"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

Friday, September 28, 2007

Brain-Eating Amoebas

And, it's not even the plot of a new sci fi movie. Something else to worry about with global warming. AP article at Yahoo.
"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said [Michael Beach, a specialist at the CDC]. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."
Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," he said.

Banned Books Week

The ten most challenged books, from the Powell's blog. Read one in celebration of Banned Books Week.

1. And Tango Makes Three
2. Cecily Von Ziegesar's Gossip Girls series
3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
4. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
6. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
7. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9. Beloved by Toni Morrison
10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Or, you could read Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Wonder Bread, Not Just For Lunch

I came across this meanspirited article condemning works the author deems "kitschy" -- Dave Eggers, Nicole Krauss, et al. Seems they are not cool enough, i.e., they like feel-good emotions and stories with happy endings. It eventually amounts to a diatribe against popular culture, as we knew it would. I wish the author had condemned the mindlessly negative, pessimistic works that get published and lauded as high art. It appears his disdain is reserved for those that sell well. Some of which are kitschy, sure, but a happy ending is no guarantee of lower quality, just as an unhappy one is no guarantee of art.

And is trauma really never overcome? That's what literature is part of, dealing with it on a social and/or personal scale.

I guess it's just not cool to have hope any more.

Monday, September 17, 2007

OJ In Jail For Armed Robbery

Is he planning the sequel to If I Did It? Will it be a trilogy? Good article at New York Magazine about Judith Regan, his editor at HarperCollins. She was really only trying to get him to confess on tape.

Read A Book Without Opening It

Historic parchment manuscripts that are too fragile to be unfolded, such as parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, could soon be read without being opened using a scanning technique that relies on the world’s brightest light.

British scientists have already used the Diamond Light Source, a £370 million facility near Didcot in Oxfordshire that shines 10 billion times more brilliantly than the Sun, to decipher the contents of several parchment documents without unfolding them.
Go to article.

When I was a kid, I used to put a book under my pillow at night, in the hope of absorbing the information inside, without having to read it. It wasn't that I disliked reading, but that I already felt there were so many books I wanted to read, and so little time to read them.

One of my favorite kid books was The Velveteen Rabbit. When I was a little older, it was The Velvet Room.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why They Did It

To punish OJ, the Goldman family says on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah says she won't buy or read the book, but now that the proceeds are going to the Goldman family instead of the author, readers can have a guilty read guilt-free.

Women Woke Up

The judge of a national [UK] writing prize has ordered men to "wake up" after all of the £3,000 awards went this year to women. With eight of the nine contenders on the New Writing Ventures awards for emerging literary talent being women, the outcome was always unlikely to be otherwise.

"I've never believed in a difference of the sexes when it comes to literary talent, but there does seem to be a broader appeal in what women are writing than men."

I wonder if this is in any way related to Wednesday's post: "When Women Stop Reading the Novel Will Be Dead"? It would make sense for women to prefer books by women, and that a dearth of male readers would make male writers less likely to succeed. That's not exactly what happened in this contest, and it hasn't happened yet in publishing (as far as I've heard). Just something to think about. At the Guardian.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Viggo and Cormac

Actor Viggo Mortensen is close to signing on for the big screen adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Road, MTV.com reports.

I'd rather see Viggo Mortensen in the movie version of On the Road, but that's just me. Mortensen's Eastern Promises will be released this month.

You will recall that Tommy Lee Jones is in No Country For Old Men, which also stars Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson. That release date is coming up, this November.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Easy Way to Slow Global Warming...

...is to eat less meat, according to a study cited by the Associated Press.

Eating less meat could help slow global warming by reducing the number of livestock and thereby decreasing the amount of methane flatulence from the animals, scientists said on Thursday.

Disturbing, isn't it, that we warehouse so many animals in feedlots that their flatulence, their farting, has an effect on our climate. And there really is no need to eat as much meat as most of us do, we're just responding to an age-old craving for protein from the days when we were protein-starved. Now, overeating is the problem.

Powles and his co-authors estimate that reducing meat consumption would reduce the numbers of people with heart disease and cancer. One study has estimated that the risk of colorectal cancer drops by about a third for every 100 grams of red meat that is cut out of your diet.

"As a society, we are overconsuming protein," Brewster said. "If we ate less red meat, it would also help stop the obesity epidemic."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"When Women Stop Reading, The Novel Will Be Dead"

A couple of years ago, British author Ian McEwan conducted an admittedly unscientific experiment. He and his son waded into the lunch-time crowds at a London park and began handing out free books. Within a few minutes, they had given away 30 novels.

Nearly all of the takers were women, who were "eager and grateful" for the freebies while the men "frowned in suspicion, or distaste." The inevitable conclusion, wrote McEwan in The Guardian newspaper: "When women stop reading, the novel will be dead."


And from NPR's Maureen Corrigan, "...there always comes a moment when I'm in the company of others -- even my nearest and dearest -- when I'd rather be reading a book." From Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading.

I suppose that could get to be a problem if it happens before you're ever in anyone's company. It does happen to me, but not as frequently as it might. Example: Do I want to go to the library and vote on the proposed expansion, meanwhile meeting half the people I know in town, hearing their side of it and killing a couple of hours, or, do I just stay home and read? The expansion was voted down by a huge majority. Anyway, I like our library the way it is.

Monday, September 10, 2007

On a More Encouraging Note

Thank you to agent Noah Lukeman, who offers a free book download, How to Write a Great Query.

You will need Adobe reader, but you can also download that free online. His other books are available at Amazon.com. I read The First Five Pages a couple of years ago. He says that in order to stay out of the rejection pile, you have five pages to wow 'em. I find it a little depressing to think that it's only five pages -- I mean, I can understand if those first five are really bad, straight to the circular file, but if they're well-written, literate, but just not full of action yet? Let's hope he exaggerates.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Your Manuscript is Hopeless

And other charming rejections from Knopf. At the NY Times.
...a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.
"get rid of all that Indian stuff.”

All of which goes to show us writers that we have to stand by our guns. Or is that too western-sounding?

Robber Hits Karate School

Police rescue him and take him to the hospital.

Friday, September 7, 2007

R.I.P. Luciano Pavarotti

I think this clip of Nessun Dorma is the most moving of the videos of him. His expression at the end especially.

You can also see him with James Brown:

And, with Meat Loaf:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

On the Road: 50th Anniversary Links, cont'd

Slate's Memories of Beat acquaintances, friends, lovers.

Read the original New York Times review that got Millstein fired, and "made" Kerouac, in his own words.

More from the New York Times, after changing their tune.

Books from exes: Joyce Johnson’s Minor Characters
Edie Kerouac Parker's You'll Be Okay
Carolyn Cassady's Off the Road

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kerouac's Heir?

Denis Johnson, I mean. He reads from his new novel, Tree of Smoke at Front Porch Journal. Includes a link to more audio by Denis Johnson. His work is also outsider-centered (like that image?). Tree of Smoke is on my to-read list.

Did he really kill the Sixties?

The Boston Globe review has much more confidence in the author.

Perfect Crime Writer Gets 25 Years

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish crime writer has been jailed for 25 years after authorities found he had committed a murder that had been described in one of his thrillers, officials said Wednesday.

We knew it.

More Kerouac links...and, he did wear khakis

Kerouac links at NPR. Hear him read from On the Road, Dr. Sax and Visions of Cody. Hear him discuss William Burroughs with Neal Cassady. Video as well. This page is a great source for links. Also Carolyn Cassady on Allen and Neal.. (Note that this link on NPR site is broken.)

Jack on writing:

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

And his Essentials of Spontaneous Prose.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Kerouac's Agent and Jimmy Breslin

At Publisher's Weekly.
Our response to Kerouac’s work was singular almost to a man, in that there was genuine admiration for his vigorous prose, his capacity to create a living sense of America, of life in this country, and the force and originality of his conception. But there were serious objections to the people and situations he writes about, whether they would be of compelling interest to many readers....

Thanks to Nathan Bransford for that link.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Books that Should Not Be Forgotten: The Charterhouse of Parma

Signorina Clelia...while on the verge of marrying the Marchese Crescenzi, the richest man in the State of Parma, was nonetheless making love, insofar as prison walls permitted it, with the generous Monsignore del Dongo.

A funny and astute book of Parmesan goings-on.

Click here for the Observer's list of the not-to-be-forgotten.

Read this Article

And never feed your pet commercial pet food again. In the NY Times.

these diets commonly consist of byproducts cooked into sterile and viscous masses, sheared into the simulacrum of a bone or a patty, and then, according to a report by the National Research Council in Washington, spray-dried with minuscule beadlets of fat, protein and calibrated savor.

I'm relieved there isn't a photo of the six female hound dogs with permanent tubing coming out of their sides, who are only permitted outside twice a week. It might be prudent to ask ourselves what kind of people could work with animals in these conditions, and to what remote and inhospitable emotional lepers' colony we should banish them.