Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend paper round up

This is not an attempt to make excuses, well sort of, but my wife has been ill this weekend and I have had to amuse two children under six and I feel exhausted and desperate to get back to work tomorrow.

The energy levels are far too low for any reading so I will confine myself to a weekend paper round up.

A lot of lit blogs commented on the death of Kurt Vonnegut and from a personal point of view having never read his work it has at least prodded me in his direction and I hope to read Slaughter - House - 5 soon. The Independent ran an interview from 1977 that was published in the Paris Review and among great answers to questions about literary inspiration Vonnegut is asked what he would do if he was in charge of publishing in the US: "There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers...I propose that every person out of work be required to submit a book report before he or she gets his or her welfare check."

Literary inspiration is the subject of a Guardian feature in the Saturday magazine about whet helps with writers creativity. Jonatahn Franzen said it was his squeaky chair and other authors made replies ranging from chocolate chips (Douglas Coupland) to a hot bath in Jane Smiley's case.

Quite what the authors who wrote such classics as Vanity Fair, Moby Dick and Anna Karenia would have made of the cut down editions that Orion Books is producing to read the book "in half the time". At the risk of getting pompous it might be a good idea to take the author's names off the covers and list the credits for whoever edited them because they are the greater influence on the reader. But quite a few people were happy to tell The Times that the editions were a good idea because it made unreadable books readable.

Those authors that fear their great idea will never get into print can always aim for the bizarre and hope to pick up the Booksellers oddest book of the year award. The Independent reports that the lucky winner this year is Julian Montague who spent six years roaming the streets of America looking out for the chance to write about and photograph shopping trolleys for his book The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Previous winners have included Bombproof your Horse, which won the prize in 2004.

It was quite easy to turn the page and miss the small story in The Guardian about how chemists are analysing the aromas that books in Cambridge University to discover if gases will indicate when a book is starting to decay. “The same emissions cause the musty smell beloved of habitual ‘book sniggers’,” a university spokeswoman told the paper.


Jeanne said...

Loved the stray shopping trolley link! I would like to share this book site with you. It's a great book resource.

simon quicke said...

Thanks Jeanne I'll check it out.