Monday, 27 May 2013

News: Open Letter, Blurbs, And Amazon Kindles Fanficdom Fire

A certain blind Socialist woman penned a letter to a bunch of German university students in 1933 who planned to burn some books, including hers. That was the year Adolf Hitler became the German Chancellor, by the way.

"History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas," it begins. "Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them."

Not that she's unaware of the issues behind it. "I acknowledge the grievous complications that have led to your intolerance; all the more do I deplore the injustice and unwisdom of passing on to unborn generations the stigma of your deeds."

That this blind lady sees the value of and appreciates what some of us take for granted: ideas and letters on a page should shame book-burners everywhere and through the ages.

What? You've never heard of Helen Keller?

Okay, what else?

  • Amazon has started a publishing model to crowdsource fanfic. Authors Malinda Lo and John Scalzi has some thoughts about it - few of them good.
  • Beth Hayden over at Copyblogger on why writing is scary, and why writers must write through fear. "If we let fear stop us, our content will have no spark, no life. And everything we write will be completely unremarkable."
  • "Do snippets of inflated praise on dust jackets make any difference to potential readers standing in a bookstore? Is anyone buying Benjamin Percy’s werewolf novel, 'Red Moon,' because John Irving called it 'terrifying'?" Book blurbs are "terrifying", Ron Charles suggests.
  • How a writer used Wikipedia to buff his ego and settle scores - and cast more doubt upon Wikipedia as an online info source.
  • After doing some homework, restaurant critic Jay Rayner eats crow over a past outburst over food miles. This is why Rayner deserves respect, even if he is a little shouty and abrasive.
  • Why literary criticism still matters. I know I'm beating a dead horse.
  • A farmer in the US explains certain questions you shouldn't ask at farmers markets in the US.
  • Nationalist politics in China's film industry is kind of ... worrying.
  • Manila's city chairman roasts Dan Brown for calling the capital the "gates of hell" for its "six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution [and] horrifying sex trade" in his latest book, Inferno.

    Some commenters on the original news report, however, say that Brown, who is reputed to be fond of re-interpreting history and science to suit his plots, was kind of spot on about Manila in that book.

    So, I guess he won't be helping much with Filipino tourism as much as, say, Florentine or Venetian tourism.


  1. Woohoo! It's a great post. So many perils -- jacket blurbs can lead us disastrously astray when choosing our next book, and Dan Brown is unreliable as a travel agent. Excellent reminders all.

    1. Never trust jacket blurbs. Or book reviews. After all, they're just individual opinions.

      As for Dan Brown, well, you can't beat the copywriting (unless he ripped it off Wikipedia, Fodor, or Lonely Planet). And I read news that Inferno-induced Dante fever has begun in Florence.


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