The VIDA Count 2013: "A couple of giants in the original VIDA Count have begun to move. While we can’t call it a trend or cause for partying just yet, it is certainly noteworthy that The Paris Review’s and New York Times Book Review’s pies have significantly baked up tastier for 2013."
Variety: Goosebumps movie slated for 2016; Jack Black to star.
This'll be short and sweet, because my MAJOR GOAL is this:
To stop worrying about always staying on top of the newest, the shiniest, the most buzzed-about books.
To stop reading what I think I SHOULD be reading, and to read what I WANT to read.
To stop beating myself up for not writing at length about everything I read, for not posting every day, for not doing MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE.
I would also like to:
Read more adult fiction. I miss it, and I've been so busy over the last couple of years that it's been super-backburnered. I'd like to read at least a chapter a day of SOMETHING originally written for the adult market, if only as a palate cleanser.
Read more backlist. An easy 99% of the pitches in my inbox are for the NEWEST, the HOTTEST, the NEXT BIG THING. I feel like I've missed a lot of stuff over the years, and so I'm giving myself license to forgo reading some of the super-new stuff in favor of focusing on some older titles.
The Emory study focused on the lingering neural effects of reading a narrative. Twenty-one Emory undergraduates participated in the experiment, which was conducted over 19 consecutive days.
The results showed heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, on the mornings following the reading assignments. “Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity,” Berns says. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.”
Might that be why your fiction has been more readily admired in so-called literary circles—that it’s more engaged with human complexity and psychology?
It’s helped to make my stuff more accessible to people who don’t, as they say, read science fiction. But the prejudice against genre has been so strong until recently. It’s all changing now, which is wonderful. For most of my career, getting that label—sci-fi—slapped on you was, critically, a kiss of death. It meant you got reviewed in a little box with some cute title about Martians—or tentacles.
Also, this killed me: "My father knew Alfred Knopf personally. I’d had recorder lessons with Blanche Knopf when I was seventeen. Blanche—she was a real grande dame, oh God, she was scary. And I’d go in with my little tooter." Like, can you even PICTURE THAT? I can't.
And then later she compares genre fiction to poetry—because in both cases, you're writing within a form—and a response to that "I don’t read fiction because it isn’t real" statement and holy crow, I just want to QUOTE EVERYTHING.
So, yeah. It's an AWESOME interview, not to be missed.
Michael Morpurgo says: "Booktrust is batting for literature in all its forms. The organisation is particularly meaningful for me: my late stepfather, Jack Morpurgo, was Director of the National Book League, from which Booktrust grew. What Booktrust continues to do is to not simply promote reading, but to enthuse teachers, parents and children with the joy and wonder that can be found in books. To be invited to join them as their president is an honour, and I hope I can make a significant contribution."
It struck me as akin to calling an author on the phone and saying, “Hi, I reviewed your book!” and then hanging up. Which is how I phrased it to a friend later that day, who replied with, “And what would be wrong with that?”
I wished I had more of an answer than, “I don’t know … but something.”
I don't generally do it, but more because I'm lazy (my blog is set up to auto-tweet whenever I post) than because I have strong feelings about the practice. I have noticed, though, that Kirkus will sometimes include an author's handle when tweeting my columns, but only (hopefully?) if I had a positive reaction to the book. (Otherwise, it would be a little bit like, "Hey, you! Yeah, you right there! LEILA HATED YOUR BOOK!" Which would be mean.)
I do see his point about it seeming "chummy", but couldn't that be said of any social interaction between authors and reviewers?
At the same time, when I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE a book, I oftentimes will tweet the author and tell them that. Because sometimes, I just want to thank someone for writing an awesome book. So I don't know if I think that's any more or less "chummy" than telling them such at BookExpo or wherever.
Amusing and titillating as these images are, it’s easy to forget that they’re the work of an army of invisible laborers—the Google hands. This is the subject of an art work by the Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Norman Wilson called “ScanOps.” The project began in 2007, when Wilson was contracted by a video-production company to work on the Google campus. He noted sharp divisions between the workers; one group, known as ScanOps, were sequestered in their own building. These were data-entry workers, the people to whom those mysterious hands belonged. Wilson became intrigued by them, and began filming them walking to and from their ten-hour shifts in silence. He was able to capture a few minutes of footage before Google security busted him. In a letter to his boss explaining his motives, Wilson remarked that most of the ScanOps workers were people of color. He wrote, “I’m interested in issues of class, race and labor, and so out of general curiosity, I wanted to ask these workers about their jobs.” In short order, he was fired.
And now pardon me while I go and click through to all of the links in the article: there are a WHOLE LOT OF THEM, and judging by the ones I've already looked at, the majority of them lead to some weirdly fascinating stuff.
Earlier this year, a New York Times Magazine profile of the showrunner Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) included a line that made me think she was even more than the talented and savvy TV writer she’s already shown herself to be: “Rhimes observes that people, even the ones who like ‘Scandal,’ describe it as ‘ridiculous,’ which she can live with, or a ‘guilty pleasure,’ which she ardently despises.” I despise it, too. If there’s a contemporary idiom that puzzles and irritates me in equal measure, “guilty pleasure” is it. I object to neither the pleasure, nor the guilt; it’s the modifying of one by the other that works my nerves, the awkward attempt to elevate as well as denigrate the object to which the phrase is typically assigned.
At Heavy Medal: It's an Honor. "I have never looked at a contender and thought “I’d be happy to see it win an honor, but not a Medal.” In my mind, a contender is either worthy of a Newbery–gold or silver–or it isn’t… and that gold/silver distinction has to do with how consensual that determination is (imagining the 15 committee members as representative of the critical body for children’s literature…a different post, perhaps). The more consensus, the more “truly” distinguished."
As 2013 draws to a close, we give you our second-annual look at the scuffles, controversies, and feisty debates that have helped keep the literary world lively over the past year. Among this year’s conflicts, presented here in rough chronological order, a few themes emerge: clashes over the function of online literary criticism, questions about gender and literature, and struggles over who controls an artist’s legacy and fortune. A few of the items show what happens when closed-mindedness leads to controversy; others stand as proof that people are still engaged and passionate about the state of literature.
I can't help but notice that there's not much kidlit/YA stuff up there, and I KNOW that there must have been SOMETHING. There've been a lot of conversations about gender and about privilege, but I can't think of any out-and-out brawls.
I had such a weird year, though, that I'm probably forgetting stuff: remind me so I can revisit the dramz?
I get that it is a compliment, to tell authors that you cry. And I get that we want books that make us cry. I do, anyway. Just not necessarily in front of dozens of strangers.
This is why I am proposing a new literary award. It is to be called the SNOT award. Given to STORIES NOT to be read ON TRANSIT, the SNOT shall honor and mark books that will make you ugly-cry while on a crowded cross-town bus.
The SNOT sticker will be gold and embossed, and will stand as both a ringing endorsement and a useful warning.