Prufrock's Page

Friday, April 21, 2006

No-one's Reading This

According to a survey by the British Market Research Bureau, more people than ever before know about blogs. But that doesn't mean they're reading them:

"Awareness of blogs dramatically increased in the three months to the end of February, with the proportion of internet users in Britain who have never heard of a blog, or blogging, falling from 45% in the previous quarter three to 30%, according to the BMRB survey.

"But despite this ...only 10% - around 2.8 million people - of internet users view a weblog once a month or more."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kaufman Replaces Hemingway

Forget the Great American Novel, we all want to write the Great American Screenplay instead.

Still Provoked by Rushdie

Officials of the Nova Southeastern University thought it would be a good idea to invite Salman Rushdie to speak at this year's graduation ceremony: they praised him as an example of "higher education's central role in the open, uncensored examination of social, cultural and religious issues", and Don Rosenblum, dean of NSU's undergraduate school, said: "Most importantly, he's an outspoken advocate of freedom of expression, which is a critical core value of the university".

Not everyone agreed, however, according to this report. "I was looking forward to my graduation, of course," said Farheen Parvez, a student leader and officer in the International Muslim Association at NSU. "Then when I found out that Salman Rushdie would be the speaker, I was appalled." She and her family plan to boycott the ceremony.

More ominously -- and stupidly -- student Randy Rodriguez-Torres wrote in an editorial published in this week's Nova student newspaper: "Who is to say there is not someone willing to try and kill him while inflicting harm to everyone else at the ceremony?"

A group of students plans to meet officials to make them reconsider, though there are more reasonable voices. While disagreeing with the choice of Rushdie, NSU student Sadia Dandia said she planned to attend the commencement. "I don't think a speaker should prevent anyone from going to their graduation ceremony. It's not something you can get back."

Just Give The Man A Nobel, Already

In the New Statesman, A.S. Byatt praises Philip Roth's new novella:

"Roth's Everyman is a brief and uncompromising account of one man's death. He is nameless, though his family, wives, children and lovers are named. The book opens with his funeral, and ends with the moment of his death on the operating table...Roth's writing looks uncompromisingly straightforward but is subtle and clever....Roth works with things, not with symbols or metaphors, but he chooses them craftily. ...A human story for our times."

In the past, Roth has cleverly reworked the seminal moments of his life into his fiction, be they the attacks by the American-Jewish establishment, or his failed relationship with Margaret Martinson. In the evening of his life, it looks like he's done the same, choosing as his subject the human body and its waning with age. His new book sounds grim and autumnal; one can't wait to get one's hands on it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Managing The Booker

Following the principle of any-publicity-is-good publicity, Martin Goff, administrator of the Booker Prize, deftly turned it into "the most prestigious fiction prize in the English-speaking world.". Now that he's been succeeded by Ion Trewin, things "can now proceed in a more dignified, less sensational manner", says John Sutherland, last year's chairman.

A New Voice?

It's a cliche, but the aggressive, flamboyant and alternative Village Voice really did define and describe a generation. Of course, its influence has waned with time -- as have we all -- and now it looks as though there's more change in the air. They announced their merger with the New Times Group in October, followed by many staff resignations -- and now, the newsroom is awaiting a new editor-in-chief, according to this New York Times report.

Feeling Illuminated

"People seem to have two reactions to books. Either they describe what they're about or they describe how the book made them feel. I'd much rather write the kind of book that inspires someone to describe the way it made them feel. When you're talking about the book, you're not referring to an object; you're referring to an experience."

- Jonathan Safran Foer, in an interview with Powells.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Top Ten Poets

The Washington Post reports that the Academy of American Poets website has put up a top ten list of most popular poets -- based on traffic data resulting from a tally of hits by visitors to the site. Here's the list:

1. Langston Hughes
2. Emily Dickinson
3. Robert Frost
4. Walt Whitman
5. E.E. Cummings
6. Sylvia Plath
7. Maya Angelou
8. Dylan Thomas
9. Shel Silverstein
10. William Carlos Williams

That's A Relief

“It’s a much simpler task than people teaching creative writing believe, writing novels,” Fay Weldon tells students at the University of Connecticut.