Archive for ‘publishing’

May 26, 2012

Jennifer Egan Using Twitter to Pen “Black Box”

Jennifer Egan is mixing it up in the literary world by tweeting a short story on Twitter. The story, Black Box, is a thriller set in the future. Egan is tweeting the short story in ten nightly installments from 8 to 9 P.M. E.T. via the New Yorker’s Fiction Twitter account – @NYerFiction. About her decision to tweet a story, Egan told the New Yorker:

“I’d also been wondering about how to write fiction whose structure would lend itself to serialization on Twitter. This is not a new idea, of course, but it’s a rich one-because of the intimacy of reaching people through their phones, and because of the odd poetry that can happen in a hundred and forty characters. I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea.” 

Egan isn’t the first to delve into this sort of experiment. Neil Gaiman and Melvin Burgess have also written fiction on Twitter in the past. The idea is reminiscent of serialized radio shows before there was TV. Reading a story on Twitter must be like having a TV show to read on your phone. It’s definitely an intriguing idea and I imagine could become a trend in the future. I’m not sure exactly how it will feel to read anything in real time on my phone. I guess I’d better finally open a damned Twitter account to find out.

If you’ve missed Egan’s tweets and want to catch up on the story or you’re just not a tweeter, you can read what she’s penned so far here.

Jennifer Egan is all atwitter

April 28, 2012

Ouch! Classic Works Scorched Back in the Day

If you’re a writer whose gotten lukewarm reviews for something you’ve penned or your rejection folder is disturbingly full, CHIN UP!  You’re in good company. Really good company. Over at Mental Floss, they have a post titled. 11 Early Scathing Reviews of Works Now Considered Masterpieces.

  • Among them is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass review from The Atlantic in 1882:

“… the book cannot attain to any very wide influence.”

  • And there was this scathing review of Moby Dick:

“…Our author must be henceforth numbered in the company of the incorrigibles who occasionally tantalize us with indications of genius, while they constantly summon us to endure monstrosities, carelessnesses, and other such harassing manifestations of bad taste as daring or disordered ingenuity can devise…” -Henry F. Chorley, London Athenaeum, October 25, 1851

“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” –Graham’s Lady Magazine

  • Emily’s sister, Charlotte, was less than enthusiastic about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

“Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré or extravagant…”

  • Another instance of a writer who gave his two cents about another writer’s work was George Bernard Shaw letting the world know how he really felt about Ulysses penned by his fellow countryman James Joyce:

 “In Ireland they try to make a cat clean by rubbing its nose in its own filth. Mr. Joyce has tried the same treatment on the human subject.” 

  • They also included a couple rejections, one of which was Orwell’s Animal Farm, of which a publisher said:

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.” 

  • And then there was the presumably deaf and blind testing director at MGM who said about Fred Astaire:

“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”

Read the whole list here.

April 21, 2012

“Writer Idol”: I Was Wondering When This Might Happen

According to The Guardian, the latest slew of contests for would-be popsters, dancers, models, and even artists has moved into the writing realm. Hence, “Writer Idol”. No, it’s not a TV show, more like a talent contest that unfolds in front of judges, other writers, and onlookers. Writer Idol will take place in Ireland at the West Cork Literary Festival. According to The Guardian, it will go something like this:

In essence, Writer Idol is a very simple idea. Potential “contestants” are invited to send in one page of their writing anonymously. On the day, the selected entries will be read by Kate Thompson to an audience which will include the “lucky” authors and a panel of judges consisting of novelist Anita Shreve, commissioning editor Suzanne Baboneau and literary agent Marianne Gunne-O’Connor. Each judge will raise their hand when they’ve heard enough; if all three hands are raised, the reading will stop immediately.

This comes on the heals of another event also called Writer Idol that takes place each year at the Boston Book Festival. Perhaps more happen at other literary festivals that I don’t know about.

Apparently there are no prizes involved, no book deals, no fame or fortune – just a chance for writers to get their work read by some big wigs in the industry and an audience. It makes all the cutthroat literary workshops I took in grad school seem like child’s play. I guess in a time when it’s nearly impossible for writers to get our work read anywhere, it can’t hurt. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Now I have to wonder when they’ll make it a TV show.

April 7, 2012

What Does Your Bedside Table REALLY Look Like?

Berlin-based illustrator Christoph Niemann, who has cartooned for The New Yorker and Wired (among others)  has recently had his work anthologized in a book titled Abstract City. To celebrate the launch of the book, he drew a very funny cartoon for The Huffington Post of what he’d like his bedside table to look like and what it really looks like.

When I saw it, I laughed.

Hard.

Let’s just say I can relate.

March 26, 2012

Dystopia-Palooza

The Hunger Games hit theaters Friday and rabid fans lined up for hours to get in. The film is based on the wildly popular book by Suzanne Collins. The post-apocalyptic novel’s popularity  has the dystopian novel on the rise again and Good Reads has charted it out in a clever way.

It also asks the question, Could The Hunger Games become more widely read than Orwell’s 1984? And, while we’re at it, where’s a mention of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin? His book was the  grandaddy of dystopian literature!

March 23, 2012

The Grass is Greener at St. Martin’s Press

Someone wanted to get the staff at St. Martin’s Pres really stoned. The Smoking Gun reported that over eleven pounds of marijuana were mailed to St. Martin’s Press by a mystery sender. The pot was intercepted by postal workers after one noticed a “suspicious odor” coming from the package.

The package o’ pot, which is estimated to be worth about $70,000, was addressed to “Karen Wright”, someone that St. Martin’s says doesn’t exist at their company and the return address read “ATB Books”, which is also nonexistent. Galley Cat asks the important question: Who is Karen Wright?  Her name apparently has no literary connotations that anyone can think of.

Now that the story has broke, a #PotLit hashtag is creeping up on Twitter. Oh the fun people can have with that! Makes me want to read some Richard Brautigan right now!

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