Tuesday, 20 August 2013

News: Local Authors, Books, And Brazilian Bites

Tanggal dua puluh lima, bulan lapan two oh satu tiga, meet the authors of Fixi Novo books Dark Highways and Wedding Speech at Borders, The Curve from 3pm to 5pm.

Also: Boey is back with When I Was a Kid 2 and he's currently on tour in KL. Here's the latest schedule of his appearances.

"What if everyone could be persuaded to stop scribbling for a period of, say, 12 months? Of course we would lose some marvellous work during The Year of Not Writing, and that's not to be taken lightly. But look at the compensations: we could all kick back, take stock, and get off the spinning carousel of keeping up with the latest offerings. Just think what could be done with the free time: books we've loved could be revisited; philosophy or poetry could be afforded the time they demand; tomes of previously forbidding length could be tackled with languorous leisure."

Somebody at the Guardian thinks it'll be great for everyone if writers took a year off from publishing books.

The Edinburgh international book fest may be seeing the rise of the author-as-performer, but that might have its problems.

"Certainly a disquiet is growing among some authors about the economics of the live performance, especially when many festivals pay their authors nothing, and book sales frequently fail to compensate for lost working time. (Edinburgh pays authors, whether Nobel laureate or first-time novelist, £150.) According to McDermid it is 'outrageous' that some book festivals 'pay the people who erect the tents, staff the box office, run the bar – but don't pay the people on the stage'."

Also at the Festival: "When you've had any contact with real persecuted minorities you learn to use the word very chastely," says former archbishop of Canterbury Willam Rowan during his appearance, among other things.

Though Violet Duke's (or whoever 'her' name is) self-published novels have reached the best-seller list, book prizes still won't touch selfies (my terminology). Someone at the Guardian asks why books of literary merit aren't considered unless a "proper" publisher picks it up.

The Guardian piece seems to argue that disconnect between what 'literary' critics like and what the reading public likes will shrink as the latter's influence grows - making traditional gatekeepers such as publishers and book-prize panels increasingly obsolete.

"It's safer for an editor at a mainstream publishing house to buy a book that reads a lot like last year's bestseller, than to stick out their neck in support of an unproven concept that might not deliver. But readers have no such reason to be cautious, so buyer power is increasingly setting the agenda in mass-market publishing."

In light of this, comments such as this one make me cringe, however truthful they may be: "You still think the book industry is created for and by intelligent people? That only clever people read books? Think again. Just remember that the last best seller was a badly written soft porn. (The smart ones are those tip-toeing around the manure to pick the lovely flowers and fruits, trying not to step on the crap or get it onto their clothes.)"

But have a look at why this curmudgeonly fellow gave up reading certain books before passing judgement. Guess there's no accounting for taste.


  • In the 'rediscovery' of Muriel Rukeyser's Savage Coast, a novel about the Spanish Civil War, the question arises over what old, forgotten books are worth saving and re-introduced to the world.
  • The Borders raid by JAWI over Irshad Manji's book and the arrest of store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz last year has been declared illegal. Will it happen again?
  • Go anywhere that the Google Play store doesn't operate and the app will delete all your e-books. Gizmodo picked up the incident, which happened to a fellow who travelled to Singapore and found all his e-books gone. What it all boils down to, says Gizmodo, is that "you're buying a license, not a book. And licenses can come with strings attached. Obnoxious strings."
  • "It's not just the intrinsic value of certain books — their 'greatness' — that makes them existentially arresting; it's also the time and place when they happen to fall into our hands." When the time and place is right, books can become one's "personal touchstones".
  • "Sicha has spent the past decade developing what has become the lingua franca of the Internet: un-snobbish endorsements, presented in a candid, self-consciously hysterical tone. ... His humorously helpful parentheticals, doubt-inducing scare quotes, casual 'like's dropped carefully amidst otherwise competent sentences, and gratuitous exclamation points litter the online landscape. When typed by Sicha, though, these superficial markers of style—so easy to replicate!—communicate a set of core values that he's carried with him from job to job: genuine egalitarianism, acrobatic diplomacy, unregulated intimacy."

    Sounds like Alice Gregory really likes Choire Sicha's book or writing style. Sicha himself talks about how the Internet kills and saves book culture.
  • From George Orwell: A Life in Letters: Mr O wants to know if a friend could take up his reviewer's slot in an English daily. The lowdown: "It's rather hackwork, but it's a regular 8 guineas a week ... for about 900 words, in which one can say more or less what one likes."
  • "Big books are epic, dense, packed with plot and content and ideas, aren't they? They weigh more, cost more, take more time to read. And now that time spent reading has to compete with films and on-line everything and facebook and twitter ... surely that means that big must be more important than ever, to justify all that time they take us away from our PCs?" So, are big books making a comeback?
  • Good stuff: how South American chef Alex Atala is introducing Brazil's indigenous culinary delights to the world.
  • So not the Man Booker longlist: Kirkus Reviews thinks these novels of 2013 (so far) are overlooked.
  • "...Cartland's world was for ladies only. That Berlin Wall between women's and men's popular fiction persists to this day. While we men get Chris Ryan's SAS yomping and throat slitting, women get the chilly fantasy of EL James's Christian Grey. Yet with the distance of time, Cartland's work now deserves to be analysed, like a Fifties recipe for braised veal Orloff, with a mix of admiration and horror." Before EL James, there was Barbara Cartland.
  • $#!+ book snobs say - with translations.
  • These one-star reviews sting even more when superimposed on the photographs of the authors of the books being panned.


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