Friday, December 10, 2010

Win some pretty stuff!

Angie from Lucky Pony is giving away some need-to-have-now trinkets for Christmas, one of which Pulp Books has sponsored.

Go visit! Maybe you'll win and make us proud.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Notable Crime Books of 2010

Choosing books for picky friends can be humbling. There’s always one smarty-pants who has read not only the gift book but everything else in the author’s oeuvre. Another recipient refuses to consider any story about “some stupid girl.” And how about that ingrate who scorns the genre altogether, claiming to have developed more mature tastes? I’m speaking, of course, about buying books for children. Picking crime novels for grown-ups is a breeze. 

- Marilyn Stasio, New York Times. Illustration by Christoph Niewmann.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vote for Paige Nick's charity blogging and the Bookery could win R20K.

Don't think, just do it!

Vote here.

The Bookery strive to help children get books.

“We want stocked, serviced libraries in every single school in South Africa.” These are the words of Richard Conyngham, the co-ordinator of The Bookery.
Interviewed on the premises of The Bookery, Conyngham, a former UCT student who has also completed an MA at Cambridge, stresses what he means by stocked and serviced libraries.

“We mean that libraries should be stocked with a minimum of three books per learner per school. By serviced we mean that the libraries must be co-ordinated by a trained librarian.”
The Bookery is one branch of Equal Education’s campaign for school libraries. Equal Education (EE), which was founded in 2008, is an organization which strives for quality and equilay in the South African education system.

- Creative Cape Town

Read more about the Bookery here.

Books of the year

Jonathan Franzen's family epic, a new collection from Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin's love letters, a memoir centred on tiny Japanese sculptures ... which books most excited our writers this year?

Julian Barnes
Unfit for life, unsure of love, unschooled in sex, but good at washing up: Philip Larkin, in Letters to Monica (Faber), lays out his all-too-self-aware catalogue of reasons for being uncheerful. The reader is made slightly cheerful by the thought of not having had Larkin's life, but very cheerful that poems of such truth, wit and beauty emerged from it.
If Larkin represents native genius in its costive English form, Stephen Sondheim represents the fecund American version: Finishing the Hat (Virgin Books) is not just a book of lyrics (with cut and variant versions) but an exuberance of memories, principles, anecdotes, criticism and self-criticism.
Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes (Chatto & Windus) unexpectedly combines a micro craft-form with macro history to great effect.

William Boyd
Stephen Sondheim, who has just turned 80, is the unrivalled genius in the world of musical theatre with five or six masterworks that have redefined the form. A superb, generous melodist and a lyricist up there with Cole Porter and Noël Coward, Sondheim has now given us Finishing the Hat. His detailed commentary on his wonderful songs is honest, shrewd and fascinating. The ideal fix for Sondheim addicts.
Poetry addicts, meanwhile, should swiftly acquire Oliver Reynolds's latest collection, Hodge (Areté Books) – poems of beautiful precision that reveal their secrets slowly. And Samko Tále's Cemetery Book (Garnett Press) by the Slovak writer Daniela Kapitánová offers us, in a superb translation by Julia Sherwood, one of the strangest and most compelling voices I have come across in years. Muriel Spark meets Russell Hoban. An astonishing, dark and scabrous novel.

- The Guardian. Illustration by Kate Slater.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stray Cat Blues

He’s been a global avatar of wish fulfillment for over four decades and managed to eke more waking hours out of a 24-hour day than perhaps any other creature alive (thanks, Merck cocaine and amphetamines!). As Keith puts it: “For many years I slept, on average, twice a week. This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes.”

You better believe it. This cat put the joie in joie de vivre. As the legendary guitarist for the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards has done more, been more and seen more than you or I will ever dream of, and reading his autobiography, “Life,” should awaken (if you have a pulse and an I.Q. north of 100) a little bit of the rock star in you. 

 - Liz Phair, The New York Times

Read the rest here.


by Keith Richards with James Fox

Read an excerpt here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Following the Booker: The Long Song by Andrea Levy

“You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing this book, tells me, it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed... July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was also present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also of July’s mama Kitty, of the negroes that worked the plantation land, of Caroline Mortimer the white woman who owned the plantation and many more persons besides - far too many for me to list here. But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse.”

Author Biography
Andrea Levy is a child of the Windrush. She is the daughter of one of the pioneers who sailed from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush ship. Her father and later her mother came to Britain in 1948 in search of a better life. For the British born Levy this meant that she grew up black in a very white England. This experience has given her an unusual perspective on the country of her birth - neither feeling totally part of the society nor a total outsider.

Her novels include the semi-autobiographical Every Light in the House Burnin’ (1994), Never Far From Nowhere (1996), Fruit of the Lemon (1999) and Small Island (2004).

Small Island is the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction Best of the Best, the Whitbread Novel Award and Best Book Award, and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)
"Thoroughly captivating… As well as being beautifully written The Long Song is a thoroughly researched historical novel that is both powerful and heartbreaking." - The Daily Express

"As well as providing a history of post-abolition Jamaica, The Long Song is beautifully written, intricately plotted, humorous and earthy... Those who enjoyed Small Island will love The Long Song, not just for the insights on the “wretched island”, but as a marvel of luminous storytelling." - The Financial Times

"Slavery is a subject that has inspired some magnificent fiction, but I had some misgivings: might it not, in this case, make for over-serious writing, especially for a novelist as comically inclined as Levy? But she dares to write about her subject in an entertaining way without ever trivialising it and The Long Song reads with the sort of ebullient effortlessness that can only be won by hard work." - The Observer

Following The Booker: C by Tom McCarthy

Serge Carrefax spends his childhood at Versoie House, where his father teaches deaf children to speak when he's not experimenting with wireless telegraphy. Sophie, Serge's sister and only connection to the world at large, takes outrageous liberties with Serge's young body - which may explain the unusual sexual predilections that haunt him for the rest of his life. After recuperating from a mysterious illness at a Bohemian spa, Serge serves in World War I as a radio operator. C culminates in a bizarre scene in an Egyptian catacomb where all Serge's paths and relationships at last converge.

Author Biography
Tom McCarthy was born in 1969 and grew up in London. His creation, in 1999, of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a ‘semi-fictitious organisation’ that combines literature, art and philosophy, has led to publications, installations and exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world, from Tate Britain and the ICA in London to Moderna Museet in Stockholm and The Drawing Center in New York. Tom regularly writes on literature and art for publications including The New York Times, The London Review of Books and Artforum.

***** (Average rating: 2.5 stars)
"Despite the book’s historical setting, Tom McCarthy has written a novel for our times: refreshingly different, intellectually acute and strikingly enjoyable. Whether the Man Booker judges concur remains to be seen, but it seems highly unlikely that anyone will publish a better novel this year." - The Daily Telegraph

"...a beautiful, accessible novel with a thrilling tale. This is one of the most brilliant books to have hit the shelves this year, and McCarthy deserves high praise for an electric piece of writing which should be read and enjoyed as much as dissected and discussed." -
The Sunday Telegraph

"I had a whale of a time with this book, propped on my laptop, Wikipedia open in one window and in another, the OED. It was like being a guest at the dream-party of an extremely well-read host: things read a long time ago and more or less forgotten, things never read that I always meant to, things I certainly will read now, having seen how McCarthy can make them work."
- The London Review of Books

Read the excerpt here!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Following the Booker: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

He should have seen it coming. His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one...' - Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results. Now, both Libor and Finkler are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor's grand, central London apartment.

It's a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn? Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends' losses. And it's that very evening, at exactly 11:30 pm, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.

Author Biography
An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize) and, most recently, the highly acclaimed The Act of Love. Howard Jacobson lives in London.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)
"Jacobson cunningly crafts sublime pathos from comedy and vice versa. As such, he is the literary equivalent of Tony Hancock, illuminating the conflict, anger, love and dependence created by friendship while wincing at the ignominy and absurdity of the characters' predicament. Jacobson's prose is a seamless roll of blissfully melancholic interludes. Almost every page has a quotable, memorable line." - Christian House, Independent on Sunday

"The opening chapters of this novel boast some of the wittiest, most poignant and sharply intelligent comic prose in the English language, as though the writer, like his characters, is caught up in a whirlwind courtship (of each other, of the reader, of the idea of the preciousness of now in the teeth of time's passing). Jacobson's brilliance thrives on the risk of riding death to a photo-finish, of writing for broke. Exhilaration all the way." - Tom Adair, The Scotsman

"Jacobson answers none of the questions he raises in The Finkler Question, but the path he follows through its thorny issues involves situations which are both very funny and terribly sad, often simultaneously." - Justin Warshaw, The Times Literary Supplement

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Following the Booker: Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey

When my countrymen imagined America, they thought of savages and bears and presidents who would not wear wigs.  Who among them could have conjured Miss Godefroy in all her beauty of form and elegance of mind, her wit, her delicacy, her slender ankles amid those mad red leaves?

An exploration of the great adventure of American democracy, it thrillingly brings to life two characters who, born on different sides of history, come together to share an extraordinary relationship. Olivier is a French aristocrat, sent to the New World ostensibly to study its prisons, but in reality to save his neck in a future revolution.  Parrot is the son of an itinerant English printer, sent to spy and protect him.  With the narrative shifting between the perspectives of master and servant, we see the adventure of American democracy, in theory and in practice, told with Carey’s dazzling wit and inventiveness.

Author Biography
Peter Carey was born in Australia in May 1943 and is the author of six novels. He won the Booker Prize in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda (which has since been made into a film starring Ralph Fiennes) and was shortlisted in 1985 with Illywhacker. His other novels include The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith and Jack Maggs (winner of the 1998 Commonwealth Writers Prize). He has also written a collection of short stories, The Fat Man in History, and a book for children, The Big Bazoohley. Peter Carey won The Man Booker Prize for the second time in 2001 with True History of the Kelly Gang and was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2007 and 2009.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)

"...his recent run of books has been astonishing. Now Parrot and Olivier in America, a comic adventure that functions with equal brilliance as a novel of ideas, can be added to a hit parade of extraordinary sharpness and vigour... Carey has access to both high-flown and vernacular language, and the new novel routinely achieves a kind of battered Shakespearean splendour." - Leo Robson, The New Statesman

"While enjoying Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America, I found myself wondering from time to time what it was about. I finished it with unabated enjoyment, still wondering… Are there hidden significances? I don't know. It's a dazzling, entertaining novel. Should one ask for more?" - Ursula K Le Guin, The Guardian

Read an extract from the book on the New York Times website.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Following the Booker: Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack is five.
He lives in a single room with his Ma.
The room is locked.
Neither Jack nor Ma have a key.

The novel opens as Jack turns five. Jack has never been outside of Room, as he calls it, and although he and Ma have access to a TV, Jack believes that everything he sees on the screen is make-believe: as far as he’s concerned, Room is the entire world. He’s happy enough with his lot, however, because he doesn’t know any different; Ma keeps him entertained, and he has her undivided attention. Their days have a structure, with time to sleep, a time to eat, to play, to watch TV - even a time for lessons. (And at night, which is when ‘Old Nick’ sometimes visits, Ma keeps Jack hidden away.)

But now Jack is five, and Ma tries to explain to him that - contrary to everything she’s told him previously - there is a world beyond Room. Jack finds the concept impossible to grasp, but when Old Nick cuts the power supply to Room, Ma realizes their situation is even more precarious than she had previously thought. She decides they have to act, and comes up with a plan.

Author Biography
Born in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish writer who lives in Canada. Her fiction includes the bestselling Slammerkin.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)

"...startlingly original and moving... the second half of this novel is a superb treatment of the after-effects of release. The unbearable tension of the first half of the novel requires this shift, and Donoghue judges it perfectly, taking her readers to the brink but never stepping over into sensationalism or horror." - Lesley McDowell, The Scotsman

"What saves this beautifully nuanced book from being in any way a voyeuristic reaction to true crime is less the descriptions of captivity than the inevitably changing nature of the child/parent relationship, which Donoghue explores here so minutely, recognisably and exultantly." - Catherine Taylor, The Sunday Telegraph

Read the New York Times review by Janet Maslin here.

Read an extract from the book on the Guardian's website here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Following the Booker: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

There is a moment when any real journey begins. Sometimes it happens as you leave your house, sometimes it’s a long way from home…

A young man makes three journeys that take him through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way - including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge - he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian. Yet, despite the man’s best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his life.

A novel of longing and thwarted desire, rage and compassion, In a Strange Room is the hauntingly beautiful evocation of one man’s search for love and for a place to call home.

Author Biography
Damon Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He wrote his first novel, A Sinless Season, when he was seventeen. His other books include Small Circle of Beings, The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs, The Quarry, The Good Doctor and The Impostor. The Good Doctor, published in 2003, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Dublin/IMPAC Award and was published in eighteen countries. Damon Galgut lives in Cape Town.

***** (Average rating: 4 stars)

"I doubt if any book in 2010 will contain more memorable evocations of place than In a Strange Room... Humour is not Galgut's strong point, not even black humour, and there is a kind of nihilism to the book's philosophy ... Oddly enough, though, In A Strange Room has left me with a soothing sense of serenity. It is a very beautiful book for one thing, strikingly conceived and hauntingly written, a writer's novel par excellence without a clumsy word in it. But perhaps even more important, constantly through the sadnesses and the pathos, the disappointments and the disillusionments, kindness shines." - Jan Morris, The Guardian

"Superb… Galgut is hardly an unknown quantity … But with this new book he has struck out in a new direction and taken his writing to a whole other level. It is a quite astonishing work." - William Skidelsky, The Observer

"The ordered prose, brimming with tension, is written in a mixture of the third and first persons, even within paragraphs. This is not confusing and, in fact, casts a beguiling spell. The narrator is both involved and distant… Galgut has produced an excellent piece of work that is as inviting as it is troubling." - Paul Womack, The Daily Telegraph

Read an extract from the book on the Guardian's website here.

Booker shortlist announced

The Booker shortlist was announced last night! See the lucky titles listed below.
Notably overlooked: Christos Tsiolkas's divisive The Slap as well as David Mitchell's much-tipped fifth novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

We will begin tomorrow with South African writer Damon Galgut's tale of a young man travelling through Greece, India and Africa, In a Strange Room.

The Prize will be announced on the 12th of October, so until then!

Emma Donoghue Room
Damon Galgut In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question 
Andrea Levy The Long Song 
Tom McCarthy

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pulp loves Trees

Happy Spring day!

September is Tree month: if you look out the window you’ll see how happy they are, showing off their new leaves and blossoms. We love trees for so many reasons, but mostly because they make good books.

You are already on the Green Team by supporting Pulp Books (and therefore Food & Trees for Africa),
but this month we’d like to repeat what we did last year and match any tree sponsored by a customer.

IOW, you buy a tree, we’ll buy another tree, and then the world has two extra trees instead of none.

FTFA National Tree Distribution Programme
R90 per tree
(Available to order through the Pulp Books website -
FTFA will send a personalised certificate by mail.)
This Arbor Month, September 2010, Food & Trees for Africa celebrates 20 years of greening South Africa, with over 3.4 million trees distributed to disadvantaged communities across the country.  Through the simple message of planting and conserving trees to care for the planet and the people and address climate change, the social enterprise has contributed to the growth in green interest from government, companies, schools and communities.

Buy directly from Food and Trees or buy through our website.

(use voucher code 1D1DAC26 at checkout to negate the delivery charge)

Go Green Team! ( :

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Once upon a life

Entertaining essay written by Justin Cartwright about how he 'became' a writer. Involves drugging cats, soft porn and losing first chapters. In the end he describes the transformation "as if a cloud that I hadn't really been aware of had lifted".

Once upon a life: Justin Cartwright

He started out as a copywriter, became the crown prince of pet-food commercials then directed a soft-porn film no one wants to remember. But finally he put pen to paper and wrote his first novel. It was a moment that changed his life forever

When I came back to London I found work as a copywriter in a big ad agency. It was an exciting time. Within a few weeks I had written my first television campaign for Pal dog food. It took me about 20 minutes. The basic premise was that the stuff was almost too good for dogs and in each commercial humans looked on jealously before eating their baked beans. The campaign won awards, including a Lion d'Or at Cannes. Somewhere I have the statuette, a winged lion with bronze effect. This seemed to me to be almost ludicrously easy and pretty glamorous besides. I was offered a job in a production company as a director of commercials, although to tell the truth I knew very little about the mechanics of film. But the pay was good and I accepted.

Somehow my pet food reputation followed me and the only jobs I was given were filming dogs and cats eating the stuff. To this day I can't bear the smell of pet food. And worse, I was violently allergic to cats. But there was one cat I absolutely loved. No matter what the task, Bonzo would come confidently and curiously out of the box in which he had been transported to the set, look around knowingly and – once he had got to know me – wait near me for his orders. He was about 99% motivated by greed, but we both understood the deal: he did what he was told, and then he was given some food. I felt such a strong affection for Bonzo that I wanted to acquire him; I felt we were colleagues, troupers. Sadly the owner refused: she saw that she was on to a good little earner with Bonzo.
- Justin Cartwright, for the Observer. Posted on

Read the rest of the essay here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Drink Till He's Witty: The Reader's Drinking Game

A recent essay in the Times points out that "rules for drinking are not so different from rules for writing." If that's true, then clearly famous literary stars need their own drinking games
 Geoff Nicholson extrapolates from writing-workshop maxims to create these drinking rules: "Drink what you know, drink regularly rather than in binges, avoid needlessly exotic booze, and leave the table while you can still stand." But why stick with what you know when you can challenge yourself — and your liver — with a game of William Faulkner or Ernest Hemingway? You can play these games in groups — by, say, having one person read aloud (this will probably get even more fun as the reader's voice slurs and his/her eyes lose focus). However, they are perhaps best attempted — like great writing — alone with your secret fantasies, your thwarted desires, and your gnawing fear that you will never really amount to anything in this bleak, meaningless life.

Thomas Pynchon: Drink every time someone has a stupid name, like "Eigenvalue."

David Foster Wallace: Drink every time a sentence has three or more conjunctions.

William Faulkner:
Every time a sentence goes on for more than a page, drink the entire bottle. Then make out with your sister.

Joyce Carol Oates: Drink every time there is a home invasion.

Jane Austen: Drink every time someone plays whist, goes riding, or gets married.
J.D. Salinger: Every time there is a symbol of lost innocence, drink a highball. Then spit it all over someone you love.
Emily Bronte: Drink every time you see the word "heath" (Heathcliff counts).

Gabriel García Márquez
: Drink every time someone's name is "Aureliano." (Note: this only works for A Hundred Years of Solitude)

Virginia Woolf: First, go buy some flowers. Then, if you have time left over, drink.

Sappho: Drink every time you can't tell if something is hot or disgusting.

Ernest Hemingway: Drink every time Ernest Hemingway is boring and overrated. Man, I am so wasted right now.

Raymond Chandler: Drink every time someone drinks.

Dashiell Hammett:
Drink every time someone drinks.

Drink every time someone drinks gross diluted wine.

Stephenie Meyer: Drink every time someone drinks blood.

Dylan Thomas: Drink until you are in a coma.

- Anna North,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Booker prize longlist promises to 'entertain and provoke'

There were no real wild cards in this longlist – unlike last year, when Me Cheeta, a spoof biography of Tarzan's chimpanzee, was listed. Perhaps the most controversial novel is Emma Donoghue's Room, inspired by the case of Josef Fritzl who kept his daughter prisoner for 24 years. The novel, which was one of 14 called in by judges – rather than being submitted by the publisher – was installed as second favourite for the prize by Ladbrokes.

Three other previously shortlisted novelists made it on to the longlist. Rose Tremain for Trespass; Damon Galgut for In a Strange Room and a novel that will be many people's favourite for the prize: David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Mitchell's fifth novel is set in 1799 on the peculiar artificial island of Dejima created for Dutch traders making contact with a closed Japan.

The list was completed by Helen Dunmore for Betrayal; Howard Jacobson for The Finkler Question; Andrea Levy for The Long Song; Tom McCarthy for C; Lisa Moore for February; Paul Murray for Skippy Dies (the main character looks like the TV kangaroo); Alan Warner for The Star in the Bright Sky; and a book which has featured on many summer reading lists – The Slap by Greek-Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas which tells of the consequences of a child being hit at a suburban barbecue.
- Mark Brown,
Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Judging a book by its cover

The Book Cover Archive presents an archive of book cover design and designers 'for the purpose of appreciation and categorization of excellence in book cover design'.

This site is edited and maintained by Ben Pieratt of General Projects and Eric Jacobsen of Whisky Van Gogh Go.

Visit by clicking here.

Other great sites for book cover design:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Makeover for Wonder Woman at 69

The costume ties into an alternative history for the character devised by J. Michael Straczynski, the new writer of the series, and into a quest by DC to shine a critical and creative spotlight on the heroine, who stands with Superman and Batman in its primary triumvirate of superstars, despite her series’s modest sales.

In the reimagining of her story, Wonder Woman, instead of growing up on Paradise Island with her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her Amazon sisters, is smuggled out as a baby when unknown forces destroy her home and slaughter its inhabitants.

Mr. Straczynski, who created the television show “Babylon 5” and wrote the screenplay for “Changeling” in 2008, starring Angelina Jolie, said in an e-mail message that he wanted to address “the wardrobe issue” as soon as he took the job.
“She’s been locked into pretty much the exact same outfit since her debut in 1941,” Mr. Straczynski wrote. “If you’re going to make a statement about bringing Wonder Woman into the 21st century, you need to be bold and you need to make it visual. I wanted to toughen her up, and give her a modern sensibility.”

- George Gene Gustines, The New York Times
Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna beats Wolf Hall to Orange prize

An epic, ambitious novel that straddles the Mexican revolution and the crazed communist witch-hunts of 1950s America was tonight named winner of this year's Orange prize for fiction.
Barbara Kingsolver took the £30,000 prize for The Lacuna, her eagerly awaited first novel since 2000.
The American novelist held off heavyweight competition from Hilary Mantel, for Wolf Hall, and Lorrie Moore, for A Gate at the Stairs, to take what is the biggest literary award for women writers.
Daisy Goodwin, the TV producer who chaired this year's judges, praised The Lacuna's "breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy" and said the winner was only ever between the three books. "It was a bit like trying to choose between your three beloved children," she said.
"In the end I suppose that while a couple of us felt very passionately about The Lacuna everyone was happy for it to be named winner. They were three of the finest books I've read in a long time. It wasn't like we were scraping in any sense."
The Lacuna, made up of memoir, diaries, letters, newspaper reports and congressional transcripts, is arguably the most demanding of the six books on the shortlist. It's a doorstopping novel that needs to be read properly rather than in snatches and tackles big subjects that resonate today – not least, the media creation of, and obsession with, celebrity.
Beginning in 1929, it follows the life of Harrison Shepherd from his sensitive teenage years in Mexico to fame in 1950s America as the reclusive author of Aztec swashbucklers. In between – and central to the story – Shepherd gets work in the bohemian household of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo while they entertain house guest Leon Trotsky, for whom he becomes a scribe.
- Mark Brown,

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Sunday Times Literary Awards longlist announced

Winner to be announced on the 24th of July ...

1. Patterns of Change by Dr Eckart Schumann

2. To Heaven by Water by Justin Cartwright

3. Summertime by JM Coetzee

4. Come Sunday by Isla Morley

5. Beasts of Prey by Rob Marsh

6. The Double Crown by Marie Heese

7. Saracen at the Gates by Zinaid Meeran

8. Black Petals by Bryan Rostron

9. The Transplant Men by Jane Taylor

10. Counting Sleeping Beauties by Hazel Frankel

11. Shiva's Dance by Elana Bregin

12. Trinity Rising by Fiona Snykers

13. Daddy's Girl by Margie Orford

14. The Shape of Him by Gillian Hope Schierhout

15. Trespass by Dawn Garisch

16. Small Moving Parts by Sally-Ann Murray

17.The Elephant in the Room by Maya Fowler

18. The Book of the Dead by Kgebetli Moele

19. Little Ice Cream Boy by Jacques Pauw

20. Sleeper's Wake by Allistair Morgan

21. House of War by Hamilton Wende

22. Black Diamond by Zakes Mda

23. Kings of the Water by Mark Behr

24. Exhibit A by Sarah Lotz

25. Revenge of Kali by Aziz Hassim

26. The Bird of Heaven by Peter Dunseith

27. My Name is Vaselinetjie by Anoeschka von Meck

28. A Man Who is Not a Man by Thando Mgqolozana

29. High Low In-between by Imraan Coovadia

30. Shark by Carel van der Merwe

31. Refuge by Andrew Brown

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Charles Saatchi on Art & Life

One of the world’s foremost art collectors answers questions from readers on why he collects, what he would ask Moses and Darwin—and the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Charles Saatchi has been one of the most influential forces of the contemporary art scene. Founder of global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and the most influential art collector of our time, he has vigorously shaped the contemporary art scene while contradictorily remaining an elusive, even reclusive figure.

Though he—famously—refuses to be interviewed, you can now read his brutally frank responses to a battery of questions put to him by leading journalists and critics as well as members of the public.

Do you believe in the 10 Commandments?

An overrated lifestyle guide, unsustainable and largely ineffective, only succeeding in making people confused and guilty.

For example: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his house, nor his servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.

This was always obviously a no-hoper of a Commandment. Coveting is all everyone does, all the time, everyday. It’s what drives the world economy, pushes people to make a go of their lives, so that they can afford the Executive model of their Ford Mondeo to park next to their neighbor’s Standard model.

And would you want to be married to someone who nobody coveted?

- The Daily Beast

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ian McEwan brings home bacon with comic novel Solar

Booker winner bags pig and champagne for 'laugh-out-loud' climate change novel

Ian McEwan's trophy cabinet has heretofore been home to more serious awards, but the Booker prize-winning author will today be making room on the shelves for his first comic-fiction accolade, won for his take on climate change, Solar.

The novel was chosen unanimously from a shortlist of five books to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction. "I hope he'll be really, really pleased," said judge and director of the Guardian Hay festival, Peter Florence. McEwan claimed at the festival two years ago: "I hate comic novels; it's like being wrestled to the ground and being tickled, being forced to laugh."

McEwan, though, said today he was "delighted" to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse, "three names associated with distinctive and important pleasures".

"Some prizes offer fifty thousand pounds, but this one comes with a Gloucester Old Spot piglet attached and I'll be honoured to hold it in my arms. As long as it behaves," the author added.

Florence said Solar provided many moments of "laugh-out-loud" humour, thanks to McEwan's "beautiful phrasing" and "descriptions of infidelity and intimate personal details". Florence said that despite McEwan's "macabre and serious" reputation, he'd "always found there are moments of amazing humour in lots of his books, even The Child in Time. He's so precise with his language and he makes his point so brilliantly with humour. In Solar, there's this wonderful, bloated, chaotic man, just like our planet, hurtling to his destruction, taking no responsibility for himself at all, and it's a gloriously funny idea."

- Alison Flood,

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Towel Day: Douglas Adams remembered across the globe

Are you the kind of hoopy frood who knows where your towel is? If so, you're in good company. All over the world today fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are heeding Douglas Adams's words that a towel is "about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and are conspicuously carrying one with them for the day in honour of the writer who died nine years ago.

Towel Day events are taking place around the world, and include a pub lunch in Brisbane, flashmobs in Brazil and Berlin, a picnic in Budapest, a Vogon poetry slam in Portland, Oregon, a beer party in Zagreb and a "nice cup of tea" event outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Many more people have simply pledged to carry a towel.

- Michelle Pauli,

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist

Golden Richards, the “lonely polygamist” of Brady Udall’s second novel and third published work of fiction, is not only lonesome but also many other things that, ideally, a patriarch and apostle of the Lord would not be: indecisive, feckless, withdrawn and hesitant. All of which puts his four wives in the excruciating position of having to beg him, often, to “embrace his God-given patriarchal authority” and “make a decision once in a while.” At one time it seemed as if Golden, a mammoth, unkempt man referred to as Sasquatch by one of his sons, might be the One Mighty and Strong, a venerated figure in the poly­gamist society that broke off from Mormonism in 1890 after plural marriage was banned, to be “delivered from on high to set in order the house of God.” He is still a leading figure in this particular not very well-off community in the far south­western corner of Utah, near both Arizona and Nevada, as a member of the Council of the Twelve that now, rather sadly, comprises only eight.

Udall’s novel forces readers to contend for its 600 pages with two dissonant stories: the exceptional tale of an exceptional family, part of a phenomenon so minuscule and remote a part of American society as to be freakish, known only by lurid headlines torn from the news; and, more conventionally, the story of a family man’s burnout, temptation and redemption. This family man just happens to have four nuclear families, which makes his midlife crisis and ensuing affair a little more complicated than most.

- Eric Weinberger, The New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Britain’s famous lit mag gets down and dirty.

Who knew that Dave Eggers could get this sexy? His illustrations of animals contemplating, well, you can guess, is just one of the many surprises in this new issue of Granta. With writing from Jeanette Winterson, Adam Foulds, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Marie Darrieussecq, Mark Doty, and Roberto Bolaño, Granta’s line up proves that literary sex is all too often overlooked. Though not every story perfectly melds with the issue’s topic—“sex from all angles,” as editor John Freeman explains in the video intro [LINK “video intro” ]--readers will find a wonderful range of fiction and memoir.
- The Daily Beast

Sex is our oldest obsession. For as long as we’ve been doing it, it has been used as a mark of decline and a measure of progress. It has been at the centre of rituals and responsible for revolutions. We make money from it, hide behind it, prohibit and promote it. It relaxes us, revolts us, hurts us and helps us. But whatever we think about it, however we do it, it defines us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

1000 Awesome Things

From neighbors with pools to ordering off the menu at fast-food restaurants to fixing electronics by smacking them, The Book of Awesome takes on life’s sweet feats with all the honest humor and winning enthusiasm that has earned Pasricha’s blog its millions of followers. But while powered along by Pasricha’s distinctive, fresh, and hilarious voice, The Book of Awesome isn’t about one man’s favorite things, but rather a catalog of the universal little pleasures we all share. With its focus on the many things that bring us together rather than the few things that split us apart, it’s a book that will appeal to people from all walks of life — housewives and college kids, children and senior citizens alike. Arising out of Pasricha’s riffs on popping bubble wrap and getting a trucker to blow his horn is an unexpected, genuine sort of inspiration, as The Book of Awesome offers up a hearty cheer for all the little things we take for granted.

Bookmark the blog for days you need a little lift:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dykulture's Cover Art: The weird and sexy world of lesbian pulp fiction

The more I find out about the cover art of lesbian pulp fiction, the more I develop a trashy taste for it. The same reason I’m an unashamed fan of country music, puns and Sparletta. They’re almost like those ironic black & white greeting cards where a frumpy uptight woman smiles at the camera, and underneath is the caption: “Jane couldn’t do without a steaming cup of coffee and a hot (insert rude genital reference here)”. Except better. Because they were the real thing. The cover art is iconic on its own, but as a word lover, I like the titles and sub-captions best.

Like this one. “Private Party: No one at school realised they were more than just roommates…No one suspected what took place once their door was locked.”

And there was more behind the choice in titles. Lesbian pulp novels were marketed to men. They were erotic, scandalous novels filled with all sorts of tales of sexual fantasy. So besides having suggestive cover art, the publishers used words like “twilight”, “odd”, “strange”, “shadows” and “queer” to let you know just what kind of novel you were in for.


Read the rest of the post here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Penguin cookbook calls for 'freshly ground black people'

A recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto has proved a little too spicy for Penguin Australia, after a misprint suggesting that the dish required "salt and freshly ground black people" has left the publisher reaching for the pulping machine, rather than the pepper grinder.

It's a one-word slip that only came to light after a member of the public got in touch, and which has sent all 7,000 copies of The Pasta Bible at Penguin's warehouse to be destroyed, an exercise which head of publishing, Robert Sessions, told the Sydney Morning Herald would cost $ 20,000.

There are, as yet, no plans to recall copies that have made it into stores, which according to Sessions would be "extremely hard". He was "mortified that this has become an issue of any kind", adding that "why anyone would be offended, we don't know".

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sherman Alexie Wins 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Picked from among 350 novels and short story collections, Sherman Alexie's War Dances has won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

The award was judged by Rilla Askew, Kyoko Mori, and Al Young, analyzing books from more than 90 publishing houses, small presses, and academic presses.

Judge Young had this statement about the book: "War Dances taps every vein and nerve, every tissue, every issue that quickens the current blood-pulse: parenthood, divorce, broken links, sex, gender and racial conflict, substance abuse, medical neglect, 9/11, Official Narrative vs. What Really Happened, settler religion vs. native spirituality; marketing, shopping, and war, war, war. All the heartbreaking ways we don't live now--this is the caring, eye-opening beauty of this rollicking, bittersweet gem of a book."

- Jason Boog, Galleycat

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Orange Prize longlist announced

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Orange Prize for Fiction today announces the 2010 longlist.

“It was a tough judging process as there was a particularly strong range of books submitted from all over the world in this, the 15th year of the Orange Prize,” commented Daisy Goodwin, Chair of Judges, “but in the end we have chosen a muscular, original and pleasurable longlist that will appeal to all kinds of readers.”

The 2010 longlist features new and well-established writers, including seven first novels alongside previous Orange Prize and Orange Best of the Best winner, Andrea Levy, and Man Booker 2009 winner, Hilary Mantel.

The shortlist will be available on the 20th of April and the winner will be announced on the 9th of June.

Click here to learn about the Orange Prize

Thursday, March 11, 2010

e-readers versus books: what's greener?

The Sony Reader e-book viewer hits the UK today, hoping to "revolutionise" the way we read. Whether you think it's a hot gadget, a solution in search of a problem, an opportunity for new authors (Toby Young's opinion) or an over-priced gizmo (Nick Hornby's take), one question remains: is it green? Does Sony's e-book viewer have a smaller environmental impact than the printed book? Let's take a look.

Below, I've looked at how 'p-books' and e-books square up on three areas of environmental impact.

First is the 'embodied carbon', the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to manufacture a book and the Sony Reader in the first place. Second is the carbon running cost -- the energy consumed to acquire new books and read them. Lastly, I've considered what happens to books and the Reader when they reach their end of life.

So, without further ado… let eco battle commence!

- by SmartPlanet,

See who wins the battle here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

That Woman Who Writes

I’m always seeking places to write. Never at home—laundry piles, dishes in the sink, MOM emblazoned on my forehead. Although problematic, coffeehouses and libraries are a mainstay. Inevitably, I’ll be thick into my work when someone I know will come up behind me, “Hey, hi! What’cha doin’?” Depending on a combination of fluctuating circumstances—a scale that includes politeness, how the writing is coming, and how well I know the person—my reaction will be to glare until I’m left alone, drop everything and chat, or, more likely, a response somewhere in between the continuum of these two extremes.

For a while, I used a private conference room at my local library, partitioned like an office. The conference room’s intended purpose was for gatherings—conferences—and I was politely asked to stop, even when it wasn’t signed out, and just sat there, vacant, begging to be used. Apparently, the various voices in my head do not constitute a group.

I’m a nervous writer. I drink coffee and subsequently get thirsty and drink water. I chew gum—packs and packs, studding the wastebasket with my spit-out wads. I read my work out loud, again and again (I imagine one might hear a light mumble coming from my direction). There are frequent trips to the bathroom (coffee and water). I have to haul my writing materials—computer, notebooks, etc.—with me, so that they won’t get stolen. Or else I take on the Bathroom Sprint—going as fast as I can, returning in a light sweat.

- Victoria Patterson, The Millions

Read the rest of the essay here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Obama sends Martel a note about Life of Pi

Martel ... revealed that he recently received a handwritten thank you note from Barack Obama, who had just finished reading Martel’s Life of Pi with his daughter. The president wrote that it was “a lovely book – an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.” Martel told Harper that he would frame the note “for sure,” and still takes it out sometimes to marvel at it:

What amazes me is the gratuity of it. As you would know, there is a large measure of calculation in what public figures do. But here, what does he gain? I’m not a US citizen. In no way can I be of help to President Obama. Clearly he did it for personal reasons, as a reader and as a father. And in two lines, what an insightful analysis of Life of Pi. Bless him, bless him.

- Laura Godfrey, Quill & Quire