- Winners of First Page student writing competition announced;
- Doug Wright Canadian comic books awards shortlists;
- On writing the books you needed but didn’t have as a teen;
- Poets share their thoughts on death… here’s mine: I’m against it;
- Noted author and trans bigot JK Rowling to write new book for kids;
- Brits list their most missed bookstores;
- Did you know there’s such a thing as “sensitivy readers”?;
- NYT techies form union, reports NYT;
- Midweek fun: It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times…. How many of these 100 famous passages can you nail?;
- On self-help vs. wishful thinking;
- Natalie Portman cast in Elena Ferrante adaptation for HBO;
- Rupi Kaur to release live film… Oooh, hopefully the little flowers and shiny suns are animated and dance around…;
- Books that confront toxic masculinity;
Month: April 2021
- That Dolly Parton knows where PEI is makes PEI news;
- We all got a side-hustle now… For this bookstore it’s pickles;
- UK Children’s laureate doing some real advocacy for libraries;
- BBC lists what it thinks the books of the year are so far;
- On creating suspense and mystery in an age of total surveillance;
- Reading Rainer during the apocalypse;
- Paul Muldoon, interviewed;
- On the history and popularity fo the coffee table book;
- Justine Bateman vs. the beauty industry is a show I’d watch;
- As the Hemingway hate rises, so rises the lovers defend;
- Can one write seriously about limericks?;
LitHub looks into the abyss of the author bio through the lens of the pointy, sometimes acerbic, Jason Guriel. There should really be a hard cutoff of 50 words. But on the other hand, people worked for their accomplishments, so why shouldn’t they list them? I don’t know. When I ran NewPoetry.ca a few years ago, I said no to bios and pictures and other bumpf because I thought there should be a space for the poem to stand on its own, with simply the author’s name as context. I suppose there’s times for both the full bio and executive summary, and I would argue that an author’s website is probably the only place for the full one.
Author bios are seemingly minor texts. Afterthoughts. They point out a few publications, maybe an award or two. They might tell you where the author teaches (if she’s faculty somewhere) or in which periodicals she’s appeared (if she’s a journalist, say). They’ll often end by noting where the author lives, pinning her to the globe. On dust jackets and Twitter profiles, bios have a haiku’s worth of space in which to work. (On personal websites, they have more room to roam—or run amok.)
But these minor texts have major ambitions. They not only strive to say something meaningful about their subjects; they strive to become inseparable from their subjects.
So, I guess there’s something happening with Hemingway? Because the news is just full of his smug mug. He’s a terrible, toxic dude. I mean, we’ve always known that, but we now have the language (and, more importantly, the collective will) to speak about it. But where does that leave his writing?
It’s an interesting concept for me as a teacher of writing, if nothing else. I have no problem reading the writing of terrible people. I don’t like to give them my money, so I usually buy their books second hand (like when I wanted to introduce my kids to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, but didn’t want to give that raging douchebag a dime), but terrible people have talent commensurate with good people and I don’t want to deny myself the experience of reading great stories. That said, I read most of Hemingway before I knew anything about him, and when I learned about him, society was generally still tolerating bad men by saying things like, “Oh, well, he’s a drunk from a different time and there’s no changing him,” or “That’s just ____ being _____,” etc.
As a teacher of writing, though, I have to find a balance between using the best examples I can find for a given lesson, and considering the education and well-being of my class. Thankfully, there’s almost always someone else who IS a good person who has done similar work (ironically often inspired by the shitheads.)
This year, in fact, I removed two Canadian poets from one of my older courses after revelations of their abuses of power, treatment of women, etc.
Are the students losing something with these influential (and, frankly, talented, men gone? I’d argue they can find those fellas themselves on their own time, if they want, and they are in fact gaining knowledge of less-famous writers I’ve substituted in as exemplars.
Do I think these dudes shouldn’t be read? No. But I do think I have the right to choose whose work I use to illustrate my concepts, and I exercise that right often, and liberally (purposeful use of this word).
Anyway, some thoughts on Hemigway being a genius AND a dink.
Ernest Hemingway was a terrible person.
He was selfish and egomaniacal, a faithless husband and a treacherous friend. He drank too much, he brawled and bragged too much, he was a thankless son and, at times, a negligent father. He was also a great writer.
- Parent and child team-up on middle-grade book with non-binary hero;
- Canisia Lubrin wrote something, which is reason enough to link;
- …Aaaaand the first of the 2021 physical book fairs goes down;
- In what is surely the best moment of 2021 so far, a major French publisher is begging people to stop sending them their terrible lockdown-written books… I live for this;
- Aw: Viral kid with stutter gets special message from fav author;
- New online platform for book clubs;
- On the freakout over Substack: the new Uber-driver-job-level platform for taking advantage of writers;
- Reading isn’t neutral: racist books make for racist kids;
- Apocalypse writers disappointed with lack of cannibalism;
- Kirkus looks at verse novels for teens;
- Teachers: correcting terrible student writing in red pen since 2000 BC;
- Look inside nutty Joe Pulitzer’s code book;
- On historic Hebrew typefaces;
- Monday fun: Which Winnie-the-Pooh character are you? (Pro tip: if you are immediately anxious you might be Rabbit, you’re probably Rabbit)
The Guardian is asking readers who miss their bookstores which one is their favourite. I’ve had three influential bookstores in my life: the Coles I worked in as a teen, Three Lives in the Village in NYC, and The Bookshelf in Guelph, Ontario. Maybe Bakka Books on Queen was in there too. But if I had to choose the one I’d spent the most time in, it was probably a Barnes and Noble at the corner of Broadway and Astor. I think it’s like a vitamin shop, or something, now. But they had a huge poetry section and a coffee shop in there, and when I first moved to Manhattan, I barely ventured out of the East Village for six months. And I sat in that shop and read probably a full half of the books on the shelves.
What’s your most important bookstore?
- Ninja pal Michelle Good on BC and Yukon book prize shortlists;
- Having rescued poetry, Gorman moves on to save book sales;
- Twitter lets National Library archived 26,000 dumb tweets;
- Friday Cringe: nauseating examples of men writing women;
- If Mike Pence’s two-book deal will yield anything like his Vice-Presidency, we should see two books set in 6 point type that just repeat the words “Yes sir” and “Thoughts and prayers” over and over for hundreds of pages;
- You should read the way you eat: according to taste;
- Be part of a Tolkien oral history;
- On making art out of living dangerously;
- Time to stop making angry dead women poets a punchline (they were a punchline?);
- Nice remembrance of Mike Groden, Joyce scholar and friend;
This fluffy BuzzFeed piece asks, What book was so amazing you wish you could travel through time to read it again for the first time? Bit of fun, for a Friday.
For me it would probably be books like the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy (which felt so revelatory at the time) or William Gibson’s Neuromancer (same), but I think for pure, exquisite bliss, it would have to be Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. You?
- Anne Carson throws another trophy on the pile;
- Superstar poet Amanda Gorman gets cover of Vogue;
- The League of Canadian Poets, which I, in my less forgiving days, called the Plague of Canadian Poets, announces prize longlists;
- Indigenous YA Lit awards handed out;
- Hang on to your cosplay chainmail bikinis… World Con moves;
- Mike Pence signs massive book deal, Bookninja starts pool on how many pages will be just prayers and hymn lyrics;
- Journalists vs. newspaper investors;
- “Econo-fi“? Is there an emoji combining both sleep and barf?;
- Marilyn Stasio interviewed on a life in reviewing;
- Shocking, but sadly unsurprising: trans nominee for Women’s Prize suffers massive abuse online;
- Did anyone get their words’ worth out of Wordsworth?;
- What it’s like to work at Amazon: a comic;
We know that dire times drives art to new levels, but it’s also a great time for criticism. Why? Because we just might be running out of time to finally say what we think.
2020 struck awe into the hearts of men. A new plague took almost 600,000 Americans, and we saw their end-of-life iPads waiting for them on tripods. When police took Black American lives, and we saw that on camera too, it seemed like the whole world stepped outside in solidarity and anger.
In disorienting years like this literature proliferates, in the sense that many people start talking at the same time at complete odds with one other. Plenty of that literature consists not of books but of conversation, correspondence, or arguments. These are the things literary historians look at, because they’re all made of letters, which are the stuff of the present.
The upside to living, or at least writing, in a constant state of “emergency” is that we begin to feel that the time for talking may be running out, and so we start to say what we mean a little more.