January 28, 2009

John Updike

John Updike has died. Updike was perhaps the best American novelist of his generation who did not get the Nobel for Literature: the Pulitzer, yes, but Updije missed out on the big one.

Here's part of an obituary for John Updike:

John Updike once described himself as a literary spy within average, supermarket America. As a chronicler of the financially and sexually liberated middle classes, he had few peers: the novels in his so-called “Rabbit” saga paint as intricate a portrait of a generation as any to be found in an American novel.

Though he found a lifelong home in the sleek metropolitan pages of The New Yorker, Updike remained most at ease in the small-town atmosphere of New England where he grew up and spent most of his life. In his haunting memoir Self-Consciousness he half-jokingly identifies “smart” New York audiences as one of the groups prone to bring on his recurrent stammer.

Yet he was anything but provincial in his vocation. His prose could be Proustian in its complexity — to the extent that some critics, suspicious of his prolific output, accused him of burrowing too deep into his thesaurus. His prose registered tiny changes of fashion and mood that signified the shifting of society’s tectonic plates, and his expression was often wryly exquisite or comically precise, sometimes a gentle form of bitching about the foibles of his whole generation — from which he certainly did not spare himself. But in the 1980s the generation of short-story writers led by Raymond Carver, who was famously sparing with subordinate clauses, made Updike’s work look a little too much like the work of a jeweller.

There's a lot more about him available in the papers today. Here's a selection of stories if you want more information on him and his novels.

John Updike dies at 76; Pulitzer-winning author
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
By Mary Rourke John Updike, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction whose novels and short stories exposed an undercurrent of ambivalence and ...

Updike penned famous essay on Fenway Park
USA Today - USA
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox joined in mourning the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Updike, who in a famous essay once described Fenway Park ...

Totally Random: John Updike, Ted Williams, Shaq
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike, who died Tuesday, was a baseball fan pure and simple. Anyone doubting the depth of his feelings for the game ...

For better or worse, John Updike produced a nearly endless stream ...
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
But for me, the lasting image of John Updike, who died yesterday of lung cancer at age 76, is as a self-described "freelancer," who produced a nearly ...

John Updike's Benaroya Hall talk was one of his last
Seattle Post Intelligencer - USA
By JOHN MARSHALL About two months ago, John Updike charmed a sold-out Benaroya Hall during an appearance at Seattle Arts & Lectures. ...

A Sampler of John Updike’s Prose
New York Times - United States
We recently had a carpenter build a few things in our house in the country. It’s an old house, leaning away from the wind a little; its floors sag gently, ...

Acclaimed author John Updike, dead at 76
Newsday - Long Island,NY,USA
BY DAN CRYER | Special to Newsday John Updike, the prolific, critically acclaimed bard of America's suburban middle class, died yesterday at 76. ...

Some works by John Updike
New Mexican - Santa Fe,NM,USA
| AP On Sunday, Super Bowl XLIII kicks off at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla. The stadium, which was completed in 1998, replaced Tampa Stadium, ...

Remembering the works of John Updike
NECN - Newton,MA,USA
Boston Globe arts writer Mark Feeney calls John Updike an extraordinary talent who, though his writings ranged from Africa to Brazil, -- though he was once ...
Some works by John Updike
The Associated Press
"The Poorhouse Fair," 1959 "Rabbit, Run," 1960 "The Centaur," 1963. "Of the Farm," 1965. "Couples," 1968. "Bech, a Book," 1970. "Rabbit, Redux," 1971. ...

John Updike celebrated the ordinary American
San Francisco Chronicle - CA, USA
(01-27) 19:16 PST -- John Updike, the lyrical and mordant celebrant of the postwar American mainstream, has died. For anyone drawn over and over to the ...
The Associated Press
John Updike, prize-winning writer, dead at age 76
The Associated Press
... (AP) — For readers and writers of a certain generation, it's hard to imagine that they will have to grow old, or at least older, without John Updike. ...
John Updike
Atlantic Online - USA
My entire freshman class in college was made to "read and discuss" Updike's early book The Centaur. Then, it seemed like part of the American canon. ...

January 28, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2009

Boston real estate

OK, we know that real estate isn't the greatest investment around at the moment. But we're also pretty sure that it will indeed be a very good investment at some point in the near future. For we do know one thing about markets: while they overshoot , as they obviously did, in the boom, they also do so in the bad times, like now.

So perhaps we should all be preparing to try and call when the market will turn? What about Boston lofts for example, or Boston condos? When are they going to be oversold, cheaper than they should be?

Now it's often said that trying to call the bottom of a market is like trying to catch a falling knife. But that is indeed what has to be done if you're to make any of those super-profits which are going to be available when the market turns.

Check out the information at Bushari Group Real Estate for more information on what's available and see if you can catch that falling knife.

January 20, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 19, 2008

Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C Clarke has died in Sri Lanka. He was 90, so it's fair to say that he had a good innings. He wrote so much that it's difficult to recommend any one thing, although a personal favourite was "Tales from the White Hart".

He also invented (or pointed out perhaps) the idea of geostationary orbits, he worked on radar, and of course he wrote the short story, The Sentinel, which the movie 2001 is based upon.

Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction visionary best known for the groundbreaking 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a psychedelic epic of mankind's encounter with never-seen aliens, died Wednesday at age 90.

The English writer died in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he had lived since 1956. He had been in poor health in recent years, confined to a wheelchair due to the effects of post-polio syndrome.

He was a scientist, a philosopher and a prolific author who penned more than 80 books and 500 essays during his lifetime, including fiction and non-fiction. His 1951 short story The Sentinel became the foundation for 2001.


March 19, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2008

Love and Consequences

Love and Consequences, Margaret Seltzer's memoir of growing up in South Central LA....well, it appears that Love and Consequences is a very good novel and a terrible memoir: it's all made up.

Margaret Seltzer's fake memoir
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
Weren't the characters in her memoir about growing up a foster child in South Los Angeles, "Love and Consequences," just a little too archetypal to be true? ...
See all stories on this topic

In today's pages: John Wayne, Love and Consequences
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
... and Tim Rutten explores the appeal of made-up memoirs, after revelations that gang-life tell-all "Love and Consequences" was an elaborate hoax. ...
See all stories on this topic

Love & Consequences: Not the First Example of a Hoaxter- Author
Publishers Weekly - New York,NY,USA
PW has learned that Riverhead editor Sarah McGrath, who acquired Margaret Seltzer’s Love & Consequences for Scribner but brought it with her to Riverhead, ...
See all stories on this topic

Yxta Maya Murray on ‘Love and Consequences’ Hoax
Truthdig - United States
My response is this: I believed every single word that Seltzer wrote in “Love and Consequences.” And if I had to do it again, I would believe her a second ...
See all stories on this topic

No, the ‘Times’ Coverage of ‘Love and Consequences’ Is Not Charles ...
New York Magazine - NY, USA
This morning Gawker devotes a lot of blog inches to speculating about whether Love and Consequences, the "memoir" of growing up in South Central LA that ...
See all stories on this topic

Book publisher suffers hoax, the sequel
First Post - Cheltenham,England,UK
As the US publishing world reels from the latest literary hoax - Margaret Seltzer's fabricated memoir Love and Consequences - it turns out this is not the ...
See all stories on this topic

Bogus memoir sparks criticism of publishing industry
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
"Love and Consequences" tells the story of a part Native American LA girl who is sent to foster care after being sexually abused, falls in with the Bloods ...
See all stories on this topic

Publisher: Fake LA memoir unlikely to alter industry
Daily Breeze - Torrance,CA,USA
But as with Frey's "A Million Little Pieces," the debunking of Margaret B. Jones' "Love and Consequences" is unlikely to change an industry where the ...
See all stories on this topic

Gangland memoir is fabricated
Reuters UK - UK
By Emily Chasan NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Love and Consequences," a critically acclaimed memoir about a mixed-raced girl growing up in a gang-ridden ...
See all stories on this topic

Love and Consequences
 By beccar
I read the article on Love and Consequences. No, I don’t think it would have been better to say the book was fiction because then she wouldn’t have sold it. I think that Margaret Seltzer, like most writers, knew how hard it is to get ...
Beccar's Weblog - http://beccar.wordpress.com

Love and Consequences
 By Denise(CT)
Yet another fabricated memoir--this one was titled Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival by Margaret B. Jones (real name Margaret Seltzer). This gang memoir was purportedly about a multi-racial women living in South ...
Dover Public Library news - http://doverpl.blogspot.com/

what was she thinking
 By myounker
In a statement released Tuesday, Riverhead said it was “saddened” by the revelations in the New York Times‘ story about the wholly fabricated memoir it published in February, Love and Consequences. After the Times‘ reported that author ...
Collection Developments @ Sno-Isle - http://colldevsnoisle.wordpress.com

Literary Lies: The Next Generation
 By thePhoenix.com(thePhoenix.com)
Her True Life story, Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival, was a fraud. She is not part Native American. She was not an abused foster child living on the streets of LA, or a member of the LA gang the Bloods. ...
Books: Word Up - http://thephoenix.com/WordUp/

Publisher's Weekly: Former NY Times Book Review Editor's Daughter ...
 By LaurenceJarvik(LaurenceJarvik)
PW has learned that Riverhead editor Sarah McGrath, who acquired Margaret Seltzer’s Love & Consequences for Scribner but brought it with her to Riverhead, was involved in another book, in 2006, that was cancelled because of fabrications ...
LaurenceJarvikOnline - http://laurencejarvikonline.blogspot.com/

March 6, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer, the Grand Old Man of the American literary scene, has died, aged 84. He was suffering from renal failure and died in New York City at the Mount Sinai Hospital.

Norman Mailer, the prolific writer whose public brawls and macho swagger often overshadowed his Pulitzer Prize-winning prose that challenged society's views of politics and sex, died early today. He was 84.   

Mailer died of renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, according to an e-mailed statement from J. Michael Lennon, the author's literary executor and official biographer. Mailer had been hospitalized last month for surgery to remove scar tissue on one of his lungs. He lived in Brooklyn, New York.       

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the maverick author was perhaps more famous for his self-aggrandizing public behavior and grandiose ambitions than for his writing talent. There were six marriages, the stabbing of his second wife, the alcohol-infused fights and the feuds with literary figures such as Gore Vidal, all from a slight, curly-haired man. He even ran two quixotic campaigns to become New York City's mayor.          

``You develop a perverse appetite for publicity,'' he once said, ``even though you hate it.''          


Mailer was a prolific, experimental writer who often examined the conflict between individual and collective power in politics and sex. His early novels, such as ``The Naked and the Dead,'' focused on individuals who violated social or political standards for self-knowledge, breaches he committed often in public life.          


While Mailer wanted to be remembered as a novelist, many critics found his nonfiction better. In the 1960s, Mailer was one of the pioneers of the ``New Journalism'' movement, comprised of non-fiction narratives from the writer's point of view that used literary devices such as dialogue and multiple viewpoints.                  

`Wasted' Talent

There were indeed accusations of wasted talent: at one point Mailer was paying more than $400,000 a year in alimony (back in the days when the $ was worth something) to assembled ex-wives and there was a sense that at least some of his output was simply dashed off to make those payments.

The Guardian only has a small piece, referring to his last book:

Norman Mailer, the American novelist, has died today, at age 84. The two-times Pulitzer prize winning author was a formidable and provocative presence in the literary world, often enraging readers with his strident views on US political life, and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Robert McCrum interviewed Mailer in February, finding him on fighting form ahead of the release of The Castle in the Forest, his first novel for a decade, which dealt with the childhood of Adolf Hitler and which he predicted people were "going to have a shit fit" over. He may have impressed and reviled people in equal measure, but Mailer was difficult to ignore. Add your thoughts and tributes below.

Some of Norman Mailer's quotes:

U.S. writer Norman Mailer, a towering presence on the U.S. literary scene for decades, has died.

Opinions poured out of Mailer. Following are some of this thoughts on the United States, men, women and himself:


"America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug White Protestants who live in the center, in the serene eye of the big wind."


-- From "Advertisements for Myself," a collection of essays, poems and observations.


"I've always felt that my relationship to the United States is analogous to a marriage. I love this country. I hate it. I get angry at it. I feel close to it. I'm charmed by it. I'm repelled by it. And it's a marriage that's gone on for let's say at least 50 years of my writing life, and in the course of that, what's happened? It's gotten worse. It's not what it used to be."


-- A 1998 interview for French television.


"Masculinity is not something given to you, something you're born with but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor. Because there is very little honor left in American life, there is a certain built-in tendency to destroy masculinity in American men."


-- A 1966 essay.

And a literary obituary:

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Norman Mailer has died aged 84.

The pugnacious New Jersey novelist, playwright, screen writer / director and polemicist was a dominating presence on the US literary scene for seven decades.

In more than 40 books, essays and journalism, Mailer provoked and enraged readers with his strident views on US political life, and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

He first book,                  The Naked and the Dead , is considered one of the finest novels about World War Two and made him a celebrity at age 25 when published in 1948.

Mailer's works were often filled with violence, sexual obsession and views that angered feminists. He later reconsidered many of his old positions but never surrendered his right to speak his mind.

Detractors considered him an intellectual bully and he feuded with fellow authors like Truman Capote, William Styron, Tom Wolfe and Norman Podhoretz.

Feminists like Germaine Greer and Kate Millett considered him the quintessential male chauvinist.

Some of the feuds even turned physical for the former college boxer, who stabbed one of his six wives at a party and also decked writer Gore Vidal.

His Pulitzer Prize-winning                  Armies of the Night , an account of the 1967 march on the Pentagon by anti-Vietnam War protesters, established him as a political spokesman for the Woodstock generation.

His second Pulitzer was for                  The Executioner's Song , a haunting 1979 account of the execution of Gary Gilmore in Utah.

It's certainly true that Norman Mailer was controversial: some of his work was superb, other parts of it perhaps slightly run of the mill.


The ex-wife he stabbed is not all that enamoured of him:

But then given that catalogue....and being an ex-wife....who would expect her to be so?

November 10, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Ben Mezrich "Rigged"

Ben Mezrich has a new book out, "Rigged". It's a purportedly true tale of how a Brooklyn kid went out to change the world of oil trading forever. Hmm, well, yes, I think Mezrich is rather over egging the pudding with that. Here's a review:

Russo, the protagonist of prolific writer Ben Mezrich's latest page-turner, "Rigged," feared that the months of hard work, globetrotting, networking and Machiavellian machinations he and his friend Khaled Abdul-Aziz, a member of the Dubai ruling family, had invested in the ambitious project had turned into a futile exercise.

The DME, a joint venture of Dubai Holding, the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Oman Investment Fund, is now located in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
"Rigged" is a mostly true story of behind-the-scenes events that led to the creation of the exchange.
Fiction techniques are employed to create an atmosphere of suspense and enhance the readability of the true story.

Well, OK, a tale about the founding of an oil exchange in the Middle East could indeed be interesting....but it's not something that would change the world. An oil exchange is just a bunch of blokes in suits shouting into telephones. It's nothing to do with hte actual physical trading of oil....no one is now loading or unloading oil in Dubai as a result of it. All it is is that people in that time zone can now shout into telephones, rather than doing so in London, New York, or anywhere else on the planet.

So I'm afraid that Ben Mezrich has slightly over-hyped what his hero has don in this book. A minor and marginal change to the world, not anything that requires quite so much hoopla. Might still be a good book for all that but the precedent isn't encouraging.

October 26, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton is the author of a long (and to be honest, not entirely innovative) series of detective novels. They're known as the alphabet novels, "A is for Alibi", "P is for Peril" and so on. Grafton's been writing them for 25 years now and has perhaps another decade to go to finish the series.

Here's the wikipedia background on Sue Grafton:

Her experience as a screenwriter taught her the basics of structuring a story, writing dialogue, and creating action sequences, and Grafton felt ready to return to writing fiction.[3] While going through a "bitter divorce and custody battle that lasted 6 long years" Grafton would make herself feel better by imagining ways to kill or maim her ex-husband. Her fantasies were so vivid that she decided to write them down.[4]

She had long been fascinated by mysteries that had related titles, including those by John D. MacDonald, whose titles referenced colors, and Harry Kemelman, who used days of the week. While reading Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which is an alphabetical picture book of children who die by various means, she had the idea to write a series of novels based on the alphabet. She immediately sat down and made a list of all of the crime-related words that she knew. [3] This exercise led to her best known works, a chronological series of mystery novels. Known as "the alphabet novels," the stories are set in and around the fictional town of Santa Teresa, which is based on the author's primary city of residence, Santa Barbara, California (Grafton chose to use the name Santa Teresa as a tribute to the author Ross Macdonald, who had previously used this as an alternative name for Santa Barbara in his own novels).[5]

All novels of the series are written from the perspective of a female private investigator named Kinsey Millhone who lives in Santa Teresa, California. Grafton's first book of this series is "A" is for Alibi, written and set in 1982. The series continues with "B" is for Burglar, "C" is for Corpse, and so on through the alphabet. After the publication of "G" is for Gumshoe, Grafton was able to quit her screenwriting job and focus on her novels.[4] The timeline of the series is slower than real-time - "Q" is for Quarry, for example, is set in 1987, even though it was written in 2002. Her latest book, "S" is for Silence, was published in December 2005, and her next book, "T" is for Trespass, is due to be published in December 2007.

Grafton's novels are not, asmentioned, exactly groundbreaking. If you've read one or two you've got pretty much all of the joy you're going to get out of the whole series:

The middle of a (proposed) 26 book series isn't the place to look for innovative fiction, or anything other than more of the same. So I wasn't particularly disappointed to find Kinsey Millhone on much the same form as ever. Nothing fabulous but a reasonable mystery for the most part and pretty much what I expected. (....) I'll probably go back for Q at some point anyway. (I know, not exactly a ringing endorsement!)

It has to be said that they're enjoyable light reading but that's about it.

October 26, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2007

Early Sex Blogging

As I prepare this book on sexblogs it occurs to me that this might be a very early example of the genre:

Song of Solomon 1

1The song of songs, which is Solomon's.

2Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

3Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

4Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

5I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

6Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

7Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?

8If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

9I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.

10Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.

11We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.

12While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

13A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.

14My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

15Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.

16Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.

17The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

October 17, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 14, 2007

An Answer to Naomi Klein

The basic thesis of her new book is that:

...that radical neoliberal policies have thrived and depended on social crises and violence for their dramatic advance across the globe over the past generation. This is the "disaster capitalism" that Klein argues has...

A very good response on the CiF thread:

It can be said that Marxist policies "thrived and depended on social crises and violence for their dramatic advance across the globe over the past generation" as well.

The collapse of empires after the First World War and the devastation of the Second World War were the only way that communism advanced in any significant way.

Call it "disaster socialism".

September 14, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

If I Did It: OJ Simpson

I knew that OJ Simpson's book, If I Did It, was coming out again after the original version was pulped. But I hadn't realised that it was Fred Goldman (the father of the murdered Ron) who was publishing it:

Fred Goldman and his daughter, Kim - the father and sister of Ronald - have faced widespread criticism for publishing the controversial book after it was scrapped by its original publishers.

Denise Brown, Nicole's sister, has said she is "shocked and horrified" and has vowed never to speak to the Goldmans again. She refused to appear with them on the Oprah Winfrey Show on US television.

The book, in which Simpson wrote of how he might have killed the pair in June 1994, prompted such outrage that the publisher, Judith Regan, was sacked and hundreds of thousands of copies were pulped.

Mr Goldman then gained rights to the book under terms of a 1997 civil court judgment that held Simpson, an ex-American football star, responsible for the murders despite being found not guilty in a criminal trial. Mr Goldman arranged for it to be published again.

The book goes on sale in the US this weekend and more than 100,000 copies have already been ordered.

I take it that OJ won't be doing any publicity for it then?

September 14, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack