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The sweet smell of success in literature: Coming up roses, or …?
December 17, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Fail better A couple of pieces rekindled in mind the awkward topic of literary success: What is it, and how do you define it? How do you know when you've got it? Do those two words even belong together? One piece, appropriately enough from Creative Loafing in Atlanta, asking "How is literary success defined?" opines that: "Artists begin life as outsiders. Then they learn the rules." To his credit, Blake Butler doesn't reference the S-word more than once in his article, but he does note that: Your goals in some way, define what you become. Once you can begin to learn to define...

Moleskine’s latest digital convergence venture: Voyageur
December 11, 2014 | 12:00 pm

IMG_20141207_154021As already reported in Teleread, notebook and stationery brand Moleskine has been looking at digital integration of its pen-and-paper offerings, with Evernote and others. Its latest offering in digital convergence is the Voyageur series, "a new sized notebook for Moleskine in a portable format designed to store printed emails, itineraries and maps. The essential travelling companion that keeps track of your observations and explorations on the road, so you can concentrate on posting your pics for the folks back home." As you can see from the picture below, the Voyageur notebook offers the option to hashtag and share travel photos, and...

Alain de Botton tells what literature is for
November 30, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Alain de Botton and his school of savants The School of Life "devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture" (a MENSA equivalent of the University of Life, I guess), has shared with us a fun animation that answers the question "What exactly is literature good for?" And it produces four concise answers: It saves you time; it makes you nicer; it's a cure for loneliness; it prepares you for failure. For the first, the rationale runs: "Literature is the greatest reality simulator — a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations than you can ever directly witness." And, it...

Zelig and the art of winning a Pulitzer: Q&A with J. Ross Baughman, photojournalist
November 30, 2014 | 12:25 pm

nazisphotographedbyjrossbaughmanImagine you’re with the Secret Service. A young Ohioan calls up and says he’ll be joining the Nazi Party. “I wanted you to know.” Wait---the story gets even better. The Ohio man already has been within shooting range of presidential candidates. J. Ross Baughman isn’t a real Nazi, however. Instead he is a photojournalist for my old newspaper, and he is about to infiltrate the National Socialist movement. My friend is merely trying to keep his name off the Secret Service’s watch list so he can continue his campaign coverage. A letter co-signed by his editor does the trick. The Nazis think...

UEA, Writers’ Centre Norwich launch joint online creative writing courses
November 27, 2014 | 2:25 pm

NorwichThe University of East Anglia and the Writers' Centre Norwich have just announced the launch of "Online and Face-to-Face Creative Writing Courses," commencing in 2015. "This is your chance to benefit from the UEA’s world renowned expertise and give your creative writing a real chance to progress," the introduction states, and the online offering includes a "specially developed online learning environment using course materials designed by your tutor," as well as bespoke criticism and individual feedback. "This partnership between UEA and Writers’ Centre Norwich gives you the opportunity to work either online or face-to-face in 10, 12 or 24 week courses...

The Real Story pushes the boat out for non-fiction in Manchester
November 26, 2014 | 1:25 pm

UK literary site The Real Story, "a celebration of creative non-fiction" supported by you by Openstories, "a Manchester-based arts organisation that runs digital literature projects," is looking for local non-fiction writers and prose poets for a series of nights or reading events devoted to the non-fiction writer's craft. "Essayists, creative non-fictioneers, prose poets… we want to hear from you!" states the intro. "If  you’re based in or near Manchester and like the idea of getting up onstage and reading your work in front of people, make yourselves known to us." Seeing as Friedrich Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England...

Key Beat Generation letter stars in literary memorabilia auction
November 25, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Jack KerouacAn Associated Press report has highlighted the auctioning of an unique literary document that allegedly jumpstarted the development of the U.S. Beat Generation and altered the course of American literature forever - "Neal Cassady’s infamous 'Joan Anderson Letter,' written to American literary revolutionary Jack Kerouac on December 17, 1950," as the press release from auction house Profiles In History describes it. The letter, as the release continues, "has always been shrouded by intense mystery and myth. Originally considered to be just 13,000 words in length, much of the letter was mysteriously lost, until now. On December 17, 2014, exactly sixty-four years from...

Toni Morrison tackles race and writing on Colbert Report
November 25, 2014 | 2:25 pm

As timely as could be after the Daniel Handler debacle at the National Book Awards 2014, grand dame of American letters Toni Morrison spoke out on the issue of race on the Colbert Report in terms that ought to help lay the whole issue to rest, for those who have ears to hear. Asked by Stephen Colbert if she felt any burden after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison said "I know that my books are worthy. Which is separate from me." And asked what she would like to be pigeonholed as - other than an African American writer...

Saltire Society’s Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland ballot includes great Scottish women writers
November 21, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Scottish cultural and intellectual advocacy body the Saltire Society is approaching the culmination of a near year-long campaign to find the Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland, still open for formal nominations until St. Andrews Day, Sunday 30th November. The list has already attracted a slate of some of Scotland's - and the UK's - most outstanding women writers and cultural figures, including such obvious choices as Liz Lochhead and Naomi Mitchison, and perhaps less expected ones such as Ena Lamont Stewart, Scotland’s first major female playwright, and Janet Paisley, writer and coordinator of the first Scottish PEN Women Writers Committee. "Members of...

Neil Gaiman talks for UK Arts Council
November 20, 2014 | 6:25 pm

011711-neil-gaiman.jpgThe newly launched Arts Council of England magazine Create, for all the issues around its basic premise, has garnered material from some very significant creative figures, Neil Gaiman being one of them. He took the opportunity, in the course of a long interview with Toby Litt in the magazine (available to read in full here), to speak about writing, reading, and libraries, and the importance of the latter in education and general development. After recounting his love of libraries from his first experiences of them at age three or four, Neil Gaiman noted "I’ve probably been in about six or seven hundred libraries...

PEN prepares for Day of the Imprisoned Writer
November 13, 2014 | 4:25 pm

PEN Imprisoned WritersPEN International is gearing up for November 15th, the 33rd Day of the Imprisoned Writer, which honors, and coordinates initiatives on behalf of, "writers who have suffered persecution as a result of exercising their right to freedom of expression. Each year PEN Centres and members worldwide commemorate the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to raise awareness of the unjust imprisonment and other forms of attack against writers around the globe, to remember those who have been killed, and stand in solidarity with imprisoned and threatened colleagues." The five writers highlighted by PEN International this year to mark the Day of the...

Stevenson’s lost The Hair Trunk appears after 130 years
November 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

After over 130 years in hibernation, a lost unfinished work by Robert Louis Stevenson has resurfaced, and is now appearing for the first time in book form, with Scottish newspaper of record The Scotsman publishing an extended extract. The Hair Trunk, or The Ideal Commonwealth: An Extravaganza is an extended but ultimately abortive draft of a comic novel, running to 30,000 words but left unfinished, dating from Stevenson's youth. The characterization of it in some reports as a "missing masterpiece" is rather an exaggeration, as it was begun in 1877, when Stevenson was 27 years old, and broken off two years later,...