Roundup

  • At the the Litblog Co-Op, they’re cha-cha-chatting about the next round’s lineup. Discussion, guest blogging, and podcasts will be forthcoming — along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Stay tuned!
  • In addition to composing blustering and martial music, John Philip Sousa wrote novels, which were also presumably blustering and martial. More from Paul Collins.
  • So what excites the publishing industry these days (or purports to)? “Forrest Gump wins Powerball.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no.
  • Hey, folks, quit picking on Richard Grayson or you’ll have to contend with me.
  • A fantastic piece in the Globe on African-American science fiction writers.
  • Hemingway’s typewriter has sold for $2,750.
  • Nan! Nan! Self-serving Nan! She’ll bray about Oprah because she can! Nan! Nan! Ignoble Nan! She doesn’t know Frey is a flash in the pan.
  • Christ, the corporate magpie has done it again. Instead of focusing on such blogs as Book Covers, which has been quite around for some time and often includes interviews with book cover designers, Foreword, a book design blog that’s been operating since 2003, or the more recent Judge a Book By Its Cover, Dwight “Pilfering Pettifogger” Garner acts as if these seminal blogs have never happened, devoting his attentions to The Book Design Review — presumably because “nytimes” is in Joseph Sullivan’s URL. No doubt that Garner will claim ignorance on these three other blogs, just as he acted as if Largeheartedboy’s Book Notes had never happened. But in an age where finding blog antecedents is just a Google search away, this is not a reasonable excuse. Any blog — corporate or independent — has a duty to know what’s been set down before and to innovate without absconding, Mencia-like, from what others have done.
  • She blinded Ian McEwan with science.
  • RIP Makoto Oda.
  • Maud notes that indie film shoots could become a rarity — thanks to draconian measures and overbroad legislative terms instituted by Mayor Bloomberg, which would involve slapping indie filmmakers with obtaining a permit and $1 million in liability insurance. (As I’ve learned more about Bloomberg, I’ve been scratching my head over how this fine city elected such a colossal asshole for mayor.) Public feedback ends on Friday and there is this petition set up by Picture New York. If you don’t want to see cultural depiction of New York transform into a needless plutocracy, voice your opinion today!
  • Orthofer, by dint of a dutiful reader, has located this helpful PDF file. Since the publisher hasn’t sent the dutiful Mr. Orthofer his copy, I suppose we’ll have to contend with this TLS review in the meantime.
  • Despite Robert Ludlum’s death six years ago, it would appear that he remains a prolific author. Apparently, the Ludlum executors are taking a page out of the V.C. Andrews playbook, having ghost writers expand upon story ideas that Ludlum had lying about. As much as I don’t care for Ludlum’s work, I still find this tantamount to sodomizing a writer’s dead corpse. If an uncredited writer riffs off a story idea, can it be sufficiently called a Robert Ludlum book? Ludlum’s agent, Henry Morrison, claims that Ludlum told him, “I don’t want my name to disappear. I’ve spent 30 years writing books and building an audience.” But does flooding the marketplace with faux Ludlum books really a fair way to preserve an author’s legacy? Why couldn’t Ludlum or his followers accept that all good things come to an end? Oh yeah. I keep forgetting about these green slips of paper that seduce people so easily. (via Jenny D)
  • I have a mad crush on Danica McKellar. (via Bookshelves of Doom)
  • Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary is hitting the big screen. (via Bookninja)
  • Has genre become irrelevant?
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10 Comments

  1. Ed, your repeated attacks on Dwight Garner are a mystery to me. I agree with Dan Green that Garner’s blog is silly, and as you know, I have little to no use for the New York Times’ books coverage. But: I asked earlier what was so original about Largehearted Boy’s Book Notes feature that someone else couldn’t have come up with it, too (and which also closely resembled another feature that already regularly appeared in the Times itself), but you never replied. Now I have to ask, what is so original about assessing book covers? And, your point that blogs have “a duty to know what’s been set down before” is arrant nonsense. Are you saying that if I think of something I want to do on my blog, that I ought to google it to see if someone else has already done something like it? That’s moronic.

    If Garner, or whoever, sees something truly original that someone else is doing, and simply steals it, then, yeah, that’s kind of shitty, but some of these ideas are not exactly earth-shattering and have existed in many different forms for quite some time (book covers? musicians boring us with lists of their favorite books? or writers boring us with lists of their favorite music? spare me). They are, I should think, fair game. But who gets to decide? You will no doubt claim that you are entitled to your opinion, and of course you are, we all are (how exciting for us), but you also claim to be interested in discussion, yet what you really do is set yourself up as the final arbiter, with opinions that are by and large impervious to modification.

  2. I don’t care what the previous commentator has to say, I’m just chuffed at being called a “seminal blog” (although my inner 14 year-old boy is giggling like a maniac). Thanks Ed!

    Maughta (Ms. Judgeabook if you’re nasty)

  3. Richard; As has been abundantly clear in my assaults upon the sophomoric New York Times establishment, which seems to view itself as venerable and entitled to stealing from those who give more than a few damns about literature, is that Garner and his ilk have no sense of history, no sense of what has followed before, and that, as such, they do not follow in the blogging tradition of acknowledging and therefore amalgamating with the past. (For my own part, I have acknowledged numerous times the interviewing methods I have adapted from Dick Cavett and Tom Snyder for my podcasts.)

    There was a whole slate of blogs which have assessed book covers and gone to greater lengths than Mr. Sullivan. Without casting an absolutist stance against Mr. Sullivan’s achievements, these blogs didn’t possess the “nytimes” bullshit imprimatur. Granted, Mr. Garner is very much a corporation man working for an entity that lives by the mantra “We Take No Chances” (his work speaks for itself) — but, as I declare, he is also a pettifogger, lacking the ethical and civil duty to frame his entries within the easily Googleable histories of variations upon the form.

    And Largehearted Boy did innovate by offering a variety of quirky takes — innovated over the course of years — of authors revealing their relationship with music — with Garner working with these various approaches and acting as if HE were the grand innovator.

    I am by no means the final arbiter and various readers are inclined to disagree with me. (I approve comments that disapprove of the things I post here, which is certainly more than Garner does.) But while my takes may sometimes be highly subjective, they still work in the grand interest of promoting discussion. (See your comments, for one.)

  4. Yes, you approve negative comments. This is not the same thing as discussion. And, yes, I have no trouble believing that the fact that Sullivan’s blog is associated with the NYT at the very minumum brings it to Garner’s attention, and quite probably lends it some authority other blogs lack for him. I agree that the latter anyway is bullshit. But what I don’t understand is what makes you so sure that Garner is lying about his ignorance of apparent antecedents. It’s one thing for you to speculate on the matter once, but then over a series of posts on the topic, your assertion merges into “fact”, so that each subsequent thing you identify as suspicious merely reinforces your opinion that he is lying, hardening it still further into a truism. I am saying that it is by no means obvious that Largehearted Boy’s features were ripped off by Garner. I am saying further that there is no “ethical and civil duty to frame his entries within the easily Googleable histories of variations upon the form”. If he HAD gotten the idea from another blog, then I would agree that he ought to frame it as such, but if he hadn’t (and, again, I see no particular reason to assume that he has; you doubt the sincerity of his claim, I do not, chiefly because I have no reason to; in any event, it can’t be proven), there is NO duty of any kind to find out whether it had been done before. I’d like to know the rationale for arguing that there is one. Keeping in mind that neither of these features are particularly ground-breaking (I mean no disrespect to those bloggers who do them; I do plenty of non-ground-breaking of my own).

    Also, pettifogger =

    1. A petty, quibbling, unscrupulous lawyer.
    2. One who quibbles over trivia.

    I suppose you are zeroing in on the word “unscrupulous”, but “quibbling” seems to muddy the issue. It seems that, in fact, it is you and I who are the pettifoggers here (we are surely quibbling over trivia), not Garner.

  5. Richard: Please review the etymology of “pettifogger.” When I use a word like “pettifogger,” I know what I’m doing. Obviously, you have not heard of the Fuggers of the 15th and 16th century. Fugger was the surname of a family of wealthy financers in Augsburg. The word, which later shifted into the definitions you cite, originally represented a self-important businessman who used dishonorable practices, such as his wealth, for gaining popularity. Ergo, Garner.

  6. However, sir, to be fair, I am willing to concede that Garner may not have known about Largehearted Boy. However, his continued theft of elements from the blogosphere, when as I have pointed out they are easily Googleable, are suspect.

  7. As far as I could tell the etymology was uncertain. I do now see this citation ( http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=pettifogger&searchmode=none ) which mentions the Fuggers, per your comment (no I was not aware of them), though it also indicates that the connection the OED makes between the word and the group is “a rare burst of pure speculation”. But I’m happy to cede the point, esp. since I was clearly being an irritant.

    I am honestly asking, however, why one should have to Google to see if someone else has done something similar before you do it yourself. I don’t understand this point. I mean, there are obvious rip-offs. If I inaugurated a series of interview podcasts, I could hardly be believed that I hadn’t known about yours (especially if I called them, say, “The Sat Begundo” show), if only because I have been battering you with comments today. But if I merely interviewed someone and placed the transcript on my blog, well, lots and lots of people have done that–who do I reference? I realize that’s not a great example, since people have been interviewing people forever. But I chose it because it doesn’t strike me as all that different (innovation-wise) as a post about book design. But, more to the point, let’s say I was someone who really didn’t know anything about your blog or your podcasts, and I got this idea to post mp3s of interviews with authors on my site (perhaps I’m interested in the technology and maybe I listen to, for example, Amy Goodman’s show on my iPod, and I think I can do that), are you saying that I’m duty-bound to Google, looking for other people who have done it? I mean, I can see where that would be a good idea–maybe I could learn something! Maybe I could be part of a podcasting community! But is it an ethical duty? I don’t think it is, but I’m curious as to why you might.

  8. Just to clear up a few things: I don’t know Dwight Garner, and he doesn’t know me. I’m not affiliated with the NY Times. “nytimesbooks.blogspot.com” is still how the site renders from Blogger, although it’s been called The Book Design Review for some time now. Changing the name of the site will break a whole bunch of inbound links and I’m currently weighing the best time to throw the switch to a new nytimesbooks-less URL.

    As to why he linked to me, maybe he just likes the blog.

    Best,
    Joe / the BDR

  9. Mr. Sousa did not just compose “blustery & martial” music (much of which is still played on a regular basis) but many works for the stage and concert hall that are quite clever, melodious, and beatiful compositions. He wrote the first quite succsesful American operetta, “El Capitan” and over 70 songs. Judging a composer on only one aspect of his output is akin to stating that say Shakespere only wrote blustery comedy because of “Midsummer Nights Dream”…narrow mindedness indeed. Check out ohmrsousa.com

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