Blog Roll

Anecdotal Evidence
AuthorStore
Biology of the Worst Kind
The Book Depository Editor's Corner
Book World
BOOKSURFER
Buzzwords Blog: 3AM Magazine
Castrovalva
CruelestMonth.com
Dialogic
Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant
The Elegant Variation
Fernham
John Baker's Blog
KR Blog
languagehat.com
the Literary Saloon
Long Sunday
MadInkBeard - Updates
The Midnight Bell
Mountain*7
Nomadics
pas au-delà
The Reading Experience
scarecrow
signandsight.com
splinters: books, authors, literature, travel, politics
Spurious
Tales from the Reading Room
This Space
University of Nebraska Press
Waggish
Weblog - A Don's Life - Times Online
Weblog - Peter Stothard - Times Online
Powered by Bloglines

ReadySteadyBlog

One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Blog entries for 'June 2007'

Saturday 30 June 2007

Robert Macfarlane interview

I've been away to Big London. Mostly, I was meeting publishers with my Book Depository hat on (although I did also mananage briefly to attend a very pleasant bloggers bash organised by Penguin).


I'll be spending the weekend catching up with myself, walking Lola if it ever stops raining, and reading War & War. Might I suggest that if you have a moment you read my interview with Robert Macfarlane? Or read Ellis Sharp on Malcolm Lowry?

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Sharp on McCarthy

Ellis Sharp on Tom McCarthy:


Alex Good is enthusiastic about Tom McCarthy’s Remainder – but to my mind, oddly so. To me, the book isn’t at all self-consciously literary. Its virtues include its plain, stripped-down qualities rather than any nudging of the reader in the direction of influences. I’ve read The Collector several times, and not once was I reminded of it when I read Remainder. And while Ballard may be a more plausible influence, he’s not an overt one and I didn’t once think – hmm, this reminds me of Crash – when I read the book. Lots of novels remind me of other novels. Not so Remainder, which struck me as utterly and brilliantly original. Whatever the influences may have been, they have been absorbed, filtered and made invisible.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Quickmuse

Via if:book: "QuickMuse ... is a project built on software by Fletcher Moore that tracks what a writer does over time; when played back, the visitor with a Javascript-enabled browser sees how the composition was written over time, sped up if desired ... [E]ditor Ken Gordon has invited a number of poets to compose a poem in fifteen minutes, based, usually, on some found text. The poetry thus created isn't necessarily the best, but that's immaterial: it's interesting to see how people write. (If you'd like to try this yourself, you can use Dlog.)"

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Monday 25 June 2007

Book Depository stuff

Sorry! Sorry! I've been very busy with lots of stuff over at The Book Depository (a nice interview with author Miranda Miller is just the latest thing). The Book Depository and also playing around with crazy Shelfari and Facebook: how addictive are they!?

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Monbiot extracts

With the kind permission of Penguin, I'm thrilled to be able to reproduce an extract from the Preface and also the full Introduction to George Monbiot's Heat: How we can stop the planet burning.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Tuesday 19 June 2007

New Berger

Always a good thing: a new John Berger book came out yesterday:


Hold Everything Dear is John Berger’s vital response to today’s global economic and military tyranny. From Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and 7/7, to resistance in Ramallah and traumatic dislocation in the Middle East, Berger explores the countless personal choices, encounters, illuminations, sacrifices, new desires, griefs and memories that occur in the course of political resistance to empire and colonialism.

(Oh, and if anyone is counting, this is the 1000th post on RSB's blog. Yay!)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: , ,

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Andrew Mitchell on Heidegger

Nice podcast: Andrew Mitchell on Poetry and Thinking in Martin Heidegger's later work (via enowning).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Marcus on Keen

Via Maud Newton: "James Marcus reviews Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur, an anti-Internet screed with an extraordinary number of typos."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Friday 15 June 2007

The Black Swan

I keep hearing intriguing things about Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan. Frustratingly, my copy hasn't landed yet, so I can't tell you much, but there is a small interview with Nassim over on the Penguin website:


Q: The Black Swan is an intriguing title - can you give us an overview of what a black swan looks like?

A: The Black Swan is about these unexpected events that end up controlling our lives, the world, the economy, history, everything. Before they happen we consider them close to impossible; after they happen we think that they were predictable and partake of a larger scheme. They are rare, but their impact is monstrous. My main problem is: We don't know that these events play such a large role. Why are we blind to them?

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Friday 15 June 2007

Bookforum online

The latest issue of the excellent American literary magazine Bookforum is completely available online. All of it! Bookforum is one of my very favourite things so do check this out. (UK subscription rates are a steal, by the way.) Includes Stefanie Sobelle on Gabriel Josipovici's Goldberg: Variations and Ross Benjamin on Peter Handke's Crossing the Sierra de Gredos.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 15 June 2007

Criticism vs. Reviewing

Eric at Wet Asphalt takes a look at Criticism vs. Reviewing:


... blogs tend toward shorter pieces than magazines or newspapers. Straight up reviews tend to be shorter than longer critical essays. I still expect all of them to deal with the subject of fiction (and poetry!) with the same sort of honesty, earnestness, intelligence, insight and passion. I want all of them to make me think about fiction in new ways, to expose me to authors I've never heard of, and make me reconsider the ones I have. And if you can do that, I'll call the work you do it with whatever name you want me to.

Eric looks at this subject through the prism of the differences between the work of the New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani and James Wood ("who writes chiefly for the New Republic and The Guardian"). Essentially, dismissing Kakutani and lauding Wood, Eric only sees a difference of "of quality rather than of genre" between the two. I'm not so sure. I think at some point the differences in quality (and, often, length) between a review and criticism make the distinction useful. Certainly, at one extreme, the difference is obvious: a 200-word plot summary is not criticism. As a review gets more complex and in-depth, though, it is a distinction one often feels but that isn't particularly easy to define.


One difference between the two forms might be the focus in reviewing on the book in hand, the story it is telling, and how successfully it accomplishes what it sets out to do: synopsis plus brief evaluation. With criticism, the book is additionally placed in its wider context and set against other works (often within a particular -- and sometimes particularly technical -- critical apparatus): synopsis, context, evaluation. With a review, the theoretical perspective is rarely made apparent -- the review is a "common-sense" take. Criticism is aware that any "common-sense" view of literature is naive: it hides an ideological reading it simply isn't aware of. Criticism incorporates the knowledge of the existence of its own perspective into its reading. Kakutani blathers; James Wood -- whether you agree with it or not -- has an explicit theory and measures work against it.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 14 June 2007

1000 Books to Change Your Life

Goodness! What a miserable, rainy day. And I'm a little hungover to boot. So, I should tell you a little about one of my books of the week, the "Time Out" 1000 Books to Change Your Life (edited by Jonathan Derbyshire), shouldn't I? This is noteworthy for me as I have the lead essay in the Death chapter (the book is themed in seven chapters: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age and death) with a piece entitled The Art of Dying. My first time in print in a proper book: yay! The article is a not-very-inspired, vaguely chronological meandering through world literature starting with Dante and passing via Poe and Hardy onto Beckett and ending with Ted Hughes. You're not missing much. The book itself is quite handsome inside (awful bloody cover though) with lots of photos and full colour book cover reproductions. I'm not sure we really need another book of lists in the world but, as they go, this aint a bad one.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Thursday 14 June 2007

Monbiot interview

For those who read the blog via a newsfeeder, don't miss my interview with radical/campaigning/green journalist George Monbiot:


MT: Your book is big on policy objectives, but a little dismissive of what we can do as individuals. Can we really leave remedying such an important issue as global warming to politicians?

GM: I don't by any means think we should leave it to politicians - we all need to act, but primarily as citizens, rather than consumers. Consumer power alone is useless. You can give up your car, but all you do is to create extra road space for someone to drive a less efficient car than you would have driven. Your decision becomes meaningful only if it is accompanied by a political campaign for the road space you release to be handed to pedestrians or cyclists or buses instead. You can replace your lightbulbs, but if you merely reduce the demand for electricity, making it cheaper, someone else will be burning more. We must keep demanding systematic environmental policies that apply to everyone.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 14 June 2007

Words Without Borders

Words Without Borders ("The Online Magazine for International Literature") has got itself a nice new look (via CruelestMonth).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Thursday 14 June 2007

Byliner

Martyn at Booksurfer brings my attention to Byliner:


Byliner allows you to keep up-to-date with your favourite writers. You can set up a personal list of writers and Byliner will look out for new articles by them. You can be sent daily or weekly emails containing links to these articles, or you can simply return here and they'll be waiting for you on this page.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 13 June 2007

The Book Depository up for retail awards

Sorry I've been so quiet: very busy! I'll try to mention a few bits and pieces tomorrow (not least I want to brag to y'all about the fact that an essay of mine is now available in an actual, real book!)


Also, The Book Depository have been shortlisted in three categories for The Bookseller Retail Awards 2007. We are in the running for:


  • The Nielsen Supply Chain Initiative of the Year
  • The Peter Jones Award for Entrepreneurship in Bookselling
  • The Direct to Consumer Bookselling Company of the Year

Yay, a possibility of slipping into my tux again!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: , , ,

Sunday 10 June 2007

Richard Rorty RIP

The philosopher Richard Rorty died on Friday -- I've not seen anything much about his death, no obituaries as yet, so, for now, this is all I know. More information via Telos; nice appreciation over on Waggish.


Update: There are some useful Rorty links gathered together by Farhang over at continental-philosophy.org.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Friday 08 June 2007

Michael Hamburger RIP

The great Michael Hamburger (best known for his translations of Friedrich Hölderlin, Paul Celan, Gottfried Benn and W. G. Sebald) died yesterday, probably due to a heart attack. As soon as I know more, I'll add to this -- wikipedia has more details about the poet, but no details as yet about his death.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Thursday 07 June 2007

Hofmann wins translation prize

The winner of this year's Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize has just been announced. It was (yay!) Michael Hofmann for Durs Grunbein's Ashes for Breakfast: Selected Poems.


Guest Judge Robert McCrum praised the winner saying, "Michael Hofmann's startling, and occasionally magical, rendering of Durs Grunbein's Ashes for Breakfast, a new collection from one of Germany's contemporary masters. A vindication of the translator's alchemy, Hofmann's versions do not smell of the lamp. They look like poems that want to be poems. As translations they feel voluntary, unforced."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Wednesday 06 June 2007

Trollope.com


The handsome and hirsute Mr Anthony Trollope, via Edward Samuels


Penguin has launched an Anthony Trollope minisite (to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Barchester Towers no less!) I've never read Trollope. Should I!?

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 06 June 2007

Author interviews

FYI, the last ten author interviews over at The Book Depository have been with John Marks, John Ray, Christopher Robbins, Martin Stephen, Julie Maxwell, Mikael Niemi, Adele Geras, Jeremy Blachman, Michael Muhammed Knight and Catherine O'Flynn

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Wednesday 06 June 2007

More Twitter stuff

Since I put ReadySteadyBook, The Book Depository and BritLitBlogs up on Twitter, there suddenly seems to be a lot of other lit-activity over there.


For those who want to discover more, the excellent Debra Hamel has got a very useful list together of literary Twitters.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 06 June 2007

Robert Walser bibliography

Sam, over at Goldenrule Jones, has set up a bibliography of the Swiss author Robert Walser (1878-1956) -- thanks Dave. Excellent job Sam.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 05 June 2007

London Lit Plus

"London Lit Plus (LL+) is an open festival, which means anyone can participate, and anyone can hold an event. All you have to do to be included is to submit your event, and we’ll add it to the list on this website. We want to showcase all the wonderful literary goings-on in London that we can in a two-week period.

The only conditions for entry are that it must be literary, it must be within the M25, and it must be taking place between the 29th of June and the 13th of July 2007.


LL+ was started by a loose coalition of literary types, including, but not limited to, 3:AM Magazine, Scarecrow, Social Disease Publishing and booktwo.org, with the simple aim of creating a non-commercial festival without an agenda, programmed by the people involved, to showcase the myriad of literary events that happen every week in London, but are frequently overlooked."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Monday 04 June 2007

RSB on Twitter

You can now get RSB blog posts via instant messaging, SMS and other new-fangled ways through Twitter (thanks, Lee, for all your help here). If you're already a Twitter user, just add ReadySteadyBook at http://twitter.com/readysteadybook. If you're not, signing up is nimps (old scouse for "easy"). If you wish to avoid such nonsense, I don't blame you!


Update: I've now also added The Book Depository to Twitter: http://twitter.com/bookdepository.


Update II: And now also BritLitBlogs -- http://twitter.com/britlitblogs.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Monday 04 June 2007

Pereira Declares

So, the summer finally landed! Lola the puppy, Mrs Book and me went away this past weekend and visited the splendid Woodfest Wales. Happily, not much reading was done, but I did manage to finish Antonio Tabucchi's excellent Pereira Declares (which I've just quickly reviewed over at The Book Depository):


Antonio Tabucchi's Pereira Declares  is set in the hot summer of 1938 in Salazar's Portugal. Franco and the Spanish Civil War, as well as the politics of everyday life in Portugal itself, haunt the pages. Dr. Pereira, with 30 years experience as a crime journalist, is now in charge of the culture page at Lisboa, a "second-rate evening newspaper." He studiously avoids politics and contents himself with translating 19th century French stories. But politics is very difficult to hide from. He reads an article by Monteiro Rossi, a young graduate, about death and decides to contact and hire him to write write advance obituaries on great writers for his culture page. Rossi and his girlfriend Marta are politically active pro-Republicans and slowly Dr Pereira gets drawn into helping them, mostly by advancing Rossi money for polemical, unpublishable articles. Despite his protestations, politics have wheedled their way into Pereira's blindly cultured life. An astonishingly vivid portrait of one man and his growing consciousness, Pereira Declares is wonderfully astute about the lies we tell ourselves. It is never quite clear whether the book, which peppers the text with the declarative intervention "Pereira declares...", is a police/bureaucratic report of Pereira's involvement with political undesirables or whether it is Pereira himself declaring himself to us. But the rhythm this recurring phrase adds to the book is vital: it brings our attention to the text as text and to the ever-present possibility of unreliability in everything that we read -- and the resonances of this back to Pereira hardly need underscoring. Exceptional.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Monday 04 June 2007

Habitus magazine

News from Habitus magazine:


An exclusive essay by acclaimed novelist Aleksandar Hemon is now available online from Habitus: A Diaspora Journal.

The essay, entitled "Sarajevo Is..." is one of two pieces that Hemon contributed to the just-released second issue of Habitus, devoted to writing from and about Sarajevo. Other contributors include David Rieff, Courtney Angela Brkic, Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Muharem Bazdulj, and photographer Simon Norfolk.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Submit News to RSB

Please let us know about any literary-related news -- or submit press releases to RSB -- using this form.

-- Mark Thwaite, Managing Editor

Serendipoetry

Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

-- View archive

Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

-- Powered by Wordsmith.org

October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

-- View archive