Tuesday, January 20, 2004

News for Tuesday 

Well, you had to know I'd lead off with David Sexton's article on literary weblogs for the Scotsman, but in reference to the whole "clubby" feel he talks about....ah well. Someone must not like crime fiction very much, then. I'll get over it.

The Hon. Chris Smith will chair the 2004 Booker Prize judging panel. The remaining judges will be announced at a later date. Claire Armistead meets Smith in the Guardian, wondering if he's well up to the challenge.

Meanwhile, Scottish poet Don Paterson--already nominated for the Whitbread--has taken home the T.S. Eliot prize for a cool 15,000 pounds.

And more awards, this time the National Book Critics Circle. Studs Terkel, Chicago personality and still kicking at the ripe old age of 91, will get a lifetime achievement award. The fiction nominees are Edward P. Jones, Tobias Wolff, Caryl Phillips, Richard Powers, and Monica Ali.

Duncan Murrell talks about lowered expectations for writers: is it better to aim for the top, i.e. the Big Five of American Publishing? Or to set sets more realistically on small presses and such? To a certain extent, he's absolutely right--it is all about status. A big publisher can, in theory, do more for the author and pay more than a small press can. But will they pay the same kind of attention? That's where the problem lies. And small publishers don't, in my mind, heinously stab authors in the back in the same way the big boys can. They can be downright vicious. (link seen first on Maud.)

Peter Carey, speaking in an interview with the National Post, doesn't want to be pigeonholed as a particular type of writer writing about the mythology of his native Australia:

"It's like looking at a bunch of dots and then saying, 'Oh, look, these three things make a pattern.' But you can only do it by ignoring a whole bunch of other things," says the author.

Indeed, casting Carey as a historical writer ignores the science-fiction of the Unusual Life of Tristan Smith or The Tax Collector, a story set in contemporary Sydney.

"Everyone's looking for a pattern in my books except for me," continues the author. "I'm not looking for a pattern, I'm just looking for an idea for the next book."

Well, people are always looking for some sort of angle--even if it's nowhere to be found.

And finally, the Poe Toaster has struck again--keeping alive a streak uninterrupted for the past 56 years, when a fateful anonymous soul has left french cognac and three roses at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe in his adopted hometown of Baltimore.

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