Monday, November 23, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell interview

The Huffington Post points us to a fun interview of Malcolm Gladwell by Stephen Colbert. And there is a real interview in there! Link.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Computers versus writers

Churchill's writing? Below average. Hemingway? Needs more care and detail. A Clockwork Orange? Simple bizarre. That's what a computer program for analyzing student writing reported in the UK. At least, according to the article, American students facing the same program are good at “schmoozing the computer."
They are some of the most memorable and stirring words of the 20th century, but Churchill’s speech exhorting the British to “fight on the beaches” would fail if submitted as a school essay and subjected to a proposed computerised marking system. The wartime leader had a style that was too repetitive, according to the computer being tested for the online marking of school qualifications. It rated Churchill as below average... More.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to co-write with a dead author

Ben H. Winters chose a Ms. Jane Austen for a collaboration. He writes for the Huffington Post on how this is done.

BHW: Writing with the deceased is not as easy as it sounds. For one thing, you're really on your own when it comes to publicity; our book came out two months ago, and Jane Austen has yet to turn up for a book signing or radio interview. More...

Portrait of Sir Richard Francis Burton

Powells goes into great detail about one of the most over-the-top literary characters of all time.

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton was a completely crazy nutjob who had more adventures on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night than most lesser humans manage to cram into a two-week vacation inside the stomach of a still-breathing whale. This author, soldier, adventurer, explorer, geographer, translator, linguist, fencer, duelist, anthropologist, and pretty much anything else you can ever think of –ist spoke a mind-crushing 29 different languages and dialects fluently, wrote 50+ books ranging in content and sanity from travelogues to erotic fiction, explored uncharted lands in India, Africa, and the Middle East, and was the first person to translate the borderline-pornographic content of The Kama Sutra and The Arabian Nights into English. He also had a gnarly attitude, a glorious beard, and a hot temper that drove him to kill more people than a Dirty Harry movie. More...

Crime novels

Jason Pinter in the Huffington Post rounds up and interesting panel to discuss the state of the crime novel today. As Pinter says, "crime novels have been responsible for some of the most beloved (and loathed) characters of our time, while telling some of the most important stories and peeling back society's flesh to reveal its bare bones. Crime novels can keep us entertained during a long plane ride, or comment on the most relevant issues of the day. Sometimes they do both." More...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interview with John Updike

The Second Pass blog points us to an interview from a Croatian magazine in 1979, recently republished in the New Yorker. (Sorry to put in all these connections, but it seems to make sense to me that I should point out how I found things, given the nature of this blog.) Second Pass offers a wonderful take-out quote:

Updike on Moby-Dick: “The wish to say all there is about whales is certainly very much there, and one puts the book down convinced that Melville has said a great deal about whales.” Via.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Narratives at length

Even though we're in the business of editing down novels, we are firm believers in the long form of narrative. We love books, and we believe in books. That we create a shorter version of books is as much as anything a reflection of that love of books, an attempt to put them in another format for another sort of reader who might not see these books otherwise. So it's nice to read a piece, like this one in the Washington Post, that agrees with our own thought that the need for narrative is part of what it means to be human. And that the whole everything-is-getting-shorter brigade may not exactly be right.

WP: It's not simply the appreciation of fiction that's adaptive. It's the appreciation of any kind of narrative. Kids at bedtime don't specify true or false: They just say "tell me a story."... Kids today have no attention span, we are told -- and then devour all seven of the Harry Potter books multiple times. More...

Interview with Malcolm Gladwell

Meet the author of Blink and The Tipping Point.

The Guardian: In the boardrooms of publishing houses in New York and London, editors regularly deploy the phrase. As in (spoken with faint hysteria in voice): "Will someone please tell me where our next Gladwellian book is coming from?" More...