Starting around 8:20p tonight, the widget below will magically turn into a live scrolling thing, on which you’ll see my notes on “The Future of the Book,” a discussion between Sven Birkerts and Maud Newton hosted at Pitt and moderated by Cathy Day. UPDATE: Here’s a bit of background on this event.
You’ll be able to add your own notes and reactions, which I’ll endeavor to pull into the stream of info. Big fun. Please join me.
UPDATE: The tag for this event is #fobpitt.
I won’t be attending SXSW this year, but if I were there’s one particular talk I would be sure to attend. It’s a book preview by Rob Walker, a columnist for the New York Times Magazine and blogger at www.robwalker.net. He’s a terrific writer and a smart person. I’ve never met him, but I’ve exchanged the occasional email with him and have nothing but respect for him and his writing. He also seems very cool, in a writerly way.
The book is Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. It’s about "consumer patterns in the new economy." The book won’t be published until June, so this talk will be a special sneak preview. If you have the chance to attend, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
My friend Beth Polen submitted the manuscript for her middle-grade novel, Wish, to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest late last year. She recently received word that the novel has been selected for the semi-finals.
I’ve had the good fortune to read portions of Wish in progress. It’s terrific. The characters are lively and engaging, the plot trips and twists along, and it’s a great read.
You can read an excerpt of Wish and the other semi-finalists, and submit your reviews as well, at Amazon.com. Any reviews you write will contribute to the decision of which books reach the finals, plus if you submit reviews you’ll be eligible to win prizes as well.
Caroline of Pinky’s Paperhaus raises interesting questions about a recent piece in The New Yorker about Raymond Carver, his editor Gordon Lish, and the editing of Carver’s work. The piece is highly critical of Lish, but more importantly it’s unsigned — no indication is made of who wrote it.
Life and Letters pieces going back to 2006 have been signed. I’ve been a subscriber for more than a decade and I can’t think of another unsigned piece of any significant length. 2,200 words is no brief paragraph — it’s substantial work, one that makes a specific argument. Who wouldn’t want to take credit for it? Why would the New Yorker, which values writers as much as any contemporary periodical does, omit this particular byline?
All this new fuss about Carver — his relationship with Lish and the extent to which Lish may have crafted his signature style — is getting attention as Tess Gallagher, his widow, makes moves to print his pre-edited, pre-Lish stories in a new book.
The efforts to publish his work unedited seem to go hand in hand with the calcification of the uncomplicated, lost-and-then-found version of his biography.
I had just finished reading the piece when I read Caroline’s blog post. I hadn’t noticed that it was unsigned, and now that I know that I put a lot less faith into the story it tells.
I remain interested in comparing "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and "Beginners" — the edited, well-known version of a key Carver story and the pre-edited version. See the edits at the New Yorker website.
When it comes to Harry, part of me — a fairly large part, actually — can hardly bear to say goodbye. I’d guess that J.K. Rowling feels the same, although I’d also guess those feelings are mingled with the relief of knowing that the work is finally done, for better or worse.
And I’m a grown-up, for God’s sake — a damn Muggle! Think how it must be for all the kids who were 8 when Harry debuted in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with its cartoon jacket and modest (500 copies) first edition. Those kids are now 18, and when they close the final book, they will be in some measure closing the book on their own childhoods — magic summers spent in the porch swing, or reading under the covers at camp with flashlights in hand, or listening to Jim Dale’s recordings on long drives to see Grandma in Cincinnati or Uncle Bob in Wichita. My advice to families containing Harry Potter readers: Stock up on the Kleenex. You’re gonna need it.
(Link via Coudal.)
Coming in two weeks, it’s Fat Plum’s Xtreme Critique Weekend in Greensburg, PA.
It’s the perfect writing get-away: a full weekend to focus on your writing and to connect with other writers.
You’ll participate in five 3-hour critiquing sessions (each group will have six or fewer writers), receiving feedback from your session leaders as well as other attendees. You may decide to read and receive feedback on successive chapters or a novel or nonfiction manuscript, or share several essays or short stories.
Plus, you’ll have a full weekend to interact with writing peers and professionals in a warm, non-competitive and nurturing environment!
When: June 29 to July 1, 2007 — Friday evening to Sunday noon
Where: Bishop Connare Center in Greensburg, PA (approximately 30 miles east of Pittsburgh)
Get the details, including costs, at the Fat Plum website. I hope you’ll join us!