Sunday, 26 August 2012

News: Snark Week in Publishing

Shnark attacks
Online mobs stifle literature, author suggests. One can also extend that to literary criticism, but it doesn't help when you have reviews that sound like the shitstorm-stirring put-down of Alix Ohlin's books. From the looks of it, the reviewer couldn't find much to say about the books (i.e. he didn't like them). Martim Amis's Lionel Asbo also received brickbats, along with the occasional 'balanced' opinions like this.

Somebody at makes a case for positive book reviews, and gives some further reading on the subject. But here's how to write a good "bad review" - if you really, really need to. Meanwhile, a reviewer looks back at his "infamous" review of Pretty Woman two decades ago and decides it wasn't really that hot, thanks to its "miffed, hectoring, and righteously unamused" tone. Another case for ditching unrestrained snarkiness.

Controversy? Not here
Glenn Beck, peddler of paranoia, may publish David Barton's controversial book on Thomas Jefferson, said to contain factual inaccuracies. No problem for Beck, who seems totally immune to facts. Meanwhile, Ousted Komen exec Karen Handel will tell her side of Planned Parenthood story in a book whose title says everything. Note also the September 11 launch date - what is she trying to say? Somewhere south of the border, two old Latin American recalcitrants may be working on a book. 2012 is a good year to publish, it seems.

Even authors need agents these days
Getting the right fit: the job of a literary agent. For some authors who think six months is too long a period to get noticed, Michael Bourne writes, "Mainstream publishing is a Rube Goldberg machine of perverse economic incentives, in which large numbers of mostly idiotic self-help guides, diet books, and airport thrillers subsidize an ever-shrinking number of mostly money-losing literary novels and books of poetry.

"But just because publishing operates on a crazy economic model doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense," he adds. "There is a market, however tiny, for good books, and there are a small number of smart, hard-working people who live for the thrill of finding a talented author. If you are one of those talented authors, then it is your job to stop whining and figure out how to make it easy for them to find you."

Unless you're Barton, Beck, or Handel, perhaps. "Talent", you understand.

Other news
  • The late Alexander Cockburn more or less accused Orwell of being racist and bigoted. WINCE. And someone else suggests the author of 1984 wasn't quite the truth-teller people thought he was.
  • From what Man Booker prize-winner Howard Jacobson says, 'good readers' are getting harder to find, and that political correctness is partly to blame for weakening appetites for the "expression of an ugly point of view" in books.
  • Lee Goldberg on book trailers: "Why don't you just take whatever cash you have and flush it down [the] toilet?"
  • "We were quoted out of context:" Lonely Planet responds to Foreign Policy's "leftist planet" article.
  • Who needs publishers and bookstores? Everybody, it seems. ...Okay. I'm paraphrasing, but that's the impression I got after reading it...
  • In India, it's raining publications but the literary landscape is dry.
  • Funny, crass non-person Ruth Bourdain is coming up with a "guide to gastronomy". Someone (forgot who) asked the obvious question: Who will they make the royalty cheques out to?


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