Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I’m reading #80

It’s a shame this isn’t “essentially a literary gossip column” – you can’t believe everything CK Stead says – because if it was I’d have a ton of material for you. But at least Chad Taylor and I won’t run out of things to talk about when we catch up later this week.

Spookily, on 26 April 2010 I quoted Chad on this blog as writing:
In less than two years, I'll probably be creating and selling my own ebooks via this blog and my author site, or via some similar online mechanism. The notion is empowering but more than a little melancholy. Writing is already a lonely business: when the publishing model changes, it will become even lonelier.
And that is exactly what has happened. This morning, alerted by his blog, I bought a copy of his short story Supercollider. On Amazon, $0.99. Bargain. I don’t have a Kindle but can read e-books on my PC. Chad bills his story as “weird, offensive”. We’ll see.

Bollocks in the Herald about “Foods matched to your body”, swiftly debunked at StatsChat. Same-day service!

That Alpine murder – Tim Worstall gives a fascinating primer on zirconium. No, really. It has a lot to do with nuclear proliferation.

Danyl at the Dim-Post is a dreamer. Bet he wishes he wasn’t.

A lovely page of equations.

How to play guitar like Wilko Johnson. Well, it’s a start.

Joan Brady, whose fine novel Theory of War won the 1993 Whitbread Book of the Year and  £21,000 in prize money, has belatedly realised that the money was tainted. Whitbread was a multinational. Evil, evil, evil. It gets worse: Whitbread, “a corporate giant”, has bought Costa, a coffee chain that is opening outlets in “small towns and villages”. The book award is now known as the Costa. And you know what?:
The worst part of it is that Whitbread/Costa isn’t the only commercially funded literary prize.
Shocking. Are there no depths to which these dastardly capitalists will not sink? Giving money to writers is wrong (unless it is done by the state). Though I don’t suppose Ms Brady intends to give any of her £21,000 back. David Thompson points out that Brady’s brand-new novel The Blue Death, the Observer’s Thriller of the Month, is published by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS, a corporate giant. I have ascertained that it is available on Amazon, another corporate giant. Here in New Zealand we can comfort ourselves with the thought that while the Wattie and Montana book awards must have been bad, the NZ Post awards must be good.

Speaking of intelligent, educated idiots (via Toby Manhire) Germaine Greer has done it again. In 1972 she was arrested for saying “bullshit” in Auckland. She is still talking bullshit. The Courier Mail reports:
In her opening speech at the 50th BWF [Brisbane Writers Festival] last night, Greer told more than 250 people […] that almost half of all Queenslanders have low literacy levels.
“The ABS reports that 47 per cent of Queenslanders can not read a newspaper, follow a recipe, make sense of time tables or understand instructions on a medicine bottle,” Greer said.
“You can not have a good time at literary festival when that is the underlying bedrock truth.”
Hardly surprising that an arts graduate would get into trouble for misreading and/or misquoting statistics:
State Library of Queensland public and indigenous library services director Jane Cowell aid yesterday that Greer had misrepresented the statistics, which came from the 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey.
“It’s not 47 per cent of Queenslanders can’t read a newspaper or a medicine bottle but 14.7 per cent and another 32 per cent struggle with complex things like lease documents, tax advice and Centrelink forms,” Ms Cowell said.
“Making derogatory comments doesn’t help this situation because it’s the shame that’s attached to the issue that stops people from learning.”
Greer sounds the literary festival guest from hell:
Greer also criticised the BWF, saying the program was monoglot and “worthy” rather than fun and should not include school children because it was the responsibility of schools to teach literacy.
She also said including aspiring writers was also problematic. The problem with creating more writers is that writers need readers...and one of the traps that lies in wait here is vanity publishing,” she said.
Right. Don’t encourage writers.
Greer also criticised BWF for featuring Brisbane writers in the past.
God forbid a regional festival should support people from the region. What we want is expatriates. Such as, perhaps, Germaine Greer. 

Les Murray, who was also at the festival (a top bloke: I was his minder one night at the Auckland Writers Festival, knew he was vastly brainy but not that he was so funny), was not impressed:
Murray, one of Australia’s and the world’s leading poets, arrived in Brisbane yesterday to take part in the BWF and said Greer “would say anything to get a headline”.
“I would not turn aside from a good urination to listen to Germaine Greer,” he said.
The most tragic thing in all this?:
BWF director Jane O’Hara said she had no regrets in inviting Greer to open the 50th annual event because she provoked debate.
“I invited her to speak knowing she would be provocative,” Ms O’Hara said yesterday.
Literary festivals, visual arts awards – yes, it’s all good if it’s provocative and gets column inches.

No comments: