I hope that this post finds you well. Since I will be absent from the blogosphere tomorrow due to some crazy work hours, I wanted to drop by today with this week’s literary updates. Enjoy!
‘Miscommunication, Or mismanagement?’ – Smile Politely
This is a really interesting article about the ‘weeding’ taking place at Urbana Free Library (UFL) in Illinois, US. It discusses the “hasty, arbitrary” decision to discard thousands of non-fiction books. While the actions taken at UFL certainly have little direct bearing on our reading habits, there are wider implications. Reading this article made me think about the way that the books in our libraries are selected – a particularly acute issue in the UK, with the current plague of library cuts. The problems that this article addresses are certainly ones that we should all keep in mind as we take advantage of our local library services.
‘US Writer Uses Self-Publishing To Get Past Industry “Racism”‘ – The Guardian
I assure you, I haven’t purposefully focussed on the US this week! But here we have another topical article, raising some key issues about the book industry. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, an award-winning American author, has written that racism in the publishing business forced her to self-publish. Her books, featuring a black detective, were apparently rejected on the basis that “When the publisher’s realised that I was not black, too young to be in the Civil Rights movement, and had no ‘marketability’ or ‘platform’, they withdrew the offers. The book was worth nothing to them if I couldn’t tour ‘with legitimacy’.” While the nuances of publishing are not something I am familiar with, I found this article interesting in the questions it poses about the considerations made in publication decisions. Where should the line be drawn in terms of marketability and platform? It is certainly worrying to consider the possibility that wonderful literature is being lost as a result of such superficial details.
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Musical Opens In West End’ – BBC
Now, you all know how excited I have been about this event. Unfortunately, a somewhat restricted budget means that I am relying on birthday generosity to secure myself a ticket (assuming that the run survives all the way to September). Obviously intended to follow the success of the musical adaptation of Matilda, expectations have been understandably high. With a fantastic team behind it, including direction from Sam Mendes (director of Skyfall), you would be forgiven for thinking that success if assured. Yet some recent high-profile West End closures mean that there is still a lot of uncertainty. Personally, I cannot imagine a book that lends itself more fully to musical staging than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That is as long as we keep Johnny Depp away from the starring role.
‘Coriolanus’ – 6 December 2013 to 8 February 2014: Donmar Warehouse, London
I know that this notification is a bit premature. But I was online at 9am yesterday, ready for public booking, and it was quite intense. So if you are interested in this one, I would recommend seizing the moment. This staging of Coriolanus at the Donmar is hugely anticipated (by me, at least). Starring Tom Hiddleston (who gave one of the best Shakespearean performances as King Henry V in the BBC’s Hollow Crown series) and directed by Mark Gatiss (of Doctor Who success), I am already certain that this will be a fantastic experience. I make a point of seeing Shakespearean stagings without preconceptions – largely a consequence of my certainty that nothing can rival the experience I had watching Michael Sheen as Hamlet. But how can one possibly walk into this adaptation free of expectations?
‘Macbeth’ – 20 July: National Theatre Live
National Theatre Live is a truly brilliant conception. Understanding that we do not all have the time or money to invest in tickets to every staged production, this programme delivers live broadcasts of selected plays to cinemas around the UK. On 20 July, National Theatre Live is facilitating broadcasts of Manchester International Festival’s production of Macbeth. I cannot begin to express my excitement for this because: (1) I am clearly obsessed with the Bard; and (2) KENNETH BRANAGH. Now, those of you who know me already understand that I have a strange adoration of Kenneth. His performance in Hamlet convinced me of the relevance of Shakespeare’s plays and the power that they continue to have. He is also my hand twin. So this event is truly to be the highlight of my summer (take from that what you will).
Top Book Fetish Items
‘Virginia Woolf Library Bag’ – The British Library
We all knew that it could not be much longer before I decided to celebrate another tote bag. The British Library has an unsurprisingly fantastic array of totes on offer, but this is definitely one of my favourites. The quote really says it all.
‘Best Bookshelf in the World’ – Bookshelf Porn
Ok, clearly this is not an ‘item’. But this section of The Weekly Reader is truly an opportunity to dream about the possibilities that would accompany limitless cash. My discovery of this site is owed entirely to my wonderful friend Lucy, who appreciates the joy brought about by some seriously attractive bookshelving. The link goes to my absolute favourite – a favourite because it features: (1) books; (2) a ladder; (3) a cafetiere; and, (4) biscuits. All there, then.