- Audio books skyrocket in the UK;
- Today in Ooof: the man who spent 15 years in prison after being convicted of Alice Sebold’s assault and rape has been exonerated and released;
- Related: the movie adaptation of Sebold’s memoir describing what happened has been cancelled;
- W magazine is trying to block its own issue to remove Travis Scott from cover;
- Irish booksellers dish on the books they most like to give as gifts;
- Canadian Best-ofs….;
- NPR highlights a bunch of books from 2021;
- For the Yanks: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers;
- Today in Floof: can you pronounce these author names correctly?;
Month: November 2021
I wasn’t going to post today in favour of getting other work done, but this was too good to pass up. Remember when David Gilmour showed his toxic, bigoted plumage to a younger Emily Keeler and things went nuts for a bit? Pre-#MeToo, pre-open letter, pre-“cancel culture”. He said some questionable things that led to more questionable things that slowly revealed he’d made a life of saying questionable things. But after a while it died down and nothing seemed to happen. Well, something has happened. Mr. Gilmour has been fired. Of course, he seems to have accepted this with the grace and dignity only an old White guy experiencing the first big consequence of his life can muster:
Both David Gilmour and Victoria College declined to comment on what the three students from Gilmour’s 2020–2021 class told The Strand. Victoria University spokesperson Liz Taylor Surani stated that “the University cannot discuss or investigate anonymous allegations that were not sent directly to the University.” The Strand did receive an unsolicited email from someone, describing themself as a colleague of Gilmour’s, who praised his teaching style and emphasized his professional accolades. However, this communication did not specifically address any of the incidents reported here. When The Strand followed up with Gilmour about the incident in his 2010–2011 Vic One class, Gilmour replied, “Here’s a quote. ‘Fuck you’ en plus ‘I have been alive too long, endured too many assholes, to be intimidated by a fuck-wit like you guys.’ Am I making myself clear?’”
Victoria College declined to comment on a number of other questions raised by The Strand. These included: whether the College took any internal action against Gilmour in light of his 2013 comments and why Gilmour remained employed at the College after making his 2013 comments. Victoria University’s spokesperson and Principal Esterhammer also declined to comment on Gilmour’s status as an employee. In an email to The Strand, Surani stated that “Victoria University cannot discuss HR-related matters as these are strictly confidential.”
Gilmour, however, did provide his perspective on his departure from the Creative Expression and Society program. “I got the boot, that’s how I left Vic,” wrote Gilmour in an email to The Strand. “That skinny, humourless little bitch, [Vic Administrator], never much liked me—and vice versa—and got rid of me as soon as she could decently do so unlike the great guys who hired me, Prof. Paul Gooch and Prof. Cook, who gave me a life-changing experience. Lord, I loved teaching there under their guidance.”
- TERF supporter Margaret Atwood to get Canadian stamp;
- RIP: Robert Bly, monster of modern poetry, dead at 94;
- “NFT” gets word of the year (for some reason) from Collins;
- Something something US government and publishing?;
- Douchebag upset that wife wrote novel on her lunch breaks despite having said she was pausing her writing career to STILL GO TO WORK EVERY DAY AND TAKE CARE OF THEIR BABY;
- Remember the publishing world vs the Internet Archive? Here’s more;
- Today in Open Letters: bunch of writers throw support behind Sally Rooney’s decision to not publish Hebrew edition;
- Ninja Pal Eduardo C. Corral gets Lannan Fellowship;
- Costa Award Shortlist is heavy on climate anxiety;
- Today in Floof: stoner novels with suggested weed pairings;
- Today in Floof 2: we live in a golden age for conspiracy theory, so why should the literary set get denied a shot a the endless entertainment of crackpottery?
- Hey, gullible dumbos who enjoy being the bottom stones in a very heavy pyramid, you missed your chance at the JRR Token cryptocurrency;
- MFAs aren’t nearly as influential as people think, says some guy;
- On AI writing book reviews;
- London’s FutureBook focuses on sustainability and climate;
- On elitism, the classics, and literature in general;
- WTF went down at Jezebel?;
- This Ann Patchett memoir / book of essays is apparently delightful;
- Who the heck would privatize a library?;
- Is reading just reading? On taking the reading apps off your phone;
- On having fun with the author / reader shared joke that is crime fiction;
- How to thrive as an indie art book publisher;
- Today in Floof: gussy-ing up books by painting on the fore edge;
- CBC Poetry Prize shortlist announced;
- Wattpad and Webtoon announce graphic imprint;
- Andre Alexis interview;
- Martin Espada wins NBA for Poetry… others’ also win awards for stuff;
- Baillie Gifford Prize for nonfiction goes to Patrick Radden Keefe;
- The Paris Review is getting a makeover;
- Why and how books get banned in schools;
- B&N book of the year sheds much needed light on obscure author;
- Bookstore sales on upward trend;
- What it was like to write Bad Art Friend, then watch it go nuts;
- Strange fuckery in a Texas U? Meh. Involving Steven Pinker? Oooh;
- On getting rid of your books;
- New Fellowship for Puerto Rican writers announces first cohort;
- Librarians gird their loins (and in the case of NYPL, lions) for long censorship battle with the American right wing, which is seemingly intent on turning dystopian fiction into dystopian non-fiction;
- The ever-smart Alison Flood argues in The Guardian that The Wheel of Time books didn’t have the “strong women” Amazon promises for the adaptation at its core… I read the first three of these when I was a kid, and then gave up because I was worried I would die by the time I got to the last one… And I can honestly tell you, they’re just like most other fantasy novels of that vintage: designed for horny boys with delusions of grandeur… boobs, chosen one prophecies that uplift the weak despite their obvious lack of merit, and power domination dreams… Look, Robert Jordan got his start writing Conan novels. Have you ever seen the cover of a Conan novel? It’s advertised right there… That said, she’s right;
- Every now and then some site recovers the history of miniature books, and I love it;
- On the book-within-the-book as a literary tool for the slow reveal;
- It’s that tiny, yearly window when Amazon focuses on books again;
- A little bit of Stephen Fry talking the Gutenberg press?;
I had the difficult task of judging the Poetry category this year, but the clear winner in my books was Tolu Oloruntoba’s The Junta of Happenstance from Anstruther. Such a remarkable book that I wondered if I should just leave my mouth open while reading instead of having my jaw drop every couple pages. Go get the book. Other winners announced at the link above.
You know how it goes: you proof your book, your editor proofs it. Hell, you worked on the content together, sometimes combing down to the level of the word. Then the copy editor gets it. Then the proof reader. You probably had a spouse or friend or two look at it as well. Good to go. Thumbs up all around. Then the book arrives, you flip to a random page (probably to huff the gutter like a line of serotonin-based coke), and there it is. GLARING. A mistake. Then another. And another. I usually find about three per book in total. And I’m only working with a few thousand words in a poetry book. Novelists must find tons. Anyway, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few books go into multiple prints, but most books don’t. So that mistake is there. Your legacy. The scholars of the future, pondering over it. Pouring over your text that’s become central to the foundation of a post-apocalyptic belief system designed to harvest wisdom from the past to protect the future. Except, there’s this major fuck up and society falls apart again. Because of you. (Come on, you know you dream about shit like that, you egotistical bastard. You don’t have to lie to me. You’re among friends here.) Get used to it. No one cares anyway.
Any mistake is humiliating. It seems that it’s always too late to fix them, because we don’t know they exist until they’re in print. For the rest of my life, every time I walk through a used bookstore and see that book, I’ll know that the mistake is still in it. I’ll want someone to buy it, but know that if they do, I will be caught again. The next email is coming. And worse, the next error is probably already lurking somewhere in the manuscript I’m writing now.
The writer isn’t even always the source of the error. One of the most famous mistakes occurs in Melville’s Moby-Dick. A typesetter misread the words “coiled fish of the sea” as “soiled fish of the sea.” Nearly a century later a highly respected critic published an essay pointing out the brilliance of the choice of the word “soiled.” This was actually one of the events that prompted the founding of the Center for Editions of American Authors, an institution which gives a writer reason to hope that if he gets good enough, after he’s dead some professor will fix all of his mistakes in a scholarly edition. The Center adopted methods like reading a text aloud backwards while a listener followed along in a second copy, which seems to have caught mistakes, but must have driven both scholars mad while they did it.
- Don’t cry for her, Heather Reisman: Beatts says Indigo is doing fine;
- The Governor General’s Awards will be announced tomorrow… I already know who wins for Poetry, but you should give these five fantastic books a look over today and decide which you’d have chosen so you can get mad at me tomorrow if it’s not your choice;
- Also: the US GG equivalent, the NBAs… RSVP here to watch;
- Time to order your short story advent calendar;
- Derek Mahon’s been gone a year now… The Irish Times looks back;
- The fact that Dostoevsky did his own version of NaNoWriMo still doesn’t make it any less dumb;
- Can history be learned through video games?;
- A Queer, Jewish text: Where the Wild Things Are;
- Today in Floof: how to exercise while reading… now I just need an article on how to find time for reading;
- Somebody fixed the end of The Giving Tree so it isn’t psychotic….oooh! Please do Love You Forever next so my lifelong nightmare of Mrs. Heebie-Jeebies standing in the window watching me can finally be over;
- Would these be your 101 best mystery books of all time?;
Having grown up an egregiously nerdy, loud-mouthed, bespectacled, overly-freckled, bright-orange-headed-ginger, rejection has been part of my life for a long time.
Seriously though, this is probably why it doesn’t bug me. I mean, no one LIKES being rejected, but any ill feelings I might have after getting the notice are gone about an hour later. Why? Because I’ve been on both sides of that letter.
Sometimes, no one gave your piece a second thought and your rejection is nothing more than a testament to how overworked and undermotivated many people working in arts admin are. (I once received a rejection slip with one word on it: “Nope.” Classy.) Other times, it got squeezed out by either better work or work that was more to the editors’ tastes. (I’ve had a few award judges over time tell me I missed the shortlist by a hair’s breadth.) Either way, there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well get working again.
Sadly, this same rejection acceptance super power I have extends to acceptances as well. The enjoyment of approbation lasts about an hour and then we’re back to this… the work.
So, long story short: don’t get into this biz for the glamour, kids. \
(You know what’s frankly worse than rejection? Silence. Don’t follow? You’ll find out.)
There’s a fairly wide gap between what I expected as a preposterous young man and the writing life as I’ve lived it. I’m old enough to see how disillusionment is the price for adulthood in every vocation, not just writing and the arts. Yet, one facet of my writing life still surprises me with its wicked gleam. Once, I believed as a writer my most important skill would be knowing how to lay words in a line that’s solid as a cut stone wall. Nope. Turns out the most important skill for me as a writer, the skill I can’t live without, and the one that took the longest to learn, is a skill for failure.