Sunday, 4 September 2016

Book Marks: Curtis Sittenfeld On Reviews, Penguin's Egyptian Classics

In The New York Times, Jennifer Senior speaks with Curtis Sittenfeld about reviews and being a book critic. An excerpt:

For my second novel, "The Man of My Dreams," I got a scathing review from The Times. I found it embarrassing, but now I’m not sorry because I learned two important lessons: 1) Actually, almost no one in the world besides you cares if you get a scathing review from The Times — it’s not unlike walking out of a restaurant bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

...And 2) The review stung partly because the book in question had some weaknesses that I knew about. My rule since then has been that I can’t let a book be published if it has problems that still feel fixable — that I am my own ultimate quality control.


  • Five books banned by the Home Ministry because they ... "disrupt the public order". This is old news, but I'm putting it here because the article includes a list from the Home Ministry's web site, which we'd probably want to refer to on occasion. No sign of Michel Faudet's Dirty Pretty Things, which was said to be detained by the ministry.
  • A Q&A with author Gina Yap on The Spark (in Malay), about writing and the Malaysian Writers group.
  • Penguin Classics is publishing a selection of ancient Egyptian texts translated into English for first time, including something called "The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor" and letters from a farmer called Heqanakht, from 1930BC. It can't come soon enough.
  • This piece on getting onto bestseller lists is interesting, but the fact that it's from Tucker Max makes me feel, well... If this is your thing, though, it's worth a look.
  • Somebody (I think it was Anthony McGowan) said "90 per cent of YA is crap" at the Edinburgh international book festival, during a debate on the genre. Bookmarking this for future reference.
  • Conservative gadfly Ann Coulter is "currently experiencing every nonfiction author's nightmare". Well, I can bear her misery, if she's capable of feeling any. But that's to be expected when writing books about a notorious, flip-flopping misogynistic bigot.
  • Seth Grahame-Smith, author of such works as Unholy Night and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is being sued by publisher Hachette for what I understand as working chunks from a "120-year-old public-domain work" into a manuscript for an unnamed book he passed off as original. Arguably, several of his novels can hardly be considered "original". For one, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?
  • I thought an article titled "How To Sell Nearly a Half-Million Copies of a Poetry Book" might be interesting to some people, so here it is.

    And here is Publisher's Weekly's list of the world's 52 largest book publishers for 2016, so you know who to submit to.

I'd dropped the ball for several weeks due to work, stress and the lack of book-related news that I was remotely interested in. But I'm plugging in again and it seems quite a few interesting things have happened since I was disconnected.


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