From London's Evening Standard last week a look at Hilary Mantel's writing after the stage productions of her Cromwell books:
The experience of seeing her characters brought to life in the RSC’s stage adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, about to transfer to the West End, has changed Hilary Mantel’s writing for ever, she tells Alison Roberts
The third part of the Cromwell opus, called The Mirror and the Light, is even now “unspooling” before her eyes and ears, though there’s still no date for its appearance — “I won’t commit to that because this is the big project of my career and it has to be right, not only for all those readers who are waiting for it, but for me too”.
“Things happen on stage or I might happen to have conversations with actors that spark something off that will change my thinking and change the third book.”
The Economist (Babbage) learns how easy it is to get a book printed. (I could have told them that).
Yet this Babbage has found that not to be the case, even though he has worked with e-books for decades across many formats. Your correspondent also has printer's ink in his veins: he trained as one of the last dedicated typesetters, worked in a printing plant in his 20s, and designed and produced dozens of books in the 1980s and 1990s. But even he was unprepared for how easy it has become to print a book and how difficult it remains to produce an electronic version suitable for a range of e-readers, including the Kindle.Underrated universal appeal of Science Fiction (Atlantic):
As the result of a Kickstarter campaign, Babbage hired designers he knew and a recommended printer, and contracted to have made 1,500 copies of a 216-page book with a clothbound hardcover and dust jacket. While the process took longer than he'd hoped and expected due to his own bandwidth limitations, once the digital files went into the printing firm's operations, there was little to do but wait as a series of specialists carried out successive tasks at the printing plant. The final result exceeded his expectations, and as the project's backers have received the tome, delighted e-mails and tweets abound.
And now, a qualitative distinction creeps in. The assumption is made that the stuff on the “general fiction” shelves is the serious stuff—after all, it includes the literary greats—while the stuff cordoned off in those corners is, by definition, light, inconsequential, or even trashy. In fact, generalizations are made about the whole of “genre fiction” as if it were all one thing. “Genre fiction,” says Wikipedia, “also known as popular fiction, is plot-driven fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.” (Notice how, in a single sentence, the word “genre” is used in both of the two different ways I’ve described.)
Don’t get me wrong: You can certainly find lightweight stuff on the science-fiction shelves, and if you think of yourself as someone who doesn’t like science fiction, you would have no difficulty at all putting your hands on books there that would confirm all your assumptions completely. But then again, the fact that you can find lightweight, formulaic stuff on the “Romantic Fiction” shelves doesn’t mean that you dismiss any novel that deals with romantic love. Anna Karenina? Sons and Lovers? The Great Gatsby? Just because it is possible to assign a book to a “genre” (in the neutral sense of the word), doesn’t mean that it is “genre fiction” (in the loaded sense).
There are some thriving New York bookstores. Go visit. (NY Mag)
Does Michael Wolff make stuff up? You be the judge (CJR)
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