Sunday, August 31, 2008

Internet leak brings end to US cult book series
Peter Beaumont writing in The Observer, Sunday August 31 2008

The US author of an internationally bestselling series of books about vampires, aimed at teenage girls, has announced that she is scrapping the final episode after an unfinished draft was leaked on the internet.
Stephenie Meyer, listed by Time magazine as one of its 100 most influential people of 1998 for her Twilight Saga, last week posted a letter to thousands of fans on her website announcing that she could not continue with the final book after the leak.

The film of the first book, Twilight, is said to be the most anticipated cinema release of the autumn in the US. Now, her retelling of the Twilight story from the viewpoint of Edward Cullen - the 'vegetarian vampire' and the series's love interest for the human teenager Bella Swan - seems likely never to be finished.

'I have a good idea of how the leak happened,' wrote Meyer, 'as there were very few copies of Midnight Sun that left my possession and each was unique. The manuscript that was illegally distributed on the internet was given to trusted individuals for a good purpose. I have no comment beyond that as I believe that there was no malicious intent with the initial distribution.'

Link here for the full story.
By Joyce Carol Oates writing in the New York Times, August 29, 2008

By Curtis Sittenfeld
Random House. US$26

Is there a distinctly American experience?
“The American,” by Henry James; “An American Tragedy,” by Theodore Dreiser; “The Quiet American,” by Graham Greene; “The Ugly American,” by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick; Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral” and Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho” — each suggests, in its very title, a mythic dimension in which fictitious characters are intended to represent national types or predilections.

Our greatest 19th-century prose writers from Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville through Henry James and Mark Twain took it for granted that “American” is an identity fraught with ambiguity, as in those allegorical parables by Hawthorne in which “good” and “evil” are mysteriously conjoined; to be an “American” is to be a kind of pilgrim, an archetypal seeker after truth. Though destined to be thwarted, even defeated, the pilgrim is our deepest and purest American self.
Read the full review here.

Let's raise a magnifying glass to the Guardian's elite band of female country diarists

Martin Wainwright writing in,
Saturday August 30 2008

The words "Herefordshire countryside" evoke the epitome of English sweetness, but I can assure you that it ain't necessarily so. I spent Friday morning reconnoitring the route that a sturdy posse of Guardian readers and writers took yesterday to celebrate a century of female contributors to the paper's country diary.
You see the need for such vigilant, observant recorders as soon as you encounter your first firmly locked gate or a heap of glutinous manure piled across the long distance footpath, the Herefordshire Trail. No offence to the county's farmers; they have an important job to do, crops to protect and animals that mustn't stray on to the Abergavenny road.
It is up to us, the visitors from towns, to learn how to navigate this beautiful but busily working landscape. When we've done so on this occasion, taking a six-mile loop from Kilpeck with its wonderfully-carved Norman church, we will raise a cup of celebratory tea to 11 women who have made such operations easier and infinitely more rewarding.

Their work makes up the new collection of Guardian country diaries, A Good Year for Blossom, which leaves the reader in no doubt about the quality of the women who broke a long-standing male monopoly. In the vanguard from 1915 was the prominent suffragette Helena Swanwick, sister of the painter Walter Sickert. By her side, in the 1920s, stood Janet Case, the modest but determined scholar who tutored Virginia Woolf in Greek.
Read Wainwright's full piece at the Guardian online.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Linda Grant - Virago - nz$38.99

The author is a prize-winning journalist as well as a novelist and author of non-fiction titles too.

Her latest effort is about an Hungarian Jewish couple, refugees in London who hide from their only daughter, the novel's protagonist, British-born Vivien, the secrets of their former life .
Set in the 70's Vivien is a widow in her twenties and she sets out to find out for herself family background. She does this by tracking down and befriending her father's estranged older brother Sandor. he is or has been a rent racketeer loosely-based on the real life Peter Rachman, Britain's most infamous landlord. Vivien and Sandor meet in a parkby chance but it is obvious that they in fact know each other. Because of her parent's attitude toward Sandos they pretend not to know each other's indentity. She acts as his secretary while he dictates his ife story.

All the way through the clothes the various characters wear play quite an important role, hence the novel's title. The book, an impressive work, is about immigration and racism and hypocrisy very neatly tied into the story of a university educated first generation British woman and her search for her roots. This is not goiung to win the Man Booker Prize though.
Now it is time to tackle The Enchantreess of Florence by Salman Rushdie.
American literary prize blacklists Random House
Alison Flood writing in the,
Friday August 29 2008

An American book prize has blacklisted Random House following its "cowardly self-censorship" of Sherry Jones's novel The Jewel of Medina.

The Langum Charitable Trust, which awards two yearly $1,000 (£550) prizes, has said that until the novel is published, it "will not consider submissions of any books, for any of our prizes, from Random House or any of its affiliates".

Random House dropped Jones's novel, about the child bride of Muhammad, after it was warned that it posed a security risk akin to the publication of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. The book has subsequently been withdrawn from bookshops in Serbia after pressure from an Islamic group.
According to the founder of the Langum Charitable Trust, David Langum, the decision to withdraw the book was a political one.

"No one should expect that publishers print every piece of trash that comes into their offices, and The Jewel of Medina may be neither good literature nor good history," he said. "That is beside the point since Random House had already paid a $100,000 advance, arranged for book club publication, and foreign publication. It changed course and self-censored solely on the political grounds of fear of offending Muslims or fomenting violence."
Read the full story at the Guardian online.

· Profit before investment income increased 6.1% to £3.5m (2007, £3.3m)
· Investment income increased to £1.9m (2007, £0.6m)
· Earnings per share increased 41.2% to 4.97 pence (2007, 3.52 pence)
· Interim dividend up 7.1% to 0.75p per share (2007, 0.70p)

· Strong list for second half including Alice Schroeder’s biography of Warren Buffet; The Snowball; Just Me by Sheila Hancock; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer; and, on December 4, JK Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle The Bard
· Net cash balances increased by 13.0% to £53.8m (31 December 2007, £47.6m)
· Well positioned for further organic and acquisition-related growth
· Strongest ever first six months sales performance from the UK Adult trade division

Commenting on the results and prospects for Bloomsbury, Nigel Newton, Chief Executive, said:
“We have had a good first half performance, particularly, in the UK Adult and Specialist Divisions. As well as continuing to enjoy notable success from long-running bestselling titles such as The Kite Runner, we are also well positioned with strong publishing lists for the second half and beyond. We are now seeing the benefits of our focused strategy, which is positioning us well for the rest of the financial year and the longer term.”

Friday, August 29, 2008

Penguin Group Signs With OverDrive
-- Publishers Weekly, 8/28/2008

OverDrive, supplier of downloadable audio books and e-books to over 7,500 libraries, has added hundreds of titles from Penguin Group to their digital warehouse of over 150,000 titles.

According to John Fagan, Penguin eBooks Marketing Director, “Teaming with OverDrive gives us a unique opportunity to offer our expansive collection to the digital library market and deliver our quality titles to even more readers” Front- and backlist Penguin titles are available in Mobipocket PRC and Adobe PDF formats. New titles will be added to the OverDrive warehouse monthly.

1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die

I reviewed this book recently on the blog so when the e-newsletter from Gisborne organic winemaker Millton Vineyards arrived today I was interested to read their comments on the book especially as they had a wine included. Here it is for your interest:

If you were to reflect on your most memorable wine moment, it probably takes you back to a sensory experience that stands above all others in your memory. These treasured occasions, with wine the elixir, where a warm glow surrounds that perfect confluence of your favourite person, place, maybe a shared meal, where the experience was enhanced by the wine.

In the recently released book '1001 Wines You Must Try Before You die'. General Editor, Neil Beckett in his introduction discusses the subjective nature of wine.

How amongst other things, your enthusiasm, appetite, receptiveness along with environmental influences, such as atmospheric pressure, time of day, the glass etc. all work together " make sure that the same wine will never taste exactly the same twice." He states "For some, it's (wine's) fleeting nature reduces it's value. For others of us, it's immediacy is its magic." "The North Star may be reassuring, reminding us of where we are; but a shooting star is far more spellbinding, reminding us of where we are going. It may be there only briefly, but it may live a lifetime in the memory. It may be transient but may be transcendental too."

Library Release:
The inclusion of Te Arai Chenin Blanc in '1001 Wines You Must Try Before You die', speaks to the world-wide reputation this wine holds. Our 2004 Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc definitely has the makings of a transcendental experience. A mere 100 cases of the 2004, a vintage we consider to have been one of our best ever, have been maturing serenely in our cool cellar just for this moment. Cellar Door $33.00. Place your order.
Gold Medal - Australia New Zealand Organic Wine Show"Straw gold hues radiate with rich bright luminosity displaying energy and light. An ethereal balancing act, showing ripe apple tracking towards quince, acacia honey and waxy pears, the wine evolving to a myriad of layers as it matures." Drink 2008 - 2020.
Don't delay very limited stock. Check out our
case specials too, these are freight free for September.
You have to hand it to James Millton, he is a skilled marketeer and a man with an eye for the main chance. But he is also a highly skilled winemaker and the Bookman is a regular online buyer of wines from this vineyard in his old home town. Good on you James!
University of Auckland film collective creates NZ's first pan-Asian TV comedy series

An Indian, a Chinaman, a Korean, an Indonesian, a Sri Lankan, a Malaysian, and an expatriate Filipino all walk into a bar. The barman takes one look at them and says, "Is this some kind of joke?"

Welcome to A Thousand Apologies, a comedy sketch show created by a collective of staff and former students at The University of Auckland's Department of Film, Television and Media Studies (FTVMS).
All of various Asian extractions, members of the collective felt the need to make a TV show that represented the diversity of their own experiences in contemporary New Zealand.

The brain-child of FTVMS senior lecturers Shuchi Kothari and Sarina Pearson, A Thousand Apologies uses parody, satire and farce to address the diversity of the pan-Asian experience in contemporary New Zealand. From overachieving Chinese children to overqualified Indian taxi drivers, the show lampoons stereotypes and situations that resonate with all New Zealanders.

"We had all worked together at various times within the department, and even after we went our separate ways and worked on our own projects, the members of the collective kept in touch. Despite our successes with various films, we continued to lament our humourless representations on the small screen. We wanted to change that," says Dr Kothari, an Indian-born New Zealander.

In addition to Kothari and Pearson, the collective comprises Roseanne Liang, Angeline Loo, Sunil Narshai, Chris Payne, all graduates of the FTVMS Graduate Programme in Screen Production. Tarun Mohanbhai is currently a Screen Production student, and Zia Mandviwalla is a graduate of the FTVMS programme.

"Once again, the strength of our department is on display. As the first pan-Asian comedy show to air in this country, A Thousand Apologies represents a new chapter in television history," says Head of FTVMS Professor Annamarie Jagose.

The pilot for A Thousand Apologies was supported by a University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Development Fund; the series was funded by a NZ On Air Innovation Grant.
The six-programme series airs on TV-3 from 9:30pm-10pm on Fridays starting 5 September.
Paul Moon: Censorship alive and well and living in NZ

Paul Moon writing in the New Zealand Herald today, Friday 29 August, 2008.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Nazis' book-burning, a crude pogrom against any knowledge or ideas that the German Government considered ideologically unacceptable in 1933.

Of course, all the condemned literature outlived the Nazi regime, but the wretched spectre of books being tossed on to blazing pyres remains one of the unforgettable images of that period.

The physical destruction of books now seems to belong to another, much less enlightened age, but not so the censorial urges that led to the practice. I have experienced this first-hand in the past few weeks since the release of my book This Horrid Practice, which explores traditional Maori cannibalism.

I recall a fellow academic approaching me when I started writing the book and warning me that I was putting my career in jeopardy by tackling this subject. At first, I dismissed the caution, but when others began making similar comments, I came around to the view that I would be risking my integrity as a historian by being bullied into silence.

Then the attacks came, and in several forms. I am sure many of the people who have complained about the book have yet to read it, but this has not stopped them rushing to judgment and making all sorts of shrill accusations about its contents.
Read Paul's full piece at the NZ Herald online.

About 50 pages into the culinary memoir Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, near the end of the chapter about the famous shaved-ice-and-syrup dessert, tears may start to seep into your eyes. They won’t be the last. Such is the talent of Sara Roahen — she has you at “sno-balls.”

Roahen doesn’t set out to pull the heartstrings; she just wants to explain how a former vegetarian from Wisconsin moved to the Crescent City and became a dedicated disciple of crawfish, pork, and the duck-stuffed-in-a-chicken-stuffed-in-a-turkey wonder known as the turducken. Her adventures in gastronomy are entertaining, instructive, often hilarious, and absolutely hunger-inducing — but also (this being New Orleans) heartbreaking.
Three years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Gumbo Tales is one fitting tribute to a great, peculiar city.

This very short review from one of my great favourites websites - Very Short List.


Book Publishers New Zealand are delighted to award Elizabeth Caffin Honorary Life Membership of BPANZ.
BPANZ rules state that Life Membership can be granted to a person who has "rendered outstanding service to the Association".

Elizabeth has certainly done that having been President of BPANZ from 2003 - 5 and a Councillor for many years.

As well as this direct involvement with BPANZ it is important to recognise the wider service to the industry that Elizabeth has given.
During her distinguished career with Reed, Collins and Auckland University Press she was always heavily involved in book industry matters.
Warmest congratulations Elizabeth.
Elizabeth retired from Auckland University Press in May 2007. For a report on that event and to read some of the tributes paid to her that night link here.

New Zealand writers should be the stars of our literary industry.

And what better way than to promote our writing over the ditch?

As part of New Zealand Book Month, Sophie Hamley of The Cameron Creswell Agency in Sydney is visiting our fair shores and NZBM and NZSA along with The New Zealand Book Council invite you to attend a light lunch to discuss the Australian publishing scene, and answer your questions.

This is a great opportunity for Wellington writers to meet an Australian literary agent and discuss opportunities and developments internationally. Do you want closer ties to Australian agents and publishers? Are you aware that you can submit to agents in Australia and, indeed, anywhere overseas? She’s interested to hear how you feel about rights and what's happening in the industry from your perspective.

Wellington International Literary Exchange Luncheon
Saturday 30th August

Te Whaea – National Dance and Drama School – Drama Three.
Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington, NZ

$3 contribution at the door
A light lunch will be served from 11.45am to start discussions at 12noon.
The event is organised by NZ Book Month, The Society of Authors and The Book Council
Soon on the Web: Dead Sea Scrolls
By Ethan Bronner writing in the International Herald Tribune.

JERUSALEM: In a crowded laboratory painted in gray and cooled like a cave, half a dozen specialists embarked this week on an historic undertaking: digitally photographing every one of the thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the aim of making the entire file - among the most sought-after and examined documents on earth - available to all on the Internet.

Equipped with highly powerful cameras with resolution and clarity many times greater than those of conventional models, and with lights that emit neither heat nor ultraviolet rays, the scientists and technicians are uncovering previously illegible sections and letters of the scrolls, discoveries that could have real scholarly impact.

The 2,000-year-old scrolls, found in the late 1940s in caves near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, contain the earliest known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible (missing only the Book of Esther), as well as apocryphal texts and descriptions of rituals of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus. The texts, most of them on parchment but some on papyrus, date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.

Only a handful of the scrolls exist in large pieces, with several on permanent exhibit at the Israel Museum here in its dimly lighted Shrine of the Book. Most of what was found is separated into 15,000 fragments that make up about 900 documents, fueling a longstanding debate on how to order the fragments as well as the origin and meaning of what is written on them. The scrolls' contemporary history has been something of a tortured one because they are among the most important sources of information on Jewish and early Christian life. After their initial discovery they were tightly held by a small circle of scholars. In the last 20 years access has improved significantly, and in 2001 they were published in their entirety. But debate over them seems only to grow.
Read the full story at the IHT online.
From the International Institute of Modern Letters latest newsletter:

And a blogroll of New Zealand writers and readers for New Zealand Book Month:

Graham Beattie

Craig Cliff

Joan Druett

Martin Edmond

Slightly Framous

Janis Freegard

Tim Jones

Rachael King


Michele Leggott

Mary McCallum

Kay McKenzie Cooke

New Zealand Book Month

Paula Morris

Scoop Review of Books

Helen Rickerby

Vanda Symon

Denis Welch
The children's laureate, Michael Rosen, is a fierce critic of the Government's education policies. He's against testing – and wants pupils to be excited by literature again.
Andy Sharman talks to him in The Independent, Thursday 28 August

Michael Rosen, the children's laureate, can't help but feel a tinge of glee at the recent SATs fiasco. "There is a bit of schadenfreude, if you like," he says, "a bit of celebration at their misfortune" – meaning the misfortune of the Government; or the Department for Children, Schools and Families; or ETS; or head teachers; or advocates of testing. Take your pick, Rosen has multiple gripes with multiple people when it comes our education system.

The writer and broadcaster has for years been the patron of stressed-out children and an arch critic of formal testing for under-16s. His daughter Elsie, aged seven, has just completed her Key Stage 1 tests, which he says has given him an added sympathy for confused parents. "The teacher starts talking to me about various marks," he says in his north London rasp. "Now, I'm immersed in education but she started saying, 'level this' and 'attainment target that' and all the rest of it and I had no idea what she was talking about. Then I said, 'Well, how's Elsie getting on?' and we began to have a proper conversation and got a sense of where she was at."
Read the full piece at The Independent online.
A first for Puffin and Young Bond Groundbreaking alternate reality game launched

- The Shadow War -

On Saturday 23rd August 2008, Puffin Books launched the Young Bond alternate reality game, The Shadow War on This groundbreaking game is the first alternate reality game made specifically for children around books. The launch precedes publication of the fifth book in Charlie Higson’s best-selling Young Bond series, By Royal Command, on 3rd September 2008.

The Shadow War is a gripping interactive online game which will put Young Bond fans in the shoes of a British SIS agent or a Soviet OGPU spy. They will embark on a story that spans seven missions over seven weeks. The game starts on the 23rd August, when Charlie Higson sets the first mission during his appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Players around the world will use a range of media, including the Young Bond books themselves and the worldwide web, to complete the missions and influence the outcome of the game.

Written by Charlie Higson and developed by specialist creators of alternate reality games Six to Start, The Shadow War is an innovative combination of reading, story-telling and online gaming. It is designed for children aged 9 plus, but can be enjoyed by adults too, and is played free of charge. Set within the Young Bond world, the game will allow fans to explore familiar locations and see memorable characters from the series – including James Bond himself.

Charlie Higson comments, “I'm really excited about this new Young Bond game, which offers a parallel experience to reading the books. As it is a perfect combination of game playing and poking about on the internet, it’s right up my street. My only regret is that I won’t be able to play it myself as I have been so closely involved in the design of it!”

Since Monday 11th August, fans have been signing up to play the game on the Young Bond website The game culminates on 8th October with a live event, hosted on the game site and featuring Charlie Higson, in which players will be able to ask questions and influence the end of the game.

Adrian Hon, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Six to Start comments, “The Shadow War is the first alternate reality game aimed at children, allowing players to enter the world of Young Bond. Fans of the books will have an unprecedented opportunity to see the places they've read about and find out more about the key characters. It's one of the first games to cross over with such a famous and popular series, and to take place entirely on the web, for free.”

The Shadow War will appeal to the huge online gaming and Bond communities as well as the thirty-five thousand members of The Danger Society - the Young Bond fan club on

Emily Cox, Marketing Manager, Puffin Books comments, 'Children are increasingly spending their time online for their entertainment and information. With The Shadow War Puffin is taking the lead in creating an opportunity for young people to interact with one of our biggest brands in a unique and innovative way online. We are taking our books directly to young readers.'

The Shadow War

The seven missions will take the intrepid player through adventures in the world of Young Bond: from discovering who escaped the fire at SilverFin’s Hellebore Castle to tracking a ship down in the Royal Docks, uncovering a secret code in a bookshop where a gruesome murder has taken place and revealing the mysterious passenger of an airship crossing the Alps.

Each mission will take up to an hour to complete and players can join and leave at any point, as well as change sides. At the end of each mission there will be a mission debrief before the next is set.

Six to Start

The Shadow War has been developed by specialist, cutting-edge alternate reality game creators Six to Start, working closely with Charlie Higson and Puffin Books.

Dan Hon, Co-founder and CEO of Six to Start has been at the forefront of alternate reality gaming since its inception in 2001, when he co-moderated the groundbreaking online community Cloudmakers, formed to play The Beast, Microsoft’s production for AI. Dan was one of the UK’s first bloggers.

Adrian Hon, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Six to Start, is one of the
world’s leading alternate reality game designers, having been influential in the genre since its birth. Previously, Adrian was Director of Play at Mind Candy, where he designed and produced Perplex City, the world’s first commercially successful alternate reality game.

Penguin has previously worked with Six to Start on the digital fiction initiative
We Tell Stories, which saw more than 150,000 people visiting the website during the six weeks it ran.

Charlie Higson

Charlie Higson is author of five Young Bond books which have, to date, sold over three-quarters of a million copies and been translated into 24 different languages.

The Young Bond titles are included in a recent list of books compiled by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the School Libraries Association to encourage school boys to read ( Charlie also contributed to the World Book Day / Evans Schools competition this year which challenged children across the country to write their own short stories.

New Zealand-born writer Jennifer Compton has lived in Australia for most of the past 30 years so she finds herself in the odd position of being called an Australian across the ditch and a kiwi writer here.
She will discuss this and other aspects of her trans-Tasman writing career in conversation with Mary McCallum (chair of the Randell Cottage Friends) as part of the Writers on Monday series at the National Library Auditorium.

For the past six months, Jennifer has been living in NZ as writer-in-residence at the Randell Cottage. She is writing her first novel All the Time in the World set in the Wairarapa and finishing a book of essays, but she is more widely known as a poet and playwright.

Compton was born in Wellington, in 1949 and had two poems published in the NZ Listener when she was 15. In 1972 she travelled to Sydney, and attended the Playwrights’ Studio at NIDA. The play she wrote for this course, Crossfire, jointly won the Newcastle Playwrighting Competition in 1974 and premiered at the Nimrod Theatre in Sydney and was published by Currency Press. The play was presented by Downstage Theatre in Wellington in the late 70s.

Before her two children were born she flew backwards and forwards across the Tasman and worked in both countries. Her radio plays (A Wigwam For A Goose’s Bridle, Morning Glories, Several Local Dandelions) were produced by the ABC and RNZ. And she won the Bank of NZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 1977 for her story ‘The Man Who Died Twice’.

Then she moved with her family to Wingello, a small town on the Southern Highlands of NSW, and concentrated on writing poetry and short prose.
In 1995 her poem Blue Leaves won the Robert Harris Poetry Prize and she was awarded the NSW Ministry For The Arts Fellowship during which she wrote a book of poetry, Blue, which was short listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize, and a stage play, The Big Picture, which premiered at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney and was published by Currency Press. It was performed by Circa Theatre in Wellington in the late 90s.

Jennifer’s book of poetry, Parker & Quink, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2005 and her next book of poetry, Barefoot, is ready to go. A book of reflections about travel and place - The Wrong Side Of The Road - is nearly complete.
Applications are now open for the Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writers (6 month) Residency, March 2009 – September 2009.

Applicants must be New Zealand citizens, or New Zealand residents, and should be writers whose work has already been published and well received.

The project proposal submitted by the writer may be in any genre:
fiction, children’s fiction, poetry, drama, biography, other literary non-fiction, or art topics.

The Randell Cottage has two bedrooms and a separate writing studio and is located in historic Thorndon in Wellington. It is within walking distance of the National and Turnbull Libraries. This residency includes a monthly stipend plus accommodation
Closing date for applications:Friday 14th November 2008Application forms and further information from:
The Secretary
Box 11-032 Wellington

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Physician’s Memoir of Life, Love and Loss With Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia.

By Thomas Graboys, M.D., with Peter Zheutlin.
Union Square Press. US$19.95.

A Doctor Transformed, Into a Patient

Doctors get seriously ill just like ordinary people, and some of them never recover from the shock. If of a literary bent, they are often moved to reflect for posterity on this disruption of the natural order, detailing their former hubris and the enlightening misery of health care experienced from the other side of the bed.

Against this generally lackluster collection of memoirs, Dr. Thomas Graboys’s stands out as a small wonder. Unsentimental and unpretentious, it manages to hit all its marks effortlessly, creating a version of the old fable as touching, educational and inspiring as if it had never been told before.

The story’s success lies partly in its almost mythic dimensions: Dr. Graboys rose high, and he fell hard. Until age 50 he was a medical version of one of Tom Wolfe’s masters of the universe: a noted Harvard cardiologist beloved by colleagues and patients, happily married to a tall, beautiful blonde. He was a marathon runner, a demon on the tennis courts and ski slopes, and, if he says so himself, a particularly handsome guy.
Then everything fell apart...................................

Read the rest of the review at the New York Times online.
Kindle fails to set light to unsold e-book pile
Rumours of death of paper greatly exaggerated
By Bill Ray writing in The Register

The humble paper-based book isn't burnt just yet. Amazon is keeping schtum as to how many e-books it has sold, but evidence is mounting that predictions of iPod-grade sales and billion-dollar revenues were a smidge optimistic.
Earlier this month CitiGroup predicted that Amazon would shift 380,000 electronic books during 2008, and would see annual revenue of over a billion by 2010. But it's worth taking a moment to see where those figures came from as Amazon won't release any official figures.

The story starts with TechCrunch reporting it had reliable information that Amazon had sold 240,000 Kindles, even suggesting CitiGroup might like to revise their predictions based on this new information. CitiGroup's Mark Mahaney promptly did exactly that, and the Reg reported those predictions.
TechCrunch's figures were, it admits, based on devices shipped from the factory rather than sold to punters, and Amazon has been quick to deny that sales are quite so stellar. Analyst Tim Bueneman spoke to Amazon management last week, and was told that the estimates were not reasonable. In an emailed advisory he explains that Amazon management "told us the Kindle is definitely selling very well, but they also said the analysts and reporters giving out these extremely high estimates 'did not run them by company'".

Given Amazon's zip-lipped policy on sales figures, it's unsurprising that TechCrunch didn't check, and the site is standing by its figures despite the comments from Amazon. But if there are a quarter of a million Kindles out there, one has to wonder what they're all being used for.

The Kindle's most popular newspaper is The New York Times, but executives for the paper said last month that they had only sold a "small amount" of subscriptions, so electronic-book users obviously aren't reading the papers. Nor are they buying books, apparently, as one book publisher at BookExpo America estimated (anonymously, to the New York Times) that Amazon has sold only 10,000 devices - another reckoned that only 50,000 e-books of any kind are in circulation.

Read Bill Ray's full story at The Register online.
Rushdie wins apology - and spurns cash - in libel case
Helen Pidd writing in The Guardian,
Wednesday August 27 2008
For many high-profile public figures, a visit to the libel courts has become something akin to a trip to the casino: victory triggers a large windfall and a substantially enhanced reputation.
Yesterday, Sir Salman Rushdie achieved the latter, but notably turned his back on the chance of a big payday as his legal team forced an apology from a former policeman who had painted a disparaging picture of the author in a sensationalist book.

Four thousand copies of Ron Evans's account of his life as a protection officer have been pulped and unreserved apologies were offered in court yesterday by his publisher and his ghost writer. But while Rushdie's costs were met, he eschewed the prospect of damages, preferring a swift retraction of falsehoods which first appeared in a newspaper serialisation and then travelled around the world as they were copied by innumerable websites.

Timaru poet Rhian Gallagher has been named as the recipient of the 2008 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award.

Gallagher will receive a $10,000 grant from an endowment fund set up by Janet Frame to benefit New Zealand writers. The Frame estate times the annual award to commemorate Janet Frame’s birthday on the 28th of August.

Rhian Gallagher was born in Timaru in 1961. After completing Bill Manhire’s composition course at Victoria University in 1985, she moved to London in 1987. Her first poetry collection, Salt Water Creek, was published in the UK in 2003, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Gallagher returned to New Zealand in 2005 and is currently living in Timaru.

Janet Frame Literary Trust chair Pamela Gordon says “Rhian Gallagher is a highly original poet whose well-crafted work has attracted praise both in the UK and in New Zealand. Now that she has settled back in her home country, she could do with some more recognition here, so the Frame trustees are pleased to acknowledge her talent and give some tangible support for her career.”

Bill Manhire added his endorsement: “I first knew Rhian Gallagher when she was in a workshop with a bunch of other formidable young writers: Jenny Bornholdt, Ken Duncum, Elizabeth Knox. Those three are famous now, while Rhian is one of the quiet, astonishing secrets of New Zealand writing – perhaps because she has spent so many recent years out of the country, perhaps because her one book of poems, Salt Water Creek, was published by the Enitharmon Press in London. Those poems, though, are full of New Zealand -- its pines and paddocks and “wild and unprotected light”. Some of them - “The Quiet Place”, “Backyard”, and especially the poems of childhood - remind me of work by Janet Frame.”

Says Gallagher: “The award came out of the blue; I’m in the midst of working on my second collection of poetry so the timing is great. The money will buy some time and the award itself is a real encouragement. I have been an admirer of Frame’s poetry for years so there is this good feeling to it also. As a poet, Frame definitely ploughed her own furrow.”

Gallagher will be appearing at the Christchurch Writers Festival on 5th September.

The award news comes at the same time that a previously unpublished story by Janet Frame appears in the pages of the NEW YORKER. The story “GORSE IS NOT PEOPLE” was written in 1954 and was rejected that year by the editor of the literary magazine Landfall, on the grounds that it was ‘too painful to print.” (Frame describes the circumstances surrounding the writing of the story, in her memoir An Angel at My Table chapter 17).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Good Word -
Books will be back on the box in 2009!

Independent arts programme makers 3rd Party Productions have been commissioned to make a series called The Good Word, which will be fronted by novelist Emily Perkins and also feature journalist Finlay Macdonald as a roving reporter.

The Good Word will be a mix of studio and documentary elements and is expected to screen from around March in TVNZ 6's Showcase.

Previous programmes and series made by 3rd Party Productions include NZ Festival feature documentaries Piano Man (about the pianist Michael Houstoun) and The Life of Ian (about actor Ian Mune), The Book Show and Talk Talk.

For further information about the show or to submit review copies please contact:3rd Party Productions Ph: 09 361 2199Email: or

The entire contents of a new book has been released online as a 'Wiki' at the same time it becomes available in its traditional paper format. The online edition of Connecting the Clouds: The Internet in New Zealand is freely viewable and searchable, and comes with the ability to edit, contribute new material, and annotate.

'New Yorker' publishes Frame's 'too painful' story

By Nigel Benson writing in the Otago Daily Times on Wed, 27 Aug 2008

A previously unpublished story by Janet Frame, which was rejected 50 years ago for being "too painful" to publish, has appeared in the latest edition of The New Yorker.

Gorse is not People was written by Frame in 1954, but was later rejected by Landfall literary magazine editor Charles Brasch on the grounds it was "too painful to print".
The story is about a dwarf called Naida who visits Dunedin on her 21st birthday.
It was based on observations Frame made during a supervised day trip to Dunedin with a dwarf when she was a patient at the Seacliff mental hospital.
"She was so devastated when it was rejected 50 years ago," Frame's niece Pamela Gordon said yesterday.
"She was living in the attic room at the Grand Hotel in Dunedin [now the Southern Cross Hotel] at the time and working as a live-in waitress."

Frame had submitted Gorse is not People and two poems for publication in Landfall.
She later wrote of her despair at receiving the rejection letter from Brasch in the second of her three-volume autobiography, An Angel at My Table.
"Mr Brasch's comments were that the work was interesting, but the poems were not quite suitable, while the story, Gorse is not People, was too painful to print," Frame wrote.
"When I had read the note on its official Landfall paper, I began to realise how much I had invested in my Landfall contributions and their acceptance for publication.
"I seemed to have included my whole life and future in that envelope. I felt myself sinking into empty despair. What could I do if I couldn't write?
"Writing was to be my rescue. I felt as if my hands had been uncurled from their clinging place on the rim of the lifeboat."

Ms Gordon said Frame would have been delighted at the posthumous recognition of her work.
"It's a source of great emotion for me now, on Janet's behalf, that this heartbreaking story has appeared after over 50 years of waiting."
The story was published this week in the September 1 edition of The New Yorker.

The 2008 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award will be announced tomorrow, on what would have been Frame's 84th birthday.
She died in Dunedin in January 2004, aged 79.
“Start Collecting Books Now!”

Aimed at reaching a public who haven’t started to collect books yet, but who might want to, “Start Collecting Books Now”, a new PBFA initiative, is to be launched with distribution of 10,000 free booklets at the York National Book Fair on 12th September 2008.
The designer Mark Hearld, York based artist, has produced delightful artwork making it hard to resist picking up a copy. The design mirrors his designs for the York National Book Fair publicity which he has also rebranded this year.

Mark is inspired by British artists such as Eric Ravilious, John Piper and Edward Bawden, who appropriately was the last designer commissioned by the PBFA . Bawden famously designed the cat logo. Mark said about the project, “It has been exciting working for the PBFA following in the great Edward Bawdens’ footsteps.

I am passionate about books… collecting books so taking on this commission is just right. I’ve learnt to draw cats in the process but I think it is the mice which hit the spot!” Mark has an accelerating national reputation and recent projects include work for Penguin Books, and the poster for the forthcoming Tate Britain’s Curwen Studios 50th anniversary exhibition. Mark studied Illustration at Glasgow School of Art, followed by an MA in Natural History Illustration at the Royal College of Art. Jill Tiffin, of the PBFA, who has masterminded the project, said “there is no doubt we need to reach a wider and younger audience. We hope this initiative will be the first step in attracting a new generation of book collectors”.
The booklet draws together information on how and where to buy books, it encourages visits to fairs and bookshops as well as tackling on line buying. You will be able to pick up a copy of the booklet at the York National Book Fair, now the largest book fair for the sale of out of print titles, maps and ephemera in Britain.
The catalogue for the book fair, which includes books for sale, can be viewed by clicking the poster on the left of this newsletter. Here you can print out complementary tickets else admission is £2.00 at the door. Throughout the weekend event, there is a free shuttle bus from the railway station to the Racecourse. It runs every twenty minutes.

This story from Ibookcollector Newsletter # 126.
To Contact Ibookcollector
Ibookcollector © is published by Rivendale Press Ltd.

by Desoto Brown & Linda Arthur
Island Heriatge Publishing US$13.95

The Aloha or Hawaiian shirt originated in the mid-1930s as a commodity for the tourist market and it remains pretty much the same today although if you are prepared to pay a little more you may get some unique elements in its design, including tropical print motifs with brilliant colours.
This appealing, lavishly illustrated title provides a history of the transformation of that shirt - from tourist tack to global fashion item sometimes with an element of indigenous ethnic art from Hawai‘i’s greatly romanticized past .
I especially enjoyed the pictures of advertisements featuring the shirt over the past 70 years. And of course there is a shot of Elvis sporting an aloha shirt from a scene in the third of his Hawaiian movies, "Paradise-Hawaiian Style" from 1965. Not a memorable movie, but I wouldn't mind his shirt!
A fun book, a great souvenir of a brief but highly enjoyable visit.
Duke: A Great Hawaiian
Author: Sandra Kimberley Hall

Publisher: Bess Press Hardcover Price: US$12.95

During his lifetime, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (1890-1968), a full-blooded Hawaiian, was known worldwide simply as 'The Duke.' His name was synonymous with Hawai'i.
He is remembered today for his Olympic medals, and as the Father of Modern Surfing.

In 2002 the US Postal Service described him as "the greatest aquatic athlete the world has ever seen." (Since then of course Michael Phelps has come along!).
The thousands who place lei on his most handsome statue in Waikiki honor him as Hawai'i's legendary Ambassador of Aloha for his strength of character, and the Hawaiian ideals of humility, and dignity he exemplified.
In this appropriate tribute filled with photographs, his story and Hawaii's are intertwined.
Everywhere you go in Hawaii, and especially here in Waikiki, you come across the Duke's name . He is rated by many locals as the greatest Hawaiian ever so in the end when I came across this attractive small hardback book in Borders last night after dinner at Petite Garlic I just had to buy it.
Having now read it I can understand the adulation the man and his memory provoke. Olympic gold medals and world records at a time before swimming coaches had been invented, and he travelled widely across mainland US and to Australia and New Zealand. In NZ he related closely to his Maori kin which he regarded as a highlight of his tour. Feted and honoured everywhere he remained a humble man throught his life. He died in 1968.
We salute you Duke. You are an inspiration.
New winners for oldest book prize

Two little-known writers have collected £10,000 each as the latest winners of Britain's oldest literary awards.
The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are awarded to one work of fiction and one work of biography each year.
Rosalind Belben's Our Horses in Egypt won for fiction, and Rosemary Hill's God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain won for biography.
Former winners of the prize, announced earlier in Edinburgh, include DH Lawrence, EM Forster and Graham Greene. buys Shelfari, a startup for book lovers

By John Cook,P-I REPORTER is buying Shelfari, the Seattle social networking startup for book lovers, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
The deal comes about three weeks after acquired Victoria, B.C.-basedAbeBooks, which holds an equity stake in Shelfari's main rival, LibraryThing. already owned a portion of Shelfari, which received funding from the Seattle-based online retailer and angel investors in February 2007.

Shelfari is a social network that allows groups of people to create virtual bookshelves and share titles with friends. It was co-founded by Josh Hug, the former director of device engineering at Seattle's RealNetworks.
Hug and could not be reached for comment Monday, but an announcement was expected soon. Dave Hanley, vice president of marketing at Shelfari, declined to comment and referred questions to Hug.

Sources told the Seattle P-I the financial outcome was positive for investors in Shelfari. The company raised about $1 million in February 2007 and had been considering another round of funding.
There's no love lost between Shelfari and LibraryThing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Behold the Kind-of Hero, in a Sort-of Civil War

By Richard Eder writing in the New York Times, August 25, 2008

Civil war rages between America’s 16 seceding blue states — incensed by the rule of George W. Bush — and the red-state-backed federal government. Twelve million have been killed so far. Brick, a children’s magician from New York City, is conscripted by the blue leadership to put an end to the war by assassinating the man who invented it and keeps it going.

By Paul Auster
Henry Holt & Company. US$23

That man is not President Bush. He is a 72-year-old book critic named August Brill who, afflicted by all manner of troubles, spends an insomniac night making up stories. The main story, which takes up the first half of “Man in the Dark,” invents both the war and the travails of Brick as he tries alternately to carry out his kill-Brill mission and desperately to evade it.

And so, the latest product of Paul Auster’s more than 20-year career as the most meta of American metafictional writers. It is a career that has won him considerable esteem in European literary circles, where the project holds pride of place over the product; and more restricted esteem here, where it is the other way around.
Link here to read Eder's full review.

Bookman Beattie is a great fan of Paul Auster and can't wait to read this latest work.

Link to Melbourne blogger Literaryminded here to get her take on proceedings.
Boutique book publishing in New Zealand
Bookman Beattie’s piece first appeared in the Herald on Sunday, August 24, 2008.

What the hell is a boutique publisher?
This question was put to me by Christine Cole-Catley of boutique publisher Cape Catley.
My reply was “you are”!

It would seem that boutique book publishing in New Zealand is dominated by women with the much-admired Cole-Catley leading the way in terms of longevity having been publishing virtually alone for almost 35 years, 27 years based in the Marlborough Sounds and the last eight years in Devenport on Auckland’s North Shore. She normally publishes three or four titles a year although 2008 will see her setting a new personal record with nine titles coming off the presses.

She says Behind the Tattooed Face by Heretaunga Pat Baker catapulted her into publishing initially because she had been working as a freelance editor at Reeds in Wellington when Baker’s manuscript came in and they turned it down. Thinking it was too important a work to let end up as a manuscript in a bottom drawer somewhere she set herself up as Cape Catley, published it, and all these years later the title is still in print, in its 6th edition and film rights have recently been sold. Other important titles from Cape Catley include Margaret Hayward’s Diary of the Kirk Years in 1982 and the re-issue in 1980 of We Will Not Cease by Archibald Baxter, also now in its sixth edition. She once told Millicent Baxter she would do her very best to keep this title in print; 28 years later and it is still in the Cape Catley list.

Ann Mallinson of Mallinson Rendel started out on her own on 1 January 1980 and is still going strong with about eight titles coming out each year. This Wellington-based boutique publisher is best known as the publisher of the ever popular Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy (1983), which is still going with over a million copies sold worldwide, and has generated a number of sequels. Other notable titles from the specialist children’s book publisher include See Ya, Simon by David Hill, Annie and Moon by Miriam Smith, illustrated by Lesley Moyes, and After the War by Bob Kerr. Mallinson believes boutique publishers by nature of their size can give individual attention to authors that the larger companies are not always able to.

Also Wellington-based but very much a new kid on the block is Julia Marshall and her imprint Gecko Press. Starting publishing in 2005 Marshall comes from a unique angle for a New Zealand publisher in that she sources children’s books from overseas publishers that are not available here, often previously not published in English, and then publishes them locally under her own imprint. Occasionally this will include work by New Zealanders as was the case recently with Snake & Lizard by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Gavin Bishop which cleaned up the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards last month. It was first published in the US and Marshall snapped up the US rights.

Longacre Press and publisher Barbara Larson are the southern- most boutique publisher on our list but one suspects it will be stretching things to define them as boutique for much longer as they are now up to around 20 titles per year. They look for a distinctly southern voice with some of their standout titles being Dare Truth or Promise by Paula Boock which won the NZ Post Book of the Year Award in 1997, and has been subsequently published in the US, On the Loose by Josh Kronfeld and Brian Turner, The Art of Grahame Sydney, Montana Book of the Year in 1999, and Lynley Hood’s 2001 title which caused such a stir at the time, A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Creche Case. Larson says they look for titles that excite them, written by writers with an individual voice with a story to tell.

David Ling is a one-man publishing house who brings out about ten titles a year working from an office in his North Shore Auckland home. After a career with various multi-national publishing houses he started up in 1993 with One of Ben’s by Maurice Shadbolt with other significant titles including Kirsa: A Mother’s Story by Robyn Jensen, Mask of Sanity by James McNeish, and Winkelmann’s Waitemata. He says most of his titles would not have seen the light of day if he hadn’t published them because either they were his idea in the first place or because of his modest overheads he can make sums work on small quantities where larger companies cannot.

On the opposite side of the Waitemata Harbour to David Ling is another eponymous publisher, Remuera-based Annabel Langbein who started publishing almost by accident back in 1987 when she put together in book form a collection of her Listener articles and subsequently sold 10,000 copies out of her garage.
These days Langbein writes cookbooks and publishes them herself enjoying considerable export success as a result of energetic marketing around the world. She is an active participant each year at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Because she is both author and publisher her output is normally one or two titles a year. She told me “the process feels a bit like a birth really, so much hard work and sometimes you think you will never get there and then it is out and off to its own life, hopefully making lots of people happy.” The Best of Annabel Langbein is one of her best sellers having run through several editions, and I might add it is a favourite in our household.

Roger Steele set up boutique publisher Steele Roberts in 1996 with Dedications by J.C.Sturm being the first title. Unusually Steele Roberts publish a lot of poetry, usually economically marginal and normally the domain of the university presses, but Steele says they “survive through optimism, frugality and philanthropy to publish Aotearoa NZ treasures including many first-time and once-only authors.

This is by no means a comprehensive roundup of NZ boutique book publishers, there are many more, but it serves to show the important role these dedicated and enterprising people play in our literary lives.
Publishers ok book on Mohammed's child wife
Published 22.08.08 by the Copenhagen Post.

Denmark is again ready to exercise its free speech and press principles by releasing a controversial novel about Mohammed's child wife An American novel about the 6-year-old wife of Mohammed, Aisha, may end up being released in Denmark, after publishing...

An American novel about the 6-year-old wife of Mohammed, Aisha, may end up being released in Denmark, after publishing company Random House dropped its plans to print the book.
Danish publishers association Trykkeselskabet has given its blessing to Sherry Jones' novel 'The Jewel of Medina' to be released in Denmark. Random House pulled out of its contract to publish the book after fear of reprisals from Muslims, and Jones' agent is looking for buyers.
The novel was brought into the spotlight in the US after Denise Spellman, a professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying the book was 'much more controversial than the Mohammed drawings from Denmark'. She called any decision to publish the book a 'declaration of war' against Muslims.
But Trykkeselskabet indicated that it felt the book needed to be published.

Go to the Copenhagen Post online for the full story.
Having just read Tom Rob Smith's harrowing Child 44 set in Russia n 1953 I am more mindful than ever of the need to preserve freedom of speech at all costs so I salute the Danes for their stand.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What George Orwell Wrote, 70 Years Later to the Day

Aug. 12 began as a hot morning in Aylesford, Kent, England, only to be followed by a powerful thunderstorm in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the blackberries were beginning to redden.
Aug. 12, 1938, that is.
The observations were made by George Orwell, whose copious diaries are now being published every day in blog form, exactly 70 years after they were made. The scholars behind the project say they are trying to get more attention for Orwell online and to make him more relevant to a younger generation he would have wanted to speak to.
“I think he would have been a blogger,” said Jean Seaton, a professor at the University of Westminster in London who administers the Orwell writing prize and thought up the idea of the blog.
Though as prolific as any blogger (his collected writings occupy some 20 volumes), Orwell, who died in 1950, never had the chance to spontaneously publish his thoughts to a waiting public. Now — with some lag time — they are being made available that way at

Read the full piece from the New York Times online.
Acclaimed art book now in glamorous hardback edition – and a TV series is on the way

A modest book that seeks to demystify art and increase the enjoyment of people visiting galleries has been such a success that its publishers, Awa Press, have produced a classy new hardback edition.

The original paperback edition of How to Look at a Painting by art writer and curator Justin Paton is now in its fourth printing. Acclaimed by critics in New Zealand internationally, the book won the Montana New Zealand Book Award for Contemporary Culture in 2006.

Auckland’s Desert Road Productions has received NZ On Air funding to adapt the book as a 12-part television series to screen on TV1 on Sunday evenings. Paton will narrate the series.

Awa Press’s publishing director, Mary Varnham, says they have been delighted by the book’s popularity – but not surprised. ‘As the Montana judges said, the quality of Justin’s writing is quite extraordinary – entertaining, exciting, moving, and above all a great read. He is right up there with the world’s best art writers.’

Currently a senior curator at Christchurch Art Gallery, Paton is no stranger to the Montanas, having been nominated no less than four times, mostly for commentary in exhibition catalogues. How to Look at a Painting is his first book for the general reader.

The new hardback edition has been designed by the much-awarded book designer Sarah Maxey. Publication date 1 September.

Tom Rob Smith - Simon & Schuster

Another first-timer and another remarkable read. This one surprised me because the writing is sort of a cross between Ian Rankin and Lee Child. That is to say it is crime fiction crossed with a thriller, and at times I must add quite gruesome and violent.

Because of the snobbery surrounding crime fiction in literary circles one doesn't really expect to find such an accessible and popular style novel in the Man Booker longlist because it is a pretty literary affair. I can almost hear the British literati
tut-tutting from here!

This novel which is almost in unputdownable territory is set in Russia in 1953 in the months before and after the bloody Stalinist rule came to an end. What appaling days they were for the citizens of that giant conglomerate of a nation as it was then. Fear and suspicion, treachery, hypocrisy, total lack of justice, violence and gulags were part of every day life. Paranoia was rife.

And of course the Soviet system would not concede that such things as murder and prostitution, capitalist social evils, existed under the communist system so when a serial murderer starts killing and mutilating chilren across the country the local authorities cannot report them as murders so there is no way central authorities know what is going on.

The author partly based his novel on the real case of Andrei Chikalito who murdered some 50 people in Russia through the 70's and 80's. At the end of the book in his list of futher reading he includes details of the book that carried the story of the real-life investigation into that case should anyone wish to know more.

An excellent, entertaining, often scary read, perfect if you have a long plane journey, but for my money I cannot see it making the shortlist; nevertheless my congratulations to the author getting this far against all the odds.

Now it is on to number seven on my list, The Clothes on their Backs by Linda Grant. My chances of getting through them all before the 9 September shorlist announcent are looking slight.


At the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel where we are staying there is complimentary high speed internet access which I applaud and I hope that before long this will be the norm around the world.
I read in a report in the Honolulu Advertiser this morning that Wi-Fi connections are available on commuter buses in San Francisco while in Arlington, VA, Wi-Fi is available in bus shelters.
And of course inceasingly whole city areas are going wireless.
This is all good stuff for roaming bloggers!
And here at this fine hotel on Waikiki beach all local calls are free, and you can call mainland USA with the first 30 minutes free! In the past I have felt ripped off by having to pay around dollar plus taxes for local calls when in the US (and most other countries too) so this is a welcome development.
From The Sunday Times
August 24, 2008
Hell on earth – the typical holiday
Trudging about in pursuit of culture or pigging out in the name of fun – yuk
Lionel Shriver writing in The Sunday Times:

I don’t go on holiday. Ever. Offer me two free tickets to Florence and a hotel overlooking Piazza San Lorenzo, and I will politely insist that you give them to a couple with a masochistic streak. Since I was freed from my parents’ clutches, I have never voluntarily taken a traditional holiday in my life and can think of no inducement that would persuade me to join the hordes who spend a fortnight “doing” culture or lying on a beach or eating five-star meals in the lap of luxury.
But I work pretty hard and surely deserve a break. Wouldn’t a holiday be fun?

Like happiness and love, fun is one of those peculiar quantities that can rarely be obtained by seeking it directly. You have a higher chance of having “fun” helping cyclone victims in Burma than taking a flight to Barcelona with the specific aim of living it up. Fun is a byproduct, like yeast extract. Trying to have fun is as doomed as trying to make Marmite without a brewery.
For Lionel Shriver's full story go to the Sunday Times online.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Raunchy sex history of Somme revealed
A book lifts the lid on the carnal comforts sought by First World War troops

David Smith writing in The Observer,
Sunday August 24 2008

The young soldier stepped into the bedroom. It was the first time he had gone to a prostitute and he felt apprehensive and embarrassed. He also found himself unable to have sex. 'I was - what do you call it? - impotent,' he said.

This type of recollection from an unnamed veteran of the First World War, 90 years after the end of the conflict, is seldom reflected in the histories, poems or services of remembrance. It is among newly discovered accounts which bring to life a hidden history of young men who, facing death daily in the trenches, sought sexual release where they could.

They came to light when historian Joshua Levine trawled the sound archives of the Imperial War Museum for his forthcoming book, Forgotten Voices of the Somme. The archive contains more than 56,000 hours of taped interviews, with contributions from veterans who have long since died. Along with memories of battle and the loss of comrades, some were surprisingly candid about sex and sexuality, despite the taboos of their generation.
Read David Smith's full review at The Observer online.
The Bookman has been in Hawaii this past week attending a wedding and he was greatly taken with the following headline in The Honolulu Advertiser this morning:

Typo fixers get probation for damaging rare sign

Associated Press
PHOENIX — When it comes to marking up historic signs, good grammar is a bad defense.
Two self-styled vigilantes against typos who defaced a more than 60-year-old, hand-painted sign at Grand Canyon National Park were sentenced to probation and banned from national parks for a year. They had removed an extraneous apostrophe and added a comma to the sign.

Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson pleaded guilty Aug. 11 for the damage done March 28 at the park's Desert View Watchtower. The sign was made by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the architect who designed the rustic 1930s watchtower (pic left) and other Grand Canyon-area landmarks.

Deck and Herson, both 28, toured the United States this spring, wiping out errors on government and private signs. They were interviewed by National Public Radio and the Chicago Tribune, which called them "a pair of Kerouacs armed with Sharpies and erasers and righteous indignation."
Read the full piece at the Honolulu Advertiser online.

Good on them The Bookman says!
Official: Melbourne now has a world-class story to tell

WITH the same sense of exposition and immaculate timing of any denouement, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), gathering all the suspects into the library, has named Melbourne its second City of Literature just days before the opening of the Melbourne Writers Festival. At the same time, the other City of Literature, Edinburgh, is in the middle of its festival, which has a strong writers' component.

What this honour means for Melbourne, apart from a natural twinning with its well-read Scottish cousin, ennobled in 2004, is that the city will be the 11th creative city in the UNESCO network representing various cultural endeavours and which includes such far-flung metropolises as Santa Fe, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Berlin and Bologna.

With 19 other cities under evaluation, this network is growing apace. Unlike gaining Olympic accreditation and working for years towards 16 days of frenetic activity, this recognition is for places whose cultural worth — not only in literature but craft and folk art, gastronomy, music, media arts and design — is already established to the point where it can be built on and enhanced as part of a complex cultural mixture. The awarding of such a distinction is, in effect, a receipt for goods that have already been delivered and whose continued supply is in no doubt.

Read the full story of this great accolade for Melbourne at The Age online.