Wylie, often described as “the most feared and most influential authors’ representatives in the world of Anglo-American publishing”, does not much like the deals publishers are making on behalf of authors with “machine”-makers such as Apple, and is “dissatisfied” with the terms publishers have been offering for e-book rights.
He is now threatening to go it alone: “We will take our 700 clients, see what rights are not allocated to publishers, and establish a company on their behalf to license those e-book rights directly to someone like Google, Amazon.com or Apple. It would be another business, set up on parallel tracks to the frontlist book business.”
This is really lovely, and reminds me of something I read about at uni about a study done with doctors in the Mayo clinic, regarding how they would best use a computerised document management system. The researchers decided a glass tabletop covered with documents best met these users’ needs. Going to look for the reference, I hope it’s online!
Katie Waldegrave and I set up the charity, First Story, in 2007 to arrange and pay for other writers to work as writers-in-residence in state schools across the country. We decided to focus on schools where at least 30% of pupils were eligible for free school meals. We saw First Story as a way of celebrating and fostering creativity, literacy and talent in young people. We’d both been excited about 826National, the project established in America by the writer Dave Eggers and others to empower children in disadvantaged areas through writing. We shared Philip Pullman’s belief that ‘writing – real writing, not the artificial exercises produced for tests and examinations – can liberate and strengthen young people’s sense of themselves as almost nothing else can.’
Ironically the innovations in technology are now hinting at counter-currents to the frenzy for rapid motion and quick consumption, and are suggesting another possibility is opening up. The advent of the Kindle, the Nook and now the i-Pad are yet to be fully digested, but they point to scope for a more user-friendly, extended reading experience in the so-called Information Age. One that actually favours the short story, the essay, the novella, poetry and what I sense will be online magazine structures and stylishly presented reading experiences that recognize people may not be up for the Tolstoyean 800-page trip, but they do want something more than a celebrity chef cooking tip and a gossip orgasm on the commuter trip from the Blue Mountains to Sydney. In the meanwhile news organizations seeking to survive the digital revolution are beginning to consider possibilities like charging for their ‘libraries’. Day to day, second to second, they will need instantaneous news to sustain their users. But the notion of a library where people visit and pay goes to another level of information, to deep reportage, essays, in-depth interviews, and yes, well written reviews of durable value. The outer skin of things, the surface, well I can get that anywhere. It’s the other stuff I might go back and ‘pay’ for.
There is some sound analysis of the current state of play with digital publishing of longform writing here.
This is interesting in the light of conversations I’ve had on Twitter recently with a critic, regarding an article in our weekend review about online criticism.
Alison remarked that there seemed to be a greater confluence between word of mouth and criticism online, as Rosemary Neill also noted in her article. The writer of this piece would have more to tell them about this, I am sure.
Certainly the relationship between readers and publications on Twitter deserves closer examination, as Paul Bradshaw notes:
The platform is notoriously difficult to use as ‘an institution’. Who is @moremagazine? Is it ‘the brand’ speaking? The editor? A journalist? The publisher? Or someone on work experience? Is it the reader community?
Depending on your answer to the above, the tweets and retweets relating to Blair’s criticism can be anything ranging from a stain on the brand to a platform for readers’ opinions.
The question in my mind is, how desperate does a publication have to be to encourage this kind of conversation?
I feel more positive even as the house of the modern mind appears to be atomizing around me.
More from Mark Mordue, Australia’s current recipient of the Pascall Prize for criticism, on the state of same at that link.
There is also a very cool post by Gideon Haigh at Killings, the blog of Oz journal Kill Your Darlings, about Rosemary Neill’s article on online criticism in the Australian weekend review last week. More on that anon. Gideon’s post rocks mainly because he was (until I killed that darling) following my old blog! Oh My Goodness.
Here’s Lauren’s unexpurgated version (click on the title for the link.)
…like any good soccer match, the spectators did get rowdy.
Getting together this many fabulous writers together under sort of a small tent and making the whole thing free means there were a lot of people fighting over seats. As far as I know no blood was shed, but I did see one woman try to sit on another. On Sunday I meet up with Sharmeine Reid, the London-born owner of an English language bookshop in Berlin called Dialogue, to see Mathias Enard and Raja Shehadeh talk about violence and writing. It is the only panel featuring a French author, and while there are a lot of people there, the seats in front of us remain empty. In between Enard/Shehadeh and the next panel, with Hanif Kureishi, two of our friends join us. One of the empty seats has a knapsack on it, but it does not belong to the man sitting beside it. Had its owner had tried to reserve his or her seat while he or she skipped a session? In any case, they haven’t been there for over an hour, and we elect to put the bag on the floor and reclaim the seat. Shortly before Kureishi began, the knapsack’s owner returns, and, irate, demands we yield up the seat. “It’s first-come first-served,” we explain. “Sorry.” “But I’ve been sitting there for three days!” she says…
Someone send Lee Siegel a copy of The Slap, please!!! (click on the link above for the full article).
…in those postwar decades, there was another sign of how central fiction was to people’s lives. So-called commercial fiction was just as relevant to people’s lives as so-called literary fiction. Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, James Jones’ From Here to Eternity, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Marjorie Kellogg’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon-these novels were all what was called commercial fiction as opposed to literary fiction, but they mattered to people. They illumined the ordinary events of ordinary lives (I can hear James Wood retching), and they were as primal as the bard singing around the pre-Homeric fire. Now everything literary is also furtively commercial, but nothing is popular, except for the explicitly commercial fiction that the literary crowd refuses (or is unable) to write.
“(shopping made easy??)
Bob addresses a service that provides social recommendations, which is based on the webs. He queries “recommend books about Berlin for my mother for Christmas”. The service analyzes his query and splits it to a chain of subtasks, which it starts to process.”—
“Whenever I google print-on-demand the first couple of pages of results make me despondent. They conjure up a steampunk vision of a dying industrial city ringed by nineteenth century factories filled with hulking machines. Smoke will be belching into the air from these factories and they’ll be cycling water into and out of a stagnant river with dead fish laying on its surface.”—
are academic essays the only textual form appropriate for archival exploration, or does the relatively ad hoc, point-and-shoot blog post, motivated less by scholarly expertise than by curiosity and personal enthusiasm, also have something valuable to offer? Somewhere between front-line archival reportage, historical research, and what we might call popular outreach.
Anonyme également, le quatrième cliché - paru dans le magazine professionnel Icare dans les années 1990 mais passé inaperçu pour le grand public - montre Saint-Exupéry en tenue de vol, lunettes de soleil sur le nez, assis dans le cockpit de son P-38 Lightning…
Equally anonymous, the fourth negative - which appeared in the magazine Icare in the nineties but was unnoticed by the general public - shows Saint-Exupéry preparing for takeoff, sunglasses on his nose, sitting in the cockpit of his P-38 Lightning….
Would you just look at all those ‘M’s? I guess I will have to refrain from reading any more books by M authors till 2011 now. I have Faulkner to reread, Rodney Hall, and David Foster to be getting on with. So the rest of June and some of July is safe anyway.
"In this poor body, composed of one hundred bones and nine openings, is something called spirit, a flimsy curtain swept this way and that by the slightest breeze. It is spirit, such as it is, which led me to poetry, at first little more than a pastime, then the full business of my life. There have been times when my spirit, so dejected, almost gave up the quest, other times when it was proud, triumphant. So it has been from the very start, never finding peace with itself, always doubting the worth of what it makes."
“She won a scholarship to study classical piano at DePauw University in Indiana, but gave up music for a biology degree. She still loves the piano. “It’s the only time when the words in my brain stop. Music gives me relief from the flood of words that wakes me up in the morning. It’s like a gushing faucet, but it stops when I’m concentrating on playing.”—A life in writing: Barbara Kingsolver | Books | The Guardian
If the bull’s-eye grotesqueness of this high-end vocab shtick is reminiscent of anything, it’s Martin Amis at his 1980s apogee. There’s a feeling in The Ask, as there was in Money, that not just the sentences but also the sentiments could go in any direction. Follow this aside, through its beautiful double back and sublime denouement: “Some argued that the creation of artificial intelligence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Consciousness was suffering. Why inflict it on a poor machine? I wasn’t one of those people, but only because I believed that AI would someday make good on its promise of astonishing robot sex, if not for us, then for our children.”
In the end, it’s unsurprising that these were the shows to provoke the emergence of serious television criticism: a critic’s job is literally to transform everyone else’s leisure activities into interpretive work. “It’s worth the effort,” one reviewer wrote of The Wire, adding, with a hint of panic in his voice, “not because it is good for you but because it is fantastic entertainment.”
“The pacing of the novel is masterly; its rhythms are filled with hidden emotion. The writing is plain, un-showy, the pauses like pauses in a prayer or a ballad. It became, on publication in 1990, the novel by which Irish people measured their world, and then it became famous in England and in France for its beauty, wisdom and calm perfection. It is the sort of book which you can give anyone of any age and know that they will be changed by it. It took 10 years to write; its power will last for many centuries.”—
“I don’t ask writers about their work habits. I really don’t care. Joyce Carol Oates says somewhere that when writers ask each other what time they start working and when they finish and how much time they take for lunch, they’re actually trying to find out Is he as crazy as I am? I don’t need that question answered."
-Philip Roth.”—'Paris Review' Author Interviews: from Rushdie's intro, NPR
“As a writer, you do build on your experience, but you also create another life for yourself. I think it’s a mistake to think that everyone’s just writing their own experiences. Literary critics want to think that that’s what’s happening all the time, but I’ve enjoyed so much creating other lives for—what should I say—my passengers. My characters.”—Shirley Hazzard on Travel and Transit :The Book Club: The New Yorker
TED STRIPHAS is a more subtle analyst of print media’s present and future. He’s neither as gloomy as the readers and writers that John Updike has called “holdouts, surly hermits refusing to come out and play in the electronic sunshine of the post-Gutenberg village,” nor as warm in that sunshine as Gomez. This chapter in book history, Striphas thinks, is one “in which books remain a vital if slippery and perhaps not quite as central a force in the shaping of dominant and emergent ways of life.” Borrowing Jay David Bolter’s term, he calls it “The Late Age of Print.” Books, says Striphas, “were integral to the making of a modern, connected consumer culture in the twentieth century.” Today, they are part of consumer capitalism’s slide into what Henri Lefebvre called a “society of controlled consumption.” He is not interested in making a fetish of books, but in “the prevalent and pedestrian character of books today.” This takes him to intriguing places – bookshelves, ISBN numbers, Barnes and Noble, Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club and Harry Potter.