Month: May 2012

works in translation, AmazonCrossing

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the first person on top of an internet trend or whatnot, but where have I been! Why did no one pull me out of my cave and show me AmazonCrossing. According to Publishers Weekly,

Amazon has established a second publishing imprint, launching, AmazonCrossing, which will do English-language translations of foreign-language books…Amazon said it will choose titles for AmazonCrossing the same way it does for AmazonEncore–using customer feedback and “other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving a wider, global audience.” In addition to selling the titles through its own channels, Amazon hopes to sell AmazonCrossing books in bookstores
AmazonCrossing has been around for two years and I’ve only now just stumbled across it. I like the concept. It is bringing international books to a broader American reading audience. It looks like the books are reasonably priced as both paperbacks and  $3.99-$7.99 ebooks. Just more of a distraction for me from work and writing. It looks like you can contact them directly to propose a submission, crossing-submissions@amazon.com.

[Dis]Regarding Slush, an update

My previous post dealt  with the phenomenon that is 50 Shades of Grey. Regardless of one’s opinion of the actual book(s), you can’t help but have a quick spine tingle when hearing about the book censorship that was going on down in Brevard County, Florida. The yokels down in their public library system thought it would be okay to pull these books off the shelves because their naive opinion was that these are clearly pornographic materials because they heard someone jokingly refer to the books as “mommy porn” and “soft porn.” Give me a break!

I haven’t read these books so I have no opinion on them but I do have the opinion that in this day and age it is obscene to censor books–at a public library, of all places. After all of her nonsense that was quoted in various news sources, Library Services Director Cathy Schweinsberg, had the unironic audacity to make this statement: “We have always stood against censorship. We have a long history of standing against censorship and that continues to be a priority for this library system.”

Well, I will stop picking on the numbnuts library  services director and just be happy that book censorship has been thwarted once again!

[Dis]Regarding Slush

My dear dear friends over at LiteraryMan.com seem to be in two separate camps over their opinions of the most recent literary success of 50 Shades of Grey. Thanks to a recent New York Times article and a friend of a friend explaining the concept and history of the book(s) to me, I have a general idea of what the hullabaloo is about. The Verbal Vixen wrote an interesting post concerning her take on the whole phenomena and she emailed me today saying that they were real page turners. At the end of her post, the Verbal Vixen included,

The Literary Man, of course, officially refuses to read such poorly written nonsense. However, we sheepishly have to admit that some of us on the literary team have crossed over to the dark side and bought the books. We had to see what all the fuss was about. Surprisingly, we read them with alarming speed. We were shocked by the lack of editing and poorly constructed sentences, and yet we couldn’t stop reading. In fact, we’re glad we read them.

The Literary Man can be a bit rigid about what should and should not be read, but I think he is being counterproductive to disregard books that can totally captivate an audience (especially, when it comes from a new and/or off-the-radar writer). A recent discussion with another writerly friend turned to the idea of “shouldn’t we be familiar with it if we are going to make fun of it?” I know that is a reductive way to state it but come on. I couldn’t really fully accept how atrocious in so many ways the Twilight books were until having a glance through them. I can fully disregard the Dragoon Tattoo Books because I read about 40 pages of the first a few years ago and was completely bored by it.

AND….not only has a supposedly poorly written, yet page turning guilty pleasure swept the reading public but it has sparked controversy! Like the hillbillies they are, the libraries in Brevard County, Florida have pulled all copies from their shelves. What?! Regardless of what one might think of these books, the real response should be SERIOUSLY?! More Censorship? What’s haaappppennning?????

“It’s quite simple – it doesn’t meet our selection criteria,” Cathy Schweinsberg, library services director, told Florida Today. “Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves. But we bought some copies before we realised what it was. We looked at it, because it’s been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn.”

Brevard does stock copies of the Kama Sutra, Fanny Hill, Fear of Flying, Tropic of Cancer and Lolita – “because those other books were written years ago and became classics because of the quality of the writing,” said Schweinsberg. James’s novel, which has sold more than three million copies in the US and racked up over 100,000 sales in its first week on sale in the UK, “is not a classic”, she explained. –The Guardian

Florida resident Linda Tyndall has created a petition trying to urge the library to reconsider. The petition explains, “Because banning books is wrong, no matter what the perceived content.” –mediabistro

Public and private libraries stock books that deal with all sorts of material. For example, incest, racism, abuse, etc. (umm, I think we’ve all heard of the Bible, Mein Kampf, anything by Faulkner etc. all of which are easily accessible; who cares about this one popular book?).

Good grief.

Circumference is back!

After a two year hiatus, the once-defunct journal is back in action. On Friday night, the editors of Circumference held a re-launch party in Brooklyn at A Public Space. Circumference is a bi-annual journal of poetry in translation. The fantastic readers that evening included Stefania Heim, Idra Novey, Matthew Rohrer, and Eliot Weinberger.

It was exciting to hear this lively group of translators/writers and it was also equally, if not exceedingly, exciting to see the enthusiasm of the new editorial team. The re-launch party was also held to celebrate their new website which offers great information about the journal and upcoming events, as well as articles, podcasts, etc. concerneing translation. The new Circumference is headed up by two of the founding editors of the literary press, Argos Books.

The quality of writing in Circumference is tip-top. An annual subscription in the US is $10 and an international subscription is $15. You can’t beat that.

Shakespearean Writers’ Block

Did you catch a glimpse of QEI above his desk??

East Harlem Cafe

Who do you see when you walk into a coffee shop? Writers, of course (or at least those who fancy themselves writers). I’ve recently become aware of a fantastic little cafe in East Harlem aka Spanish Harlem aka El Barrio. Because of the fantastic group, Harlem Writers’ Circle, and the equally fantastic literary journal, Crescendo City, the East Harlem Cafe has become the unofficial literary homebase for emerging talent that call Harlem and its surrounding areas home.

In a neighborhood that is plagued by social problems, the East Harlem Cafe is trying to reach a fundraising goal so that they are able to update their equipment and introduce healthier options (yogurt, fruit, etc.) to the neighborhood (Spanish Harlem is notorious for its lack of fresh food options). Also, the owner has been kind enough to host readings, etc. but must keep the cafe open later than intended. Without her hospitality, there would be no readings or open mics. Most people think of the writerly scene being down in the East Village or whatnot, but there is plenty of totally rad writing happening uptown. Last night, the cafe hosted a reading by some of the writers published in Crescendo City’s inaugural issue.

So, if you can support, please donate or if you’re in New York, stop by the cafe for a coffee or on a Monday evening for a Writers’ Circle workshop.

Distractions : Shakespearean Insult Generator

Thou dissembling urchin-snouted haggard!

Thou puking rump-fed canker-blossom!

Thou rank pottle-deep maggot-pie!

Shakespearean Insult Generator

Enjoy!