Friday, August 28, 2009

More ‘Unfortunate Events’ to Befall Readers

Lemony Snicket, the sinister pseudonym of Daniel Handler and the author of the bestselling “Series Of Unfortunate Events” sequence, will write a new four-book series, BBC News reported. The Gothic “Unfortunate Events” novels about the Baudelaire orphans, which started in 1999 with “A Bad Beginning” and ended in 2006 with “The End,” have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. The series’ British publisher, Egmont Press, said that it would begin releasing the new books, whose titles were not given, in 2012. Mr. Handler told the BBC: “I can neither confirm nor deny that I have begun research into a new case, and I can neither confirm nor deny that the results are as dreadful and unnerving as ‘A Series Of Unfortunate Events.’ However, I can confirm that Egmont will be publishing these findings.”

- Dave Itzkoff, NYT online

Read the rest of the post here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Down and out in Paris

For half a century, a crowded bookshop on the Left Bank has offered food and a bed to penniless authors - the only rule is that they read a book a day.

Way back, in 1913, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l'Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.

- Jeanette Winterson,

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Awesome Book

It's taking the world by storm.

Based on the simple concept of dreaming big, “An Awesome Book” is the inspiring debut work of Los Angeles writer/artist Dallas Clayton. Written in the vein of classic tales by Dr. Suess, Shel Silverstein, and Maurice Sendak it is a sure hit for all generations young and old.

Look inside here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

At this stage of his career, Thomas Pynchon resembles Stanley Kubrick more than he does any living novelist. Like Kubrick, Pynchon is a maverick visionary, a creator of iconic, sometimes inaccessible works of art; famously reclusive and yet the object of a cult-like following; and, like Kubrick, who experimented with various genres, Pynchon has in recent years developed a love of shape-shifting. His 1997 novel Mason & Dixon, set in revolutionary-era America, was written in a pastiche of 18th-century English; after a long silence came Against the Day, in 2006, widely regarded as his most confusing work (many reviewers had a tough time saying what this book was about - anarchists, possibly); and now, only three years later, he gives us, in what is either an act of perversity or a wholly logical development, his most reader-friendly book. A detective novel, no less.

- Aravind Adiga, Times Online

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Love Comes First

Erica Jong's first book of all-new poems in more than a decade.

Using brilliant imagery and intense metaphorical insights to capture love in all its facets - the height of elation, the depths of sorrow, and the longing of desire - Jong reveals the full spectrum of this deepest of human emotions.

It's the perfect gift for a lover.

"Fresh, surprising, funny, sexy. Jong's poetic voice is as enchanting as ever." - Ken Follett

Available from Pulp Books at R249.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Did I say that?

On early days at the Royal Court Theatre

It was like a bag of bitches in there. They were vicious (2000)

On "My Beautiful Launderette"

There were no other films like that around back then. Now all films are gay (2007)

On reading

I've never read a book beyond 100 pages (2008)

On religious certainty

We who are liberals whirl in a meaningless vertigo of doubt all the time, but if you're religious you know where you're going all the time. I'd love that (2007)

On losing his virginity at the same time his father was having a heart attack

I knew then that wherever I went and whatever I did, he was, like God, always watching and condemning (2004)

On his sons

They're mostly like Ali G - they do tough gangsta things, they've got hoods on. But no more middle-class boys could you imagine (2004)

On spotting a woman in his son's playground wearing a burqa

If I was a teacher I would say: "Take that off." Behind closed doors you can be a transvestite or wear a Nazi uniform. But you can't go into a school playground wearing a Nazi uniform (2009)

On women

I don't understand anything about women whatsoever (2003)

After a night in Hastings

If England didn't have London, it'd be a f***ing dump (2003)

On writing students

When you switch on the TV and a student has gone mad with a machine gun on a campus in America, it's always a writing student. Writing courses, particularly when they have the word "creative" in them, are the new mental hospitals (2008)

On having a CBE bestowed upon him

The best thing about it is on the medal it says: "For God And Empire". No better things in the world, as you can imagine (2008)

On "The Black Album" being called post-racial

A way of saying that there're not many Pakis in it (2009)

On his psychoanalysis

I woke up in the middle of the night in my hotel room on my knees crying, believing that I'd turned into a dolphin, and I had a very strong desire to ring my analyst and tell him this. So I can report to you that I'm moving ahead slowly (2008)

Compiled by John Hind

The Observer, Sunday 2 August 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

First look: Murderous 'Lovely Bones' is also 'optimistic'

For all the violence and grief of The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson believes the movie adaptation need not be a downer.

In fact, he says, the film version of Alice Sebold's best-selling novel about teenager Susie Salmon, who watches from heaven as her family collapses after her murder, is downright uplifting.

"I found the book to be curiously optimistic," Jackson says by e-mail from New Zealand, where he's finishing the film. "I felt inspired by Susie's struggle to come to terms with her own death. In the face of overwhelming grief, she finds hope.

"She holds on to love, and by doing so, she transcends the horror of her murder."

- Scott Bowles, USA Today

Read the rest of the article here.

Watch the trailer here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book fans develop a taste for library-themed ice-cream

Thousands sign Facebook petition asking Ben & Jerry's to produce flavours such as Li-berry pie and Sh-sh-sh-sherbet.

Ben & Jerry's is considering launching a library-themed ice-cream flavour, after a campaign by a New Jersey librarian gathered thousands of supporters.

Burlington county librarian Andy Woodworth already has more than 4,400 people signed up to a Facebook group supporting his plan, which he hopes will raise awareness of libraries "in the face of stagnant or slashed state, county, and municipal budgets".

Suggestions for flavours range from Gooey Decimal System to Sh-sh-sh-sherbet. Woodworth writes on Facebook that the logic behind the scheme is that "libraries are awesome, Ben & Jerry's ice-cream is tasty, therefore a library-themed Ben & Jerry's ice-cream would be tasty awesome".

- Alison Flood,

Read the rest of the article here.

Join the Facebook group.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Su Blackwell Destroys Books, Creates Wonders

These amazing sculptures are the work of British artist Su Blackwell, who carefully dismembers books in order to create a visual interpretation of their contents.

Blackwell's sculptures are composed entirely from a single book — that is, she only uses the pages in the book itself to create her three-dimensional marvels. Blackwell says she searches second hand bookshops for the perfect book, and although her studio is crowded with hundreds of books, only a few will make the final cut. "The book has to resonate with me somehow, either in an illustration, or in part of the story. I need that spark of inspiration," she said in an interview with the Telegraph.

Blackwell has another requirement for her art: that the story within somehow correspond to the sculpture that springs forth. In her artist's statement, Blackwell writes:

It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air.

In a sense, Blackwell's sculptures can be seen as an extension of the novel itself, an organic outpouring of the characters and scenes that have been "trapped" inside the pages. She admits to feeling slightly guilty about rendering the books unreadable, yet ultimately, the artistic gain outweighs what is lost:

"I began feeling guilty about cutting up the books but I had the integrity that I would create something magical from it. My reasoning is that half of the books have been sat on shelves for years anyway, or that they were about to be thrown away and destroyed forever."

- Intern Katy,

Su Blackwell [Official Site]