A really interesting and thoughtful assessment of the widely trending new Dove ad.
When it comes to the diversity of the main participants: all four are Caucasian, three are blonde with blue eyes, all are thin, and all are young (the oldest appears to be 40). The majority of the non-featured participants are thin, young white women as well. Hmm… probably a little limiting, wouldn’t you say? We see in the video that at least three black women were in fact drawn for the project. Two are briefly shown describing themselves in a negative light (one says she has a fat, round face, and one says she’s getting freckles as she ages). Both women are lighter skinned. A black man is shown as one of the people describing someone else, and he comments that she has “pretty blue eyes”. One Asian woman is briefly shown looking at the completed drawings of herself and you see the back of a black woman’s head; neither are shown speaking. Out of 6:36 minutes of footage, people of color are onscreen for less than 10 seconds.
And Other Stories gets a shout out today in The Guardian’s article on how publishing has changed since Granta’s last list of best British novelists in 1993.
They say of &OS: “Elsewhere, innovation thrives. The independent publisher And Other Stories, which last year hit the headlines when one of its authors, Deborah Levy, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, set itself up as a community interest company; it is run on not-for-private-profit principles. It encourages readers to contribute ideas and allows those on its mailing list to join in its acquisitions meetings; it is happy to publish material that is not immediately obviously commercial. Last week, it announced that it is to set up a base in New York. And Other Stories keeps its overheads low and its goals tightly focused; it relies on the books to do the talking.”
Jal Mehta, author of THE ALLURE OF ORDER (forthcoming from OUP in May). has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times this weekend based on the ideas in his book. Very little has happened to improve schools in America in the past 30 years despite huge endeavors to reform the system, Jal suggests a new way forward that focuses less on students, tests and incentivizing teachers and more on giving teachers the time they really need to lesson plan, problem solve, and work together. Jal also talks about professionalizing teaching so the certification process looks a bit more like the medical and engineering professions and less like throwing brand new teachers into classrooms with little support from administration and even less time to learn their craft and work together.
Check it out, and email me if you’d like a copy of the book.
Today I jumped feet first into a new endeavor publicizing the forthcoming North American list from the team at And Other Stories. &OS is most notably known for publishing Deborah Levy’s 2012 Man Booker short-listed novel Swimming Home.
After nearly two years of working from one great project to the next, I feel really excited about working with a set group of literary-like-minded people who are producing excellent and beautiful books each season. Consortium will distribute the six books on the launch list, starting with All Dogs Are Blue (Sept) and a pair of books by Iosi Havilio, Open Door and Paradises (Sept and Oct respectively).
I’ll continue to take on other individual projects as my time allows but do get in touch if you would like a review copy of an &OS book or to learn more about this unique mode of publishing (called “A personalized antidote to the behemoth model of Amazon publishing.” by The Irish Times). And check out Ampersand (our blog) for regular posts from me and the rest of the team, and follow &OS on Twitter and Facebook.
This is awful news. One of my favorite programs.
When posed with the question of how to promote a third book, I recommend starting to think less about each individual book and more about promoting the creative force behind them!
It’s generally really hard to floor me with a book review. There’s always something that tempers my excitement when a good review comes in. But in this instance Cameron Conaway from The Good Men Project just gets David McConnell’s AMERICAN HONOR KILLINGS and what it’s trying to convey about the state of men and violence in the U.S. that makes me so glad I took on publicizing a tough subject like this. Cameron, thank you for getting it!
“A quick skim of the book will lead readers to see this as a work that highlights brutal crimes against gay men. But the book deserves a more nuanced and careful meditation. Through in-depth research that includes interviews, synthesizing and comparing news articles, traveling to the crime sites and getting to know the environments in which the crimes took place, and an elite novelist’s eye for detail and storytelling, American Honor Killings is a work that relates to all men.”—Cameron Conway, The Good Men Project
In my line of work, no news is not good news.
Interesting article on building the individual Oscar campaigns from Fast Company. A part of the communications world I don’t think about everyday.
Want an interesting way to get involved in the arts today? Go to the National Endowment for the Arts and nominate someone for their National Medal of Arts, a lifetime achievement award for those who have “through their creativity, inspiration, and hard work, have significantly enriched the cultural life of our nation.”
Who would you nominate?
via Ira Silverberg
BookRiot’s Rebecca Schinsky posted a great piece this week about an event she went to at Word bookstore. It sounds like I missed out on a really amazing event. Have a read.
Tyrant Books released Sky Saw, the latest from Blake Butler and his second novel, in December; I’d read an advance copy the month before; I waited this long to write about it—not because the novel does not deserve mention or the praise that I’m about to spew but because I love living with Butler’s words. My advice: let them pulse inside of you for as long as you can stand it. Do not dissect or discuss, if you can help it.
I can’t help it.
It’s difficult to judge Butler since his work is so singular. It’s difficult, even, to compare his current work to his previous, his style remaining so consistent (while always seeming innovative), the narratives remaining ever elusive, ever scorched by the way his words run rampant. His books fold over onto one each other in ways I cannot begin to untangle. I don’t know how to judge Sky Saw; I can only say how it makes me feel, which is, actually, what Butler does best. But I’m getting ahead of myself:
- What Butler does best is evoke surges of emotion through language; it’s the difference between description and evocation. Take this, very typical, sentence from Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom: “She could feel Richard’s eyes on her while she listened to his dire baritone singing voice, and she knew she hadn’t been mistaken about the way he’d looked at her the other times she’d seen him.” It sets a scene. You see something. Maybe that something has meaning for you.
- Butler writes something like this: “She threw [the ax] down and used her free arms then to scoop the birds down into her from the air, to press in clumps the thrumming meat against her thick chest, the milk inside her turning hard—the birds spreading out around the rind of her now from the outside speaking in.” Words that make me feel—something.
- In the landscape of post-apocalyptic fiction, Sky Saw determines a new field: present-apocalyptic fiction.
- The novel depicts society’s last days and a new world ruled by the Cone, a blank white entity that appears sporadically and threateningly throughout the narrative and seems to represent blank white bureaucracy: a god, a government, structure without sense.
- From the opening narrator, a woman: “I waited, I said the word, I fucked the Cone, I let the Cone fuck hard into my hole, I waited, it did not begin again, I said the word again … I gave it this and this again, I let it eats its dinner in my tonsils, I let it sell me to the digit, gave my last religion to its mother in the dark, could not stop coughing, wore the gown, split the crown in ten and ate that, shat it out, gave this to there, the Cone, the Whitened cone of Now, my lord, it would not listen” (emphasis mine)
- (As a phenomenal aside, Molly Brodak [stunning poet] baked a pastry representation of the Cone made of cake and marshmallow fondant.)
- As in most of Butler’s writing, names have no place here. The three main characters are: Person 1180 or “the mother”; Person 2030 or “the child”; Person 811, “the man,” or “the father.”
- This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a tone. “The tone had been appearing on the air for weeks. Its tone contained all possible timbre: every sentence ever crammed into each blink … No one could say what made the tone or where it came from. Tax dollars were purportedly at work.”
- The importance of language and words, in whatever crude and even indecipherable form, permeates the book.
- The mother finds a hidden book, written in code, with the inscription: “READ THE CHILD THIS BOOK OR HE WILL SUFFER.” She reads the “babbly syllables and glyph fonts” anyway. And throughout the novel, references to “the word,” something hinted at, never named. The strength of speech.
- Similarly, Person 811, who wakes in a box and is not sure if he is on fire, if he has been murdered, or how many fingers he would hold up if he could move his arm, senses the importance of his name, “something deformed from how his tongue went, very old.”
- When I said this is present-apocalyptic fiction, what I meant is that it is a love story.