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Archive for May, 2007

May 27th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Pirates as Symphony

So Ottawa Citizen film reviewer Jay Stone only gives it 1 1/2 stars…perhaps that’s why I go into the theatre expecting very little from Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End…other than Hans Zimmer’s great music that is. Which in fact would have been enough. I’d enjoy the movie as if attending the symphony. Any good visuals would be a bonus…which they were. Sweeping seascape vistas, canon balls ripping and exploding through seafaring timber, Johnny Depp(s) at sea in a desert of stones turned crabs and Keira Knightley’s exquisitely beautiful face were more than enough to make this a most enjoyable entertainment, more so I’d say than either of its two predecessors.


May 24th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

SIMON & SCHUSTER: Writers Get Shaft, Part ll

Here’s a nice little pot stirrer from the Authors Guild:


MAY 17, 2007 (212) 563-5904


Contract Change May Herald Move to Retain Exclusive Rights to Books the Publisher Fails to Sell

NEW YORK– Simon & Schuster, one of the largest book publishers
in the U.S., has altered its standard contract with authors in an
effort to retain control of books even after they have gone out of
print. Until now, Simon & Schuster, like all other major trade
publishers, has followed the traditional practice in which rights to a
work revert to the author if the book falls out of print or if its
sales are low.

The new contract would allow Simon & Schuster to consider a book
in print, and under its exclusive control, so long as it’s available in
any form, including through its own in-house database — even if no
copies are available to be ordered by traditional bookstores.

With the new contract language, the publisher would be able stop
printing a book and prevent the author from publishing it with any
other house. "A publisher is meant to publish, to get out there and
sell our books,” said Authors Guild president Roy Blount Jr. "A
publishing house is not supposed to be a place where our books are
permanently squirreled away.”

All major trade publishers have been willing to acknowledge the
requirement of some minimum level of economic activity in order for
them to retain exclusive rights to a manuscript. Typically, such
clauses obligate a publisher to sell a few hundred books a year. Simon
& Schuster has been signaling, however, that it will no longer
accept a minimum sales threshold.

“Other major publishers have not followed suit,” said Guild
executive director Paul Aiken. “We’ll be watching for that, of course,
since coordinated moves would have serious legal implications.”

In an alert issued to its members today, the Authors Guild cautioned members to consider their options carefully:

1. Remember that if you sign a contract with Simon & Schuster
that includes this clause, they’ll say you’re wed to them. Your book
will live and die with this particular conglomerate.

2. Ask your agent to explore other options. Other publishers are not seeking an irrevocable grant of rights.

3. If you have a manuscript that may be auctioned, consider asking
your agent to exclude Simon & Schuster imprints unless they agree
before the auction to use industry standard terms.




May 24th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Copyright: Rockefellers take the Elevator, Writers, Seals get the Shaft?

Interesting opinion piece in the New York Times here by Mark Helprin about how copyright laws discriminate against writers. And I quote: "Were I tomorrow to write the great American novel (again?), 70 years
after my death the rights to it, though taxed at inheritance, would be
stripped from my children and grandchildren. To the claim that this
provision strikes malefactors of great wealth, one might ask, first,
where the heirs of Sylvia Plath berth their 200-foot yachts. And,
second, why, when such a stiff penalty is not applied to the owners of
Rockefeller Center or Wal-Mart, it is brought to bear against legions
of harmless drudges who, other than a handful of literary plutocrats
(manufacturers, really), are destined by the nature of things to be no
more financially secure than a seal in the Central Park Zoo."

May 24th, 2007 • Posted in Nigel Beale's Biblio File Interviews

Free for All: Audio Interview with Librarian Bernard Margolis by Nigel Beale

Bernard Margolis is President of the Boston Public Library (BPL). Founded in 1848, it was the first large free municipal library in the United States. Mr. Margolis has served on the Governing Council of the 63,000-member American Library Association (ALA), and has won many awards including “Colorado Librarian of the Year,” two John Cotton Dana library public relations awards, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ “Award of Excellence” for his library-sponsored “Imagination Celebration.”

He’s also a master storyteller as you’ll find out. We talk here about libraries as a public good, a culture of words and books designed to help everyone improve their lives, French ventriloquist and originator of the concept of the modern library Alexandre Vattemare (1796-1864), the U.S. as a leader in realizing this concept, immigration and self learning, an informed citizenry as the best defense of liberty, democratic access to information, BPL as the first to have a newspaper room, branch libraries and a separate children’s room, the Red Sox and the Yankees, why the ebook hasn’t replaced the paperback, Brewster Kahle versus Google and the Internet archive, and the question of whether or not information will be ‘free for all’ to improve the world.

May 22nd, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

“First Ever” London Literary Festival.

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka joins Hari Kunzru, Pat Barker, Blake
Morrison, Helen Oyeyemi, Jacqueline Wilson, Lauren Child and a host of
other stars for the South Bank Centre’s inaugural London literary Festival, due to begin on June 29.

Not to be outdone, Toronto will be BOOKED! June 7-9, 2007. "A brand new readers’ festival for ALL booklovers! From chick-lit to horror; from politics to pop culture; it doesn’t matter if you read a book a week or one a year, you’ll find an event you simply can’t miss at BOOKED!

Featuring over 50 authors from across Canada and around the world at events throughout Toronto,BOOKED! is your chance to meet the authors behind the books you love and to get a “sneak preview” of their upcoming books, to shop for new releases and best-sellers and to have your favourite books signed by the authors."

May 22nd, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Peter Behrens Audio Interview by Nigel Beale.

 Move or Die:

Peter Behrens’ short stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, Saturday Night, and The National Post and have been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories and Best Canadian Essays. He was born in Montreal and lives on the coast of Maine with his wife and son.


We talk here, at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, among other things about voice and poetry in his debut novel The Law of Dreams, Winner of The 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. It tells the story of a young man’s struggle to survive the Great Famine in Ireland of 1847. On his odyssey through Ireland and Britain, and across the Atlantic to Canada Fergus O’brien encounters death, violence, sexual heat, ‘boy soldiers, brigands, street toughs and charming, willful girls – all struggling for survival in the aftermath of natural catastrophe magnified by political callousness and brutal neglect. ‘ Think Dickens meets J.M. Coetzee.


The book has been hailed by many reputable media outlets including The New York Times and The New Yorker.

Copyright © 2007 by Nigel Beale


May 21st, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Jay Rosenblatt on Grief

Recently took in an extraordinarily moving, award-winning documentary written and directed by Jay Rosenblatt called Phantom Limb. It deals with the death of his seven-year-old brother when he was nine. Rosenblatt uses his personal painful story as a point of departure to examine the stages of grieving, including denial, collapse, anger, bargaining, and eventual acceptance. The film is a series of disparate, unexpected treatments of these stages. Most memorable among them: scenes of buildings being demolished, and the shearing of a sheep from tip to toe…head to hoof. Music by the multi-dimensional Arvo Part is used to good effect. PHANTOM LIMB is a poetic reminder that while loss and grief are painful, personal and isolating, they are also universal, human and in most cases temporary.
May 19th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

For an Ottawa Fan…

Nigel is away in the US; I expect that he was not able to see Game 5 of the Conference finals on Saturday afternoon.

I’m putting up a small soundclip that (so far) has been the highlight of my year.

The Sens departed Buffalo shortly after their series win and a few thousand came to the Ottawa airport to welcome them home. Including Myself!


PS. Suggest you turn down your volume… Or turn it up, your choice. ALSO I hate bugs! If you are playing this MP3 via IE7 it might sound like a chipmunk, It works well under Firefox OR just download it and play it locally.

May 15th, 2007 • Posted in Uncategorized

And Speaking of Sea Slugs

Image from

…did you ever notice the number of definitions of mantle that exist on the Web:

  • the cloak as a symbol of authority; "place the mantle of authority on younger shoulders"
  • United States baseball player (1931-1997)
  • the layer of the earth between the crust and the core
  • blanket: anything that covers; "there was a blanket of snow"
  • (zoology) a protective layer of epidermis in mollusks or brachiopods that secretes a substance forming the shell
  • mantel: shelf that projects from wall above fireplace; "in England they call a mantel a chimneypiece"
  • curtain: hanging cloth used as a blind (especially for a window)
  • spread over a surface, like a mantle
  • cape: a sleeveless garment like a cloak but shorter
  • cover like a mantle; "The ivy mantles the building"
  • May 15th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

    And now that we’re on about Granta Lists…

    This from Wikipedia: In 1983, Granta (issue #7) published a list of 20 young British novelists to watch. The magazine repeated the exercise in 1993 (issue #43) and in 2003 (issue #81).

    The 1983 list

    The 1993 list


    The 2003 list