Friday High Five: Azaria Chamberlian, A Smokable Book and The Race Count

We take a look at five features from around the internet that caught our eye this week. Enjoy!

John Bryson on Azaria Chamberlain

This week, a Northern Territory coroner has found that a dingo was responsible for the death of Azaria Chamberlain in 1980, bringing to a close one of Australia’s most notorious mysteries. Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, who was jailed for the murder of her daughter Azaria (and whose marriage dissolved under the strain) has spoken to ABC Radio about the finding, and reflected on the past 30 odd years.

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Lindy and Azaria Chamberlain in 1980

John Bryson’s book on the case, Evil Angels, was an international bestseller and was adapted for a major film starring Meryl Streep and Sam O'Neill. It remains a classic of Australian reportage. He has a timely piece in the current Meanjin revisiting the subject, reflecting on the injustices done:

Judy West, reading at her tent, heard a dingo growl. So did her husband. Sally Lowe, talking with the Chamberlains, heard a baby cry and alerted the mother. Mrs Chamberlain headed for their tent. A dingo was bounding from the flap. The baby’s crib was empty.

50 Coolest Book Covers

Shortlist magazine has compiled a gallery of what they deem the 50 coolest book covers ever, from versions of 1984 and American Psycho to schlock classic Jaws and James Bond. ‘Some are iconic; some are clever; some are beautiful; some are scary and many have transcended their original home to become as famous as the book itself.’

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Cover of Ian Fleming’s Bond adventure You Only Live Twice

Publishing with Snoop Dogg: A Book for Smoking

Rapper Snoop Dogg is known to be fond of a smoke (of the green variety). So is it entirely surprising that he’s published a book with pages designed to be used as rolling papers? (Okay, yes it is.)

He explains how it works in this book trailer with a difference.

Whose sex scene is it anyway?

At the recent Hay Literary Festival, Martin Amis shared his view that women write better sex scenes than men – brave of him, as he’s written more than a few himself. He said:

I’d say the reason why women write better about sex – which is almost impossible to write about and no-one has done it very well, ever – is that as a novelist you are in a God-like relation to what you create. You are omnipotent and the question of potency is embarrassing for men. It is the great hidden weakness in men, that potency can fail, and it’s not something that troubles women.

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A young Martin Amis. He says women write better sex scenes than men, attributing this to men’s fear of impotence.

In the spirit of inquiry (and fun), the Guardian has come up with a quiz to test his theory, where you can guess whether ten extracts are written by a man or a woman. Is there a difference?

The Count: Race and Reviewing in The New York Times

Following the 2010 VIDA count of women reviewed (and reviewing) books in the literary pages of major US and UK publications, writer Roxane Gay wondered what a similar survey looking at representation and ethnicity would discover. It’s obvious that non-white writers are under-represented in the literary pages, but she wanted hard facts – so she hired an assistant to look at every book review published in the New York Times in 2011. The project took 16 hours a week for 14 weeks, as the ethnicity of each writer had to be actively researched.

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The results? Of 742 books reviewed, across all genres, 655 were written by Caucasian authors; 31 by Africans or African Americans; 9 by Hispanic authors; 33 by Asian, Asian-American or South Asian writers; 8 by Middle Eastern writers and 6 wereby writers whose racial background the researchers ‘were simply unable to identify’.

‘Nearly 90% of the books reviewed by The New York Times are written by white writers,’ concluded Gay. ‘That is not even remotely reflective of the racial makeup of this country, where 72% of the population, according to the 2010 census, is white.’



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