Friday, December 31, 2004

’05 Mind-reading monsters, pop philosophy and books with absurdly long titles - 2005 is already shaping up to be a memorable year in publishing. Stuart Jeffries predicts next year's bestsellers - and pitches a few ideas of his own. But why so many colons?

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Of Tsunami of Biblical Proportions
Please visit petit Laila Lalami's site for her breaktaking reflections.

Since Saturday, I've been trying to figure out what a proper response would be to the disaster currently unfolding in South Asia. I type something, erase it, start over. I can't think of a 'proper' anything-no response, no word, no feeling seems quite adequate. I struggle to find reference points, ways in which the catastrophe could be anchored, compared, examined. But I was not yet born when Agadir trembled. I have only vague memories of television images of Armenia. And Bam was knocked off the news within 48 hours. But this. This is different. The magnitude of the horror seems so great, so unbelievable that no natural disaster of modern times seems to compare. As I write this, the toll is believed to be 80,000, and is expected to climb with the spread of disease.

• Being six feet three inches tall sometimes isn't enough Even as we insulate ourselves, we're not as remote as we think we are [In the world of 50's and early 60's romantic comedy, where Tony Randall first made his name, irony was a tightly boxed thingMr. Irony: sweet nothings]
• · As reported on various literary blogs a number of literary awards have been announced in 2004 … reminding me there’s nothing harder to relate to than success. Your parents were right; an English degree won't get you a job. Old friends say homeless man was literary genius
• · · If languages are living things, as the philologists like to say, then English is a sort of Frankenstein creature, originally built of spare parts - a little French, a little Anglo-Saxon, some Norse and Danish The Year of (Your Catchphrase Here)
• · · · In Coming Up For Air, Orwell contrasts his protagonist’s memories of the English countryside on the eve of the First World War with its reality on the eve of the Second. A favorite fishing-pool has become a rubbish dump full of tin cans; a stretch of the Thames that used to harbor herons and alders has become a wasteland of rowing-boats, canoes, punts, motor-launches, full of young fools with next to nothing on, all of them screaming and shouting and most of them with a gramophone aboard. Orwell for Christians
• · · · · The precise midpoint of the 21st century's first decade will arrive on Jan. 1. As I write, that's five days away. Can we please agree on what era it is we're living in?
• · · · · · A Short Story is Like
… an iceberg: nine-tenths of its meaning is submerged. Ernest Hemingway
… a stone thrown into a pond. Ali Smith
… a slap in the face. It must immediately sting, make itself known at once, and it must leave a red mark for hours to come. -Martin Booth
… lighting your way through a dark cave with a tiny birthday candle. “Avi”
… being in a darkened room, [and] a novel is like being in a darkened field. -Dan Chaon
… a kiss in the dark from a stranger. -Stephen King

… a kick in the teeth in the dark from a stranger. -Cory Doctorow
… a weekend guest, [and] a novel is like a divorced relative staying with you. -Lev Raphael
[via Cup of Chicha]