Sunday, March 20, 2011

Media Week (V4-N12): Hay Festival, Reviewers, Heart of Darkness, Alice in NYC,

Ahead of the Hay Festival in the UK, The Telegraph has travel tips. PND hasn't been to the festival but the town and area boast very pretty English country side. Worth a drive. (Telegraph)

So nobody was really surprised when, 24 years ago, a recent graduate called Peter Florence decided to put on a literature festival. The first Hay Festival sold tickets from a caravan under the clock tower for events that took place in the British Legion and the back rooms of various pubs. The public proved enthusiastic. The festival moved to the school, expanded into various tents, and (still under the directorship of Florence) migrated to purpose-built sites to the west of the town, expanding as it went.

Jimmy Carter appeared and so did Bill Clinton. Authors and their agents began to lobby passionately for slots. The Italian province of Lombardy, twinned, bizarrely, with Powys, asked for Florence's advice in setting up a festival in Italy. The idea caught fire. This year, and with the support of the Telegraph, there will be Hay Festivals not only in Wales but in countries including Mexico, Spain, India and Kenya.

The original festival has continued to grow and the organisers are confident that they will comfortably top the 200,000 tickets sold last year, with events featuring Nigella Lawson, V S Naipaul, Rowan Williams, West Wing actor Rob Lowe, Philip Pullman, Paul Merton and a host of other luminaries.

Hay Festival: writers' tips and recommendations Some of the key figures appearing in Hay this year, including the comedian Marcus Brigstocke, offer their tips for what to do and see in Hay-on-Wye (Telegraph)

Are women reviewers that scarce? The Independent looks into it:

A few weeks ago, Vida, an organisation for women in the literary arts, caused a stir when it surveyed a year's reviews coverage from major US publications (as well as the UK's London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement) and found that the reviewers and the authors reviewed were predominantly male. The LRB was a fairly typical case: in 2010, men wrote 78 per cent of the reviews and 74 per cent of the books reviewed. And a brief (and admittedly unscientific) survey of UK papers reveals a similar result.

Looking at the past week's books coverage in 10 major newspapers (excluding this one – for now), we can see that 71 books by men and 37 books by women were reviewed. Of the reviewers, 68 were men and 36 women. (One paper carried 17/20 reviews of male authors, and 18/20 male reviewers.)

You can do your own maths on the books pages here, but bear in mind that all of the reviews were commissioned before this article was (so we're not cheating), and that the results are skewed by the fact that this week's paperbacks reviewer is a woman. This week it's seven female authors/subjects to five men, and seven female reviewers to four. Last week, with a male paperbacks reviewer, and including the interview (of a woman, by a man), we could count authors at six men to seven women; reviewers at nine to four.

About the lasting power of Conrad's Heart of Darkness (Intelligent Life):

Published in 1902, “Heart of Darkness” had an immediate political impact—it was widely cited by the Congo Reform Movement—but it wasn’t an instant classic. Twenty years later, T.S. Eliot wanted to choose a quotation from it for “The Waste Land”, but his colleague Ezra Pound dissuaded him: “I doubt if Conrad is weighty enough to stand the citation.” Three years after that, Eliot chose another line from the novella as one of the epigraphs for “The Hollow Men”. (“Mistah Kurtz—he dead.”) “Heart of Darkness” had become part of the cultural landscape. In 1938 Orson Welles adapted it for a Mercury Theatre live radio production. He went on to write a screenplay in which he planned—with Wellesian gusto—to play both Marlow and Kurtz. He couldn’t get the movie made and was forced to move on to a project about a media mogul called Charles Foster Kane.

In the late 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola took “Heart of Darkness” and transplanted it to Vietnam as “Apocalypse Now”, with Martin Sheen as Captain Willard, the Marlow character, a special-operations officer, sent on a mission to “terminate…with extreme prejudice” the life of the deranged Captain Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando. In this version the Mekong River becomes the Congo. The irony was hard to miss: just as Britain, once colonised by the Romans (“1,900 years ago—the other day”, writes Conrad), had become an imperial power, so had the United States, once colonised by the British, now become one too. With the success of the movie, the novella’s place on the campus syllabus was assured. “Apocalypse Now” launched a thousand sophomore essays comparing and contrasting the book and the movie.

A visual dictionary (TheAtlantic)

Alice is alive and well and apparently visiting New York (The Atlantic):

Sin City Fables looks intriguing, I'll have to hunt out a copy. The reference materials we used for the project were photos of the city from around the 1920s and '30s. I now have a wall here plastered with old photographs of Manhattan. But we weren't religious about representing any particular era, and the New York that Alice explores in the book is more of a dreamy amalgam of a timeless New York.

The reason I picked New York is that (aside from my love of the city) I was looking out across the island from the Empire State Building observation deck last summer, and had a sudden epiphany that Manhattan could be retrofitted onto the original Lewis Carroll book with supernatural accuracy. The chessboard world in Through the Looking Glass found an exact equivalent in the grid-system of the New York City streets. The Red Queen became the Statue of Liberty with very few changes to her character, and locations like Central Park and the subway system matched other key scenes. It was almost like Lewis Carroll had planned it that way.
From the twitter (@personanondata):

CNN Sending 400 To Cover Royal Wedding, 50 To Japan

Valerie Plame Wilson to Write Series of Spy Novels -

Are mid-list authors an endangered species? -

David Carr Mocks Idea of 'Journalistic Independence' at Murdoch's News Corp.

Houghton Mifflin CEO O'Callaghan Steps Down -

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