Just when you thought it was safe to open a book... it's the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex Award! (Previously) This year's nominees include works by Tom Wolfe, Ben Masters, Nicola Barker, Paul Mason, Nancy Huston, Craig Raine, Nicholas Coleridge, and Sam Mills. Not on the list? J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy--despite "a couple of queasy moments," in the words of TLR senior editor Jonathan Beckman--and E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey, since the award "is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature." Snippets from the nominated books can be found at the Guardian link.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named the 2012 winners of their science journalism award. The winning text, radio and TV segments -- which cover subjects ranging from bat ecology to nuclear power post-Fukushima -- are all free access. [more inside]
Steven Pinker is apparently writing a science/academic writing style guide of sorts based on insights from psychology. Here is an hour-plus long video of Pinker discussing the book at MIT.
Steal My Book! Why I'm abetting a rogue translation of my novel. This is the story of how author Peter Mountford discovered that his novel A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism was being translated for an unauthorized e-book version, and why he decided to help the struggling Russian-language translator. Audio interview with Mountford on CBC Radio's Q.
But I couldn't do it. I spent three months and I just couldn't do it. And the reason was because I kept on meeting people who worked in the credit industry and they were really boring. I couldn't make them light up the page. And, as I said in The Psychopath Test, if you want to get away with wielding true malevolent power, be boring. Journalists hate writing about boring people, because we want to look good, you know?A Chat With Writer Jon Ronson [more inside]
Taking the seen-it route: Sara Morrison talks about the rise and influence of television show recapping; recapping's advantages for writers; and the origins and evolution of Television Without Pity (<--- time suck warning: TVTropes link!) Includes lots of links and a handy chart of recappers. [more inside]
All I remember about it was that I was having sex with Pierce Brosnan in a hot tub. Except that he had a vagina.
"Emma Stone was my dream best friend for a number of weeks. We'd see movies together. Get drinks and gossip. I remember one dream where we just texted. She resurfaced as my best friend last fall after I saw The Help. An actual friend of mine once told me a story about meeting Andrew Garfield's best friend, which meant Andrew Garfield and I were dream best friends for the following few nights. Again, there was texting." The Awl asks people: What Was Your Weirdest Celebrity Sex Dream?
"At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said, ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ It’s exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.” [The New Yorker] "The writer Philip Roth announced his retirement in a little-noticed interview with a French magazine [Les Inrocks] and said that Nemesis, which was published in 2010, would be his last book."
Charlie Pierce is a longtime sportswriter and author who has, among other things, reported for Grantland, Slate, and the Boston Globe, paneled on more than a few games of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, and fished diapers out of trees as a state forest ranger. He's also made a name for himself as one of the sharpest and most incisive political columnists since Molly Ivins. The lead writer for Esquire's Politics Blog ever since a caustic article on former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell cost him his Globe job, Pierce has churned out an uninterrupted stream of clever, colorful, and challenging commentary on the 2012 election season and its implications for the nation's future, dispatches often seething with eviscerative anger but shot through with deep love of (or perhaps grief for) country. Look inside for a selection of Pierce's most vital works for some edifying Election Eve reading. [more inside]
"Yelp Reviews As Poetry". "A guide to the queer teen stars of YouTube." "Can a video game company save capitalism?" "In Defense of Ke$ha." "Playing golf inside Louisiana's largest prison." "What getting an abortion is like in a Red State." "We may have reached peak infographic." Here ye Here ye! The first (& only?) issue of Tomorrow Magazine [founded by fired Good Magazine editors] is out! [more inside]
Have literary journals lost their cultural relevance? Ted Genoways, former editor of the Virginia Quarterly suggests they have, and are relegated to publishing masses of material, often submitted by waves of new MFA graduates, that few read. Others question the definition of relevance. The journals do continue to proliferate, generating constant fresh material for a review that reviews them, a database that writers use to sort through them, and agents who comb through them looking for the next literary sensation. Perhaps only print journals are in real trouble?
There are sixteen panels I can put in this grid. Six are televisions, three are flashbacks, six are close-ups of objects falling through space. The other one... hurts.
Rod Serling discusses writing. A conversation.
Mad Men season five in review (audio) - As the latest season is released on DVD the Nerdist Writers Panel talks to creator Matthew Weiner, showrunners Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, and writer Erin Levy about the show.
Wickets and Wonders: Cricket’s Rich Literary Vein - a meditation on the literary history of cricket, and a few of the more well-known books surrounding gigaioggie.
Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter F. Hamilton discuss their books with fans (video). The Hydrogen Sonata, the 10th of Bank's Culture books, will be released October 12th, read the first chapter here. Meanwhile it's 20 years since Reynolds first started work on Revelation Space.
Tomorrow is the end of Banned Books Week. It's been 30 years. The American Library Association has a list of frequently challenged books. [more inside]
How Philip K Dick transformed Hollywood, who could be Hollywood's next PKD and how PKD could change your life.
There has never been another literary figure remotely comparable to “the divine Amanda” (whose real name was Anna Margaret Ross, née McKittrick). She was, many discriminating readers believe, at once the single most atrocious writer who ever lived and also one of the most mesmerizingly delightful. She was supremely talentless—she was wholly incapable of producing a single intelligent or well-formed sentence—and yet her incompetence was so sui generis that it constituted a kind of genius. [more inside]
Television Without Pity re-capper Jacob Clifton has written a short steampunk story for Tor.com. “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation...” The Commonplace Book
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws (Hamlet's Hitpoints, The GUMSHOE system) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite (Tour De Lovecraft, GURPS Horror) (previously) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson, Gencon and sundry RPGs, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley.
Six years ago, New Dorp High School on Staten Island, NY, had a 40% dropout rate, and more than 80% of freshmen were reading below grade level. In spring 2013, the school expects an 80% graduation rate. What happened? New Dorp decided to teach its students how to write. [more inside]
Starting with a bracket for every letter of the alphabet, a bracket suggested by readers and a "Fuck" play-in bracket, blogger Ted McCagg just finished a contest for the Best Word Ever. In the running were Umpteen, Eke, Isthmus, Skedaddle and Akimbo. The Final Four. The finals. The champion. [Via The Paris Review & Kottke.]
Danish author Sven Hassel (Wikipedia, official site) has passed away at the age of 95. (Danish - Translation) Hassel fought for the Germans during WWII and became famous after publishing Legion of the Damned, a semi-autobiographical account of the war. He went on to write thirteen more books following the adventures of his convict battalion, incuding Wheels of Terror which in 1987 was made into the movie The Misfit Brigade staring Bruce Davison and David Patrick Kelly (clip). He will be remembered fondly by all who browsed the bookshelves of charity shops as young men.
A Short History Of Book Reviewing's Long Decline: 'By the time of the first quote “book-review,” criticism had been in circulation for centuries—long enough for writers to know how it can sting. Understandably, then, the critic’s skepticism of an artist's genius has invariably existed alongside the artist's doubt over the critic's judgment.' [more inside]
"If you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough."
Wired talks to William Gibson: on Why Sci-Fi Writers Are (Thankfully) Almost Always Wrong, on Twitter, Antique Watches and Internet Obsessions, and and on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’.
Legendary curmudgeonly rockist Athens GA music zine Chunklet is still around, and teaming up with Vice magazine to bring you such new Classics of argument-fomentation as The Wheel Of Punk™ (and the Wheel of Punk™ in action). [more inside]
What I wrote was unquestionably fiction — was fantasy. Among Others has magic and fairies. But I was writing fantasy about a science fiction reader who had a lot of the same things happen to her that happened to me. It’s set at the end of 1979 and the beginning of 1980, and it’s about a fifteen year old just when I was fifteen, and from a family like mine and in the time and place and context where I was. I was using a lot of my own experience and memories. But this is Mori, not me, and she lives in a world where magic is real. Jo Walton, who as editor for tor.com revisisted the Hugos 1953-2000, now has one of her own, taking home the 2012 Best Novel Award for Among Others. Other winners include Kij Johnson for her Novella The Man who Bridged the Mist (excerpt) and io9 regular Charlie Jane Anders for her novellete Six Months, Three Days. The Best Graphic Story award went to the webcomic Digger by Ursula Vernon. E Lily Yu took home the Bets New Writer award (technically not a Hugo) and was also nominated for her short story The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees. A couple of TV shows you have heard of also got awards. Links to many of the nominated stories here.
Decompressed is a podcast in which comics writer and former Rock Paper Shotgun journalist Kieron Gillen (X-Men, Thor, Phonogram) talks to artists and writers about the process involved in writing a single issue of a comic. Decompressed 6 broke format and is instead a discussion with Mark Waid and Matt Fraction about scripting comics using the "Marvel Method", or "plot first" - in which the artist draws the comic from a story outline and dialogue is added later, rather than the writer supplying a panel by panel script. For a while out of favour even at Marvel, the method is seeing a resurgance. The podcast page contains visual aids, and embedded version of the podcast, the script of DEFENDERS #9 complete with B&W art and additional links, including links to Warren Ellis’ 3-part tutorial on writing comics (1, 2, 3). Jamie McKelvie and a vultue put in guest appearances. Further example comicbook scripts are available at the Comic Book Script Archive (previously).
Tim Parks has two interesting articles at the NYRB: Does Money Make Us Write Better? and Does Copyright Matter?
"Be relentless. All over the world, people are working harder than you." Unsentimental advice from poet and memorist Sarah Manguso about building a career as a writer. (via FSG Work in Progress.)
Ex Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant (previously previously previously) reveals struggle with alcoholism, and his thoughts on cyclist's death in new memoir, 28 Seconds. CBC radio "The Current" interview, and CTV tv interview. Allan Sheppard, the deceased's father, asks people to scrutinize Bryant's story.
Cynthia Ozick on Henry James: The Lesson of the Master: ...in earlier days I felt I had been betrayed by Henry James. I was like the youthful writer in “The Lesson of the Master” who believed in the Master’s call to live immaculately, unspoiled by what we mean when we say “life”—relationship, family mess, distraction, exhaustion, anxiety, above all disappointment.
What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
"Last week, I graduated from the 2012 Clarion Writer’s Workshop. And everything people tell you about it is true—it’s incredible, it’s transformative, it will make you into the writer you were meant to be, it builds unbreakable bonds with a ton of other brilliant writers. AND you’ll be devastated when it’s over. As I attempt to process my grief at Clarion’s end, I thought I would transcribe the copious notes that I took during the course of those six weeks." Clarion 2012: Every Brilliant Piece of Writing Advice (via jscalzi)
Fan fiction has, arguably, existed in some form since 1614, and it has certainly been in existence since the Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia was published in 1967, while derivative works and unofficial adaptations have long existed (such as Edison's Frankenstein) in the mass market, most obviously Nosferatu (unofficial trailer, whole film) and the infamous Tijuana bibles, but in the modern world of extended copyright and Internet commerce are fan fiction and fan art legal?
Food writing’s shameful secret, wrote John Thorne his seminal essay, “Cuisine Mécanique”, is its intellectual poverty. John himself is a notable exception. He is one of those rare authors who have the gift of transporting us into a world of their own creation which we are happy to occupy for a while in preference to any other. They are Virgils to our Dante, showing us around the territory and introducing us to the natives. In these magic realms, strangers speak to us immediately as old friends; arriving unexpectedly at dinner time, we find a place already set for us. [more inside]
Katrina Lumsden reads the Fifty Shades of Grey books so you don't have to:
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed
(contains animated gifs)
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed
(contains animated gifs)
A Guide to Writing Sherlockian-Tea Habits. In which EnigmaticPenguin (of death) schools fanfiction authors in correct English tea theory and practice. Follow up: Biscuits.
The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books catalogs the top ten favorite books of over 140 major authors and growing, including Louis D. Rubin, Jim Harrison, David Foster Wallace, David Leavitt, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, and many more. Here's the list of books rank-ordered by frequency and here are other lists compiled from the statistics.