"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, June 20, 2008

Hater of Used Books

I am an aficionado of used books, but I have had to close library books for stains and, yes, boogers. Do I still borrow and read them? Yes, but not the more popular titles if I can help it. There is even a new-books bookstore around here -- which is to remain unnamed -- where the staff reads the new hardcovers and replaces them on the shelf, so that I have bought hardcovers and found crumbs inside. Which is especially a bitch if you're buying as a gift, and the recipient asks, How was it? in an arch tone.

My opinion of the Underworld chapter-missing fiasco is that the previous owner was probably trying to save his or her shoulders or elbows from nerve damage, lugging that tome in a bag of some kind. Maybe books of that length should be sold in commuter packages, bindings that come apart chapter by chapter, but can be re-inserted.

From the Guardian blogs:

Second-hand books threaten even worse perils than stains and creases, though. Before I finally vowed to never buy second-hand again, I purchased a copy of Don Dellilo's Underworld from a charity shop. Only after reading hundreds of pages did I discover that the former owner had kindly torn out the final chapter. Worse still, I've lost count of the amount of times that I've been confronted by the dried-up bogey of the previous owner, smeared across one of the pages. Nice.

The comments are especially funny -- "libraries as shelters for victims of the knowledge economy," and, "s'not funny," e.g.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good News of the Day

Coffee won't kill you. This is good news for writers, and coffee fiends, but I hope the news gets better, than just "won't kill you."

Well, the hole in the ozone is smaller.

ADHD could be an eye problem that affects reading.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You're Always in the Damned Woods

Poetic justice for beer party vandals at Robert Frost's house.

What is as flat as a book?

How about book sales? I guess this isn't really news any more, since it's been the same old news for quite awhile. But here is the "news" from BookExpo America:

The Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit organization supported by the publishing industry, projects a 3 percent to 4 percent growth through 2011, when revenues should top $43 billion. The BISG expects little change in the actual number of books sold and sees a drop in the general trade market by more than 60 million, from 2.282 billion copies in 2007 to 2.220 billion in 2011.

The biggest losers likely will be mass market paperbacks, which continue to plunge as baby boomers seek formats with larger print,


Monday, June 2, 2008

How To Do Everything Wrong and Still Get Published

NY Times columnist Jonathan Miles has written an actionless book about waiting in the airport. I mean, imagine what your English prof/agent/creative writing classmates would say. Obviously goes to show it doesn't matter what they'd say. Excerpt at USA Today.

From Sexual Inadequacy to Climate Change

Which must surely be related, no? Ian McEwan on eminent scientists and stolen footwear. I know there are some dedicated folks trying to save the planet, but if they can't help but steal each other's boots, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence...

Why am I doing this? Shall I commit suicide?

"One of the things you notice is that when you switch on the television and a student has gone mad with a machine gun on a campus in America, it's always a writing student. The writing courses, particularly when they have the word 'creative' in them, are the new mental hospitals. But the people are very nice."

Hanif Kureishi at the Guardian. It's a fun way to get attention, but I think his criticism of creative writing courses is valid -- that they give the false impression of a literary career to follow. I couldn't get through the one book of his I tried, The Buddha of Suburbia.

Also, I think it's sometimes math students.