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  • THE EXAMINED LIFE: The late writer Patrick O'Brian was famously private about his own life. O'Brian's biographer Dean King, explains why he was drawn to write about the novelist: "I felt that by not telling the truth to reporters and to his live audiences in the United States during visits here, O’Brian forfeited the right to not have a closer look taken. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about these things. My motive was not to bring down this man, it was simply to set the record straight, to present an accurate record of a great writer." The Idler 01/31/00
  • TAKING STOCK: Author Carol Shields puts aside her struggles with cancer as she publishes a new collection of stories and finishes her biography of Jane Austen. National Post 01/31/00
  • WORKSHOPITIS: There are so many writers' workshops these days it's difficult not to trip over one. So the question is revived again - can good writing be taught, Hilma Wolitzer wonders? New York Times 01/31/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • OUTSIDE THE NEW YORKER: Seems like everyone and his dog has an I-Remember-The-New-Yorker book coming out. Now, spoofs from the man who sold MR. SHAWN his nuts, a woman who once worked for Shawn for an afternoon in the typing pool, and the legendary editor's favorite night watchman. And, oh look...isn't that Sparky at the word processor? Slate 01/27/00
  • HEANEY OVER HARRY: Irish poet Seamus Heaney beats out Harry Potter and wins his second Whitbread for Beowulf translation. London Telegraph 01/26/00
    • BBC report 01/26/00
    • PENT-UP PIPES: Nobel-winner Heaney and bagpiper Liam O'Flynn are performing together in a "unique partnership of bardic voice and eloquent pipe." Heaney reads his poetry and O'Flynn follows him on the pipes, exploring turn of line, enjambments, rhymes, and cadences in a medium of euphonious conversation. "Declaim the verse, strike up the pipe, and generally vent the pent!" The Scotsman 01/25/00
  • OPTING OUT OF INTELLECT: David Laskin’s new book, "Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals" is "stiflingly" long. But then, just what is more fitting? Just what, exactly have the NYI's given the world, anyway? New York Press 01/26/00
  • HIGH ANXIETY: Not yet 30, Dave Eggers is already shaping up as the Andy Kaufman of New York letters. The buzz on his first book, due out next month, is so frenzied that The New Yorker has bought an excerpt, editors at Time are clamoring for him, and his hero, David Foster Wallace, has provided a back-cover blurb so effusive it's almost embarrassing. It's not all smooth, though - the book is a memoir spilling family secrets so sad and self-revelations so awful that he sometimes wishes he had never written it. New York Magazine 01/24/00
  • BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS nominees chosen.  New York Times 01/25/00 (One-time registration required for access)
  • OOPS: British publisher, expecting spectacular demand for its line of "Star Wars" books following last summer's "Phantom Menace," prints 13 million copies. But only 3 million sell and firm has to eat an even more spectacular £25 million loss in the last six months of 1999. BBC 01/25/00
  • LITERARY SCORN: No country is more haunted by the spirit of its dead writers than Russia. Yet the Russian image of the novelist is no longer that of reverent seer or even heroic dissident. If anyone embodies the new image of the writer in Russia it is the 38-year-old Victor Pelevin, a laconic semi-recluse with a shaved head, a fashionable interest in Zen meditation and an eccentric attachment to dark glasses. Pelevin has emerged as that unusual thing: a genuinely popular serious writer. New York Times Magazine 01/23/00 (One-time registration required for access)
  • DREAD OF CLASSICS: The best novelists have read all the classics, right? Uh, uh. Here's a survey of some of Britain's top contemporary writers and their confessions about what parts of the literary canon they have skipped over. London Telegraph 01/22/00
  • NEOLOGICAL NOTHINGNESS: When "Seinfeld" went off the air two years ago, the media frenzied around the idea that - gasp - all along it had been a show about nothing, an existential sitcom. But to philosophers that nothing is quite meaningful. A Gen X philosophy prof explores relationships between serious philosophical ideas and the late television program in a new collection of essays by philosophy professors/hard-core Seinfeld fans. The fun includes "George's Failed Quest for Happiness: An Aristotelian Analysis," and "Kramer and Kierkegaard: Stages on Life's Way." Lingua Franca 02/00
  • THE THREE...ER..FOUR STOOGES: Novelist Tom Wolfe ups the heat on his feud with three fellow writers lumping his new adversary, John Irving, with Mailer and Wolfe, dubbing the literary troika the "Three Stooges" on a Canadian book show. Salon 01/21/00
  • DRUG OFFICE NEWSPAPER CONNECTION: Last week Salon Magazine reported that television networks had taken money from the White House drug office in return for inserting anti-drug messages into their programming. The Washington Post now reports that "the drug office says it is spending $11.3 million in the current 12-month period to advertise in 250 newspapers, and that $893,000 of that money is being spent on the New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. And White House officials say that in three cases--two of them involving the Times and The Post--newspapers were granted $200,000 in financial credits that reduced the amount of public service advertising they are required to provide under the program." Washington Post 01/20/00
  • FIRST CHANCE: Conventional wisdom has had it that consolidation in the book industry over the past few years would squelch opportunities for new authors and first books. Not so fast - "a roll call of the houses this week shows that some publishing schedules for 2000 are bursting with first novels, both literary and commercial." New York Times 01/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE: A D.H. Lawrence scholar notes an alarming similarity between Raymond Carver's brilliant 1980 masterpiece "Cathedral," and a Lawrence story from 1918, "The Blind Man." What to do? Salon 01/18/00
  • THE POLITICS OF PLAIN TALK: The ongoing debate over "linguistic transparency" - the idea that good writers must write clearly - has pitted George Orwell against Theodor Adorno. The ranks are now being divided between intellectuals who are intolerant of deliberately difficult jargon, and those who believe plain talk can endanger writers' ability depict the complexities of the world in more radical terms. Lingua Franca 01/00
  • FORGET TV, WHAT ABOUT BOOKS? Just as TV networks have come in for criticism for not representing more minorities, publishing has similar problems. Just why are there so few African-American book agents? New York Times 01/13/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • TOO HOT TO PUBLISH? The libel suit between Penguin books and David Irving, the controversial second world war historian, over his version of the Holocaust, began on Tuesday in the High Court in London. "The case raises a number of questions: When are the ideas of historians or academics so appalling that their work should be forever banned from public consumption? What limits do you place on free speech? And what makes a good historian anyway, especially when their subject is that most emotive one in 20th century history?" Financial Times 01/12/00
  • HE SAID, SHE SAID: The New Yorker is 75 in February and no fewer than seven books about the legendary magazine are about to grace the world. Who didn't like someone's writing, who cut another one's article...these people keep their grudges. New York Times 01/12/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • BOOK TOUR HELL: Who says authors are good promoters in front of audiences or behind a radio or TV mic? Sometimes you just talk your way into a good humiliation. The Independent 01/11/00
  • SUING GEOGRAPHIC: A group of writers and photographers is suing National Geographic Magazine for reproducing their work on CD-ROM. CBC 01/11/00 
  • STILL HERE: Huxley, Yeats and Orwell painted bleak visions of the future into which we've entered. Not so bad though now that we've got here, is it? A look at what made their versions of our time so grim. Irish Times 01/10/00 
  • BARNES AND NOBLE AND MICROSOFT in an e-book deal to bring electronic publishing closer. Wired 01/06/00
  • POTTER, CENTURY AND CHICKEN SOUP: Christmas book sales were terrific, with the predictable strongest-sellers. Publisher's Weekly 01/03/00 
  • THE BIG STORY IN PUBLISHING IS THE INTERNET: Not so much to sell books, say publishers, but in the way projects are developed and distributed. Still, the traditional book process will pay the bills for the next few years. Publisher's Weekly 01/03/00
  • NEW THEORY ON NAME for Orwell's "1984." CBC 01/05/00
  • TIME, SOLITUDE, AND... Time to write on somebody else's nickel sounds great, but as a practical matter.... One writer's travails on a fellowship at the MacDowell Colony. Salon 01/04/00

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