Sunday, November 29, 2009

Media Week 48: Robert Ludlum and Jason Bourne, OCLC, BBC

Robert Ludlum seems to be more popular in death rather than life - at least his character Jason Bourne however that's not entirely good according to David Samuels writing in The National (Abu Dhabi). It is a long article but worth it if a Ludlum fan; here is a sample (LINK)
The rise of the serial drama in the age of terror has given new cultural value to Ludlum’s greatest strength as a writer, his mastery of the 19th century theatrical apparatus. Where the postmodern novelists of the 1960s and 1970s enjoyed lampooning the shaggy dog mechanics of plot, Ludlum’s delight in orchestrating over-the-top scenarios is less an attempt to poke fun at the form of the novel than the overflow of an imagination that can’t stop making stuff up. Ludlum’s natural inclination as a writer is to keep adding more, and his books are stuffed with dramatic incident to a degree that would drive any professional screenwriter nuts. The only sensible way to turn Ludlum’s novels into movies is to do what the screenwriters and directors of the three Bourne movies did for Matt Damon – throw out the plots of the books while retaining the titles and the character of Jason Bourne.

What is more difficult to fathom about Van Lustbader’s updated version of Jason Bourne is his decision to do away with the character’s paranoia, a choice that seems about as clever as casting Marilyn Monroe in a movie about nuns. That paranoia is not only the hero’s sole distinguishing psychological trait, it is also the way that Ludlum links Bourne’s inner life with the outside world. By toggling back and forth between the seemingly deranged nature of his hero’s perceptions and a reality in which people are in fact trying to kill him, Ludlum was able to manufacture a degree of real tension despite the overt silliness of his plots. The decision to undo the paranoid web in which Ludlum’s hero was stuck only reveals that Van Lustbader lacks a convincing account of how and why his characters act the way that they do. Faced with these questions, which are just as significant for authors of airport thrillers as they are for the writers of literary novels and horror stories, Van Lustbader draws a blank.
Library in a Phone Box makes the BBC news.

The OCLC Library has begun a collection of studies on how libraries fit into people’s information-seeking behavior. Right now they are concentrating on published books, reports or dissertations, rather than articles, and are generally looking for items that cover more than a single library, though we’ve made some exceptions if the study is of significant interest. (LINK)

Borders bookshops in the UK go into administration (Link)

Google puts Iraq museum collection online (Link)

BBC Worldwide can keep Lonely Planet, says Trust. BUT DON'T DO IT AGAIN! (Link)

"Our commercial operations are not exempt from the BBC's public mission. They must keep the public purposes at their heart, engaging carefully with markets globally to help 'bring the UK to the world and the world to the UK', whilst protecting and promoting the BBC's brand and reputation.

"We're satisfied that these changes will provide much-needed clarity and a greater alignment with the BBC's public purposes, without stifling Worldwide's ability to perform as a thriving and profitable entity."

Commenting on the BBC Trust's report into the BBC's commercial activities, the shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: "This is a belated recognition of what everyone has been saying, namely that acquisitions like Lonely Planet are totally inappropriate. What is lacking, however, is any strategic vision as to what BBC Worldwide is actually there to do. Until this is resolved, putting new safeguards in place will have very limited impact."

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