- Force of nature Lillian Allen profiled at CBC;
- On novels that predict the future;
- It’s only a matter of time: synthetic voices to take over audio books;
- Book industry on a rollercoaster: 2021 was good, but 2022…. outlook not so good?;
- America in Decline, part 8736: a Tennessee school board bans the masterpiece Maus;
- America in Decline, part 8737: Mississippi mayor withholds library funding over LGBTQ material;
- Dublin Award longlist includes some great books;
- International Arabic fiction prize longlist;
- Normalizing African aesthetics in kids book art;
- Who is in Yeats’ grave? Almost for sure it’s not Yeats;
- Casey Plett on whether authors at residencies need to take on the burden of “relevance”;
- You’re too late: RBG’s library sells for $2.4m;
- Today in Floof: 7 books set in bookstores;
Month: January 2022
- Brilliant folk at Coach House to launch Indigenous non-fiction imprint;
- PEN announces awards;
- Zadie Smith on Toni Morrison’s only short story;
- Kaveh Akbar interviewed;
- What I want to say is: “Unbefuckinglievable”, but frankly, that’s not even true anymore… Maus by Art Spiegelman is now banned in Tennessee schools… It’s amazing to me that there are more than 17 teeth in that entire state;
- On reading Rilke to deal with grief;
- Bookshop.org turns two and looks to expanding in the future;
- Staffing changes that probably mean more to you than me;
- This interview about why one publisher in the US keeps picking up titles other presses have dropped could have been one sound long: cha-ching;
- On care and craft in your writing;
- Today in Floof: the 19th century’s great unrequited literary crushes;
Ladies and Gentlemen, my sister from another mister, and Canada Reads contender, Michelle Good. Good luck finding a free spot on that cover for yet another award sticker, Goodie.
- Giller jury looks killer this year… Just finished a jury with Kellough and I assure you the judging is in capable hands there;
- Sheila Heti still tearing up the world is, to me, a sign that life will go on;
- Carnegie Medals handed out;
- As I always say, just follow the money: the Guardian looks into who’s behind US nutbars leading a book-banning wave;
- Read Arthur Miller’s horndog letters to Marilyn;
- New Stephen King novel out this summer (how is this still news when it happens every summer?);
- A history of the venerable FSG in verse;
- When is it okay to let a bookstore die? Feels like there should be a punchline;
- Is place a character or a story in and of itself?;
- Kim Stanley Robinson profiled in the NYer around SF’s ability to help;
- No skin off my nose: a survey of books bound in human skin;
OMG! You got banned?! Your book sales are going to skyrocket! Not necessarily, says BookRiot. The occasional book may see a boost, but only if it makes the news, and given the rise in censorship attempts the last few years, that can’t possibly be all of them. Also, if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the five or six years, it’s that outrage and liberal resolve are the sort of the soft muscles that tire quickly, and the politics of fatigue will eventually win out.
For one thing, sales of a banned book will only increase if it gets a lot of media coverage. For every scandalous story that makes national news, there are many more that are happening in school board and library board meetings that aren’t being reported on. And even the ones that make the news start to get lost in the sheer volume of these stories. It’s hard to imagine all 850 books on Matt Krause’s list of books to ban from Texas schools saw a big boost to their sales.
There’s a new Sci-Fi genre called… well, abstract-concept-with-punk-attached. Because the human race lost all creative ability in the mid-80s and has been pumping out derivative remakes and hot takes ever since. Though the idea that we’re fantasizing about hope should come as a surprise to no one. Utopias imagine dystopias and dystopias imagine utopias. Of course, all our imagined utopias and dystopias are infected with the actual dystopias and utopias around us. Man, I could really go for a Fruitopia, rn, for some reason.
In the midst of current political, economic and environment uncertainty, many of us may have noticed a tendency to fall into cynicism and pessimism. Could hopepunk be the perfect antidote?
If you feel wary of optimism, you are far from alone. Writers and philosophers across human history have had ambivalent views of hope. These contradictory opinions can be seen in the often opposing interpretations of the Pandora myth, first recorded by Hesiod around 700 BC. In his poem Works and Days, Hesiod describes how Zeus created Pandora as a punishment to humanity, following Prometheus’s theft of fire. She comes to humanity bearing a jar containing “countless plagues” – and, opening the lid, releases its evils to the world. “Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within the rim of the great jar,” Hesiod tells us.
- NBCC shortlists announced… oddly, I know only one title on the poetry list, so best get the credit card out;
- A whisper of astonishment and longing spread among the feminist portion of the crowd: Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s private library is for sale;
- European pubs want tougher digital protections for books;
- Ireland gets “new” fiction laureate in Colm Tóibín;
- Consequences strike as author loses publisher;
- Celeste Ng and Ian MacEwan are gearing up for new books;
- Winning the Costa First Novel Award: better than working for Apple;
- Edgar Allen Poe awards;
- Wait there’s a new movie about a poet? Just imagine the budget line for beer and cheese and crackers;
- Uncle Bill hosts impromptu poetry reading in Washington Square;
An excellent question. I’m sure some sociologist will make a cushy career out of answering it some day. But for now…. eh. Who knows. Some people are skeptical, others embrace. Not sure I’ve ever sold a book with a Tweet, but I may have made contacts that helped me earn money in other ways. For me, Twitter is more valuable for what I can get from it than what I can give it. I keep it to keep current. And to slowly mindlessly scroll away while trying to forget that I’m slowly disintegrating into old age. So what I’m saying is, I have my reasons.
Twitter terrifies me. Somehow, I’ve equated my lack of popularity on this admired social media platform with my writing ability. Every tweet is posted with a racing pulse and a flood of underarm sweat. Often to be deleted moments later. But I’m told Twitter is the way forward for emerging writers.
On Twitter, everyone wins prizes and gets published. I leave every scrolling session more deflated than I started. Why does it invoke the worst in me? The jealousy, insecurity, the unhealthy comparisons with other writers. Do I need to put myself through this? I figured it was time to go back to my journalistic roots and attempt some nonfiction. It can’t be any worse than my prose.
When I attended a John Hewitt workshop a few years ago, Twitter was hailed as an excellent resource for writers. I resisted for a while, but the fear of missing out made me cave in and sign up. Initially, scout’s honour, I joined to source writing opportunities. However, when I won a few small competitions, I couldn’t help posting news of my success. That was the Twitter way. But then I was filled with a strange sense of self-loathing.
Had I turned into that person? The person whom I rolled my eyes at when they tweeted of being blessed, honoured, thankful, humbled, delighted, stunned, amazed, awed by some sort of writing success. I felt vain and vacuous for jumping on the bandwagon of braggadocio. What was I trying to prove? Why did I feel the need for others to praise me? Am I that insecure? Yes, yes, I am. And I loved the support. But I hated myself for loving it.
- Indie booksellers’ Magic 8-Ball says… “Outlook uncertain”?’
- UK copyright overhaul on pause thanks to bunch of mouthy authors;
- Today in good news: bunch of NFTcryptobros self-owned;
- Louise Glück interviewed;
- Book pyramid scheme making the rounds on the ‘Gram;
- Proust turns 100 years dead;
- Emily Dickinson in pop culture;
- Gabriel García Márquez had a secret daughter?;
It’s like childbirth (I’m told): if you remembered it in detail, you’d never do it again, and that’s why your body makes you forget. A novel seems to be the same. I’ve watched several novels come into being as the partner of writer who makes money and has people read her work (as opposed to my field). It’s messy and painful and full of challenge. I’ve even tried to write a couple. Madness. Why do you people do that to yourselves? Anyway, this piece in Granta talks about the necessity of forgetting and how that clears the slate so you can write again. Happens with poetry too. I spend at LEAST six months after each book just noodling and churning out stupid stuff until I feel like I can get enough distance from the previous text and voice to start again. Been almost a year this time and I’m still walking around in a daze.
There’s a kind of necessary amnesia that sets in after you finish writing a novel. Like childbirth, you must forget; the future requires it of you. If you remembered, really remembered, then surely you wouldn’t do it again. Or perhaps it’s that the experience itself of writing a novel is a kind of sustained forgetting, a controlled fugue.
I am reminded of a John Berger essay, ‘Seker Ahmet and the Forest’, from About Looking. Berger, in his essay, looks again and again at Ahmet’s late nineteenth-century painting, which depicts, in a haunting play of perspective, the forest as both classical landscape – self-contained scene with its edges visible in the distance – and a forest in all of its dark intractability, experienced not from the outside, but from within, by a woodcutter and his donkey passing through it, or as Berger suggests, swallowed by it. ‘The attraction and the terror of the forest,’ Berger writes, ‘is that you see yourself in it as Jonah was in the whale’s belly. Although it has limits, it is closed around you. Now this experience, which is that of anybody familiar with forests, depends upon your seeing yourself in double vision. You make your way through the forest and, simultaneously, you see yourself, as from the outside, swallowed by the forest.’