Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Behaving Badly As A Career Strategy, Part 1
- Manuscript format is for people without genius. Allow yourself to express your creativity with interesting paper, inks, and unusual fonts. Strange packaging—say, the uncured hide of a unicorn—will also bring your manuscript the attention it deserves. Don’t worry about return addresses. If they really like it, they’ll find you.
- Feel free to submit to several different markets at the same time. Your genius doesn’t have time to wait like those other jerks.
- Or, since you’re so important, feel free to submit your original manuscript. The only copy. Backups are for the timid.
Thanks to The Bibliophile Stalker, from whose site I picked up this funny link.
Late October Book Sale
50% off all pre-owned books #18 and below, October 25-31, 2008 only. No minimum purchase required. Books For Less. Credit cards accepted. Not valid with other promos and discounts.
Harry Potter And Richard Dawkins
The prominent atheist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University to write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in "anti-scientific" fairytales.
Prof Hawkins said: "The book I write next year will be a children's book on how to think about the world, science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking.
"I haven't read Harry Potter, I have read Pullman who is the other leading children's author that one might mention and I love his books. I don't know what to think about magic and fairy tales."
Prof Dawkins said he wanted to look at the effects of "bringing children up to believe in spells and wizards".
"I think it is anti-scientific – whether that has a pernicious effect, I don't know," he told More4 News.
"I think looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's something for research."
But Prof Dawkins, the bestselling author of The God Delusion who this week agreed to fund a series of atheist adverts on London buses, added that his new book will also set out to demolish the "Judeo-Christian myth".Click here to read the whole article.
Thanks to Banzai Cat for the link.
Ben Fountain’s rise sounds like a familiar story: the young man from the provinces suddenly takes the literary world by storm. But Ben Fountain’s success was far from sudden. He quit his job at Akin, Gump in 1988. For every story he published in those early years, he had at least thirty rejections. The novel that he put away in a drawer took him four years. The dark period lasted for the entire second half of the nineteen-nineties. His breakthrough with “Brief Encounters” came in 2006, eighteen years after he first sat down to write at his kitchen table. The “young” writer from the provinces took the literary world by storm at the age of forty-eight.A few years ago, an economist at the University of Chicago named David Galenson decided to find out whether this assumption about creativity was true. He looked through forty-seven major poetry anthologies published since 1980 and counted the poems that appear most frequently. Some people, of course, would quarrel with the notion that literary merit can be quantified. But Galenson simply wanted to poll a broad cross-section of literary scholars about which poems they felt were the most important in the American canon. The top eleven are, in order, T. S. Eliot’s “Prufrock,” Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” William Carlos Williams’s “Red Wheelbarrow,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish,” Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro,” Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” and Williams’s “The Dance.” Those eleven were composed at the ages of twenty-three, forty-one, forty-eight, forty, twenty-nine, thirty, thirty, twenty-eight, thirty-eight, forty-two, and fifty-nine, respectively. There is no evidence, Galenson concluded, for the notion that lyric poetry is a young person’s game. Some poets do their best work at the beginning of their careers. Others do their best work decades later. Forty-two per cent of Frost’s anthologized poems were written after the age of fifty. For Williams, it’s forty-four per cent. For Stevens, it’s forty-nine per cent.
Click here for the whole article.
Thanks to Banzai Cat for sending this in.
The Future Of Written Science Fiction
That's a question asked of a number of editors and writers. Their answers can be found here, at SF Signal.
Thanks to Zen In Darkness for the link.
When the strange, arresting, thoroughly frightening novel called “Frankenstein” was published in London on New Year’s Day, 1818, there was no author named on the title page, and readers and reviewers, almost to a person, assumed the book had been written by a man. They were mistaken. The creator of “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” was Mary Shelley, who was the daughter of the radical political thinker William Godwin (to whom it was dedicated) and the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and the wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley — and who, when she finished the novel, a few months shy of her 20th birthday, became the mother of horror.
In that capacity she has had many more sons than daughters. Or so it seems, at least, for in the nearly two centuries that have passed since this teenage English girl delivered herself of the first great modern horror novel, men — as is their wont — have coolly taken possession of the genre, as if by natural right, some immutable literary principle of primogeniture. Until fairly recently, just about all the big names in horror, the writers whose stories dominate the anthologies and whose novels stay in print forever, have been of the masculine persuasion: Poe, Le Fanu, Stoker, Lovecraft, M. R. James, King, Straub. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s remarkable 1892 tale of madness, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” manages to creep into the odd collection, as does Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery,” which is so disturbing that it induced a significant number of New Yorker readers to cancel their subscriptions when it appeared in the magazine’s pages in 1948. But for the most part, a woman’s place in horror has been pretty well defined: she’s the victim, seen occasionally and heard only when she screams.It’s probably unwise to speculate on the deep reasons for this, to assert, say, that men have some greater temperamental affinity for the hideous doings horror thrives on, or that women are more likely to shrink from the contemplation of pure, rampaging evil. (It may be the case that men have historically been afflicted with a rather more urgent need to test themselves against such dangers, but let’s leave all that to the gender-studies departments, shall we?) What can be said with certainty, though, is that women writers, even the best of them, have rarely made a career of horror, as the male luminaries of the genre mostly have.
Click here to read the whole article.
Thanks to Zen In Darkness for the link.
Dreaming In English
In her introduction to Stories, Kerima Polotan said: “Life scars the writer but he is not without weapons of vengeance. The art [of writing] is a prism that he can use to refract human experience. That one can write about something gives him courage to endure it; that he has written about it gives him, if not deeper understanding, some kind of peace. In other words, the writer is first a human being before he is anything else, prone, like much of mankind, to fits of joy and pain. What happens to those around him – and yes, to him – is legitimate material, but only if he is able to illumine it with a special insight.”
I enrolled at the Ateneo for a Management degree, but my heart was not in it. Every day I went to the Rizal Library and sat near the books in PS 9991 – Philippine writing in English. I would get the books, read the names of the Ateneo writers who have borrowed them (Gilda Cordero Fernando, Rolando Tinio, Eman Lacaba, Freddie Salanga), and borrowed the books.
Click here to read the rest of the article.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Free And Legal E-Magazine
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
2008 Man Asian Literary Prize Shortlist
Kavery Nambisan, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, Miguel Syjuco, Yu Hua and Alfred A. Yuson are the five authors selected for the shortlist by the judging panel for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize, the first regional prize for a work unpublished in English. The winner of the prize will be announced on Thursday 13 November, 2008 at a ceremony in Hong Kong.
Click here for more details.
Sharing Obscure Literature
I still remember buying the Fulcrum Press edition of Basil Bunting's Collected Poems. It was a cold London spring day in Foyles on the Charing Cross Road, and the weather had driven me in to the poetry section to see what I might find. I knew of Bunting via Ezra Pound and had read a few poems in anthologies. I'd even read most of the Fulcrum edition of his long poem Briggflatts on visits to the old, now long gone Paperback Centre in Dublin's Suffolk Street, but it was too expensive for a secondary school student's budget. Anyway, that day in Foyles I had money in my pocket and there it was, this near-mythical book that I knew existed but had never seen. So I bought it.
Of course, the main reason for my purchase was that Bunting was a poet I really wanted to know more about, and he was to become important for me as an exemplar as I developed my own voice. However, it would be wrong of me not to confess that there was a certain added pleasure, an obscure pleasure if you like, to be had from owning a book that nobody else I knew had ever even seen, never mind read. This opened up a wonderful opportunity to become a Bunting bore. Over the years, I've taken every available opportunity to encourage anyone I thought might be vaguely interested to read him.
Sent in by Zen In Darkness.
Using Video Games As Bait To Hook Readers
When PJ Haarsma wrote his first book, a science fiction novel for preteenagers, he didn’t think just about how to describe Orbis, the planetary system where the story takes place. He also thought about how it should look and feel in a video game.
The online game that Mr. Haarsma designed not only extends the fictional world of the novel, it also allows readers to play in it. At the same time, Mr. Haarsma very calculatedly gave gamers who might not otherwise pick up a book a clear incentive to read: one way that players advance is by answering questions with information from the novel.
“You can’t just make a book anymore,” said Mr. Haarsma, a former advertising consultant. Pairing a video game with a novel for young readers, he added, “brings the book into their world, as opposed to going the other way around.”
Mr. Haarsma is not the only one using video games to spark an interest in books. Increasingly, authors, teachers, librarians and publishers are embracing this fast-paced, image-laden world in the hope that the games will draw children to reading.Spurred by arguments that video games also may teach a kind of digital literacy that is becoming as important as proficiency in print, libraries are hosting gaming tournaments, while schools are exploring how to incorporate video games in the classroom.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
How Do You... (Updated)
...explain to a hypothetical young person, who is still studying, that beyond the grades and the passing marks, beyond the practicality and international usage of it, which are the easiest to explain and get across, that there is importance and validity to English, the subject, as required by the course curriculum, and that it is worth the effort to put one's nose to the grindstone in reading and understanding fiction, or poetry, or essays, etc.? Note that said hypothetical young person is not a reader, has never developed a habit for reading, and does in fact, find reading as alien as a digital watch would be to a 19th century seafaring pirate, and is more immersed in other things that would interest one typical of that age, like mobile phones, video games, computers, movies, and pop music.
How do you do that? Or is it enough to stick to the practicalities of marks, scores, G.P.A.'s, and common usage?
To my two friends who have to deal with situations like this very often because of their professions, and whom I spoke with earlier this evening over the phone before I wrote this post, thank you for taking the time. I absolve you from answering this question. I'm glad that I amused you with it. :) But for those of you willing to share your opinions, I wouldn't mind hearing from you, but only if you can spare the time. Much thanks!
When Books Could Change Your Life
A girl I once caught reading Fahrenheit 451 over my shoulder on the subway confessed: "You know, I'm an English lit major, but I've never loved any books like the ones I loved when I was 12 years old." I fell slightly in love with her when she said that. It was so frank and uncool, and undeniably true.
Let's all admit it: We never got over those first loves. Listen to the difference in the voices of any groups of well-read, overeducated people discussing contemporary fiction, or the greatest books they've ever read, and the voices of those same people, only two drinks later, talking about the books they loved as kids. The Betsy Tacy Books! I loved those books! The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet! I can't believe you know that! The Little House on the Prairie books! Oh, my God--did you read The Long Winter? So good. Hey--does anyone else remember The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree?
It's not just that these books, unlike adult literature, have been left unsullied by professors turning them into objects of tedious study. We love these books, dearly and uncritically, the way we love the smell of our first girlfriend's perfume, no matter how cheap or tacky it might have been. Let's be honest: We all know that Ulysses and A la recherché du temps perdu are "better" books than The Velveteen Rabbit or The Little Prince, but come on--which would you take with you on a spaceship to salvage from the dying Earth?Let me put it another way: When was the last time a book changed your life? I don't mean offered you new insights or ideas or moved you--I mean profoundly changed the way you see the world or shaped the kind of person you are? If you're like me, it's been longer than you'd like to admit.
Interview About Fan Fiction
Here's something I'd like you to read. It's an interview done on Anime News Network by two staffers and a fanfiction writer. (Anime News Network is like CNN to the anime crowd, based in the US.) Despite being in the anime industry, the staffers are not into fanfiction, so their questions are similar to those outsiders would ask.
If you get past the talk about slash and yaoi (boys with boys, hehe), there are some very good explanations about what attracts people to reading and writing fan fiction, and why some actually do improve their writing by making it. There are references to anime titles, but knowing them is not strictly necessary to understand the interview.
Hyperbole alert: the next next big thing in publishing is on the horizon. While commuters get excited about the Sony Reader, there's a new buzzword to force down: the "digi novel". The brainchild of Mr CSI, Anthony Zuiker, the digi novel is a book (in the physical, 20th century sense) with accompanying online footage which continues the plot.
With the modesty of one of the most important men in the American media, Zuiker thinks the digi-novel "offers publishing a chance to catch up with the YouTube generation that has lost passion for reading". That chance comes at a price; Penguin imprint Dutton are paying Zuiker a seven-figure sum.
"I want to give traditional crime novel readers a more immersive experience," Zuiker explains of what's been labelled "storytelling 2.0". Not wanting to some like a vinyl bore, but isn't reading a fairly immersive experience as it is? Especially in a genre like crime which focuses on location, characters and keeps the reader guessing.
It turns out Zuiker is a bit tepid about reading. "I personally don't have the attention economy to read a 250-page crime novel from start to finish," Zuiker admits, suggesting he hasn't read any of the 20-odd CSI novels which come in at a deal-breaking 350 pages. Not surprisingly, Zuiker doesn't have the "attention economy" to write one either. He'll write an outline for the book and then a novelist will realise it.Thanks to Zen In Darkness for sending this in.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Talecraft Contest Reminder
Friday, October 17, 2008
It Has Come To This Part 2
It's too late for crime prompts (the deadline for the PGS Crime Issue has passed), but from this post and the one just previous (they both involve English classes) you can get a partial picture--a seedy one--of this world we live in.
From The Spy In The Sandwich: "Death Threats For Good Grades". It tells of the real-life situation of a teacher who isn't shy about not passing students who don't put in the work needed to get through a course, and who is in turn threatened with more than injury by the parents of these students if she continues to fail them. Talk about doing anything and everything for every tenth of a G.P.A. point.
It Has Come To This
"My story is based on fiction," said the student, William Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."
Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.
Click here to read the whole article.
I'm reminded of Cho Seung-Hui, the gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in mid-August last year. His English professor and classmates had a first-hand view of his writing, which warned of his anger at the world. Nothing was done, and tragedy followed.
And yet, how do you walk this line? How can you tell apart a writer who simply wants to tell a story, and a disturbed individual? If Stephen King had written "Rage" in a similar climate as today's, would he still be the author he is today, or would he have been turned in by his teachers and been black-marked for the rest of his life?
Mr. King did write about the Virginia Tech incident. An excerpt:
For most creative people, the imagination serves as an excretory channel for violence: We visualize what we will never actually do. Cho doesn't strike me as in the least creative, however. Dude was crazy. Dude was, in the memorable phrasing of Nikki Giovanni, ''just mean.'' Essentially there's no story here, except for a paranoid a--hole who went DEFCON-1. He may have been inspired by Columbine, but only because he was too dim to think up such a scenario on his own.
On the whole, I don't think you can pick these guys out based on their work, unless you look for violence unenlivened by any real talent.
As of now, Poole remains in custody, and a judge raised his bond from one to five thousand dollars after prosecutors requested it, citing the seriousness of the case.
Two From Bhex's Site
Creative Writing Courses, And How They Probably Won't Help You Write Better
The Five Stages Of Grief, As Applied To Bibliophiles
In The Guest-Editor's Words
I'm pretty proud of the story selection, which I hope will make readers redefine their notion of what horror is. I made it a point to read the submissions without knowing who wrote them (fortunately, I'm very forgetful) and I based everything on whether I felt it was for the publication or not.
We were very happy to have Nelz Yumul of WeWillDoodle do the cover, which is an unnerving combination of bright and scary. Like the stories inside, I hope that just the cover will make you rethink what horror is.
I would also like to thank Elbert Or and his superb art dictating -- I mean, directing. :)
Indeed. My grateful thanks also to Yvette for the editing, to the very-talented Nelz for the cover, and to Elbert for the art directing, the guidance, and the advice. The issue's coming very soon!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
PGS -- The Special Horror Issue
"Now, bend over!"
More hesitation from my cousin. A love tap to the back of his head keeled him forward.
I could swear that I saw it, though I didn't believe it. Mr. Olandria snuck the cracker up Mick's ass crack, and it disappeared completely. When I first thought about it, I thought the old man had palmed the saltine or crushed it, but he was wearing short sleeves and there were no crumbs. Whoosh! It went in just like that.
Even more unbelievably still, he took the apple and stuffed it in after the cracker. I could swear I heard the suction. And it all happened before Mick could object.
"Okay, you can pull up your pants now," Mr. Olandria said. "Come back again tomorrow. Same time. Rebisco King Flakes and an apple, don't forget."
And with that, he swept us out the door.
On the ride back, Mick was uncharacteristically silent. He said only one thing to me, and with all the utmost earnestness I had ever seen from him:
"Not a word, Jake. Not a word."
“Same Time Again Next Halloween” by Alex Paman
“But it really is Jack, ma’am,” I said. “He’s just here to visit.”
“Get out of here, both of you,” she screamed, flailing her arms to shut the door. “Don’t ever come back here ever again.” In a single click, she bolted her door and turned off her porch light.
We walked down the steps and merrily kept walking along.
“That didn’t go very well, did it?”
“Tech Support” by Sean Uy
"I want you to draw something on your screen," Jeanette said.
There was a long, uncomfortable pause on the other end of the line.
"Sir?" Jeanette asked.
After a long period of silence, the voice suddenly answered her. "What?"
"I want you to draw something on your screen," Jeanette said patiently.
There was another long period of silence before the caller spoke. "What are you talking about? What do you want me to draw?"
Jeanette took a deep breath. "A five-pointed star," she said. "One point up, two points down, and enclosed by a circle."
Five seconds later, the silence was almost unbearable.
"Sir?" Jeanette asked.
Slowly, the caller cleared his throat. "What’s your name?" he ventured.
"No," Jeanette said. "You don't have to know who I am. You don't have to know why I'm doing this. You just have to work fast. Whatever it is has had five weeks to get hold of your computer."
“The Haunted Man” by Raymond G. Falgui
And there was the time I found my favorite GRO locked in the bathroom, refusing to open the door and whispering incoherently about what, I suspect, of all things, was the electric fan. Like the others, she never went home with me again. She’d sit with me when I dropped by the club, but she always nervous around me – and afraid. I could sense that, just as I could sense that it wasn’t me she was afraid of. But she never answered any of my questions: three months later a spot opened up for a stint in Japan, and she was gone. I never saw her again.
It was at about this time that I got involved with Sarah.
“The Jar Collector” by Charles Tan
Not every secret is incriminating. Some sound trivial: I like daddy more than mommy, I spelled my co-worker’s official designation wrong, my boyfriend’s name sounds funny.
“I killed my brother.”
He doesn’t mention the details but my imagination fills in the rest. Before I could betray my panic, the man quickly leaves. I start wondering whether the man is having second thoughts at his confession. There’s a good chance he’ll hunt me down.
“The War Against The City” by Joseph Nacino
Ramon is running and an empty city is running after him in his dreams.
It’s always somewhere he knows, somewhere he’s been in the metropolis: the well-lit business district of Makati; the claustrophobic, grungy side-streets of Binondo; or the long, lonely stretch of Marcos highway. This time, he's running past the dark malls of Ortigas with the rain rendering everything bright under the auburn street lamps.
But Ramon knows he's dreaming because despite the strangeness of the hour (is it past midnight? 3 o’clock?), the streets echo lifelessly and he knows Manila never sleeps. He abruptly stops and turns around. He looks for the sound that had come from nowhere and everywhere. It seems like the sound had come from a human voice—though it lacks the sound of anything that resembles human.
It is the city’s voice and he knows the city is after him again, in revenge for the pain he has caused it.
2008 Man Booker Prize
The White Tiger follows Balram Halwai, the son of a rickshaw puller whose dream of escaping the poverty of his village takes him on a journey to the bright lights of Delhi and Bangalore, where he will do almost anything to get to the top.
"It was important for me to present someone from this colossal underclass, which is perhaps as big as 400 million, and to do so without sentimentality," Adiga told reporters after the awards ceremony.
"The book has done very well in India. It was a bestseller before this was announced. There's been a need for a book like this," he added.
Michael Portillo, chairman of the five-member judging panel, praised The White Tiger for tackling important social and political issues in modern-day India.
"What set this one apart was its originality," Portillo said. "For many of us this was entirely new territory -- the dark side of India.
"It's a book that gains from dealing with very important social issues -- the divisions between rich and poor and the impossibility of the poor escaping from their lot in India."Here's a review of the book from The Times Online.
Two related articles here and here.
Weird Tales #351
In addition, there's another Filipino in the same issue, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and her story is entitled "The Wordeaters".
Deadline Is Today
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Wrong Choice Of Words
Scene: I'm walking through the ground floor of a mall after a meeting, when a robust young man in his early 20's, wearing a muscle shirt, sweat pants, and sneakers, walks up to me and hands me a leaflet to a gym.
Young man: Ser! Mukhang puwedeng-puwede ka mag-member sa gym namin! May promo kami ngayon sa cardio weight-loss program! (translation: "Looks like you could use a membership at our gym, sir! We have a cardio weight-loss promo right now!")
Me: Partner, kaunting payo para sa iyo, sa tingin ko kailangan mong baguhin yung sales-pitch mo. (translation: "Kid, just a bit of advice, I think you'd better change your sales-pitch.")
@#$%^&!!! Grrrr..... >:(
More Free And Legal E-Books
Frankly, I can't remember if I linked to this already, or if I just saw it over at The Bibliophile Stalker's blog and forgot to link up. In any case, I figure whether I search or not, it wouldn't hurt to re-link, and I'm grateful to Zen In Darkness for bringing it to my attention again.
Monday, October 13, 2008
On Being Offensive Or Libelous In Fiction
Dino Manrique writes about, well, read this excerpt from his post for yourselves:
A member of my site FilipinoWriter.com recently deleted his story about a relationship between a priest and a woman because some of the site members found the story, which was set in University of Santo Tomas, 'offensive.' Most of the comments from the members and from the poster's friends were concerned with putting the name of the school in a bad light especially since it was used as a title. You can find the discussion here and my comment here. I want to know what you think. The thread touches on such literary issues as duties and definition of an artist and defamation in fiction.
Click here to read his whole entry. There are more links there. And think hard after reading.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Read Pinoy! Is This Year's Book Development Month Theme
Discover the country’s treasure trove of literary gems as the NBDB fills this November with a long-list of activities that will inspire Filipinos to read more Philippine-authored books in this year’s Read Pinoy!: The 12th Philippine Book Development Month celebration.The NBDB invites all publishers and authors to participate in different lectures and forums for stakeholders of the book publishing industry.
Click here for details.
"Filipinos Are Not Book Lovers"
It seems certain now that Filipinos will never become book readers. To paraphrase, George Bernard Shaw, Filipinos will go from being primitives to becoming exhausted as a civilization, without ever having been civilized enough to read books.
Why is this shameful fate of our lot as a nation? There are a few facile reasons that we could cite, we don;t mean sheer poverty either, for even among the richest Filipinos, they hardly read books.
The problem is Filipinos hate solitude. Count the number of Filipinos you know who enjoy being alone, and being in a book. For them, it’s absolutely terrifying.
Reading a book requires time and patience; endurance, if need be. It isn’t over in an hour or two like movies or television shows. And Filipinos with our ningas-cogon tendencies, like our entertainment fast and light, have suitably short attention span.
Furthermore, books deal with ideas, worked out mainly through characters and plots. There is always some horrid symbolism lurking somewhere, and the conflict of one system of thought against another. However for most of us, we prefer our conflicts played out among personalities rather than in ideas–it’s much easier that way and more exciting. Ideas can be so dull.
Another factor could be one reads a book in silence. Solitude na, ideas pa, and then silence? It is too much for average Filipino. It just goes against all cultural traits–the need to move in herds, in exuberance and gaiety, in love songs and dances. Rilke be hung, give Filipino `La Bamba` any day.
Click here to read the whole article.
Take The Literary Character Test
...Tom Sawyer - Good, Human, Side Thinker. Tom Sawyer is the youth in all of us; his biggest desire is to laugh and play all day, and pure adventure is his biggest vice. His cleverness can get him into plenty of mischief and trouble, but even those who must punish him, must admit that it is also what endears him so much to so many people. He is admired and enjoyed by all, and even when his sense of fun dictates he must take advantage of them, he has a sense of honor and nobility that cannot be denied, even if he tries to stifle it at times.
I wondered which characters were in the test's database, and before I clicked the button for the results I deduced that most of them would come from western classics. I wasn't sure if Paul Atreides, James Bond, or Hazel were in there, though I wouldn't have minded if my results came up Gollum or Ahab. Heck, I'd take Dracula or Frankenstein, even. Macbeth or Hamlet would've been all right (Romeo...not). Tom Sawyer was a surprise. Not being a literary character, I was 100% sure I wouldn't end up as Homer Simpson. Sad.
And what does "Side Thinker" mean? Translated into Filipino, it doesn't sound very good: "tagilid mag-isip"?!?!
Hmm...I think I'll just take it to mean "can think outside of the box".
I blogged about another test--What Book Are You?--one year ago. I ended up with "Ulysses" by James Joyce, which I can't finish or understand, so yeah, I just might be "tagilid mag-isip".
(Or maybe not, given I'm not alone in my difficulty with "Ulysses". Looking at it another way, if I did indeed finish and understand the book, I'd really be "tagilid mag-isip").
Take the test, then share which literary character you are by leaving a comment below!
My thanks to Wandering Star, from whom I got the quiz. She blogged about her results here (she's Sherlock Holmes, by the way).
Friday, October 10, 2008
The people behind it are language enthusiasts and word nuts who are literacy-conscious, and want youngsters to discover word-meanings in a different way than the standard. I like the fact that they're pushing literacy, and that they "believe that everyone has the right to the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills they need to fulfill their potential."
Users who have an account can rate and comment on the available words, and even upload their own videos.
As a sample, watch this video definition (with music!) of the word, "favourite."
Ten Highest Paid Authors
Czech Court To Rule On Fairy-Tale Kingdom
A court in the Czech city of Olomouc is to deliver its verdict in one of the oddest legal disputes in the country's history.
Comic actor Bolek Polivka is suing former business partner Tomas Harabis over the rights to the fictitious Wallachian Kingdom.
The court must decide whether Mr Polivka is the true "king" of the fairy-tale realm.
"Wallachia is a real place with real people and real history," says Tomas Harabis, creator and "foreign minister" of the Wallachian Kingdom.
"But a lot of the attributes of the Wallachian Kingdom are not real," he adds.Thanks to Zen In Darkness for the link.
2008 Nobel Prize For Literature
French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday for his poetic adventure and "sensual ecstasy."
Thecalled Le Clezio, 68, an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."
Le Clezio made his breakthrough as a novelist with "Desert," in 1980, a work the academy said "contains magnificent images of a lost culture in the North African desert contrasted with a depiction of Europe seen through the eyes of unwanted immigrants."Here's a related article: Charges Of Anti-American Bias.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Wanted: Writers And Illustrators
The University-School of Government in cooperation with the Asia Foundation is currently developing a comic book that will highlight the leadership and stories of Kaya Natin! Founding Members, Mayor Jesse Robredo (Naga City) and (Isabela), together with Gov. Eddie "Among Ed" Panlilio (Pampanga).
In Search Of Indian Science Fiction: A Conversation With Anil Menon
When I was a kid growing up in India, my first exposure to things science-fictional (sort of) was through a series of fat little books in Hindi that could fit comfortably in my hand. The stories were an indiscriminate mix of earth-bound fairy tales and cosmic voyages, and their flashy covers and melodramatic dialog immediately caught my imagination. I’d already heard the great epics from my mother and grandmother and these little books seemed to be in the same vein. By the time I was eleven, however, I’d discovered Asimov, Clarke and Bradbury, and there seemed to be no real SF written by Indians. In my teens I came across the occasional story published by cosmologist and SF writer Jayant Narlikar, but that was it.
Now, many years later, I know that science fiction in India has had quite a history. But in a country where there are eighteen distinct languages apart from English, and thousands of dialects, it is quite easy to be unaware of traditions in other tongues.
I only read in Hindi and English, so it is not surprising I missed, for instance, the rich tradition of SF in Bengali. Good translations from non-English Indian languages to English are a recent phenomenon, as is academic work — see for instance an essay on Bengali SF, the grandmother of Indian SF, referenced here. (I can’t seem to find the original essay on the web any more).Thus I’ve discovered that the first Indian SF story (as far as we know currently) was published in 1879, in Bengali.
Click here to read the entire entry.
All this talk online about Speculative Fiction has reminded me of the class I used to teach in UP Diliman: Creative Writing 111.
Blogs were a fairly widespread phenomenon by then, and one of the first things I asked my class (after "Am I in the right room?") was if they all had internet access. When they answered in the affirmative, I created a group blog instead of assigning the usual reading journals. This way everyone could read everyone else's reactions, and there would be more give-and-take, more discussion.
I was happy to learn that it's still up. (In fact, there was even a somewhat recent entry dated September 4, the first in four years -- possibly posted accidentally.)
Here's the first post, my intro to the class:
Hello, all. This is our CW 111 blog. I am your supposed teacher, Mr. Luis Katigbak.
According to the course description from the English Department, CW 111 teaches one how to write "experimental fiction," and involves forms such as magical realism, metafiction, and 'sudden' fiction. Rather than refer to the material as "experimental" -- which somehow conjures notions of unreadable prose, of soulless demonstrations of technique -- I will call it, simply, "stranger fiction," a term vague and evocative enough to encompass Auster and Atwood, Barth and Barthelme, Gamalinda and Garcia-Marquez, Murakami and McCormack.
Stranger than the mainstream, stranger than the CW 110 stuff, these are stories that contain entire worlds, that are told in mobius strips and phone conversations, stories where a businessman can befriend a giant talking frog. The idea is to explore the possibilities embodied in stranger fiction, to learn that no subject matter is too ambitious or unusual, that no technique is off-limits, as long as the writer knows what he or she is doing. It is also hoped that we will develop a sense of when certain techniques are appropriate or unnecessary, and that we learn that "stranger" doesn't mean "easier" -- that there are stories written this way because there was no other way to adequately tell them, and not because it's a hassle to write "realistic."
Click here to read his entire entry.
Click here to read a past link, which will then take you to other previous links (some of these older posts have an increased number of comments, by the way).
Discussion on Soledad's Sister
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Another Horror Writing Contest
Thanks to Village Idiot Savant for the link.
Horror Writing Contest
Monday, October 06, 2008
The Discussion Moves Along; Spec. Fic.: Literary Vs. Entertaining?
...the editorial "policy" (this is such a slippery word and is a combination of aesthetics, poetics and whathaveyous) of the antho Nikki and I edit is unabashedly literary - which is to say, we tend to publish more stories that she and I consider to have literary merit. This slant (which can, yes, be called a bias) is reflective of our own tastes as readers and writers (aside: and Nikki and I have our disagreements on stories, which makes story selection quite interesting). The stories Nikki and I like to read, and those we attempt to write (whether successfully or not - the thing is in the doing and trying again), reflect this.
What does this mean? Personally speaking, the very core of this is my admiration for a well-written story. On one hand, it needs to work simply as a story, on a story level, on a reader level. On the other hand, it needs to, on some other level/s, be more than just a story: I look for "literariness". My taste in stories is deeply influenced by the "what" and "how" elements in the narrative text - how these are handled by the author.
There are at least two levels in a narrative text: something that occurs is related or told in some way. In structuralist terminology the "what" of the narrative is called story, the "how"is called discourse . Story consists of events and existents. Discourse consists of the various elements of transmission. I look at these elements when I read, and along with the sensibilities I've gotten from reading other books and stories plus the deep influence of my writerly growing-up experiences plus my own ongoing shifts in taste plus other influences me whether I am aware of these or not (pop culture, music, art, life), and then come up with my opinion on whether or not a story worked - for me. So yes, I do have a preference, a leaning towards well-written stories, literary stories.
But this does not mean that I will squash a story that does not "live up" to what I think makes a good story.
Click here to read the whole link.
Click here and here to read past links.
Wanted: Horror Story and Dubber For Horror Stories
Glyph Studios is in need of horror stories for mobile content. Stories should be:
~Half a page to one page in length only
~Maximum of 2 characters only
The chosen stories will receive P700 per story and it will be read by dubbers and be available for mobile phone download in time for Halloween. Deadline is on Friday, October 10.
Audition for horror story dubbers will be on Thursday, October 9, 10am at Glyph Studios, Unit 1005, Orient Plaza, Emerald St., Ortigas, Pasig
For more questions contact Ann Shy at 0928-3283629.
On Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, and Genres
Previous links (which will in turn lead you to more links, and then more, like a tentacled Fibonacci diagram) are here.
Fear, Fire, Foes, Awake!
A bonfire, and a book-burning. Methinks this guy's got fire-issues, a closet pyro-whatchamacallit.
Are You Annoying Editors?
A brief word on the ongoing speculative fiction discussion: some of the posts' comments have lengthened, again. You may want to check out all previous links here. From those sites, you'll be led to new links too.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
What We Talk About When We Talk About "Literary"
Since the first volume of Dean Alfar’s "Philippine Speculative Anthology" came out in 2005, a lot of buzz has been generated about the emergence of "speculative fiction" as an alternative to the realist modes of fiction that dominate the literary output in our country. In fact, this has always been their rallying salvo: that we as Filipinos should be free from the "shackles of guilt" which writers and readers have found themselves in, brought about by the dominance of social realism.
The one thing that has made me uneasy, however, is the way the proponents have been polarizing themselves against the perceived establishment. Specifically, that the writer no longer has the responsibility to "literary" and that stories can simply be "entertaining." If you want to write for yourself and your peers, this is fine. But if you are demanding for legitimacy, one that attracts academic criticism and discourse, you have to offer something more than that.
Maybe it’s simply that people who supposedly operate under this umbrella have varying opinions about the purpose of speculative fiction as well to begin with. But that’s the danger of creating a "movement" I guess, the ones who are speaking up will automatically be considered an authority, while the ones who don’t speak up are relegated to the sidelines. Varied voices have banded together as an appeal for acknowledgment from the ivory tower–those in the academe, the editors, and the publishers–to seek out avenues for acceptance, publication, and merit.
So this is my question: why all the protestations against ‘literary writing?’ Isn’t that counter-productive to the cause?Head on over here to read the whole article.
Link taken from Bhex's Site (thank you, again!).
Marginal Notes On "Speculative Fiction"
a few ideas I was planning on going over
in the story reviews but I got too excited so here they are
with a clunky "prom night" metaphor at the end
where I use the word "dudes" for like the first time ever
Read the whole entry here.
Previous posts on this discussion: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Friday, October 03, 2008
More On The Local Spec Fic Discussion (Updated)
Update: Here's another post on the topic, from Mitch. Thanks to The Bibliophile Stalker for the link.
Bulawan Online 3rd Issue
From the inbox:
Lumabas na po ang ikatlong isyu ng Bulawan Online, tampok ang mga tula, maikling kuwento, pagsusuri, at panayam nina April Jade Imson, Joseph de Luna Saguid, Roberto T. Añonuevo, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., Michael M. Coroza, at Virgilio S. Almario.
Magpunta lamang po sa www.bulawanonline.com.
Mula sa mga editor:
ISYU BLG. 3, TOMO 1. Ipinagmamalaking ilathala ng Bulawan Online sa isyung ito ang katangi-tanging mga akdang pampanitikan sa mga buwan ng Oktubre-Nobyembre 2008.
Mga sipi mula sa mga akda:
Gunita bilang Liksiyon sa tula ni Joseph de Luna Saguid, pagbása ni Roberto T. Añonuevo sa tula ni Joseph de Luna Saguid:
"[I]pinahihiwatig lamang ng tulang "Tanawin" ang isang tagpong kapupulutan ng karanasan—mabuti man o masama—at ang karanasang ito ay malimit kadikit ng gunita. Ang gunitang ipinapataw ng nakaraan ang dapat sinusuri nang maigi, dahil gaya ng nabanggit kangina, ang nakaraan ay hindi estatiko bagkus patuloy na umaandar na parang pelikula at walang makatitiyak ng wakas."
Si Karding sa Gimokudan: Pagkain o Buhay?, pagbása ni Romulo P. Baquiran, Jr. sa kuwentong pambata ni April Jade Imson:
"Palagiang impetus sa kuwentong pambata ang halagahang itinuturing na birtud para sa mga kabataang mambabasa nito. Hindi nagkukulang ang "Si Karding at Ang Buwaya" sa bagay na ito. Pangunahing halagahan sa kuwento ang pangangalaga sa biyaya ng kalikasan para sa kabataan. Hindi maiiwasan ang pagkadidaktiko sa paghahayag ng mga isyung moralistiko sa mga kuwentong may seryosong aralin. Pero inilangkap ito ni Imson sa sitwasyon at komunidad ni Karding at hinayaang ang konteksto ang magtulak sa desisyong gagawin ng bida sa harap ng mabigat na isyu."
Teksbuking: Isang Mapanuri, Mapaghamon, at Napapanahong Bagong Textbuk Kuno ng Noli at Fili, pagsusuri ni Michael M. Coroza:
"Ang maraming textbuk ngayon na lathala ng malalaking pabliser ay kaduda-dudang mga salin. Una, hindi matiyak kung marunong ngang magbasa ng Kastila ang mga gumawa o ang isinalin lamang nila ay ang mga salin sa Ingles nina Charles Derbyshire, Leon Ma. Guerrero, o Trinidad Locsin. Puwede pa ngang hinalain na ang pagpapaikli lamang ng mga salin nina Mariano, Regalado, o maging ng kay de Guzman ang ginagawa ng mga kunwang awtor ng mga textbuk na ito. Halimbawa ng ganito ang tutunghayan nating aklat ng Noli at Fili na nalathala noon lamang 2006."
Isang Pagdulog sa Rebisyon ng Tula, panayam ni Roberto T. Añonuevo:
"Sa madali't salita, hindi simple ang magrebisa.
Sa sandaling ito, hayaan ninyo akong magbiggay ng ilang punto hinggil sa paraan ng "pagpapakinis" ng tula. Ang sumusunod ay hinango ko sa aking karanasan bilang makata, at siyang naobserbahan ko rin sa iba pang kaibigang makata habang bumubuo ng "mga pambihirang tula." Maihahakang hindi nito masasagot ang lahat ng pangangailangan sa pagrerebisa ng tula, ngunit maaari namang maging patnubay sa sinumang ibig sumulat ng tula."
Ibangon ang Dangal ng Lahi, panayam ni Virgilio S. Almario:
"Ang buong pagbabago sa katauhan ng Filipino ay nakatuon sa pagbabalik ng dangal—ng wastong paggalang sa sarili at mataas na pagkilala sa katutubong kakayahang mabuhay mag-isa at umunlad. Ngunit ang ang pananalig sa sariling dangal ay may kaakibat na diwa ng kagitingan. Hindi ito gawaing nag-iisa ng bawat indibidwal. Gawain itong dapat lahukan ng bawat mamamayan at magkakatulong. Gawain itong sinusukat, sa wakas, alinsunod sa idinudulot nitong benepisyo o paglilingkod sa kapakanan ng bayan at ng buong sambayanan."
Nilalamin din ng bagong isyu ang mga bahaging:
Phillip Y. Kimpo Jr.
Writer, Editor, Website Manager, Website Publisher
Staffer, BulawanOnline.com (Filipino literary journal)
Batch 2006, BS Computer Science, University of the Philippines at Diliman
http://corsarius.net | http://phillip.kimpo.ph | http://thecorsarius.multiply.com
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Memos by Erica Gonzales
From this post, PGS contributor Erica Gonzales ("Jumpercable: The Crossing" from the PGS Holiday Issue) submitted to Inscribed -- A Magazine For Writers. Her submission, "Memos", got accepted! She blogged about it here, and you can download the pdf file with her story here.
Congratulations, Erica! Way to go! Once more, I'm getting a real kick out of PGS contributors getting their work published elsewhere. This is terrific news!
Talking Spec Fic
I'm glad that a lot more people are talking about speculative fiction. Some reacted to one of my posts on the need for a critical framework for Philippine spec fic, others blogged after the LitCritters panel at UP, others react to the continuing publication of the anthology I co-edit, some take issue with the term "spec fic", some demand for the "movement" (note the quotation marks) to validate itself, some ask where the Filipino and regional language stories are (as I told Luna Sicat, and as I've written about before, I also want to see anthos dedicated to spec fic that is not English), some react to other bloggers, and so what we happily have at this point are conversations between authors, readers, editors, and critics (both from academe and from outside academe).
It is vital that we keep talking to each other, that we ask difficult questions, that we wrestle as we write and produce stories, that we publish and read, that we communicate. Of course we will never all agree on everything, but that is the way of things - we grow because of differences in points-of-view, in our poetics and approaches and philosophies, and yes, how we define things.
I look at all of these discussions and seething blog posts, even the dismissive and seemingly narrow-minded ones, as much-welcomed activity. I am but one voice in a plurality of writers and editors and publishers here, offering one perspective - we need more and more ways to look at things. I'm glad spec fic - the writing, the production, the definition, the approaches - is provocative.
It should be.
Prior to putting out the first annual Philippine Speculative Fiction antho, we barely spoke about these things. Now we're talking, and the arguments are fast and furious and heartfelt and intellectual and off-the-cuff and fresh - thanks to the power of the internet which allows all of us to speak our minds in any way we please in our blogs (as opposed to having to wait for a letter of comment or a critical essay to be published somewhere in print). My stand in all this is to encourage discussion (but also to reiterate my focus - that all this talk is well and good, but at some point we all need to stop talking and get to writing stories, which, in turn, will provide us more things to talk about later).
I love the fact that I am not alone in struggling with what spec fic is, and what makes filipino spec fic, and where it is going or what it needs to be, and what does it mean to be a Filipino writer of speculative fiction, and what does speculative fiction mean. I'm glad that people feel strongly enough to write and to question and to try to parse out answers and positions.
Read the full article here.
Click here for past links.