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Fully Sweded by David Astle
Meet Sebastian. He doesn’t talk much. In fact he hasn’t spoken since we met. The strong silent type, Sebastian has a round head and lean flanks. He hails from Sweden, along with Gilbert, who lives in my dining room.
We also have an L-shaped couch called Karlstad and a blond coffee table named Ramvik. To complete the family there is Benno the bookcase, a…
MI6 Comes in From the Cold
Authors Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham and Compton Mackenzie all worked for British spy organisation MI6, according to a new book on the organisation, the Guardian reports.
Keith Jeffery launched his history of MI6 yesterday with tales of James Bond-like antics. The Guardian retells the tale of a Dutch MI6 agent who “was put ashore on a beach near the casino at Schevening, The Hague…
Unconference in Critical Failure
Image courtesy of Pat Allan
On Sunday the Wheeler Centre extended its Critical Failure week with an unconference looking at bloggers and online writers.
Unconferencers set the agenda on the day of the event so it kicked off with a discussion of the “amateur” status of bloggers. This was inspired in part by Alison Croggon’s article “The Return of the Amateur Critic” asking why…
The Tweet that Sank Stephanie Rice by Piers Kelly
Linguist Piers Kelly
Twitter is a rare and dangerous creature. Nobody’s quite sure what it does, but we all know that it bites if you antagonise it. It mauled Miranda Devine and Marieke Hardy, and it knocked Catherine Deveney clean off her perch at the Age. Now it’s Stephanie Rice’s turn to get twitslapped. When the Wallabies defeated the Springboks on the weekend…
A Usage That is So, Like, Old
Over at the ever-informative OUP blog, Anatoly Liberman is wrestling with what he calls a “ubiquitous modern parasite”: the word “like”. He chronicles the rise of the word as though it were a virus mutating to defy definition. Liberman believes “like freed itself from the verb to be and became an independent filler” with very little meaning.
And far from belonging to 21st century…
The Face Behind Facebook
Ahead of the October release of a film about the rise of Facebook, the New Yorker has run a profile of the social networking site’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
The profile comes at Zuckerberg through his Facebook profile noting that he “cites ‘Minimalism’, ‘Revolutions’, and ‘Eliminating Desire’ as interests.” Zuckerberg (or Zuck) isn’t too happy about being the subject of Aaron Sorkin’s film, The Social…
The Disappearing Book
Over at Slate, Jack Shafer is marking the decline in importance of books - both in the shrinking newspaper coverage and in the value of the printed object.
Shafer remembers the glory days when the New York Times Book Review “could hit 80 pages in the 1970s” but now numbers only 28 pages. While he takes some heart from the recent announcement from…
Beyond Critical Failure
If there was one intention for the week of Critical Failure it was that it would create debate - either in the event itself or spilling out onto the web or newspaper pages in the following weeks.
Critical Failure: Books panellist Rebecca Starford
By way of right of reply, the participants have already begun penning some further thoughts. Book critic Peter Craven called the…
Fox Defends Jumping the Shark
The LA Times has run a first-person piece from Fred Fox Jr, the man who wrote the infamous episode of Happy Days when Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli jumped a shark. It’s become an expression to mark when a TV show tipped into disrepute, but Fox thinks it’s one of the biggest misnomers in TV history.
Fox points out that far from being a death…
Government “Ugly… Beautiful in its Ugliness”
Finally Australia has a government but public debate and language have been through the wringer so much they’re barely recognisable.
Yesterday, Rob Oakeshott milked his 15 minutes of fame in a long announcement that offered the contradiction that Parliament was “going to be ugly, but it’s going to be beautiful in its ugliness!”
In The Drum, Annabel Crabb called it a “drawn-out preamble…
A VPLA Judge Reports by Anna Ryan-Punch
And the books shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards YA Prize are:
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Swerve by Phillip GwynneBeatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams
Phew. I don’t have to keep my mouth shut any more! Except about the winner, of course, but that’s easier somehow. It’s just a cosy little one-book secret, rather than a big rambling three-book secret. I…
Father’s Sweet Sweet Lost and Broken Boy
Ian Brown wrote about his son’s struggle with an orphan syndrome for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, but also included some emotional video footage of his son Walker watching him play guitar and trying to understand the world.
Brown struggles to create routine for his son in the chaos of what he describes as “cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome, a technical name for a mash of symptoms”…
Melbourne Gets its Geek On
Aussiecon 4 co-chair Perry Middlemiss
Yesterday Aussiecon4 kicked off its program of science fiction and fantasy events with a bang. The 68th World Science Fiction Convention (also known as Wolrdcon) brings in guests from around the globe but the event has been put together almost entirely by volunteers.
Co-chair of Aussiecon Perry Middlemiss has been working to bring the event to Melbourne for years…
Finding a New Direction for Criticism
Yesterday’s ALR in the Australian, ran an article on the state of Australian criticism by Geordie Williamson calling for a return to old-style reviewing and scholarship.
Williamson has a hit list of what to keep from critical theory (“Greater circumspection in making broad or universalist claims” and “A healthy suspicion of fixed literary canons”) as well aspects to throw out notably “a disregard…
End of the Edinburgh Book Fest
After eighteen literary days, the Edinburgh International Book Fest has drawn to a close. I can barely even describe how immense the program was - think 750 authors, 220,000 visitors, thousands of books sold (and signed), and hundreds of events… huge.
The final weekend went off with a bang. A public holiday Monday, the events on across the three days from Saturday were fantastic…
Heart of Black and White
A US edition of Conrad's best-known work
Is there anything that can’t be made into a graphic novel? Joseph Conrad’s classic Heart of Darkness is being re-imagined as a black and white comic book , the Guardian reports.
Illustrator Catherine Anyango told the paper she had her reservations about taking on such a significant book. “I wasn’t sure initially if it was a good…