Saturday, March 30, 2013

ToB Rooster goes to Adam Johnson

 Adam Johnson who was bumped at one point of ToB resurfaced by readers' vote (big readers, these ToB addicts) and now wins the Rooster, thanks to judges.

I'm happy the most-deserved novel has won. Truth to tell, I've just read bits and excerpts of TOMS from here and there. But I'm now hungry for the whole book. Sure I'm going to buy it.

I was a first -timer at ToB, but I must admit I enjoyed it a lot. Every night, on returning from my clinic, I would log on to ToB page and read the judge's review, then the match commentary and finally the readers' comments. It was a great and enriching experience for me, and I would go to bed with a unique learning happiness every time.

 Thanks to ToB team and viva lectura!

I’ll admit I’m a ToB addict, so it’s a special honor to be included in the bracket and to survive some fascinating matchups. And to get bumped, only to Zombie back? My highest achievement. Really, I read it all—the reviews, the color commentary, the reader comments, the NOOK ads—and it always got my day going by thinking about books: why we write them, how we read them, how we speak to them, what they mean to us. 

I will now demand that my publisher place silver Rooster stickers on all the paperbacks. But first: Deliver unto me one live rooster! It will live in our backyard in San Francisco, until my sleep-deprived neighbors murder it. And if readers will make suggestions for what we should call it, I promise to select a name from one of the comments. 

Finally, a special thanks to all the readers, reviewers, and authors who contributed to a pretty dang awesome celebration of books.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Morning News Tournament of Books: BS knocks out TOMS

In the semi-final of The Morning News Tournament of Books, Chris Ware's  Building Stories knocks out Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son.

The Orphan Master’s Son has masterfully pulled back the curtain on life in North Korea—and, as Dennis Rodman’s recent unexpected visit seems to indicate, we may soon begin to learn much more about our planet’s most mysterious country—but Building Stories has pulled a curtain back on what it means to be human. For that, I say that Chris Ware is not only a good draw-er, but the best damn writer of 2012.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Michael Frayn interview

We try to understand the world by seeing it in terms of some kind of narrative, and I think most of my plays and books are about that process. But I think there are some things about which it's theoretically impossible to have precise knowledge – namely, other people's intentions and feelings and probably one's own as well.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

George Saunders' new concern

I don’t think you could ever make a good story by thinking if it would sell. But there is some kind of intersection between trying to write as sincerely and truthfully and well as you can and then some idea that a good-hearted reader would connect. That much you can control, I think. But what you can’t control, I am noticing, is once the book is done and it either does really well or really poorly. You can’t predict that. There’s an element that you can’t predict or control. So I don’t think you can make much of it. It’s just luck.

 In The Morning News George Saunders discusses his audience problem and other things with  Robert Birnbaum.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Richard Nash's idea of business of literature

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why Mikhail Shishkin refused to participate in Book Expo

A country where power has been seized by a corrupt, criminal regime, where the state is a pyramid of thieves, where elections have become  farce, where courts serve the authorities, not the law, where there are political prisoners, where state television has become a prostitute, where packs of impostors pass insane laws that are returning everyone to the Middle Ages—such a country cannot be my Russia. I cannot and do not want to participate in an official Russian delegation representing that Russia.

via Blog of a Bookslut

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are you watching the Morning News Tournament of Books?

I've been following, the first time, the Morning News Tournament of Books with great interest. As of now, I have no clue as to how they get their books for the 'tournament' except that they are all published in 2012. But I see they have excellent judges on board - great literary tasters - and I'm enjoying their words to such an extent that some of their observations I find myself copying  in a separate notebook.

It’s a reminder of what fiction has the power to do: Change the way you see the world. It’s a book that warrants close reading (by everyone) and it’s one that we’ll still be reading 50 years from now. And it’s the clear winner in this round. Where’d You Go, Bernadette can’t compete with the ambition and scope of The Orphan Master’s Son.

This is  Elliot Halt writing about The Orphan Master's Son. I wonder if any reviewer would be so much open and generous about a book today..

Equally interesting is the match commentary between Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner, both novelists, but great readers at the same time. You get gem in their conversation, and I'm simply blown away by their intelligent and incisive dissection and interpretation of novels with their individual but insightful approaches.

 What impresses me is that Homes can get me to take these people seriously as they ricochet from oddness to oddness. I see her as a kind of post-post-modernist. There’s something Pynchonian about her book, but rather than swallowing the world and leaving us a black hole, like Pynchon does, Homes lets some light escape. It’s considerably more hopeful than some of her previous work, which I think disappointed some of her longtime fans, but I thought it was her best book yet.

 I highly recommend this tournament -for discerning readers, of course.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sayed Kashua quote

Matias Viegener's take on tweeting and texting

Tweeting and texting may not have led to better writing, but I’d argue that they’ve led to better close readings. Look at the way a cryptic tweet gets scrutinised. For many people today, reading is a kind of code-breaking. I’m fascinated by the powers of condensation, quotation, and metaphor, for which social media has tremendous potential. If an emerging writer wanted a form of realism that reflected our “lived” experiences, it seems to me that working in and through these new modalities has more potential that the narrative novel, essentially a 19th century invention.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Marilynne Robinson's favourite genre

Oddly enough, my favorite genre is not fiction. I’m attracted by primary sources that are relevant to historical questions of interest to me, by famous old books on philosophy or theology that I want to see with my own eyes, by essays on contemporary science, by the literatures of antiquity. Every period is trapped in its own assumptions, ours, too, so I am always trying, without much optimism, to put together a sort of composite of the record we have made that gives a larger sense of the constant at work in it all, that is, ourselves. The project is doomed from the outset, I know. Still. 

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