Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Makeovers

This week in Honours class (Writing the Child), the topic of Enid Blyton 'updating' came up. Oddly enough, today in The Guardian, there's an article about just this, specially, 'Enid Blyton's Famous Five Get 21st Century Makeover'. Alison Flood notes: "The intention, said Hodder, is to make the text "timeless" rather than 21st century, with no modern slang – or references to mobile phones – introduced."

Of course, replacement terms like "traveller" and "bookworm" are still very 21st century and the original terms of "tinker" and "awfully swotter" are half the fun of reading Blyton.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Libraries Are Cool

At least, it looks like libraries might be, to quote the article title, "the next big pop culture wave" (I followed the links via boing boing). Linda Holmes produces a great article, here, about how in a greener, more geek-friendly world, libraries are on the cusp of becoming really popular again. And, actually, I agree with her. There's a world of good to be said about libraries.

The Monash libraries, for example, now stock the deluxe editions of Hellboy and you can borrow all of Neil Gaiman's audio books, a host of Buffy and film DVDs. We do have a number of very friendly, rather brilliant librarians on the ground who are helping us stock up on our favourite authors and multimedia. If you have any suggestions for them, just let me know. And don't forget to go and check out the library catalogues - you'll be surprised what's lurking there between the more dry scholarly hardbacks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Slush Pile

I'm in a little bit of a post-conference-attendance stupor. "To Deprave and Corrupt" was an outstanding conference with kudos to Simone Murray and Patrick Spedding from Monash's Centre for the Book. It was one of those conferences which inspired you to arrive home at the end of a long day and yet still switch on the computer to do just a bit of research. I'm finding myself more and more intrigued by the idea of research into who really was reading fairy tales in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. So many assumptions about reading habits are proving false in light of new evidence as old records become more readily accessible with digitalisation.

But for today, I'll leave the blog with this site, Slush Pile Hell, "a grumpy literary agent wades through query fails." Learn from the mistakes of others.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Slow Reading

I've just been at the BSANZ Conference, "To Deprave and Corrupt: Hidden and Censored Books," today and have been inspired by some great papers, but also horrified by the email that has piled up while I'm listening to such great papers...

Which brings me to an article I was just reading about, indeed, slow reading (Patrick Kingsley in The Guardian). There is much debate about the impact of the internet on our capacity to concentrate as we read. I do think there have always been people with shorter attention spans and those who skim and scan. The technology has simply caught up with them. I'm not entirely convinced students are reading less than previously, particularly taking into account that more and more students are juggling study with longer hours of work and other activities. Yet, I do find the notion of slow reading appealing and important. Sometimes we do rush too much and we don't stop to really absorb and think about the text we're reading. As with all things, balance is required.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Melbourne Writers Festival

A couple of events, in particular, caught my eye. A keynote by Joss Whedon and a session with Shaun Tan complete with video link to Neil Gaiman.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hypothetical Books and Real Conferences

I've been enjoying this blog series of The Hypothetical Library. With Jennifer L. Knox, Charlie Orr has come up with a YA book, Perplexed by a Porpoise. I like Orr's remark about the hypothetical YA series: "In other words, like all good YA books, they would teach the kids of today the values and skills they will need to navigate the 21st century." Of course, I wouldn't limit that to YA books. Part of the problem of focusing on the pedagogical aspect of children's and YA literature is that we forget that ostensibly adult books likewise provide readers with the values and skills to navigate life in whichever century they happen to be. In fact, sometimes I think the pedagogical aspect of novels for adults is ever more important.

Incidentally, this week, the BSANZ conference, "To Deprave and Corrupt: Hidden and Censored Books," begins. There's a couple of great panels on Friday about children's and YA literature, one of which I'll be chairing.