Sunday, August 30, 2015

Frustrated: Editor Blasts Critics Complaining About Lack of Diversity And Transparency at Writers Conference


Editor Kate Gale took aim at the charges in a blog post at Huffington Post in a plea for members to  stop questioning (attacking) the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

Borges on Public Opinion, Literature vs. the Other Arts, and the True Measure of Success

Brain Pickings

Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899–June 14 1986) is among humanity's most beloved and influential writers. His work has inspired mathematical revelations, philosophical children's books, and a universe of literature. After his death, Susan Sontag commemorated him in the most beautiful homage in the history of letters.

In 1972, in his seventies and already completely blind, Borges agreed to meet with a young Argentinian writer and passionate reader named Fernando Sorrentino for a series of conversations. On seven afternoons, the two men, separated by more than forty years and united by a profound love of literature, sat down in a secluded room at the National Library of Argentina and conversed candidly about literature and life. The record of these revelatory encounters, offering the most direct glimpse of the beloved author's mind, was published as Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges (public library) in 1974 – the same magnificent volume that gave us Borges's enduring wisdom on writing.


New York Times Best Seller Lists


  1. FRICTION, by Sandra Brown
  2. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins
  3. THE MARTIAN, by Andy Weir
  4. GO SET A WATCHMAN, by Harper Lee
  5. SMALL WARS, by Lee Child

My highlight: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

DH Lawrence’s gamekeeper has cleaned up his act and Sir Clifford is a dish in the BBC’s new morally complex adaptation 

James Norton and Holliday Grainger inthe BBC's  Lady Chatterley's Lover

James Norton and Holliday Grainger inthe BBC’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Photograph: BBC 

Kathryn Hughes - The Guardian -Saturday 29 August 2015 
The potty-mouthed gamekeeper is back. Oliver Mellors, he of the corduroy breeches, is striding towards us in the shape of Richard Madden (Rod Stark in Game of Thrones) in the BBC’s new version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Except that he’s cleaned up his act. Madden’s Mellors is positively bashful when it comes to four-letter words. It’s a decorous “bottom” instead of “arse”, and there’s just one “cock”, right at the end, at which point Lady C is so embarrassed she doesn’t know where to look.

Director Jed Mercurio, who also wrote the adaptation, maintains that there’s no justification these days for bad language. The words that got the book banned for 30 years have lost their original purpose, which was to de-smut sex. This seems sensible.

Less happy, perhaps, is Mercurio’s belief that other parts of Lawrence’s message are unrecoverable. In the novel Mellors has served in the army as an officer and a (temporary) gentleman, which makes his subsequent gamekeeping, and all that “theeing” and “thouing”, a bit annoying to Connie Chatterley, who wonders why he keeps putting on that silly voice.

6 of the Worst Rape Culture Tropes, From ‘Asking For It’ Author Kate Harding



Kate Harding’s Asking For It is a smart, witty summation of many of the issues we talk about at Flavorwire, from high-profile cases like Bill Cosby and Dominique Strauss-Kahn to depictions of rape and torture on TV to the over-hyped specter of false rape accusations and panic over date rape on campus to convicted rapist Mike Tyson playing a sexual abuse victim on Law and Order: SVU.
…Read More

Saturday, August 29, 2015

On Writing, Rejection, and Persistence

By Ruth Galm | Aug 28, 2015 - PW

Author Ruth Galm received upwards of 60 rejections from agents for her first novel, Into the Valley. But she kept working, and after years of revising the book, it was plucked from the slush pile at Soho Press. Into the Valley comes out in August 2015, and it's already received a starred review from PW
Galm discusses the writing process, and persevering through rejection.

When I think of perseverance, how perhaps I persevered in the face of mounting rejection for my novel manuscript for Into the Valley, published by Soho Press this month, I feel no greater claim on this state than any writer I know who carries on doggedly every day. Publishing my debut novel took many years and pushed me from my 30s to my 40s. I can share a few particulars of the journey with the caveat that for some my path might seem like a cakewalk; that I do not presume to know any more how to persevere than the next. 

But I know stories from the trenches helped me in my most doubtful times, and so I will offer what I can with the disclaimers above, and the hope that it finds you recognizing the quiet, accretive strength of your own resoluteness.


Fifty Shades publisher 'must set aside' $10m in royalties spat

  • 27 August 2015 - BBC News
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan appear in Fifty Shades of Grey
The first title in the series has been made into a hit film
A woman who helped publish the Fifty Shades series but was defrauded out of royalties could be set to receive millions of dollars in damages.
A US judge ordered Australian Amanda Hayward to set aside $10.7m (£6.9m) for Jennifer Pedroza, a Texas resident.

The pair were partners in a small online publishing firm that initially issued the blockbuster erotic trilogy.
A jury decided in February that Ms Pedroza had been conned when the rights were sold to Random House.

The Roundup with PW

Queens to Lose B&N Locations: One day after the chain announced it would close its Forest Hills store at end of the year, it announced Thursday it will also shut the remaining borough Barnes & Noble at Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside.

Rare Joyce Letters Sold at Auction: Two “extremely rare” handwritten letters by James Joyce, in which the Irish author laments the problems in finding a printer for 'Ulysses' in the U.K., have been sold for almost 10 times their guide price.

Can a Novelist Be Too Productive?: Stephen King on prolific writers.

The Mysterious, Anonymous Author: Elena Ferrante talks to 'Vanity Fair' about the conclusion of her Neapolitan novels.

New Bookstore for Chattanooga : The 1,300-square-foot Star Line Books has its soft opening today.

New Paul Murray, The Art of Finding a Protagonist, Joan Didion and Women, and more . . .

Work in Progress: The Latest from the Front Lines of Literature
The Mark and the Void
Paul Murray
Sneak Peek
What links the Investment Bank of Torabundo, (yes, with an s, don't ask), an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a six-year-old boy with the unfortunate name of Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex-KGB agent? Only one thing, really: Paul Murray's madcap new novel, The Mark and the Void. It's the first we've heard from the man since the wild Skippy Dies, and we're pleased to announce his upcoming tour this fall. And to whet your whistle (and attempt an explanation), here's the first few pages from the new novel in stores October 20th.

Read on...
What Will She Do?: The Art of Finding a Protagonist
Susanna Moore
On Writing
I begin with a character. As you know, there are many kinds of characters - Henry James's peripheral but all the same essential character who observes the narrative with the same mystification and curiosity as does the reader; Joan Didion's ironical and vaguely menacing character, sometimes even the writer Joan Didion herself, who tells you the plot in the first paragraph, and then fills in the blanks; Stendhal's historical figure, who is a creature both of his own ambition and the strivings of history. The character with whom I begin is a solitary figure, and always a woman (at least so far). But what is it that I am to do with her? Better still, what is it that she will do? If I trust her, she will tell me.

Read on...

For Love of an Author: The Value of Being a Completist



I finished reading Jane Austen’s major works (and unfinished novels) in ninth grade, with Mansfield Park, and thereby officially became a completist, although I later read more of her juvenilia and claimed that title more firmly. Being a completist, or a near-completist, was nothing new to me then, coming towards the end of the era of full-on immersive early-teen reading.
…Read More

RIP John Johnston

Saturday, August 29, 2015

RIP John Johnston

Photographer, artist and author John Johnston passed away last week at the age of 96.
John had a long and distinguished career as a photographer and artist - starting out as a street photographer in downtown Auckland using the first Leica camera, establishing Auckland's premiere photographic studio after the Second World War, later picking up paintbrushes to become a commercial artist, and at the end of his life still creating and experimenting with a digital camera and Photoshop.

John published two books: I Didn't Have a Choice (Reed, 2006), the illustrated account of his Second World War service in North Africa and Italy, and the privately published Notions (2011). His last work, 80 Years Behind the Lens: The life story of a professional New Zealand photographer, is now being prepared for publication by his long-term collaborator Martyn Thompson.

Loved by those who knew him, John was a true gentleman and a meticulous craftsman. Our thoughts are with his partner Susan, his friends and family. Rest in peace, John.

The girl with a Viking curse: Late author Stieg Larsson’s partner ‘casts a spell’ to jynx launch of latest book in ‘Dragon’ series

 The girl with a Viking curse: Late author Stieg Larsson’s partner ‘casts a spell’ to jynx launch of latest book in ‘Dragon’ seriesas she warns it has been published for ‘greed’

  • Controversial fourth installment in the Millennium Trilogy released today
  • It was written by David Lagercrantz at the request of Larsson's family
  • Partner Eva Gabrielsson said Larsson would be furious about its release

Curse: Stieg Larsson's partner Eva Gabrielsson says she put a Viking curse on those making money out of the late author
Curse: Stieg Larsson's partner Eva Gabrielsson says she put a Viking curse on those making money out of the late author
The controversial fourth book in The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series has been released today with intrigue, secrecy and with a viking curse to add to the thriller. 

Fans of Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium series have been rushing to get their copies of The Girl in the Spider's Web - despite the late author's partner calling for a boycott of the book, which was written by someone else.

Eva Gabrielsson, Mr Larsson's partner of more than three decades, said he would be 'furious' about the publication, timed to hit the shelves today to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of the hugely successful Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.

She said Larsson had began work on a fourth book centering on the popular protagonists before his untimely death from a heart attack in 2004. 
The couple were not married and Larsson left no will, so his estate went to his brother and father. Gabrielsson, 61, lost a bitter battle with them to manage his work. 

The new novel is penned by David Lagercrantz, best known as the ghostwriter of the Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic's autobiography.
Ms Gabrielsson said the release smacks of greed and admitted that she has put a Viking curse on those who have made money from his name

Read more:

Word Christchurch - A SUNDAY FULL OF IDEAS

The weather is looking dreary so cosy up inside and feed your mind this weekend.

VENUE: TVNZ Festival Club, Market Square, the Arts Centre
TICKETS: $20 Door sales available or book at 
FOOD AND DRINK:  available at the venue
BOOK SALES:  and author signings at the venue



Patrica Grace and Paula Morris in conversation

Treasured New Zealand writer Patricia Grace discusses Chappy, her first novel in a decade, with Paula Morris, whose On Coming Home explores similar themes of nostalgia, memory and belonging.

More here


Fiona Farrell, Anna Smaill, Hamish Clayton, Hugh Nicholson, chaired by Lara Strongman.

Taking the Christchurch blueprint as a starting point, this panel will look at ways in which we imagine cities, either in fiction, in history, or in contemporary life; whether as utopias or dystopias, cities imagined or reimagined.
In association with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

More here


Margaret Wilson

In the era of public choice and free markets, does the New Zealand state still have the best interests of its individual citizens at heart? With the TPPA finally being debated in the media, this timely and important discussion is not to be missed.
Introduced by Bronwyn Hayward.

More here



Suki Kim is the only writer to ever go undercover into North Korea to write a book from the inside. Get a glimpse inside the mysterious closed-off world of a country where a military dictatorship exploits the myth of a Great Leader to its own citizens, who are “imprisoned in a gulag posing as a nation”.
Chaired by Paula Morris.

More here

Watch Suki Kim's TED talk, which has had over 1.5 million views. 




Jesse Bering, who has appeared recently on American talk shows such as Chelsea Lately and Conan, argues that we are all sexual deviants on one level or another.

WARNING: Adult themes. Obviously.

More here


The Blue Guitar by John Banville review – a tale of art, theft and adultery

A lapsed painter wonders where it all went wrong in the latest novel from the Man Booker winner

John Banville

Friday 28 August 2015  The Guardian

Novels with plots that are slight or familiar-seeming tend to compensate by pumping up the idiosyncrasy of the narrative voice. Even the most humdrum events become interesting, if the person telling us about them is a “character” of some definite kind: amusing, monstrous, self-deceiving, knowingly unreliable, even just quirky.

This is certainly what seems to be on offer in John Banville’s The Blue Guitar, of which the title, which nods at Wallace Stevens, warns us to expect a cubist approach to “the truth”. In fact, its plot contains very little in the way of surprise or novelty (man has affair, runs from beloved when rumbled, has guilty fit, reunites with wife – who has also been carrying on elsewhere – is diminished, and finally becomes the caretaker of former beloved’s ancient dog), and the manner of its telling is no more daring. Although Banville’s narrator, Oliver Orme, articulates a gradual descent from sprightliness to gloom cleverly enough, he does so without any significant artistic sleight of hand. He provokes his fate, suffers it and writes it down. He’s a straightforward sort of sucker