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February 12, 2010

Respected Irish author wishes other Irish authors would grow some balls and be original

Bookninja -- Irish author takes swipes at… Irish authors Reading Julian Gough's rant I'm struck by how these same qualities infect American fiction as well. When I was in writing workshops at university, everyone wanted to write like Raymond Carver and all the professors wanted you to want to write like Carver, too.
I hardly read Irish writers any more, I’ve been disappointed so often. I mean, what the FECK are writers in their 20s and 30s doing, copying the very great John McGahern, his style, his subject matter, in the 21st century? To revive a useful old Celtic literary-critical expression: I puke my ring. And the older, more sophisticated Irish writers that want to be Nabokov give me the yellow squirts and a scaldy hole. If there is a movement in Ireland, it is backwards. Novel after novel set in the nineteen seventies, sixties, fifties. Reading award-winning Irish literary fiction, you wouldn’t know television had been invented. Indeed, they seem apologetic about acknowledging electricity (or “the new Mechanikal Galvinism” as they like to call it.) I do read the odd new, young writer, and it’s usually intensely disappointing. Mostly it’s grittily realistic, slightly depressing descriptions of events that aren’t very interesting. Though, to be fair, sometimes it’s sub-Joycean, slightly depressing descriptions of events that aren’t very interesting. I don’t get the impression many Irish writers have played Grand Theft Auto, or bought an X-Box, or watched Youporn. (And if there is good stuff coming up, for God’s sake someone, contact me, pass it on.) Really, Irish literary writers have become a priestly caste, scribbling by candlelight, cut off from the electric current of the culture. We’ve abolished the Catholic clergy, and replaced them with novelists. They wear black, they preach, they are concerned for our souls. Feck off.

February 09, 2010

Paul Feval's vampire trilogy, 30 years before Dracula

Tor.com / Science fiction and fantasy / Blog posts / Vampire City by Paul Feval
“There is a little-known place which is undoubtedly the strangest in the world. The people who inhabit the barbarous lands around Belgrade sometimes call it Selene, sometimes Vampire City, but the vampires refer to it among themselves by the names of the Sepulcher and the College.” Paul Feval’s Vampire City is one of those terrible books that unfolds like a train wreck, but you can’t put it down because it’s extremely entertaining and more than a little bit insane. When Feval pulls the lid off his id he concocts some of the most wild and vividly imagined pieces of “weird” pulp fiction you’re likely to encounter. . . . Written in 1867, three decades before Dracula, Vampire City is the second of Féval’s three vampire novels (Knightshade and The Vampire Countess being the other two). Féval’s vampires don’t resemble Stoker’s creation in more than slight details. According to Brian Stableford in the book’s afterword, both authors made use of the same 18th century text, Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Esprits, et sur les Vampires by the biblical scholar Dom Augustin Calmet (what, you don’t own a copy?), adding to this source elements from their own nightmares.

February 05, 2010

Ohio State considers an end to tenure

University president re-examines tenure - Education- msnbc.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The leader of the country's largest university thinks it's time to re-examine how professors are awarded tenure, a type of job-for-life protection virtually unknown outside academia. Ohio State University President Gordon Gee says the traditional formula that rewards publishing in scholarly journals over excellence in teaching and other contributions is outdated and too often favors the quantity of a professor's output over quality. "Someone should gain recognition at the university for writing the great American novel or for discovering the cure for cancer," he told The Associated Press. "In a very complex world, you can no longer expect everyone to be great at everything." . . . "There's a feeling, I think, that good teachers are a dime a dozen," said Higginbotham, 32. "I'm not sure what you'd have to do to distinguish yourself enough as a teacher to get tenure." Tenure, which makes firing and other discipline difficult if not impossible, can seem ridiculously generous to outsiders. But the job protection gives professors the freedom to express ideas and conduct studies without fear of reprisal.

January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger is Dead

J. D. Salinger, Enigmatic Author, Dies at 91 - Obituary...