Prufrock's Page

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Day Of The Jackal

Literary agent Andrew Wylie speaks on his business, his rewards and on whether the future belongs to the e-book (it doesn't): "It's a very odd, very small business, that no one should get into unless they have no other occupation that they want to be involved in. I love it, but it's tough—you have to work two or three times harder than you do at other jobs to succeed...The reward is aesthetic. I respond to interesting writing and provocative thinking more passionately and deeply than I do to painting or film or music. That's just where my interests lie. At its best, it's completely satisfying to me, and everything else is gravy." That gravy, at present, seems very rich indeed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What You'll Be Reading In 2008

Martin Amis, Hanif Kureishi, Viktor Pelevin and Peter Carey, among others, says The New Statesman. (Please, let's not have more talk about Sebastian Faulks doing an Ian Fleming. It's not going to be a good book.)

Type Right

One is of a generation that still recalls using typewriters in the office -- as well as occasionally writing reviews late at night at home on a decrepit, black Olivetti with sticky keys. Now, of course, they're museum pieces. Well, not quite, says Paul Schweitzer, owner of Gramercy Typewriter Co in New York City: “The younger generation says, ‘Who needs typewriters?' It’s not true; there are people who still like hitting the keys.” For example, according to the report, John Irving uses an IBM Selectric. John Updike favours a 1940s Olivetti and Joan Didion writes with a Royal KMM. Maybe one should have hung on to that Olivetti.

Black Is Back

John Banville, writing as crime thriller author Benjamin Black, gets another set of excellent reviews for his second outing, called The Silver Swan. Here's one: "Black ensures that the familiar satisfactions of unravelling a mystery plot lead us to a very unsatisfying fact: that despicable crimes stem as easily from the most humdrum emotions of ordinary people as from the machinations of the power-hungry."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

WTF Is What Comes To Mind

Merriam-Webster has announced that an expression popular with people that play online computer games was voted its word of the year for 2007. The word -- if you can call it that -- is "w00t" (yes, spelt with two 0s). The lexicographers' hunt for publicity has finally gone too far.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Orange Goes Bananas

The five judges for the prestigious Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction have been announced. Among them are pop singer Lily Allen and BBC broadcaster Kirsty Lang. One is sure these ladies are excellent in their respective fields...but why pick them to judge a literary prize? Perhaps Clapton's autobiography will win it this year. Oh wait, that wasn't fiction, was it? And oh, wait again, he's not a woman, is he?

Next: A Ban On Book Fairs?

The works of exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, living in India, have proved to be the hottest item in the Patna Book Fair. All her books were sold by the fifth day on Tuesday.

Flying Low

You know this whole year-end 'best-of' round-up shindig has gone too far when even websites such as get into the act -- they've just released their "best winter reads", a list that ranges from Ken Follett to Rohinton Mistry. Time to fly.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Return Of Fonebone

Anyone remember Mad magazine's crazy sage, Don Martin? (One recalls in particular his endless, loopy variations on the frog prince story.) The Washington Post's Michael Dirda is a fan: "His jowly, cross-eyed characters stare at us from the page with an utterly sublime imbecility, unaware of their smug silliness, confident that they are in control, the captains of their destiny and the masters of any situation, no matter how complex or improbable."