Sunday, February 16, 2014

What I’m reading #112

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.
The new issue of the Listener has an editorial about the book trade and where we buy our books. Quote unquote:
New Zealanders are buying fewer books, and when they do purchase a paperback, glossy art title or e-book, more are using overseas websites. The end of independent bookshops has long been predicted. Are we now in the middle of the end?
Lincoln Gould, CEO of Booksellers NZ, respondsQuote unquote:
Current evidence and trends, especially out of the United States, point to medium and smaller bookshops that focus on meeting the needs of their local communities and customers  are more likely to survive than big chains that have turned themselves into “gift shops”.
Bernard Porter in the Literary Review on Michael Booth’s The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth about the Nordic Miracle:
Booth starts with Denmark because he lives there – his wife is Danish and their children study at Danish schools. That gives him an insight into the country that doesn't quite extend to the others, which he has merely visited and researched, his views of them perhaps coloured by his experiences of Denmark. (I would have the same problem. I live in Sweden; when I visit the other Nordic countries I see them through Swedish eyes, and behind them British ones.) He is at pains to point out how different they all are, and how scathing each nation is of the others. I can vouch for that. You should hear my partner on the Danes. She’s going to love some of the ammunition provided here. Can it really be true that ‘seven per cent of Danish men have had sex with an animal’? (Not the same one, surely.)
This could be the future: the University of Central Lancashire offers an MA in self-publishing. Quote unquote:
Williams said the self-publishing degree was created because of the intense demand for it, and prospective students are already applying. It will not be a creative writing course, she said, and will focus more on the production and business aspects of writing, through a mix of lectures and workshops with industry experts.
Fair enough, but an MA?

David Thompson on more agonies of the left, this time to do with serving dinner. Seriously, someone at the Guardian writes:
I felt like my wife was offering to perpetuate the very sexist ways that women have and continue to supply invisible and undervalued labour. And I wanted no part in that.
I'm not sure what my wife and I are supposed to do for each other based on prevailing gender norms and what the outside world expects of us.
I’m sure we all feel his anxiety about prevailing gender norms. I’ll raise it at the school drop-off in the morning with farmers Shane and Tommy, shearer Dean and Kelly the auctioneer.

Joe Hildebrand on Adelaide:
If Sydney is the girl who offers you a one-night stand and Melbourne is the girl you marry, then Adelaide is the special friend with whom you do crosswords on a Sunday afternoon and lazily wonder if maybe you might end up together one day.
Current listening, John Grant’s Queen of Denmark. Gloriously miserable, best gay break-up album I’ve heard. Sample lyric, from “Chicken Bones”:
I got out of bed this morning, noticed that it didn’t have a right side.
The chorus starts:
Some day is just chicken bones,
you'd better fuck off now,
you'd better leave me alone,
cos I'm about to explode
just like a Wonder Bread mom.

Also the chorus of his song “Sigourney Weaver” is to the tune of “Freebird”, so is 50 shades of awesome:


Nicholas Reid said...

You know that guy writing about his wife in the "Guardian"? Am I allowed to say that is a complete and utter self-flagellating dork who clearly doesn't have real problems in his life to worry about? And he is more concerned with other people's perceptions of him that he his with helping to cure the world's real ills?

Stephen Stratford said...