Monday, July 30, 2012

News: Bosses, Comrades, Outliers And A Boey

Boey Cheeming, author of the best-selling When I Was A Kid, will be appearing at the following Malaysian venues on his book tour.




He might also be in Singapore for the Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention on 01 – 02 September, though I can’t confirm that.

When I Was A Kid, more or less, charts Boey’s childhood, growing up in Malaysia, with simple yet (often) funny sketches and handwritten notes. Readers of his generation, including myself, can easily relate to some of the things that happened to him way back when.

Will update the schedule if necessary.


In other news:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Me, Eventually

I rarely say anything of a personal nature on this platform because it's meant mostly about books. But...

I know I'm blogging less frequently now, as in, non-listicle-type fillers. I know. I read lots in the day job, so it's the last thing I'd want to do after leaving the office. But I have other book-related commitments, some of which may be of use to the company.

I recently turned 37. When? That I don't plan on sharing. On some days I feel older than 37, though.

Then there's also this:


Attempt #2 at baked salmon, sans salt, plus some
very oven-killed French beans



Attempt #3 at baked salmon, prepared conventionally with
dried herbs. Think I'll do it this way from now on.


I've been going to the gym two or three times a week for several months. After complaining about aches and pains, I'd been advised to take a protein supplement by Nitro-Tech. But for the meantime, I've turned to other sources: soy milk, yoghurt-based smoothies and fish, which I've begun cooking on occasion.

Several experiments with the oven yielded mixed results. After several attempts, grilling fish without salt doesn't sound like a good idea. But I've been a sucker for salmon for a very long time. There's a certain satisfaction with cooking your own stuff.




Of course, there'll be some less healthier experiments in between


Next on the list is a basic electric rice cooker, with which I intend to experiment with various one-pot wonders (dear l*rd, the man can write). Eventually. So, can I write about food now, M?

Pile the occasional kitchen experiment on top of my chores and after-work time-wasting stuff, I barely have time for things I used to do. Books. Long-winded pieces. Hanging out at watering holes.

But I'll find the time to do all that - and more.

Eventually.

Monday, July 23, 2012

News: Not-So-Goodreads, Book Covers, and Chefs

Ego tripping
The recently reported author hissy-fit is followed by Goodreads's somewhat telling list of authors who allegedly can't take criticism. Most of these are sci-fi and YA titles, the genres many authors tend to kick off their careers with. One guy has 19 titles on this list, probably with good reason.

So, do we really need a Rotten Tomatoes for books, when other platforms already exist for the purpose of bruising egos? And, as demonstrated by the responses to the latest summer blockbuster, the ubiquitous trolls in cyberspace can set fire to almost anything.

Besides, "most comments are horrible," anyway, and the cost of fighting online trolls may not be worth it. So bad reviews - and the bad responses to them - are, for the moment, part of the landscape. Deal with it, says this author.

For those of you who can't get enough of book review blogs, here's The Neverending Library, by the digital department of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

...If it's called "Goodreads", why all the zero- to two-star books?


Covering book designs
For those who wonder about books with those tattered page edges, here's the history and rationale for deckle-edged books. Who knew it was a prestige thing?

Also, book covers looking more and more alike - and retro. The recent spate of apparent copying isn't just about appeal, but also because simple covers are easier to render in e-readers. Oh, hurry up, technology, so we can have nicer e-book covers. But imitation may not be the sincerest or greatest form of flattery, as a 'tribute' to The Ipcress File stirs a book jacket plagiarism row.

The argument for better covers can be illustrated by a 6-year-old whose mom 'bribed' her to guess what some books are about by their covers. Hilarity ensues. I wonder if some adults pick what to buy and read the same way.

Oh, wait... they... do.


In the bubbling pot...
Hell's chef Ramsay denies racism suggested in former underling Marcus Samuelsson's memoir. So it's okay to verbally break your chefs' spines, as long as you're not racist about it? Kind of like English football, isn't it? And isn't it strange that Ramsay wanted to be a pro-footballer?

Elsewhere, Get Jiro! by potty-mouthed Anthony Bourdain (and illustrated by Joel Rose) tops New York Times' list of best-selling hardcover graphic novels. And is Gwyneth Paltrow to star in a silver screen adaptation of chef Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter?


Toni Morrison...
... says some things on...

...Community: "I live in places that I love. And I’d hate to lose them. ... But home is an idea rather than a place. It’s where you feel safe. Where you’re among people who are kind to you – they’re not after you; they don’t have to like you – but they’ll not hurt you. And if you’re in trouble they’ll help you... And we’ve moved from that in this country."

...pop culture: "The pop stuff – it’s – it’s so low. People used to stand around and watch lynchings. And clap and laugh and have picnics. And they used to watch hangings. We don’t do that anymore. But we do watch these other car crashes. Crashes. Like those Housewives. Do you really think that your life is bigger, deeper, more profound because your life is on television?"

...and more. Now I want to read some of her books. Don't you?


Other news
  • RIP Stephen R Covey. And RIP Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch editor.
  • 16 books challenged for LGBT content includes several children's books and a YA novel that was subjected to book burning.
  • Australian bookstore business in doubt? This piece says 'no'. However, one should know that, like in France, the government in Oz also fixes prices for books.
  • The annual Hong Kong Book Fair spotlights works banned in mainland China. Speaking of banned Chinese scribes: activist Chen Guangcheng gets a deal for his memoir. But it may not be in time for the next HK Book Fair.
  • Sounds like a generation gap thingy: Old codger thinks Stephen King's overrated... ...and younger writer says, "That's BS."
  • Penelope Trunk clarifies her unflattering comments on the traditional publishing industry. But then she also says that "only small ideas get put on the Web", while big ideas go into books. What does that mean for bloggers who write long, well-crafted pieces on the web?
  • In the wake of the "Grey" phenomenon, sexing up classics might be a bad idea. And it's not as if they didn't know how to do it back then.
  • About time this happened: Barnes & Noble releases Nook for Web. Not that I'm buying e-books online yet, but at least I probably won't need an e-reader for accessing what is really a kind of compiled help module (CHM).
  • Radio DJs in Cleveland held a book burning for that piece of retooled fan fiction - as a joke, it seems. But some took it seriously, including one woman who "told [one of the DJs] to torch her Nook, which he eventually did throw to the flames." Cue the lo-o-o-o-ong sigh. And Americans expect the rest of us to believe that they can be trusted with firearms.
  • A visually impaired teen in Louisiana offers menus in Braille to local restaurants. Stories like these shine a light on the blindness by some towards the reading/eating needs of the visually impaired.
  • Life after Borders: The stories of several ex-employees as they look for work. Meanwhile, Waterstones' founder goes on about how the chain was ruined; this time, he cites Amazon and short-term business thinking. Dude should just get over it already.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Downward Dude

Any writer would love to have Neal Pollack's CV. He was a staff writer for The Chicago Reader in the Nineties. In the early Noughties he contributed to literary journal McSweeney's and was a columnist for Vanity Fair and Nerve.com. He also freelanced for many other online and print publications such as Men's Journal, Maxim, Slate.com and Yoga Journal. Rolling Stone named him its "Hot Writer" in 2000.

So it may be a mystery to some why his bibliography includes what I'd consider "shtick lit".

A sample passage from his "rock and roll novel" Never Mind The Pollacks (2003), courtesy of Amazon:

...I'd just seen Pollack at Lollapalooza in Seattle eight months before. He'd been gnawing on a piece of fry bread.

"Neal," I'd said, "you look terrible."

"Grumph," he'd said. "Look who it is. Paul St. Pierre, the world's most pretentious f—."

"What are you doing here?"

"Shilling for Alice in Chains," he said. "Those ass-eating phonies."

Pollack was standing in front of a yellow tent. A banner over his head read "Anal Piercings. $10."

"This isn't like you," I said.

His eyes teared.


And from his parenting memoir Alternadad (2007):

I was napping pleasantly on a futon one Saturday afternoon when my wife flung open the door. She held a filthy sponge in her left hand. A look of terrified desperation clouded her eyes.

"Catastrophe!" she said.

"What?" I said.

"Your son took off his diaper. He's throwing shit all over his bedroom! And he's enjoying himself!"

"That's bad."

"It's disgusting, that's what it is! Now get out of bed and help me clean!"

...Okay, maybe the books aren't like that cover to cover. But passages like those can be painful reading.


The new Neal
Pollack is also quite the satirist, as shown in the two snippets above. If there's no one or nothing to parody, he turns his pen on himself. But you wonder, from the exaggerated narrative and the sometimes outrageous dialogue, if he's just stretching the truth a bit for our amusement.

“Stretch” by Neal Pollack
Kind of appropriate for him to attempt an autobiographical account of his transformation into a "yoga dude" called Stretch.

From this book, it seems that Pollack's foray into yoga and yoga journalism began with the merciless takedown of his rock and roll novel, Never Mind The Pollacks in the New York Times. (Reading his endorsement of self-publishing, one wonders if he wrote it with the reviewer's caustic tones ringing in the furthest recesses of his mind.)

Like the good wife she's been, Regina tries to help, by inviting the emotionally battered spouse to do yoga with her. "You'll look sex-eeeee..." she adds, swaying her hips suggestively. "You'll be a sexy, sexy yoga man."

But the word that got Pollack on his way to his first downward dog was, "free". Presumably his wife's free membership at a fitness centre.

Thus, a whole new world opens up for the then doughy, 35-ish white man with a goatee and thinning hair. Including worlds of pain and fatigue as his sports-channel-engorged couch-potato physique opens up to the universe. But he sticks to it, going from yoga class to yoga class and enduring the often quirky yoga instructors. Towards the end, Pollack ponders starting his own yoga class. Will he, or won't he?

His efforts, it seems, paid off. His back, neck and the rest of him gets better, like his wife said. He also starts writing about yoga for The Yoga Journal. Like a slowly blooming lotus blossom, he becomes a more well-rounded, conscientious human being. The transformation is encouraging. Inspiring, even.

Except for occasional lapses like:

I stood on my side of the bed, naked, twirling my arms and grinding my hips.

"What are you doing?" [Regina] asked.

"I'm showing off my sexy yoga dance," I said.

"That's funny," she said. "I thought you were looking at yourself in the mirror and farting into the fan."

. . .

I flexed one of my arm howitzers.

"Namaste, motherf—er!" I said.

"What the hell does that mean?"

"It's my yoga catchphrase."

"You can't have a yoga catchphrase."

"Why not?"

"Because yogis don't have catchphrases. Also, it's totally obnoxious."

"Whatever," I said. "I can feel the yoga power growing inside me."

"You idiot," she said.

Yoga may give a guy wings, but thank his wife for keeping him from flying into the yoga sun.


Too much testosterone
It's easy to see why Pollack can be charming - at times. His writing gives one the impression that he puts on no airs and doesn't hide anything, a guy who'll give it to you straight. I like that. And he is funny.

In Stretch, however, his self-parody sometimes borders on self-mutilation. The start of his long path towards nirvana can torturous to read. Dude humour, I think it's called. Not really for me. His vivid prose doesn't help much when the need to tune out certain mental images arises.

When he's not making a fool of himself, Pollack shows of the chops that landed him all those gigs that would make other writers green with envy. His interactions with some of his favourite - and not-so-favourite - yoga teachers and the chapter on Bikram yoga struck a chord with anyone who's experienced them. Yoga concepts and facts are made accessible to the layman without being too satirical.

Stretch
The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude

Neal Pollack
Harper Perennial (2010)
320 pages
Non-fiction
ISBN: 978-0-06-172769-6
Though more of a chronicle of Pollack's transformation into a "yoga dude", Stretch also has pretty good reporting on the modern yoga industry, if you can ignore the fart jokes and self-deprecating references to his Jewish ancestry at the beginning. Given the strength of his journalism, this book would've been just as good - maybe even better - without the extra testosterone.

Rescue comes in the form of Mrs Pollack, who's reduced to a "yoga widow" towards the book's conclusion. She gets some of the best lines and, as shown above, dishes out reality checks when the husband gets light-headed over his (then) new obsession. Aaaand for supplying such moments as...

"So," I said to Regina at dinner the night before the [San Francisco Yoga Journal conference], "these women I'm driving up to San Francisco..."

"I thought you were driving up with a couple of Indian guys."

"You don't have to be Indian to be Sikh," I said. "Also, they're not Sikhs. They're Canadian."

"So, let me get this straight," she said. "You're driving two Canadian women to San Francisco by yourself?"

"Yep."

A vast silence ensued, during which Regina weighed the possibilities of divorce.

"30 Rock was really funny last night, huh?" I said.

We love you, Mrs Pollack. Please write your side of the Stretch story. Don't you think Yoga Widow has a nice ring to it?


This review was based on an advance reading copy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lovingly Lardcore

Does this need a lengthy preamble? No.

Did the food we eat here look impressive? Not really.

But the proof is in the piggy, and this place delivered.

Unfortunately, me and my makan companion are also struggling with a DIY exercise regime, so we can't come here as often as, say, twice a month. A (couple of) future visits is on the cards, though.

And I hope they bring back the Porksperity Burger or whatever it's called on one of those visits.



Hog hunt
"Love, peace and bacon grease"? Yes, please, you'll say with ease.

first published in The Malaysian Insider, 18 July 2012

"When's your last order?" Melody asked over the phone. "2:30pm? Great, thanks!"

Thank goodness.

"It's on the road leading to Sumika," Melody had said earlier, en route to The Hungry Hog, the latest pork place we'd heard about. Melody had sung praises about the dishes there, but she didn't have bothered.


Simple yet scrumptious Bacon Pasta (left) and some
piggy-themed décor at The Hungry Hog


She had me at "bacon", as usual. To be more precise, "bacon ice cream".

Turns out the place was not on the road leading to Sumika, the Japanese-owned yakitori joint at SS15 we'd visited long ago. While enduring a brief jam at a busy intersection, Melody called her friend Sam, who supplied us with The Hungry Hog's address and phone number, along with directions.

Convinced we would never find parking nearby, I pulled over at a spot which we'd later learn was about three blocks away from our late lunch.

"Look on the bright side," Melody advised as we trudged towards our destination, but all I noticed were the score or so of empty sunlit parking lots we could've chosen from that were much nearer.

On some days, Melody is unreliable when it comes to directions.


Meat may be murder, but it's sure tasty. Suck it up, PETA.


From outside, The Hungry Hog didn't stand out from the other buildings in the industrial-zone neighbourhood; the sign looked more appropriate for a print shop than a purveyor of pork.

The interior was a mostly sterile white. Touches of whimsy include various porcine figurines and framed slogans: "Put a pork in it"; "Meat is murder", followed by "Tasty, tasty murder" in fine print; and "Love, peace & bacon grease".


Loosen your belts for the BELT Sandwich


Bacon grease? Yes, please, I thought with ease. To Melody's shock, I ordered two dishes, sans fries. If I'm going to walk away with some fat, might as well be a substantial amount of it. Though I've heard (mostly) nice things about their pork ribs and the bangers-and-mash, I didn't feel like anything Flintstonian that day. I scanned the other sections in the menu.

I couldn't tell what kind of the bread they use in the BELT (Bacon, Eggs, Lettuce and Tomato) Sandwich, but it was great and just the right size. Slices of bacon, ham, greens and chopped-up hardboiled egg is great for any occasion. Minus the fries, the side of salad looked huge.


The "Three Little Pigs" Burger sure looks... kinda like
something Ultraman would fight


My other order of the Three Little Pigs Burger may have been a lapse in judgement (I have had too many fine-dining burgers this year already), but one that I didn't regret. "Three types of 'pig'": bacon, ham and juicy pork patty harmonised with the lettuce, cheese and layer of caramelised onion.

One problem - the height - was solved with a firm press of the hand before I dug in. The sweetness of the caramelised onions made it easier to handle the three-pork medley. Tasty, tasty murder.

I loved my sandwich and burger, but Melody's Bacon Pasta was surprising. A barebones aglio olio-type dish with garlic, cili padi and bacon slices was delightfully, deliciously spicy and savoury.


Okay, so it's not quite the bacon sundae in the US
I'd heard about, but still delicious


Melody felt there was too much pasta, however, so she wanted to pack the rest for dinner. I suggested packing it in my stomach, but she put her foot down, reducing me to a mewling wreck. I only had one mouthful....

Dessert came to the rescue: a vanilla ice cream studded with bits of crunchy bacon and drizzled with honey. Trying to taste the bacon with the ice cream was difficult, but the combination worked somehow. I'll know what to add to ice cream, next time, if I'm out of nuts.

The Hungry Hog
71, Jalan SS15/4C
47500 Subang Jaya

Opening Hours:
•  Noon to 2:30pm
•  6pm to 10pm
Closed on Mondays

Tel: 012 - 225 0877

www.hog.my
Along with all the bacon already in my belly, a sense of contentment set in. Feels like heaven, like-

"...para, para, paradise..." crooned Chris Martin of Coldplay through the sound system. "...para, para, paradise..."

Which was where my mind began drifting to, when a noise made me turn around. A young couple, probably college students, had arrived about 15 minutes after the last order time of 2:30pm, and the girl berated the boy for being late, all the way out the door.

Melody and I looked at each other. "Wow," she said. "That could've been us."

Indeed.

Sam saved our bacon that Saturday afternoon. I can think of only one way to repay her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heritage Revisited

Chin Kon Yit, the artist whose works can be found in the Sketchbook series on several Malaysian states and cities, is having over 50 original watercolours from some of those books exhibited, courtesy of Shalini Ganendra Fine Art.

Chin is considered one of Southeast Asia's most prominent watercolour artists. His techniques combine a draughtsman's detailed pen with watercolours resulting in pretty and technically sound depictions of heritage architecture and artefacts, as well as rural and urban scenes. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions, at home and abroad, for over 40 years.

It was his work on the Malacca Sketchbook that helped inspire me to take a road trip to the historical state. The illustrations were all drawn by Chin, with architectural handwritten notes by the late architect Chen Voon Fee.

Samples of his art can be found here (zounds, it's still a Tripod web site!). If he drew food like he draws these buildings, it would make you drool.

Chin Kon Yit - Revisited is currently being held at:

Shalini Ganendra Fine Art @ Gallery Residence
8 Lorong 16/7B, Section 16
46350 Petaling Jaya
Selangor
+603 7960-4740

Tuesdays to Saturdays: 11am to 7pm
Public holidays and other times: By appointment

The exhibition runs until 15 September.

Monday, July 16, 2012

News: Reviews, Authors and Amazon

Review revue
Don't be held hostage by reviewers, urges this author. As if they have ever been.

However, one author seems to feel that way, from his meltdown over a poor review of his novel, whose back cover copy doesn't inspire much curiosity at all. In his defence, he cluttered the comments section with numerous positive reviews of his book, a move the reviewer calls harassment. His response: "Your disbelief in my success is also amazing."

No, what's amazing - and unbelievable - is EL James's success. Which is set to get even more unbelievable.

A commenter kind of nails it, regarding the majority of self-published books online. Most tend to rush it out to publication, mainly for bragging rights ("Check out my book!"), to "be the first to get it out" (but how do you know if someone else didn't write something similar before?), and maybe to avoid the heartache that comes with an editor or a proofreader's feedback ("But it's good enough! My best friend/parents/English teacher/barkeep said so!").

This story was picked up by book blog Luxury Reading, which has supplied some information on author/blogger online spats, along with how an author got burned fighting fire with fire.

How much do book reviews matter, anyway? Especially the ones in the New York Times? About as much as book prizes, it seems. Having your book lapidarily limned is probably all the PR you'll ever need, though.

If that - and the usual Amazon and Goodreads reviews - are not enough, here's iDreamBooks, a book review site being touted as the Rotten Tomatoes for books. Easier now to 'hold authors hostage' or piss them off.


Author, author
You know, I'm not sure if I'd want to buy this book after reading its author's tirade over her former (traditional) publisher's allegedly shoddy PR engine. Though not everybody agrees with her, there are lessons in it for the publishing industry.

Terry Goodkind's not-so-"good" or -"kind" gesture towards an e-book pirate is also a lesson on how not to 'respect' books you like. Piracy is not the sincerest form of flattery, and not everybody can afford to be like Coelho.

Nor is it a good idea anymore to pass off other people's work as your own.

Elsewhere, a romance writer tells us why smart women read romance - and perhaps why smart women should read her romance novel, The Booby Trap. Which is supposedly what smart women reading romance should read. Uh huh.


Other news
  • Amazon's same-day delivery will destroy your neighbourhood retailers, says Mr "Die, Physical Indie Bookstore, Die". At least he doled out some advice for bookstores fighting the encroaching Amazon jungle. Speaking of which: Booksellers say 'no' to Amazon imprint - again. Is Amazon, like, Mephisto's jungle?
  • A US citizen jailed for posting translated excerpts of a banned biography of the Thai king has been freed. Meanwhile, here's a glimpse at how books are banned here. I think we need a break from the Borders thingy.
  • Ottavia Bourdain needs to blog. Mrs Anthony Bourdain needs to write a book. She needs to run a media empire (move over, Oprah). A few more pieces like this and she'll need her own freaking Parthenon. The writing sounds familiar - has dear hubby been helping out or it's just that they sound the same?
  • Not just chicken tikka masala: Words with Indian roots that sneaked into the English language.
  • Cinderella, explored. In other words, "Siapa Sinderella?" ...Or should it be "Cinderellae"? ...Did I just name a possible Malay novel/movie?
  • Drug-related violence in Guadalajara, where Latin America's second largest annual book fair is held. So depressing.
  • Is this story of a many-aliased literary fraudster really out of a book? This guy says so - out of his book, apparently.
  • Why tpoys are hrad to ctach, eipscalely in Eilnsgh. Deosn't mkae me feel bteter, tughoh.
  • The "mummy porn" wave has some strange surfers. Who knew Anne Rice wrote a submission-themed erotica trilogy adapted from a fairy tale in the Eighties? Expect more of this ilk to shamble out of their crypts.
  • Unbelievable: corruption in holy book procurements in Indonesia?
  • Making e-book predictions is hard, but this guy's giving it a go, anyway. We'll check back in five years.

Oh yes, I have been writing book reviews. All for print publication, unfortunately, so I have to wait for them to come out. And I know the upcoming issue for Quill is late, too - a snag in production that will, hopefully, iron itself out in a fews days.

Monday, July 09, 2012

News: An Aureate Appraisal, Plus Some Other Stuff

Rehman Rashid reviews Zaid Ibrahim's Ampun Tuanku, published by ZI Publications, of course. The book examines the role of the rulers in Malaysia's democracy. But good lord, RR's florid flourishes...

It is a plangent call in the present circumstances; a cri de coeur to stanch the haemorrhage of public trust in the institutions of state. The Executive is harried and beleaguered; the Legislature a moshpit of implacable enmities; the Judiciary disdained and mistrusted. The genie of public opprobrium is out of the bottle, and there’s no stuffing it back in.

Ampun Tuanku the book, lapidarily limned?

Speaking of which...

There was another story about how a New York Times reviewer (not that one) "killed" Patrick Somerville's novel, This Bright River. Incidentally, the same reviewer was kinder to his first novel, The Cradle. It seems she got a couple of characters mixed up and ended up revealing a possible spoiler, i.e. the identity of the unnamed narrator.

NYT has issued a corrected version of the review, but what's interesting about this saga was the e-mail exchanges between a NYT editor and one of Somerville's fictional characters which led to the correction.

At least said character was a person. Imagine if it were a ghost, or an animal... not that it matters.

In other news:

  • Ooh, will an e-book market in Japan be kindled? And if t will, who will win it - B&N's こぼ or Amazon's きんでる? Well, I'd like to think it's natural for something called Kobo (こぼ) to enter the land of the cellphone novel.
  • A 9-year legal battle over scathing restaurant review leaves a bitter taste for Aussie food writers. Unfortunately, it looks like the reviewer's fault. But if everybody said only nice things about good restaurants and kept their mouths shut over bad ones, will the pool of writing be as lively and colourful?
  • How an abandoned Wal-Mart became a library. Better than most abandoned buildings that get turned into parking lots.
  • Guidebook for Japanese tourists visiting Scotland advises, among other things, "don't call the Scots English."
  • Calabash, a Jamaican lit fest. Sounds cooler than Ubud....
  • I CAN HAZ E-BUK? YES U CAN. Katz Tales and Boris out in e-book format.
  • Textbook crisis in Ghana, thanks to cheap imports and dodgy regulations.
  • The difference between rights and copyright.
  • Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is Oxfam's most-donated book for four consecutive years. Not sure if that's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More News: The Perfect Gent Returns And Your E-Reader Is Reading You

Monday, July 02, 2012

News: Bibliotheca Buzz, Publishing and Reviewers

Library things
More than half of Americans don't know about e-lending at libraries. I bet some publishers would like it that way, but that's just sticking their heads in the sand.

Meanwhile, across the pond, authors and poets are urging a halt to book pulping at the Manchester Central Library. Seems pulping is how they deal with unwanted books. Google should be salivating at the thought of all these volumes, ripe for digitisation.

I'll agree that there's one thing physical books are better at than e-books: as heirlooms. Not much ceremony in copying or moving a directry of files.... Here are some of Lev Grossman's collection of rare (and not very rare) books.

In Bangalore, publishers reportedly exploit policy loopholes to sell books - lots of books - to Karnataka's libraries. The Indian state is noted for its high literacy rates. And there's a textbook controversy in Manipur... OMG, is that CARLOS SANTANA on the cover? And Ashoka's lions rising from the Colosseum?


Publishing not dead - maybe
E-books arrived earlier than most people think, says Andrew Shaffer in a brief takedown of some "moron" who blogs about the death of publishing. A whole blog about the "death of publishing"? Talk about big shoulder chips and bonnet-dwelling bees.

Lots of people have sung similar dirges, but I suspect that they're just gobbling schadenfreude pie over how smaller, independent publishers are eating at the market share that was once the reserve of the big guys - or trying to sell something. I think it's still too early to tell; some big publishers can still avoid the iceberg that will be their oblivion with a few changes to their MO. Who needs a whole blog to drive that message home?

And here's Julian Barnes shares his life as a bibliophile. Doesn't sound like he feels the sense of an ending in the traditional book industry.


Reviewing reviewers
A review of John Hughes's "The Remnants" seem to suggest that experimental, niche writing is risky. Meanwhile, some book reviewers get reviewed - kind of. Also reviewing reviewers is the guest blogger (same dude) at Scott Pack's wonders if publishers are cherry-picking book reviews to boost sales.


Graphic novel
From novels, memoir, cookbook, various non-fiction pieces and TV shows, Tony Bourdain takes a leap into the graphic novel pool with Get Jiro!

In this Bourdainesque dystopian world where chefs are practically kingpins, Jiro is an independent sushi chef caught in a turf war between two chefs representing the fusion-dabbling international empire-builder and earth-warrior locavore philosophies.

If you're the kind who's tickled by an enraged sushi chef decapitating a customer who asked for California Rolls, etc, get Jiro. I have a feeling it'll be a fun production.