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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

50 Things About Literary Life

This list is from an article in The Guardian. I thought it was interesting (and a few rather funny) and wanted to share. (LINK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE) .

1. Less is more. Or, "the only art is to omit" (Robert Louis Stevenson).
2. The Man Booker, our premier literary prize, is not "posh bingo" (Julian Barnes), it's a national sporting trophy.
3. Whatever works, works.
4. There are seven basic stories in world literature.
5. Writers who get divorced usually sack their agents.
6. Christopher Marlowe did not write Shakespeare. Nor did Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. It's a no-brainer. Just read the First Folio.
7. Poets are either the lions or the termites of the literary jungle.
8. Put a body on page one.
9. Literature is theft.
10. Everyone is writing a book. A few will publish it; but most of them will not be satisfied.
11. This is a golden age of reading.
12. Amazon is not "evil" (J Daunt).
13. The "overnight success" is usually anything but.
14. Apart from Dickens, far too many cinematic adaptations of novels will disappoint.
15. You don't have to read every book you buy, and you certainly don't have to finish the book you've started.
16. When blurb writers describe an author "writing at the peak of their powers", run a mile. When they say the novel is "allegorical", head for the hills. Books that "will change your life" are as fabled as the hippogriff.
17. Narrative (aka storytelling) is in our DNA. It's called gossip.
18. Keep a diary. It might keep you.
19. In writers, vanity is the cardinal sin.
20. Literary fiction is like sci-fi. It's a genre.
21. Writers need love as much as money. They don't need offices because they can write anywhere.
22. A great novel can cost as much as a pencil and a pad of paper – or a whole life.
23. Two writers, alone in a room, will talk about royalties not art.
24. The Orange prize should be called the Kate Mosse prize.
25. The Third Reich has done more for British bookselling than the national curriculum.
26. Hysterical accusations of plagiarism are the last refuge of the literary scoundrel.
27. Words and money go together like bacon and eggs. Words written for nothing are usually what you'd expect: flavourless.
28. PG Wodehouse was not a Nazi, but an artist who got it terribly wrong.
29. American novels usually sell badly in the UK.
30. Most prose writers should be discouraged from reading their work in public. See Somerset Maugham's "Mr Harrington's Washing".
31. Moby-Dick sold fewer than 10,000 copies in Melville's lifetime.
32. A secret is something that is only repeated to one person at a time.
33. The majority of bestsellers are ghosted.
34. Lists are the curse of the age.
35. Radio 4 sells books. Book reviews don't, but they used to.
36. There is no substitute for Harold Pinter.
37. Many published writers are rather less fun than generals, or even bishops.
38. Ebooks are not the end of the world.
39. Small publishers are small for a very good reason.
40. Great booksellers are a bit mad.
41. There are probably just 100 novels you really must read.
42. No one is obliged to like Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities.
43. Book parties are for single people, and the only free lunch is at home.
44. Crime and comedy: everyone reads them, but they are rarely taken seriously.
45. Writing can't be taught; better reading can.
46. Everything is fiction.
47. Any new book longer than 500 pages is a stupefying act of self-importance.
48. A proof copy that arrives with a novelty item is usually a dud.
49. Some of the best contemporary writers are working in American television.
50. There are just three rules for writing a good novel. Unfortunately, no one can remember them.

My personal favorite is #13, #16 and #50. What about you guys? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

LIFE LESSON #4 and #5

Life Lesson #4
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m suddenly reminded of two life lessons I’ll most certainly need to teach my son one day. The first is this: Always listen to your mother . . . UNLESS she tells you to leave healthy cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Healthy cookies don’t do anyone any favors. You’ve been good all year; don’t ruin that hard work the night before the big day! As you can see below, the consequences can be severe. (PS - Raisins have no place in a cookie!)

Lesson #5
The next lesson ties into Christmas as well, which is why they're linked.


Santa is a kind man who delivers toys to all the good girls and boys in the world. His helpers, however well intentioned they might be, are not always as jolly. So lesson #5 is quite simple - Trust your instincts, son. Trust your instincts.
Um, yeah, has anyone signed up Santa for anger management?? Might want to get on that.

Riiiiggghhht . . . someone call 9-1-1

Yes little boy, the Santa behind you is indeed the man you saw last night on America's Most Wanted. Run!

*Life Lessons are a series of blog posts I write about lessons I intend to teach my new-born son (once he’s old enough). These posts are like Post-It note reminders that I share. To see all the life lessons, click the “life lesson” link in the word cloud on the right.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fatherhood: Prepare To Have Strange Conversations

Remember that scene in Harry Potter when Hagrid first takes Harry to Daiagon Alley? Harry was bombarded with unusual sights and sounds. People would come up to him and ask him questions that didn’t seem to make sense. It was a new world for young Harry.  Well, sometimes I feel like having a child is like that. Like somehow just holding a baby in public unlocks a mysterious society you never knew existed. One where people come up to you and say things that make you wonder if they’re from a different place. 

Case in point:

Stranger (with a toddler): “How old is your son?”
Me: “Four months, how about yours?”
Stranger: “Almost 23 months.”
Me: *blinks* “Almost 23 months?”
Stranger: “Yep, they grow up so quick.”
Me: “Yeah yeah, real quick. Can we get back to the fact that you just said ‘23 months’ instead of ‘almost two’ like a normal person would say?”
Stranger: “But he’s not almost two, he’s almost 23 months.”
Me: “Uh huh.” Points to door. “Get out.”

The next time someone says that to me I think I’ll say, “My son is four months old, and before you ask, I’m 384 months old.” Okay, I know it’s “normal” to use months until a child is two, but it does not feel “normal” at all. In the first year, sure, use months, but after that … c’mon, really?  

I can hear your voices echoing out from cyberspace: “Steve, you’re a newbie at this whole parenting thing. It’s not weird at all. You’re the one who’s weird for thinking it weird.”

Fine – what about this:

Friend: “Your son is so cute, and so alert for four months, does he make strange yet?”
Me: “Make strange what?”
Friend: “Haha, funny. Seriously though, does he?”
Me: *furrowed brow* “Does he make strange?”
Friend: “Yeah.”
Me: “The only thing my son makes are dirty diapers. Is English your second language?”
Friend: “What?”
Me: “What?”

Make strange? Imagine my surprise when Google schooled me in the fact that it’s a real thing. Who makes up these terms? Was, “Is he afraid of strangers yet?” too long a sentence that they had to change it to, “Does he make strange yet?” 
To you parents out there: Did you have any of these moments when you had your children? Are there others I need to be prepared for?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Because I Care!

Dear readers of this blog,

As you probably know, sometime in 2012 the Zombie Apocalypse will begin. The Mayans predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012, and we all know that the world only ends when zombies consume the brains of the living. It's a well known fact.

I plan on making it till the end, (I've been studying Krav Maga which is the official zombie-killing martial art, in case you were wondering), but I know that surviving to the end means I might have to do things to survive that I don't want to do. So, before you, my friends, are overrun with a hunger for human flesh, I'd like to tell you something: