Friday, January 25, 2013

“The planet Earth, formerly called Teegeeack, was part of a confederation of planets under the leadership of a despot ruler named Xenu.” — L. Ron Hubbard



"[Lawrence] Wright’s book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, makes clear that Scientology is like no church on Earth (or, in all probability, Venus or Mars either). The closest institutional parallel would be the Communist Party in its heyday: the ruthless struggles for power, the show trials and forced confessions (often false); the paranoia (often justified); the determination to control its members’ lives completely (the key difference, you will recall, between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, according to the onetime American ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick); the maintenance of something close to prison camps where dissenters, would-be defectors and power-struggle rivals were incarcerated in deplorable conditions for years and punished if they tried to escape; what the book describes as mysterious deaths and disappearances; and so on. Except that while the American Communist Party, including a few na├»ve Hollywood types, merely turned a blind eye to events happening in faraway Russia, Scientology — if Wright is to be believed, and I think he is — ran, and maybe still runs, a shadow totalitarian empire here in the United States, financed in part by huge contributions by Tom Cruise and others of the Hollywood aristocracy."
— Michael Kinsley, The New York Times
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Buy this book, and all of L. Ron Hubbard's books here...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fog of War



"Thousands are dying every day in the trenches as the First World War rages so one more corpse is hardly going to be investigated or even remarked upon.
     Yet eventually it is and says one character: 'When we signed up for this, we thought we knew who the enemy was. Over there. Fritz. The Hun. But who’s the enemy now… The enemy might be the bloke next to you, the one bringing the tea, even your lieutenant.'
     The detective, who at the beginning of this novel is taken up into the air in a hot air balloon to survey the blasted horror of no man’s land and the sweeping field of Flanders beyond is none other than Dr (Major) Watson, formerly of Baker Street and formerly Sherlock Holmes’s devoted sidekick."
—Jennifer Selway, Daily Express
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mid-listless

From: nathaniel stuart

"[…] The true dinosaurs of the new age are authors. Once happily enclosed in the 'stables' of publishers willing to nurture and develop their talent, even if they never wrote a major bestseller, droves of so-called 'mid-list' authors now find themselves roaming among the ever-present throng of wannabes flogging unpublished work in an indifferent market. And that throng is most likely to produce tomorrow’s bestsellers, even if they begin life as obscure, self-published digital texts that, only after they find a following, are taken up and heavily marketed to mainstream prominence by major publishing houses.
     Many mid-list authors have fallen victim to increasingly sophisticated, widely available sales data, according to agents and publishers. Publishers can now assess every author’s lifelong sales thanks to such services as Nielsen Bookscan in the United States and BookNet Canada.
     And once reduced to pure numbers, those track records determine the fate of proven writers looking for cash advances to begin their next books. 'Everybody knows the numbers now,' Toronto literary agent Denise Bukowski said in an interview. 'You can’t lie about the numbers.' Retailers don’t order books from authors whose previous work sold indifferently, she added, so publishers respond by cutting them loose.
     The upheaval is such that an author like Dan Brown 'would never get published now, because his first three books sold nothing,' Bukowski said. But as everybody knows, Brown’s fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, has sold more than 80-million copies.
     Even when they agree to publish the fourth book of a mid-list author, publishers today hedge their bets by paying minimal advances based on past sales of the author’s work. In that respect, Bukowski said, it is better to be a beginner. 'At least a first novelist doesn’t have a track record,' Bukowski said."
— John Barber, The Globe and Mail
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The God Perspective


"Earlier this month Google executive Eric Schmidt embarked on a journey to North Korea, one of the world's most secretive and Internet-restrictive countries.
     While the U.S. State Department publicly criticized Schmidt's timing and intentions, human rights activists have seen the visit as a reminder of something significant. As Irish outlet RTE News reports, many believe that Google Earth is invaluable in revealing evidence of North Korea's system of prison and labor camps, which are said to number in the dozens.
     Human rights groups estimate that upwards of 250,000 political prisoners suffer through starvation and intense manual labor in these camps, with blogs like One Free Korea compiling everything we know about these locations. Managed by Washington lawyer and North Korea activist Joshua Stanton, the blog details six prison camps — three of which Stanton uncovered."
— Drew Guarini, Huffington Post
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"The internment camps operate under a 'guilt-by-association' system (yeon-jwa-je), which means that extended family members of the accused – for up to three generations – are also punished. This punishment-by-lineage system exploits the significance of familial bonds and personal sacrifice within Korean culture, and empowers Kim Jong Il’s regime to persecute by birthright and to exert discipline and control through fear of such persecution.
     There are several types of prisons that have fluctuated in capacity and severity over the past half-century. Satellite images of North Korea’s gulags are posted in NKN’s Film & Photo section, under Photographs of North Korea’s Gulags. These images were collected and published by David Hawk and the Commission for Human Rights in North Korea in 2003."
North Korea Now
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Buy/order The Hidden Gulag by David Hawk here…

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pigs Will Be Pigs


"I grew up with George Orwell. I was born in 1939, and Animal Farm was published in 1945. I read it at age nine. It was lying around the house, and I mistook it for a book about talking animals. I knew nothing about the kind of politics in the book – the child's version of politics then, just after the war, consisted of the simple notion that Hitler was bad but dead. To say that I was horrified by this book would be an understatement. The fate of the farm animals was so grim, the pigs were so mean and mendacious and treacherous, the sheep were so stupid. Children have a keen sense of injustice, and this was the thing that upset me the most: the pigs were so unjust."
— Margaret Atwood, The Guardian
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Buy all of George Orwell's books — and everything by Margaret Atwood — here...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"plenty of musty stuff..."

From: The History Blog

“[...] 'In the deeply unemployed winter of last year,' said Sammy Jay, the twenty-three-year-old grandson of Douglas Jay, 'my step-grandmother Mary had kindly given me an occupation in sorting through my late grandfather’s political papers for Oxford’s Bodleian Library archives.' With an interest in Romantic literature, Douglas Jay had collected, as Sammy said, 'plenty of musty stuff from the nineteenth century.' Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Dickens lined the shelves of Douglas Jay’s library, as well as works by his contemporaries. There were some nice copies of books presented to him by poets like Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, and Cecil Day-Lewis. 'Nothing at all,' Jay continued, 'could have prepared me for the little volume lying at an angle in the corner of the top shelf.' He almost passed it over but instead grabbed it and flipped it open. Inside was an inscription – 'To Lord Byron, from the author.'
     'It took me awhile to adjust to the magnitude of the find,' said Jay.
     Sammy Jay is a bibliophile in his own right who collects Romantic association copies and ephemera and is now employed at Peter Harrington Rare Books in London. So he knew what to do: he took the book to Richard Ovenden, deputy librarian at the Bodleian Libraries, to authenticate Mary Shelley’s signature. Ovenden was positive."
— Jonathan Shipley, Fine Books & Collections
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Having a hardcover on my shelf is like having a print by one of my favourite artists on the wall." — Jack Cheng


From: UpHAA


"Measured en masse, the stack of 'books I want to read' that sits precariously on the edge of a built-in bookshelf in my dining room just about eclipses 5,000 pages. The shelf is full to bursting with titles I hope to consume at some indeterminate point in the future.
     It would be a lot easier to manage if I just downloaded all those books to an iPad or Kindle. None are hard to find editions that would be unavailable in a digital format, and a few are recent hardcover releases, heavy and unwieldy.
     But there's something about print that I can't give up. There's something about holding a book in your hand and the visceral act of physically turning a page that, for me at least, can't be matched with pixels on a screen."
— Josh Catone, Mashable
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Oh Deer...


Photo: The old stocks at Chapeltown, Lancashire (Wikipedia)

The poet Christian Ward has said that he had 'no intention of deliberately plagiarising' [sic] the work of another writer after it was discovered that his prize-winning entry to a poetry competition was lifted 'almost word-for-word' from a poem by Helen Mort.
     Ward's poem The Deer at Exmoor won the Exmoor Society's Hope Bourne poetry prize, but organisers [sic] later discovered that it was virtually identical to an earlier work by Mort, Deer. The similarities were revealed by the Western Morning News last week, with Ward said by the paper to have replaced "\'only a handful of words,' switching 'father' for 'mother' in the first line, the 'river Exe' for 'Ullapool' and transforming Mort's description of 'the kingfisher / that darned the river south of Rannoch Moor' to a peregrine falcon on Bossington Beach.
     On learning of the similarities, Mort – whose collection Division Street will be published later this year by Chatto & Windus – wrote on Twitter: 'Thanks for the backhanded compliment, Mr Ward, but I think you'll find thieving poetry is bad karma. At the very least.'"
— Alison Flood, The Guardian
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You can find both poems in the "Comments" section of this article:

"[...] One of the West Country's best known poets, James Crowden, said: 'What Christian Ward has done is outrageous. Maybe Christian Ward should be put in the stocks in Dulverton and pilloried, and a large supply of rotten eggs and tomatoes gathered together. In fact, because the poem is about deer on Exmoor, he really should be tried and punished as if he was a deer poacher which, in ancient times, carried a very severe penalty indeed.'"
This Is Cornwall
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Find out more about Helen Mort and her poetry here...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Film-ifying"



"E. M. Forster is probably best known in recent days, ironically, through the film adaptations of his novels. I say ironically, because during his life, he abhorred the idea of someone film-ifying what he'd intended for print. He refused to let anyone adapt his novels for the screen; and I think his adamance at this made a lot of sense. (If you were an author, would you trust someone else taking what you'd written for a book and making it into something other than a book? Sometimes it just doesn't work out the way you expect.)
     Yet I myself was introduced to his work through film, and as a Forster enthusiast, I fully applaud the efforts of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala in keeping a very loyal adaptation, for Howards End in particular. The Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala team also did A Room with a View and Maurice; David Lean tackled A Passage to India, and Charles Sturridge, along with Derek Granger and Tim Sullivan, adapted Where Angels Fear to Tread.
     The only novel that remains is The Longest Journey, and then there are the many short stories EMF wrote that still enjoy 'singularity.'"
Only Connect…
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You can buy all of E. M. Forster's books here...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Money Talks



This takes vanity publishing, and the concept of ghostwriting, to a whole new level… maybe Donald Trump will buy Ayn Rand's next book.

"Two weeks ago I discovered, to my surprise, that I had line-edited an early draft of Glenn Beck’s new novel, Agenda 21. Glenn Beck! At the time I was working on it, the manuscript belonged to its actual author, a woman named Harriet Parke, who lives a few minutes from my aunt. But a year and a few lawyers later, Glenn Beck purchased the right to call himself its creator, and Ms. Parke agreed to be presented as a ghostwriter.
     I would be proud to have my name in the acknowledgments of Ms. Parke’s novel. But given that it is printed inside a book bearing Glenn Beck’s name, the work I did is now deeply at odds with who I am as an editor. iAgenda 21 [went] out into the world on Tuesday, Nov. 20, [2012] as something decidedly different from the novel I edited. Yes, the story is the same. So are the concepts, the characters and the writing. But the name in the byline — that changes the book’s intent. It changes everything."
— Sarah Cypher, Salon
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