OK, so the podcast about the literature of Lost is now online in its entirety, and hopefully is of some interest to Lost fans . . . We covered a ton of stuff in here: past books from the show, including The Third Policeman, The Invention of Morel, VALIS; my feeling that the best aesthetic lens through which to approach Lost can be found in The Crying of Lot 49; some info about international literature and Open Letter; and a final bit about Macedonio Fernandez’s The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel). All in all I had a great time talking with Jason and Matt and am now more psyched than ever for the season six premiere . . .
The story traces the journey of four Japanese tourists on a tour to India. Each of these tourists goes to India for different purposes and with different expectations. Even though the tour is interrupted when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by militant Sikhs, each of these tourists finds their own spiritual discovery on the banks of the Ganges River.
One of the tourists is Osamu Isobe. He is a middle-class manager whose wife has died of cancer. On her deathbed she asks him to look for her in a future reincarnation. His search takes him to India, even though he has doubts about reincarnation.
Kiguchi is haunted by war-time horrors in Burma and seeks to have some Buddhist rituals performed in India for the souls of his friends in the Japanese army as well as his enemies. He is also impressed by a foreign Christian volunteer who helped his sick friend deal with the tragic experiences during the war.
Numada has a deep love for animals ever since he was a child in Manchuria. He believes that a pet bird he owns has died in his place. He goes to India to visit the bird sanctuary there.
Mitsuko Naruse, after a failed marriage, realizes that she is a person incapable of love. She goes to India hoping to find the spiritual meaning of life. There her idea of life is challenged by the awaiting Otsu, a former schoolmate she once cruelly seduced and then left. Although he had a promising career as a Catholic priest, Otsu’s own idea of a pantheistic God and his criticism of the European view of God have led to his relegation by the Catholic Church. In his own way to imitate Jesus Christ, he helps carry dead Indians to the local crematoria so that their ashes can be spread to the waters of the Ganges. His efforts ultimately lead to his peril as he is caught in the anti-Sikh uproars in the country. Meanwhile, Mitsuko meets two nuns from the Missionaries of Charity and begins to understand Otsu’s idea of God.
A pilgrimage, spiritual journey, cancer, reincarnation, failed marriages . . . All so very Lost . . .
Also very Lost-like is this little tidbit about Endo that I forgot to mention during the recording:
When he died in 1996, only two novels were chosen to be placed inside his coffin. Deep River was one of them.
So by my estimation, we are only seven days and nine hours away from the start of season six . . .
Long-time 3% readers know that in addition to literature in translation there are a couple other obsessions that pop-up here on the blog, like my love of the St. Louis Cardinals (and related hatred for the Cubs) and my nearly unhealthy obsession with Lost.
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the show knows about its hyper-literary nature. About the weaving in of dozens of dead philosophers (Jeremy Bentham!) and the tons of brilliant literary references (VALIS!, The Invention of Morel!, The Third Policeman! Ulysses!) sprinkled throughout the show. The show is brilliant. Intertextual and one of the most ambitious enterprises to ever appear on network TV. And with thousands of fans reading up on every book cited or pictured in the show, Lost has become a sort of Oprah for the sci-fi hipster literati.
Anyway, to get all giddy excited about next week’s premiere (two hours of pure TV bliss!), tomorrow morning at 9:30, I’ll be talking with Jason Boog and Matt VanHoven about “Literary Lost.” I think you can tune in live via BlogTalkRadio but it’ll also be archived at GalleyCat, and I’ll be sure to link to it from here as well.
(And yes, this was originally scheduled for this morning, but there was a crazy technical difficultly with BlogTalkRadio that caused the delay . . . )
UPDATE: This is some time-skipping shit, but this delay allowed me to receive a bit of info from Lost HQ and I will be able to reveal the title of one book that will be appearing in this upcoming season . . . Not saying a word until tomorrow morning . . .
To promote Valeria’s Last Stand, debut novelist Marc Fitten isn’t just going on a normal author tour—instead he’s decided to stop at 100 independent bookstores across the country. He’ll be documenting all his stops on his blog, giving the rest of us a chance to find out about some of the best indie stores across the country. Not sure how long he plans on touring, but so far he’s hit four store in five days . . . (via GalleyCat)
Last week, Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Jenn Northington, Stephanie Anderson, and other independent booksellers started a conversation about the benefits of eARCs—electronic versions of the Advance Reading Copies all publishers send out to reviewers, booksellers, bloggers, etc.
My complete post about this can be found here, but the main impulse behind this idea is that a) ARCs are expensive and wasteful, and b) for booksellers (or reviewers) who receive 50+ books a week, an e-reader makes a lot more sense than hauling around all these titles. (For someone who likes to ride his bike to work, I’ll attest to the fact that these galleys can seem heavier than frickin’ gold at times.)
Over at GalleyCat, Jeff breaks down the galley costs for commercial publishers to demonstrate that a one-time investment could save them millions:
Let’s face it, all the major publishers are pretty much sending their galleys out to the same reviewers year after year. That’s why, if the reviewers’ offices are anything like mine, they have a good stack of 100-150 books coming in every week (no exaggeration) from every major, mini-major and independent publisher.
This is where the “saving the $1.5 million a year” comes in to play. If all the publishers are sending their galleys to the same 1000 reviewers, why don’t they send everyone an eReader.
“But (gasp) Jeff, that would cost too much money!”
Would it? Would it, really?
Let’s examine the costs:
x $1/ U.P.S. mailing cost
x 375 titles/year
$1.5 million /year
That’s $1.5 million a year the average major publisher is spending printing and mailing out to the same 1000 reviewers every year.
Now, let’s examine how much it would cost to mail each reviewer all a Kindle, including shipping costs.
x $400 /Kindle
x $0 / galley
x $0 / U.P.S. galley mailing costs
x 375 titles/year
That’s $400,000 the first year and not one penny more year after year.
This doesn’t even take into account the fact that the $400,000 could be split by any number of publishers or publisher associations, thus saving even more than the $1.1 million in the first year.
I hate to play the pessimist, but I’m sure that until the big publishers figure out a DRM scheme that they’re happy with (sounds like 2001 all over again), they’re not going to want to go ahead with this sort of idea.
And although I have my concerns about how the rise of e-books will play out in the marketplace, I do think that in an industry where shipping companies are the only ones that ever seem to make any money, something like this makes a great deal of sense.
In a case that will no doubt be watched around the globe, Russian writer Pavel Astakhov is facing possible libel charges for the contents of his novel Raider, reports RadioFreeEurope. Moscow city prosecutors have already questioned Astakhov at the behest of Ivan Glukhov, head of the city police’s main investigative directorate. According to Glukhov, the novel “contains numerous insulting and libelous deliberations” about the directorate, and defames the reputation of Russian police in general. [. . .]
Some analysts believe that there are deeper motives behind this case — that it is intended to serve as a warning to authors by holding the threat of prosecution for what they write over their heads.
More on the LongPen via GalleyCat:
After limited success with Margaret Atwood’s device at the Edinburgh Book Festival – enabling Norman Mailer and Alice Munro to make “appearances” – the book-tour substitute device will make its debut into a record store and several bookstores in Canada, the United States and England for a trial run that could bring fans and their idols closer together. The London Free Press reports that kiosks will be set up at the World’s Biggest Bookstore and HMV’s flagship record store in Toronto, Barnes & Noble in New York and Waterstone’s in London beginning after Labour Day, and could expand elsewhere if successful.
And at only $2,000 per “appearance,” I’m sure publishers will be all over this to promote their up-and-coming authors.
Steve Wasserman, the former book review editor of the L.A. Times and current literary agent, has been appointed book review editor for Truthdig, the 2007 Webby award winner for best political blog.
According to GalleyCat he will begin writing a weekly review column in October. Wasserman has excellent taste in literature, is an intimidatingly smart guy, and I’m sure will write an excellent column, so personally, I’m pretty psyched.
Shelf Awareness points to a story that confirms their suspicions as well as my own: parents, if they had their druthers, would leave their kids at the bookshop and let the books be their temporary nannies. That’s what some parents are doing in the Chinese city of Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang.
“We’re too busy to care for our son on workdays and had to leave him inside a bookstore. It’s a safe place for him to spend time on vacation,” a mother surnamed Yuan said to China Daily, which was meant by something far less than amusement on the bookstores’ part. “Of course we welcome the young readers but have to take the consequences of more books possibly being damaged during their reading,” a manager surnamed Liu said.
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .