So, I am currently out of town for the first time in three years, typing to you from a hotel room. It’s been a little surreal, but such is life in these times (elevators are worse than airplanes, is my main takeaway). Had to pop in though to signal boost the announcement of the GG shortlists. I was a juror for English language poetry again, the first time in 12 years, and what a year it was. I’m really proud of the list (my choices are well-represented) and I would defend to the death any of these books, but what I really want the Canada Council to do is allow for a long list. You should have seen the quality of the books that DIDN’T make it to this list. What harm would there be in announcing 10 or 12 books six weeks ago then five today? The thing about judging contests like this is that it’s really easy to get down to a list of about 15 books that are contenders, but then it becomes (to crib a metaphor from the Olympics) a race of 10ths, even 100ths of a second. That said, I think we did a good job and I’m excited for you to hear the winner in a month or so.
- Canada’s Governor General to attend Frankfurt for some reason…;
- …meanwhile, even the mighty TIFA (IFOA) is online;
- Sally Rooney wields her new power like a sword… declines Hebrew translation for political reasons;
- In focus: on immigration and publishing;
- NYPL latest to drop late fees;
- Ever wanted to see what your writing looked like without words in it?;
- Little primer on the Nobel winner for those of you who have pretended to know his work;
- Superman’s son is Bi and the American Right is losing its fucking mind;
- On Tolkien’s time working at the OED;
- The most influential sci-fi books of all time? Any missing?;
So today at breakfast, I asked Ms. Ninja to give me the executive summary on the whole “Bad Art Friend” nonsense. Woof. Garbage fire.
There are articles in every major paper book section, think-pieces in magazines, satire, parasitic journalism, and other analysis sprinkled around, and even some bleed over into other genres like psych (actually, that this doesn’t happen more with stories about writers is remarkable).
It’s officially attained Shitshow Status. Is it another case of people conflating collegiality with actual friendship (something I have been guilty of in the past)? Who knows. All I know is that unless something other than writing connects you, you’re probably not as a good a friend as your might hope with that other author in your life.
(Aside: at least one of the people in question seems to be teaching Creative Writing without having really… um… published much? How is that possible? A product of the American MFA Amway — a pyramid scheme in which you pay someone to teach you writing so you can go teach writing to others and everybody gets a paycheque? Does it seem sketch to anyone?)
My new book, Problematica: New and Selected Poems, 1995 – 2020, will be launching tonight online at 7pm EST. Also launching books are stellar poet Adam Sol and rock and guitar legend Rik Emmett (yes, the guy from Triumph). You can register for the event here at this link. I hope to see you there for brief readings, a discussion, some fun screwing around, and a draw to win all three books from those in attendance.
- Nobel goes to Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah;
- Toronto Book Award goes to Kim Echlin;
- Hoa Nguyen shortlisted for NBA in the States for their exhilarating book of poems;
- Goldsmith Prize shortlist;
- Canadian indies report shipping cost increase;
- Today in Okaaaaay?: PEN is going to try for in-person gala;
- Nikki Giovanni interview;
- Belarus still in forefront for International Cartoonish Villain Prize;
- Texas continues to lead the country in the category of “Performatively Bigoted and Stupid”;
- What books really change the world? Wole Soyinka edition;
- 10 oddball dystopias (of which I’ve read 2);
- How to fight censorship and banned book challenges: a primer;
- Everybody pitch in: the Poohsticks bridge is for sale;
What happens when the be-all and end-all of publishing (sales) is largely controlled by an algorithm? An interesting article looks at what happens to literature when we play to sales in the era of Amazon.
Like it or not, we live in the Amazon Era of literature, according to McGurl, just as writers of the late eighteenth century worked in the Age of Johnson; those of the early twentieth century found themselves in the Pound Era; and postwar writers entered the Program Era, which McGurl defined in his previous book as the age of MFA-honed fiction. As well as an economic force, Amazon is an aesthetic one. Literature that is not adapted to its structures, which control the principal ways that books reach readers, will have a difficult time surviving. McGurl dissects this state of affairs in a relatively nonjudgmental way: Rather than arguing that Amazon is destroying literature, or devaluing the artistic act, he attempts to figure out what the house style of the Amazon Era actually is—a style that the author almost perversely enjoys over the course of the book, as part anthropologist and part fan. Unfortunately, that style reads a lot like Fifty Shades of Grey.
- Lots of awards news coming in the next weeks, including the Giller shortlist, being announced today… watch live here;
- Victoria book prize winners;
- Who’s your money on the for the Nobel?;
- ‘Ninja fav Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black gets Hulu adaptation;
- Behold! The Book Blob! (they look like Kleenex boxes to me);
- Deals ramp up ahead of wave at Frankfurt;
- Whew, we finally get to read Grapes of Wrath in a less legible format;
- Given Boomer interest still drives culture, I suspect we’ll be seeing lots more articles like this, in which old people are held up as heroes for simply continuing to live their lives;
- Time to give back? Should you be sitting on your local library board?;
- On Sally Rooney, white women, and the myth of universality;
- Ever wanted Jack Reacher Guy’s views on the origin of fiction?;
- Ever wanted Dave Eggers’ views on how technology is like a crappy boyfriend?;
- What do you think of Joan Didion’s backlist makeover?;
- Beloved children’s author Robert Munsch reveals he has dementia in what he says is his last interview;
- On the demise of #ownvoices;
- Beatts is covering horror all month at That Shakespearean Rag;
- ALTA’s translation awards;
- Speaking of translators: should their names be on the front of books with the original language author? (Yes);
- RIP: the midsize publisher;
- Linguists: it’s whack to ban slang;
- ‘Ninja favourite Ada Limón interviewed;
- Everybody loves Jonathan: new Franzen gets TV adaptation;
- Everybody hates Jonathan: why half of everyone hates the dude;
- This author left poverty with her first book, which is about when the rest of us enter it;
- Do we all have a book in us? (No);