Earlier this week we reported on Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and this week Jon Stewart’s Daily Show called on their “Senior Black Correspondent” Larry Wilmore to look at the issue.
Wilmore suggests that “Slave was just a job description. And it’s not even accurate – in the book Jim is no longer a slave, he ran away. Twain’s point is that he can’t run away from being a nigger.” He also suggests that pointing out the use of the “n-word” should be emphasised to get hip hop loving teens reading the book by “Lil' Twain” and “pimp the cover”.
The venerable literary journal the Paris Review has had something of a makeover and to celebrate they’ve put together a video preview of their latest edition that puts the hype in hyperactive. Galleycat speculates that the over the top voiceover from “an announcer that should be narrating monster truck shows”.
We’re also enjoying the South Park-inspired animation of Jonathan Franzen repeating the word “pleasure” and the way the editorial philosophy that “it’s dessert or it’s nothing”.
Douglas Adams' fame continues beyond the grave with an adaptation of his curious crime book, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by the BBC. There’s no news of whether the ABC will pick up the series, but given Gently’s “unswerving belief in the interconnectedness of all things” it can only be a matter of time.
In a parallel universe crossword puzzles are made by a specialised team of artisans known as the “box team” including Garson Hampfield, crossword inker. Hampfield tells the intricacies and travails of crossword making in this animation by Michael A Charles. There’s landmark moments in the evolution of crossword setting, the rise of mechanised crossword grids as well as our favourite quote: “A lot of the young guys coming up today have never even heard the name Chad Bumfry.”
At a time when high school graduates are considering their career options and university preferences, here’s a video featuring an animated bear who wants to be a writer because he’s “seen all the Harry Potter films”.
When his friend tells him to read a how-to-write book, he replies “That sounds so boring” and asks if they’ll be able to direct the movie version of their novel. When asked about punctuation, grammar or plot, he replies “I’m a storyteller it will all work out.” It’s where blind optimism meets armed realism.
Viewers of the Daily Show may know John Oliver as a political correspondent, but he’s also well read enough to host this Literary Rodeo specialising in books of the apocalypse.
He sneers at Cormac McCarthy’s The Road for its lack of recipes and sneers at the Book of Revelations as “anything but”. And if that’s not to your taste Oliver reveals his secret plan: “When the end of times comes, I intend to eat you first.”
With Shane Howard joining us tonight for Reading on Vocation: Musicians, we thought it was the perfect excuse to visit the song he’s best known for with this brilliantly mimed version of “Solid Rock” on Countdown. A giveaway that it’s mimed is the fact there’s no didgeridoo player in the song’s opening.
As literary journals look for new funding models, Overland has put together this animation promoting their Subscribe-a-thon. They’ve even got a virtual George W Bush as an example of why we need good writing.
For a more serious take on how Australian lit journals are looking beyond traditional models, Overland editor Jeff Sparrow has written “The Golden Age of Publishing” over at New Matilda.
We’re familiar with Shaun Micallef the TV funnyman, but what about the novelist? Here he shares his writing process – “I wore a Stetson for most of the actual writing” – and suggests what will come after e-books. And he’s got some retrospective advice for Johannes Guttenberg: “Hurry up and try something more original than the bible for a first book – maybe a cookbook or a personal memoir.”
Cover versions are difficult for most musicians. Crowds love them, but can musicians always bring their own interpretation to standard? Ahead of tonight’s Musically Speaking, Rebecca Barnard shows how to make a song your own with this duet with Tim Rogers on Rockwiz as they cover Tom Petty’s “Stop Draggin My Heart Around”.
Illustrator? Graphic novelist? Writer? Film maker? Shaun Tan evades an easy description with the creation of the short film for his book, The Lost Thing. This short trailer offers a taste of the film.
Over at Readings they’ve interviewed Tan in two of his roles. Cartoonist Oslo Davis interviews him about illustrator’s trade secrets while film reviewer, Gerard Elson chats with Tan about the release of his first DVD.
What does Julia Gillard think about Lady Gaga? As well as leadership, climate change and the rise of “rangas”, music was just one of the issues Clare Bowditch tackled when she sat down with the PM.
Author Kate Morton sought out an isolated house in Cornwall to write her novel, The Forgotten Garden which deals with a family mystery. She didn’t expect to find herself including her family’s own history as the plot crept closer to her own life.
In this Sony e-reader promo video, several luminaries of Australian publishing share their thoughts on why screens will replace books. Stay around right until the end to see why Tim Rosso needs one.
Lloyd Jones is best known for his powerful novel Mr Pip, but his latest book Hand Me Down World promises an even stronger emotional punch as it looks at one of the most pressing social issues of our time.
In this video he talks about how his new novel was inspired by an “extraordinary” newspaper article about a boat that capsized while carrying North African immigrants. By using a narrative style of passing the story between characters, Jones talks about how he creates a story where “everyone is living in the margins of everyone else”.
Hannie Rayson talks about her writing process as part of the “What I Wrote” series including talking about her screenplay Hotel Sorrento and reading from her play Two Brothers.
Let’s face it the Booker ceremony lacked a little pizazz. And when we think of literary prize pizazz we mean Casey Bennetto. Here’s another awesome song from the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for the journalism prize in which Casey pays tribute to the nominees particularly Annabel Crabb’s Quarterly Essay “Stop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull”.
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American humourist David Sedaris is known for his sharp witty carve-ups of modern life, so his illustrated Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Wicked Bestiary seems like a departure into a rhyming childrens books. But as he introduces the book here it sounds a little too adult, speculating on what the world would be like if “toads could cuss… and if chipmunks dated”.
And if you’re wondering how the new book reads, the animals conclude the piece with their own review of Sedaris' prose.
In an age where only 10% of kids walk to school by themselves, Lenore Skenazy reckons parents are getting more worried as the world is getting more litigious and the media hypes fear of abduction.
The solution? Free-range parenting, where kids develop responsibility and to learn entertain themselves. It doesn’t sound too radical, but Lenore Skenazy has been called “America’s worst mom” for letting her 9-year-old son go on the subway by himself. She argues that kids need to experience their own childhood’s without panic parenting.
Tim Flannery’s new book Here on Earth marks a radical change in his approach to the environment. He spoke with ABC Radio’s Fran Kelly about this new direction and why we need an argument for hope.
Anna Krien reckons newspapers are like a patient in palliative care – “stubborn and outraged that he’s dying, constantly on the buzzer, opining to the world about everything from the state of hospital food to where do his taxes go…adamant that the internet is to blame.”
Krien draws on her experience of running with the news pack to question the impartiality of our media machines and explains how the newspaper has doomed itself to extinction.
Jason Schwartzman previews the New Yorker app for the iPad in a video directed by Roman Coppola which includes piano melodies and Burt Reynolds-esque pants-less scene.
If there are issues with above video try the New Yorker site.
Nicholas Carr says that losing our ability to “deep read” will lead to us losing deep thinking. In discussion with Gideon Haigh he discusses how the eReader will create more distractions, why Google’s predictive text is making us stupid and what we’re losing in the age of high information.
Place is essential to the writing of Monica McInerney and in this video she tours us around Castlemaine “auditioning” locations for her novel At Home with the Templetons.
Is Melbourne a mecca to street violence? Are we seeing murder on the dancefloor? DJ and satirist Fiona Scott-Norman believes that the city’s late night thuggery is all about the soundtrack. If we want to stop late-night fights then we need to play music that won’t “ruin your life”.
She points to the use of Metallica and the music of Barney the dinosaur as torture techniques as indications that music has more power than we believe. She argues for disco not biffo.
With her first book Into the Woods, Anna Krien explores the battleground of Tasmania’s forests beyond the stereotypes of greenies vs loggers. She looks at the politics and economics of the forestry industry and asks why is Tasmania still a “poor state” after years of logging?
The final installment of the Critical Failure week, sees book critics speculate on what makes good criticism. Gideon Haigh talks about his “bilious fit” – the essay in which he asserts that criticism isn’t independent enough. Hilary McPhee says her favourite critics are often writers while Peter Craven talks about how book sales aren’t a measure of quality. And Rebecca Starford believes that one of the reasons book pages are flailing is because they don’t cover the sorts of books that people are reading today.
Our visual arts session of critical Failure brought together veteran arts critic Patrick McCaughey and young curator Phip Murray, saw Sydney Morning Herald arts critic John Mcdonald debate the importance of criticism with Naomi Cass, the director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography. For art makers and critics, it was a night of opinionated discussion.
Opening on the note that Stalin was a critic, the theatre session of Critical Failure was always going to be interesting. Stephen Sewell felt “like a pig being asked what kind of butcher he wants” while Alison Croggon talks about the return of the amateur critic.
Julian Meyrick speculates that aging makes being a critic difficult and Cameron Woodhead says that criticism “aspires to be just” but laments that internet criticism is stymied by trolls.
Our Critical Failure series kicked off with a look at film. Discussing online versus “established” critics, Adrian Martin argues for the authority of the critic and that film has never been taken seriously in high art criticism, while Mel Campbell says the internet has made Australian criticism more global.
Director Gillian Armstrong talks about why she never reads her own reviews and “those dreadful stars”. And just to keep it lively Adrian Martin talks about why he quit film reviewing. It’s a five star performance that’s crucial for anyone serious about film.
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