Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pick and mix

Further evidence of the post-world war II madness of the English is provided in papers recently released from the National Archives in Kew. Bernard Levin nearly got prosecuted for contempt of court because he described the forthcoming Lady Chatterley trial (1963) as a farce. What a pity the authorities backed off: Bernard would have loved it.

Georgy Riecke no sooner goes off on his summer holidays than he gets accused of inventing stuff. Ha! As if he would.

These most recent accusations began here, with a piece by Heide Kohlenberg, and have since moved on here. Georgy has, of course, faced this kind of accusation before. Will he fight back this time?

My advice: stand well clear. These academic disputes splatter blood all over the place.

If you're into social bookmarking sites -- and I have to say that I most definitely am not -- you may wish to have a look at Mister Wong.

Mr Wong is a distant cousin of George Formby's friend Mr Wu. Oh Mr Wu, what shall I do? Und so weiter, in Mandarin.

Joel Rickett, in Saturday's Guardian (link from booktrade.info) has some interesting things to say about the UK non-fiction market (patchy, it seems). More to the point, perhaps, Mr Rickett reports that Jason Epstein has installed an Espresso Book Machine in the New York Public Library.

The introduction of such machines on a substantial scale was outlined originally in Epstein's famous Book Business. And, in various posts on this blog, notably the one about the long tail, I added my own two pennorth of prediction, to the effect that, before long, POD book machines will be as common on the high street as one-hour photo shops are today.

Daniel Scott Buck drew my attention to Another Sky Press, which provides a very different way of doing things from that adopted by, say, oooh -- any of the big publishers. Definitely worth a look.

Another Sky Press's recent anthology of short stories, Falling From The Sky, contains stories by a number of writers who have been mentioned here in the past. Daniel Scott Buck himself, of course; Tony O'Neill; Kristopher Young; and Henry Baum. You can buy the book in paperback or read it free online.

Daniel also mentioned to me a new book from iUniverse by Aphrodite Jones. iUniverse is an interesting choice of publisher, and one which was, presumably, forced upon the author by a profound lack of interest on the part of the big-time firms.

In Michael Jackson Conspiracy, Aphrodite Jones reveals that Michael Jackson was wholly innocent of all the charges against him -- not just found not guilty, but totally, completely, and absolutely innocent, acting from motives as pure as the snow piled up in a corner by the forces of nature. It was just the wicked ole meejah who made him out to be bad.

Tom Mesereau, Jackson's lawyer, writes a foreword. 'To anyone who wants to learn what happened in the Michael Jackson courtroom, this is the book to read.'

Daniel points out that his own book, The Greatest Show on Earth, was published while the Jackson trial was going on. Not good timing, he feels. 'The Greatest Show on Earth had to leave the country to get reviewed, a year and a half later. And then it got the 3:AM Award for Novel of the Year 2006. And that was in Paris.'

Moral: avoid celeb trials when publishing your book.

Myrmidon Books have been mentioned here a couple of times. Based in the north of England, their aim is to become the UK’s most influential independent publisher of commercial and literary adult fiction outside the capital. Latest: I Married a Pirate, by Samantha David.

OK. Now concentrate, please.

Jason Sanford has been mentioned here in the past through his association with storySouth and the Million Writers Award. Jason recently published an essay in The New York Review of Science Fiction. Said essay has caused a bit of a controversy. Titled "Dipping Their Toes in the Genre Pool: The U.S. Literary Establishment's Need-Hate Relationship with Speculative Fiction," the essay explores how literary fiction is appropriating the themes and tropes of speculative fiction.

One subscriber to the Review review absolutely hated the essay and reamed it in a blog posting. Unfortunately, says Jason, this has caused a cascade of comments on other blogs about that first comment, all by people who haven't actually read the essay. So, to clear matters up a bit, Jason has posted a response to this situation.

I haven't read the essay either, but the basic argument, as indicated by the title and description, seems to me to be an interesting one. If I were a real expert on this field, I might be tempted to do my own essay about how dangerous it is for lit'ry persons to start dabbling in and borrowing from a genre in which they are relatively inexperienced readers. But I'm not, so I won't.

If the current spate of terrorist attacks makes you nervous, or just cautious, you might wish to read Malice Aforethought, by Ian Jones, MBE.

The author has more than 35 years' experience in bomb disposal. As Major Jones, in the British Army, he was Officer Commanding for all bomb disposal in Northern Ireland, as well as working in Germany, Bosnia, Belize, Southern Africa and Kosovo. He is now an Explosives Officer for the Metropolitan Police Force Bomb Squad.

Malice Aforethought is a history of booby traps, from World War I to Vietnam. The author deliberately does not continue his study to the present day, as the bad guys have quite enough information as it is.

Ian Jones is married to Catherine Jones, who any day now will become Chairman of the UK Romantic Novelists Association. Her books are much less worrying. Usually.

By the way, in 1990 Catherine self-published a book about being an army wife, Gumboots and Pearls. It sold 16,000 copies. Catherine herself was also an officer once: a Staff Captain, no less.

Payton L. Inkletter is hard at work on a novel about Australia. Not only that, but he is publishing a diary of progress. This is all a lot more fun than it sounds, and the citizens of Puppinyupp and Barnfeather sound a most intriguing lot. All of this is available at Fool's Paradise.

Open Letters has, as usual, some intriguing reviews -- e.g. of the Pope's book on Jesus, and, if you can bear it, yet another book on the Kennedy assassination: 1,612 pages of it.

I see from Publishers Lunch that Bloomsbury UK have managed to sell Courage: Eight Portraits, to Rob Weisbach at Weinstein Books, for publication in May 2008.

Courage is written (and I use the term loosely) by our new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. (We are indeed a blessed nation, as Mr Blair told us on departure.) Brown's book portrays 'those whose lives define the meaning of courage'; subjects include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy.

I send my warmest compliments to whomever handled this sale on behalf of Bloomsbury UK. Presumably that person has now been despatched in a directly northwards direction, at the wheel of a large refrigerated lorry loaded with ice.


Anonymous said...

May I say that my piece was not so much accusing Georgy Riecke of inventing stuff (as for that episode in his career, I have no comment) but of being (and I quote) a 'lily-livered froglet'. It was this cowardly part of his personality that was picked up on by the second writer, who went on to cast aspersions on Riecke's publishing house 'Upside-Down-Then-Backwards' (who - after the theft of their latest publication - would seem to be running into financial difficulties). In either case, Riecke stands accused. I know him well enough, however, to say that he probably doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

Delightful news, about the book machine. "Printed books are one of history's greatest and most enduring inventions, and after centuries, their form needs no improvement," he says. "What does need to change is the outdated way that books reach readers."

Yes, amen.

Anonymous said...

I thought "sleb" was the new word of choice. Or am I just out of the loop here?

Anonymous said...

I do hate to see this kind of friction arise and am particularly distressed to see it bubbling in Riecke's own house. Kohlenberg should be indebted and reserve her sarcasm for more worthy targets. If anyone stands accused, it is Kohlenberg for her impertinence.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Georgy would agree with me that a healthy arts journal is one in which all contributors have the freedom to speak their mind, even if that includes speaking against ones own editor. I will say this: Riecke is not a fascist. If he was, he might have sacked me some time ago (and I thank him, heartily, for not doing so). I might also reiterate that I have accused him only of a specific case of intellectual cowardice and have sympathy whatsoever with the anonymous author who claims that he is 'all talk and no action'

Anonymous said...

....I mean, of course, I have 'no sympathy whatsoever'

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mr. Reicke will be heartened to learn he is not a fascist and a coward only in chosen areas--'lily-livered,' in fact. I applaud him for his patience with the likes of Ms Kohlenberg, who seems to love making subtle trips and turns in her libelous phrasings--thus trying to evade personal responsibility for them herself.

Frankly, he would be well to sack you, and swiftly.

Anonymous said...

You say "I added my own two pennorth of prediction, to the effect that, before long, POD book machines will be as common on the high street as one-hour photo shops are today."

I'm curious... was this tongue-in-cheek? Thanks to digital cameras, in the U.S., the one-hour photo shop has has almost vanished.

Walter Ellis said...

I'm emailing to apologise. Two weeks ago, I remarked that you were neglecting your duties by not producing any new posts. But then I realised that – for some reason – the specific details of your June 16 blog had added themselves to your GOB address. Thus, every time I clicked on, I was presented with the same, increasingly outdated entry. I have now put this right and and am back in the swim. Pray continue.