“The creative process is imagination, memories, nightmares, and dismantling certain aspects of this world and putting them back together in the dark. Songs aren’t necessarily verbatim chronicles or necessarily journal entries, they’re like smoke, it’s like it’s made out of smoke.”—
“As a culture, it was, and sometimes still is, far from perfect: enclosed and given over to a romantic and too important view of itself, which the net has punctured. But at their best, newspapers became wonderful and even beautiful objects (the Guardian, for example) in their alliance of engaging journalism and handsome design. None of these qualities need disappear online, but they will be an image on screen and not a presence in the hand. That touch means something; you turn a page and find yourself reading about a subject you didn’t set out to discover – just like Lord Reith’s BBC wanted you to. This week our teenage son said from behind the paper that he wondered why Colombia hadn’t recognised Palestine. It was on a map showing which countries did and didn’t and most of South America did. We had a conversation: nothing, really, and of course he could have found it online and tweeted me (if we were on Twitter). But that would have been a different, more formal kind of social transaction. Newspapers, like coal fires, can be the centrepiece of casual domesticity. Their meekness, as they lay silent on the sofa, gives a frequently misleading sense that there is order in the world.”—At their best, newspapers became beautiful objects - Ian Jack, Comment is free | The Guardian
“His style was later said to have been influenced by Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, journalism, and the forced economy of transatlantic cables, but he had his own poetic gift and also the intense desire to give to the reader the full and true feeling of what happened, to make the reader feel it had happened to him. He pared things down. He left out all that could be readily understood or taken for granted and the rest he delivered with savage exactness. There is a nervy tension in his writing. The words seem to stand almost in defiance of one another. The powerful early stories that were made of simple declaratives seemed somehow to break through into a new language, a genuine American language that had so far been undiscovered, and with it was a distinct view of the world.”—James Salter reviews a new bio of Hemingway in the NYRB. Link via Maud Newton, but on Twitter (@maudnewton).
giramondo publishing: news, books, offers, eat their shorts
Giramondo is celebrating the release of three fine new collections of poetry by John Mateer, Joanne Burns and Fiona Wright with a special book deal. Order all three books for $50- at a saving of 30%. Postage is included free.
and there’s more…
Giramondo has inaugurated two new series of books - New and Selected collections by distinguished Australian poets; and Giramondo Shorts, a special series of short form, short print run books, designed to take account of the new technologies of digital printing, and to appeal to a community of literary readers. The series carries a quote from Les Murray’s poem ‘The Dream of Wearing Shorts Forever’: ‘it is time perhaps to cherish the culture of shorts.’
The first title is Michael Wilding’s offbeat account of his publishing days, Wild & Woolley: A Memoir.
Gig Ryan’s New and Selected and Michael Wilding’s Wild & Woolley can also be bought together in a special offer from our website.
“I was more concerned with committing on paper a variety of abuses, such as overwriting. I will spare everybody a detailed discussion of all the overwriting that occurs in these stories, except to mention how distressed I am at the number of tendrils that keep showing up. I still don’t even know for sure what a tendril is. I think I took the word from T.S. Eliot. I have nothing against tendrils personally, but my overuse of the word is a good example of what can happen when you spend too much time and energy on words alone. This advice has been given often and more compellingly elsewhere, but my specific piece of wrong procedure back then was, incredibly, to browse through the thesaurus and note words that sounded cool, hip, or likely to produce an effect, usually that of making me look good, without then taking the trouble to go and find out in the dictionary what they meant. If this sounds stupid, it is. I mention it only on the chance that others may be doing it even as we speak, and be able to profit from my error.”—
“Before coming to the West Bank, Nathan worked for years as piano tuner, which left him with a nervous tic: one more slight turn of the crank, one more gentle pull, and the pitch will be perfect. He has begun to see the world as an instrument of dense hardwood and heavy alloy, pulled into a state of constant tension, to see himself as the only person capable of getting the damn thing into equal temperament. But no matter how he coaxes the pin, the strings will never quite render. A waver remains in that octave, a twang in that unison. So he has taken to a constant puttering, an endless low-grade effort to fix everybody else’s problems. He might let his own bills pile up unopened on his desk, but he keeps busy repairing the lives around him, like so many busted D-strings.”—
I think I fibbed when I said I was having a break, a few posts ago…have done some of the many small things that needed doing, however. And Stephany posts amazing things on Pinterest, which I love looking at too.
Storied News Limited literary insert The Australian Literary Review will publish its last edition next month, Crikey can reveal. ALR editor Luke Slattery confirmed this morning that the monthly supplement, published as part of The Australian, will close its doors in October following a July decision by the Group of Eight universities to withdraw $350,000 in annual support — the vast majority of the ALR’s funding.
Crikey understands an ad-hoc rescue deal with several sandstone institutions was pursued to bridge the gap, but was ultimately unworkable. And News Limited, said to have contributed an additional $350,000 in costs off its own bat, was unwilling to bridge the gap given the dire advertising climate. Senior Australian editorial staff then made the ultimate call to end production.
Yep, I’m horribly behind with many small things. They all take time to do, so that means less time online, guys.
I will be lurking for a break here and there, but don’t expect more than the occasional link or two…including one to my review of Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears, which is one of the larger things I’m doing.
Barring that, if I don’t see you, have a great Christmas and New Year. I do expect to be back over January, when things are more relaxed.
This polyphonic book has different voices for the stages of Byatt’s life and the phases of the world’s history. Childhood is recreated in a tone of naive wonder: a “glossy parliament” of rooks in the treetops, the bud of a poppy with its “secret, scarlet, creased and frilly flower-flesh”. When the myth takes over, Byatt adopts a voice that is entranced and oracular, like a witch reciting spells or one of the Norns who recall the beginning and foresee the end in Götterdämmerung. The epilogue, consulting scientists to establish the contemporary relevance of Ragnarok, settles down into a cooler, wintrier, more academic manner, as if she had both used up her reserves of infantile delight and retired from her commanding role as a fabulist.
The three voices match Byatt’s belief that writing a book is a three-dimensional activity, an exercise, as she once said, in “making a thing”. What she has made in this case – thanks to a rare fusion of imagination and intellect, sensual poetry and cerebral prose, youthful joy and elderly wisdom – is an entire world, compressed but energetically alive in all its details. When we have artists like this, who needs gods?