Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Truth about Publishing

As someone who worked at a literary agency for years, I already knew how random publication tended to be and how difficult it was to sell a book. Most books never sold and those that did rarely earned out their advances. The contract terms were absurdly tilted toward the publishers and authors didn’t have much say in presentation or marketing. Most authors never got agents, and it had little to do with quality. Usually, it was just luck. Still I continued to have some faith in the industry even as I left it, became a professional librarian, received a MFA, wrote and rewrote my works. And while I received initial interest from several agents, I never got one. Even the independent publishers rejected it. All their stated reasons were different.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Read an excerpt from Nabokov's screenplay LOLITA

Several people scramble for shelter, and the first big drops of rain strike the zinc of a lunchbox. As the poor lady in white runs toward the pavilion of a lookout, a blast of livid light fells her. Her graceful specter floats up above the black cliffs holding a parasol and blowing kisses to her husband and child who stand below, looking up, hand in hand.


Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Pen/Pinter Prize goes to Salman Rushdie

“This prize is English PEN’s way of thanking Salman Rushdie not just for his books and his many years of speaking out for freedom of expression, but also for his countless private acts of kindness.  When he sees writers unjustly vilified, prosecuted, or forced into exile, he takes a personal interest. I think he would be the first to say that it was Harold Pinter who set the example in this regard: the engaged writer never sleeps.”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Murakami's "Yesterday" is a disappointment

The Haruki Murakami story "Yesterday" in the current New Yorker disappoints me. It feels like it has been been churned out to meet the deadline. All Murakami stuff was there, but they are jaded and repetitive and  lacking in the magic that makes a Murakmi story distinctive and different from other writers. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Soccer and literature: Angel Di Maria is like Kafka

The first time I saw Ángel Di María play soccer, I thought, That's my man. One reason was the name, so loaded with culture and history and yet so otherworldly that it's like a novel in itself. Another reason was his country, Argentina, which ever since I watched the World Cup on television in 1978 when I was nine has represented for me the land of myth, the republic of dreams, which naturally only intensified when Borges entered my life, and Maradona, of course, the greatest magician of them all. A third reason I took note of Di María, who plays professionally for Real Madrid, was his striking resemblance to Franz Kafka. It is fantastic, isn't it, Kafka out there on the wing in La Liga?
- Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of My Struggle

Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 World Cup of Literature: 32 titles. 24 judges

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Javier Cercas interview

The past is a dimension of the present. I don’t write historical novels, but novels about this bigger present that contains the past.”


Friday, June 6, 2014

Writing about real people

Monday, June 2, 2014

Javier Marias on realistic/real novelists

The so-called realistic novelist, who, when he writes, remains firmly installed in the real world, has confused his role with that of the historian or journalist or documentary-maker. The real novelist does not reflect reality, but unreality, if we take that to mean not the unlikely or the fantastical, but simply what could have happened and did not, the very contrary of actual facts and events and incidents, the very contrary of “what is happening now.” What is “merely” possible continues to be possible, eternally possible in any age and any place, which is why we still read Don Quixote and Madame Bovary, whom one can live with for a while and believe in absolutely, rather than discounting them as impossible or passé or old hat.

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