Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday stuff

There is an enormous amount of stuff that deserves to be mentioned (at the very least), so let's try to shift the whole lot without getting too wordy.

Ghosting for beginners

The life of a ghost writer is never easy. Especially when the person whose name is on the cover can't read and write. Kim Green complains to Radar. (Link from Publishers Lunch.)

Kathy O'Beirne

Private Eye says that Kathy O'Beirne has suffered terrible abuse -- but only since the book came out.

And this morning, in the Independent, Boyd Tonkin has some sensible things to say about the difficulties of remembering precisely what happened. (Link from booktrade.info.)

Nicholas Coleridge exposed

Madame Arcati, via Private Eye, explains how a rich man can still take the trouble to review his own book on Amazon. And he had already arranged for favourable reviews in the magazines that he controls. Ah me. Vanity, thy name is author.

Vive La Petite Anglaise

Galleycat reports that La Petite Anglaise, the blogger who got sacked because she allegedly made her employers look stupid (something they were managing quite well on their own), has landed a big book deal. And she's so pretty too.

Waiting for Godot

As I suspected it might, Peter Hall's production of Waiting for Godot is going to London, for seven weeks only from 3 October: at the New Ambassadors Theatre. If you're remotely interested in 'serious' theatre, this is a must-see.

The Queen of risible fiction

Wednesday's Times had an article about Amanda McKittrick Ros, a Victorian novelist who was much loved by Tolkien and his Oxford pals for her unintentionally hilarious prose. Actually I quite like her poetry too. But to get the full flavour of this one you have to know that, in World War I, the German leader was known as the Kaiser, and he had a withered arm.

Go! Meet the foe undaunted, they’re rotten cowards all,
Present to them the bayonet, they totter and they fall,
We know you’ll do your duty and come to little harm
And if you meet the Kaiser, cut off his other arm.

Blood good stuff eh?

Advice from Margaret Atwood

This morning's Times reports that Margaret Atwood has been giving a masterclass in creative writing at the University of Glasgow. 'If I were your parent,' she told the assembled wannabes, 'I would say, "Why are you doing it? Go get a proper job".'

Quite right too.

Warmer yet and warmer

Enthusiasts for global warming (see my review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear) will be pleased to note that the UK Meteorological Office (a government entity, owned by the Ministry of Defence, dealing with weather forecasting) has predicted that, by the end of the century, temperatures in Britain will reach 46C, which is as hot as the Sahara. Roads will melt, railways will buckle, and thousands of people will die. And this isn't even 'the worst-case scenario'.

Personally, since I know perfectly well that the Met Office can't even forecast tomorrow's weather with any certainty, I am not going to commit suicide just yet.

Getting to the Point

Jenny Haddon (Chairman of the UK Romantic Novelists' Association) and Elizabeth Hawksley have written a 'panic-free guide to English punctuation for adults', entitled Getting to the Point. It's aimed at 'everyone who read Eats, Shoots and Leaves and is still in a quandary'. Like Delia Smith, they say, 'we start with "this is an egg" and work gently forward. 'What's more, you get three mini-novels included.

You can read more about Getting to the Point on the book's own web site.

I would like to say that this book would make a good present, but I suppose one would have to be fairly careful about who you gave it to in order to avoid giving offence.

The two authors of this book are, of course, professional writers themselves, and between them they clocked up over 90,000 library borrowings in 2005. (That's books of theirs, i.e. written by them, borrowed from libraries by other people, you understand; not...)

No honour among journalists?

On Tuesday I mentioned an article in the Guardian, on 26 September, by D.J. Taylor. Now Danuta Kean writes to say that Taylor seems to have been influenced, shall we say, by her own research which was written up in the Independent on Sunday on 24 September.

You can find Danuta's article either on the Indie site or on Danuta's own site, where there is a lot more good stuff too.

In particular, Danuta complains that Taylor has borrowed her phrase 'the Bluewater factor', which is a vital element in the marketing of celebrity biographies. What you should do, Danuta, is trade-mark it. Just as Donald Trump has trade-marked 'You're fired!'

Freemasonry revealed

Once upon a time, the Freemasons were a secretive lot. This, however, earned them rather a bad press and a great deal of suspicious muttering, so in recent years they have tried to open themselves up a bit.

There always have been books on freemasonry, but in the past you had to search hard for them (if you were interested). Today you just need to make a few clicks. Lewis Masonic, for instance, will sell you stuff, including (an unsolicited email tells me) The Complete Royal Arch Ritual.

At least, I think they will sell you stuff. Although now I come to check, I find that the ritual book is not available through Amazon, so maybe you have to state your Lodge number before you can buy from Lewis.

Nadine Laman

Nadine Laman is yet another writer who has found a way to do her own thing.

Virtual Penguin

You may understand this, but I'm not sure that I do:
Penguin UK today launched the first of a series of initiatives in the 3d virtual world Second Life and in doing so became the first trade publisher to create a presence in ‘the metaverse’. Together with virtual agency Rivers Run Red, the publisher will be distributing print and audio extracts of the Neal Stephenson novel widely credited with creating the vision that led to Second Life, and offering a discount on book and ebook editions of Snow Crash to Second Life® residents from the Penguin website.
Gee, and I thought I was pretty clued up on Neal Stephenson too.

Insofar as my feeble mind can grasp it, it seems that Second Life is 'a 3D online world with a rapidly growing population of over 750,000 residents from 100 countries around the globe, in which the residents themselves create and build the world which includes homes, vehicles, nightclubs, stores, landscapes, clothing, and games.'

Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is a pretty techie sort of novel, and Penguin feel that it will fit right in with the Second Life ethos, so they're making it available in some kind of virtual/digital form. Or something like that. Jeremy Ettinghausen is Penguin's digital publisher.

Should you wish to wrestle with it, try the links. At least it makes a change from having to suggest that UK publishers are only dimly aware that things can be done digitally and online.

Bat Segundo

The Bat Segundo Show offers audio interviews with a surprisingly large number of writers.

Underneath the Bunker

Underneath the Bunker, 'Europe's premier cultural journal', has churned out an impressive amount of stuff in the almost one year of its existence, including reviews of twenty-one of the novels from Georgy Riecke’s Greatest European Novels by Contemporary Writers. They have also published six exclusive excerpts from respected art historian D H Laven’s monumental work-in-progress The Story of Forgotten Art (four of which are still available to view). And a lot more.

There is more, as you will soon discover, to this site than immediately meets the eye. My only criticism is that it is time-consuming to read. But somebody, or somebodies, must have devoted a staggering amount of time to creating it.

I am particularly fond of Bo Bjo's 'Quite Smelly One Morning'. Also, there are many pearls of wisdom: 'Beauty is so dazzling; it shimmers like a thousand shards of glass on a Sunday morning shopping street.'

Swedish executions

Have you ever wondered what happened to the bodies of eighteenth-century Swedish criminals after they were executed? Yes, it always troubled me too. But now we have the answer.

4 comments:

John Angliss said...

Peter Hall's Waiting for Godot is already on at the Richmond Theatre now.

Anonymous said...

'it is time-consuming to read'

was there ever a book that didn't consume a reader's time?

ivan said...

"Why aren't you out getting a proper job":

Quite right. Even the valedictorian.

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