Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Case for Cursive

via Library Link of the Day.

The Frame Function Launch at Unity Books Auckland

A large crowd braved the rainy Auckland weather to attend the launch by Peter Simpson of The Frame Function: An Inside-Out Guide to the Novels of Janet Frame, by Jan Cronin, published by Auckland University Press.

Many of Jan's students and colleagues from the English Department of the University of Auckland were in attendance, along with members of Auckland's literary community and more than a few Janet Frame enthusiasts. The crowd was entertained by a brilliant tribute poem from Selina Tusitala Marsh, aptly titled "Jan's Janet".

Here is Peter's address:

In some ways being head of a university department these days is an unenviable chore, but it does have its compensations, and for me one of these was the opportunity to be involved in the appointment of new staff. One of the happiest appointments to the English Department at The University of Auckland during my term as HOD was Jan Cronin whose first book The Frame Function we are celebrating the publication of tonight.
I first met Jan briefly at the University of Leeds in 2004 where I had gone to give a seminar on Kendrick Smithyman while on sabbatical. At that time she was in the last throes of completing her PhD on Janet Frame. I was immediately impressed by her and was delighted when the following year she put in for and was eventually appointed to a lectureship in Auckland. She has since become a Senior Lecturer. Jan immediately proved to be an excellent colleague and teacher as I know from sharing courses with her. Meticulous preparation, thoughtful and penetrating content, lively and engaging presentation with a dash of Irish charm all contributed to her impressive performance as a teacher.
I also had the experience of co-supervising a Frame PhD thesis with her, and found her to be a marvellous supervisor – thorough, exacting, helpful, encouraging – just what one wants in a supervisor. Jan published in rapid succession a series of excellent articles on Frame and other subjects (she is no one trick pony); last year she co-edited an important new collection of essays on Janet Frame called Frameworks by mostly younger scholars from around the world and she has now capped that with her own first book. It comes as no great surprise to me that she has done a brilliant job.

Reading Janet Frame, to adapt a quip of Bob Hope’s, is not for cissies. Some of her books are relatively easy going – Owls do Cry, Faces in the Water, A State of Siege, the posthumous Towards Another Summer, and of course the beloved autobiographies. But others are a tougher proposition.
You have to be well motivated and have mental stamina. I have to confess that there are still a couple I’ve never made it to the end of.
But the rewards for persistence are great. For me, Owls do Cry, A State of Siege and Living in the Maniototo are highlight s. Reading them is a bit like walking the Heaphy or the Routeburn Track. It takes days, it tests your mental fitness, but the rewards are huge and the sense of achievement on completing the job is exhilarating.
If reading Frame is a challenge, writing about her is something else again. It calls for the skills of the mental mountaineer. But just as difficult mountains have never wanted for eager climbers, so Frame has never wanted for willing writers. Hundreds have had a go and more than a dozen have completed the Himalayan-scale endeavour of writing whole books about her. It must partly have to do with what W.B. Yeats called “the fascination of what’s difficult”. I can’t claim to have read all these books, though I have read a few. Now we can add the intrepid Cronin to the list, but I’ll be very surprised if anyone has written a better book on Janet Frame than The Frame Function. It’s a cracker.
This book is no lumbering doctoral thesis stuck in the microwave to be warmed up. Nor is it just a bunch of singles put together to fill an album. It’s a completely fresh reading, building on previous work, of course, going back to her thesis of 8 years ago and the various articles published since 2005, but reworking them to fit the new context and extensive fresh research. That’s an impressive feature of the book; it’s what musicians talk about as being ‘through composed’. The chapters are not just a chronological trot through the major titles. For instance, she starts with a chapter on The Adaptable Man (Frame’s 5th novel) which she uses to set up her major paradigms and terminology. Then she works her way through all the major novels, sometimes pairing titles, Scented Gardens with Daughter Buffalo, for example, or Living in the Maniototo and Towards another Summer. She is constructing an argument not just taking a stroll past the monuments, and the argument is cumulative; terms and concepts are carried forward progressively; a bit like climbers on Everest setting up camps and consolidating before moving on to the next. This is helpful to the reader. The text is not easy. To quote the author herself: ‘It does not present “Janet Frame” in easy-to-swallow capsules.’ How could it given the subject matter? But Jan is a well-mannered and considerate guide. She puts fixed ropes in place; she repeats her key concepts over and over, like banging pitons into an ice face. (I seem to have caught the Frame disease of rampant metaphoricity!).

The Frame Function? What is it? How does it work? What does the subtitle, “An Inside-Out Guide to the Novels of Janet Frame’ mean? To really answer those questions you’ll have to read the whole book, and progressively and eventually it does all become clear. It has to do basically with explaining what sort of books Frame writes. Any fool can see that she does not write conventional novels – she herself referred to them as ‘nameless sort of books ’ – often to the despair of her publishers. Even the sympathetic American George Braziller blenched at a novel called The Carpathians which is set in small town New Zealand and doesn’t go within 10,000 kms of the Carpathians. So why on earth did she call it that? It all has to do, according to Jan, with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, believe it or not, being an example of one of those texts outside the novels on which Frame plays her sophisticated conceptual games. Others who fulfil this role in various books are Plato, St Augustine, Immanuel Kant, Rainer Maria Rilke, Anglo-Saxon poetry, the Book of Revelation and sundry others.
Instead of ‘novel’ with all the expected paraphernalia of plot, characters, setting and narrative continuity, Jan prefers the term ‘explorations’; the books are primarily an effort to explore some philosophical problem – the relationship between ‘object’ and ‘shadow’, for example, or ‘original’ and ‘copy’, and the conventional elements of plot and character are ‘staged’, in Jan’s term, only in so far as they facilitate such explorations. She isolates what she calls an ‘authorial presence’ in Frame’s books, prescriptive in character, which implicitly lays down rules for the reader to follow. But the books are never mere philosophical treatises, or guidebooks to how to treat the mentally ill (as Faces in the Water was once used in NZ hospitals), they all contain an ‘elusive’ quality.
As Jan writes, ‘My sense is that the prescriptive and elusive properties of Frame’s work are inextricably linked, not as oppositional and irreconcilable facets of the one text, but that they have a more intimate relationship; and this relationship is bound up in what I am terming the Frame function’.
There is much more to Jan’s argument than this. In analysing what she calls ‘Frame’s MO’, short for her authorial ‘modus operandi’, she argues that Frame tends more to be concerned with the ‘how’ of a text than the ‘what’ and that sometimes there is potential conflict between two within a text. But, hey, this is a book launch not a graduate seminar, and all these subtle issues are there for readers to explore for themselves. My task here is simply to celebrate a dazzling exegesis of a great writer, to congratulate AUP for taking on this important book, to urge you all to buy a copy and go on an unforgettable expedition to the fictional Himalayas in the company of a wonderfully helpful and intelligent guide.
Warm congratulations, Jan".

Bennetts bookshops back in hands of Kiwi owners

 Story by Hamish Rutherford in the Dominion Post - 30 April, 2011
One of New Zealand's oldest book chains is back in local ownership after the Bennetts stores were bought out of the Whitcoulls administration.
The chain, which focuses on university textbooks, has been bought by a family trust linked to Geoff Spong, the New Zealander who in 1995 established Vol 1, another university textbook chain, which he later sold.
The deal, signed yesterday for an undisclosed sum, protects 30 jobs. Bennetts' headquarters will be in Palmerston North, where the company was established in 1889.

It will initially have eight stores, seven of which are on university and polytechnic campuses throughout New Zealand, as well as the flagship Bennetts Government Bookshop in Lambton Quay.
Bennetts' new owners have said they want to open stores on campuses throughout New Zealand, initially targeting Auckland.

Whitcoulls was placed in administration in February when its Australian parent company, RedGroup Retail, collapsed under a mountain of debt. This month 10 Whitcoulls stores at airports in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua were bought by Australian group LS Travel Retail, which will rebrand the outlets as Relay. Another 63 Whitcoulls and five Borders stores are still for sale.

Whitcoulls suffered from increasing competition from online sellers as well as electronic ebooks. But the new owners of Bennetts believed its specialist focus gave it a brighter future.

Sean Woodward of Invercargill, a lawyer and director of Bennetts, said textbooks were not optional purchases for academics or students, meaning a stable market remained. Bennetts would also improve its online sales offering.
Mr Woodward said Bennetts, which generates sales of about $10 million a year, remained profitable despite a lack of attention under Whitcoulls' ownership.
"In our view it's suffered from being a peripheral brand to a large corporate – it hasn't had the attention it needed and that's where it gets into trouble."
The initial focus will be to revitalise and standardise the shops throughout the country, broadening stock to include university memorabilia and convenience goods.

Bennetts was already planning new stores in Auckland to compete for the Auckland University of Technology market, Mr Woodward said. In the medium term it wanted to have outlets on academic campuses "from Invercargill to Whangarei".

The Bennett family controlled the book chain until 1988 when a majority stake was sold to Brierley Investments, which merged it with Whitcoulls. The company has had a string of owners since, including Graeme Hart and Eric Watson.

Story from

REDgroup administrators Ferrier Hodgson announced this week that another six Angus & Robertson stores will close as part of the administration process.

REDgroup administrators Ferrier Hodgson announced this week that another six Angus & Robertson stores will close as part of the administration process.

The store closures, which are expected to take place over the next four weeks, will affect 55 REDgroup employees--18 full-time and part-time employees and 37 casual employees.
The stores to close are:

  • Woden Plaza
  • Top Ryde
  • Tweed Heads
  • Warringah Mall
  • Pacific Fair
  • Collins Street
Ferrier Hodgson said that the restructure will leave 157 REDgroup outlets, which includes 61 Angus & Robertson company stores and nine Borders stores in Australia. No New Zealand stores will close as part of this restructure.
Ferrier Hodgson has previously announced the closure of 17 Borders stores and 49 Angus & Robertson stores across the country.

Report from Australian Bookseller & Publisher.

William & Catherine - Their Lives, The Wedding

Here it is, the cover for Andrew Morton's book from British publisher Michael O'Mara. The book is being distributed in NZ by Book Reps (NZ) Ltd and is expected to be on sale within the next 10-12 days.

Earlier report on the book here .

2011 Edgar Award Winners Revealed

The Mystery Writers of America have revealed the winners of this year’s Edgar Awards. The annual prize is named after beloved writer Edgar Allan Poe, awarded to the best authors in the mystery genre since 1945.
These awards recognize the following categories: novel, first novel, paperback original, fact crime, critical/biographical, short story, juvenile, young adult, play, and TV episode.
Last year’s winners included John Hart, Stefanie Pintoff, and Mary Downing Hahn. Follow the jump to see this year’s winners in a few of the top categories.

Best Novel
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
Best Fact Crime
Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong & Nick Perry (University of Nebraska Press – Bison Original)
Best Juvenile
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)
Best Young Adult
The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)
The Simon & Schuster-Mary Higgins Clark Award
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Raven Awards
Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore (Chicago, IL)
Once Upon a Crime Bookstore (Minneapolis, MN)

Gregory O’Brien presents his new book

A Micronaut in the Wide World: The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy

Thursday 5 May, 6:00 pm
Auckland Central City Library, level 2
Join us for a welcome glass of wine at 5.30 pm, courtesy of Glengarry Wines
Bookings highly recommended, phone 307 0209 or email

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event.
Artist, designer and illustrator Graham Percy was one of our most talented and original artists. Born in Taranaki in 1938, Percy spent apprentice years in Auckland before moving to London, where with his photographer-partner Mari Mahr he created a workshop-home, a microcosm of the outside world.

This stimulating rediscovery of a remarkable artist is an account of Percy’s life and art through sketches and bookshelves, showcasing his early design work, vivid children’s book illustration and thriving mature art. The drawings reveal Percy’s passion for the small and hand-drawn, for quirky histories and curious characters, from homesick kiwis to Commedia dell’Arte players.

Gregory O’Brien is a poet, anthologist, essayist and art critic. His recent publications include News of the Swimmer Reaches Shore (2007), Back and Beyond: New Zealand Art for the Young and Curious (2008) and Euan Macleod: The Painter in the Painting (2010). He is working on a collaborative book project with Mari Mahr, photographer and Graham Percy’s second wife, and is the curator of a major exhibition of Graham Percy’s art which is touring across New Zealand in 2011-13, opening in Auckland at the Gus Fisher Gallery on May 7th.

William and Kate Married

It's official: Prince William and Kate Middleton are man and wife. The Archbishop of Canterbury pronounced them married at 11:20 am BST.
In their vows, Kate followed in Diana's footsteps and took out the line of promising to "obey" her husband, promising to instead "love, comfort, honor and keep" William. Prince Harry carried out his big duty, handing off the ring to his brother without a hitch. Get the latest updates from our blog of the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey. Plus, video highlights, photos, and more.
Read it at The Daily Beast

And now stand back at wait for the books .....................

Russia’s Literary Monster: The Wild, Unpredictable World of Vladimir Sorokin

Daniel Kalder - April 29, 2011 - Publishing Perpectives

A “living classic,” Sorokin pushes boundaries by writing about a Russia rife with violence, coprophilia, violence, rape, violence, aliens, violence, clones and more violence. He makes American debut in New York this weekend at the PEN World Voices Festival.

At the London Book Fair earlier this month, Russia was featured as Guest of Honor. Nearly every Russian writer of distinction was in attendance, save for one: Vladimir Sorokin. It’s no surprise, since anyone who has followed Sorokin’s career knows he has hardly been one to follow the crowd.
Full piece at Publishing Perspectives.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sydney Writers Festival 16/22 May - 9/11 - I Was There

2011 marks the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Anthony Bourdain (pictured), James Gleick, Michael Cunningham and Emma Forrest come together to share with us their personal accounts of that terrible day in 9/11: I Was There.

The Mortal Instruments author to visit NZ

Cassandra Clare, New York Times bestselling author of the hit series The Mortal Instruments, will be touring Australia and New Zealand in May this year to promote the fourth book in the series, The Mortal Instruments, Book 4: City of Fallen Angels, which is currently sitting at:

Number one on the New Zealand Children and Teens’ International Bestseller list for the third consecutive week

(Source: via Nielsen BookScan, wk ending April 23)

From my friends at Hamish Hamilton in NYC

Here in New York it's been raining and stopping and raining and stopping and it feels like we're caught in the last breath of the storm that ransacked the southern states earlier today. It's been an eventful few hours. We were looking for someone to launch this issue, Five Dials 19, and we thought of Steve Buscemi but had no way of contacting him, but a few minutes ago we were walking down 9th street, and hey, there he was on the sidewalk, and we thought 'Holy cow, that's Steve Buscemi,' but how do you approach Steve Buscemi and ask him to press send at a Five Dials launch? How does one do that? The scenario was made worse by a man in a passing car who had opened his window and was yelling out, 'Hey famous guy, hey famous guy' at Steve, who looked like he wanted to take refuge in the nearby 7th Ave subway stop. It was reminiscent of the scene in Annie Hall, when Alvy Singer is surrounded by goons who keep pointing to him and saying 'Hey, it's Alvy Singah, Alvy Singah.' So yes  , no to Steve Buscemi.

Regardless, the clouds are clearing again and we've eaten a couple hot ham sandwiches. The cherry trees blossomed yesterday and New York is ready to shift its focus back to literary magazines now that both the Knicks and Rangers have been eliminated from the play-offs.

 The last time we spoke we were sending you a clutch of poems from upstate New York. This time the issue is a full-sizer, packed like the Lexington Ave number 4 train between 42nd St and 14th. This evening we're holding the launch at 826NYC, a nonprofit writing centre (they'd say 'center'), on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. We've gathered some writers, some book people, some not-so-book people and — this is the best part — a whole group of Five Dials subscribers who decided they could make it to the Brooklyn launch even though not many of them made it to Jaipur. I have a feeling the 'Hey famous guy' guy from 7 Ave is going to show up later, or at least roll by on the street yelling something.

Enjoy the issue. As always, we wish you were here.

Issue 19 can be downloaded here:

 The magazine is free. Thank you for subscribing.

Saturday Morning with Kim Hill: 30 April 2011

Radio New Zealand National

8:15 Harriet Lamb: banana wars and fair trade
9:05 Mandrika Rupa: hidden apartheid
9:45 Kevin Parker: saddleback dialects
10:05 Playing (Country) Favourites with John Newton
11:05 Dane Mitchell: tangible intangibles
11:40 Rugby with Spiro Zavos

Producer: Mark Cubey
Wellington engineer: Chris Adams
Auckland engineer: Jeremy Ansell
Dunedin engineer: Sandy Sullivan

Saturday Morning guest information and links:

8:15 Harriet Lamb
Harriet Lamb has been Chief Executive Officer of the Fairtrade Foundation since 2001, and is the author of Fighting the Banana Wars and other Fairtrade Battles (Rider Books, ISBN: 978-1-846-04084-9). Fairtrade Fortnight begins on 7 May, and Harriet will visit New Zealand between 20 and 24 June in association with Fairtrade New Zealand.

9:05 Mandrika Rupa
Mandrika Rupa is the director of the independent New Zealand documentary film Hidden Apartheid: A Report on Caste Discrimination, currently screening at the Bridgeway Cinema in Auckland (to 20 May).

9:45 Kevin Parker
Dr Kevin Parker is a biologist at the Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University. He has been involved in 25 native bird translocations in his time as a researcher, all in collaboration with the Auckland Council, DOC and community conservation groups. His PhD research shows how saddlebacks have developed diverse dialects following translocations to 12 different islands over the past 50 years.

10:05 Playing (Country) Favourites with John Newton
Dr John Newton teaches in the English Programme at the School of Humanities, University of Canterbury, and was the JD Stout Fellow 2010 at Victoria University of Wellington, where he conducted research for a book about immigration to New Zealand at the time of World War II
He is the author of The Double Rainbow: James K. Baxter, Ngati Hau and the Jerusalem Commune (2009, Victoria University Press, ISBN: 780864-736031), and a new volume of his poetry will be published by Victoria University Press later this year. He is singer, songwriter and guitarist for Wellington/Christchurch alt-country band, The Tenderizers.!/pages/The-Tenderizers/142731982455096

11:05 Dane Mitchell
Dane Mitchell is one of New Zealand's most prominent artists internationally. From October through December 2010 he was New Zealand Artist in Residence at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, where his exhibition, Radiant Matter Part 1, shows the sculptural possibilities of sea spray, perfume and vapour in their various states, and means of containing, diffusing and releasing these into the air (to 29 May).
Dane is currently Dunedin Public Art Gallery/Creative New Zealand Visiting Artist in Residence for 2011, where he is working on Radiant Matter Part 2, continuing his exploration of ways of making the intangible tangible. The final exhibition of the three-part solo project will show at Artspace in Auckland from early July.

11:40 Rugby with Spiro Zavos
Spiro Zavos writes a rugby column for The Sydney Morning Herald and the interactive sports opinon website The Roar, and has written six books on rugby, most recently How to Watch the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Awa Press, ISBN: 978-1-877551-09-3).In September, he will be a guest of the Going West Books and Writers Festival in Titirangi.


Saturday Morning repeats:

On Saturday 30 April 2011 during Great Encounters between 6:06pm and 7:00pm on Radio New Zealand National, you can hear a repeat broadcast of Kim Hill's interview from 23 April with James McPherson on the American Civil War.

Preview: Saturday 7 May

Kim Hill's guests will include novelist David Michell, scientist Fred Allendorf, and the trombone quartet BonaNZa.

The Frame Function

Jan Cronin, 
AUP. $49.99
Readers of Frame’s books frequently sense the presence of some kind of puzzle to be solved but can’t quite distil its parameters. The Frame Function takes as its starting point this capacity of Frame’s texts to lure the reader into looking for solutions while simultaneously deterring such behaviour. In crafting a portrait of Frame’s compositional processes, Cronin provides new insights into the underlying relationship between prescriptiveness and elusiveness in Frame’s work. The Frame Function is a guide for those who are intrigued, stimulated, sometimes baffled by Frame’s powerful novels.

About the author.
Jan Cronin is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Auckland. She completed a PhD on Frame’s novels at the University of Leeds in 2004 and co-edited Frameworks: Contemporary Criticism on Janet Frame (2009). Cronin undertook extensive research in Frame archives in the United States and Australia in 2007 and 2008.

The Frame Function was launched last night at Unity Books Auckland by Peter Simpson. A report on the launch and Peter Simpson's comments will appear on the blog later.

The Fifth Witness

Michael Connelly
Allen & Unwin - NZ$39.99

Michael Connelly is loved the world over for his Harry Bosch detective novels (recently voted ‘World’s Favourite Detective’ by a landslide in an online knock-out tournament) and the Mickey Haller legal thriller series (who was played by Matthew McConaughey in the recent Lincoln Lawyer film). Connelly has recently been called 'the greatest living American crime writer' (The Mirror) and 'a crime-writing genius' (Independent on Sunday).

Michael Connelly's excellent latest book, The Fifth Witness  has been hailed as Mickey Haller's "strongest and most pertinent performance yet." The Bookman is having an extended Easter holiday in an exotic location and I have read The Fifith Witness over the past couple of days beside the pool and I would have to agree with this comment. I found it absolutely rivetting.
 It is set in post-recession Los Angeles as the foreclosure boom starts to hit, with Mickey not so much working to keep his clients out of jail, but working to keep a roof over their heads.  When a bank's CEO is found dead in the car park, Mickey Haller is called in to defend the accused - a single mother who is facing foreclosure and has a restraining order out against her to prevent her protesting outside the bank.
It is a complex, intriguing story that exposes the real life scandal of the Californian foreclosure business.
While all this is going on Haller is desperately trying to get back together with his former wife which provides an interesting sub-plot.
I greatly enjoyed this latest from a master crime writer who is visiting NZ in May.

Two Movies and a Book

Jules Older on True Grit in his occasional e-mail newsletter

Royal weddings aside, everybody’s talkin’ bout a pair of films: True Grit the Elder and True Grit the Usurper. Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout which one’s better.

Here's how the argument goes: The original’s clearly better; it starred The Duke in his only Academy Award-winning performance. Nah, the remake’s better — Duke-schmook, you can't beat the Coen brothers.

I've recently watched both, and I yam happy to provide you with what I know you've been seeking: the definitive answer. Which is…

There's no contest — True Grit II is the winner. The first did have John Wayne, and he turned in a fine performance. But Jeff Bridges is no slouch, either. Though I'd give him the nod, let’s call that part a tie.

But while the first movie starred Wayne, the second doesn’t star Bridges. The real star is a 13-year-old phenom named Hailee Steinfeld. She acts circles around the original’s Kim Darby, who, though no slouch herself, looked and sounded like who she was — a 20-year-old acting the part of a young teen.

As you'd expect from the Coens and a movie called True Grit, in their film, everybody looks like they haven't washed for a week, or in the case of Bridges, for 16 weeks. In the original, even if they'd been riding the dusty trail and sleeping rough, every actor’s hair was squeaky clean. Every male actor was freshly shaved. Even that drunken roughneck Rooster Cogburn appeared to have just stepped out of a Rodeo Drive spa.

What's more, the first Grit’s director, Henry Hathaway, shot for the scenery. Every outdoor image was framed or backdropped by a glorious mountain range or clear-flowing river or fertile valley — the score could have been God Bless America. (Actually, the score was soaring strings, the auditory equivalent of those scenic backdrops.) It was shot like a western musical, more Oklahoma! than Arkansas. By contrast, the Coens focus tight on Rooster, on Mattie, on the villains they're chasing. Given the story, that’s a much better choice.

So. The winner and champeen is True Grit 2010. I adored it. Liked the 1969 version — adored the remake.

But not quite as much as I adored the book they're both based on.
True Grit by Charles Portis came out in 1968. In the midst of a summer-long trip to Japan and jonesing for something American, I picked it up in a Tokyo bookstore. Fell in love with it that night. Re-read it last month and felt the love anew.

True Grit, the book, is an American classic, right up there with Tom Sawyer and Grapes of Wrath. It’s recently been re-issued in paperback by The Overlook Press. I so highly recommend it to you.

Will you love it, too? If you love the lede graf, the answer is yes.
Here's how Portis opens:
Pople do not give it credence that a 14-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just 14 years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.”

— jules

Shakespeare & Company’s Bookstore Cat Monty Has Died

Shakespeare & Company’s bookstore cat Monty has died (pictured, via). The New York City bookstore mourned the cat in a short post today.
Here’s more from the bookseller’s tribute: “Scourge of dogs, invader of laps, lover of whatever you’re trying to eat. His was the long, happy life of a badass bookstore cat.”
Two months ago, Monty starred in the debut post of the bookseller’s Tumblr. Patrons Safa Samiezade’-Yazd and Kara Zavada have already posted memories of Monty–did you ever meet this real life GalleyCat? (via Shelf Awareness)

R.L. Stine Named Thrillermaster

By Maryann Yin on Galley Cat April 28, 2011

International Thriller Writers named Goosebumps author R.L. Stine (pictured, via) Thrillermaster for the ThrillerFest VI. Stine recently launched the Hall of Horrors series with book one, Claws, in March.

In addition, Fall of Giants author Ken Follett will be teaching a novel writing class during the CraftFest portion of the annual conference. The conference will also feature AgentFest–a two-hour period where aspiring writers can pitch their proposals in three-minute sessions. Sixty agents have agreed to participate.

Other special guests who will be in attendance include authors Robert Crais, Diana Gabaldon, and John Lescroart. The event will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City from July 6th to July 9th.

South African author wins Arthur C Clarke award

Lauren Beukes honoured with top science fiction prize for her novel Zoo City, set in an alternate Johannesburg.

Alison Flood,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Faber signs Ken Livingstone memoir

The Bookseller- Charlotte Williams- 28 April 2011

Faber has signed up the memoirs of the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, for a rumoured £90,000, according to an article in the Evening Standard.

The newspaper reports that the autobiograpy is to be published in spring 2012, just as the next race for London mayor begins, in which Livingstone is running again for the post.
The article stated that the book was expected to include details about his childhood in Streatham, his first job as a technician in a medical laboratory, his entry into local politics and his time as Mayor from 2000 to 2008.
Faber confirmed the signing, but at the time of writing declined to release any further details. 

Argentina considers paying writers a pension

Authors who have published five books or invested 20 years in 'literary creation' would get £565 a month under the plan. 


Harper Lee Repudiates Journalist's Memoir About Her

Book2Book -Posted,Thursday 28 Apr 2011

Harper Lee, the tight-lipped author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," issued a short statement through her sister's law firm on Wednesday saying that she had nothing to do with a coming book written about her by a former Chicago Tribune reporter.

On Tuesday, Penguin Press announced that it had acquired "The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee," a memoir by the former reporter, Marja Mills, that was "written with direct access to Harper and Alice Lee and their friends and family."

NY Times

Survey Reveals 40% Of iPad Owners Don't Read Books On The Device

Thursday, 28 Apr 2011 - Book2Book

Results from a nationally-representative survey concluded that about 40% of iPad owners have not used the device to read a single e-book. According to media and publishing forecast firm Simba Information's "Trade E-Book Publishing 2011," the survey also revealed a shift in demographic makeup of the e-book buyer from men to women during 2010 — which brings the e-book format more in line with longtime trends in print books.

Market Wire (press release)

Fake Memoir With Bogus Shakespeare

‘TheTragedy of Arthur’

Arthur Phillips’s “Tragedy of Arthur,” about the discovery of what is reputed to be a lost Shakespeare play, turns the author into a central player in his own novel, a puzzle box that is as entertaining as it is brainy.

Author pic - Barbi Reed.

The 2011 BNZ Literary Awards

Check them out here and enter now.

Waterstone's: no deal this week, no year-end deadline

27 April, 2011 | By Tim Danaher, RetailWeek

Any deal to sell Waterstones to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut is unlikely this week, and could be several weeks off, according to sources familiar with the situation.Reports that a deadline of Saturday - HMV Group’s year end - had been set for Mamut to table an offer for the business are incorrect, and talks are ongoing.

HMV has confirmed that it has considered the option of a CVA as part of the process of renegotiating its banking covenants. However, it is understood it has only been looked at on a hypothetical basis and does not form part of the retailer’s current plans.
Trading has continued to be tough for HMV and the hot weather is not helping the beleaguered business. However, the six trial HMV stores, featuring a higher proportion of technological products, are understood to be performing well.
HMV will issue full-year results in June.

Buenos Aires: 2011 World Book Capital in More Ways Than One

Publishing Perpectives.

In Buenos Aires, there are books for sale on what seems to be every corner and may be more books per sale per capita than perhaps any other city in the world.

The story from Edward Nawotka

Neil Hyndman - Focussed publisher

Featured PANZ Member Neil Hyndman
From PANZ newsletter

How many New Zealand publishers you know can tell you their best-selling book has clocked up sales of 277,000 – and their second best seller is not far behind at 259,000 currently?

Neil Hyndman is one very focussed publisher and much of that focus comes from his 19 years as a bookseller. He is the third generation of Hyndman Booksellers, begun in Invercargill, shifted to Dunedin in 1906 and somewhat shockingly, sold by Neil when the business was 97 years old.
He had already dipped his toes successfully in local publishing, and that gave him the courage to move on and become a publisher. Read more

Veteran defends disputed story of Auschwitz heroics

 By Mike Collett-White

LONDON, April 26 | Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:01am EDT

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - A British World War Two veteran and his publisher have defended his account of smuggling himself into Auschwitz concentration camp to witness first hand the horrors of the Holocaust after doubts surfaced about the story.
Denis Avey, 92, wrote "The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz" about his time as a prisoner in a nearby labour camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The book, published by Hodder & Stoughton, generated significant media coverage, including by Reuters. But a subsequent investigation by the Daily Mail quoted historians, Jewish groups and former Auschwitz inmates who said they had serious misgivings about some of its content.

The main point of contention was Avey's account of how he twice swapped places with a Dutch Jew in order to smuggle himself into Auschwitz III camp following weeks of planning including bribes to a guard.

Piotr Setkiewicz, head of research at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum, told Reuters that while it was impossible to prove or disprove Avey's swap story due to the absence of survivors personally involved, it was a problematic account.

"Theoretically it is possible to do such a thing, but for practical reasons it would be extremely difficult," he said.
"It is a question of confirmation, and I can't see any way to confirm Mr. Avey's story. Nevertheless, privately, I don't think this (the swap) happened."
He said it was almost certain the swap would have been detected even if a guard was bought off and a handful of fellow prisoners kept informed.

Setkiewicz added that the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign under which Avey said he marched almost certainly did not exist at Auschwitz III, although he did not have conclusive proof.

Hodder & Stoughton issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the Daily Mail article by Guy Walters, while Avey and co-author Rob Broomby stood by their story.
"I am certainly not distancing myself from the book at all," said Broomby. "I stand by everything in the book."

Full story at Reuters.

Secrets of Online Sex

by Jessica Bennett , The Daily Beast
Using a trove of data from porn sites and erotic ads, a new book reveals some surprising facts about what turns us on—and what separates men and women’s desires.
Pilot study No. 1 took place in the summer of 2009, over a bowl of spaghetti. Ogi Ogas, a Boston Ph.D. student, had run into a neighbor couple in the lobby of his apartment complex. He didn't know them well, but figured it was worth a shot: Ogas asked if they might "help" with a study he was conducting—a massive survey about sex.
The couple laughed, nervously. But they were intrigued. Forty-eight hours later, the three men sat sandwiched on a red vinyl couch, sharing pasta, red wine, and a marathon session of gay porn. A giant silk-screen of Sophia Loren hung in the background; the couple's pug nuzzled at the trio's feet. They would remain in this position for five hours.
It wasn't an orgy, nor was it typical entertainment for Ogas, a 40-year-old computational neuroscientist (who has a girlfriend). But while Ogas's fellow doctoral students were busy writing intricate computer code, he and his buddy Sai Gaddam simply couldn't stop talking about sex. Specifically, how the brain decides what turns us on. "Nobody in our field had taken a shot at sexual desire—and most of our colleagues thought we were insane to do it," Ogas says. "But the same neural principles that apply to our higher cognitive functions apply to sexual behavior, too."
And so began the "world's largest experiment" in human sexuality, as the first-time authors call it in their new book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts.
Analyzing the results of a billion anonymous Web searches, a million websites, erotic videos, stories, personal ads, and digitized romance novels, Ogas and Gaddam claim to have determined the sexual behavior of more than 100 million people, invoking neuroscience to help explain what makes us desire (and surf for) the things we do. Their findings span kinks too risque to republish here (look up "formicophilia" if you must), as well as basic truths about the difference between male and female sexual psychology (men prefer images while women prefer words).Info


Agricultural Heritage, A History of the Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral Association, 1843-2010, by Hugh Stringleman.

Reviewed by Gordon McLauchlan.
The Auckland A & P Association, founded in 1843, is one of the oldest organisations of its type in the country, and for more than a century its Easter Show has been a central event on the city’s annual calendar.

Now that Auckland is so densely urban it is easy to forget its roots lie as deeply in the soil as any other part of New Zealand. Stringleman, who was helped in this commissioned project by the late Graeme Hunt, starts with stories of the horticultural activities of the Colonial Surgeon, Dr John Johnson, who was gardening in what is now the inner city within weeks of William Hobson’s decision on just where the new New Zealand capital would be situated.
The earliest settlers like Johnson and John Logan Campbell were excited to get two crops a year from the volcanic soil, helped as it was by the warm rain that fell pretty evenly through the seasons.

 The large numbers of British troops garrisoned here for thirty years from the 1840s were fed by farms in Newmarket, Epsom, Remuera and Ellerslie as well as by enthusiastic nearby Maori farmers.

It is a good story, well told by a veteran agricultural journalist who is shrewd and experienced enough to know that even in a formal commemorative books people rather than events make good reading.

Although Auckland was a bustling commercial centre from its earliest days and never as wholly devoted to agriculture in its colonial era as most other New Zealand centres, it was always fundamentally supported by farming. And when dairying became export-orientated the regional farmers soon exploited the fact that South Auckland, the Waikato and Bay of Plenty are among the best grass-growing places in the world. Thus, people central to farming in the region and in the country were also influential figures in the history of Auckland, amond them a long time Prime Minister William Massey.

Agricultural Heritage: Auckland Agricultural &Pastoral Association Inc, 1843–2010
Hugh Stringleman
Edited by Graeme Hunt
Published by Oratia Media for the Auckland Agricultural & Pastoral Association
ISBN: 978-1-877514-17-3
Specs: 260 x 210 mm portrait, jacketed hardback, 324 pp (includes 12 pp colour section)
RRP:  $60
Available from good bookstores
or through Publishers Distribution Limited, T: 09 828 2999  F: 09 828 2399 E:

Gordon McLauchlan is an Auckland-based writer & commentator, and an occasional reviewer on this blog.