Don’t Tell Me How to Think

The fault is not in our stars

I went to a Banned Book website to pick which book I wanted to read during Banned Books Week, a site that, for me, is so high in comedic value.  Charlotte’s Web is on there?  It’s such a wonderful, sweet book that teaches kids about the power of friendship and helps them understand death.  Who could possibly not want their children to read that?  Oh, I see.  The people who complain that talking animals are blasphemous.  Sigh.

I realize I will never understand the Religious Right, but perhaps I can give them some perspective:  It’s MAKE BELIEVE!  It’s FICTION!  Animals don’t really talk.  Nor have the ability to be blasphemous.

Do they never let their children near any book that has talking animals in it?  It seems to me that three-quarters of picture books we read to our children before they are old enough to read for themselves have talking…

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Update on the Harper Lee Lawsuit

The Misfortune Of Knowing

TKaMB 123Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and literary agent Samuel L. Pinkus have reached an agreement in principle to resolve Ms. Lee’s lawsuit against Mr. Pinkus. At the moment, the terms of the settlement are undisclosed, and it’s common for such terms to remain confidential.

I discussed this lawsuit in a previous post, When Our Literary Heroes Become Victims, in which I said that “the complaint is a difficult set of allegations to untangle.” Ms. Lee alleged that Pinkus, the son-in-law of her former agent Eugene Winick, breached his fiduciary duties (by failing to be truthful, self-dealing, and failing to ‘work’ the copyright to maximize royalties) and manipulated Ms. Lee into assigning away the copyright to her classic novel. It was particularly sad to read about her failing health, which Lee alleges Pinkus exploited for his personal gain.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of…

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues

Kristen Lamb's Blog

To prologue or not to prologue? That is the question. The problem with the prologue is it has kind of gotten a bad rap over the years, especially with agents. They generally hate them. Why? In my opinion, it is because far too many writers don’t use prologues properly and that, in itself, has created its own problem.

Because of the steady misuse of prologues, most readers skip them. Thus, the question of whether or not the prologue is even considered the beginning of your novel can become a gray area if the reader just thumbs pages until she sees Chapter One.

So without further ado…

The 7 Deadly Sins of Prologues

Sin #1 If your prologue is really just a vehicle for massive information dump…

This is one of the reasons I recommend writing detailed backgrounds of all main characters before we begin (especially when we are new writers)…

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Copyright, Corporate Greed, and Books You Can’t Get

pigeon weather productions

This very interesting study illustrates quite clearly how copyright and corporate greed have resulted in the unavailability of books over the past few generations. There are more books from 1910 in print today than there are from 1990. Astonishing when you think about it, because far more books were published in 1990 than in 1910, but the books published more recently are not in the public domain, won’t be for decades, and because of how the corporate publishing world operates, most of those books will never be in print in our lifetime.

Self-publishing will change this, to some extent, as more and more authors take ownership of their own copyrights and keep their books in print in perpetuity, but authors of the past few generations are shit out of luck for the most part. Their books, if they were lucky enough to get them published in the first place, remain…

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Call for Papers for LASA 2014 Panel—”Aesthetics of the Abyss: Memory and Visual Culture in the Postcolonial Caribbean”

Repeating Islands


Natalie Belisle and Marcela Guerrero invite you to submit abstracts for a LASA 2014 panel entitled “Aesthetics of the Abyss: Memory and Visual Culture in the Postcolonial Caribbean.” The deadline for submissions is August 21, 2013.

Description: In Poetics of Relation, Édouard Glissant describes the “memory of the abyss” as a productive metaphor for both death and life, loss, and the possibility of newness in the wake of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. From the “abyss” a shared knowledge of the Caribbean (Relation) emerged. Moreover, this “memory of the abyss” becomes the creative matrix for the genesis of the Caribbean.

Parting from this framework, we seek to organize an interdisciplinary panel of papers for LASA 2014 that explores how visual culture from the postcolonial Caribbean is mediated by a memory of the abyss (in its negative or affirmative sense).

Please send an abstract, of no more than 250 words…

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Awesome book cover Friday: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Misprinted Pages

Bit of a late post today, but I really like this cover. It’s for Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Anyone know where you can find this exact version?

Here’s a description of the book:

Japan’s most widely-read and controversial writer, author of A Wild Sheep Chase, hurtles into the consciousness of the West with this narrative about a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters–not to mention Bob Dylan and Lauren Bacall.

What do you think?

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College Textbooks, Friend or Foe? Enter Open Educational Resources (OERs)

When I first drafted this post, I went on a lengthy rant about textbook costs, bookstore mark-ups, and various other related issues. I’ve reigned that in–those readers that work in higher education can fill in the blanks. Simply, if you have even the slightest interest in developing your own course materials or texts, or adapting open educational resources (OERs) that are already published under Creative Commons, do look into it. Even if you are not interested in resources for higher education, if you create literature, visual art, music, etc., knowing and understanding Creative Commons is essential.

Here are some resources I’ve culled:

Technology and Books

I’m embarrassingly uninformed about the new complexities of e-books, new issues with copyrights, and hell, even e-readers. A notorious ‘late adopter’ of new technology, I don’t have an e-reader. There have been a couple of instances when I’ve wished I had an iPad; change is scary and I am one of those people that never carries around expensive sunglasses because I leave things places. So, no iPad for me. I’ve never owned a GPS or MP3 player; I print maps, listen to NPR, and still have CDs sitting around in jewel cases.

However, when I see great deals on e-books, often from the Kindle store, I feel like I am missing out on something. To be able to get that book right now for super cheap, namely. Or when I see campaigns for sales of e-book versions of new work by fellow writers, or newly recommended writers, I want to be able to participate right away–the convenience and value is appealing. However, I still love the heft of a book, I still love the library, and I still love real pages.

Betsy Morais examines the changing field of design for digital books at The Atlantic in “Has Kindle Killed the Book Cover?”

Shelf Awareness examines the Justice Department’s suit against Apple over the “agency model for e-books.”

At Granta, Toby Litt shares a wonderful essay: “The Reader and Technology.”

  • Do you own an e-reader? Are you enamored with it?
  • Morais uses the term digital books. The Wall Street Journal uses the term e-books. Which do you prefer?


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