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Because Of Shakespeare And His Influence On Books

The stage is as bare as my lady’s ass in his lordship’s bedchamber.

Rough-hewn in the most knockabout way, leaving splinters in the palace lawns of the imagination. There’s many a dip ‘twixt the trap and the lip.

It fares little better than hastily strewn boards covering parched ground, and barely enough elevation to keep the understanding masses at bay.

Were one fool enough to come from out the wings, and at centre front begin a soliloquy about the beauty of the wretched arena on which he stands, to fight the resulting and justified spontaneous combustion, there would not be found one drop of piss from any a Thespian’s hose.

For who could allow this sacrilege to be spoken? Even the flag atop the pole knows that the magic is not yet arrived.

A stage without commercial trappings:

without solid doors and thick drapes,

uncluttered by pillars,

and arches,

tables and chairs,

windows and fireplaces;

sans orchestra, sans balcony, sans pit.

A stage revealing all its secrets.

Profound as emptiness.

A stage in wait.

For in this world writ small (as in the globe around)

the audience

has nothing to know/ nothing to learn,

until the actor makes an entrance and prepares

to fight through our eyes and ears

to battle with those thoughts and fears

that lurk in sheltered halls.

What’s Hecuba to him?

Why – nothing.

Merely a name on a page of script,

A cue at which to turn his profile thus.

 

It is what Hecuba becomes to we who wait,

That turns the key upon the heavy gate.

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Some Minutes In Kafka’s World

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A couple of days ago, I wrote about finding a particular (and peculiar) edition of Kafka’s book, The Metamorphosis, in a bookstore. I went back yesterday to have another look. This is what happened.

Having seen this plain cover, hardback “The Metamorphosis”, I wanted to take another look, and track down the publisher. There had been ten or so copies left, and I assumed there would be no trouble in doing this.

However, when I started to search on the SALE table where I had seen it, there were none present. Odd enough in itself, but now, on the same table, there were a dozen different copies of ‘“The Metamorphosis”, still hardback but with a dust jacket. There was an image of Kafka (or, at least, a form all in black) modeled on one of the extant photos of him. There was also text: “What on earth has happened to me?” Across the top was the word METAMORPHOSIS and across the bottom was FRANZ KAFKA. The colour of the dust jacket was a blue/green.

I might – on the very outside of possibilities – had thought that all the copies I had seen previously would have been gone … but, I never envisioned a new set of different copies of the book.

I queries a clerk (who had not been present the previous day) about those other copies of Kafka.  All he could say was that the displays in the store had been changed the day before.

Yes, I even did go to look on the shelves (in addition to the display tables), to see if the plain Metamorphoses might be there. It was not. Nor any other books by Kafka, neither.

So, I wandered in my own version of Kafkaland for a few minutes, before I departed. And – of course – I was left thinking: had the original, plain books have their own metamorphosis into the new.

(image)http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0380/6785/products/TOTE-1021_franz-kafka_Totes_1_760x1000.jpg?v=1540350870

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(Original cover of The Metamorphoses)

Well … perhaps not the book. Most of what Kafka wrote was not published in his lifetime. Of course, most of what Kafka wrote did not survive his lifetime. It is estimated that be burned 60%-75% of all that he actually wrote.

But, one of the books he did have published was The Metamorphosis. He took such an interest in it that he made special requests about the cover art. He wished that the vermin into which Gregor Samsa turned, not be depicted on the cover. He was adamant about it.  His wish has not been kept over the decades, but there isn’t much you can do once you are dead.

This came to mind when, yesterday, I passed a book store offering various discounts and bargains. Three books for $16 – that sort of thing. And, a vast array of books, from Tom Sawyer to contemporary thrillers to scientific non-fiction.

But, on a prominent corner shelf, was a stack of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Hardback. Published last year in Britain. Going for $15. A plain, brown cover with no book jacket. Author and Title. That was it.

And, the thing is, I was tempted to buy it.

I imagine I have read the story ten to a dozen times. Over the years I have had three or four copies.  I am slowly divesting myself of more and more possessions. Yet, I gave it a good look-over. Clean pages. Easy to read. No cramped text. No illustrations.

It would have made Kafka proud.

 

Kafka In His Writer’s Burrow For World Book Day

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A burrow offers security and comfort, and Kafka found both in his sister’s tiny house on the Golden Lane.

Ottla – his sister – had rented it so she could spend time with her lover and not be bothered by parents and comments. Her lover was a Christian and ready to go to war. Time was precious.

However, she rarely had opportunities other than the weekends, so she offered Franz the use of the tiny house for most of that time. And use it he did, though he never stayed the night.

Through fall, winter and spring Kafka wrote a whole book of short stories. For one single block of time, it was one of his most creative periods.

When I visited, even under Communist rule, it had been converted to a book store. Of course (which he would have appreciated) there were no books by Kafka for sale. Today he is displayed in the windows.

It was only when I went thorough the small rooms, and looked out the window into The Stag Moat, that I realized how important the house would become in my novel about Kafka. It was cozy – even with the space cramped by tourists. It had been little altered and I easily imagined Kafka looking through the same glass and walking through the same doorways. No doubt stooping because he was tall. Research met reality.

One of the last stories Kafka wrote, during his final year in Berlin, was called The Burrow. A version exists and is published, though a longer version is supposed to be among his ‘missing’ papers.

In it, a tiny animal keeps incessantly burrowing to keep away from an enemy. A vague noise convinces the animal to burrow deeper, and deeper, and deeper.

Something Kafka himself attempted to do.

(image)https://i.pinimg.com/736x/87/34/8a/87348a86cd918068ad4e09c1b813c3cf.jpg

Amazing Self-Help Reading Material Not Easily Found

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(image) http://www.artquest.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/pamphlets-shot_560_373_s_c1.jpg

 

Poetry From The Light Fixture is an illuminating book of verse from an electrifying author. The poet in question is a questioning poet, quarrying for answers in the rich loam of Earth’s mysteries. The instinct of a pollen-laden honeybee, coupled with the dynamic curiosity of a fluffy kitten, allow this poet to plumb the depths of inarticulate sensitivity, and give to us, grateful readers everywhere, proof positive that, yes, indeed, here is a mind that actually thinks.

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Security Through Fat
is yours for the asking. Never again allow people to to ridicule you because you’re a slob – you’re only a slob in their eyes. Security Through Fat will teach you that obesity is natural, layers of fat keep you happy and keep you pure. Fat means prosperity, means that you are successful in life. Eating keeps your mind off your problems. Fat people are jolly and fun to be with. Fat people are good for industry. Fat people keep our society going. Security Through Fat will open up a whole new world of pleasure and prestige for you.

And, while you’re at it, pick up Sex Really Is Dirty – free for a limited time.

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There Is No Death, you do not have to worry any longer. All these years – yes, even centuries – men have been afraid to die, and it has just been wasted time, because no one ever dies. Yes, There Is No Death, it has all been a gigantic hoax formed by various religions to make money. Death be not proud because death does not exist. You, too, can now do whatever you want: play with fire, race your car, make love to a rattlesnake – there is nothing to stop you because There Is No Death. Take that money you were saving for a casket, and join our club today.

There Is No Death delivered monthly – forever.

DE

What do agents really want? — Peggy Riley

I don’t know if this is the eternal question of authors (maybe that question is ‘what do editors want?’) but there  is a lot of worthwhile information here. And I’m guessing agents in America want what their British counterparts want. More or less.

DE

Last weekend’s first Kent Festival of Writing, organised with WhitLit, offered a full day of workshops about different aspects of writing, from Julie Cohen’s on plotting with Pixar and building a character from a coin toss, to mine on the perils of editing. (I’ll blog more about that soon.) The day culminated in a panel with […]

via What do agents really want? — Peggy Riley

The Books That Shakespeare Read (And Used)

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I have always found it odd  that so little is known about Shakespeare (and not just because I’m in an era where you can stick a couple of pieces of information about a person into a search engine and usually find out a lot more about them).
What did the Bard own – a shredder?
Anyway, although I usually find infographics too twee, and do not often look at them, I’m hypocrite enough to glom onto one which is of a topic that fascinates me. I find this information about Shakespeare’s reading habits (and about books themselves) well worth the perusal.
DE
“Sir, he hath not fed of the dainties that are bred in a book; He hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink; his intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in the duller parts… ”  Love’s Labour’s Lost Act IV, Scene II
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Who was on Shakespeare’s bookshelf? [infographic]

George Bernard Shaw once remarked on William Shakespeare’s “gift of telling a story (provided some one else told it to him first).” Shakespeare knew the works of many great writers, such as Raphael Holinshed, Ludovico Ariosto, and Geoffrey Chaucer. How did these men, and many others, influence Shakespeare and his work? The process of printing a book in the 16th century was demanding and expensive, and a printing house’s products were only available to a fraction of the English population. We explore the English Renaissance reading environment in the infographic below.

Download the infographic as a PDF or JPG.

– See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/10/shakespeare-reading-literacy-publishing-infographic/#sthash.L7LkU8xX.dpuf

The Gun Is Mightier Than The Book In Austin, Texas

“So, is that a gun in your holster? Ain’t ya glad to see me?”

“Lookin’ for a book!”

“What book?”

“Doesn’t matter – all I want to do is shoot it.”

“Shoot it?”

“And any bastard unAmerican enough to read it.”

“UnAmerican?”

“If he can read he ain’t a real American.”

“But you’re in a book store.”

“Yeh – well, we’ll soon be burning all those down.”

“You’re going to torch bookstores?”

“They’re full of Commie/leftwing/socialist/wetback/baby-killin’ Christ-killers. They get it from books.”

“Books?”

“And readin’.”

“Reading?”

“Jesus never read a book.”

{As if I could ever make this stuff up.}

DE

 

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Bookshop’s prices shot down 10% for customers openly carrying guns

Brave New Books in Austin is celebrating relaxation of Texas laws by offering a discount to shoppers who ‘open carry’

Is that a gun in your pocket? Austin bookshop will be pleased to see you ... a man at a rally in support of open carry gun laws in Austin, Texas.
Is that a gun in your pocket? Austin bookshop will be pleased to see you … a man at a rally in support of open carry gun laws in Austin, Texas. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

A bookshop in Texas is offering a 10% discount to customers who are legally “open carrying” a handgun while shopping for new reading material.

Brave New Books, which says it stocks a mix of “conspiracy, economic policy, history, and politics” books, as well as “selections about sustainability, survival [and] preparedness”, made the announcement in late January. It follows the loosening of gun restrictions in Texas at the start of the year, allowing the visible carrying of handguns.

“Brave New Books is the only open carry friendly bookstore in Austin TX and now we have a special promotion where we are offering 10% off all purchases when legally open carrying a handgun. Be sure to recognise the four firearms rules while at Brave,” wrote the store on Facebook.

Brave New Books, which describes itself as “anti-war, anti-state and pro-market”, also hosted an “open carry and firearms freedom symposium” last weekend to answer questions about the legislation. “We’ll here [sic] from owner of Central Texas Gun Works, Michael Cargill. We’ll take part in a firearms safety course from our good friend Stephen Sheftall. And we will hear from a panel of gun rights activists about the latest in the fight for firearms freedom in Texas,” the shop wrote. “And for a limited time only if you come in to Brave New Books safely open carrying a firearm, you can get 10% off anything in the store! That’s right. We want to celebrate your decision to take security in to your own hands by giving you 10% off any product in the store for safely open carrying your firearm.”

General manager John Bush told KVUE: “We appreciate it when people take security and defence into their own hands. In a world where mass shootings are happening more and more, when seconds count, it’s up to we the people to protect our community.”

Other bookshops in the city have taken a different approach, said KVUE: Half-Price Books and Book People have both said no to customers open carrying in their stores. But publisher Melville House, on its blog MobyLives, speculated that Brave New Books’s move looked less like a “political stand” than a “canny marketing stunt that preaches to the converted”.

(more) http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/05/bookshops-prices-down-10-for-open-carry-customers-brave-new-books-austin?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=6e94b9083b-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-6e94b9083b-304601505

 

 

 

 

The Time It Takes To Read A Book

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Image:http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20081029/Old-Books-Clock-947372.jpg

I am wary of gimmicks that the internet allows and – indeed – encourages. And maybe I am a bit wary of this one but, I gotta say, it interests me.And when I went to look, it offers more than just the come on.

“How Long To Read This .com” is just as advertised.Put in the title of a book, and you will be told how long it should take you to read it. There is even a timer you can set as you read a sample.  You are told how long it takes you to read the sample, and then extrapolates how long it will take you to read the book.

One of the nicer aspects of this site is, when you put in a book title, a number of different issues of the book appear. You can click on the image of the issue most appealing and get information about it.

Two of my favourite books (which I re-read) are Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain” and  James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

I’m told about Mann: “You read 95 words in 23 seconds and your average speed is 248 words per minute. It will take you 12 hours and 37 minutes to complete this book.

I’m told about Joyce: “You read 67 words in 20 seconds and your average speed is 201 words per minute. It will take you 15 hours and 13 minutes to complete this book.”

Kafka’s Metamorphosis, on the other hand: “You read 62 words in 19 seconds and your average speed is 196 words per minute. It will take you 0 hours and 57 minutes to complete this book.”

I know you are also shown where you can buy each book on Amazon, but, I can live with that.

DE

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About Us

 

How Long to Read is a book search engine that helps you find out how long it will take to read books and provide reading time data that is tailored to you. With our simple WPM (words per minute) test you can find out how long it will take you to read almost anything, and also use our search engine to find books that will fit the time you have to read. How Long to Read has been featured in Lifehacker.com, Yahoo! News, and other well known websites and blogs.


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Perhaps my creative stream is bubbling away

I did not plan a New Year resolution. What I had planned was to write something on my current novel the first day of the new year.

This is also not planned, but – so far – I have written every day of the year except two – one a travel day, and one a deliberate ‘take-a-day-off-day’. I am two or three chapters from the end of thisThriller. I have not written fiction so steadily for months. I hope it keeps on.

This is the part which I do nor know is related to my writing situation.

I have never dreamt about any of my writing – never. I know many artists dream about their work, get ideas about their work in dreams and such, but not me. So, I did not have a dream about my writing. However, I recently awoke from a dream where I was talking to my publisher. She said I should do another book of short stories about the Elephant. Is that close?

And, finally, the incident below. On Twitter, I came across an announcement of a restaurant/bakery in Calgary. The Corbeaux. This means The Ravens. They have a store sign which has noted similarities to one which I have described in a manuscript. And you can see their sign in this photo.

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And then you can read what appears in my unpublished second Satan novel, where ravens play an important part.

Perhaps my creative stream is bubbling away.

From Places Of Evil

Mr. S. does rehearse what he plans to say to Breeze, both while he waits for the taxi, and then in the twenty minute ride to her restaurant. He is surprised Dorkas and Caleb made as such little protest. He suspects they agree with his concerns about the twins, even if not enthusiastic with his solution.

Mr. S. has the taxi stop a couple of blocks from the restaurant. Breeze has installed a new sign, and she wants his opinion of how effective it will be attracting customers. Although he helped – at her insistence – to choose the design, he has yet to see the finished object.


He walks along the street, pretending to be someone looking in shop windows for a gift. He actually wants to purchase Breeze a celebratory present, but that is for later. He tricks himself enough, that when he finally does look up at the sign, it is with a degree of surprise.

Breeze has not purchased a painted sign, as he had supposed. The design is similar to the ones they discussed, but she has not chosen an image imposed upon a wooden background. Instead, there are carved and painted shapes jutting from the front of the building, parallel to the wall.

A thick piece of wood, chiseled into the shape of a tree top, is attached over the lintel. Two branches sprout from the trunk of the tree, which tapers to an uneven and jagged tip. At the very top, a life-sized carved raven sits, its head tilted up. On each of the protruding branches sits another raven, their bills open as they look at each other.

Nailed to the bottom of the tree, a metal chain hangs to the door, holding a wooden sign printed in Old German script. It announces the name of the restaurant: The Hungry Ravens.

“As black as black can be.”

Mr. S. hums as he walks across the narrow street. He has reservations about her sense of humour, with this reference to the ravens. Their unfathomable connection to the work of the Organization, and their role of `familiar’ to Satan’s intentions, are beyond – in his opinion – the wryest of humours.


As he steps toward the front door, he notices a more subtle change. Breeze has sand-blasted the brickwork facing the street. The dark red hue enhances the outline of the tree and its occupants. They look as if they are silhouetted against a sunset.

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