Weekly Book News Roundup

  •  Has social media brought about “a great renaissance of public shaming”? Author Jon Ronson has a new book coming out – So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. He spoke with The Guardian about rants and tweets.
  • “A book we crack with our two hands creates an actual physical space for reverie that functions as an oasis outside daily life, a cocoon in space and time.” Amidst the ongoing debates about e-books versus print, Alix Christie explores the pleasures and permanence of print books in an essay for the Millions.
  • Last weekend, in the Globe & Mail, books editor Mark Medley examined the particular challenges faced by Canadian nonfiction writers.
  • Over the past week, Ryan Boudinot’s feature at the Stranger, “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One,” has sparked bookish internet debates regarding the value of MFA programs and whether or not writing can be taught. Examples of Boudinot’s frank assertions, which have led to what is now being referred to as “MFA-gate,” include, “Writers are born with talent,” and “No one cares about your problems if you’re a shitty writer.”   In Electric Literature, writer and former MFA faculty Adrian Van Young responded to Boudinot’s essay in what he calls a “Rebuttal of Sorts.” Meanwhile, at Salon, Laura Miller dissects the Internet outrage sparked by Ryan Boudinot’s essay on the questionable value of a creative writing MFA. “He hasn’t expressed anything worse than what writers outside of the MFA bubble hear every day.”
  • Lambda Literary announced the finalists for its 27th Lambda Literary Awards. The “Lammys” celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing in twenty-four different categories. The winner will be announced on June 1st. Sixteen Canadian authors were shortlisted in 11 of 27 categories.
  • “In contemporary fiction with nameless narrators, the real-world, present-day phenomenon of namelessness is not usually confronted.” At the New Yorker, Sam Sacks examines the idea of books with nameless protagonists
  • After Faulkner won the Nobel Prize, he spent a lot of time traveling the globe. He was, and had, a bit of a problem, though.  The State Department circulated a memo called “Guidelines for Handling Mr. William Faulkner on His Trips Abroad,” designed to help agents curb Faulkner’s drinking. Their advice ranged from the obvious (monitor his liquor cabinet) to the subtle: “Keep several pretty young girls in the front two rows of any public appearance to keep his attention up.”
  • Book adaptation news:
    • Speaking of Jon Ronson, Scarlett Johansson is set to star in the adaptation of Ronson’s non-fiction book The Psychopath Test. In the book, Ronson explores the mental health industry and aims to uncover the turth about psychopathy diagnoses and find out how to identify a true psychopath. Jay Roach, who is best known for working on comedies such as Meet the Fockers and 50 First Dates, is set to direct.
    • Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven film and television rights have been acquired by Scott Steindorff. The story follows the days after a flu pandemic causes a civilization to collapse. Steindorff previously produced Jon Favreau’s Chef and the upcoming Jane Got a Gun.
    • Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey will be teaming up to create a television drama for OWN based on Natalie Baszile’s book Queen Sugar. The story follows a widow who moves with her daughter from Los Angeles to the Louisiana sugar farm she recently inherited. DuVernay, who directed the Academy Award nominee Selma, will write, direct, and executive produce the series and Oprah will executive produce and have a recurring role on the show.

Book to Movie © Tom Gauld

I have a few questions for you this week, based on the news roundup:

  1. Do you read nonfiction? If so, do you have a favourite genre?
  2. When you are reading fiction, can you tell if an author has come through an MFA program?
  3. Do you like nameless narrators? Can you think of a really great book you have read in which the narrator was never identified? Why do you think authors do this?
  4. E-book, or printed books? Do you have a preference?

Happy reading!!

News of the Day

A roundup of  newsy items being talked about today in the publishing world:


Things We’ve Taken From Literature

* this is a kinda cool bit from The Millions: they asked some of their editors to write about music, food, poetry and lifestyle suggestions they’ve taken from literature.

“What works of art have you been introduced to by other works of art? The books, music, and films we love can be like trusted friends, recommending new authors or introducing us to kimchi. We all know that art changes lives in major ways, but how has it changed your life in minor ways?”


thumb.phpCannes, 2013

* while the bookish likely know that Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby (here, see star carey mulligan as she appears in the newest vogue) will open the 2013 festival, today, the full line-up was revealed. James Franco’s adaptation of As I Lay Dying will also run.




* this year, the Man of Steel turns 75.  the new republic has an interesting piece on how his biography is our history.


Making Me Laugh Today

* gary shteyngart! haha. he has, apparently, read all 800 pages of middlemarch.


imagesSpring Books

* the globe and mail has posted a list of some of the most anticipated books of spring.  i think there’s a bit of something for everyone. i am most keen for the new lionel shriver…though after her last book, the new republic, i’m not sure i can handle her disappointing me again. heh.



thanks for stopping by and reading today’s post!

Shakespeare ~ The Writer?

When I introduced my blog last week, I mentioned this space would be an outlet for all, okay some, of the tangents my brain takes me down each day. I recognize this likely makes the blog lacking in coherence. One of my challenges will be learning more about the tools I have at my disposal, to help improve the flow of my posts.

After that introduction, you must be anticipating my wild veering off in another direction (plus the title of this post is a less than subtle give-away). That’s right, Shakespeare!!

I read my first play by Shakespeare when I was 14 years old. The play was Twelfth Night and, from the very first words, I was hooked! Being a bit of a tomboy (then and now. Can a grown woman be a tomboy?) I thought Viola completely rocked and the plots ~ disguising herself as a boy named Cesario; mourning her presumed dead brother, Sebastian and the running feud between Malvolio and Belch ~ kept me reading, reading, reading! The mischief, fun, love and trickery was the perfect introduction to Shakespeare, for a 14-year-old. While studying this play in high school I was fortunate to have an interesting and interested English teacher. She was the first person to introduce the idea of an authorship debate. The possibility that Shakespeare was not the actual author of all the amazing plays also became a life-long curiosity for me.

Today’s Globe and Mail features an intriguing article, Was Shakespeare a Woman?, which introduces us to a “new contender Amelia Bassano Lanier, a converso (clandestine Jew) and the illegitimate daughter of an Italian-born, Elizabethan court musician.” Some pretty compelling evidence is presented, adding yet more fuel to the debate. I have never come to a solid conclusion of my own concerning this issue, but felt Marlowe to be the most likely candidate if Shakespeare is not the actual author. Now, though, I am planning to do a lot more reading about Amelia Bassano Lanier.

I am loving this possibility.

19Jan10 ~ Post edited to add:

With thanks to John Hudson, author of the article bringing Amelia Bassano Lanier to the front of the Shakespeare debate, the full story can be read here. In addition, Hudson founded The Dark Lady Players, a theatre group dedicated to performing the religious allegory of Shakespeare. Hudson’s approach to Shakespeare can be read here.