Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I’m reading

Very interesting piece from Booksellers NZ about the production of Rugby World Cup books the morning after. HarperCollins, Penguin and Hachette all got books to print on the Monday or (very early) Tuesday morning after the game. On Monday:
Hachette’s first editorial team members hit their desks at 5.30am, at Penguin, some were in as early as 5am; at HarperCollins it was a 6.30am start.
 HarperCollins had the great Bill Honeybone in charge, so the book will be excellent; Hachette’s writer was Phil Gifford, so the book will be excellent. Penguin had the official RWC contract and the photos were by Andrew Cornaga so the book will be excellent. Hachette went on sale on Wednesday 26 October, Penguin on Thursday 27 October and HarperCollins on Saturday 29 October. An outstanding effort all round, especially when you consider that this all happened just days after the Frankfurt Book Fair so some of the people in charge would have been massively jet-lagged. 

The Brits do obits better than anyone. You want evidence? Try this: the Daily Telegraph on William Donaldson, who was clearly an unsatisfactory person but god he was funny. My copies of Both the Ladies and the Gentlemen, The Henry Root Letters, Henry Root’s World of Knowledge and Is This Allowed? were all stolen in the Great Book Robbery of 1998. If ever you see a book by him, grab it. Two quotes from the obit give the flavour: 
 The following years were a blur of starlets and minor celebrities, including the American singer Carly Simon, whom Donaldson jilted when she was preparing to come to Britain to marry him.
In 2011 terms, that is like jilting Scarlett Johansson. And then this:
Donaldson/Root’s torment of his victims was often lovingly prolonged and Donaldson readily accepted there was something unpleasant and dishonourable about the whole operation. It was claimed that one of his more redeeming features was that while he hated pomposity and hypocrisy in others, he disliked himself even more.
Paul Litterick writes about a recent experience at Artspace:
They were Canadian. They made videos. They questioned the values of the art world while trying their hardest to make as much money as possible from it. They were really Eighties. [. . . ]
But visiting curators are expected to bring artists from overseas and they are expected to find stuff which is “challenging.” They don’t. They find stuff which fits the same old paradigm of international curatorial practice.  This is why our contemporary art spaces are like airport lounges: everything is sort of the same, wherever you go. It is never quite the same, but neither is it very different. It features videos and concepts and performances, all stuff which was done by the end of the ‘60s. The people who come to see this stuff are the MFAs and PhDs who live on K Road. Nobody else cares.
 Finally, this Ode to Wellington from Andrew Sullivan via Cactus Kate.

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