Author Archive | Erasergirl

one book wonderment

” I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” – Peter De Vries

Literary wonks have always had a soft spot for one book wonders, perhaps it is a touch of schradenfreude (I never get to use that word enough) or more likely a large dollop of there but for the grace of God go I. Early fame, never repeated, now that’s simply tragic. This fascination has given us Michael Chabon’s Wonder boys and Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester. Even a sort of literary Groundhog Day where Harper Lee emerges to view her very long shadow (NYT).

just a few on the short list:
John Kennedy Toole Confederacy Of Dunces
Margaret Mitchell Gone With The Wind
Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm
Arundhati Roy The God Of Small Things
Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights
Frederick Exley A Fan’s Notes: A Fictional Memoir
Harper Lee To Kill A Mockingbird
Dow Mossman Stones of Summer
J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye though I suppose technically Salinger isn’t a 1 book wonder…perhaps more of a 2 books & 9 story wonder.


In other news 78 year old Gabriel Garcia Marquez says he has stopped writing, with some authors 18 books isn’t enough.

Playwright Wendy Wasserstein the has died of cancer at 55. Wasserstein was the author of the Sisters Rosesweig and the Heidi Chronicles.

sunday in the park

The world may be full of fourth-rate writers but it’s also full of fourth-rate readers. – Stan Barstow. (who is stan barstow?)

Okay the Bullpen is finding it’s format footing… Monday thru Friday will be tidbits in the news or on the net that may be of general interest to old bookies. Saturday will obviously be nonsense and whatever makes me smile and Sunday will be reviews, essays and stuff worth reading.

Book reviews:
(you may need to register with NYT to access some of them, but it’s free.)

Arthur and George Julian Barnes reviewed by Maureen Corrigan
The Explorer King: Adventure, Science, and the Great Diamond Hoax–Clarence King in the Old West By Robert Wilson
Ringside Seat to a Revolution, An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez: 1893-1923 – David Dorado Romo.
The Western Limit of the World David Masiel
The Sinking of the Lancastria: The Twentieth Century’s Deadliest Naval Disaster and Churchill’s Plot To Make It Disappear – Jonathan Fenby
The Colony (the story of Molokai) – John Tayman.
American Vertigo Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy – Park Honan

Elsewhere in the news : NYT In 200 Years of Family Letters, a Nation’s Story we used to call people like that packrats.

time marches on

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired” -Mortimer Caplan

Things you can do while you should be doing other things.
There are dishes in the sink, orders to be filled, boxes to be shipped and you really don’t give two shits. What to do, what to do? It needs to be something that is half-way cerebral so that you can stifle that nagging voice in the back of your head that tells you when you are being naughty.

There is the ever popular Popcap Bookworm Word Game. which is kinda like zen scrabble. I found a lovely game called Past Master on the History Channel’s website, it’s a bit more fun then the trivia quizzes on the Turner Classic Movies site, but NOT as much fun as Mini Pool , Mini Golf and the Falling Sand Game. Here’s a couple of webpages sure to eat up a half an hour or two: Common Errors in English, Vitamin Q, Found Magazine. And if you just want a shot of schadenfreude to start your day, Reuters News has an entire classification called Oddly Enough.


Mohammed can’t come to the mountain. . . .apparently Gabriel Garcia Marquez wouldn’t travel to Wales just to be part of the Hay on Wye book festival, so Peter Florence brought a little Hay on Wye to Colombia. Hmmmmm I really can’t think of anything funnier than that, sorry.

Follow up news. Our pal the Duke of Gloucester made a tidy sum auctioning his family’s handmedowns, his inscribed Alice first went for £4,800.

one small step . . .

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow. “ – Robert Goddard

Today in history
Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chafee died in a launch pad fire. I remember reading about it in Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon and weeping. I was a sucker for real hero stuff when I was a youngster, I blew thru Wolfe’s Right Stuff, We Seven, Michael Collins’ Carrying the Fire etc…- I was young and unjaded. I still thought the world was full of noble stuff like that. Now I know better behind every well spun shining lie is a lot of burned out detritis. One of the most poignant places I have ever stood aside from the Vietnam ‘Wall’ and Ground Zero, is Launch Pad 34 Cape Canaveral. It’s just a burned out hulk of a spot, with a tiny bronze plaque Ad Astra Per Aspera” well worth the trip.

I
n much more trivial but more disturbing news – Oprah wasn’t polling well in the heartlands as long as she stuck by Frey’s pound of paper; (not to mention that along with the publisher she might get sued.) so in a not so rare but excrutiatingly public and nasty reversal, she bitch slapped James Frey up one side and down the other. A good time was had by all.

“I’m SHOCKED, Shocked to find that gambling is going on here!”
Slate want’s to know if editor Nan Talese knew Frey was fibbing before she published the book.

Spread of the infection: A white man from Lansing has been posing as a Navajo to write books. News and persecution at eleven. Gets MORE interesting…Ballantine has stopped shipping his books and is accepting returns.

the best words in the best order

“How wretched is the person who hangs on by the favors of the powerful.” – Robert Burns

We so totally missed Robbie Burns Birthday. (Jan 25th) I can’t believe I didn’t have this marked on my calendar. Burns of the “ode to the haggis” and “luv is like a red red rose”…oh …who am I kidding?..poetry really doesn’t figure into American life, especially that of drunken Scotsmen. The fact that I even remember who is – is only due to a close proximity to old folks who tend to quote long sections of 18th and 19th century poetry verbatim. I have a friend coming up on 94 who was educated back when the word wasn’t followed by a snicker. Granted it wasn’t ‘multi-gendered & multi-cultural’ But you didn’t graduate anything without knowing how to write and read and do your own taxes.

My buddy Norm Starr asked me to print up some bound copies of his father’s (eminently late Boston bookseller Ernest Starr) favorite poems. And wouldn’t you know it…all 19th century, all long, all with familiar passages that have been pilfered for movie and book titles. Granted they are common as dirt in books and on the net. But when’s the last time you saw someone stand in a room and recite them from memory? Yeah I am drawing a blank too.

But not to fret!! you can dust off your haggis and get blind on single malt all over again on April 6th’s Tartan Day in America!

BTW A manuscript of a Robert Burns poem separated more than a century ago has been put back together.

and Ayrshire, Scotland will hold their fifth annual “Burns an’ a’ that” Festival 25-29 May, 2006.

and in late breaking silliness...readers are suing Random House over Jame’s Freys fibs. hmm…wait i think this has some merit…..

Alone together

“Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs” – Scott Adams.

Hazzah! – Astronomers have found an earth like planet outside of our solar system (take THAT intelligent design fans) between that and all the bits of junk we have flying around the galaxy – one of these days we are sure to piss off our neighbors enough for them to wanna come over for brunch – unless of course they are dining here already.

Why look? Cause we’re human, we like to huddle, that’s what we do. Grouping keeps us from getting eaten by the meaner nastier things on the planet. OOPS, we are the meaner nastier things these days aren’t we? We still like cluster, we like to stand around and kick mud off our boots and talk about the weather and Angelina’s twins.

Even if you discount the non-joiners in the crowd like me, I’m not a joiner, I’m only on the biblio list cause I lost the directions to unsubscribe and I’m too lazy to ask for help – Booksellers love to congregate. We will do it at the drop of a hat: two bookseller meet up in a bookstore aisle and poof just like that 3 hours go by and the store closed around you.

Back in the P.I. (read pre internet) days, we joined trade groups to keep in touch, to promote a sense of togetherness but basically it was good for business. Networking was the only way you could get access to stock that wasn’t your own. Trade groups don’t perform the same function anymore, but they still give off a warm and fuzzy smell. Some offer group benefits, shows, discounts, some just send you a Christmas card. Joining something like IOBA, MARIAB, WABA, GLBA etc… can help assuage that feeling that you are the only one trying to make a living in this increasingly frustrating business.

The preceding touchy feely passage was brought to you because I have once again sworn off buying books from booksellers I DO NOT KNOW! – I ordered ten books by and about a certain author and eight of them came either packaged badly or not as described. Join a group if you don’t know how to do what you are doing. Like most customers I’d rather pay more to be pissed off less.

-thank you – the Management.

If winning isn't everything, why keep score?

No harm’s done to history by making it something someone would want to read” – David McCullough.

Whitbread awarded to Hilary Spurling for Matisse the Master : A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour: 1909-1954. £30,000 that’s a nice chunk of change. And while we are at it:

2006 Caldecott, Newbery, King Winners and the winner of 2006 Kingsolver’s ‘Bellwether Prize

BTW Turkey apparently decided it wanted to be part of the EU more than it wanted to lop the head of some poor novelist ( Orhan Pamuk) for exercising the freedom of speech he didn’t have.

Things you find when looking for other things:
University College London found a nifty little volume in their stacks: “The Pleasures of Memory” (1910) by Samuel Rogers inscribed to Byron, and containing some Byron scribbles. COOL.

On the other hand- new PEW studies have found that college graduates are leaving the halls of learning with little more than damaged livers and eardrums.

condemned to history

“Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.” – David Ben Gurion.

Thanks to gentleman bookseller Samuel W. Coulbourn for the heads up about today’s tale of an intrepid Boston bookseller:

“On this day…in 1776, Colonel Henry Knox reached the headquarters of the Continental Army in Cambridge. The young Boston bookseller had pulled off a daring plan. He had led a small group of men on a 300-mile journey from Boston to Fort Ticonderoga in New York State. Once there, the party disassembled cannon taken when the British surrendered the fort and retreated to Canada in May 1775. In less than two months time, Knox and his men moved 60 tons of artillery across lakes and rivers, through ice and snow to Boston. On March 7th, 2,000 Continental soldiers maneuvered the guns to a hill overlooking the city. The British had no choice but to evacuate Boston.” Listen to this story on audio at Mass Moments.

Reportedly the US Army has taken an interest in poetry – On Jan 10th we stormed a Mosque and walked off with a High School Student slash Poet – Sayed Ahmad Qaneh, he and some of his kinfolk are at present incommunicado. We can only hope that in a few months they will be dumped on some hillside somewhere in Macedonia.

what a piece of work . . .

The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail authors are making life difficult for DaVinci Code Inc. but it’s basically Bambi v. Godzilla.

Handy autograph image sites Jill Morgan & P. Scott Brown, if you can’t find what you want, try the Google Images search.

Florida, of all places, is trying to protect it’s citizenry from Nabokov’s tale of Humbert Humbert’s self destructive obsession. I dunno, I just find that ironic as all get out.

Filed under things you find while looking up other things: Amazon has 1532 results for books under Iraq War, 2003- given that a certain percentage are duplicate listings, another percentage will be fiction and a small percentage, mistakenly indexed….that’s STILL a hell of a lot of books. Maybe I am just old, but any war with that many books in print about it has gone on way too long.

we are in the middle of some posting experimentation……

We blog, because we can.

“Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.” Gore Vidal

From what I can gather about the several hundred blogs I have examined in the last few weeks….is that most of them are shite. Which is about right since 90% of everything is crap. If 90% of the net is crap then 95% of blogs is more accurate. Blogs are a communication tool. And blogging software is fairly simple, a true mass medium. The only reason to visit them is for information or entertainment, if you aren’t getting either – move on. The most popular blogs are those that have their pulse on some exclusive vein. Political gossip/news is a popular topic as well as entertainment, music, cars, chess etc… and then there are personal blogs shared with small circles of friends.

Blogging from the latin ‘Weblog’ actually refers to the frequency of content update, what you and I would call “journaling.” A lot of static websites have started adding blogs to keep the content appearing fresh and to coax a steady clientele to visit their site more often. The London Review of Books looks just like a blog. In pre-Internet days, one would subscribe to a popular journal to keep current on changes in your trade, now you visit a site, an online magazine or a blog. If you wait for actual printed reportage – you would be 2 to 4 weeks behind everyone else in your business. (shades of Toffler’s Future Shock) The draw back to reading blogs is that they are found by word of mouth or by simply clicking on links from other blogs. So unless you have time to kill…yeah right….. you don’t troll around looking for stuff to read. I can do that.

for further reading:
Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World by Hugh Hewitt
Blog!: How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business, and Culture by Kline & Burstein et al.

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