Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Shaun Smith

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Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

As a journalist he has published over 200 articles in such publications as the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, CBC Arts Online, Chatelaine, The Globe & Mail, Quill & Quire, Toro, Argyle, The Writer and LCBO’s Food & Drink.

A former chef who has cooked at such establishments as Scaramouche, the David Wood Food Shop, and The Senator, he is now a food writer for Toronto Life magazine and CBC.ca. He has also reviewed over forty cooking and food titles for Quill & Quire magazine, where he is a Contributing Editor. In addition, he wrote the dining chapter for the Toronto & Niagara Colourguide, published in March 2008 by Formac Publishing, providing a guided tour of the Toronto’s best restaurants.

As a literary critic, he has reviewed such titles as Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis (Toronto Star), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Toronto Star) and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Toronto Star).

As a bookseller, he worked for many years at such bookstores as Pages Books & Magazines, Indigo Books & Music & Nicholas Hoare Ltd. He was the co-creator and former coordinator of the literary event series This Is Not A Reading Series.

In October 2005, NOW magazine voted him the Canadian publishing industry’s “Most Valuable Player” in their Best of Toronto edition. His website is shaunsmith.ca.

Ten Questions with Shaun Smith

OBT:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

SS:

The first thing I ever published was a recipe in a charity cookbook for the Mabin School in Toronto. I was a chef at the time and an old friend was the editor of the cookbook. The recipe was for duck liver pie. We made up a completely bogus back story about my having created it while traveling in England. I’ve never been to England. It was quite a good pie though.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

Snakes & Ladders

By Shaun Smith

For as long as 13-year-old Paige Morrow can remember, the tree fort in the giant oak near her cottage in Ontario’s Muskoka has been her sanctuary. Now everything is changing. It’s the summer of 1971, and she and her little brother, Toby, have been at their cottage with their mother since school let out. But this year, Paige feels more alone than ever. Her father has stopped coming up from the city on weekends, while her mother buries herself in whiskey and writing.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

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Cuts
Today marks the last Sunday Sundries and final installment of its sister column on Open Book Ontario, Fiction Craft. Thanks for reading.

Parasites
Ha ha! Well done, Guardian! Screw Amazon.

Greed
Why do people think indie bookstore owners are any less greedy than Amazon? Oh well. How to Quit Amazon and Shop in an Actual Bookstore.

Blah-blah

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Chances

So you want to be a writer, eh? Roll the die at LA Times to see where the writing life might take you.

Wolves

I suppose there are some people out there who think spending a day with George RR Martin and a pack of wolves might be fun. Some might even pay $20K for the experience.

Words

How is it that some people get so worked up about fonts? I'll never know.

Visions

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Copycats

Why do so many books about Africa have virtually identical cover designs?

Zombies

Bestsellers brainwash you to think like everyone else.

Circles

I recently pointed you at a Casual Optimist blog post about book covers featuring triangles. Now he's got one about concentric circles.

Wants

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Adios

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Bestseller or Bust!

Or maybe both? The news is out: being a writer pays crap. And so is the update: it pays crappier today than ever.

Library Porn

Fodor's presents a gallery of the World's 20 Most Stunning Libraries.

Life Savers

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SEX
Back in the day when I worked in bookstores and Madonna's book Sex was published, complete with it's silver Mylar wrapper, I had a movement when I thought it might be a good idea to snap up a few copies and tuck them away intact and unopened until the thing went out of print, as a sort of "investment". I didn't do it because, frankly, the book was such an idiotic waste of atoms that I just couldn't justify spending money on it. Still, my instincts were right: Sex topped the list of 2013's most sought after OOP books.

The Girl Who...

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Bad Sex
The Literary Revue has announced its nominees for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction award, and they've been tweeting some icky samples.

Specimens
Speaking of icky, some scientists in Antwerp tested the ten most-borrowed books in the city's lending library. All ten tested positive for cocaine and Fifty Shades of Grey showed traces of herpes.

Yawns

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Clingy
A new book featured on Boing Boing showcases photographs of stuffed animals that have pretty much been loved to death. It achieves that rare state of being both cute and creepy the same time.

McBullshitey's
You know what? I loathe McSweeney's. Always have. I know I can't be alone in that sentiment, but I've yet to meet another person who feels the same way. But whatever. The whole project has maintained an air of oh-so-clever superiority and smugness from the get go. Here's a fine example of what I'm talking about.

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A touch late but no less enjoyable, here's a Halloween-inspired edition of Sundries.

Monster
Ten things you may not know about Frankenstein. Worth the click through just to check out the 1910 Thomas Edison film adaptation.

Death
The dying words of twenty famous authors.

Afterlife
In the Netherlands, someone is converting old churches in to beautiful bookstores.

Horror

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5 Seconds
Too busy to read? A clever new book from design firm H-57 delivers a few hundred stories in pictograms.

Stacks
The librarian’s dream desk.

OED3
The third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is 18 years behind schedule. But no rush.

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Spills

Librarians confess their shame (anonymously): "I spilled a 12 pack of Purple Mountain Dew on our freshly shampooed carpet."

Lurid

The Wall St Journal provides a fascinating look behind the scenes of the new film, "The Counselor", which was written and executive-produced by the novelist Cormac McCarthy: "A lurid, adrenaline-fueled thriller about a lawyer who tries to get rich quick by dabbling in the drug trade, 'The Counselor' marks a career milestone that has eluded the 80-year-old writer for decades."

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Scandal
From the world of punctuation, the Financial times brings us "four scandalously overlooked typographic outliers".

And
Daily Writing Tips tells us how to properly use a comma with conjunctions.

Couplandnomics
Not satisfied with fiction and art, Douglas Coupland has branched out into economics.

Display

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Titillations

"Back in the early 1950s, comic books were the Grand Theft Auto of the day..." writes Michael Dooley on printmag.com. Herewith, his roundup of naughty and raunchy kid-corrupting comics from that bygone era.

Underpants

Speaking of filthy books, The Guardian has posted a gallery of the American Libraries Association's most frequently challenged books for 2012, leading with none other than that beacon of perversion: Captain Underpants.

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Dutch
"It isn't that he merely took a blowtorch to all the affectations and pretences of genre fiction. No, he made the lines between genre and literary fiction ridiculous and arbitrary for all time. Fuck your categorisations: this guy did some of the best writing in the last half of the 20th century." -- David Simon, creator of The Wire, on the passing of the great Elmore Leonard.

Gatsby Chart

Launch for Magical Narcissism by Shaun Smith

When

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 6:00pm

Where

PJ O’Brien’s Pub
39 Colborne Street
Toronto, ON
M5E 1E3

Details

Celebrate the launch of Magical Narcissism: Selected Writings on Books, Writers, Food, and Chefs (Tightrope Books) by Shaun Smith at PJ O’Brien’s Pub (upstairs).

Nibbles served. Cash bar.

Books will be available for purchase.

About Magical Narcissism
What has happened to Bret Easton Ellis’ ego? Why does Ferran Adrià reject the gastronomy it’s said he invented? Who was the novelist that punched her poet husband in the face? Why is David Sedaris broken in the wrong way? When is it comforting to eat spleen? In Magical Narcissism, award-winning Canadian journalist and critic Shaun Smith investigates all these questions and many others as he pursues his two great loves: books and food.

Location

PJ O’Brien’s Pub
39 Colborne Street
Toronto, ON M5E 1E3 43° 38' 56.1732" N, 79° 22' 31.0188" W

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Robot
Generally speaking I am opposed to the digital or mechanical or a combination of the two replacing human workers. But I still think the first kids book vending machine is kinda cool.

King
Stephen King did an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit. Reading it is like swimming in a river of nerdery.

Artifacts

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Stackers
Please enjoy: The avant-garde art of book stacking in stores of Japan.

Binders
The Designer Bookbinders International Bookbinding Competition for 2013 has been won by...(drum roll please)...Dominic Riley! Way to go, Dom! He takes home the Sir Paul Getty Bodleian Bookbinding Prize and a cool £10,000. Check out the winning design and other finalists here.

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Poison
In his new book Who Owns the Future?, Jaron Lanier has some deep thoughts about this here stuff you're consuming right now: "Unfortunately, although no one realized it beforehand, the medicine turns out to be poison."

Paths
Editor and media scholar Jane Freidman sheds a little light on the possible paths to publishing.

Covers

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Hic!
The cocktails of famous literary characters and other fictional creatures, presented graphically.

Grilling

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Rep
Need an agent? Search here. Good luck!

Libraries
NPR asks: What Can Libraries Do To Survive In The Digital Age?

Thou
PBS asks: Which Shakespeare Character are You? (I was, um, Rosalind.)

Typing

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Jobs
What do poets do when their not doing poetry? NPR and Book Patrol each fill us in on the day jobs of poets.

Nonjob

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Grote
NYTs magazine brings us an interactive gallery of covers for de Grote Gatsby (aka The Great Gatsby), as accumulated by the scholar and F. Scott Fitzgerald biographer Matthew J. Bruccoli who spent his adult life stockpiling pulpy paperbacks, fancy slip-covers, French-flapped foreign editions, etc... to accumulate a trove now housed at the University of South Carolina.

Don'ts
Literary agents tell Writer Un-boxed what NOT to do when beginning a novel.

Diaries

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Natives

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Found
Carlos found $20,000 cash in a used book. He advertised it. A few people tried to claim it, but none could provide convincing facts. Six months on and he’s just about ready to keep it for himself.

Tent
Camping season is almost upon us and for the bookish Field Candy offers the book tent.

Reading

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Librarians
The coolest librarians alive? Come on, can’t we just agree that they are ALL cool.
 

Plates
Yum, yum! Bookplates of the famous.
 

Tips
33 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer” Heh, some cute stuff in there, worth a scan.
 

Advice
Mouseover fun with writing advice from famous authors!

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Worm
"50 Reasons You Should Be A Bookworm" from qwiklit.com. Clever, though I have to admit, I don't really get number one, and Slaughterhouse Five is one of my favourite books. If nothing else, this is an excellent collection of book covers to browse.

 

Type
Ever wonder what the hell typographers are talking about? Yeah, me neither. Anyway, this nicely designed glossary lays it all out.

 

Like

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Loaners
There is something sad (or maybe just crappy?) about a book that sits in a library never having been borrowed. Sad or crappy, there's something brilliant about making a gallery exhibit out of such books.

Small
A Japanese book of flowers called "Shiki no Kusabana", with pages measuring only 0.75 millimetres, is hoping for the title of the world's smallest printed book.

Don't

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Hobbies
So you want to be a writer, eh? Perhaps first consider some recent notes on the desperately broken state of the business model for freelance journalism, one of the few ways writers used to be able to make a living at their trade.

Selfies

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BEE
Is or isn’t Bret Easton Ellis writing a new novel? Flavorwire dissects his twitter feed for clues.

Cake
Let them eat...30 Gorgeous and Delicious Literary Cakes

Rath

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Arrrrgh!
Neuroscientist and writer Daniel J. Levitin met Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz, when he was eight years old. The experience made him cry.

Uggggh!
“Amazon is at the centre of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.”

Ohhhh!

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Grammar
Everything you think you know about grammar is wrong, says The Smithsonian. Well, a bunch of things anyway.

Notsotruman
WSJ reports that newly surfaced documents cast serious doubt on the verisimilitude of In Cold Blood.

Grey

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Baltimore
You could have bought F. Scott Fitzgerald's Baltimore townhouse yesterday if you'd moved quickly enough. But no, you missed your chance. It's now off the market.

IBGD

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Porn
It's been a while since I posted some library porn. Here are "The 10 Most Beautiful Libraries in the United States" according to Mental Floss. Worth checking out for the Skywalker Ranch library.

Harbinger
What was the first book ever ordered on Amazon?

Stitched
How to bind your own books: a Pinterest tutorial. (The Internet really is all about self publishing these days.)

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Distro
Here's a fascinating little sidebar in the content vs paper wars: Some bookstores aren't selling Amazon-published books. (Amazon publishes under the deviously ironic imprint New Harvest.) Also of note: apparently Club Monaco is not selling Roots pants, Ford is not selling Hondas, you can't buy President's Choice cookies at Sobey's, and they won't serve you a Big Mac at a Burger King. Life goes on.

Covers

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Marianne
This long and very readable excerpt from Sylvie Simmons' new biography of Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man, describes how the poet met and fell in love with Marrianne Jensen on the Greek Island, Hydra.

Contents
30 tables of contents

Charlotte

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Thirty
The Guardian explains how to write a book in thirty days. But then think about all those wonderful grant opportunities you'd miss out on!

Frankenstein
The New Yorker looks at the digital monsters that are being presented under the guise of books at The Frankfurt Book Fair.

Deadwood

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Underground
A very cool library underground: The Delft Technical Library (with a checkout desk made out of books).

Floating
A very cool bookstore in a 430-foot ship: Logos Hope.

No
Better, actually, because I don't believe for one millisecond that the average grade-ten student has read all of the books in this CS Monitor quiz: "Are you as well red as a average grade-ten student?"

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Hobbits
For your next vacation, head to Hobbiton. (video)

Tunes
The fun (or frustrating) thing about the Literary Jukebox is trying to understand why specific songs are paired with specific literary quotes. No explanations are given.

Gimmicks
Flavourwire gives us 10 books to restore our faith in printed books. Heh! As if we ever lost it.

Shhhh!

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Elves
It seems odd that a man with 12 million books in print feels he has to justify his oeuvre. Nonetheless, famed Fantasy novelist Terry Brooks explains why he writes about elves.

Name
Alistair Fowler takes a look at how famous writers have gone about choosing names for their characters.

Jam

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Dreamy
"Oh look! It’s a new issue of Literary Tiger Beat featuring the dreamiest female teen characters."

Mark
Do you need an apostrophe, or don't you?

Muscles
"...and along the way I knocked up the housekeeper." Watch the trailer for Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobio. Or maintain a small portion of your sanity and don't. (Interesting to note his name is not on the book's cover.)

Celeb

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Demented
Seriously, who has the time to do cost analyses of being the hero/ine of classic kids novels, adjusted for inflation?

Hipster
I have no idea what the hell this is, but the bandana-wearing hipster wannabes amongst you will probably love the David Foster Wallace Endnote Generator.

Schlemiel

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Sage
Some pretty decent writing advice for youngsters from old-man Coupland. (Looking almost Hemingwayesque in that beard Doug!)

Strokes

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Pop
Flavorpill has a gallery of the best pop-up books for adults. (It's not quite as dirty as it sounds, but still fun.)

Penny
Feeling cheap? A new search engine finds books with price tags of one penny.

Search
Speaking of search engines, Online Colleges rounds up 50 of the best for readers.

Booze

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451
In memory of Ray Bradbury, Tumbler "All The Covers" shares a collection of Fahrenheit 451 covers.

Jackets

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Poemotion
Here's a video of one of the coolest books I've seen in a long time: Poemotion by Takahiro Kurashima. It is a very simple form of animation, that uses printed patterns viewed through a scree that you slide across the page. Sorry, that doesn't do it justice.

Crafty
Got some old books? There's a new book out about how to destroy them, and make some art (or at least craft) in the process. All is explained by video, of course.

Dull

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Adams
The e-book reader is the “new” stone tablet, and that’s a good thing. Or so said Douglas Adams (via promotional video) back in the early 1990s.

Orange

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Cute
Author Tahir Shah interviews his own children, Ariane and Timur, about his book The Caliph's House, which chronicles their experience moving to Casablanca. It's a cute and refreshing video. The kids are dressed in pyjamas and one has even found a mistake in the book.

Bookies
Who needs books (aside from movie producers)? Here (c/o Book Browse) are trailers for eleven movies coming out this summer based on books. The first one makes me want to punch my computer.

Flash

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Mom
Awful Library Books, a site that cleverly collects questionable library holdings, offers a gem for Mothers Day: a 1952 book of plays, dialogues, recitations, exercises and monologues dedicated to the day. What fun.

Building
I recently posted about buildings made out of books. Well, here are ten buildings inspired by books (c/o Flavorwire).

Infographic

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Purple
As writer Barbara Lampert reminds us, Doctor Johnson once famously advised, “Read over your compositions and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” Lampert has created a sort of online graveyard for such stuff, where she has invited writers to send her their purple prose that's been red inked.

Daffodils

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Libraries
Some of this we've seen before in other similar galleries, but some of it is new (to me at least). The Vancouver Sun has a gallery of the 12 Coolest Libraries in the World. (their title, not mine)

Reviews

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Open
What happens when you invite censors to a book fair? Jonathan Mirsky of the New York Review of Books' blog offers a fascinating account of his encounters with such creatures at the recent London Book Fair.

Movement
Hey, take your books and get the hell out of here! Flavorwire offers a gallery of a dozen "Incredibly Unique Bookmobiles around the World".

Opulence

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Clowes
Here's a nice little video portrait from NYTs of comics artist Daniel Clowes, with some ooooooh so sensitive music. (And a blockhead narrator.)

Bind
How To Bind a Hardcover Book, as shown by someone who can't draw.

Book

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Birth of a book
Here's another one of those overly evocative little videos (this time from The Telegraph) about how a book is manufactured. Enjoyable, nonetheless.

Little chickens

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The shapes of stories
The Guardian shares a video of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut delivering a humorous talk about graphing plot lines.

The final interview: le Carré

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Noted Titles
Lists of Notes tells us about a list found in the letters of Charles Dickens, showing the titles of fake books the author had made to fill a space in his library. Some of the fake titles created by Dickens include, Forty Winks at the Pyramids 2 vols (20 per volume, one presumes), The Art of Cutting Teeth, and Hansard's Guide to Refreshing Sleep.

How did Joseph Heller map out the plot of Catch 22?

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How I failed Drafting but Passed Donny & Marie*
Yeah, this is kinda smart. How To Name Your First Novel, care of NPR. I would add: If your book is to be a sprawling, multi-generational Canadian historical novel: The [TERM DESCRIBING A PERSON PRACTICING OBSOLETE PROFESSION] of [PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPT/EMOTIONAL STATE/FANTASTIC LOCATION].

Turd blurbs
Book Riot has gathered together some pretty awful book blurbs from some very famous authors.

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What to do instead of reading a book today
I'm not sure how long this little timewaster Pinterest has been around, and I don't even really care so much what it is or what it's for (no doubt just another cute way to separate people from their personal information), but it does offer some entertaining book pages:

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What if music albums, video games and movies were books?
Emily Dubin does some mighty fine book blogging at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. One of her latest offerings leads us to three designers who have been inspired by retro book-cover design to revision music albums, video games and movies as books.

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Want to date a (Canadian) writer? Read this first.
I would add: See them afforded quotable celebrity status on CBC.ca even though no one has ever heard of them.

Happy (belated) Birthday Charles Dickens.
The Economist offers the gift of your tabulated sales data.

Nuff said dep't
15,000 books about Abe Lincoln stacked in a tower. But of course.

UofT discovers publisher on its premises

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Big black book
Each of the 6,000 pages in Mishka Henner's new 12-volume, p.o.d. series entitled Astronomical represents one-million kilometers of our solar system. On page one, you’ll find a photo of the Sun. On Page 6000, Pluto. Get it? Needless to say, there's a lot of black ink in between. Want to check it out? Watch perhaps the most boring book trailer ever produced.

YASIV

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Bad sex!
It's that time of year again...the Literary Review has announced their shortlist for the Bad Sex (in fiction) Award, and The Guardian has the extracts.

Your vampires suck!
Says Anne Rice on Facebook of Stephanie Meyer (or words to that effect) reports The Hollywood Reporter. And she can't write worth a darn, adds Stephen King.

75 Books for Writers

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Mo Willems
ET has a fun interview with one of my favourite kids authors, Mo Willems, and a pre-view of his new Pigeon app.

Light reading
When an e-reader is loaded with thousands of books, does it gain any weight? Yes (but not much).

Reading by the lb.
Good thing Kindle doesn't "...sell books by the pound — $3.99/lb"

Tintin lessons

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Punctuation
whats the future of punctuation in the face of the internet

Data visualization
Who needs writers to tell stories?

Jonzeing for books
What do the books do after the shop closes?

Poet baker

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Occupy Libraries
Growing tired of drum circles? Try a book.

Model Sex
Ever wonder who the models were in the original Joy Of Sex? I always thought they looked like a couple of dirty hippies, but whatever floats your boat. The BBC looks back.

Wharton Writin'

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Book-o-lanterns
In honour of Hallowe'en, a gallery of literary Jack-O'-Lanterns, c/o Flavorwire.

Book bugs
Free pets with books withdrawn from Vancouver public libraries!

Tolkien drawings
100 rare Tolkien drawings were recently discovered at the Bodliean. More samples here.

Chip's Murakami

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

 

Disappearing books.
Books have been vanishing since long, long before the advent of e-books. Here are the top-ten vanished books, according to Smithsonian.com.

Maus Art
Art Spiegleman has written called Meta Maus, about making Maus, his famous graphic novel about the Holocaust, and to promote the new book he has made a video about the making of the book about the making of Maus. (c/o LA Times)

Book burners

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Missfire

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Bookselling today
So you want to work in a bookstore, eh? Think it might be stimulating, fun and easy? Well, too bad, there are no more bookstores, so you will have to go work in this circle of Hell instead.

Ebert
The intriguing Roger Ebert has a memoir out, and The Atlantic excerpts some of his thoughts on writing, with slides!

Get a little library in your life

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Reasons to disbelieve evolution
Daniel Loxton's illustrated kids book Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be has won the prestigious Lane Anderson Award for science writing in Canada. As explained at DiscoveryNews, Anderson apparently couldn't get the book published in the USA because the subject was deemed by publishers to be too controversial.

Gorey

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Cory Doctor...ow!
Cory Doctorow's piece on book marketing is a bitter pill, but one that a lot of (young) writers need to swallow: "...most books – even those that are deservedly well-loved by publishers, readers, and booksellers – make hardly a ripple on release and fade away to nothing before you know it."

Touchy feely
Touchscreens be damned, there's much to be said for the tactile quality of a book.

Ray Bradbury, science guy

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Introducing, the iKindle?

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Schlachthof Fünf
Did you know that, during WWII, Kurt Vonnegut was a POW in the horrid Slaughterhouse Five that he immortalized in his novel of the same name? Although it is one of my all-time favourite novels, I didn't know this fact until I was introduced last week to a remarkable letter written by Vonnegut to his family upon release from that camp in 1945, published on lettersofnote.com.

Your "Cease and Desist" is in the mail

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The secret world of pronouns
A new study indicates that how a person uses pronouns says much about his or her psychology. (For example, the previous sentence would indicate that I feel I am in a dominant position over my readers, because it lacks the first-person singular "I", whereas this sentence shows that I am submissive to my reader.)

The secret history of Times New Roman

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Work faster
Want to write faster? So do I. So does everyone. Michael Agger, on Slate, tells us why that's probably not going to happen.

Work cheaper
Should you work for free? To answer that question, Jessica Hische has created a flow chart targeted at graphic designers, which applies equally well to writers.

Shusssshh! yourself

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Content's cost
It seems that the argument over the cost of e-books vs p-books is a beast that just won't die. On The Guardian's site, William Skidelsky provides a fairly concise survey of the key issues in this spat, inspired by a chapter about publishing in author Robert Levine's forthcoming book Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and how the Culture Business Can Fight Back. It seems there are people who still think that when they buy a paper book, the bulk of the price tag pays for the object, for the book itself, the stack of paper, glue & ink. Skidelsky explains (c/o Levine), however, that it costs only about $3.50 US to print and distribute a hardcover. The rest of the money is split between the retailer, publisher and author. No kidding, right? But apparently it is still necessary to explain to some willfully ignorant people that what they are paying for is not just a stack of paper, and that if you remove the stack of paper to make an e-book, the book should not become almost free. To these people I say: If you went into an art gallery and offered to buy a painting for the cost of the canvas, wood and paint that was used to create the picture, what do you think the response would be? Of course, a book is not a painting, it is a mass-produced object, which is why it costs ONLY $20 to $30 (or thereabouts) and not $20,000 to $30,000 (or more) which is what any respectable painting can cost. (And for those who are going to drag out the iTunes comparison, please know that it takes a hell of a lot more work to write a novel than it does to write a 3-min pop song.) Behind just about any book there is a squad of people who created the thing. That's right, it didn't spontaneously self-generate on the shelf in the bookstore, nor on the server of your e-book retailer. If people insist on denying that books are created by people who deserve to be paid well for their work, then what incentive remains for anyone to write and/or publish books? Figure it out already.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Towelling off
The Paris Review challenges readers to photoshop pictures of authors onto their spiffy new beach towel. The winner gets...yup!...a spiffy new beach towel (and hey, maybe also a copyright infringement suit).

Oddball bookstores
Last week I wrote about Michael Seidenberg's secret used bookstore in his Manhattan apartment. This week, Seidenberg's shop is included in a neat-o round up on Flavorwire of 10 unconventional bookstores.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

The Secret Bookstore
"It's not legal, so that's why it has to be hidden." Are second-hand books becoming a black market commodity? Visit Michael Seldenberg's secret bookshop in his New York apartment.

I can has wizard?
Pottermania is finally over. Flavourwire takes a look back at the best Potter parodies.

It's like looking into a mirror

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Poetry bomb
From the Miami New Times, a video about a woman who vandalizes thrift-shop clothing with poetry, but in a good way.

Romance is sickening
In a surprisingly entertaining piece, The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care wonders: Are romance novels messing with readers' heads?

Good books, bad video

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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, and
The Oxford comma is dead (says Galleycat).
Oops, the Oxford comma is not dead (retracts Galleycat).
What is an Oxford comma? (Guardian explains)

"what's time to a pig?"

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Writers on writers
Insults, barbs & jabs between writers.

The illustrated Interview
Austrailian kids book illustrator Shaun Tan was interviewed by Der Spiegel and provided answers in a unique form: illustrations.

Books are for the birds.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Lush Life
Not to be a prude, but I don't really enjoy or condone the myth of the effective drunk author. It is a movie cliché, really. That said, if you want to pretend you're a great writer while getting your drink on, here are the bevvys you're going to need. (And if you want to just write, it's probably best to lay off the booze, at least while you're doing it.)

Iconic Brut
Robarts Library: brutalist eyesore, or egalitarian icon?

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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The Filter Bubble
Do you think the Internet is like a giant brain holding humankind's consciousness? Do you think everyone gets the same results for a Google search? Do you think you're part of an online community? Think again. Here is perhaps the most important article you will read about the Internet this year, detailing some very creepy changes afoot in cyberspace, adapted by author Eli Pariser from his book The Filter Bubble.

A design book about design books

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Remember Dale Peck? No?

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What do all of these books have in common?

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

They are the five biggest-selling books of all time, says The Telegraph.

Font nerds gather round

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

20 Literary Tattoos
If, like these folks, you were to get a literary tattoo, what would it be?

If I only had some drawing talent...
The London Based design agency Fridge Creative is inviting people — yup, anyone — to submit illustrations for an online edition of The Wizard of Oz.

Periodic Table of Storytelling

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Soft-balling Davidar

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Damned Judgmental Booksellers
Oh, how I remember the days of sarcasm and loathing. When I worked in a bookstore, someone once asked me if we sold towels. Towels, really. Another asked if we sold Listerine. What is this, Shoppers Drug Mart? (I think he actually wanted a cheap drunk.) Now, some clever booksellers have converted all that bile into a rather funny meme. Vent, vent, vent away, yee nasty ostrich!

"The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object."

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Flugge's envelopes
On The Guardian, book publisher Klaus Flugge has contributed a gallery of charming envelopes he's received in the mail over the years, decorated with illustrations by children's authors he has published at Anderson Press.

Macaron anyone?

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Picture me this
On The Guardian, British Children's Laureate Anthony Brown presents a slide show looking at works by the best new picture book illustrators.

Leonard Cohen: poet, Buddhist monk, sleazy drug lord

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Mesostomawhat?
The American composer John Cage invented a form of poetry named the mesostic, which consisted of horizontal lines of text intersecting a single word set on the vertical axis. Now, composer and designer Matthew McCabe has created a tool—called the mesostomatic—which creates instant mesostics using the web. Try it out, it's mesostastic!

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

If LPs were books
They might look like Gee’s creations. (My fave: Blood on the Tracks, by Robert A. Zimmerman.)

If books were throw cushions
They might look like Jillian Tamaki’s embroidered book covers.

Must (not) reads
Ian Hollingshead provides a humorous take on the top 50 books you don't need to read.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Introducing the Paranga
Don't they already have something that does that? Oh yeah, it's called a book!

To all those editors who don't return my emails.
Perhaps lighten your load with the edit minion.

Corpus Libris
Putting the body in body of literature.

Here hair here

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Poisoners of Gravy
Amongst the many gems that TVO has recently uploaded to the web from their archives is what appears to be the full Prisoners of Gravity series, the seminal news magazine about comic books and science fiction. This looks quaint by today's standards, but no one was talking about this sort of stuff on tv before this show, at least not quite in this way. Enjoy their 1993 episode about Tolkein.

"It's campoochuchuchuchu tea."

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

It came from outer space!
Where the heck did sci-fi come from, anyway? A blob at Places & Spaces explains.

"We could order that for you. It'll take a year to get here."
Why not take a moment to visit the Women & Women First Bookstore, in Portlandia?

Actually, I was thinking of just copying them all to my Kindle.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Scrabble for font geeks
I am not a font geek myself, but something makes me think Andrew Clifford Carpener is.

Weird eatin'

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Gender Bender

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Dodgeball > Reading?
PBS reports on a new study showing that kids who study hard and who are also physically active in sports are smarter than those who only study hard. (I did neither and look where I ended up.)

Nice Threads
You know, I read the explanation twice and I still have no idea what the heck this thread-bedecked book pretends to be about, but it certainly looks cool.

Old Books, New Art

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"The Book That Can't Be Read"
Nerds at the University of Arizona have definitively dated one of the world's strangest antique manuscripts. The Voynich manuscript was previously believed to have been written by Roger Bacon, a 13th century Franciscan friar and philosopher, but using radiocarbon dating, scientists at UA have now determined that the work was created between 1404 and 1438. By whom? No one knows. The manuscript was purchased in 1912 from Jesuit priests in Rome by the late New York book dealer Wilfrid Michael Voynich (it is now in Yale's archives). It is written in a code that no one has been able to decipher and is filled with bizarre illustrations. Voynich spent 18 years trying to figure it out before dying. Want to take a shot at cracking the code yourself? Give it your best try here. More about the Voynich manuscript on National Geographic.

(the return of) SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Hello
I've been away for a bit, but now I'm back, and...oh!...I've brought you some porn. (It's not that kind, you dirty bugger.)

Google illiterate?

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Reading Palin
Over at maisonneuve.org Nathan Whitlock has a brilliantly biting piece that questions Sarah Palin's purported reading habits. Yes, she can read. Who knew?

Titular Twists
It has kind of a crappy title itself, but betterbooktitles.com nonetheless entertains with some classic books re-titled.

"2B or not 2B?"

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Book Tours, Pt. 1
The folks at Lonely Planet travel guides have chosen their picks for the top ten bookstores in the world. Sorry, no CanCon.

Agent Secret
Five writers talk about how to get an agent, and what it's like when you have one.

Style Issue
A cute piece about loving the Chicago Manual of Style.

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The crimes of George W. Bush, part 1
We all know that controversy sells books, but it is not often that the controversy involves a former US president potentially incriminating himself as an alleged war criminal. On a number of fronts last week, it was reported that George W Bush could find himself in...err...hot water

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Putting the NO in NaNoWriMo
Laura Miller, on Salon, has a great piece slamming so called National Novel Writing Month. Writes Miller: "far more money can be made out of people who want to write novels than out of people who want to read them." Sadly, true. Sorry to break the news, but if you need a gimmick like NaNoWriMo to get your work done, you are in all likelihood not a writer (or at least not a very good one) and should probably occupy your time with something else that pays better.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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When dumb-dumbs try to write about books
Okay, the point with a book is that, while you are reading (and if it's a good one, for a long time after), the action lives inside your head. We all understand that, right? We understand that that's the "magic" of reading, right? How do these marks of ink on a page create a world inside your brain? To me, that is a pretty special thing, especially given that it is your personal version of that world, completely unique to you. This is why I get pissed off when I read something like this: 'Soon, the word “e-book” will no longer connote dull, text-only

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A literary alphabet
From Andy Warhol's A (I would have preferred Zukovsky) to Elizabeth McClung's Zed.

Write stuff
Here's an application for all those fake Luddites (I see you on Facebook) who simply can't bear to created their masterpieces of lit-cher-cher on a nasty computer. Type in your own handwriting, c/o Pilot.

Writing is a ball!
I want one of these, please. (c/o New Yorker)

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So smart, they're stupid (the parents, I mean)
The NYTs recently had an article about parents (in the US) who are denying their kids picture books and forcing them to move to early readers in order to gain a leg up. Pathetic. I particularly like the quote from bookseller Dara La Porte: "It’s a terrible pressure parents are

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Betting on C
You gotta love the Brits with their bookmaking on the Man Booker prize. Remember in 2002 when the Booker people accidentally announced on their website a few days in advance of

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Pulp Franzen
Remember when the first edition of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections was printed with pages 430 and 431 reversed and needed to be issued with an errata slip? Ha, ha, that was such a freakishly odd thing to happen. Once in a lifetime, really...oh wait, what's that? Something strikingly similar has happened again???

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Malcolm Gladwell: jerk in a café
On the Wall Street Journal's website this weekend, Malcolm Gladwell meditates on those annoying people you see writing with laptops in cafes.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Book blogger appreciation what?
Nice to see my old bookselling buddy Dan Wagstaff getting some overdue recognition. Dan's book blog "The Casual Optimist" is one of the best going and CBC.ca has deemed it--and a handful of others--worthy in honour of "book blogger appreciation week".

What all the mall Santas do in the off season
Meet the winner of the 2010 Hemingway Look-Alike contest

Some say he really couldn't have that much to write about

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GBS
The Telegraph reports that this year the London School of Economics' library archive will be publishing thousands of photographs by, and of, George Bernard Shaw on its website. They are all from the playwright's private collection. Apparently some are already on their site, but the trail is so labyrinthine (good luck!) that I gave up trying to find them. Probably better for now to just check out the Telegraph's preview of 29 images.

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Garden of Knowledge
There's a fascinating project happening in the Quebec forest near Grand-Métis. Designers Thilo Folkerts and Rodney LaTourelle have built a "garden" using 40,000 books and called it "Jardin de la Connaissance". It's a double joke, you see, since it refers to Eden and because the books, if left, will decompose to eventually become trees again. Knowledge is temporary; everything is cyclical. (via Galleycat)

I am Canadian?

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Whither the library?
Pillip Kennicott of the Washington Post has an excellent meditation on the obsolescence—in the face of electronic books—of the personal library, of the space, that is, the room we call a library. My favourite line: "Sitting on a shelf, Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain stares down as coldly and harshly as an alp in winter. Locked up in the digital ether of a Kindle or a Nook, it can never indict our miserable laziness."

Big books

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Beattie bashing
Whether or not you like the sort of "poetic" works of CanLit that Steven Beattie slammed a while back in his Notes & Queries essay "Fuck Books", or even if, like me, you couldn't give a rodent's buttocks about such books (sorry canon), it is still fun to see Geist magazine chuckin' rocks at Beattie's glass house.

And oddly, also knives

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Cultural vandal gets 8 years
Remember that bogus British playboy who actually lived with his mom and was caught in possession of a rare Shakespeare folio? Said "playboy", Raymond Scott, has now been sentenced to 8 years in prison for his role in the "vandalisation" of said folio.

Kindle can't hold a candle to this

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There's a reformation under way folks
The long-form census? Who needs it?
Small lit magazines? Who needs 'em?
Affirmative action? Who needs it?
Canadian publishing? Who needs it?

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Warning: humourless cat lovers, keep out

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They obviously haven't been to the Hockey Hall of Fame
Remember that odd and rather interesting catch mentioned last week, regarding Tin House magazine's submission guidelines? Well, their request that submissions to the fall edition

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Did the machine on which you're reading this contribute to mass slaughter and rape in the Congo?
Nicholas D. Christoff in a NYTs op-ed drew attention to an abhorrent situation recently. We've all been hearing about e-books and the devices on which they are read. It seems some such devices — computers, cell phones, e-readers, etc... — may contain minerals that were sourced from Congolese warlords who control the Congo's mining industry by ruthless means. According

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Earthquake out, Riots in
How quickly a few riots can sweep aside memories of an earthquake. Yes, although Toronto is currently caught in the grip of the G20 riots, it was just a few days ago that we experienced an earthquake (well, tremors from a magnitude 5.0 quake that was centered up near Ottawa

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How to (not) handle a sexual harassment suit
Courtesy of bNet, what not to do if your publishing company's CEO goes down in flames.

How to have your pretentious writerly Ludite cake and eat it too
Who was it that once said a typewriter is superior to a computer because it has a built-in printer? The new usb typewriter puts an end to that.

How to (not) behave around an author

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Blogs? Waste of time.
Well, maybe not a complete waste of time, but literary agent Chip MacGregor presents evidence on his blog suggesting most of the energy writers expend blogging, facebooking, twittering and all that other on-line crap our publishers insist we must do if we want to sell books doesn't actually sell very many books. (Thanks to Q&Q)

Come on, where's James Gatz?

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James Ellroy will not be reading this
Not only did a cantankerous (yet still fascinating) James Ellroy tell journalists in Montreal last week that he has never used the Internet, but the bestselling crime novelist also said that he “hasn't read a book in years”. The Winterpeg Free Press has more from this seemingly bizarre press conference, held to promote Ellroy's new book Blood's a Rover.

This blog is still rotting your brain

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Donald who?
Call me a Philistine, but I had to Google Donald Judd's name to find out who he was when I read this NYTs story about his personal library. Turns out he was an important American minimalist artist who died in 1994. Okay. It is not so much that I am interested in minimalism, though, but rather it was the virtual tour created by the Judd Foundation of his library that caught my eye because it provides a rather fascinating bit of snooping.

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Misfortune
"Hi, can you please excerpt a book by one of our authors on your website?" asks S&S publicity monkey.
"Yeah, sure," says techcrunch.com guy, who then posts the excerpt (two, actually).
"Oh hey," says monkey after seeing excerpts, "we actually only wanted you to excerpt the excerpt."
"Screw you," says guy.
"Speak to our lawyers," says monkey.

Degrees of depredations

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Chester Brown does Batman
Congratulations to Seth, Marc Bell and Michael DeForge, winners (as reported by the NatPo) of this year's Doug Wright Awards. The NatPo also tweaks us to a very cool eBay auction being held to raise money for the DW Awards. A handful of Canuck comics artists, such as Chester

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Get back in yer book
When characters escape from novels, photographer Lissy Elle is there to capture the action.

Developing storm front
As reported on Quill & Quire last week, it seems the Canadian Booksellers Association doesn't want its members to have to buy books from Canadian companies. Bookseller Ben McNally had something to say about that.

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Having your $3-million and eating it too
Yann Martel responded to his critics in an interview with the NatPo's Marc Medley last week. As I blogged about last week, Martel's new novel Beatrice & Virgil has been receiving a savage thrashing from the critics. It is always interesting to see the rationalizations kick in when some

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

The late President
It seems George Washington owes New York City's oldest library some late fees. According to CBS news (with video), and New York's WPIX news, old wooden teeth borrowed two books from The New York Society Library and never returned them, signing them out as "President". He

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Overdue overkill
A few weeks ago, I posted about an absurd case in the United Police States of America in which an arrest warrant was issued for a teen with overdue library materials. Thankfully, not everyone close to the case was pleased with the situation. As reported last

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES (The Monday Edition*)

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Duh!
The Times of India reports that bedtime stories make kid smarter.

20 greats
The Telegraph's Lucinda Everett selects her choices for "The 20 greatest children's books ever". It's a good list, but I'd kick out all the Harry Potter junk and sub with Charlotte's Web.

Just curious

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Out of the mouths of babes, and all that...
Boingboing tweaks us to a fun new book called Tiny Art Director, born of the blog of the same name, on which artist Bill Zeman asks his precocious young daughter Rosie to critique his work. Very cute stuff.

Jumping off the page
Are you ready for books in 3D?

Too little, too late?

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Dr Peter Watts Not Found Guilty of Assault
Canadian sci-fi author Dr Peter Watts was found guilty of "obstructing/resisting" a US customs official. Watts was not found guilty of assault, as is being widely and inaccurately reported. Watts posted on his blog about the conviction last Friday, and he has now followed with a more lengthy post that covers a wide variety of topics related to his conviction, and which answers many questions (such as, what the heck were US customs agents were doing searching a car leaving the US?). His new post also contains some fascinating quotes from jury members. It's all well worth a read, especially for anyone planning a trip to the United Police States of America.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Library Police
Got overdue library books or fines? Some citizens of the United Police States of America are learning the hard way that such heinous crimes do not go unpunished. ABC news reports (with video) that towns across the US have begun issuing arrest warrants for people who don’t return library books or pay their fines.

Movin' on up

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

illuminati
Spanish designers luzinterruptus recently mounted a weird but haunting installation of illuminated (not in the way you think) books under the Brooklyn Bridge.

lego
Illustrator and children's book author Christoph Niemann is promoting his fun new book, called I Lego New York, on his New York Times blog. He offers a series of images for which he employed Lego blocks in somewhat unpredictable ways to depict The Big Apple.

remakes

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES (the e-book edition)

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

e-books roundup Part I
The New York Times has reported that Amazon suits tried to do an end rush around Steve Jobs while the computer exec was on stage last month debuting the iPad to media. Apparently Amazon phoned publishers to try to lock in new deals that would guarantee its pricing on e-books would be lower than Apple's, but the tactic failed. Instead, publishers have now used Apple as leverage to force Amazon to up their prices—from about $9.99 to about $14.99—and that has angered Kindle users.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

rules
Inspired by Elmore Leonard's "10 Rules of Writing", The Guardian has asked a whole gaggle of authors (29 to be precise) for their rules for writing.

Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

But does he know Kung Fu?
According to The Telegraph, a crackpot Scottish clairvoyant has announced to the world that author Raj Patel is the Messiah. Inundated with e-hails (that's a hail in the form on an e-mail) from the gullible, Patel has asked simply to be called Brian.

X-ray specs and sea monkeys

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Robertson Davies long-listed for the Booker Prize!
Eh, what? That geezer is dead. The Guardian reports that Davies and others from 1971—the Booker's "lost year"—have now been nominated for a special retroactive edition of the award.

Zombie or Unicorn

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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Broken spines
[UPDATED] Publishers Weekly, The Bookseller and the NYTs offer articles showing the lengths Amazon is willing to go to to break the backs of publishers over e-book pricing.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Quarrington Tributes
Hockey Night in Canada aired a tribute to Paul Quarrington last night. Other tributes to the late author, who died from lung cancer last Thursday, have been pouring in all week.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Slush
The Wall Street Journal's Katherine Rosman has written an article about the disappearance of the slush pile. I used to read the slush pile at Penguin Canada. You know what? The slush pile was a waste of time and paper. 99.999999999999999999999999% of it was total crap. Good riddance.

Doggerel

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES: 2009 IN REVIEW

In the final Sundries for 2009, I offer a "best of" list from my columns over the last year.

Top Ten Literary Feuds of the Aughts: A Special Edition of Shaun Smith's Sunday Sundries

Arguably, it is publishing's ultimate — albeit unintentional — marketing device. Nothing sells books (or at least gets them attention) quite like a literary feud. With the New Year fast approaching, I thought it might be fun to take stock of some of the squabbles, law suits, accusations and bitter backbiting that launched the book world's 21st century. Herewith, in a special edition of my weekly column, are my picks for the top-ten literary feuds of the last decade, aka "the aughts."

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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In the realm of the thugs
It seems a classic example of two divergent mentalities coming into conflict: the police mentality of "obey" vs the authorial mentality of "question". Numerous outlets reported this week that Canadian sci-fi writer Dr Peter Watts was incarcerated by US border guards on his way back from Nebraska and now faces felony charges. Boing Boing has a decent round-up of the coverage, which includes the following from Watts' own blog: "Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not repeat that question when refused an answer and told to get back into the vehicle. In that other timeline I was not punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three fucking hours, thrown into an even colder jail cell overnight, arraigned, and charged with assaulting a federal officer, all without access to legal representation (although they did try to get me to waive my Miranda rights. Twice.). Nor was I finally dumped across the border in shirtsleeves: computer seized, flash drive confiscated, even my fucking paper notepad withheld until they could find someone among their number literate enough to distinguish between handwritten notes on story ideas and, I suppose, nefarious terrorist plots. I was not left without my jacket in the face of Ontario's first winter storm, after all buses and intercity shuttles had shut down for the night.

"In some other universe I am warm and content and not looking at spending two years in jail for the crime of having been punched in the face."

A fund has been started by Bakka Books to help Watts pay his legal bills.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Bad Sex (brace yourself)
The annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been handed out by the Literary Review. The dishonour for 2009 goes to Jonathan Littell for a passage in his book The Kindly Ones. Herewith, the offending words (seriously, brace yourself):

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Amazing paper engineering video #1
Absolutely lovely, lovely, lovely video from the New Zealand Book Council.

Amazing paper engineering video #2
The LA Times book blog informs us that the granddaddy of pop-up books, Waldo "Wally" Hunt, has died. I'm not sure if the video on the blog post is of a book by "Wally", but it is nonetheless worth checking out. Tremendous fun.

Amazing paper engineering video #3

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Bookselling 101
Here's a classic example of the media not understanding how the book trade works and then passing on that ignorance to the general public. In the Financial Post last week Matt Hatley reported on taking the Kindle for a test drive. The Kindle, Amazon's e-reader, has just been

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Tears of a clown
The National Post has an interview with Anthony Bozza, who has written numerous books about, and with, celebrities. His latest credit is as co-writer on Tracy Morgan's autobio, I Am the New Black. Says Bozza: "People think that co-writing is just ghostwriting, you know,

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

He will be mythed
Really, who even knew that Claude Lévi-Strauss was still alive? Or rather, that he was alive up until a few days ago? The father of anthropology died on Nov 4, just shy of his 101st birthday.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

The carp played a harp

The estate of Shel Silverstein has released a new collection of the late author's children's songs. Called Shel Silverstein's Underwater Land, it comes with a book of illustrations by Silverstein. It is full of his trademark silliness and absurdity. Little ones will love it; you'll go nuts after the first 40 listenings.

Rouge states

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

New Vonnegut

The LA Times books pages have a previously unpublished short story by Kurt Vonnegut. All I can

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Why Gen X?

In The Guardian, Douglas Coupland explains why he wrote Generation X. I just cracked open his newest novel, Generation A, the other day, so I can't say much about it, but I can say that,

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

"...books were sold, not bought."

Every so often one encounters an insightful journalist who actually sees through all the crap and understands what exactly ails the book/publishing/writing industry. Dana Blankenhorn, on smartplanet.com, has almost got it right...almost. He argues that back in the 1990s

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Getting outta here
There will be no Sundries next week, as I am heading to Spain for a week of drinking wine and eating pintxos in La Rioja. In light of that, I'll start off this week's Sundries with the London Times' new "top 20 travel books" list. There's some great stuff here for anyone looking to get

30 Questions with This Ain't The Rosedale Library on their 30th Anniversary

A veritable bookselling institution is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this week. This Ain't The Rosedale Library, in Toronto's Kensington Market, will be huffing out the candles and eating b.day cake (figuratively, at least) at the Harbourfront Centre on Wed, Sep 16. The tribute will feature readings and performances by a host of great writers and artists.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

The first iComic
It was kind of surprising to have learned this week, thanks to John Fortt on CNN, that only now is the first ever iTunes comic"book" available. I thought for sure there'd be scads of them by

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Labour Day weekend is here and that means so is the the fall book season. Below, a roundup of roundups, gathering fall book lists from media sources across the web.

Globe & Mail
Now with less content and purdy pictures the Globe's fall preview provides a slideshow scroller of book covers.

Toronto Star
Frequent Star reviewer James Grainger assembles his list of the dozen "most hotly anticipated" new novels this fall.

National Post

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

The Book Brawl of the Century
Znet, the NYT's Bits blog and Bloomberg (amongst others) are reporting that battle lines are being drawn for what is shaping up to be the biggest, ugliest "book" brawl ever. On one side we have Google Books, the Sony Corporation, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the Authors’ Guild (amongst others). On the other, we have the Open Book Alliance, representing Amazon, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Council of Literary

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Party
Charlie Huisken and his son Jesse have shown amazing commitment to the indie booktrade over the last 30 years. Faced with the forces of urban gentrification a few years back, rather than putting themselves out of business, they uprooted and moved across town to Kensington

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Teacher, educate thyself
Quill & Quire (via TorStar) alerts us to a sad story of utter foolishness. Foolishness on the part of a parent. Foolishness on the part of a school principal. Foolishness on the part of a school board. The parent goes unnamed, but the principal is Kevin McGuire, of St.Edmund Campion High School, and the school board is the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Why are they foolish? Because they have removed To Kill a Mockingbird from the school's curriculum

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Sex and the socialites
The London Sunday Times this week has a fascinating long excerpt from Paula Byrne's forthcoming book Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. Anyone familiar with Brideshead Revisited, or the life and other works of Waugh, will be engrossed by this piece, which lays bare (so to speak) all the delectable real-life scandal and naughtiness that gave birth to Waugh's masterpiece. Here's just a wee a snippet: Fast cars, faster women and sexual experimentation: the parties got wilder. Drug abuse — particularly cocaine and hashish

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

Sawing at the branch...
Continuing its breakneck book-coverage pace of...er...one article per month (or thereabouts), CBC.ca turned its attention recently to the Espresso Book Machine. You know, that lumbering mass of widgets that can bind together photocopies. The future, ladies and gents, has arrived. Remind me again, please, just how long did it take to refine the book-publishing and printing process?

Biting at the hand...

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Is COCO anti-CANUCK?

I am devoting this week's SUNDRIES to just one subject that is near and dear to my heart, and stomach.

For the last week, with the help of many others in the Canadian culinary, bookselling and journalism industries, I have been working to raise awareness about a problematic new cookbook coming from Phaidon Press this fall.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

"drowning other people's kittens"

In the July/August issue of the Literary Review of Canada, University of Toronto scholar Linda Hutcheon has one of the most balanced, insightful and thorough assessments of the state of modern book (and arts) reviewing that I've encountered. It is well worth a scan for anyone who values such things — I know there are three or four of us left.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

DRINKING, SMOKING & READING
How much money do you spend annually on reading (not including school)? Visualeconomics.com informs us that according to the US Department of Labour (sorry, no Canadian stats) the average American spends $118 annually on reading. That's just

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

BATTLE OF THE BIG BROS

I normally avoid commenting on the whole e-book world, because it is just so dang boring and so widely covered elsewhere, but this week one item is worth mentioning because it is, oh, quite possibly the single most important lawsuit in the history of publishing. Big Brother Google is now officially under antitrust investigation by Big Brother the US Department of Justice for their proposed e-book search thingy

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

PLAGIARISM v1.0

The blog-o-sphere is abuzz with news that Wired editor Chris Anderson was called out last week by the Virginia Quarterly Review for apparently plagiarising Wikipedia content in his new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price.

PLAGIARISM v2.0

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

BURNING BOOK
I would encourage readers to buy this book. Not because it is a great piece of literature. I haven't cracked it open myself, nor have I read any reviews of it. But because it seems (according to Salon.com) that some right-wing Christian wackos in West Bend, Wisconsin, are actually petitioning to burn the book.

SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

BRAIDS

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

THE CHALLENGE
Sci-fi novelist and Wired journalist Bruce Stirling has posted a fascinating and somewhat chilling list of 18 challenges faced by contemporary literature. It is well worth a scan for anyone watching the current transformation of text into, well, whatever it is becoming.

THE SCREEN
Meanwhile at popmatters, Michael Antman takes a look at the The Screen (ie: what you are looking at right now) and how it is replacing wide swaths of human culture, including books.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

dumbYe West

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

INSULTS
Here's a funny one. The Times has an interview with CanKidLit author Kenneth Oppel. It is well worth a scan though you might want to skip author Amanda Craig's backhanded compliment in the opening line: "Canada has given the world a growing number of great adult novelists, from Margaret Atwood to Robertson Davies...". Really? All the way from Atwood to Davies? Wow, what amazing growth! What tremendous range! We should feel so proud.

POP-UP PULP

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

GENIUSES v1.0
The NYTs chats with the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin, Cory Doctorow, and a raft of publishing MBA geniuses about digital book theft on the web. News flash: The rate of book piracy is skyrocketing driven by the popularity of e-book readers. Really? Well, there's just no way we could have seen that coming. What was it Einstein said — Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?

GENIUSES v2.0

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD, THE COMICS EDITION

NEIL
Sandman comics creator Neil Gaiman sits down for a video interview (viderview? intervid?) with The London Times to talk about writing his kids book Coraline — in bed.

PETER
A guy in Chicago is going to the slammer for 7 years for passing off a bad cheque to purchase a 1963 Spider Man comic.

GREGORY

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

TOO MANY PLERFS

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

WORLD VIEW
A new project called the World Digital Library was recently launched by UNESCO. Its mission: "The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world." There are currently 13 Canadian items available for viewing, from which we learn that Canada is a nation of explorers, woodsmen, bear-hatted Parliamentary guards, and spectacular natural wonders. What, no igloos? Obviously they still have some work to do.

GUTTER VIEW

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES: A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

DEREK WEILER, 1968 - 2009

Usually on this blog I try to avoid repeating what others have written about on other blogs over the previous week. Not this week. On Easter Sunday, Derek Weiler, who was a friend, colleague and the editor of Quill & Quire, the Canadian book industry's trade rag, died suddenly at his home in Toronto. Derek was only 40.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES: A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

AWARDS FILE 1: ALCUIN SOCIETY
Ever wonder how book awards are chosen? The folks at the Alcuin Society have posted a photo set on Flickr documenting the process of choosing this year's winners of its Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

AWARDS FILE 2: COMPLETELY OVERLOOKED BY THE CANADIAN MEDIA

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES: A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

THE LOOK OF BOOKS
Australia's Inside Out magazine tweaks us to the work of artist Victoria Reichelt, whose trompe l'oeil paintings of bookshelves are simply fascinating.

THE SMELL OF BOOKS
The good folks at DuroSport Electronics have created a lovely way to ease the nasal transition from paper books to ebooks with their new line of ereader-compatible aerosol sprays called Smell of Books .*

THE STINK OF DEATH

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES: A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

WEIRD WORDS
The front page of the New York Times' digital edition last Thursday heralded "Schott’s Vocab: A new blog by Ben Schott on the words of our times." Turns out the blog has actually been running since November 2008, but who's counting? To me, it's just fun to add Mr Schott, the British lexicographer and author of such collections of esoterica as Schott's Miscellany and Schott's Almanac, to my daily blog roll. Who knew, for instance, that "Sea Kittens" is "A bizarre euphemism for fish – advocated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in an attempt to persuade children that fish are too cuddly to eat"?

ROOM FOR ONE

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES: A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

BIG FATHER
Ever wonder where George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four? On April 3rd, for the first time in his life, Orwell's adopted son Richard Horatio Blair (Eric Blair was Orwell's real name), who is a retired engineer in England, will speak publicly about his father at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. In advance of the event, he sat down with Times literary critic and Oxford prof John Carey, to describe the years he spent as a tyke with his father on the island of Jura off the west coast of Argyll, where the masterpiece was written. His remembrances of their idyllic life there stand in sharp contrast the the bleakness of the novel.

DEFACING BOOKS: QUESTIONING THE VALUE OF THE AUTOGRAPHED BOOK

I recently spent an afternoon trundling around Toronto with transit pass and pen visiting bookshops to sign copies of my novel Snakes & Ladders. It was my first time on such an outing and the experience led me to wonder, what is the value of a signed book? While I was in one store, a man stopped and peeked over my shoulder at the title page I was signing. By the smile on his face it was obvious he was very pleased to be witness to my actions. “Is that the author?” he’d asked the store manager moments before. In his eyes I was a what, not a who.

BOOK REVIEW - Previous Convictions

This piece isn’t about Toronto, nor is it about Canadian culture. I hope OBTO will forgive me. I’ve worked hard over the past month to keep that focus, but I wanted to stray a bit just this once to offer my review of a book by one of my favourite writers, who deserves to be better known here.

Previous Convictions: Assignments from Here and There
by AA Gill (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

On a road outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, while on an excursion to the suburb of Cité Soleil, the British journalist AA Gill spotted two young men "mucking around" up ahead on one of the pick-up trucks used locally for public transport.

KASYN & CHO

I have lived in Toronto all my life and have seen many changes—both good and unfortunate—to the city. When I was a teenager (I am now 46) I used to enjoy wandering the streets downtown on my own, exploring, often at unusual hours. I've always been a night owl and sometimes I would go out on my bike and ride around town in the wee, wee hours before sunrise. Today, Toronto is by no means a large or crowded city by international standards, but there are always people, always cars, no matter what day, what hour. I can remember when, at 4 a.m., you could ride your bike or walk around and see almost no one—a lone baker's truck making early deliveries, maybe a taxi cab, a cop car. Bars back then closed at 1 a.m. and there were no—or very few—homeless people.

ODDITIES & INTERESTS

A ROUNDUP OF RECENT INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

In today’s Guardian newspaper MARGARET ATWOOD explains what’s up with the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature, in Dubai. She recently withdrew from the festival because another author’s book had apparently been banned, but has since reconsidered. Is she going? Ain’t she going? Turns out, she’s still not sure.

---

Happy Hockey Day!

Today, apparently, is Hockey Day in Canada. Wooo-hooo!

What is Hockey Day in Canada? Umm...well I’m not exactly sure. I’ll take the less-cynical road and say it seems to be a creation of CBC sports to promote our national winter game. On the CBC website they have a page listing all sorts of amateur hockey events across the country, which are also being covered on CBC TV. And tonight there will be three big NHL games featuring all six Canadian teams.

The sports pages of today's newspapers, meanwhile, are filled with stories about...

the return (Toronto Star)

PANCAKES, EH?

Over on CBC.ca I have a new article about pancakes. I used to be a chef and I do a lot of food writing. Years ago a Vietnamese cook asked me for some examples of Canadian food. Agh! That is such a difficult question. To me, it is another vein of that seemingly unanswerable "What is Canada?" question. That cook could give me all kinds of examples of Vietnamese food and she was really puzzled when I couldn't come up with much of an answer to her question. I think she thought there was something wrong with me, because to her, the idea of "a cuisine" was integral to national identity. What is Canadian food? Lobster? Blueberry pie? Rye whisky? Baked beans?

ERIC WALTERS' CREATION OF HOPE PROJECT

I can see the Quillblog headline now. Last week it read "Kidlit goes better with Coke". This week it will likely read "Kidlit goes better with crow". I was...ahem...something of a royal turd last week posting an idiotic rant questioning the appearance Coke in Eric Walters' YA novel Black & White. (Don’t bother looking for it; it’s gone.) Eric, an astoundingly magnanimous person, gracefully corrected me on the subject by telephone this week, and now I must set things right. I'm a critic, in part, by occupation and sometimes we critics lead with our claws. Silly habit. Eric, of course, and for the record, does not receive anything at all from Coke. The young character in his novel simply likes to drink the stuff.

ANVIL on ANVIL

I found myself over on YouTube today viewing Joaquin Phoenix's not-funny-enough-if-a-parody-but-too-sad-if-real appearance on Letterman from last week, when I thought I'd plug in the words "Canadian Book" to see what the machine would regurgitate. I was pleasantly surprised to find that at the top of the second page was the above promotional interview from Waterstone's (a British bookseller) with the Canadian 1980s metal band Anvil. (Canadian Book + YouTube = Anvil, of course)

Colonial Daydreams

Over on Globe Books, Cormorant Books owner and publisher Marc Côté (the Globe erroneously leaves off the circumflex in his name) offers some very passionate, astute and sobering thoughts on why the average Canadian will buy an American or British novel long before they’ll buy a Canadian one.

Writes Côté:

HOWL

I did my first official reading from Snakes & Ladders on Tuesday night. It was on Nik Beat's CIUT FM radio show, HOWL. CIUT is the University of Toronto's radio station and HOWL is a show that mixes spoken word with performances by singer songwriters. I was floored when I walked into the studio to find that I'd be sharing the hour with none other than Alanna Myles. For those who don't know, Torontonian Alanna Myles was once the most famous female blues-rock singer in the world. Her self-titled 1989 LP contained the track "Black Velvet" which went to #1 on pop-rock charts worldwide except for on the English charts, where it rose to #2, unable to defeat Madonna's "Vogue".

Pimp my YA

I see over on Quillblog today there's a link to a NYTs article about Scholastic’s practice of weaseling toys and “bookproduct” (as such stuff is called in the publishing industry) into classrooms under the guise of its book-club program.

In the future all books will be blank

The Globe & Mail today has posted a gallery of images from Robert Bringhurst’s recent book The Surface of Meaning. Bringhurst, an American expat living in British Columbia, is one of the world’s leading authorities on book design and this volume is his loving ode to the history of book and letterform design in Canada.

A poor time to be a writer

Some time ago my friend the author James Grainger sent me a link to a YouTube video in which famed "speculative fiction" writer Harlan Ellison spoke quite...er...forcefully about the sort of treatment writers often get from those who want to use their work. It is an entertaining venting from Ellison, but also a sad one if you are a professional writer, because you will understand that what he is saying contains more than a grain of truth. (Try a boulder.)

I'm not making this up... (part 3)

I have been writing (in posts 1 & 2) about the effect coincidence can have on fiction and about the role it played while I was writing my YA novel Snakes & Ladders. In my first post I wrote about discovering the eastern hognose snake. In my second, I wrote about how I learned that my depictions of the moon’s transits were off by less than a week, as compared to the moon’s actual transits during the week in which my novel is set in 1971. In this post, I want to tell you about how that discovery about the moon led to the third, final, and strangest coincidence I encountered while writing Snakes & Ladders.

I'm not making this up... (part 2)

In my last post I wrote about the strange coincidence of stumbling upon information about the eastern hognose snake while I was researching my YA novel Snakes & Ladders. This time, I want to tell you about a second strange coincidence that took place while I was writing Snakes & Ladders, one which came from a highly scientific source.

I'm not making this up... (part 1)

Something I’ve discovered as a writer is that in creating a piece of fiction, sometimes happenstance can be as important as the ability to invent and tell a story. Sometimes you just stumble on things that simply must be put into the story and there's no explaining why you encountered that thing at that time. I had three such strange coincidences while writing my young adult novel Snakes & Ladders. Each brought crucial story elements to the novel, and each seemed like a gift from an unknown hand.

I’ll write about them over my first three posts.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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