Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan, author of the acclaimed novel A Visit From the Goon Squad, has partnered with The New Yorker to tweet her latest story Black Box. The 8,500 word story has been broken down into grabs of 140 characters.
While other authors have not been keen to tweet their work, Egan has embraced the new medium.
The story is being tweeted for 10 days between 8-9pm @NYerFiction. A summary
is also available on the site.
Have you been following the tweets? Is Twitter able to broadcast a story, with all its fluidity, in 140 characters?
The Orange Prize for fiction is no longer orange.
Sadly after 17 years Orange has pulled out of its sponsorship to concentrate on supporting films in the UK. Next week’s winner will be the last sponsored by Orange. The prize was established in 1996 by a group of publishing industry professionals keen to promote international female writers. The prize will continue with a new sponsor.
Waterstones does a deal with the devil
Shock waves reverberated through the books industry on Monday when James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones, announced Waterstones was teaming up with Amazon to provide their customers with the eBook experience within the comfort of a bookstore. Perhaps Daunt no longer views Amazon as the ‘ruthless money making devil’ he previously described it to be?
It is thought the plan will roll out later this year once the refurbishment of 300 Waterstones stores has been completed. Twitter responded swiftly to the announcement with readers giving the partnership the thumbs up and the book industry the thumbs down. Congratulations to Anna Funder who continued her dream run with All That I Am taking out the ABIA for Book of the Year and the Barbara Jefferis Award. Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett won ABIA Newcomer of the Year. General Fiction Book of the Year went to Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville Worse Things Happen at Sea by William McInnes and the late Sarah Watt won Non-fiction Book of the Year.
Emma Quay took out the Award for Younger Children with Rudie Nudie and Andy Griffiths for Older Children with the
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Every mum has left their young child with a neighbour whilst running to the shops for supplies. Then school starts and parents begin to assert themselves in the role of top parent, volunteering at the school, going to coffee mornings and organising play dates, soon to be followed by the sleepover in order to cement their child’s social presence within a class unit. Millar has written a contemporary thriller which delves into the unfaltering trust many parents put in others to care for their own children.
Callie feels ostracised for being a single parent, always on the outside, never quite able to fit in with the other middle class north London mums. Alone, with a daughter who has a serious medical condition, Callie seeks solace elsewhere. When an American woman arrives to live opposite her they form a close friendship. Callie begins to lean on Suzy, the married mother of three, depending on her for support and friendship. Suzy’s son Henry and Callie’s daughter Rae get on well, attending the same class at school. They have an easy relationship popping in and out of each other’s homes, but then Debs moves in next door to Suzy.
Callie turns up on Debs door proffering a lasagne and a bottle of wine to welcome her to the street, but Debs seems unnerved by her presence. An incident in her past has made her highly strung. Debs is determined to start afresh in this new location with her husband of six months by her side. The book is told from the point of view of the three main characters, Callie, Suzy and Debs. As this psychological thriller builds the chapters get shorter, the reader hears from each character in short bursts, adding to the final climax of the book. The book preys on every parent’s worst nightmare. Who do you trust with your child? What if? How well do you know other parents?
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The sunshine came out this year for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and so, unexpectedly, did the men. It was strange and wonderful to see that the SWF, usually so dominated by female bookish folk, held some interest for the male bookworm. There were even men at Kathy Lette’s session with Jean Kitson, a particularly brave male member of the audience dared to ask the first question and was treated to all the wit and hilarity of the wonderful Kathy Lette. Crowds swarmed around Walsh Bay in the brilliant sunshine. Guests were turned away at free events that had reached capacity, Elliot Perlman on Friday was popular as well as Hannah Richell and Emily Perkins in their session, Tides and Forrests, although guests were able to lie back in a deck chair and watch Richell and Perkins on the big screen in the lounge. Emerging writers must have enjoyed Richell’s fairytale story from stay at home mum to published author. She sent her book to two agents, both of whom wanted her book. Richell selected the agent she felt best understood her work, which led to an auction and finally the release of Secrets of the Tides. Other popular free events included Who’s Potus, which friends attended and felt was suitably praiseworthy. Jeffrey Eugenides was one of the star performers. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, perhaps because the entire English department at my daughter’s school had booked to see him. My daughter was able to inform me second hand of all the details of the event as passed on by her English teacher. Fabulous apparently. Topic of Cancer with Joshua Cody and Masha Gessen, facilitated by Lisa Pryor was a poorly attended session, but fascinating. Joshua Cody, a composer living in New York, documented his struggle with a particularly aggressive form of cancer in his book, sic. He claimed to be constantly in a state of anger at his disease and felt there was no rhyme or reason for why certain people contracted cancer. A number of his friends died and some survived. He gave an at times harrowing account of his struggle with cancer. In contrast Masha Gessen, a Russian American journalist, never had cancer, but inherited the genetic mutation that produces breast cancer, prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews. She discussed her response to learning this, which is documented in her book, Blood Matters.
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Anthony Horowitz wrote an interesting article this week on the film, The Hunger Games. He commented that had the massacre in Norway been in America the Americans would have thought twice before producing the film. “ Dead teenagers strewn across a wood? If these had been American children who had been killed, would they have been quite so comfortable going ahead?”
On a happier note 1.45 million copies of the title, The Tales of a Very Naughty Rabbit will be given away in England and Wales.
The Tale of a Naughty Little Rabbit,
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Don’t judge a book boy by its cover his face
Born with a terrible facial deformity ten-year-old August (Auggie) Pullman just wants to be ordinary. His parents have home schooled him to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, his mother has decided, it is time for August to take one giant leap and go to mainstream school. He is terrified. What will his classmates think of him?
Narrated by Auggie and those close to him, his sister Olivia (Via), Auggie’s friends Summer and Jack, Olivia’s boyfriend Justin, and Olivia's ex-friend Miranda. Each one has in some way been touched by Auggie’s life.
The principal of middle school, Mr Tushman, is positive from the outset. He believes absolutely that Auggie can be integrated into his school and enlists a band of helpers he deems suitable to assist with Auggie’s smooth transition into school.
The story tracks Auggie’s first year in school, the trials and tribulations, and the revelations. At the start Auggie largely relies on Summer and Jack who befriend him in the midst of a seemingly cold and heartless school. By being Auggie’s friend Summer and Jack have been ostracized by their peers. Both deal with the implications in different ways.
Auggie’s sister, Olivia or Via as Auggie calls her, has her own difficulties adjusting to a new school. Her parents are so concerned with Auggie’s new start that Via’s own issues fall largely unnoticed at home. She is trying to carve out a place for herself without conforming so much that she loses sight of who she is.
The brilliance of this novel lies in the fact that it is narrated by Auggie and his peers. The reader experiences Auggie’s integration not from the parents or teacher’s point of view, but from those closest to him at school. In the hot house environment of a school, cruelty and kindness can lie side by side. Auggie and his fellow students must make decisions to survive the, at times, brutality of their environment.
It is the early stages of integration that, as Palacio highlights, is so integral to a smooth transition. The careful planning and positive attitude of the school sets the tone for the entire school’s attitude towards Auggie.
R.J. Palacio has told Auggie’s story with such insight.
This year Charles Dickens is not the only one to be celebrating his 200th birthday, the master of nonsense, Edward Lear, also turns 200. This Saturday on May 12 his bicentenary will be celebrated. He is best known for the beloved children's classic The Owl and the Pussycat.
These striking illustrations by UK illustrator Sarah Dennis celebrate the much loved classic The Owl and the Pussycat.
Maurice Sendak, who died on Tuesday, was most well known for the acclaimed picture book Where the Wild Things Are, which he wrote and illustrated. It was first published in 1963.
In 1964, the American Library Association awarded Mr. Sendak the Caldecott Medal, for Where the Wild Things Are.
On Sunday April 29 a fire destroyed an entire recently renovated block including the library and all its contents at John Colet School in Belrose.
This report on the John Colet website gives you an idea of the damage that has occurred on the school site.
The primary aged students (K-6) had to have a week off school as staff concentrated on making the area safe for the return of its students.
As you can imagine the bureaucratic process involved in dealing with this damage will be fraught and time consuming. In the meantime the children have no library and no books.
We have donated books, but as we are small it will not be enough to go around. The school would be delighted to receive books from publishers. This will allow them to at least have an interim library operating while they go through the process of rebuilding.
Books can be sent directly to the school:
John Colet School
6 Wyatt Avenue
Thank you for your support.
Kate Shaw lives a glamorous life working as an acting beauty editor for a fashion magazine. Now, due to cutbacks, she is told her services are no longer required. Her boyfriend has run off with her money, she has no job and is about to turn 40. To make matters worse all those around her are consumed with their swelling bellies and the gender of imminent offspring. Kate takes solace in Jane Austen.
Kate’s friends, in a bid to boost her morale, club together to buy her title to a postage stamp piece of land in Scotland. This little piece of paper transforms Kate Shaw into Lady Katherine Shaw, a far more appropriate title for someone who loves all things Jane Austen.
Kate is offered the perfect freelance assignment. As Jane Austen suggested, is it still possible for women of a certain age to marry well? She is going to put Austen’s marriage plot to the test. It soon becomes more of a reality than just an article for a magazine. The assignment takes Kate from all the glamour of St Moritz to New York and London.
As Kate discovers the real plight of her own mother’s financial situation so her search becomes more desperate. She jets off on private jets, as imposter Lady Katherine Shaw, and does the rounds at the well heeled polo matches often with hilarious results.
During her travels Kate keeps meeting up with brooding Englishman Griffith Kent, but he is not for Kate, his clothes and breeding are not what she has set her sights on. The charming Scott, 20 years her senior, she deems far more appropriate in her time of need. Will Kate marry for love or for money?
Izzo has written a charming romantic comedy, the modern Pride and Prejudice complete with its own English manor, Penwick Manor. She weaves Austen themes beautifully throughout her book beginning each chapter with an Austen quote.
“Vanity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief’
Emma - Jane Austen
Edward Lear, master of the limerick and nonsense rhyme, turns 200 this Saturday. He was best known for The Owl and the Pussycat, lesser known as the drawing teacher to her majesty Queen Victoria. Maurice Sendak, American writer and illustrator of children’s literature, died this week, aged 83. Tributes poured in from around the world. He will be best remembered for his book Where the Wild Things Are. Paddington Bear, that lovable marmalade eating bear from deepest darkest Peru, is finally coming to the big screen. Plans for the film were first announced over four years ago. Oxford undergraduate Samantha Shannon is said to be following in the footsteps of JK Rowling after landing herself a six-figure book deal with Bloomsbury for her novel The Bone Season, and two sequels There is a reality show for everything else so why no writing? It would be thrilling to watch. Yes it would! Stephan Lee has a go at pitching this new reality TV show. What do you think? TV gold?
Finally, it is Mother’s Day this Sunday. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mums. I hope your day is a little better than this!
The narrator of the story, Aaron Woolcott has suffered debilitating permanent injuries from a childhood illness. He walks with a cane and wears a back brace for support. He has spent his life being fussed over and protected from the outside world by his mother and sister.
After the death of his father he returned to the fold to run the family publishing business, which specialises in vanity press and ‘Beginner’s guides’.
When he finally meets Dorothy Rosales, some years older than him, he is delighted by her indifference to his physical condition. They have a comfortable marriage, but one where they allow each other space for independence. There is none of the fussing and deep concern that had so irritated him throughout his childhood.
Aaron is distraught after Dorothy dies in a freak accident in their home. He moves in with his sister away from the wreckage of his home, which has suffered catastrophic damage from the accident.
Suffering, in the early stages of grief, Aaron reflects back on his life with Dorothy, how they met and the state of their marriage at the time of her death. Dorothy begins appearing to Aaron, first briefly and then for more prolonged periods of time. She never appears in the same place and often talks to him. Aaron initially thinks others can also see Dorothy, that she has come back to him, and then as time passes he begins to realise that he is the only one to see her.
Tyler’s tale is a very ordinary one of the early stages of grief. In many ways it is an untouchable subject, one that is difficult to talk about. Tyler shows this through the attitude of those around Aaron. His fridge is so full of food he can’t possibly consume that he ends up throwing out one dish after another and writing the same polite note to each one of the generous givers. No one is able to talk to Aaron; no one knows what to say. They seem to have forgotten his wife’s death, ignoring it completely. Tyler hauntingly tells his loneliness in grief. His one companion, his wife Dorothy, leads him through his grief until he is finally able to contemplate life without her.
It is simply told, an ordinary family dealing with ordinary every day life. This is perhaps what makes the book so brilliant. Tyler’s story is achingly real and astutely observed.
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"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."
Martin Luther King, Jr