"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lola Granola

The x-treme spiritual seeker created by Berkeley Breathed, is hilarious (especially if you're acquainted with Woodstock). See the cartoon that the Washington Post would not run (except online). Hint: She renames herself "Fatima Struggle." Online at Salon.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fox in the Henhouse

Did Fox steal the idea for a new series from legendary New York writer Pete Hamill? Will Hamill sue? If he does, will he collect a cent? Will the series spur sales of his book, Forever? Is he related to Dorothy Hamill?

I know the answer to at least one of the above questions. I wish Mr. Hamill the best, whatever course he decides to pursue.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place...to Live

Japan counts over 5,000 "net cafe refugees" -- working poor people, mostly men, who live in the all-night cafes that offer meals, showers and clean underwear as well as web access.

Not exactly Hemingway, is it?

Read about Japan's Lost Generation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Road to the Tait Prize

I'm still not sure why The Road has won a Pulitzer, and now here it's won the James Tait prize as well. It's just that I like McCarthy's other books so much more. Well, The Road perhaps seems more timely, what with global warming threatening to incinerate us all.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"A Novel Should Extend Sympathy"

"Many writers are sad, bookish people who are comfortable writing." Joyce Carol Oates at The Independent.

Well, bookish naturally. I don't know too many writers who are particularly sad. About average in happiness, moody, cranky, angry, misanthropic, but sad? Doesn't come to mind right away, unless it's sad to be indoors at the computer on a lovely late summer evening. Anybody?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Paper Clip Guy is a Writer

No surprise there, as most writers, speaking for myself, will do anything rather than work, including attempting to trade a paper clip for a house in western Canada. Well, not like he intended for the house to be in western Canada, although he doesn't seem to mind. Or even thought there would be a house at all.

On the Road, the Covers

The various editions, in English, French, Italian, German, Dutch. I like the Italian cover which is a portrait. Jack cut quite la bella figura. I also like the fifties-ish cover of the young, presumably fast, woman with the come-hither look. As a cultural artifact. I have the 1993 Quality edition, good for readability and paper quality. Also it has The Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans as a bonus.

(Click here for The Dharma Bums, a local Woodstock band with some fine musicians, including my neighbor.)

Jack's own suggestion for the cover, at the NY Times.
And in his own words, some sound clips.
Thanks to Maud Newton.

William Gibson reads at Second Life

And, the reading is so packed, the author cannot get in. Eventually, there is an evacuation, so that the author may begin. At the Penguin blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What if Jane Austen Had Married?

Is the question asked by the movie, Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway as Jane. Moreover, what if she had married the wrong man? Or would literature have been any better served if she had married the right man? Maybe her highly regarded novels would have been influenced for the good? Maybe they would not have been written at all...this seems to be the conclusion by the end of the movie, as Jane chooses neither suitor, but decides to "live by her pen," and in the company of her sister, at the risk of digging her own potatoes, as her mother (Julie Walters) puts it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One in four read no books...

According to an AP poll. Article from Forbes.com.

And the rest didn't read that many, apparently:
The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year - half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.
Do they get extra credit if one of the books was Harry Potter VII?

This year, I decided to keep count of all the books I read (and movies seen, but that's another post). My total so far is 50, but keeping a list makes me competitive about it, makes me try to read as many as possible. Does it slow my writing down? Well, that's another possibility, but I'm sure I won't keep this pace up forever. Think of it as a reading vacation.

"If Moderation is a Fault, Indifference is a Felony"

Kerouac the romantic, at Alternet. He might have been too cool to care about what the establishment thought, but he wasn't too cool to care.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who Writes History?

According to this article, it's mostly the CIA, the Vatican and the British Labour party.

The world according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia is in a constant state of update, as tens of thousands of contributors work to ensure the site's content is correct.

But now an innovation on the site has confirmed a long-held suspicion: that Wikipedia is a prime target for spin-doctoring.

A new identification program on the site reveals that some of the most prolific contributors to Wikipedia are the CIA, the British Labour Party and the Vatican - and they are not just updating their own entries.

Profiling Americans? Stephen King

Busted in Australia for signing his books. The staff didn't recognize him -- luckily, there's an author photo on almost every book. At the BBC.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What Are the Lessons of On the Road?

The NY Times asks. I think it's amazing that so many people have been so influenced by Kerouac. I think his writing style is under-appreciated. I agree that Allen Ginsberg was the promotion engine that drove the Beat phenomenon. I think that Neal Cassady was over-rated. I think, well...read the comments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Dark and Stormy Summer

In 1816, the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia did away with summer, and caused crop failures and starvation for the following three years. Mary Shelley spent the summer at Lake Geneva, writing the book for which she would become famous: Frankenstein. Article at NPR.

What is the connection, do you think, with the many end-of-the-world books that have been written in the last several decades? A partial list follows:

On the Beach (Nevil Shute), Earth Abides (Stewart), Eternity Road (McDevitt), Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood); Fiskadoro (Denis Johnson); Galapagos (Vonnegut); Alas, Babylon (Pat Frank); Lucifer’s Hammer (Niven and Pournelle); Love in the Ruins (Walker Percy); The Road (Cormac McCarthy); Cell (Stephen King); Year Zero (Long); Toward the End of Time (Updike) -- and of course Wyndham's fabulous Day of the Triffids, which had many of the elements of the genre in one place: Nature gone amok after misguided scientific experiments, possible weird kinds of warfare, social breakdown, reactions from the militaristic, to the nihilistic to the back-to-nature. The book, of course.

Send in your favorite end-of-the-world or -civilization titles.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kerouac's Original Scroll-Draft of On the Road

Will be published by Viking, pub. date August 16. Apparently, it's a lot racier than the final version first published 50 years ago, and less polished but with more raw energy. Seems there's no end to material from the King of the Beats. What took them so long?

A Literary Darwin Award?

Is he a murderer who wrote a crime book, or a writer who described the perfect murder? It sounds like a plot from the Queen of Crime, but it's a real court case. My vote is...he did it. Read the article.

Alien Without Aliens

"The book is what happens when your fingers are hitting the keyboard." William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, Pattern Recognition, and the newly released Spook Country, at the Guardian.

And here is another review, from the London Times.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Good News/Bad News/Good News

Coffee prevents colon cancer. Other articles have suggested coffee helps prevent diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other maladies.

One joint=5 cigarettes Other recent news items suggest pot smoking is related to mental illness.

Writers are traditionally associated with drinking -- both alcohol and coffee, not smoking pot (what pot smoker would bother to write a novel?), so the post ends with good news: Red wine is still good for you.

Coffee is still my substance of choice.