Tag: wasting time


Parents Vs. Fairytales

I just don’t know what to say anymore. I fear I’m sounding grouchier and grouchier these days.

Parents have stopped reading traditional fairytales to their children because they are too scary and not politically correct, according to research. Favourites such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Rapunzel are being dropped by some families who fear children are being emotionally damaged. A third of parents refused to read Little Red Riding Hood because she walks through woods alone and finds her grandmother eaten by a wolf.

Sounds like these parents are doing such a fine job of emotionally damaging their children in the first place that the fairytales are the worst of their future problems.


The Best Bit Of Casting Ever?

An oldie, I know, but was this the all-time best piece of casting for a film?


Kerouac Scroll

This weekend I’m hoping to visit Jack Kerouac’s scroll, from his Beat-slick generation-defining novel, On The Road.

He wrote it in just three weeks, furiously and loudly tap-tap-tapping away on his typewriter on 12ft long reels of paper so that he did not have to stop, just writing writing writing fuelled only, he said, by coffee…

It became one of the most important American novels of the last century and yesterday the original manuscript – a scroll taped together with eight reels of paper – of Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” was unfurled in the UK for the first time.

Interesting how the manuscript itself has now become an object of art—something that is never really thought about by many writers, I’d imagine.

Clearly something must be done.

I should warn any potential readers from the Pan Macmillan offices: should I get carried away (if you know me, you know how likely that is) there’s a strong chance I’ll be handing in my next manuscript on a scroll, in just such a state, into the offices in London.


My Mother Made A Snowman

Whilst I was busy pretending to be Bond, a snowman was created in Yorkshire by my mother. She’s quite little, so the snowman really isn’t that huge. Still, impressive, even without my annoying direction. Now snow where I am, unfortunately…


Kafka Font

Some geekery: a font is made from Kafka’s handwriting.

The manuscripts of author Franz Kafka had such a profound impact on Finnish graphic and type designer Julia Sysmäläinen that she decided to convert his handwriting with its unusually strong calligraphic characteristics into a digital script. The philologist took on the challenge to transform in Kafka’s rather eccentric letter forms into an balanced typographic flow.

Via Bookninja.

I challenge anyone to make a font from the illegible, child-like, doctor-shaming scribbles in my notebooks.


Stuff I’ve Read

If anyone particularly cares!

I took a break from the genre this last month. I’ll often dip into the mainstream lit fic territory to see what’s going on. So, on a recommendation, I read Ian McEwan’s novella On Chesil Beach on the plane in a neat, concise sitting, with some wine—a recommended combination. I put off reading this since it became one of those vaguely fashionable books to read last year (which, I know, is no reason not to read something). Very simply, it’s about a couple’s wedding night set, with perhaps much intent, in 1962. It’s a very intense and brief blast of a work, a sensitive investigation not so much of sexuality, although it certainly is; but more a book about moments. And what ifs. Surprisingly powerful—and exactly the right length. Good review here.

Ann Enright’s The Gathering was less impressive. Following the history of a Irish family after a death, it explores the tentative fabric of family life. This should have been a novella—and if the editor had gone to town on it, then it could have ended up being a very profound work. As a result, it was diluted with self-indulgent meanderings.

As a result of such word wastage, I’m about to open up Brian K Vaughan’s graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad, following a pride of escaped lions during the Iraq war. And then it’s fully back into the genre with The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

*Update* I’ve just finished Pride of Baghdad and it’s a superbly rendered piece. A wonderful allegory on freedom and the Iraq war, and perhaps done best using animals than humans. Good write up here:

What he wanted to do, Vaughan explains, was ‘to tell a story about the suffering of Iraqi civilians’. But telling a realistic story about the suffering of Iraqi civilians would not, of itself, hit home sufficiently hard: ‘It’s weird. You can threaten and kill a baby in a movie, but put a dog in jeopardy and people will walk out. You make a more immediate connection to a giraffe than a person. It sounds psychotic, that you can feel more for an animal than a human.’

Interesting stuff.



Meh makes the dictionary.

There is nothing meh about the journey of the latest entry in the Collins English Dictionary. Rather, it illustrates how e-mail and the internet are creating language.

“Meh” started out in the US and Canada as an interjection signifying mediocrity or indifference and has evolved, via the internet and an episode of The Simpsons, into a common adjective meaning boring, apathetic or unimpressive in British English.

The word was chosen over hundreds of others nominated by the public for inclusion in the 30th anniversary edition of the dictionary, to be published next year. Jargonaut, frenemy and huggles were among entries suggested to the Word of Mouth campaign, run in conjunction with Waterstone’s. The panel that made the final selection chose meh because of its frequent use today.



Literary Novel Rebranded

Take a look at Bookninja, if you don’t already. At the moment, they’re holding a contest to rebrand the covers of literary classics with images from popular genres. You know, in the name of dumbing down. Here, are some of the entries so far. Very, very amusing stuff. Particularly the very apt Sarah Palin image on A Confederacy of Dunces.