Thursday, February 9, 2017

Islandia, a Forgotten Novel?

I was recently pointed to an interesting article (ignore the silly mistakes) by Charles Finch in the online version of The New Yorker.  Full title and link here:

"The Forgotten Novel that Inspired Homesickness for an Imaginary World" 

Despite some factual errors, it's mostly on target and it's good to see Islandia get some coverage, even if it is hardly a forgotten novel.

The Islandian map (which appears in the article) by Canadian geographer Ted Relph inspired me to look for more about Relph and Islandia, which led to Relph's own website and his essay (with an additional map) "Islandia and Love of Place" 

Both articles are recommended.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Writing for free?

I find it a bit ironic that this 792 word article by Thomas Vinciguerra about the need to be paid for one's writing should be online, for free, at the website of the Columbia Journalism Review

"The long-chronicled decline of print has gored many a writer and editor. It’s hardly a secret that magazines and newspapers are now leaning mercilessly on their dwindling staffs, unable to pay outsiders as much as they once did or take them on at all. . . . But there is something fundamentally obscene about expecting anyone to work gratis. And that applies even to us ink-stained wretches."

Read it all here:  Want me to write for free? I’ve got two one-syllable words for you.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

English Majors' Twilight

But for various details, I feel like I could have written this gloomy piece.  (No, even I have little enthusiasm for John Dryden.)  Recommended as food for thought. 

"English Majors’ Twilight: The reality and mythology of an English major"
By Stephen Akey


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stephen King joins hundreds of authors petitioning against Donald Trump

More than 450 writers, including Colm Tóibín, Geraldine Brooks and Lydia Davis express ‘unequivocal’ opposition to his presidential candidacy.

Full story here.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's time to stand up to greedy academic publishers

How should research travel from the notebooks, hard drives and laboratories of researchers to the desks of their peers? Who should get access? And who should pay?

Over the past few years, these deceptively simple questions have been beset with controversy. Librarians at some of the world’s wealthiest institutions have announced that they can no longer afford to purchase the materials their researchers need. Leading academics have organised boycotts, petitions and mass resignations to protest the combination of prohibitively high prices and profit margins that rival those of the big oil, pharmaceutical and technology firms. A recent paper found that just five multinational publishing conglomerates accounted for 50% of all papers published in 2013.

Full article at The Guardian here

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What Big Publishing Consolidation Means for Authors

An extract:

Within book publishing, consolidation means fewer decision-makers and fewer personalities. It means a mandate from the top to acquire only the most commercial works. Editors in New York are taught to look for a certain kind of book, and this leads to myopic thinking about what’s good, and even what’s publishable. Due to the desire for celebrity connections, big book publishing is also fueling a type of publishing that’s bottom-line driven, sacrificing the passion projects and special projects that editors used to be able to take risks on. Exclusively bottom-line driven publishing has created lowest common denominator publishing, where publishers are undervaluing (or just not seeing as viable) what’s quirky, unique, and fringe in favor of appealing to the masses. And I don’t think I need to go into a sidebar here about the general taste and sophistication level of the American masses.

If you are an aspiring author, every acquisition and merger of this type is another door being shut along your publishing journey. The barriers were already high, and with every consolidation, that barrier gets a little higher. Readers are impacted too, because we have more substanceless books than ever before, and more celebrity authors with ghostwriters telling us what to wear, how to throw a party, how to apply make-up, how to have good sex, what to eat, how to succeed. We collude, of course, because we buy into it. We are creating an upper echelon of authorship that’s based on brand and celebrity and packaging. And these choices reverberate across our media and our culture. The consolidation of big publishing is no different than mom-and-pop shops going out of business because they can’t compete with the Walmarts and the Targets of the world. So pay attention, because we’re bearing witness to the further dilution of a withering traditional landscape, the consequences of which are currently reshaping everything we think we know about book publishing (and by extension authorship and readership).
All true. Full article here