Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disappearing Act

"The five finalists for the 2012 National Book Award for fiction make for an exemplary shortlist — and I say that even though none of them is likely to end up on my own best-of list at the end of the year. [...]
      What you won’t find, however, is the book that many, many literary fiction buffs read and loved in the past six months: Gillian Flynn’s best-selling crime novel, Gone Girl. Flynn’s book is inventive, shrewd, mercilessly observant and stylishly written — qualities that are very welcome and likely to be celebrated in a literary novel. Her theme, the dissolution of a marriage in recession-era America, is substantive. Her technique (which, at the risk of spoilage, I’ll vaguely refer to as unreliable narration) is sophisticated. But let’s face it: Gone Girl is still considered a crime novel, and the likelihood of any work of genre fiction being seriously considered for a major literary prize still seems as far-fetched in 2012 as the election of a black president looked to be in the 20th century."
— Laura Miller, Salon

“'This is the hardest part,' confides one of the untrustworthy narrators in Gone Girl [...] 'waiting for stupid people to figure things out.' There’s no need to rub it in, because Gillian Flynn’s latest novel of psychological suspense will confound anyone trying to keep up with her quicksilver mind and diabolical rules of play. Not that there’s anything underhanded about her intentions: she promises to deliver an account of the troubled marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne, who alternate as narrators, and so she does. The trickery is in the devilish way she tells their story."
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

Buy this book here...

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Psychos Among Us

"Do you think like a psychopath? It has been claimed that one quick way of telling is to read the following story and see what answer to its final question first pops into your head:
     While attending her mother's funeral, a woman meets a man she's never seen before. She quickly believes him to be her soulmate and falls head over heels. But she forgets to ask for his number, and when the wake is over, try as she might, she can't track him down. A few days later she murders her sister. Why? [...]
     [Kevin] Dutton's book at any rate supports the idea that to thrive a society needs its share of psychopaths – about 10%. It not only shows the value of the emotionally detached mind in bomb disposal but also the uses of the psychopath's ability to intuit anxiety as demonstrated by, for example, customs officials. Along the way his analysis tends to reinforce the idea that the chemistry of megalomania which characterises the psychopathic criminal mind is a close cousin to the set of traits often best rewarded by capitalism. Dutton draws on a 2005 study that compared the profiles of business leaders with those of hospitalised criminals to reveal that a number of psychopathic attributes were arguably more common in the boardroom than the padded cell: notably superficial charm, egocentricity, independence and restricted focus. The key difference was that the MBAs and CEOs were encouraged to exhibit these qualities in social rather than antisocial contexts."
— Tim Adams, The Guardian

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What are the odds?

"On Tuesday night, Hilary Mantel became the first woman to win the Man Booker prize twice, as well as the first British author, for her novel Bring Up The Bodies. Such a feat sees her join Peter Carey and J. M. Coetzee, mirroring the ratio of one female prizewinner to two male throughout the prize's 43 year history.
     While she's 'astonished' at her success, Mantel is more than aware of the significance of this. She says, 'I do think there has been a difficulty for women to get their fiction taken as seriously as men’s fiction, although I think things are beginning to equalize.'
     'But it’s not a perfect world. If you look at what is reviewed, by whom it is reviewed, on the major websites, in the broadsheets, it does seem that there are many more male writers out there than there are women writers. Which is not the case.'"
— Alice E. Vincent, The Huffington Post

You can get Hilary Mantel's books — and books by all the other short-listed Man Booker 2012 contenders — here...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Trust Your (widescreen) Eyes

"The main plot is a riff on Rear Window, but instead of an broken-legged journalist, we have solitary schizophrenic Thomas Kilbride. Thomas spends his days travelling the Earth via a computer program that sounds a lot like Google Maps. On one of his virtual journeys, he sees a murder. But who is going to believe a madman?"
— Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail

"Linwood Barclay’s latest novel, Trust Your Eyes, has been picked up by Warner Bros. following a bidding war and is heading for the big screen.
     'This is kind of thing I’ve been wishing for since I was a kid. It just took a while. I feel very lucky,' the former Toronto Star columnist told theatre critic Richard Ouzounian in an email Tuesday.
     The movie version of Barclay’s 11th novel, which hit shelves earlier this month [September], will be directed by Todd Phillips (Old School and The Hangover trilogy) according to Hollywood trade publication Variety. It will be Phillips’ first thriller."
— Linda Barnard, The Star

Buy all of Linwood Barclay's books here...

"It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed." — Ram Dass


"[...] Stephen King (on Carrie): We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.
    Joseph Heller (on Catch–22): I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.
     George Orwell (on Animal Farm): It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.
     Oscar Wilde (on Lady Windermere’s Fan): My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.
     Vladimir Nabokov (on Lolita): … overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.
     The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times, Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.
     Lust for Life by Irving Stone was rejected 16 times, but found a publisher and went on to sell about 25 million copies.
     John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times. [...]"
The Girl & Her Books

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Whither goest thou?

From: printingchoice
"Buoyed by the success of e-readers like Kindle and Amazon's direct publishing online system, budding authors are sowing a direct relationship with their readers and reaping better royalty payments in return.
     "Writers don't need publishers anymore," says Joel Naoum, publisher at Momentum, a digital-only part of Pan Macmillan Australia, launched earlier this year. "The new technology allows writers to distribute directly and I think it's a fantastic development for us all."
     "It means publishers have to try harder to provide value to writers and that publishers aren't accused of being 'gatekeepers' quite as often."
     Royalties for self-publishers are generally much more attractive for those selling an e-book directly to the reader. Percentages vary, but an author will typically earn $2.66 from a $25 hardback, 68c from an $8 mass market paperback, or $1.49 for a trade-published e-book."
— Matt Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald