I can’t see who the interviewer is but this today at VUP with Bill Manhire is very good. Quote unquote:
Some people think collaboration is tight cooperative teamwork. I’m happy if it’s less intense, even long-distance. One person does one thing, and the other adds to it and transforms it, and then there might be a bit of to and fro. With Ralph [Hotere], it was a friendship thing, a temperamental affinity – we both enjoyed sitting quietly in a room and occasionally grunting. Well, I did.
I might have posted this before but if so it bears repeating: a PDF of 10 Principles for Fair Contracts by the International Authors Forum. The AIF is a very good thing and so is this (I spent 25 or so years – unpaid, because that’s how we roll – advising NZ authors on contracts so this is one of the few subjects I know a bit about). I don’t agree with all of it – yes to defined time limits; lump-sum contracts which they don’t like work just fine for some authors e.g. me on occasion; but as principles these are solid. Any author presented with a contract that doesn’t meet them should challenge it.
Robert Gottlieb in the Paris Review on the art of editing. Quote unquote:
Editing requires you to be always open, always responding. It is very important, for example, not to allow yourself to want the writer to write a certain kind of book. Sometimes that’s hard. My favorite of Heller’s books is Something Happened. When we are working on a manuscript, Joe is always telling me (rightly) that I want him to write Something Happened again, and that he could only write it once. Inevitably you will like some of a writer’s books better than others. But when you’re working on a manuscript, that can’t matter. You have to be inside that book and do your best to make it as good as it can be. And if you can’t approach it in that spirit, you shouldn’t be working on it.
When Charlie Parker played for Igor Stravinsky. Quote unquote:
As Parker’s quintet walked onto the bandstand, trumpeter Red Rodney recognized Stravinsky, front and almost center. Rodney leaned over and told Parker, who did not look at Stravinsky. Parker immediately called the first number for his band, and, forgoing the customary greeting to the crowd, was off like a shot. At the sound of the opening notes, played in unison by trumpet and alto, a chill went up and down the back of my neck.
They were playing “KoKo,” which, because of its epochal breakneck tempo — over three hundred beats per minute on the metronome — Parker never assayed before his second set, when he was sufficiently warmed up. Parker’s phrases were flying as fluently as ever on this particular daunting “Koko.” At the beginning of his second chorus he interpolated the opening of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite as though it had always been there, a perfect fit, and then sailed on with the rest of the number. Stravinsky roared with delight, pounding his glass on the table, the upward arc of the glass sending its liquor and ice cubes onto the people behind him, who threw up their hands or ducked.
Fiona Pitt-Kethley, a poet and travel writer, on how even a successful writer can struggle to get an agent. Quote unquote:
Over the next few years, I asked a few well-known agents to represent me but they all said no. Many said, either truthfully or tactfully, that they were taking no new clients. The novelist Wendy Perriam suggested I ask some others who might at least take me out to lunch. I never got a lunch out of it. In one case I was asked to meet up in London and the agent failed to show. I wrote to him afterwards and he said there was a reason but never gave it. From then on, it was all downhill.
Francis Wheen on how Heywood Hill survives as an independent bookseller in London. Quote unquote:
Not long ago, hearing that the Duke of Devonshire was going to New York, [Heywood Hill chairman] Nicky Dunne asked him to act as transatlantic delivery boy for a paperback that had been ordered by Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue. The duke tells me proudly that he took the little parcel—tied with blue grosgrain ribbon, like every Heywood Hill package—all the way from Mayfair to Manhattan and “into her holy of holies in the office.”
Good as they are, you don’t get that level of service from Auckland’s Time Out or Wellington’s Unity Books.
The Guardian on how UK bookseller chain Waterstones bounced back – by running each store like an independent (for a certain value of “like”). More Paper Plus than Whitcoulls, I guess. Quote unquote:
One reason for the turnaround in the chain’s fortunes has been the stagnation of the ebook market. It stopped selling Kindle e-readers in 2015 in a move that was regarded as a watershed moment in the battle between physical and digital books. Sales of children’s books have played a big part in its resurgence, and data from market researchers Nielsen Bookscan revealed that, far from embracing the digital revolution, young readers were among the most resistant, with 75% of children favouring physical books and 35% refusing to read digital copies at all.
I came out of reviewing retirement to do CK Stead’s new short-story collection The Name on the Door is Mine, which gathers his greatest hits and adds a few new ones. For the review I re-read all the originals — I have a complete collection of the works of CK — and compared them line by line with the new versions. You won’t believe what happened next.The best joke in the review was edited out so I will post the full text later.
Via Mick Hartley’s excellent blog, Richard Morrison in The Times on La La Land:
What’s most disturbing. . . is how the critics have accepted, almost without a murmur, the underlying racism in the film. I mean casting a white actor, Gosling, as the pianist who — alone, it seems — can save jazz, the quintessential black art form, from disappearing or being diluted by populists. Yes, there are great black musicians in the movie, but in the crucial scene where Gosling introduces Stone to his favourite jazz club he obliterates their performance by blathering a monologue over the top of it. After all the criticism two years ago about the glaring absence of Oscar nominations for minority-ethnic actors, you might have thought that Hollywood would have learnt a few lessons about diversity.
Tom Cox offers a brief encyclopedia of his record collection. Quote unquote:
I am the opposite of fond of the term “guilty pleasure” but I often enjoy music wrongly bracketed within it. What people mean by the term “guilty pleasure” 99.5% of the time, when talking about music or anything else, is “something genuinely joyous that pretentious dickheads told me not to like”.
There have been many great GIFs on the Twitter following the Merkel-Trump meeting. This was my favourite for a while, Dr Merkel incredulous:
But this is my new favourite:
So here is Alison Krauss live in 2002 with Union Station (Jerry Douglas on dobro!) performing “New Favourite”: