Friday, May 04, 2007

Successes and failures -- possibly

Paul Torday has won the 2007 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. This prize is sometimes the springboard for enormous success, e.g. Marina Lewycka in 2005. Title of this year's winner: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

William Horwood did a month's blogging, and in one of his posts (now unavailable) he took issue with my assessment of Patrick White. In addition to his own defence of said (distinguished) writer, William offered several other authorities: e.g. a collection of data on Australia's ABC. Sadly, however, William has ceased blogging, for the time being, because it got in the way of the new novel. Ah yes....

Tao Lin has a book of short stories out (Melville House), and he has been interviewed (51 minutes' worth) by Bat Segundo. It turns out that, in the book, a dolphin gets to murder Elijah Wood; and George Bush, not surprisingly, is a target of violence. There are also some notes about the book on the Largehearted Boy. Now, make what you will of Mr Lin, you gotta admit that he sticks at it and he does his own thing and er... all like that. The book has a web site.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a successful writer who has published extensively on how to promote books. Details and much more on her web site.

Would you like to have lunch with Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol, and help a worthwhile charity at the same time? If so, go here for details.

Kitty Myers reminds me that Anya Peters's book Abandoned was published on 1 May. Ms Peters was the author of the Wanderingscribe blog, which met with a certain amount of, erm, well, disbelief is the only word, I think. I have no inside information one way or the other. But my guess is that, like most of these things, Abandoned is a mixture of truth and embroidery. Only the other day, Tony Bennett was cheerfully admitting in an interview that the story in his (ghosted) autobiography about being tempted to kill himself because of drugs was a nonsense, invented to sell the book. Who would have guessed?

You've probably seen the story about the braindead lawyers who thought that they could keep digital-rights-management codes secret by writing a few 'cease and desist' letters. The story appeared, I imagine, in every newspaper in the known universe. I saw it in the London Times, and Maria Anna saw it in the New York Times. Book publishing is, of course, small beer by comparison with movies and the music industry, but this uproar simply reinforces a point that has been made here more than once. If any publishers are dumb enough to believe that they are helping themselves, or anyone else, by loading up ebooks with so-called DRM, they deserve all the trouble they get. It makes no sense to alienate the very groups that constitute your keenest customers.

While we're on the subject of digital doings, there is an eminently sensible article in the Times by the musician, Peter Gabriel. He at least has the good sense to realise that things cannot and will not stay the same, and that the smart thing to do is for musicians (and, by implication, other creative artists as well) to adapt and make the most of the new situation.

Meanwhile, reports that Headline is to publish a new novel online, for free. Clutches heart and staggers backwards. Is it possible that trade publishers are actually learning something?

Open Letters monthly deals with some serious literary stuff.

Jamie Morris issues a monthly electronic newsletter on The Biographer's Craft. Essential viewing if you're in the biog business as reader or writer.

Twitterlit is gonna be a big smash hit, in my opinion. I've mentioned it before, I know, but it continues to fascinate. Take, for instance, the first line offered on 05/04/07 AM. You want to know where it came from and you click on the Amazon link and you find a book which has 304 customer reviews. 304! How come I wasn't clever enough to think of this idea? I am really, really smart, of course, but perhaps that's the problem. Perhaps you have to think simple. Anyway, I have a feeling that the lovely Debra has a winner here.

Following Madame Arcati's interviews with Molly Parkin, Molly's daughter Sophie has a very funny piece in the Daily Mail about how embarrassing it is to have one's mother talking about her sex life in public. Especially at the age of 75. By the way, if you click on the 'more by this author' link you find that Sophie has had 44 articles in the Mail.


dhamel said...

Thanks again, Michael! I hope you're right. So far, people do seem to be enthusiastic about it. I may have lucked out with this simplicity.

Anonymous said...

Great article by Gabriel, who points out, "...the playing field has levelled because the independent labels, and artists choosing to do it themselves, can respond more quickly to the world changing around them. This must be healthy."

Healthy? How dare he suggest such a thing.

bhadd said...

Luck over and over! I think that book carried 304 pages, Mr Allen.

And Bat Segundo versus Marisha is very segundo rate.

The Hood Company

Anonymous said...

Right on about TwitterLit!

For everything books!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Dear Grumpy Michael:
In spite of your professed need to spend more time doing things other than blog, you do blog up a storm. Thank you for including me.
BTW, I am about your age and would like to have more time for REAL writing. Trouble is, blogging is just so much fun!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Award-winning author

dhamel said...

A self-serving update if you don't mind, Grumpy: I've now created a UK version of TwitterLit. The site link is the same,, but visitors can elect to subscribe by Twitter or RSS or email to the UK version, which is to say that the first lines will be linked to rather than

There's also a Canadian version available.


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