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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Book News for Wednesday, November 29, 2006

  • The shortlist for the Costa Books Award (formerly the Whitbread) has been announced. The nominees are:

    Costa First Novel Award

    Costa Novel Award

    Costa Children's Book Award

    Costa Poetry Award

    Costa Biography Award

    The winners will be unveiled on January 10, 2007. Mark your calendars!

  • David Mitchell and Mark Haddon's Costa nominations are surely bittersweet, as their very same books are also nominated for the Literary Review Bad Sex award. Other nominees include Irvine Welsh (Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs), Thomas Pynchon (Against the Day), and Julia Glass (The Whole World Over).

    The Guardian writes of Mitchell's Black Swan Green:

    His description of an al fresco tryst witnessed by a 12-year-old boy, in which every stage of the sexual act is compared to something from an early 80s childhood, ("Debbie Crombie's got two Space Hoppers ... Now she made a noise like a tortured Moomintroll") was judged to fit the award's criteria of an "unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant sex scene in an otherwise sound literary novel".

    And here's an excerpt from A Spot of Bother:

    And it swept over her like surf sweeping over sand then falling back and sweeping up over the sand again and falling back. Images went off in her head like little fireworks. The smell of coconut. Brass firedogs.

    All of which should convince even the foolhardiest of authors to tread carefully around sex scenes. Hell, the historical sex scenes written for Monday's guest blog were better than any of the above.

  • Did anyone notice the National Book Awards were announced earlier this month? I sure did — but Marianne Wiggins, who was a judge, doesn't think enough other people noticed. And is she ever P-I-S-S-E-D about the whole thing!

    Imagine my surprise when I first moved to England and turned on the tube one evening to discover a live broadcast of the Man Booker Prize, Britain's leading book awards. There must have been people in pubs grabbing remotes. But this was the nation that televises darts and a weekly program called "One Man and His Dog," a show about Welsh border collies herding, well, sheep. After the hit movie "Babe," people in the United States started to understand this kind of herding. Far more than they understand the business of books.

    Stupid Americans! Don't you get it? Even if you think the list of virtual unknowns that comprised this year's National Book Award nominees was as underwhelming as Wiggins herself did, you are OBLIGATED to read them and love them and watch the boring telecast of the awards ceremony!

    Otherwise the rest of the world will be better than us at all the important things, like books and darts and sheep herding.

÷ ÷ ÷

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.

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