Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Book News and “Fox in the City” Update


(A dog in last week’s Book News and a mad-looking cat this time).

Right, down to business: It’s a week after Valentine’s Day and love is out the window.

Susan Hill flags Tim Lott’s lament in The Guardian that novelists no longer write about love

Susan makes the point that:

the everyday falling-in-love/getting married/being married is part of ordinary everyday life but from a fictional point of view is otherwise rather prosaic. There just isn`t anything very interesting to say. The other sort of love, the anguished sort, is so difficult to write about now because, I think, we dare not do so without feeling we also have to write about sex. And that, I maintain, is virtually impossible. It never, ever works. It is either embarrassing, funny or biological.

The sex scenes I’ve attempted to write have certainly fit Susan Hill’s description, alas.

Elsewhere, thousands of books burned after gunmen attacked the YMCA in Gaza City and blew up the library.

On a more book-loving note, a group of celebrities have agreed to create children’s book Once Upon A Time. They will each write 10 lines before passing the pen to the next contributor. 52 celebs are set to take part, including KT Tunstall, Linford Christie and fashion designer Henry Holland. The book will be read out in an exclusive reading and auctioned to raise funds for the NSPCC.

The Guardian has an interesting top ten Polish books feature, which mentions Gombrowicz (apparently our own RosyB is Gombrowicz’s biggest fan).

The blogosphere responded in their millions (dozens) to our “Fox in the City” feature on book bloggers. Here’s a selection:

In “The Old Blogging/Newspaper Chestnut” Fictionbitch makes the point that as a writer with a small publisher she wants reviews – positive or negative. She concludes that “as it happens I’d rather have a negative review and my book be thus a visible part of literary debate than have it buried in silence.”

In her “Positive Reviewing – a Cultural Error” post, she says:

Perhaps some reviewers are not so concerned with an authors’ feelings but worry rather that a bad review will stop a book selling. This concern is founded on the assumption that anyone reading a bad review will be put off even looking at a book. But it’s a breathtaking patronization of readers to assume that they’ll swallow wholesale a blogger’s views. As some commenters have said, they are often prompted by a bad review to read a book and are not only pleasantly surprised but provoked to write a contradictory, positive review.
Litlove’s Tales From The Reading Room has a brilliant interview with Mark Athitakis, arts editor of the Washington City Paper and freelance book reviewer. An interesting point from Athitakis:
This may be a little pollyannaish of me, but I think that a person who follows book blogs, quick-hit as they are, can easily be attracted to a 5,000-word essay in the New York Review of Books. They’re not separate spheres–they’re two different types of publications that can supplement and inform each other. I don’t think there’s such a person who’s only interested in book blogs.

Mark Thwaite, managing editor of The Book Depository and the online literary journal has an article on “Blogging and the ‘common reader‘” He says:

I have to confess that I’m more than rather bemused that the attacks on bloggers, blogs and the blogosphere continues apace. I’m bemused because the attacks are, quite simply, moronic.
Finally, Dorothy at Of Books and Bikes blog has a fabulous and spirited “In Defense of Negativity” post, which attracted dozens of comments. She says:
what I really wanted to say is that it doesn’t make sense to me that bloggers should write only about books they like. No one can stop bloggers from publishing negative reviews, yes, but I also see no reason for them to try to do so. To me personally, it feels dishonest to write only about positive responses, and I’m not sure I’d trust a blogger who never panned a book, ever.

Apologies to all of those freaked out by the cat picture.

6 comments on “Book News and “Fox in the City” Update

  1. Mhairi
    February 21, 2008

    Oooh. Psychokitty …

  2. Jackie
    February 22, 2008

    Is the cat getting ready to pounce on the photographer? His paws are spread as if he’s about to swat someone. Such as the morons blethering about book blogs.
    What horrible people to blow up a library. That’s celebrating ignorance. How will that help raise the masses?
    What an interesting idea about novelists not writing about Love. It makes me want to find a book to prove her wrong.

  3. sequinonsea
    February 22, 2008

    The cat’s name is Fluffy. Although Leena suggested that ‘Rambo’ was more appropriate 😉

    On novelists writing about love, well, there’s always our own Emma with The Mathematics of Love…

  4. Charlieduck
    February 22, 2008

    Lise will you put a picture of your tortoise next week?! Please!!

    I think I might agree with SH actually. I can’t recall any good love/sex scenes I’ve ever read. Far better to leave these things to your imagination I reckon.

  5. Emma Darwin
    February 22, 2008

    That’s one scary feline. Though if you dressed him in sea-boots and a cutlass he’d do very well in one of the more violent Beatrix Potters…

    FWIW, I’ve just blogged about the Tim Lott/Susan Hill discussion here:

  6. Cathy
    February 23, 2008

    I would also like to add my voice for editorial independence of book bloggers. Readers have different tastes. Many books are like Marmite – some people love them and some hate them.

    What’s exciting is the debate and passion that follows as lovers and haters clash online.

    (Oh and I bet psycho-kitten has never written a positive book review in his life… he looks more like the type to rip a book to shreds as soon as look at it!)

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2008 by in Entries by Lisa, Uncategorized.



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