Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I’m reading #92

Heaps, actually. Am currently editing fiction – fortunately, it’s all crime fiction so is enjoyable – but here’s what else.

Books. Yes, books. John Carey’s biography of William Golding, Owen Marshall’s The Larnachs, Helen Heath’s poetry collection Graft, Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco and Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus. All highly recommended.

What I’m writing: a rave review of Maxine Alterio’s novel Lives We Leave Behind is in the works. Plus my new book – 16th, I think – nears completion. What’s two years when you’re having fun? Fortunately my publisher, AUP, is patient.

Elsewhere: Laurence Fearnley, one of my favourite novelists, has a new website about her writing and reading life. It’s all interesting and, I imagine, useful to any fiction writer. Or reader. Quote unquote:
Every time I give a public talk a couple of people are kind enough to thank me and then they mention that they intend to borrow my books from the library.
I love that. After Quote Unquote folded, I lost count of the teachers who told me how much they had loved the magazine and that they and their colleagues always read the school’s copy. Then they would ask, “Why did it fold?”

The two Buddle Findlay Sargeson fellows for 2013 are Hamish Clayton and Tanya Moir. Each gets five months in the Sargeson Centre flat and a $20,000 stipend. None of this comes from taxpayers so shaddap you face, libertarians.

Let’s stop aid for Africa, says Kenyan economist James Shikwati in Der Spiegel. Quote unquote:
Jobs with foreign aid organisations are, of course, quite popular, and they can be very selective in choosing the best people. When an aid organisation needs a driver, dozens apply for the job. And because it’s unacceptable that the aid worker’s chauffeur only speaks his own tribal language, an applicant is needed who also speaks English fluently – and, ideally, one who is also well mannered. So you end up with some African biochemist driving an aid worker around, distributing European food, and forcing local farmers out of their jobs.  
What if Dr Seuss Books Were Titled According to Their Subtexts?

A perpetual-motion argument.

Innumerate journalists have been making noise about food waste, here and overseas, and suggesting that it’s all the supermarkets’ fault. Let’s ask an economist, shall we?

An honest account of a product launch. Quote unquote:
Like most journalists everywhere, I am hungover.
Clementine Ford reads Esquire on Megan Fox and asks: is this the best worst celebrity interview ever? Quote unquote:
So, to recap: Fox is a camouflaged butterfly snowball cascading down the side of a mountain while also crisscrossing over a lake glistening beneath the light of the moon, which glows gently from her northern wintery skin.
How to goodbye depression. It’s to do with, how does one say, clenching your bottom. May not immediately sound convincing but it’s on Amazon so it must be true. Don’t miss the book description.

Making money from the arts: here is Gordon Rayner in the Daily Telegraph on subsidies to Welsh writers. The heading says it all: “Taxpayers fund millions of pounds in grants to keep Welsh authors writing books no one reads”. Quote unquote:
Welsh authors can apply for grants of up to £10,000 to work on any kind of book, and they keep the money even if their work is never published. Some of the money is used to fund advances for Welsh “celebrities” to write their memoirs, even though there is virtually no public appetite for many of the books.
On this subject, yesterday I went to Auckland for a three-hour meeting with Creative NZ to decide some Very Important Things to do with funding of New Zealand books. I like working with Creative NZ. The people there are smart, professional and pleasant – and they pay. It’s a rigorous process, too, which all involved with take deadly seriously – and unlike Wales commercial viability is a factor. I learn a lot from these meetings – what sells overseas, what gets translated, and how local sales figures are so often much higher/lower than I’d have thought. Comment of the day came when we were discussing one well-intentioned non-fiction candidate, and a panel member said, “Is that a book, now? Shouldn’t it be a website or a blog?” Or perhaps an app. There will be a lot more of this.

The Atlantic discusses how to make money from music. Four words: it’s all about iTunes. As one earner, “avant-garde cellist” Zoe Keating, says, streaming is pitiful.

So here are the Bee Gees in 1997 with “Islands in the Stream”, a beautifully constructed song. That’s the late Maurice on the left, rocking the Hasidic look; the late Robin in the centre; and sole survivor Barry on the right. Also contains one of my favourite guitar solos: a three-note phrase, played six times. How punk is that?


Monitors: Gail D’Arcy, Bill Manhire, Penny Wise

2 comments: said...

I clenched my bottom and listened to the Bee Gee's - it seemed to work.

Stephen Stratford said...

The Bee Gees work every time. Totally uncool but totally good. Barry does have an insincere smile, though.