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Updated: 2 hours 56 min ago

Author of <i>Stig of the Dump</i>, Clive King, dies aged 94

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:31
Clive King, who has died aged 94, was the author of several children's books and is best known for Stig of the Dump, the original and imaginative fantasy story of the friendship between Barney, a boy of the modern era, with Stig, a boy from long, long ago who lives in a nearby chalk pit in a home created from things he can creatively and skilfully repurpose from waste, including a chimney from tin cans and windows from glass bottles....

Movies based on books take 53% more on average at the box office than original screenplays

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 05:00
Films based on books might have the intolerable disadvantage of people smugly claiming "the book is so much better", but they also result in a huge boost at the box office.

According to new research from the Publishers Association, films based on books take 44% more at the box office in the UK and 53% more worldwide than original screenplays.

..."In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top UK films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of UK box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," the report reads.

Anne Tyler has something to say...

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 11:16
The New York Times has a rare interview with Anne Tyler to coincide with the publication of her latest novel, Clock Dance Tyler rarely does interviews because she dislikes the way they make her feel the next morning. "I'll go upstairs to my writing room to do my regular stint of work and I'll probably hear myself blathering on about writing and I won't do a very good job that day. I always say that the way you write a novel is for the first 83 drafts you pretend that nobody is ever, ever going to read it."

The good news for fans is that Tyler has no plans to retire: "What happens is six months go by after I finish a book," she said "and I start to go out of my mind. I have no hobbies, I don't garden, I hate travel. The impetus is not inspiration, just a feeling that I better do this. There's something addictive about leading another life at the same time you're living your own." She paused and added: "If you think about it, it's a very strange way to make a living."

The changing face of romance novels

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 11:08
The New York Times reports on the changing face of the romance novel genre:

...The landscape is slowly starting to change, as more diverse writers break into the genre, and publishers take chances on love stories that reflect a broader range of experiences and don't always fit the stereotypical girl-meets-boy mold. Forever Yours, an imprint at Grand Central, publishes Karelia Stetz-Waters, who writes romances about lesbian couples. Uzma Jalaluddin's debut novel, Ayesha at Last, takes place in a close-knit immigrant Muslim community in Canada, and features an outspoken Muslim heroine who falls for a more conservative Muslim man, a Darcy to her Lizzie Bennett...

...."Readers want books that reflect the world they live in, and they won't settle for a book about a small town where every single person is white," said Leah Koch, co-owner of the romance bookstore the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, Calif. Last year, six of her store's top 10 best-selling novels were written by authors of color, Ms. Koch said.

Michael Ondaatje?s 'The English Patient' wins Golden Man Booker Prize in honor of the Prize's 50th anniversary.

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 05:00
Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Bloomsbury), the story of an injured, anonymous English WWII pilot and his Italian nurse, has been named the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best work of fiction previously awarded the Man Booker Prize over the last 50 years.

Barnes & Noble fires another CEO

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 00:32
In a brief statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Barnes & Noble said CEO Demos Parneros (who had been named CEO in April 2017) had been terminated for "violations of the Company's policies." While not saying what policies Parneros violated, B&N said his termination "is not due to any disagreement with the Company regarding its financial reporting, policies, or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto." In addition to being fired immediately, Parneros will not receive any severance, B&N said. B&N said Parneros's removal was undertaken by its board of directors, who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Junot Díaz adamantly denies allegations of inappropriate behavior

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 09:54
n his first interview since being accused of inappropriate behavior with women, celebrated novelist Junot Díaz adamantly denied the allegations, including a claim he once "forcibly kissed" writer Zinzi Clemmons.

Díaz, who was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," said he was "distressed," "confused," and "panicked" by the accusations, but insisted he had not bullied the women or been sexually inappropriate.

Harlan Ellison: where to start reading

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:44
Harlan Ellison, a major figure in the New Wave of science fiction writers in the 1960s who became a legend in science fiction and fantasy circles for his award-winning stories and notoriously outspoken and combative persona, died this week 84. During his life, he wrote more than 1,700 stories, film and TV scripts. The Guardian recommends five of his best...

Donald Hall, US poet laureate and prize-winning man of letters, dies at 89

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 10:40
Donald Hall, a prolific and award-winning poet and man of letters who was widely admired for his sharp humor and painful candor about nature, mortality, baseball and the distant past, has died. He was 89.

Where the ?no ending a sentence with a preposition? rule comes from

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 05:00
Atlas Obscura explains the history behind the, arguably nonsensical, grammar rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition which, "all goes back to 17th-century England and a fusspot named John Dryden":

There are thousands of individual rules for proper grammatical use of any given language; mostly, these are created, and then taught, in order to maximize understanding and minimize confusion. But the English language prohibition against "preposition stranding"--ending a sentence with a preposition like with, at, or of--is not like this. It is a fantastically stupid rule that when followed often has the effect of mangling a sentence. And yet for hundreds of years, schoolchildren have been taught to create disastrously awkward sentences like "With whom did you go?"

...Born in 1631, John Dryden was the most important figure throughout the entire Restoration period of the late 17th century... Dryden twice stated an opposition to preposition stranding. In an afterword for one of his own plays, he criticized Ben Jonson for doing this, saying: "The preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him, and which I have but lately observed in my own writing." Later, in a letter to a young writer who had asked for advice, he wrote: "In the correctness of the English I remember I hinted somewhat of concludding [sic] your sentences with prepositions or conjunctions sometimes, which is not elegant, as in your first sentence."

Dryden does not state why he finds this to be "not elegant." And yet somehow this completely unexplained, tiny criticism, buried in his mountain of works, lodged itself in the grammarian mind, and continued to be taught for hundreds of years later. This casual little comment would arguably be Dryden's most enduring creation.

B&N Posted Loss of $125 Million on 6% Sales Drop in FY '18

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 11:09
Total sales at Barnes & Noble fell 6.0% in the fiscal year ended April 28, 2018, compared to fiscal 2017, and the retailer posted a net loss of $125.5 million last year, compared to net income of $22.0 million in fiscal 2017. Revenue last year was $3.66 billion, down from $3.89 billion in fiscal 2017.

The 2017 VIDA Count

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:10
Since 2009 VIDA has tracked the review coverage of major print publications to analyze how many women and gender minorities are represented.

For the 2017 VIDA Count, they looked at 15 major print publications over the course of the year. Even though many, if not all of the publications also have an online presence, they only counted the reviews in the print versions because it is "too easy to confine women, gender minorities, and other marginalized writers to cost-effective web platforms, which frequently pay differently (or don't pay at all), compared to their print counterparts."

Of the 15 publications, only 2 published 50% or more women writers: Granta (53.5%) and Poetry (50%).

Five had women representing between 40% and 49.9% of their total publication: Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review and Tin House.

The majority, 8 out of 15 publications, failed to publish enough women writers to make up even 40% of their publication's run in 2017: Boston Review, London Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Threepenny Review, and The Times Literary Supplement.

The New York Review of Books had the most pronounced gender disparity with only 23% of published writers who are women but it was close to gender parity in terms of contributors, with 47% women.

Atul Gawande named to head cost-cutting health-care venture

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:57
Renowned surgeon and best-selling author Atul Gawande will lead a major new company aimed at reducing health-care costs, a joint venture by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.

The company, which will be based in Boston, was announced in January with a mission to use technology to make health care more transparent, affordable and simple for the companies' more than 1 million employees.

Gawande, a Harvard physician and writer for the New Yorker magazine, has written on issues at the core of American health care, including why it is so expensive and how to improve end-of-life care. He will take charge July 9.

Junot Díaz cleared in MIT Investigation

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:00
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigation has cleared author and creative writing professor Junot Díaz to return to the classroom for the fall semester. The Associated Press reported that "the inquiry into Díaz's actions toward female students and staff yielded no information that would lead to restrictions on Díaz's role as a faculty member at the university in Cambridge."

Oxford English Dictionary asks members of the public to submit regional words

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:00
Oxford University Press is asking members of the public to submit local words, phrases and expressions from around the world for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary:

"Whether you're in Manchester, Mumbai, Manila, or Massachusetts, the OED would like to hear from you. Please use the form below to tell us about the words and expressions which are distinctive to where you live or where you are from. We're looking forward to reading your suggestions."

Richard Powers: 'We're completely alienated from everything else alive'

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 05:00
After writing novels on artificial intelligence, neuroscience and genetics, Powers' has turned to trees with The Overstory. While on a hike through the Great Smoky Mountains, he talks to The Guardian about environmentalism and not having children.

Seattle abruptly repeals 'head tax' opposed by Amazon

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 17:40
Seattle officials repealed a corporate "head tax" on Tuesday "that they had wholeheartedly endorsed just a month ago, delivering a win for the measure's biggest opponent--Amazon--and offering a warning to cities bidding for the retailer's second headquarters that the company would go to the limit to get its way," the New York Times reported. The tax would have raised about $50 million a year to help the homeless and fund affordable housing projects in a city where the homeless population is the third largest in the country, after New York City and Los Angeles.

Amazon comes under fire for removal of book reviews

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 06:12
Amazon has come under fire for removing reviews from its online book listings, with some customers having had all their reviews removed or being blocked from posting further reviews on Amazon.

Authors, bloggers and publishers have criticized the development, with many sharing their frustration through the #giveourreviewsback hashtag. Amazon has blamed temporary "technical issues".

Mike McCormack wins International Dublin literary award for Solar Bones

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 05:00
Mike McCormack has won the International Dublin literary award for his novel Solar Bones.

The judges hailed it as "formally ambitious, stylistically dauntless and linguistically spirited". It is written in a single sentence that flows over 270-odd pages, and spans a single day: All Souls' Day, when, according to superstition, the dead can return to the land of the living. Solar Bones is narrated by Marcus Conway – husband, father, civil engineer, a man gripped by "a crying sense of loneliness for my family" – and a ghost, a factor that, for McCormack, explains the experimental form. ("A ghost would have no business with a full stop," he once argued. "It might fatally falter and dissipate.")

The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 14:18
In an extensive article in the New York Times, John Kidd reports on "The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar."

Two decades ago, a renowned professor promised to produce a flawless version of one of the 20th century's most celebrated novels: "Ulysses." Then he disappeared...

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