Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Who Shot Rock And Roll" Opens at the Brooklyn Museum

If rock photography is a "silent window into the world of sound," then "Who Shot Rock & Roll, A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present," curated by Gail Buckland, is the loudest exhibit ever. Opening last night at The Brooklyn Museum, "Who Shot Rock" explores intimacy, passion and the countless other reasons we all love rock and roll in the first place.

Featuring over 175 works, the exhibit is organized into six sections: images taken behind the scenes, performance images, snapshots of musicians at the beginning of their careers, images of crowds and fans, album covers and conceptual images.

Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, published by Alfred A. Knopf

Read more at:

The unrivalled Diana Athill

A bestseller at 91, she forged the modern memoir

Ian Jack,The Guardian, Saturday 31 October 2009

Diana Athill

Diana Athill. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

In the early 1980s, the publisher André Deutsch had an idea for a book I could write about the partition of India. I didn't take it up, which I regret now because I was wrong to imagine, as I told him, that "everything" had already been written about the subject. Instead, I proposed a thought of my own: a book about Indian railways, part travel account, part technical history and part family memoir. Too many parts, clearly, but Deutsch liked the idea and a few weeks later I went to his office, where he took out a fountain pen and ceremonially wrote a cheque, saying words to the effect that this was his happiest moment since the day he thought he'd signed up George Orwell (as I guess he told many writers of first books) and then stealing a cigarette from my packet to smoke in celebration.

I went to India for a year and did too much research. Soon after I came home to London, Mrs Gandhi was assassinated in Delhi, which meant there was further postponement as I turned back to journalism. Then one day the phone rang and it was Deutsch, wondering how the book was "coming along". The truth was that it wasn't coming along, but I wrote two short chapters in a panic and sent them in as evidence that his money hadn't gone completely to waste. His response was to invite me to his office for lunch. It was there that I met a brisk woman in glasses, who told me that what I had written was very good and then read a page or two of it aloud to us: to Deutsch, because he had perhaps never bothered to read it himself (the thought occurred to me only later), and perhaps to persuade me that what I'd written was as good as she said, and the book worth persevering with.

She had a fine voice, precise and low, of the kind many more people had then than now, though even in 1984 her kind of accent had lost its claim to be the English that the nicest and best people spoke. "Patrician", "RP" and "Oxbridge" would be the easy adjectives, though what it reminded me of was listening to the BBC's Home Service as a boy and watching British films of the same period, where pretty well everyone spoke like this other than junior policemen and Cockney chars in pinafores. No matter. She read aloud – a few hundred words about an old-fashioned grocer's shop in an Indian railway town – and the fact was that her voice's elegance and intelligence seemed to elevate what I'd written, just as words scribbled in ballpoint seem profoundly transformed when set in 12-point Baskerville. There may have been an almost maternal element to her encouragement. She certainly had something of the kindly schoolmistress or university tutor about her: her thick-framed glasses, her enthusiasm, her opinion that I simply had to go on with it otherwise I'd be letting myself down. As life turned out, I didn't go on with it; I went back to newspapers and returned Deutsch's advance, and therefore as an illustration of Diana Athill's persuasive editorial technique my story is unsatisfactory, showing nothing more than how my torpor, fear and the need to make money could defeat one of the finest minds in British publishing. All I know is that if anyone could have drawn that book out of me it would have been her.

Athill would have been 66 then. She had been Deutsch's right-hand woman for nearly 40 years and went on serving the company that bore his name, even after he had left it, for another eight. Deutsch was the entrepreneurial spirit behind the enterprise, but it was mainly Athill who developed its reputation for good books by finding and fostering writers such as Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul.
Read the rest of this fascinating piece at The Guardian online.

A Right Royal Christmas

Lucy Davey, author of the Fifi La Belle picture books, drops in to Auckland City's St Heliers Library to talk about her latest book,
Book cover for A Right Royal Christmas. .

A Right Royal Christmas.Lucy Davey.

Sunday 1 November 2009 2.00pm
St Heliers Library, St.Heliers Bay, Auckland.
Free event, refreshments available.
Lucy’s three children have provided her with first-hand inspiration for her latest book about the joys of Christmas.

The heroine of A right royal Christmas, Princess Claire, dreamt of a Christmas with no need to share; a Christmas with only her parents and no nibbling nellies or ravenous rellies to pinch at her food. But as misfortunes befall other people's Christmas dinners, they all arrive to share her table, much to her annoyance. However when a young couple expecting a baby arrive as well, Princess Claire finally experiences the real joy of Christmas.
Published: October 29, 2009

“Try always,” says the worldly Cardinal Wolsey in “Wolf Hall,” ­Hilary Mantel’s fictional portrait of Henry VIII’s turbulent court, “to find out what people wear under their clothes.” Katherine of Aragon, the queen who can’t produce an heir, wears a nun’s habit. Anne Boleyn, the tease eager to supplant her, won’t let the king know what she’s wearing until their wedding night; she says “yes, yes, yes” to him, “then she says no.” Thomas More, willing to go to any lengths to prevent the marriage, wears a shirt of bristling horsehair, which mortifies his flesh until the sores weep. As for Thomas Cromwell, the fixer who does the king’s dirty work just as he once did the cardinal’s, what is he hiding under his lawyer’s sober winter robes? Something “impermeable,” Hans Holbein suspects as he paints Cromwell’s forbidding portrait. Armor, maybe, or stone.

Illustration by Esther Pearl Watson


By Hilary Mantel

532 pp. A John Macrae Book/Henry Holt & Company. $27 (Harper Collins UK/Commonwealth)

Go to the Frick Collection in New York and compare Holbein’s great portraits of Cromwell and More. More has all the charm, with his sensitive hands and his “good eyes’ stern, facetious twinkle,” in Robert Lowell’s description. By contrast, Cromwell, with his egg-shaped form hemmed in by a table and his shifty fish eyes turned warily to the side, looks official and merciless, his clenched fist, as Mantel writes, “sure as that of a slaughterman’s when he picks up the killing knife.” One of the many achievements of Mantel’s dazzling novel, winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize, is that she has reversed the appeal of these towering rivals of the Tudor period, that fecund breeding ground of British historical fiction as the American Civil War is of ours.

Cromwell is the picaresque hero of the novel — tolerant, passionate, intellectually inquisitive, humane. We follow his winding quest in vivid present-tense flashbacks, drawn up from his own prodigious memory: how he left home before he was 15, escaping the boot of his abusive father, a brewer and blacksmith who beat him as if he were “a sheet of metal”; how he dreamed of becoming a soldier and went to France because “France is where they have wars.” Cromwell learns banking in Florence, trading in Antwerp. He marries, has children and watches helplessly as the plague decimates his family.

In short, Cromwell learns everything everywhere, at a time when European knowledge about heaven and earth, via Copernicus and Machiavelli, is exploding. At 40, he “can draft a contract, train a falcon, draw a map, stop a street fight, furnish a house and fix a jury.” He knows the entire New Testament by heart, having mastered the Italian “art of memory” (part of the inner world of Renaissance magic that Mantel drew on in her comic novel “Fludd”), in which long lines of speech are fixed in the mind with vivid images.
Read the full review at NYT.
From Book Brunch:

Children's column: That's enough vampires

Nicolette Jones

Radio 4's Front Row on Wednesday night (28 October) was devoted to vampires – to the history of them in folklore and literature, and to the current fashion in books and especially films. No-one went into the proliferation, post-Meyer, of young adult vampire romances, so the following were not name-checked: L J Smith’s Vampire Diaries books, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires, Sophie Collins’s How To Date a Vampire, Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses, P C and Kristin Cast’s House of Night novels... Not to mention all those proliferating black and red jackets, and apples, with or without a bite out of them. So that from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games to Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush (about fallen angels, not vampires, but still supernatural romance), the pitch is at the Twilight market.

Vampires in legend have always been, as the critics on Front Row said, about desire. They are creatures of uncensored appetite and impulse.
John Grisham’s Short-Story Debut

From The Daily Beast

John Grisham has been one of book publishing’s titans since 1988, when A Time to Kill firs t landed on bookshelves. Since then, his many legal thrillers (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, etc.) have sold more than 200 million copie s and been adapted into nine feature films. And after veering into nonfiction (An Innocent Man), a fictional memoir (A Painted House), and a book about Italian football (Playing for Pizza), Grisham tackles the short story with Ford County, a collection of never-before-published tales centered around Ford County, Mississippi.

The Daily Beast has an exclusive excerpt from the book, a story of a family’s visit to death row. Read “Fetching Raymond” here.

‘PW’ Unveils Top Titles of 2009

-- Publishers Weekly, 10/28/2009

Seven books from the Random House imprints, two from Norton and one from Penguin comprise the first-ever Top 10 list of the best adult books of the year as compiled by the review editors of PW. While PW has long done an annual best books list, this is the first year it has anointed a Top 10 list, which was chosen from more than 50,000 books submitted for review. “Everybody loves lists," said Louisa Ermelino, reviews director for the magazine. “With the passion PW has for books, choosing the top 10 out of the thousands we review was a real challenge and a really good time."

The top picks of the year; which include both fiction and nonfiction titles, are: The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes (Pantheon); Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Ballantine); Big Machine by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau); Cheever by Blake Bailey (Knopf); A Fiery Peace in a Cold War by Neil Sheehan (Random); In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Norton); Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer (Pantheon); Lost City of Z by David Grann (Doubleday); Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford (Penguin Press); and Stitches by David Small (Norton).

The complete list of the 100 adult best books of the year, broken down by major categories, as well as 30 best children’s books of 2009, will appear in the November 2 issue of PW.

To see PW's reviews of all 10 books, go here.

Philip Kerr title wins Ellis Peters award

Philip Kerr has won the Crime Writers Association (CWA)’s Ellis Peters Historical Award for his novel set in 1930s Germany, If The Dead Rise Not, published by Quercus.

He beat off competition from fellow Quercus author Shona Maclean and Orion's Laura Wilson.

The £3,000 prize was awarded last night (29th October) and is sponsored by the estate of Ellis Peters, Headline and Little, Brown Book Group.

CWA chair Margaret Murphy said: "The judging panel was mightily impressed by the exceptional quality of novels entered into the award—even commending two authors on the longlist. Philip Kerr is a truly worthy recipient of the prize."
The Ellis Peters award, set up in the name of the author of the Cadfael mystieres, rewards the best historical crime novel set in any period up to 35 years prior to the year in which the award is made.

Also shortlisted were:
 Rennie Airth's The Dead of Winter (Macmillan); 
Shona MacLean The Redemption of Alexander Seaton (Quercus
); Mark Mills' The Information Officer (HarperCollins
); Andrew Williams' The Interrogator (John Murray); and 
Laura Wilson's An Empty Death (
Orion). The CWA judges also asked for two longlisted titles to be specially highlighted: Rory Clements for Martyr (John Murray) and Allison & Busby author Marjorie Eccles for Broken Music.

Report from The Bookseller

Fiction dominates Guardian First Book shortlist - NZ title makes list

Fiction dominates this year's Guardian First Book Award shortlist, with three of the five books in the running for 2009's award novels and one a short story collection.

Among those in the running for the award, recognising first-time writers writing, or translated into, English, is Samantha Harvey's Orange-shortlisted novel The Wilderness (Jonathan Cape).

The shortlist was decided by a judging panel, including the BBC's Martha Kearney and poet and novelist Tobias Hill, along with five Waterstone's reading groups around the UK.

Chair of judges, Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead, said: "For the first time in the history of the award, four of the shortlisted titles are fiction. I don't think this is mere coincidence; it reflects the power of good story-telling, and is a reminder that, despite regular cries that the
novel is a dying art form, it is still the one we turn to."

Stuart Broom from Waterstone's said: "We had such a strong non-fiction winner last year it seems almost inevitable that the pendulum would swing back and we'd find fiction dominating the shortlist."

The winner of the £10,000 award will be revealed on 2nd December. The winner also receives an advertising package in the Guardian and Observer for their first book. Previous winners have included Zadie Smith and Jonathan Safran Foer.

The Bookseller today revealed that competition for the Christmas No.1 slot in Original Fiction is the fiercest it has been for five years, contrasting directly with non-fiction sales, where the threshold to get a top 10 title is at its lowest figure since 2005.

Shortlist in full:
A Swamp Full of Dollars by Michael Peel (I B Tauris)

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton (Granta)

The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape)

The Selected Works of T S Spivet by Reif Larsen (Harvill Secker)

An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah (Faber)

The Strange World of Yakuza Fan Magazines

By Jake Adelstein in Publishing Prepectives

yazuka fan magazinesTOKYO: The Japanese mafia, better known as the yakuza, has been the subject of fan magazines for decades. These magazines serve as de-facto trade periodicals for a world of vicious, autocratic thugs, men who are handy with swords and guns, sport full-body tattoos, deal in illegal contraband and laundered money, and rip off the general public; all the while funneling money and power to their families and kigyoshatei (corporate blood brothers). What may be even more surprising is how easy the yakuza fan magazines are to find: they are readily available at newsstands, convenience stores, bookstores, public libraries and even some government offices.
(read on ...)

Bonus Material: Be Nice to the Yakuza, Or Else

By Jake Adelstein

Jake AdelsteinSo, you want to become a Gokudokisha 極道記者, or rather, a journalist who writes about the yakuza? Then you should now there are some unwritten rules you will be expected to follow.

1) No writing about ongoing criminal ventures or front companies.

2) When writing about yakuza arrested for extortion, assault and other crimes, the tone must be neutral.

(read on ...)

The accelerating decline of newspapers
Small dailies are rare bright spot in latest figures
By Frank Ahrens in The Washington Post

U.S. newspaper circulation has hit its lowest level in seven decades, as papers across the country lost 10.6 percent of their paying readers from April through September, compared with a year earlier.

The newest numbers on newspaper circulation, released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, paint a dismal picture for an industry already feeling the pressures of an advertising slump coupled with the worst business downturn since the Great Depression.

The ABC data estimate that 30.4 million Americans now pay to buy a newspaper Monday through Saturday, on average, and about 40 million do so on Sunday. These figures come from 379 of the nation's largest newspapers. In 1940, 41.1 million Americans bought a daily newspaper, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has been in decline since 1987 as papers have faced mounting competition for reader attention and advertising. Online, newspapers are still a success -- but only in readership, not in profit. Ads on newspaper Internet sites sell for pennies on the dollar compared with ads in their ink-on-paper cousins.

Read the full report at The Washington Post online.

Friday, October 30, 2009


On Saturday 31 October, New Plymouth-based ultra-distance runner Lisa Tamati will start running the length of New Zealand as part of her ‘Taranaki Engineering NZ Run 2009’ project, supporting CanTeen and Cure Kids. The route covers 2200 kilometres in 33 days and averages about 70 kilometres per day (around 10 hours of running each day).

Lisa will be leaving from Bluff at 6.00am on Saturday 31 October. Her route takes her up the east coast of the South Island, where she’ll board the Interislander ferry on Saturday 14 November at 6.25am. Lisa will run on a treadmill during the crossing over Cook Strait. She’ll then run up through New Plymouth (her home town) to Auckland airport, arriving there on 25 November. Lisa will fly to Kaitaia, drive to the tip of the North Island and then start running the final leg of the journey – Cape Reinga to Auckland. She’ll be arriving into Devonport on Thursday 3 December, where she’ll be met by a few well-known friends and supporters who will join her for the harbour crossing (by kayak) over to Auckland CBD, for the final leg of the run to the finish party (venue to be announced) around late-afternoon on Thursday 3 December.

Lisa says, “I’ve run Death Valley, what’s known as the ‘toughest race on earth’, but running the length of New Zealand in 33 days is the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced. I’m scared - I’m terrified, in fact - but this challenge is nothing compared with what the young Kiwis living with cancer face, whom I’ve recently met through CanTeen and Cure Kids. I’m so grateful for the support of all my sponsors and my wonderful team to make this lifelong dream happen. I’ll give it everything I have.”

Throughout her NZ Run, Lisa will be speaking at selected Paper Plus stores. Lisa has recently released Running Hot (published by Allen & Unwin), an autobiography about her life as an ultramarathon runner.
For information about the book or in-store events, please contact Abba Renshaw at Allen & Unwina ,
To find out more about Lisa’s NZ Run, or to see when she’s running through your town, check out the website:

To read more about Lisa Tamati and her past achievements, please visit

Kate Lance has won the Mountbatten Maritime Media Award for Best Literary Contribution with Voyager of the Winds (National Maritime Museum), the biography of the adventurer Alan Villiers.