Thursday, June 26, 2014

What I’m reading #120

Jacinda Ardern in the dogbox: she poses beside a stature of Hercules Morse (“big as a horse”), part of Tauranga’s Hairy Maclary project. Quote unquote:
Ms Ardern said her mother's maiden name was Bottomley with her grandparents formerly living in Welcome Bay. “So I feel like I have that nice little connection to Bottomley Potts,” she said.

Photo by Ruth Keber for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Adrienne LaFrance says in the Atlantic that CDs are dying – not just the format, but the actual discs. Quote unquote:
“All of the modern formats weren’t really made to last a long period of time,” said Fenella France, chief of preservation research and testing at the Library of Congress. “They were really more developed for mass production.”

Which should give e-book self-publishers pause for thought. Is your e-book future-proof? Will it be readable on the next generation of e-book readers, or the one after that? A tech-savvy friend who works in this area says: probably not, especially if you converted it from a Word document, as many people do. This stuff is much harder than it looks.

Carl Wilkinson in the Financial Times on the economics of book festivals. Quote unquote:
I was listening to AC Grayling in Brighton recently constructing this complex and fascinating argument about where religion came from. I thought, ‘Where else would I be able to hear this and have the opportunity of asking him questions?’ I’m not sure I’d find it on television anymore. I think festivals have stepped into that intellectual space that television has left behind.

Beryl Bainbridge is one of my favourite novelists: her late-period historical novels are a masterclass in concision. I had no idea that she was a painter, too. A really good one, as Rupert Christiansen reports in the Daily Telegraph. The retrospective of her paintings at Somerset House is on until 19 October and if I win Lotto I’m going. Quote unquote:    
Best remembered for her superb historical fiction and tragi-comic tales of working-class life, she was a one-off, writing with quirky wit, concision and originality in a manner that was always fresh and surprising, sometimes macabre and shocking – and entirely sui generis. This makes her a writer difficult to catch or categorise, and one wonders where her reputation will ultimately rest: five times runner-up for the Booker Prize, she never did anything big or mainstream. Is she simply a fluent raconteur, spinning excellent yarns, a subtle literary miniaturist or something altogether darker and more elusive?

The Economist reviews Kevin Birmingham’s The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, which tells how the novel was published, banned and then recognised as a masterpiece. Quote unquote:
With the eye of a novelist Mr Birmingham enlivens his story with details about these forgotten characters: how the judge who ultimately overturned the ban in America wore a tie when playing tennis and how the British lawyer who declared that the novel was “filthy, and filthy books are not allowed to be imported into this country” disliked cars, even as late as the 1950s.

Laura Millar at Salon on why Hachette is right and Amazon is wrong, especially from the point of view of self-published authors. Quote unquote:
Amazon may seem like your best friend right now, but so it also seemed to traditional publishers when it appeared in the late 1990s, as a counterbalance to chain bookstores. A self-publisher is still a publisher and occasionally all publishers clash with the retailers who bring their wares to market.
Norman Lebrecht in Standpoint interviews the composer Harrison Birtwistle, who turns 80 this month.Quote unquote:
Enter the world of Birtwistle and you do so on his terms. I heard the leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra talk of smashing his violin after barely managing to negotiate the world premiere of Earth Dances — for me, the most aptly named, riotous work for orchestra since Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Harry wasn’t bothered.
 “What people don’t understand, Norman,” he said, sitting at his huge draughtsman’s board, “is that it takes me three days to score from the top of the page to the bottom, and all I get is a few seconds of music. By the time I’m halfway down, I’m bored with the idea and want to be doing something else.”

So here is Harrison Birtwistle’s Earth Dances. (Irritating visuals: this is strictly for the music, which is best played loud.)   

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Chris Bell said...
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