Monday, 22 July 2013

News: Leaks, Letters, Libraries, And Lonely Planet

"Robert Galbraith" is reportedly pissed with how the name behind "his" pseudonym was leaked. Claims that the leak was not a publicity stunt followed revelations that someone in a legal firm let slip that JK Rowling was actually the author of The Cuckoo's Calling, an acclaimed crime novel with previously modest sales figures.

I think it's more because JK Rowling or her publishers were more pissed because they were robbed of the privilege of the unveiling at an appointed time. Given Rowling's reputation, it's possible that the publisher will eventually spring this on us. That being said, entrusting anybody with secrets can be risky in the age of Instagram.

Now that the cat's out of the bag, sales, predictably, went through the roof. At least Rowling can add another feather to her hat, unlike some other authors who could only enjoy posthumous fame.

Somebody writing in thinks Rowling's case "is a truly illuminating example of the fundamental unfairness and absurdity that lies at the heart of the book publishing industry."

Following the Taliban's 'apology' to Malala for shooting her, writer Mohammed Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti) exploded some Taliban mangoes.

Thanks for owning up that your comrades tried to kill her by shooting her in the head. Many of your well-wishers in Pakistan had been claiming the Taliban wouldn't attack a minor girl. They were of the opinion that Malala had shot herself in order to become a celebrity and get a UK visa. Women, as we know, will go to any lengths to get what they want. So thanks for saying that a 14-year-old girl was the Taliban's foe.

With that out of the way, he starts piling it on.

Like you, there are others who are still not sure whether it was "Islamically correct or wrong", or whether she deserved to be "killed or not", but then you go on to suggest that we leave it to Allah.

There are a lot of people in Pakistan, some of them not even Muslims, who, when faced with difficult choices or everyday hardships, say let's leave it to Allah. Sometimes it's the only solace for the helpless. But most people don't say leave it to Allah after shooting a kid in the face.

Read the whole thing. Please.

Meanwhile, back home, Uthaya Sankar SB pens his thoughts (in Malay) over a perceived insult to religion.

Another Wild West myth explodes:

...the idealization of [Wyatt] Earp as a good guy with a gun, an unswerving servant of law and order, is a myth. As a young man, Earp was arrested for horse theft and consorting with prostitutes. He was run out of a Texas town for trying to sell a rock painted yellow as a gold brick. He was drawn to police work not because of a devotion to the law but because, during the Gilded Age when public corruption was rampant, it was an easy source of cash. He went to court in 1896 for having refereed a fixed heavyweight championship prizefight, and as late as 1911, at age 63, he was arrested by the Los Angeles police for running a crooked card game.

Gosh darn it. Wyatt Earp. Who knew?

"'Technically,' because like ... any number of other YA books that some adults like to raise hell about, these titles promote only what readers want them to promote. Because without context of story, you can make a book about anything you want it to be about!"

As young adult books get darker and steamier, parents start worrying. Are these YA titles so terrifying, or is there an element of hypocrisy involved?

"Some grown-ups are afraid of context.

It’s clear not only in their claims about what it is YA books are promoting but also in their strong stances that YA books were never as “bad” in their day.

Of course they were.


  • Someone in Singapore has compiled the stories of 300 hawkers in the island state into a book and will also be conducting guided tours to some famous hawker centres there. The book, part of the Singapore HeritageFest 2013, is going for about RM211 and can be found here. Want to ask, "How did they manage to find 300 hawkers in Singapore?" Don't.
  • Translated Chinese novels not going out to the world as fast as foreign fiction coming into China.
  • Hey, Tash Aw is in Speaking of his old backyard: "I grew up in what was then called Kampung Kerinchi. It was a slum, basically. Now it’s called Bangsar South. It’s really quite amazing." We think so too.
  • Lonely Planet is cutting its editorial staff. Though it's not dead yet, the eulogies appear to be coming in. Meanwhile, Frommers, another travel guide label, will be publishing a new set of books under a new name, after it was bought back from Google by its founder.
  • Spain's economic crisis sends crowds into libraries, which start looking like neighbourhood community centres. Wonder if this will boost the arguments in this article on libraries in the UK.
  • Are women in the UK ditching newspapers because of sexist white male newspaper owners and what the latter think are news?
  • Wanna write better? First, be a better reader. These techniques are said to help.
  • What heppened when a library banned a book - with the author's permission - on Banned Book Week.
  • Found guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices with a bunch of publishers, Apple, predictably, appeals against the verdict.

And talk about sudden hedgehogs: Check out the cover and description of this (erotic?) werehedgehog romance e-book.

Now there's a terrifying title I wouldn't let young adults read - lest they start flooding Facebook with related memes. But I wonder if it explores an actual hedgehog-related condition?


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