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Book News for Wednesday, February 21, 2007

  • Well Endowed: Congratulations to Archipelago Books, Dalkey Archive Press, and Etruscan Press for receiving the International Literature Awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Each received $10,000 from the endowment to support the translation and publication of a work from Greece or Spain, the focus of the first awards, as well as matching awards from each country.

    I didn't even realize the N.E.A. had somehow survived the onslaught of Jesse Helms and the Republican-backed censorship drives of the '80s.

  • Bush and Dick or bush and dick: Jane Smiley writes about dirty deeds in the Los Angeles Times:

    A few weeks before Christmas, I was talking to my mother about my new book. I said, "I'll send you a copy, but I've got to tell you that there's a lot of sex in it."

    She was silent for a moment, then she said, "Did you do that for the money?"

    I was silent for a moment, and then I said, "Yes."

    But I didn't mean it. The truth is that I did it so I wouldn't have to write about the Bush administration for 450 pages.

    Fair enough — although I wonder which would have horrified her mother more.

    Later, Smiley asks herself:

    What was I doing? How did I come to write a book that set such a dubious standard? Well, I was just sitting in my office, drinking Diet Coke, cogitating, chortling, plotting and enjoying myself in private.

    Hmm. That sounds exactly like the behavior I imagine the Bush administration engages in within the sanctity of the White House. Especially the chortling. And the cogitating. Also, the plotting. Not so much the enjoying themselves in private — but definitely the chortling.

  • Baby Fish Mouth: This summer, when the kids want to go to Disneyland, patiently inform them that you've got something much, much better — a tour of H. P. Lovecraft's Providence! When they start the inevitable fits of hysterical shrieking and crying, point this out to them:

    John Hay Library at Brown University, 20 Prospect St. Contains Lovecraft archives and the world's largest collection of Lovecraft letters, books and errata. A plaque dedicated to Lovecraft is on the grounds.

    I promise you, the cheap thrills of the cyclopean Space Mountain will soon be forgotten in favor of the eldritch wonders of the Lovecraftian mythos.

    Conspicuously absent from the tour, however, is the seaside town of Innsmouth and the oddly fish-mouthed residents therein. Perhaps it isn't family friendly enough.

  • Best of the Weird: On an oddly related note, Michael Dirda writes in the Washington Post about Clark Ashton Smith, whom he calls

    one of the three great contributors to the magazine Weird Tales (along with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan) — and some would argue that he was the best of them all.

    Alas, Smith does not yet have a tour of his old stomping grounds. But someday, an entrepeneurial genius (i.e. billionaire nerd) will build Pulp Land, an eye-popping theme park based on the works of early 20th century pulp writers.

    Imagine Noir Town, based on the seedy, shadowy L.A. of Chandler and Hammett, with two-fisted mugs waiting to rough you up around every corner and comely femme fatales ready to serve lattes! Future Earth, which will just be whatever Disneyland's Tomorrowland was in the late '50s! And Rejectionville, where visitors can pay to have the lurid manuscripts they lovingly crafted in the attic of their elderly mother's boarding house rejected by publishers who turn out to be dark gods with tentacles from the blackest depths of the ocean! Sensational!

  • The Meme Generation: As it's a rather slow news day, I was right on the verge of contributing to Edward Champion's latest meme list. But, man... that's a long list. And copying it involves a lot of crossing out, bolding, un-crossing out, un-bolding, re-bolding, italicizing, crossing out the bolded italics, and otherwise dealing with more HTML tags than I can muster the energy to tackle on a mid-week morning.

    But if you're wrestling with copious amounts of free time and just dying to make your own list, go here and knock yourself out.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Ten Days in the Hills: A Novel Used Hardcover $10.95
  2. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian...
    Used Trade Paper $8.50

2 Responses to "Book News for Wednesday, February 21, 2007"

    Alexis February 21st, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    For using the word 'eldritch' correctly in a sentence, Brockman gets to stand at the front of the lunch line today.

    (Eldritch was a Vocabulary Intermission in the October 25, 2006 edition of the Kids' Books Newsletter. Glad to know you're taking notes, Brockman!)

    Brockman (Post Author) February 21st, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks, Alexis. I must confess that I was cribbing from H. P. — I will forever associate that word with his work, as "eldritch" appears at least once in every paragraph he's ever written.

    I like to think Lovecraft's ghost is hovering beside me at the front of the lunch line. I sure hope it's those mashed potatoes with the turkey shavings mixed right in — YUM!!

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