2023: Articles related to writers, writing & publishing

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2023: Articles related to writers, writing & publishing

tammikuu 15, 10:51 am

There's a new edition of Franz Kafka's diaries with the naughty bits included:


helmikuu 21, 7:30 pm

helmikuu 21, 9:24 pm

>4 CliffBurns: Interesting. Looking forward to reading this. Thank you.

maaliskuu 22, 6:16 pm

To this I say NO.

though it's possible it could be better than 'fan fiction'.

maaliskuu 22, 6:51 pm

First Roald Dahl, now Ursula.

Can we get real, people?

Leave the language police to the fucking Stalinists and park your delicate sensibilities somewhere up your rectum.


maaliskuu 22, 7:56 pm

>8 CliffBurns: Don't forget that in the case of Roald Dahl, the rights were sold (by the Dahl estate) to Netflix. The original rewriting was most probably more all about the money - Netflix would want tie-in editions that they could sell in the US to a market that has never heard of Roald Dahl, and thinks Harry Potter promotes Satanism, Moby Dick is porn and the Black Dyke Band is made up of Afro-Caribbean lesbians.

maaliskuu 22, 8:24 pm

>7 jldarden: It would be hard to sink lower than fan fiction. Even shape-shifter erotica is a step up.

maaliskuu 22, 8:28 pm

>9 RobertDay: We live in strange, strange times, Robert.

Freedom of expression has become provisional, rather than universal, and real, meaningful discourse is an otherwise innocuous, sedate meadow, strewn with anti-personnel mines, a rain of indiscriminate shrapnel.

maaliskuu 22, 8:32 pm

An absolutely bang-on scene from "Tar"--virtue signaling Bach:


maaliskuu 24, 6:04 am

Saw this described as a "hit piece", it's not, it's an entertaining and informative piece on an author I have zero intention of ever reading because I think their books are shit: https://www.wired.com/story/brandon-sanderson-is-your-god/

maaliskuu 24, 9:14 am

Brandon Sanderson has now had to write on reddit telling his fans to leave the journalist alone.

maaliskuu 24, 10:26 am

I thought it's utter tosh, but unlike Sanderson's books, pretentious. For starters, who expects bestsellers to be a gift to prose writing? It sounds like he's never picked up a bestseller in his life. The article is so verbose without really saying anything that couldn't be expressed in one tenth of the words, if not less, that I just couldn't make myself read to the end and gave up 3/4 through, after skimming for a while. I'm guessing they are paid by the word and it was padded and padded and padded with boring tidbits about this and that. I wouldn't recommend this 'review' to anyone, whether Sanderson fans or otherwise. It's almost the length of a Sanderson book, so one might just as well pick one and decide for him/herself.

maaliskuu 24, 10:42 am

>13 iansales: My ideal Reader has a brain and critical faculties.

Don't care about money, don't care about fame, bury me in a shallow grave and leave me for coyotes but never, EVER let me end up like this revolting cocksucker.

Better literary obsolescence than that.

maaliskuu 24, 12:52 pm

>15 SandraArdnas: I detect a Sanderson fan. Sanderson is a shit writer, but that doesn't matter, because the sort of books he writes don't have to be well-written. The same is true of Dan Brown. All the article does is point that out. Personally, I prefer books that display some writing chops - hence the name of this group, Literary Snobs.

maaliskuu 24, 3:41 pm

>17 iansales: I detect that you didn't really read my comment, which was about the article itself, which you proclaimed and entertaining and interesting read, but which is anything but. It's a shit article not because of what it says about Sanderson, but because it says a bunch of platitudes on pages and pages. Surely literary snobbery includes reviews and you don't recommend such crap. Thanks for wasting my time with it. I'll know better next time.

maaliskuu 25, 7:00 am

>18 SandraArdnas: you admit yourself you didn't read the article; "couldn't make myself read to the end and gave up 3/4 through, after skimming for a while".

maaliskuu 25, 8:30 am

>19 iansales: The article is crap. I read enough of it. On top of that it's bloody pretentious, which is a cardinal sin when you really have nothing to say. If I read one more tidbit about his steps to produce the said masterpiece, I'd jump out the window, so I quit and good riddance. I am interested though about a single point you found interesting and entertaining. I personally wouldn't let it be published in school paper.

maaliskuu 25, 12:56 pm

>20 SandraArdnas: You call the article a "review", so you've clearly misunderstood it. But if you feel such a burning need to leap to Sanderson's defence when no wrong has actually been done to him, then perhaps this is not the group for you.

The fact Sanderson had to post on reddit asking his fans not to lay into the writer of the Wired piece says more about Sanderson's fans than it does about the article or Sanderson.

maaliskuu 25, 1:23 pm

The bullying, hyperbolic reactions of genre fans whenever someone questions the aesthetics of their little universe is a fearsome thing to behold.

I personally have experienced it on numerous occasions and it ain't pleasant.

There are those who merely like to "put their brain on hold" or read for escapism--but these people are not serious Readers, they're adult children who, rather than dealing with the pressing issues of the day, the existential threats our species faces, prefer to live in a world of Tolkien knock-offs and derivative fan fiction.

Mental toddlers, an embarrassment to Literature.

maaliskuu 25, 3:38 pm

Superb article on Jane Bowles:


I'm much more familiar with her husband's life and work, so this piece was something of an epiphany for me.

maaliskuu 25, 4:32 pm

>21 iansales: I'm still waiting for the interesting and entertaining bit from that novella of an article.

>22 CliffBurns: The bullying, hyperbolic reactions of genre fans whenever someone questions the aesthetics of their little universe is a fearsome thing to behold.

This isn't limited just to books, there are fans of movies, video games and probably a whole host of other things that remind one 'fan' originates from fanatic. Social media made it easy for them to vent. I find the entire phenomenon of organizing social media campaigns against those you disagree with on whatever topic scary and depressing. It's a modern equivalent of public lynching.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 26, 5:27 am

>24 SandraArdnas: You do realise you're on the side of the bullies, right? You're standing with the people attacking the journalist because he didn't write a hagiography of Sanderson.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 26, 10:22 am

>25 iansales: Since when is it an either/or situation. Just because the article is crap doesn't mean its author should be bullied. Besides, it's not crap because it isn't praising Sanderson, but because it fails miserably in its own domain. If I were to comment on his twitter, I'd outline everything wrong with it. That's what civilized people do.

maaliskuu 27, 3:35 am

>26 SandraArdnas: Actually, it's not. Civilised people do not tell writers why they didn't write the article or story the commenter thinks they should have written or why it is "wrong".

I now consider this subject closed. Further comments on it will be deleted.

maaliskuu 27, 12:03 pm

Group admin has removed this message.

maaliskuu 30, 1:34 am

>29 jldarden: Any article that blames it on "wokeness" is just a shill for the right. Publishers are doing it because sales were declining and they hope to give the books a boost by removing any barriers that might have existed for modern readers. The indignation from the chattering classes has only given them free publicity - to the extent, I suspect they're now deliberately courting it.

maaliskuu 30, 11:37 am

I disagree, Ian.

I'm from the far Left and I think these revisions and corrections are yet another sign of these politically correct times and rather than retaining these older books in their original form and using their content and views as a teaching moment, we're pulling the old Stalinesque trick of erasing anyone who has fallen from favor and pretending they and their thoughts never existed.

I'm still awaiting the re-release of Conrad's THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN OF THE NARCISSUS and the utter gutting of HUCKLEBERRY FINN.

As I recently wrote (in another context): leave social engineering to the imaginations of science fiction writers.

We vilify the Right for wanting to take books off library shelves (or finding Michelangelo's "David" obscene), yet insist it's perfectly acceptable to alter an author's original work to make it more palatable to a small proportion of society. Both views are equally flawed and equally WRONG.

maaliskuu 30, 2:37 pm

>31 CliffBurns: Agreed. These books are a product of their times and the author and their worldview. Leave them and use them, as you suggest, to teach.

maaliskuu 30, 2:54 pm

While bowdlerising books is dismaying, to say the least, there is a long history of it in this country, and good literature survives and will continue to survive. The alterations and deletions are apparently corporate decisions, and we can't expect corporations to value creative integrity over marketability. I do think it's silly and even condescending to try and cleanse texts of potentially offensive terms since out of the many hundreds of religions in the world, a multitude of races, and many different gender preferences, someone is going to be offended by something, so whose tender feelings are they trying to protect?

maaliskuu 31, 11:08 am

>31 CliffBurns: No one is being erased. The books are being made less uncomfortable to those who might otherwise not want to read them. They're not historical books, they're not The Count of Monte Cristo, which needs a dozen footnotes per chapter to explain all the references. They were written within living memory, and society has since changed. It's better to be more inclusive, and better for the publisher's bank account if the books continue to attract an audience. Not everyone has either the desire or discrimination to pick out out-dated offensive attitudes and recognise them as historical artefacts. Not everyone wants to do that when reading for pleasure. Not everyone will pick up a book to read if they know they are going to encounter something that makes them uncomfortable or they will find offensive.

It is not popular fiction's job to teach people, its job is to entertain. Let it do it.

maaliskuu 31, 12:25 pm

With both the "woke" Left and the book-banning Right, we're talking about small sections of the population with a disproportionate amount of power and influence.

Time to gut that power and restore common sense to the world.

I'm a reader who deliberately seeks out work that is provocative, potentially offensive. I read people like Celine and Vladimir Sorokin and those Dead White Authors we're supposed to shun in favor of approved, vetted pabulum.

"Give it to me with the bark on," as FDR used to say.

But this is an old disagreement between us and neither of our positions will likely change, so I'll step back at this point and let others have a say.

maaliskuu 31, 3:00 pm

>35 CliffBurns: I agree a book-banning Right exists, but the "woke Left" is a construct of the right.

It's a little disingenuous to mention Céline. His politics were bound into his fiction. It's probably impossible to unravel the two. No one would expect a publisher to update Mein Kampf for a modern audience. But Dahl, Fleming and Christie are not Céline or Pound.

No one has updated Lovecraft and he was pathologically racist, and it not only informed his stories, it inspired some of them. But the racism is part of the Lovecraft package, and that's what makes its presence a learning opportunity. You can't say that for Christie.

When they changed the title of Ten Little Niggers in 1985 (!), the world did not end and literature did not go up in flames. Nor will it in 2023.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 3:07 pm

>35 CliffBurns: This is not a hill I'm prepared to die on, by the way. I consider it minor at best. I'm happy to discuss it but it's not something that gets me enraged. When the omnibus edition of The Alexandria Quartet was published, for example, Durrell made changes. Writers edit all the time.

maaliskuu 31, 4:31 pm

>37 iansales:, did he? That's the edition I read, now you make me wonder what was flipped.

It lends a different flavour when it's the author - the creator of the work - who does or condones the changing.

huhtikuu 1, 9:46 am

>38 Cecrow: Would be difficult for Fleming, Dahl or Christie to approve the recent changes being made to their books. But it's the authors' estates who are driving the changes.

huhtikuu 15, 8:16 pm

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 27, 3:38 pm

kesäkuu 4, 12:54 pm

Can you separate the artist from their art (love the song, not the singer):


kesäkuu 6, 5:16 am

No art is created in a vacuum, no art is consumed in a vacuum.

kesäkuu 6, 10:22 am

A little while back, I read (and reviewed) Alex Ross' book on Wagner, Wagnerism; and at the very end, he says this:

“When we look at Wagner, we are gazing into a magnifying mirror of the soul of the human species. What we hate in it, we hate in ourselves; what we love in it, we love in ourselves also.”

If art is to be honest, does it not have to show us both the dark and the light, and allow us the freedom to make the choice?

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 6, 10:51 am

Oh goodie, from pious outrage over commercial editing of garbage like Christie and Dahl, done for mercenary purposes for decades (with pertinent approval of the authors in their lifetimes) to lofty pearl-clutchings over capital-A Art.

>45 RobertDay:

If art is to be honest, does it not have to show us both the dark and the light, and allow us the freedom to make the choice?

The choice between what exactly? Are we to remain forever "questioning" about the worth of women, Jews, non-whites, gays, and all the other trifling masses of not-white-men derided in Art, or may we be allowed to move on from the deficiencies of the past centuries with a tacit acceptance that no human is less than another, whatever our objets d'art express to the contrary?

By all means, you (general you) decide whether you want to listen to Wagner or not. But you don't get to decide that his antisemitism had a point. You don't get to "open a debate" on this. You don't get to ask people this swine targeted to indulge him.

kesäkuu 6, 11:24 am

Everyone is free to decide for themselves whether they want to read a problematic writer, but NOT to determine whether the rest of us have the right to access that author's work.

L.F. Celine was a beast of a human being, but his writing has enriched my life and aesthetic.

Rather than altering an artist's work to remove the controversial aspects (or take out a reference to a "double chin"), how about just leave the work as it is and find someone more agreeable to your tastes and sensibilities?

kesäkuu 6, 11:35 am

>46 LolaWalser: If art does not show us both the dark and the light, if it only ever shows us what is good and true, then we run the risk of not recognising the dark when we encounter it. We run the risk of saying "I've not encountered that before, I must investigate it further." And before you know it, we have gone down the rabbit hole.

I would hope that the difference is clear. I would hope that there is no room to "open a debate". But people who call for that thing could accuse "the orthodoxy" of "hiding the truth", and they gain a toe-hold on acceptability when they can say that.

kesäkuu 6, 11:50 am

“All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.”

Norman Finkelstein

kesäkuu 7, 3:18 am

If your "entertainment" (to use Graham Greene's meaning), such as Christie or Dahl, is in any way impacted by the removal of offensive stereotypes, then it's not entertainment, is it. It's prejudice. And why would you want to propagate prejudice, other than to make life worse for those the prejudice is directed against?

On the other hand, if the author is a homophobe (Card) or a transphobe (Rowling) is still living and is using their platform to broadcast their hateful views, then I will not read their books and I will recommend others avoid them. Life is shit enough for marginalised groups without validating or encouraging these authors' attacks by buying or keeping their books in the public eye.

Ask yourself: by buying or supporting this book, will I hurt someone? If the answer is yes, then don't do it. And yes, keeping offensive stereotypes in circulation hurts people.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 7, 11:47 am

Isn't there an expression, never meet your heroes? I don't often poke into the lives of the authors I read, but if/when I do, or hear something I don't like, while it may slow down my interest in the rest of their work it doesn't usually alter my assessment of their work that I've already read. If I liked something in it before I found out something unfortunate about the person who created it, I'm not going to start feeling bad about that. I suppose it does also slow my readiness to recommend it to others, though.

Edit: another (similar) thing this brings to mind, the disappointment of music videos where the imagery is not at all a match for what the music had conjured in my mind and lowers its character. Or a film version of a favourite novel. Best to avoid all that for what's most magical to you.

kesäkuu 7, 12:35 pm

>48 RobertDay:

You're missing the point. First, there's something unbearably 19th-century-quaint about the notion that we rely on art to teach us the difference between "dark and light"--something that, as George Steiner (to name but one) observed patently isn't true and has been shown to be a lie conclusively at least since Auschwitz. See Dachau, see Buchenwald, a stone throw's away from Goethe's Weimar.

It's not about the art. It's about the teachers. It's about society's prejudices, which get reflected in art and in teachings and exegeses of any sort, and which inevitably, because time doesn't stand still, change and are surpassed.

And if this is true for any kind of art, it's most true for the written word and its contents. Yeah, the Iliad is great, but has anyone ever suggested that's as fine as it gets and let's stop right there?

TL;DR: new times, a changed society, ask for and inexorably bring new art.

kesäkuu 7, 12:41 pm

>50 iansales:

Yes. It boils down to a capacity for empathy. But hell, even if one is emotionally incapable of feeling for others, at least rationally it ought to be possible to observe that people different to ourselves exist.

There was an article the other day about a Black British teenager who said in class that the racism in Of mice and men made her uncomfortable. Now she's getting death threats.

kesäkuu 7, 1:44 pm

>52 LolaWalser:, "It's not about the art. It's about the teachers." Yes! This reminds me of a book (as most everything does), Rites of Spring, in which Modris Eksteins highlights, as one of our reviewers says, an "interesting and worrying connection between the avant-garde and reactionary nationalism" during the period between world wars. One example that shows art doesn't exist in a vacuum; it both reflects and influences its period. Artists offer up interpretations that can challenge our views and can wield influence, but they do not possess a special claim to objectivity. Even the well intentioned often end with producing what in hindsight is euphemistically called "artifacts of their time."

kesäkuu 7, 8:04 pm

>54 Cecrow:

That's a good book. Btw, I won't edit my post but writing "teachers" was sloppy, I meant generally any sort of interpretation and critique and explication etc.

Yes, the interplay between art and society doesn't lead in predictable directions, nor are our kneejerk expectations of "progress" unambiguous when it comes to art. People who innovate in one respect need not for that herald "new thought" when it comes to anything else.