Friday High Five: Book Hipsters, Enid Blyton and Working for Playboy

Ten signs you’re a book hipster

Take this quiz to find out if you’re a book hipster. (Clue: If you’re reading this post, the signs are that you just may be one.) Here’s a sample:

1) You don’t want an ereader because you want other people to know what you’re reading.

You see these people pretending to read paper books all the time. But really they’re glancing around the room, to see who’s noticing them.

2) You like to take Instagram photos of your food…with your book casually in the background of the shot.

Are you a book hipster?

Are you a book hipster?

No more jolly japes: rewriting Enid Blyton

Stephanie Bunbury has a terrific piece in the Age about the continued updating of Enid Blyton’s books. Years ago, editions of books like The Enchanted Wood and The Magic Faraway Tree were released with modernised names, replacing the unfortunate Dick and Fanny with Rick and Frannie, and Dame Slap with Dame Snap. Now, her publisher Hachette is editing out ‘outdated’ expressions like ‘golly’, ‘rather’ and ‘awfully’, in an attempt to make the books ‘timeless’.

Image from Enid Blyton's *The Magic Faraway Tree*. It's been revised, replacing the unfortunate Dick and Fanny with Rick and Frannie, and Dame Slap with Dame Snap.'

Image from Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree. It's been revised, replacing the unfortunate Dick and Fanny with Rick and Frannie, and Dame Slap with Dame Snap.'

‘These days,’ said Marlene Johnson, the managing director of Hachette’s children’s books division, earlier this year, ‘'you don’t talk about jolly japes to kids.’

But Bunbury points out that children are still flocking to read Blyton’s books and seem unbothered (even enchanted) by the quaint language. She asks, ‘Why shouldn’t young children be allowed to understand that people used to speak differently and, indeed, think differently?’

When Mum worked for Playboy

Novelist Jessica Francis Kane recently interviewed her mother about working as a secretary for Playboy in the 1960s, in the days before women’s liberation … during a period when the claim ‘I read it for the articles’ was pretty much plausible. (Kane’s mother says she did read and enjoy the articles, but would never be caught dead buying it on a newstand.) It’s a fascinating glimpse into a past world, with a lovely mother-daughter dynamic in the interview:

The Playboy offices were 10 blocks downtown. We walked, Joan and I, in our high heels. It was great. We had one single bed each, some kitchen stuff, Joan’s small kitten, our all-important clothes and that was it. No furniture, no TV. We truly were there just to sleep and wash our hair. We were awfully popular, so lots of dates. It was hard for young women to find other young women to live with in the city. All the other secretaries lived with their parents or near home and they were so envious of Joan and me. We had good jobs, made good money, and this is why Sex and the City drives me crazy—it is so false and misleading, unlike Mad Men.

Jessica Francis Kane's mother urged her to watch *Mad Men*, saying her life as a secretary for *Playboy* in the 1960s was much like the fictional office of Sterling Cooper.

Jessica Francis Kane's mother urged her to watch Mad Men, saying her life as a secretary for Playboy in the 1960s was much like the fictional office of Sterling Cooper.

Looking ahead: Best books of the second half of 2012

The Millions has published a great sneak preview of the best books coming up for publication in the second half of 2012.

Includes Paul Auster’s second book of memoir, Winter Journal, J.K. Rowling’s ‘blackly comic’ novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW, and Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton.

The cover of J.K. Rowling's first book for adults, *Casual Vacancy*.

The cover of J.K. Rowling's first book for adults, Casual Vacancy.

Against local food (and Michael Pollan)

A provocative new book, The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile diet, takes aim at Michael Pollan and his support of the local food movement. Producing local food makes ‘no economic sense’, says author Pierre Desroichers, who describes himself as ‘the bête noir of Canadian local-food activists’. He argues that we have developed our increasingly efficient international system for delivering a variety of food over centuries. And if things were so great when food was produced locally, why did people bother developing a globalised food chain in the first place? Why haven’t history’s many local food movements lasted?

He also argues that it’s less energy-intensive to produce food where regions best specialize in it, than it is to try to coax those same products out of ill-suited soil elsewhere, even if that means shipping apples from New Zealand to the U.K.

Pierre Desroichers says producing local food makes 'no economic sense'.

Pierre Desroichers says producing local food makes 'no economic sense'.

Keen to make up your own mind? We’ll be presenting Pollan himself (in cooperation with Sydney Opera House) this Sunday at the Melbourne Town Hall. Tickets are still available - you can get them here. Bon weekend!