The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Sun 28 May 2006

Literary news

The Eyre Affair. According to Bookworld, Charlotte Bronte offered to rewrite parts of her famous novel Jane Eyre after the headmaster of the school on which she based Lowood raised his eyebrows and muttered about knowing Messrs Sue, Grabbit, and Runne. It's possible, but unlikely, that there could be a revised and toned-down version somewhere.

The fall-out from the Opal Mehta sticky end continues, with the Boston Globe reporting that Alloy Publishing is a division of an advertising agency. It owns Sconex, which might look like a site to exchange recipies to make shaped rock cakes, but is actually a teen chat portal thingummy doo-hickey. The group's aim is to make commerical brands an integral part of life for young people consumers. It sounds like a nightmare, and it's a thoroughly unprofitable one - over its nine-year life, the company has never turned a profit, and currently has debts of around USD 300 million (€ 250 million).

Further evidence is coming out each day, and it's turning more and more into a character assassination, of someone who has been an utter hypocrite. The New Amsterdam Magazine reports:

Last summer, between her freshman and sophomore years at Harvard, she published a Times op-ed piece, Growing Up With a Dose of Magic, about coming of age in thrall to Harry Potter. She loved the stories’ "promise of hope, sustaining the fundamental childhood belief that in the end, good really does triumph over evil, and justice is meted out to those who deserve it." And yet in the same piece she confessed that as a middle-schooler she bought The Prisoner of Azkaban, read it in one night, and returned it the next day to the bookstore to get her money back.

Earlier this year, when an interviewer asked which authors most inspire her, she didn’t mention J K Rowling. Nor a well-known novelist in the teen-rom-comedy genre, Megan McCafferty. No, the novelists Kaavya now loved best were impressively literary - Amitav Ghosh, who also happens to be her creative-writing professor, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Turns out that we have here someone who bought somebody to write her college application, somebody else to write her book, and no doubt hoped to buy somebody to do her tax planning for all the riches.

We hear that HMV-Waterstones is to stop flogging books through Amazon, and start flogging them under their own banner. Good. We need a decent-sized mail-order competitor, and as good as Blackwell's is, they'll never quite match the ubiquity of HMV-Waterstones. Not that we're going to support their proposed land-grab for Ottakar's, but neither do they, it seems.

Claims that the book trade is failing minorities are wide of the mark. Two assumptions here. One: that "minorities" is exactly equal to persons who define themselves as something other than white. And two: that persons who define themselves as something other than white are only interested in the works of other PWDTASOTW. Neither claim stands up to more than a moment's scrutiny, and the Arts Council's posturing only attracts attention where none is deserved.

posted 28 May 2006, 17.11 +0100

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