Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
The latest from the front lines of literature
After the Jelly Bean Incident Samira Kawash
My candy story begins with an oft-told tale I call "The Jelly Bean Incident." I relate the story at length at the beginning of Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, so I'll just give you the punch line here: when I offered a few jelly beans to a little pre-school friend, his parents flipped out. I mean, you-might-as-well-give-him-crack flipped out. It was a tense moment.
What I don't talk about in the book is what happened next.
After I had safely locked the jelly beans/crack away that day, we all headed to the beach. The mom had packed a snack hamper for the kids. Inside: juice boxes and a new convenience store item called "Smuckers Uncrustable Peanut-butter and Jelly," which is a frozen pouch of white bread-like material surrounding a layer of peanut butter and jelly. Nutritionally, this snack is the equivalent of a candy bar washed down by a lollipop. But somehow, the similarity of the contents was not what mattered to these parents. What mattered was the difference in form: candy on one side, sandwich on the other.
Beyond Frankenstein Costumes for the Science Savvy Emily Anthes
Frankenstein's monster is so passé. Especially when you consider all the strange new creatures that scientists have breathed into being in the two centuries since Mary Shelley's "wretched devil" took its first lumbering steps. This Halloween, retire your Frankenstein costume and dress up as one of these brave new beasts instead.
In 2008, scientists at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, in New Orleans, transferred a jellyfish gene into a cat embryo. The gene coded for a protein known as green fluorescent protein (GFP), a compound that gives off a bright green glow whenever it's hit by blue or black light...
The Dirty Half Dozen The Six Best Psychopaths of Film & Literature Kevin Dutton
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
If you thought Gordon Gekko was the undisputed champion of corporate psychopathy, then think again because Bateman makes Gekko look like the angst-ridden, self-harming treasurer of a Mormon prayer group. Impeccably well versed in business couture, Bateman's Achilles' heel is his penchant for prostitutes and chainsaws - and for his "unchivalrous" amalgamation of the two. (That and his predilection for Huey Lewis.)