And Never The Twain Shall Meet... American readers have become so polartized in their reading. Conservatives buy conservative books, liberals buy liberal books. And what do we learn from such incestuous behavior?... The Guardian (UK) 08/31/04

The Secret Of My Prolificacy How is it that some writers are so amazingly prolific? Every time you turn around, they're popping out another book. Has anyone tested these people for steroids (or, I suppose, the literary equivalent)? Has Stephen King submitted to a blood test lately? Boston Globe 08/31/04

Paid Thesis: Canadian Students Complain More than 50 Canadian colleges require graduate students who wish to see their thesis published in a national, standardized way to submit the work to an American company "which then gets non-exclusive publishing rights." Some students protest that the American company ought not to be able to make money off their research. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/31/04

Discovering The Young Black Demographic Magazine publishers are discovering the young black male. "The magazine industry has largely ignored the young black male reader. Publishers think they pick them up with music magazines like The Source, XXL and Vibe, so as a result there has been a void." Some new magazines are cashing in on that neglect... The New York Times 078/31/04

Sunday, August 29

Exercised By Reading "As book sales fall flat and a national study suggests fewer people than ever read literature, the benefits of pleasure reading are far from obvious to overscheduled Americans with MTV attention spans. Teachers and public-service announcements pound the reading-is-good-for-you message into children from an early age. But by the time many people reach adulthood, they've lost sight of what marketing gurus might call the "takeaway value" of books." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 08/29/04

A Look At Who Made The Booker List "The longlist is conventional enough in many ways - there are no obviously attention-seeking moves, such as the inclusion of sci-fi, crime, thrillers or overtly comic novels, which will add fuel to the usual criticisms that the prize's definition of 'literary fiction' is too narrow. But it is, at least, far from being a list of predictable literary London insiders." The Observer (UK) 08/29/04

Non-Fiction - The New Rock Stars What's happened to fiction? "Until recently, fiction was the more dashing, glamorous side, where arguments broke out and fortunes could be made. Those who wrote and published factual books would never have expected stardom, glamour or fame; rather, they were more like craftsmen. Things have greatly changed. Although fiction still sells in great quantities and continues to produce stars, the attention of publishers and booksellers has moved elsewhere. Everyone in publishing agrees it is getting harder to sell a new novel, even by a distinguished name, in this country; book buyers seem interested only in non-fiction." The Observer (UK) 08/29/04

Stereo-Type Once, designing new typefaces was a difficult proposition. But "computer programs like FontLab and Fontographer have allowed neophytes, as well as veterans, to create a new generation of digital type. During the ensuing digital typographic revolution of the 90's, a slew of designers and illustrators who had never designed an alphabet before flooded Internet sites with bizarrely named, peculiarly styled and sometimes illegible faces. Typeface design became something of an expressive art." The New york Times 08/29/04

Friday, August 27

Booker Prize LongList "The 22 books that made it onto the longlist were chosen from a pool of 132 entries. The most distinguishing feature of this year's lengthy longlist, which otherwise contained few great shocks, was the number of first-time novelists featuring in it - six out of 22." The Guardian (UK) 08/27/04

Thursday, August 26

What Is "Dick-Lit?" "Dick-lit" fits a familiar matrix: It takes the form of first-person memoir or first-person fiction, is set among striving young people in a large city (usually New York) and tells the story of a youngish man -- a man who is starting to feel not so young -- who works in the world of media, just like Bridget Jones. He has achieved a tolerable level of financial success and is bored or simply fatigued by the endless sexual possibilities of urban life. He is looking for a serious girlfriend and is frequently and amusingly disappointed. Career is not an issue for him, politics is not an issue, art is not an issue (indeed, art is usually dismissed as embarrassing, as cringingly pretentious and effeminate, a girly substitute for television). There are no philosophical questions at all in life other than the quest for a satisfying mate. In other words, it is exactly like chick-lit in every way, but with the genders reversed." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/26/04

Wednesday, August 25

UK Breaks Author's Last Wish For Manuscripts The British government has gone against author Anthony Powell's last wish that his manuscripts should go to his school. Instead, the government will give them to the British Library. "These manuscripts are a national treasure and should be viewed by as many scholars, researchers and members of the public as possible. That is why I decided that the British Library would be the right home for these manuscripts. It is part of government policy to make works of art and important documents available to as many people as possible." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/04

  • What The Powell Archive Means To UK "Almost alone among the output of his eminent contemporaries - including Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh - Powell's documents are to stay in Britain thanks to the loyalty to their country of the author, his wife and their two sons. But they will be available to the public in the British Library, the national book depository, rather than at Eton, Powell's old school, thanks to the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/04

Rowling: Edinburgh Should Be World City Of Literature JK Rowling has thrown her support behind the city of Edinburgh's campaign to get UNESCO to name it the first World City of Literature. "It seems eminently sensible to me to recognise this, along with the contemporary literary life here, with a permanent title that can inspire and inform other places around the world." The Scotsman 08/25/04

Iraq's Poetic Sensation A poem by an Iraqi exile that was published with only 1000 copies has become famous in Iraq. "Brother Yasin and Brother Yasin Again became part of the body of work that has come to represent the secret, silent fight against Saddam Hussein's regime. It is one of the most important poems exploring, in a revolutionary way, the link between man's ethereal, spiritual nature and his everyday, habitual life. It expresses simple sentiments while yielding something new with each reading. The Iraqis, who love tragedy, find themselves drawn to this." The Guardian (UK) 08/25/04

Customers Accuse Book Stores With Bias Customers of Barnes & Noble and Borders are complaining that the anti-John Kerry book "Unfit for Command," has been hard to find in the stores. And they're charging the stores with political bias against the book. The stores say they just haven't been able to keep up with demands. The book, which went on sale Aug. 11 with a first printing of 85,000, will have 550,000 copies in print by next week, according to Regnery Publishing. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (AP) 08/25/04

Shorting The Short Story You can't make a living as a writer of short stories. "Oddly, though, you can still make a pretty good living by teaching other people how to write short stories. The form survives - and even thrives, in a forced, hothouse sort of way - because it has become the instructional medium of choice in most of our writing programs. The majority of people who enroll in these programs want to be novelists, but novels don't lend themselves very readily to the workshop format, and so would-be novelists these days spend at least part of their apprenticeship working on stories." The New York Times 08/25/04

Tuesday, August 24

Iowa Writers' Workshop To Lose Director "Frank Conroy, the longtime head of the celebrated Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, will step down at the end of the year." Yahoo! (AP) 08/23/04

Monday, August 23

Porn, The New Best Seller When there's money to be made, there's no reason for publishers or booksellers to be coy. "A wave of confessionals and self-help guides written by current or former stars of pornographic films is flooding bookstores this year, accompanied by erotic novels, racy sexual-instruction guides, histories of sexual particulars and photographic treatments of the world of pornography." The New York Times 08/24/04

Copymight - Plagiarism In The Digital Age Plagiarism is big business. And there are plenty of websites waiting to help you out. "Many companies sell term papers, essays and book reports by the thousands, for as much as $250 a pop, all just a click and Mom's credit card away, and all in the privacy of an undergraduate's dorm room." The New York Times 08/22/04

Sunday, August 22

Will Rowling Write Peter Pan Sequel? Trustees of the estate of JM Barrie have asked three of the UK's top children's book authors to take a try at writing a sequel to "Peter Pan" as the story's 100th anniversary approaches. The trustees aim to commission a new story which will "share the same enchanting characters as the original, the same longevity, and be just as valid in a hundred years as the original is today". The Guardian (UK) 08/20/04

The Persistent Journal (As A Form) Small literary journals are a precarious enterprise. "Circulating only in the low thousands (most of them), subsisting more on donations and patronage than subscription income, kept viable largely through low-paid or even unremunerated labor by devoted staffers, these quarterly or biannual compendia of fiction, poetry, essays, and art are showcases of idealism begotten upon unlikelihood. Yet for all this, in spite of the myriad ills that under-funded ventures are heir to, in spite of the fact that our info-environment is now so paced to the fleeting quick fix, the double-barreled snort of gloss, these journals do survive. Better, they persist." Boston Globe 08/22/04

What The Well-Tuned Colonel Should Read The US military has lists of books it recommends to troops. In 2000 Army Chief of Staff Shinseki detailed his list. These are the books that the chief of staff thinks his colonels and generals should be reading. Now an update by the current Chief, and the changes are interesting. "The Army's reading list is actually a collection of four sublists, each designed for personnel at different stages in their career." Boston Globe 08/22/04

Thursday, August 19

Barnes & Noble Has A Good Quarter Even W/O Harry Book sales comparisons between this June and last are difficult because last year offered a new Harry Potter book. But even without one this year, Barnes & Noble has a good quarter. "The hit may have been only a single, but a 5% jump in bookstore revenues to $961.3 million and a 1.4% rise in comps still look pretty good in the scorebook." Yahoo! (Motley Fool) 08/19/04

Wednesday, August 18

Judge: Booker Sludge Tibor Fischer slogs his way through 126 novels that, "as a judge for this year's Man Booker Prize, I was required to read, because it's clear most publishers don't have a clue what they're doing. Taste: there's no escape. Nevertheless, there are books that I don't like, but I can see they are proficiently written and that others might enjoy them. Yet some entries were so execrable I reckoned they must have been submitted as a joke..." The Telegraph (UK) 08/19/04

Botswana Bestseller The huge success of novels featuring a Botswanan private detective has catapulted their Scottish publisher into the major league. "With sales topping five million in English, Precious Ramotswe is fast becoming to Alexander McCall Smith what Harry Potter is to JK Rowling and Inspector Rebus is to Ian Rankin." The Scotsman 08/17/04

Doin' Da Vinci Widdout Da Code... (Not) It's easy to see the allure of books such as the Da Vinci Code. But it is fiction, and "the problem with this ad hoc iconography is that readers of The Da Vinci Code may come to believe that by accepting the conventionally flimsy premises of a thriller plot, they have learned something about Leonardo and his art..." The New Republic 08/13/04

Cover-Mel Is People's Biggest Cover To Date For what it's worth (and we don't suggest the cultural import), "Inside Mel's 'Passion,'" a March cover story, was People's biggest newsstand hit in the first six months this year, selling more than 1.7 million copies." New York Daily News 08/17/04

The Classics Will Set You Free? On the campus of Brown University in a program called ArtsLit, a teacher named Kurt Wootton is using reading and performance of classic texts to teach literacy to local teenagers from struggling schools. "Like immigrants of earlier generations - the Italian stonecutter tuning his radio to opera, the Irish stevedore reciting Yeats in a tavern, the Jewish tailor viewing a Yiddish production of 'King Lear' - Mr. Wootton sees high culture not as the oppressor of the lowly but as an agent of their liberation." The New York Times 08/18/04

Khouri Admits Some Lies In Book Norma Khouri now admits that she fabricated parts of her best-selling nonfiction book, "Forbidden Love," which tells of her friendship with a Muslim woman murdered by her father for falling in love with a Christian. The author says, however, that she did not lie about the woman's existence or her killing. Yahoo! (Reuters) 08/18/04

  • Previously: Khouri Insists Her Book Not A Fraud Norma Khouri is still maintaining her book is not a hoax, even after her publisher pulled the book from stores. "It didn't take them [Random House] long to make up their minds. They gave her until Friday to respond to them and when she didn't respond to them, they pulled the pin on her. They were obviously very anxious to move." Sydney Morning Herald 08/17/04

The 9/11 Report As Literary Success That "The 9/11 Commission Report" has become a best seller may not be solely due to its subject matter. Concerned that the American people be able to grasp its content, the book's authors and editors paid attention to something neglected by many historians and countless writers of government reports: good, clear storytelling. Chicago Tribune 08/18/04

Tuesday, August 17

A Renaisance In Christian Fiction As the quality of Christian fiction rises, readers are following. "Moving beyond prose that reads like either a Bible study or a dime-store romance, Christian writers have started a literary renaissance by exploring serious religious themes in everything from futuristic thrillers to historical epics." The Seattle Times 08/16/04

For Harlequin Readers, The Romance Is Fading Romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises intends to woo them back, but for now many readers have strayed from the genre, irresistibly attracted to other kinds of books. "Explosive growth in the market for women's fiction, particularly in newer genres like chick lit and women's thrillers, has been drawing readers away from traditional romance novels, those formulaic bodice-rippers stocked with hunky heroes and love-conquers-all endings." The New York Times 08/17/04

A Novel Attempt To Dissuade A Third Bush With time being of the essence, a Canadian novelist intent on skewering the various George Bushes (H.W., W. and P.) turned to an online publisher, which is serializing his "Too Many Georges" online. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/17/04

Monday, August 16

Khouri Insists Her Book Not A Fraud Norma Khouri is still maintaining her book is not a hoax, even after her publisher pulled the book from stores. "It didn't take them [Random House] long to make up their minds. They gave her until Friday to respond to them and when she didn't respond to them, they pulled the pin on her. They were obviously very anxious to move." Sydney Morning Herald 08/17/04

  • Previously: Publisher Pulls Khouri Book (Says Memoir Is Probably Fiction) Random House has concluded that Norma Khouri's "Forbidden Love," was probably a work of fiction. "The publisher said it would permanently withdraw the book from circulation and cancel the planned publication of a second book by the author. Last month it temporarily withdrew the book pending its investigation." The New York Times 08/15/04

Manly Men's Reading Club Wins Reading Prize A British reading club known as the Racketeers has been named "as recipients of the Penguin/Orange Reading Group Prize, awarded each year to the group who 'demonstrate the most imaginative and diverse reading' in Britain. The only all-male group among 700 entrants, their submission was entitled 'Real Ale, Real Books, Real Men?' and set out their mission: 'The pub atmosphere is an integral part of our ethos. We like the noise, we like the beer, we like the idea of talking about literature in these surroundings. Other drinkers frequently express an interest in our discussions and sometimes get involved'." The Observer (UK) 08/15/04

A Language All Their Own "The book world has a language all of its own. Reviewese isn't confined to book reviewers; it pervades the literary world. A lot of it comes from book-jacket blurbs, which produce a repertoire of sentences that publishers would like to see in book reviews. This literary lingo consists of words, constructions and formulations few English speakers use, but that sound true if used about books." The Telegraph (UK) 08/08/04

Where's The "There" There? Is "place" important to novels anymore? A group of Canadian literary types sit down to debate the question: "The commodification of place is so prevalent that even non-fiction writers, such as Pico Iyer, have based their careers on it. Read between his clever phrases and glib descriptions of a city in Bolivia or a Toronto street and his point is almost always the same: We're living in a global village now and there's no "there" anymore." The Tyee 08/16/04

Omnivore In The Flesh Lawrence Weschler is working on starting a new serious thoughtful non-fiction magazine - Omnivore. In the meantime, he talks about his ideals. "What he longs for is a return to the "non-Pavlovian" reading and writing experiences he enjoyed when he would come across a two-part, 40,000-word piece on surfing, say, and be swept away by the dynamic drive of the narrative, an experience that he could relive around the dinner table the following weekend because his friends would have exulted in the same article. As a writer, he mourns the cherished experiences under the halcyon days, for him anyway, when William Shawn edited The New Yorker." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/16/04

Can You Teach Pleasure In Books? "Educators say that from first through third grades, children learn to read; from fourth grade on, they read to learn. Often left out of this discussion is whether a person can be taught to love to read and when or how that happens. In a time when statistics tell us that reading literature for pleasure is on the wane, it seems important to look at our own relationships with books." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 08/15/04

Sunday, August 15

When Book Reviewers Forget That Reviewing Is Their Job "Book reviewers, being journalists, are ephemeral. Yet literary criticism - what TS Eliot called the proper activity of the civilised mind - makes judgments which, because of their subject as well as their quality, are not diminished with time. Reviewers who develop ideas above their station ought to bring themselves down to earth with examples of a perfection to which they can barely aspire." The Observer (UK) 08/15/04

Are Today's Novelists Undermining Fiction? New Republic critic James Wood is famously harsh on contemporary post-modernist fiction: "Part of my anxiety and unease about novels by Foster Wallace, Franzen, and others is that they have swallowed a great deal of journalism, sociology, and cultural studies, which means they are no longer doing something that's not replaceable that another medium can't do as well or better. . . . I am accused of being too harsh, but the critic's job is to look at the threats, the menaces to literature." Boston Globe 08/15/04

Publisher Pulls Khouri Book (Says Memoir Is Probably Fiction) Random House has concluded that Norma Khouri's "Forbidden Love," was probably a work of fiction. "The publisher said it would permanently withdraw the book from circulation and cancel the planned publication of a second book by the author. Last month it temporarily withdrew the book pending its investigation." The New York Times 08/15/04

The Book Critic And 130,000 Books A Year Is it true that newspapers, while "too dumb to be stylishly snarky, also do a disservice by running reviews that are 'advertising posing as criticism'?" So what is the role of the modern book reviewer? (in the 130,000-books-a-year universe, it's not so easy a question to answer...) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 08/15/04

Thursday, August 12

Slate Could Fetch Premium Price Analysts are speculating that the online magazine Slate could sell for $10 million - $12 million, or twice the publication's annual revenue. "Whereas magazines generally sell for an amount equal to or just above their annual revenue, the 'prestige value' of Slate will probably warrant a significantly higher price tag." New York Sun 08/11/04

Ex-Billboard Mag Editors Sue Magazine Two of Billboard Magazine's former top editors are suing the magazine. "The suit alleges, among other things, that they had faced a hostile working environment tainted by sexual harassment, internal office sabotage, and the sacrificing of "editorial integrity for the sake of financial interests." Boston Globe 08/12/04

Wednesday, August 11

Kooser Chosen Poet Laureate Nebraskan poet Ted Kooser has been chosen as the next US Poet Laureate. "Kooser has written 10 collections of poetry, most recently "Delights & Shadows," published this year. His 1980 collection, "Sure Signs," received the Society of Midland Authors Prize for the best book of poetry by a Midwestern writer published in that year." San Francisco Chronicle (AP) 08/11/04

An Assist For Authors And University Presses? University presses are essential for academics who need to publish to advance their careers. Yet university presses are underfunded and endangered. "One proposed solution now gaining ground is that universities and other institutions that support academic research create a pool of money to provide subsidies for authors to help offset the costs of publishing." Chronicle of Higher Education 08/09/04

Khouri Proof Faked? Is Norma Khouri's "proof" that she lived in Jordan during the time she said she was there in her book, a fraud? "As part of what she called her "proof" that she had lived in Jordan from 1973 to 2000, Khouri sent photocopied pages from a passport. However, a source who has seen the material told the Herald that the pages came not from Khouri's passport, but from her husband, John Toliopoulos's Greek passport." Sydney Morning Herald 08/12/04

  • Previously: Khouri Defends Verity Of Her Book Norma Khouri is continuing to deny that her poignant book Forbidden Love was fabricated. Her publisher defended her, saying "we spoke with her today and impressed upon her that it was imperative to provide evidence. She said she is working on it." Meanwhile, the government of Australia is "investigating her for making false declarations in her application for an Australian residence visa." The Age (Melbourne) 07/29/04

  • Khouri To Sue Over Allegations About Her Book Author Norma Khouri is preparing to sue over claims about the authenticity of her best-selling book Forbidden Love. "Ms Khouri had been overseas collecting evidence to back her book after the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age published damning allegations last month that her so-called memoir of life and hardship in Jordan was a lie." The book was pulled by publishers after the allegations. The Age (Melbourne) 08/11/04

A Canadian "Chain" Novel In Canada, 19 writers from across the country participate in writing a novel - each contribting 600 words before passing it along to a colleague. "As the chapters crossed invisible borders, the initial linear plot took bizarre turns as creative visions clashed, and as they erased and re-introduced plot changes, such as the female protagonist's ever-changing pregnant condition. 'The book is not art, it's a game. I don't think the writers were very generous with each other, you would do something, and then the next character would undo it'." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/11/04

BookNotes To End In December After 800 author interviews, Brian Lamb is quitting his BookNotes show on C-Span. Why? "He spends 20 hours each week reading books in preparation for "Booknotes," he estimates. That's 1.8 years of his life that have been dedicated to reading since the show debuted April 2, 1989. Now he wants to reclaim some of that time for his personal life. Has it come to this? The author-interviewer, arguably the most quirky and dedicated on television, the creator and curator of one of TV's few institutions for avid readers -- has he finally tired of books?" Washington Post 08/11/04

Tuesday, August 10

Trove of Unpublished Poetry Found in UK 250 pages of unpublished poems by Philip Larkin have been discovered in the library archives of the poet's hometown. "Larkin, who died in 1985 aged 63, was chosen as the [UK's] best-loved poet of the last 50 years in a 2003 survey by the Poetry Book Society." BBC 08/10/04

Sunday, August 8

Hollywood's Power Book Duo "You're an impoverished author with a third novel coming out. The broadsheets aren't reviewing it, your literary agent isn't taking your calls and you're paying for your own book launch... Well you could try FedEx-ing it to Brad and Jen. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are major players in the literary world." And of course, the close connections to the type of folks who can quickly turn even a mediocre novel into a $100 million blockbuster film don't hurt, either. The Observer (UK) 08/08/04

German Publishers Abandon New Spellings Some of Germany's biggest news publishers are abandoning state sanctions that "reformed" the spelling of German several years ago. The publishers say that the spelling reforms were a "public disaster", saying their introduction had confused Germans so much that "parents write differently from their children, children write differently from the authors whose works they read at school and authors write differently from the newspapers and magazines in which they are printed." BBC 08/07/04

Friday, August 6

Cultivating A Bigger, Better Onion The Onion, America's satirical newspaper known for pushing the comedy envelope and treading the knife edge of good taste, is expanding. The paper, which is based in Manhattan these days after years in Wisconsin, recently introduced a local edition for the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, (it already publishes local editions fro Chicago, Madison, Boulder, Denver, and New York) and plans other offshoots in large cities around the country. The Onion currently has print circulation of around 320,000 and its web site gets a whopping 3.6 million unique visitors every month. Baltimore Sun (Tribune) 08/06/04

At Least Someone's Finally Making Money From A Blog "Fark.com, one of the most popular blogs on the Net, has been accused of selling out -- joining a growing list of new-media outfits willing to bend old-media rules. According to a veteran new-media publisher, Fark has been selling preferential placement of story links without informing its readers... There is a growing trend in publishing, online and off, in which the walls between advertising and editorial are breaking down. Last year, Ford paid British novelist Carole Matthews to feature the Ford Fiesta prominently in her next two novels. And Forbes.com recently began including paid-for keyword links in news and feature stories." Wired 08/06/04

Thursday, August 5

It Takes A Village To Lift A Plotline Fans of popular children's book author Margaret Peterson Haddix have been contacting her recently to ask if she is aware that filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has appropriated the plot of one of her novels for his new suspense film. In fact, the plotline of The Village, which grossed more than $50 million in its opening weekend, is srikingly similar to that of Haddix's 1995 book, Running Out Of Time. Shyamalan was also accused of stealing the plot of his 2002 film, Signs, from a Pennsylvania screenwriter. Philadelphia Inquirer 08/05/04

The Grey Lady Gets Retro The New York Times has been publishing fiction this summer alongside its news reports. (No Jayson Blair jokes, please.) Specifically, the Times is trying to single-handedly bring back the phenomenon of the serialized novel, printing entire well-known works of literature in its pages over the course of a week or two. (The serials are apparently running only in New York editions of the paper.) The paper is waiting to review the circulation numbers before deciding whether to continue with the program. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/05/04

Critical Apologies Minneapolis/St. Paul's alternative weekly paper turns 25 this month, and what better way to celebrate than to go back through the years and rip your own critics to shreds? The current issue of City Pages features a piece in which the paper's various art, music, and theater critics apologize for specific wrongheaded judgments they've made over the years. City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 08/04/04

Wednesday, August 4

An Art Magazine For Ordinary People "James Truman, editorial director of Condé Nast, has developed a prototype of a luxe and glossy fine arts magazine that he hopes to begin publishing in 2006. The magazine is designed, he said, to bring visual art, or at least a magazine about it, to the masses." The philosophy of the as-yet untitled magazine will be to treat art pieces as just one more type of desirable object to be coveted by consumers. Rather than adopt the high-minded intellectual tone of most art magazines, Truman plans on using his publication to tell what he calls "curated stories" about art and the people who create it. The New York Times 08/05/04

Tuesday, August 3

NEA: Writing In A Time Of War The National Endowment for the Arts' new writing program for soldiers "seeks to address a seeming cultural paradox. War stories, after all, occupy one of literature's longest, weightiest shelves, and American fighting men, from Ulysses S. Grant to Anthony Swofford, have set down their battle-forged memoirs, but these days the military and literary worlds barely overlap. The program, called 'Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,' is aimed at preserving stories from the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. The endowment expects to hold 20 or so workshops at American military installations between now and next spring." The New York Times 08/04/04

Deciphering The Da Vinci Code Success The Da Vinci Code is a worldwide publishing phenomenon. "Around the world it has sold in excess of 10m, nearly 8m of those in hard covers, making it the best-selling hardback novel ever. Why is this book such a smash? I suspect the triumph of the Code tells a larger story. First, it confirms that people are prepared to believe the worst of the church - even in America, the most "churched" society in the world..."
The Guardian (UK) 08/04/04

Taking A New Look At The NYT Book Review What will the New York Times Book Review look like under new editor Sam Tanenhaus? "It still feels like there's an institutional history that I don't want to necessarily disrupt. We're responding to the cultural moment, which seems a contentious one, and trying to capture those diverse energies. We're also trying to capture the breadth of the literary culture, the highs as well as the lows. We're trying to do justice to commercial and mass-market books as well as the serious and rarefied works of literature that come out. We're trying to have a balance, and trying to have a mix of voices—the established writers but also newer writers. We're encouraging reviewers to speak in their own voice and trying to accommodate their sensibilities. We might run a very long review for one writer and also run some short punchy reviews of mass market books and mix the two together. The biggest changes will probably be in appearance and presentation, though." Media Bistro 08/03/04

Montreal Publisher Sues Random House Over Serial Killer Book "The Montreal publisher of a controversial book about serial killer Karla Homolka is suing Random House of Canada for alleged copyright infringement." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/03/04

Dickens Museum To Close A 25-year-old museum in Rochester, Kent, dedicated to Charles Dickens is to be closed. The reason - declining vistorship. BBC 08/03/04

Monday, August 2

Keeping Track Of Books (Readers Too?) Libraries have begun tagging books with high-tech tags to better keep track of their collections. "With their encased microchips, RFID tags can transmit information to devices designed to pick up the signals and interpret them. Some privacy advocates worry that a day will come when a library book's tag could broadcast information about a patron to anyone nearby with a tag-reading device -- stalkers, snoops, corporate marketers, or G-men." Chronicle of Higher Education 08/02/04

Chicago Tribune Awards Wilson Literary Prize Playwright August Wilson has won the 2004 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize. "With these awards we hope to celebrate great literary achievement, something very important in the history of Chicago and also a part of the Tribune's long history. In committing to these awards we also aspire to bring attention and support to a variety of local literacy efforts, in our belief that literacy and literary achievement are linked." Chicago Tribune 08/02/04

The Magazines Of "Buy This" The hot new things in magazines? New publications with stories about the products they advertise. "While some traditionalists gag at the notion of these so-called mag-a-logs, fretting that the line between advertising and journalism is already too blurry at many magazines, the publishing industry has little interest in anything else. Confronted by an advertising recovery that seems to be skipping magazines and by marketers who are demanding ever more direct access to their readership, publishers see shopping magazines as a low-risk, cheaper alternative to investing in less product-oriented titles." The New York Times 08/02/04

Welcome To The Library Of Unwritten Books "An art project travelling the UK, this library is collecting stories and ideas for books people would like to write - but never have, and probably never will. Its two librarians - Sam Brown and Caroline Jupp - have collected more than 400 stories over the last two years, and are aiming for a total of 1,000. Armed with a 'mobile recording unit' - a converted shopping trolley - they have been eliciting stories from strangers before turning each tale into its own mini-book." BBC 08/02/04

Sunday, August 1

Uk Lit... Where To Look? "in the past half century, Anglo-Saxon literary attitudes have shifted decisively away from Europe, westwards (and southwards) to the US, Latin America and the Commonwealth. With the shift in British literary outlook away from European modernism and the successors of Sartre and Camus, our last continental icons, and towards the American postwar realists - Updike and Roth, Mailer, Bellow and Morrison - what is our position now towards continental Europe? What ought it to be, as political union expands? How to talk about it?" Prospect 08/04

A New Progressive Book Club "The 75,000-member Conservative Book Club, founded in 1964, is responsible in the past couple of years for a dozen bestsellers. Thanks to the CBC's success, earlier this year media giants Bertelsmann Inc. and AOL Time Warner launched a right-wing book club of their own, American Compass. Yet despite the popularity of recent books by lefties like Michael Moore, Al Franken, and Tom Frank, there hasn't been a book club for progressives." Until now... Boston Globe 08/01/04

The New Pulp Fiction "For good or for bad, street lit is eating up the African American book world at the moment. Walk into the Karibu bookstore in Prince George's Plaza and you'll see. It used to be there were just one or two small shelves of 'street life' books. Now there's a whole section... What is a street lit novel? The telltale signs usually include a shut-your-mouth title, straightforward sentences, vast amounts of drugs, sex and rap music and varying degrees of crime and punishment. An exemplary tale is a mixture of foul language, flying bullets, fast cars, a flood of drugs, fallen angels and high-priced frippery. It venerates grams over grammar, sin over syntax, excess over success." Washington Post 07/31/04

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