Readersforum's Blog

January 5, 2013

Alan Moore’s low-budget home movie

By Steven W. Beattie

Look up the word “iconoclasm” in the dictionary, and you’re likely to find a picture of Alan Moore. One of the U.K.’s most successful writers, Moore has been mythologized since making a splash with his groundbreaking graphic novel, Watchmen, in 1987. (The title was the only work of graphica to be included on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best novels published since 1923.)

Despite the enormous success of Hollywood adaptations of his work (including big-budget film versions of both Watchmen and V for Vendetta), Moore describes the American film industry as “repulsive.” A long profile in the Guardian quotes Moore as saying that the money that swirls around Hollywood is “pure voodoo”: “I am horrified by the budgets of these films, almost as much as I am by the films themselves.”

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August 25, 2012

Book culture and the class of 2016

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:36 pm

Every year, Beloit College in Wisconsin posts its Mindset List, chronicling the “cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall” (and as Flavorwire pointed out, frightening everyone over the age of 25).

Once you get over the shock of realizing that the class of 2016 (born in 1994) has never known Kurt Cobain alive, here are a few of the book-related facts that made Beloit’s 75-point list:

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July 30, 2012

Little Free Libraries pop up in Toronto

Filed under: Libraries — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 8:01 am

By Katie Gowrie

It was only a matter of time before the Little Free Library project, which has been trending around the world, caught on in Toronto.

The program, which was initiated in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, as a way to honour his late schoolteacher mother, provides a different option for borrowing books through a system of small, house-like structures set up on front lawns and community parks.

The project works on an honour system in which passersby can take a book, leave a book, or return a book to other little free libraries in the area. No charges, late fees, hold lists, or memberships apply.

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April 5, 2012

Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt nominated for Walter Scott Prize

  By Shannon Webb-Campbell

Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt will go head-to-head once again, this time for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, a U.K. literary award established in 2010.

Last year, the duo dominated the Canadian award circuit. Edugyan won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Half-Blood Blues (Thomas Allen Publishers) and deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers (House of Anansi Press) took the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Literary Award. Both were shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, but lost to Julian Barnes.

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March 24, 2012

Is St. Martin’s Press a smokescreen for pot delivery?

By Sue Carter Flinn

White Castle executives must be bummed that U.S. federal agents intercepted two shipments of marijuana, worth $70,000 U.S., en route to St. Martin’s Press in New York City.

First reported (appropriately) on the website The Smoking Gun, the packages, which originated in San Diego at the fictitious ABT Books, were addressed to “Karen Wright” at St. Martin’s Flatiron Building NYC headquarters. No one with that name is employed by the publisher, although hasty conspiracy theorists point to Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children’s Hour, which features a central character named Karen Wright. (Update: Internet sources are attributing the character to Marcia Willett’s novel of the same name, which was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2005. Chances are Wright’s identity will never be revealed, and the police aren’t pursuing it, either).

 

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November 17, 2011

Foran, deWitt add GGs to literary accolades

The Sisters Brothers

By Stuart Woods

Two of the most high-profile winners of the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Awards have already won major literary prizes this season.

Charles Foran won the non-fiction prize for Mordecai: The Life & Times (Knopf Canada), which last month won the inaugural Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for non-fiction and, earlier this year, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. In total, Foran has earned $130,000 in prize winnings for his biography of the late Montreal author (and two-time GG winner for fiction). Foran is also in the running for the $40,000 B.C. National Award for Non-fiction, which will be handed out in 2012.

This year’s fiction winner is Patrick deWitt, whose comic Western, The Sisters Brothers (House of Anansi Press), also won the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize for Fiction.

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October 13, 2011

Ondaatje declines Governor General’s Literary Award consideration

Michael Ondaatje

By Sue Carter Flinn

Although there’s been much buzz over award newbies Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt’s impressive hat trick of nominations, another story unfolded today as Michael Ondaatje’s well-received The Cat’s Table was noticeably absent from this morning’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction shortlist.

According to his publisher, McClelland & Stewart, Ondaatje asked for The Cat’s Table, which is shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, to be withdrawn from consideration.

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August 16, 2011

Toronto scientists determine that fiction can change personalities

By Natalie Samson

In the competitive world of book publishing, when the going gets tough, the tough get creative. In recent years that’s mostly meant investing in digital projects like e-books and apps. But one group of researchers suggests publishers might find great new innovation in an unexpected discipline: the psychology of fiction.

Keith Oatley, professor emeritus in the Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto and a leading expert in the field, says that for far too long, scientists have “sneered” at fiction and its effects on the human psyche.

“Psychologists like methods where they can very carefully justify the conclusions that are drawn because the methods they use are statistically sophisticated and reliable, so that anybody else who would go through the same procedures would find the same results,” he explains. It was through his research on emotions and his own creative writing that Oatley, author of the novels The Case of Emily V. (Secker & Warburg, 1993), A Natural History (Penguin Canada, 1998), and Therefore Choose (Goose Lane Editions, 2010), began exploring the possibilities of scientifically studying fiction.

“People always talk about books changing us. Could we actually measure that?” he says.

As a grad student at U of T, Raymond Mar, now an assistant professor of psychology at York University and associate editor of Scientific Study of Literature, worked with Oatley on doing just that. Mar sums up the central assumption Oatley developed to frame their research: “When people are reading literary fiction, they’re creating in their mind a simulation of experience. It’s a simulation that’s cognitive as well as emotional, and has all these different components.”

From there, Mar says, it wasn’t much of a stretch to wonder: if we’re engaging in these various social interactions through fiction, might it be the case that those who read a lot of fiction are developing better social skills than those who don’t?

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