Gore Vidal - October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012

Writer Gore Vidal, 86, has died
Gore Vidal has died.
Gore Vidal, pictured here in 2006, has died at age 86. (Genaro Molina / February 10, 2006)

Gore Vidal, the iconoclastic writer, savvy analyst and imperious gadfly on the national conscience, has died. He was 86.
Vidal died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, said nephew Burr Steers.
Vidal was a literary juggernaut who wrote 25 novels, including historical works such as “Lincoln” and “Burr” and satires such as “Myra Breckinridge” and “Duluth.” He was also a prolific essayist whose pieces on politics, sexuality, religion and literature -- once described as “elegantly sustained demolition derbies” -- both delighted and inflamed and in 1993 earned him a National Book Award for his massive “United States Essays, 1952-1992.”
Threaded throughout his pieces are anecdotes about his famous friends and foes, who included Anais Nin, Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, Orson Welles, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, Jack Kerouac, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Eleanor Roosevelt and a variety of Kennedys. He counted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Al Gore among his relatives.
He also wrote Broadway hits, screenplays, television dramas and a trio of mysteries under a pseudonym that remain in print after 50 years.
When he wasn’t writing, he was popping up in movies, playing himself in “Fellini’s Roma,” a sinister plotter in sci-fi thriller “Gattaca” and a U.S. senator in “Bob Roberts.” In other spare moments, he made two entertaining but unsuccessful forays into politics, running for the Senate from California and Congress in New York, and established himself as a master of talk-show punditry who demolished intellectual rivals like Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley with acidic one-liners.
“Style,” Vidal once said, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” By that definition, he was an emperor of style, sophisticated and cantankerous in his prophesies of America’s fate and refusal to let others define him.

Clutch of appealing new picture books

From Scholastic:

Each time Each time its people move away, the little hall sits empty.
Will its walls ever again ring with laughter, music and song?
The one day, a little boy steps inside the hall...
and feels the welcome of its wooden arms.

A heart-warming tale published in English and Maori editions.

A fun story from the prolific and talented Kyle Mewburn with fun illustrations by Daron Parton.

Dig out the coloured pens and pencils and have some fun with the Little Yellow Digger. 
Join the dots, match the shapes, make mud pie cookies, spot the differences, create things with paper, and more.
Based on one of NZ's most popular best-selling children's books,(first published in 1993), by husband and wife team Betty & Alan Gilderdale.

Margaret Mahy farewelled at Hagley Park


TRIBUTE: Louise Easter, Rose Eastwood and Sue Colyer attend a public farewell for Margaret Mahy today.

Hundreds of people have gathered in Christchurch's Hagley Park today to farewell popular children's author Margaret Mahy.
The 76-year-old died last week after a short illness, and news of her death spread around the world.
A public memorial service will begin at 2pm at the Hagley Park Geo Dome, with seats for about 700 people filling quickly.
Daughter Penny Mahy said she wanted to involve the people of Christchurch because the city had been Mahy's home for a long time.
''We want to include all the people who she might have had contact with and who might have wanted to say goodbye,'' she said.
Two former library colleagues, Sue Colyer and Louise Easter, we're at the service to speak about their friend of more than 40 years. Mahy used to sing sea shanties and recite long poems to help make tedious tasks like shelving books go quickly, Easter said. "She made the time go quickly," Colyer said.
Fellow Governors Bay resident Rose Eastwood was often mistaken for Mahy by children at the local school. "She was the loveliest lady," she said.
Eastwood wore a bright wig to today's service as it "epitomises" Mahy's colourful personality.
"She was so entertaining," Eastwood said.

The service would include readings of parts of Mahy's books, photograph displays, a montage of family movies and songs from a choir of children.
Close family held a private funeral service for Mahy on Monday.

New Zealand Post Book Awards

Tonight is the night when all will be revealed. The judges' decisions will become known with some authors elated and others disappointed.

Arguably the most important event on the NZ book trade calendar the Awards Dinner is being held this evening in the Auckland Museum as the highlight of Booksellers NZ three day annual conference.

The Bookman will be there of course and would expect to have the complete results posted here on the blog by around 10.30pm.

Creative New Zealand welcomes new arts plan for Christchurch

Christchurch’s new plan for the arts reflects the key role the arts play in the life of the city, says Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright.
“The arts continue to rejuvenate and enliven Christchurch,” Mr Wainwright said. “Cities need creativity and our research shows that Christchurch people see the arts as having a vital role to play in rebuilding Christchurch’s future.’’

Creative New Zealand welcomes the inclusion of a performing arts precinct in the Christchurch Central Development Unit blueprint. “This is an exciting plan which recognises Christchurch’s history of strong arts practise and looks forward positively to the future,’’ Mr Wainwright said.
“While final details of the precinct are yet to be confirmed, we are heartened to see the proposal provides a home for the performing arts and reflects what we see as the key priorities for a strong arts infrastructure in Christchurch.”

The precinct may include a permanent base for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, The Court Theatre and the Music Centre of Christchurch.
“We appreciate the opportunity the Christchurch Central Development Unit provided for Creative New Zealand and others in the arts sector to be involved in the arts precinct planning process,’’ he said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the CCDU and other stakeholders to further develop the arts blueprint.’’
“The refurbishment of Christchurch Art Gallery, Ngai Tahu’s proposal for a new cultural centre, a new home for dance, and innovative transitional projects, such as Art Box and Art Circus, all point to the resilience and vibrancy of the arts in Christchurch,” Mr Wainwright said.

Creative New Zealand has given more than $1.9m in one-off grants to artists, arts practitioners and arts organisations directly affected by the Canterbury earthquakes since September 2010 through its Earthquake Emergency Response Fund. Creative New Zealand is currently reviewing the Fund’s criteria to ensure the programme remains relevant and responsive to developing needs.

Best-selling author Charlaine Harris in New Zealand

Fans of HBO series True Blood and lovers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels the show is based on are in for a treat when Charlaine Harris’ NZ tour kicks off with a Dominion Post Write Stuff event this Sunday afternoon.
While tickets to her Auckland event are no longer available, there is still time for Wellington fans if they act quickly.

Charlaine Harris, author of the bestselling series of books which spawned the critically‐acclaimed TV show, is touring New Zealand for the first time. Charlaine, who’s been a published novelist for more than 25 years, has become a publishing phenomenon due to the runaway success of the TV series, and she is now a permanent fixture on the New York Times bestsellers list. She broke literary conventions and helped define a new genre with Dead Until Dark, the first in the Sookie Stackhouse series, featuring a telepathic Louisiana barmaid who is friend to vampires, werewolves and various other odd creatures.

Full details of Charlaine’s Wellington appearance can be found here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/promotions/2918581/Write-Stuff

Charlaine is looking forward to coming to New Zealand and we’re looking forward to having her.
Check out this YouTube clip where she talks to her Kiwi fans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM1svNzE-b4&feature=youtu.be

On the perks and pitfalls of signing books

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Book signings are an unmitigated pleasure – except when you're the author of the book that no one has turned up to have signed

 - guardian.co.uk,

book signing Rick Gekovski
'With undying gratitude' ... a signing life is not necessarily a happy one. Photograph: Dennis Van Tine-London Features

I'm not sure when the vogue for authors signing their books in bookshops and at literary festivals began, or when it accelerated into orthodoxy. Sometime in the 1980s perhaps? I have few memories before then of seeing authors hunched at a table in the back of a bookshop, signing books.

When I first saw a writer doing this, I was immediately seized by an unsettling combination of desire, envy and cynicism. What was the point of such a fatuous exercise? Of course authors can sign their own names! And – by the way – can I have three copies inscribed to myself, my wife, and my daughter?

But this relatively modest request masked the genesis of my feeling: it was just dandy having a few signed books, but what I really wanted was to be the author behind the desk, besieged by admirers. I had by this time published a book on Joseph Conrad, but even Blackwell's, that great bastion of the unreadable academic treatise, didn't invite me to a signing session.

No: to do a signing session you have to write something that people want to buy, and thus provide an incentive to the bookshop to lend you a chair and a table, and to provide coffee and a pen. My next book did the trick perfectly, and provided the only occasion on which I have been (or ever will be) No 1 on a Waterstones bestseller list. Woo hoo? Sort of. I was only No 1 in two shops, Leamington Spa and Coventry, reflecting the parochial interest in a book on Coventry City Football Club. But Staying Up was a big hit locally, and I sat and signed hundreds of copies at the two shops. It was an unmitigated pleasure, and I never even used the "Yours truly" salutation you often get – or give – in such situations. No, I had "Play Up Sky Blues!" or better yet, "Sky Blues Shooting to Win!" The latter sounds pathologically unrealistic for a Coventry supporter, but it is a line from our 1987 FA Cup final song (do teams still have these?) and, after all, we did win.

It was only with my next couple of books that I began to see that a signing life is not necessarily a happy one, and that for every few pleasant experiences, there is also likely to be a humiliating one. These humiliations – I have resisted a weaker word – are of various sorts. The worst, probably, is when you perform for an audience at a literary festival, retire afterwards to the signing area, and no one comes. There is plenty of space in front of you for an orderly queue, the same as those for the other authors sprinkled about, signing away. Only no one fills it. You sit there for a time, more in hope than expectation. Check your emails on your iPhone, look at your watch, cruise the internet, look at your watch again. Drink your glass of water. Request a refill. By this time, if they have any human feeling whatsoever, the bookshop manager for the festival will have turned up with a few copies for you to sign for their stock. With pathetic gratitude you sign them with a flourish, announce limply "must get on", and slink away. The other authors, bent on signing, affect not to notice that you have left.
Read Rick's full piece at The Guardian.

One day workshops in Auckland 29 September, 2012


The New ZealandSociety of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.)

In association with

Manukau Institute of Technology
Creative Writing School

are proud to offer a day of workshops
Saturday 29th September 2012

10.00 – 11.30
Martin Taylor
Digital Publishing
11.45 – 1.15
Courtney Meredith
Performance Poetry
1.15 – 1.145

1.45 – 3.15
Ant Sang
Graphic Novels
3.30 – 5.00
Nikolasa & Potaua Biasiny-Tule
Social Networking

When:  Workshop – Saturday 29th September 2012
Where:  MIT, 4th Floor, Westfield Shopping Centre, 277 Broadway, Cnr Broadway and Morrow Street, Newmarket, Auckland
Cost: $40 incl GST.  Includes morning and afternoon tea but not lunch.

Bookings Essential – email office@nzauthors.org.nz  or call 09.379 4801

My mini-reviews from the Herald on Sunday – 4 July 2012

Curious  English Words and Phrases
Max Cryer – Exisle Publishing - $29.99
Max Cryer has been everywhere and done everything it would seem. A well-known broadcaster and entertainer ceratinly but in a long career he has been a schoolteacher, a compere and TV host, as well as a singer in London, Las Vegas and Hollywood.
But these days he is best known as a wordsmith, a seasoned researcher and writer on all aspects of the English language. He hosts a weekly radio slot on the subject and of course he writes books and this his latest is another useful and fascinating look at our language and how we use it. I was especially interested in the origin of the saying “guts for garters”!

The Raupo Dictionay of Modern Maori
P.M.Ryan  - Raupo - $59.99
This is an updated and significantly revised edition of Father Ryan's The Raupo Dictionary of Modern Maori published by Penguin Books this month. It is a substantial hardback containing over 50,000 entries divided into Maori/English and English/Maori sections.
It incorporates an easy-to-use guide to the pronunciation of te reo Maori and even contains a Maori proverbs section complete with translations and interpretations. Also included are separate lists giving Maori translations of seasons, months, days of the week, parts of the body, NZ and overseas place names, and personal names.

Cocaine Blues
Kerry Greenwood – Allen & Unwin  
The first of Phryne's adventures from Australia's most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.
The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher - she of the green-grey eyes, diamantine garters and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions - is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men. Instead, she decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. 
Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops and communism - not to mention erotic encounters.
 Light, frothy, and enormously entertaining fun is how I would sum it up, and the good thing is there are several more in the series. And having visited Melbourne just a few weeks back I was intrigued and impressed with the author's description of that great city in a 1920's setting.
Can't wait to see the ABC TV series.

XO The Kiss of Death
Jeffery Deaver –Hodder & Stoughton - $36.99
Kayleigh Towne is a beautiful and successful singer-songwriter, and Edwin Sharp is her biggest fan. When she replies to one of his fan letters with 'XO', Edwin is convinced she loves him, and that her latest hit song 'Your Shadow' was written for him. Nothing Kayleigh or her lawyers can say persuades him otherwise.
Then the singer gets an anonymous phone call; it's the first verse of 'Your Shadow' playing. Soon after, one of the crew is horribly murdered. Kayleigh's friend Kathryn Dance, a special agent with the California Bureau of Investigation, knows that stalking crimes are not one-off occurrences, and, sure enough, more verses of the song are played as warnings of death to follow.
This is Deaver at his very best, I rate him as the top US contemporary writer in this genre. But this book is a must not only for crime fiction readers but for popular music buffs as well. There is an enormous amount of information imparted within the story about the celebrity status enjoyed by leading musos, the problems that arise from this status, stalkers, instant recognition, paparazzi etc. Also much about rehearsals, roadies, setting up in huge venues, illegal downloading of music; in fact it is a great inside look at a leading musician's life (albeit a fictional one) and I found it totally fascinating. Twists and double twists I couldn’t put it down, the best crime fiction I have read all year.

A Wanted Man - Lee Child

Reading this but not allowed to say anything as it is not published until 30 August!
 I will say though it is Jack Reacher at his crime-busting, coffee-drinking best. 

Here is a one liner from the book - "If in doubt drink coffee was Reacher's operating principle".

I hope this doesn't get me in to trouble with the folk at Random House!

Harry Potter Reading Club unveiled

By Dianna Dilworth on Galley Cat, July 31, 2012

 Scholastic has revealed plans for a Harry Potter Reading Club, an online destination designed for readers of J.K. Rowling‘s book series.
The site is home to a discussion guide for each of the seven Harry Potter novels and includes discussion questions based on the themes and events in the books. Every month, the publisher will add new discussion themes.
As a special feature for the new site, Rowling will be participating in a live webcast in which the author will virtually visit classrooms and answer questions from students. Rowling will stationed at her hometown in Edinburgh, Scotland, answering questions from kids across the United States. The event will take place on October 11, 2012 at noon ET. Schools that would like to participate can sign up at this link.
Early registrants for the reading club will get special bonus features. The Scholastic press release explains: “The first 10,000 registrants for the Club will receive a welcome kit including bookmarks, stickers and nametags. Printable versions of these items will also be available for download from the website.”

Sylvain Reynard Lands 7-Figure Deal

By Jason Boog on Galley Cat, July 31, 2012

Indie romance novelist Sylvain Reynard has inked a “substantial seven-figure deal” with Penguin Group’s Berkley imprint for Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture.
The book began as Twilight fan fiction, telling the story of “a sinful exploration of sex, love, and redemption” between a Dante scholar and his graduate student. Knight Agency president Deidre Knight and co-agent by Melissa Jeglinski negotiated the deal with senior editor Cindy Hwang. Berkley will print 500,000 trade paperback copies of each book.
Reynard had published with Omnific Publishing, a publisher “nurturing talented amateur writers into professional published authors.”
Omnific Publishing president Elizabeth Harper had this comment in the release: “These books transcend the stereotypical romance and take readers on a deep and moving journey that will stay with them forever … We believe that romance readers, who are primarily women, are intelligent, creative, sensitive, and complex, and books like these honor these qualities in those readers.”
Like Fifty Shades of Grey, the series began as Twilight fan fiction. As Anne Jamison notes on her blog, the book began as The University of Edward Masen by Sebastien Robichaud. Follow this link to watch a fan-made trailer for the original fan fiction. The story has since been removed from the web.
Editor’s Note: A tweet about this article falsely used the personal pronoun “she” to refer to the author of this book. Anne Jamison explained: “Sylvain Reynard who self-presents as male.”

Don Donovan's World

Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author - 01 August 2012

Great Works Re-visited 66.


Celebrating Margaret Mahy 1936 - 2012 - Auckland memorial service details


Lion in The Meadow

A public memorial gathering in Auckland to celebrate the life and achievements of Margaret Mahy is being hosted by the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust.

Date:    Saturday 11 August 2012
Time:   2.30 p.m. 
Venue: Auckland Town Hall

A programme of contributions from fellow writers, associated professional organisations and children is being arranged. 

Auckland Accommodation Special:
Coming from out of town? The Heritage Hotel have an accommodation special available for the night's of 10, 11 & 12 August. Details are available on the Storylines website.
NB: This special is only available for the above dates.


For more information please email childlitnz@storylines.org.nz 

Exciting news from IIML

Mal Peet

We're delighted to announce that the great YA writer Mal Peet will be convening a special 300-level workshop in YA writing at the IIML in the first trimester of 2013 (i.e. March-June). Mal's awards include the Branford Boase Award, the Carnegie Medal, two JLG Premier Selection Awards (USA), The Gouden Lijst (Holland), The Guardian Prize for Children’s Fiction and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honour (USA). With his wife, Elspeth Graham, Mal also writes picture books for younger readers. Their Cloud Tea Monkeys (2010, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard) was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in the UK and won an Aesop Award in the USA.

Mal writes:

'I have, rather reluctantly, chosen to use the imprecise term ‘Young Adult’ to identify the focus of this workshop. This is in order to distinguish the kind of writing I’d like to nurture from an increasingly generic and market-driven "Teen Fiction" in which adolescents masquerade as action heroes, spies and thousand year-old vampires. Although I’m deeply averse to categorising novels in terms of the presumed age of readership, I guess we’ll be looking at writing for readers aged 15 and older; readers making that interesting and important transition between children’s literature and adult literature. My core beliefs are that these young readers are not necessarily or exclusively interested in books about people like themselves; and that they deserve writing of the highest quality.'
More information as it comes to hand . . .

The HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize 2012 short list

The Biographers’ Club is delighted to announce the short list for this year’s HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize, worth £5,000, thanks to the generous sponsorship of HW Fisher & Company, a leading firm of chartered accountants who specialise in consulting services to authors. This is the second year of their sponsorship.

The shortlisted entrants are:

Ian Donaldson – Ben Jonson: A Life (OUP)
Joanna Hodgkin – Amateurs in Eden (Virago)
Louise Miller – A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes (Alma Books)
Thomas Penn – Winter King (Penguin)
W. Sydney Robinson – Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W.T. Stead (Robson Press)
Tom Williams – A Mysterious Something in the Light: Raymond Chandler (Aurum)

The Prize will be awarded to the best book by a first-time biographer, as chosen by our panel of judges: Julie Kavanagh, whose subjects include Frederick Ashton and Rudolf Nureyev; David Sexton, literary editor of the Evening Standard; and Stephanie Williams, author of Hongkong Bank, Olga’s Story and Running the Show: Governors of the British Empire.

Tributes paid to Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy was one of the best loved Irish writers of her generation.
Maeve Binchy was one of the best loved Irish writers of her generation.


The writer and journalist Maeve Binchy (72) died peacefully in a Dublin hospital last night after a short illness. Her husband Gordon Snell was by her side.
She was probably one of the best-loved Irish writers of her generation.

President Michael D Higgins said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of her death.
“She was an outstanding novelist, short story writer and columnist, who engaged millions of people all around the world with her fluent and accessible style,” he said. “She was a great storyteller and we enjoyed her capacity to engage, entertain and surprise us. For others, particularly young and aspiring writers, she was not only a source of great encouragement; but also to so many, of practical assistance.
“In recent years she showed great courage and thankfully never lost her self-deprecating humour, honesty and remarkable integrity as an artist and human being.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today paid his condolences to Mr Snell and the extended Binchy family. "Today we have lost a national treasure. Across Ireland and the world people are mourning and celebrating Maeve Binchy. She is a huge loss wherever stories of love, hope, generosity and possibility are read and cherished.
“Today as a nation we are thankful for and proud of the writer and the woman Maeve Binchy. I offer my deepest sympathies on behalf of the Government and the Irish people to her husband Gordon Snell and extended family."
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said Ms Binchy was "more than a writer. She was storyteller, and one of the best storytellers that Ireland has ever produced."
“Maeve was incredibly generous in every way but in particular she was generous with her own time," he said. "Despite the fact that she was a hugely successful author around the world, she never lost the human touch and would always make a point of taking time to talk to passers-by, well-wishers and supporters."
The Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Seamus Dooley, said the author had been a life member of the union and had only recently written a special article about her association with it in The Journalist magazine.
"She was a woman of rare charm, warmth and generosity of spirit. Hundreds of journalists have reason to be grateful for her guidance and encouragement. She was always available to young writers and at heart remained a teacher," he said.
"Maeve loved people and her unique insight into human nature shone through her journalism and later her novels. She will be missed for her sense of fun, her humour and for the grace and style which were her hallmark."
He also extended sympathy to her husband.
The Irish Times editor Kevin O’Sullivan said Ms Binchy had brought the essential qualities of the best journalists to all her writing - an insatiable curiosity about people and ear for dialogue.
"Her acute, sympathetic observation of the lives of others was at the heart of her hugely popular columns in The Irish Times, many of which were inspired by stray, overheard conversations, and of her bestselling novels, which told universal stories about friendship, family and love," he said.

"As Women’s Editor of The Irish Times, she was in the vanguard of giving a voice to a generation of Irish women who were determined to play their full part in reshaping society."
Mr O'Sullivan added: "Unfailingly generous and thoughtful, Maeve was loved by everyone she worked with at The Irish Times and she maintained a close relationship with the newspaper right up to her death. Her unique style transcended novels, short stories, letter-writing and beautifully-crafted journalism. Along with millions of her readers around the world, her colleagues here will miss her sorely.”

She will be cremated in a private ceremony following removal on Friday morning to the Church of the Assumption, Dalkey.

Much more at The Irish Times

Dylan Thomas Prize 2012 longlist unveiled with two youngest ever entrants

  • Lucy Caldwell won the 2011 Dylan Thomas Prize
Lucy Caldwell won the 2011 Dylan Thomas Prize

The granddaughter of poet Dylan Thomas has announced the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize 2012 longlist, which features two of its youngest ever entrants.
Announcing the longlist at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, Hannah Ellis revealed ten literary works - eight novels and two short story collections - had been selected.
Spanning three continents, the selected writers hail from as far afield as Canada, the USA, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, along with five from the UK.

The annual £30,000 international prize, one of the largest of its kind in the world for young writers, honours the memory of Dylan Thomas.
The prize is open to any published writer in the English language aged 18 to 30.

This year’s longlist includes two of the prize’s youngest ever entrants – British writer Ben Brooks, 20, with his novel, Grow Up, and 21-year- old Chibundu Onuzo, from Nigeria, whose novel, The Spider King’s Daughter, also makes the list.
Manchester author Alexandra Singer, 29, who was diagnosed with a near fatal neurological illness at the age of 25, is also on the longlist with her novel, Tea at the Grand Tazi.
Founding Chairman of the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, Peter Stead, said: “Once again we have another quality longlist with an extensive international span. We also have our youngest ever entrant in Chibundu Onozu with The Spider King’s Daughter.
“The calibre of the ten longlisted works is outstanding and I’m sure the next few weeks are going to see a number of heated debates as the judging panel whittles down this list of 10 extremely talented young writers to the final shortlist for this years Prize.”
This year will be the fifth Dylan Thomas Prize award and sees three new additions to the judging panel.
Ex Catatonia singer-songwriter, Cerys Matthews, is joined by Guardian literary journalist, Nicholas Wroe, and the Western Mail columnist, Carolyn Hitt.
The panel will deliver its shortlist announcement in September. The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at an awards ceremony in Swansea on November 9.

The University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize 2012 longlist:

Tom Benn, 24 – The Doll Princess (Vintage Publishing)
Ben Brooks, 20 – Grow Up (Canongate Books)
Matthew Crow, 24 – My Dearest Jonah (Legend Press)
Andrea Eames, 26 – The White Shadow (Harvill Secker/Random House) (formerly of Christchurch, NZ)
Amelia Gray, 29 – Threats (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Chibundu Onuzo, 21 – The Spider King’s Daughter (Faber)
Maggie Shipstead, 28 – Seating Arrangements (Blue Door)
Alexandra Singer, 29 – Tea at the Grand Tazi (Legend Press)
DW Wilson, 27 – Once You Break A Knuckle (Bloomsbury)
Lucy Wood, 27 – Diving Belles (Bloomsbury).

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/07/30/dylan-thomas-prize-2012-longlist-unveiled-with-two-youngest-ever-entrants-91466-31506249/#ixzz22DzeNFGP

10 Essential Surrealist Books for Everyone

by .  Monday July 30, 2012 - Flavorpill

Shane Jones knows a little bit about surrealism. In his first novel, Light Boxes, the inhabitants of a tiny town fought against perpetual February — and in his wonderful and hallucinatory new novel, Daniel Fights a Hurricane, the weather has only gotten meaner — and the people stranger. Because we’re so consistently bewitched by his work, we asked Jones to curate a list of essential surrealist reads for us, so we can pass the time between his novels a little more easily. He writes: ”My motivation here isn’t to offer a pretentious list of obscure artsy books – I could very easily do that – but to provide suggestions for books that can be easily found, tastefully devoured, and will supply a healthy shot of the weird stuff. Nothing too weird, but also nothing too easy – no mentions of Salvador Dalí or my mother’s 1960s era fairy tale pictures that hang in the living room. Here are the essential surrealist works for everyone – some old, some new, all must-reads.” We wholeheartedly concur.

The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim
The family drama novel ripped apart and blended. The opening pages introduce all one hundred brothers, and Antrim spends the next 185 pages discussing the complexity of the brothers’ relationships while in the spare setting of a house. Most books labeled surreal are criticized for a lack of heart. The Hundred Brothers made me cry twice, especially when the narrator, Doug, says near the end: “I was nothing but another Doug.”

The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns
Published in 1959 and written in an offbeat style similar to Robert Walser but even stranger, Comyns walks the line between harsh reality and neon-colored dream when Alice learns she can levitate. When her father discovers her powers, he imagines the lucrative possibilities, and the book ends with a struggle between escapist dream and bruise-worthy reality with room for only one outcome.

Nothing by Blake Butler
Blake Butler’s black-magic fiction is some of my favorite stuff being written today, but it’s his 2011 memoir Nothing that opens a portal to the accessible via heartfelt autobiography. Watching Butler’s mind melt from reality-aware days to insomnia-cracked nights is absolutely beautiful and wonderfully strange.

View the full list at Flavorpill

HMH Halts Publication of IMAGINE After Jonah Lehrer Acknowledges Fabricating Bob Dylan Quotes

More than a month after admitting to recycling material from previous articles into his New Yorker blog posts, Jonah Lehrer has resigned from the magazine, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has taken ebook editions of Lehrer's newest book IMAGINE, published last April, off the market, halted shipment of physical copies, and is "exploring further options" with respect to IMAGINE's continuing publication.
The latest developments emerged after a report in Tablet demonstrated Lehrer fabricated a number of quotes attributed to Bob Dylan in IMAGINE, and that he obfuscated the truth to journalist Michael Moynihan for several weeks before finally admitting to the fabrications.
In a statement released Monday afternoon by HMH, Lehrer said: "Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book IMAGINE. The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr. Moynihan  that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan's representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said."
Lehrer continued: "The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr. Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed. "
IMAGINE was also chosen by Barnes & Noble in April as one of its "B&N Recommends" picks. A spokesperson for the bookseller said they are "complying with the publisher's national recall of both the print and physical book." Both BN.com and Amazon have stopped listing the hardcover and ebook editions of the book for sale but the audiobook, published by Brilliance Audio, was still available to buy at both retail outlets Tuesday morning. New Yorker editor David Remnick said in a statement to the NYT: "This is a terrifically sad situation, but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for."
Canongate, Lehrer's UK publisher, will also halt publication of IMAGINE. The publisher said in its own statement: "In light of Jonah Lehrer's statement, Canongate has decided, with immediate effect, to take the e-book and audiobook of Imagineoff-sale and halt shipment of physical copies."

After a month of Hitchcock-style events...

Sometimes you get that perfect, thoughtful review by someone who totally gets your book. In the middle of a dreadful month of apartment floods, five weeks of no hot water and gas for cooking due to a gas leak, no Internet and other Hitchcock-style horrors, I got one of those reviews that made my heart stutter with delight. Indie Ebook Reviews had actually posted in April what I'd just stumbled across. It was like digging up that perfect, golden potato under the soil. Because Ms. Glass so got it, I will post it here:

In the world of YA fiction, the paranormal romances Twilight inspired have recently been replaced by an outbreak of dystopian fiction – with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games leading the way and Scott Westerfield’s Uglies and Ally Condie’s Matched close behind.  Catherine Stine’s Fireseed One taps into this trend, although its slightly retro cover signals she is steeped in traditional sci-fi and not just an arriviste to the genre.

Also differentiating it from those other recent hits is the fact that the lead character is male – 18-year old Varik – although he is soon joined by the feisty Marisa Baron.  The novel is set in 2089, with the US a lethal ‘Hotzone’ full of ‘refugees’ who the propaganda channel known as ‘the stream’ insists are dangerous. Varik’s father, a marine biologist, has been murdered leaving his son in charge of his sea-farm and valuable seed-banks, which are the world’s main food supply.  When he catches Marisa stealing seeds and his crops are struck with the plague, Varik sets off with her on a quest that leads him into the Hotzone to find the ‘fireseed’ his father is rumored to have created, learning along the way that the lines between good and evil are more blurred than he thought.

The vision of the future Stine creates – of a world divided into have and have-nots by climate change and utterly dependent on GM crops – is convincing.  The book has a strong satirical slant, with interesting things to say both about the way the media demonizes refugees and how advertising penetrates every corner of our lives – each news update from ‘the stream’ ends with an ironic sponsor’s ad, devastating news of riots being: ‘brought to you by Restavik Chophouse, where the boar is better than home-grilled and the ladies drink free on Saturdays.’

Shin Kaskade, Tech Wizard
by Catherine Stine
The writing is strong, using the present tense to create freshness and full of vivid verbs.  It is the little, specific details that make this world so three-dimensional.  In the first few pages we get the horrific, cinematic image of Varik’s father’s corpse (‘famished viperfish had gouged his hands’), along with tender details that really nail the father-son bond (‘I’ll miss our docksides fish fries, our midnight boat rides…our poker games for abalone.)  Varik’s trendy friend Audun has a ‘shark-tooth earring’.  A firestorm burns the sky with ‘molten arteries of light.’  Stine has also created a believable slang for the teenagers, with Varik exclaiming ‘yummo’, ‘fry me’ and ‘burn it’.

I do think there’s one plot hole – if the entire world is dependent on Agar as a food-source, why would it be left in the hands of one nice, ordinary seeming biologist and then his disinterested 18-year old son?  This was, ultimately, a bit unconvincing – especially when Varik leaves the last feeble Agar plant in the hands of his best mate who seems more interested in baking scones.  A brutal regime which uses propaganda to stamp out sympathy for the starving would surely be a bit more hands-on about its supply chain!
...It’s a great young adult book though, with a sweet central romance and lots of inventive thrills.

Review by Evie Glass

by Catherine Stine
To celebrate, I am offering a signed paperback copy of Fireseed One at a huge discount--$5 (includes postage)--to anyone who emails me at kitsy84557 (at) gmail (dot) com.
Or, if you prefer, order an ebook, on sale at B&N or Amazon for $0.99, and I'll send you a signed copy of an illustration from Fireseed One.
Offer good for two weeks (Through Aug 15).

Now, to do a power visualization that Con Ed will come turn on our gas and hot water!

Cheers, Catherine

There's Another Reformed Anglican...Unbelievable!

Unbelievable, there really is—actually, there really is—another Reformed
Anglican in America!  Reading this joyful
post is like watching children grow up! 
A few are beginning to mature and grow-up, no thanks to their Bishops it
must be added.  No thanks to their
seminaries.  Time for Bob Duncan, an ACNA
cleric and Archbishop, to grow up and get a profound Reformed theological vision without the

Episcopal Watch: TEC Goes Where the Faithful Cannot

Man-Baby TEC Clerics

dreary story about theological liberals, yeah apostates, in the TEC.  Take-way for youths:  steer clear, read the Bible regularly, get a
few good systematicians around you, and have recourse to the Reformed
Confessions.  We can make book recomendations for inquirers.  The last three generations need to repent and apologize to the current generation. 

The liberal

Rome Watch: Jumping into and Swimming Across the Turgid, Brown Tiber River to Rome

Do these children not read anymore?  Simple answer: why, of course not. Another function of an absense of reading and catechesis!   Never mind the Dumb Ass evangelicals.  They wouldn't even know what the issues are. As Archbishop Cranmer prayed for years and years and--then--finally codified in his 1544 Litany, "Good Lord, deliver us from the abominable tyrannies of the Bishop of Rome." 

Old Princeton Watch: 31 Jul 1859, Passing of A.A. Alexander's Son, James Waddell Alexander

The Rev. Mr. James Waddell Alexander, an old Princetonian scion and the son of the ever-revered Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander.  I've studied Dr. Alexander's commentary on Isaiah.  JW Alexander, son of AA Alexander, passed away 31 Jul 1859.  It would appear that he had New School tendencies towards revivalism, but better documentation is needed.  "The old Princetonian Presbyterians," en toto, were

The Best Photo of the Day

Art Daily News
LONDON.- The statue of Admiral Lord Nelson is decorated with a hat and an Olympic torch, designed by Sylvia Fletcher of Locke and Co., the company famed for making Nelson's original bicorn hat, as part of an art event in central London's Trafalgar square, during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 30, 2012. The "Hatwalk" event, brings together 21 emerging and established designers to showcase British millinery in some of London's most iconic statues. 
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis.

A High Holy Whodunit

Michal Chelbin for The New York Times
The Aleppo Codex, the oldest, most complete, most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible, in its vault at the Israel Museum.
  • One day this spring, on the condition that I not reveal any details of its location nor the stringent security measures in place to protect its contents, I entered a hidden vault at the Israel Museum and gazed upon the Aleppo Codex — the oldest, most complete, most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible. The story of how it arrived here, in Jerusalem, is a tale of ancient fears and modern prejudices, one that touches on one of the rawest nerves in Israeli society: the clash of cultures between Jews from Arab countries and the European Jews, or Ashkenazim, who controlled the country during its formative years. And the story of how some 200 pages of the codex went missing — and to this day remain the object of searches carried out around the globe by biblical scholars, private investigators, shadowy businessmen and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency — is one of the great mysteries in Jewish history. 

  • Michal Chelbin for The New York Times
    Michael Maggen, the head of the paper-conservation lab at the Israel Museum.