Seen and Heard

Literary news abounds this week in the most unexpected places.

— Since it’s women’s history month, I thought you may be interested in the latest tell-all book about one of literature’s greatest heroines. Yes, it’s been a long time coming, but finally someone has dared to expose the darker side of … Nancy Drew. The Dark Side of River Heights: Observations of the Untold and the Unflattering seeks to uncover those burning questions about the popular girl detective.

— Speaking of women’s history month, what better time for the Orange prize for women’s fiction to announce their longlist of novels? In the running with more established writers, such as Joyce Carol Oates, are many first time novelists who’ve turned to writing later in life. Like 49-year-old Joolz Denby, tattooed and pierced former “biker chick” (she married into the “Satan’s Slaves” biker gang). Her novel, Billie Morgan is one of the diverse field of 20 competing for the UK’s largest annual award for a novel.

— Making it official … The Oxford English Dictionary announced a list of new entries last week. New inductees to the OED include: scrunchie, Deadhead, ‘fro, uni-brow and my personal favorite, creepy-peepy. Welcome to the world, newly-recognized words, may you go forth and prosper.

— Get a sneak peak for a good cause: Sixteen leading writers have come together in an anthology titled New Beginnings. The anthology features the first chapter of books not yet available from notables such as Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Paul Coelho and Nick Hornby. The proceeds from this collection of “coming attractions” will go to the Save the Children Tsunami Relief Fund.

— Extra! Extra! Read all about … poetry? That’s Ted Kooser’s plan. The current US Poet Laureate’s American Life in Poetry project kicks off this month. The initiative offers local papers free columns that will feature a brief introduction by Kooser and selected poems by living Americans. We can only hope that this will keep poetry in the news for a long time to come. Kooser also offers advice for aspiring poets in his latest book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual. In this how-to guide, he encourages the everyday exploration of poetry while demystifying the shadows that sometimes surround it.

— The saloon that Kerouac called “the end of my quest for an ideal bar” has been reopened by the Governor of Montana. The M&M Cigar Store had its liquor license hand delivered by Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The Associated Press reports: “It’s great to have it open again,” Schweitzer said after throwing back a shot of scotch. “May she never close.” I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely my kind of Governor.

— Proving once again that there’s a market for everyone, a Wisconsin-based website has put out a call for submissions. For cheese haiku. Wow.

— First there was the opera about Verlaine and Rimbaud. Then, we heard about the Beat-tribute stage production of dance and music known as Dream Machine. Now, in what seems to be an unprecedented sign of the the apocalypse, we’ve heard that the much anticipated musical production of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is going full steam ahead, but has been moved from London to Toronto. It’s been reported that the stage plans for the “three-hour show that marries theatre, physical theatre and music” includes three turntables and sixteen elevators. The repeated questions of “why?” have yet to be answered.

— And finally … what would a week at LitKicks be if we didn’t (once again) mention the Da Vinci Code? It seems the Roman Catholic Church has finally offered its response to Dan Brown’s best-selling brand of blasphemy. Tell me … what would Tom Hanks do?

Those are just some of the things that we’ve been talking about lately. We’d love to hear your comments on these stories and any others you’d like to share. What’s the literary buzz in your world? Have you heard of any news from your favorite author? Tell us what in the world of literature is making you do a double-take.

13 Responses

  1. Self Flagellation Not NewAs a
    Self Flagellation Not New

    As a double-agent, with access to both the tacky artificially-flowered pulpits of the Southern Baptist Convention as well as the wacky alternatively-powered stages of the Unitarian Universalists, I believe I am qualified to comment on the mysteries put forth by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

    There are marked differences in the way these two churches have been studying the novel. The Southern Baptists are allowing only the Seniors Class to read the book, owing to the “mature” nature of the story. The Unitarian Universalists are adding it to the home-schooling curriculum for third graders who aren’t quite ready for Yurtle the Turtle.

    The Southern Baptsist believe, of course, that in the Bible, “wine” means “grape juice.” The Unitarian Universalists generally agree that the wine at the last support was similar to the 1977 batch from Tommy Smothers’ vineyard in Sonoma Valley. The Baptists and Unitarians are equally appalled that there is no big silver coffee urn anywhere in the painting of the supper, agreeing that most people wouldn’t sit through a worship service without some reward at the end.

    Now, about movies. Am I the only one who noticed that the geek in the robe who whipped himself was lifted directly from The Name of the Rose starring Sean Connery? That was the movie about how monks in the dark ages tried to keep poor people from learning that babies came from sex. The bastards almost got away with it, too, until Christian Slater found that biology textbook.

    And so it goes. The verdict is still out.

  2. a few thingsLord of the Rings
    a few things

    Lord of the Rings — The Musical. Why? I think the important question here is, why not? I say that contemporary theater has really been lacking in dancing hobbits and high-kicking elves, and I think that now, more than ever, it’s time. Yes. It’s time. But seeing as how Barry Manilow is the most hobbit-like performer in the world, my only concern is that people may be forced to choose between that and Music and Passion. And let’s be honest here — that would just be a damn shame.

    And then, of course, there’s been an announcement of the top 20 literary villains. The presence of anti-heroes on the list makes me think that these listmakers don’t actually know what a villain is. I mean, is it really necessary to have On the Road‘s Sal and Dean on the list? Isn’t there a difference between being a villain and being young and adventurous? Come on.

    It’s nice to see that “Deadhead” has made it into the OED, I guess, but what about “whoomp”?

  3. Yes, I think that the trend
    Yes, I think that the trend of literary musicals needs to stop until we can get some kind of committee in place.

    I’m not sure about ‘whoomp’ but I think that ‘wedgie’ is on the list.

  4. “High-kicking elves”…oh,
    “High-kicking elves”…oh, Lord, I spewed coffee when I read that one.

    You couldn’t pay me to go to a Lord of the Rings musical. Unless Golem was played by Marilyn Manson or David Johansen. Then, yes.

    I can’t see classifying Sal and Dean as “villains.” I think that’s just a ploy to capitalize on the renewed interest in the Beat Generation. Now, a real villain appears in my fictional account of theft and love, Cut Up (The Stolen Scroll). The Kerouac scroll is stolen and only a mysterious cut-up message can reveal its whereabouts!

  5. yes that infamous list
    yes that infamous list combines ‘villains’ with ‘anti-heroes’ to make sure someone actually reads it and perhaps runs out to buy a book.

    Why didn’t they put the only book I’ve read lately, Chronicles, up there? Who’s more anti-hero than Dylan?
    And who’s more fictionally non-fiction?

    Nice coffee spewing, bill.
    I think it’s only fitting that the Lord of The Rings will be produced in Toronto – the city where such a musical will no doubt run for decades.

    (I might even get to see it one day)

  6. Question for FC, Jamelah, and
    Question for FC, Jamelah, and Judih: Did any of you read the Nancy Drew books? Just curious.

  7. Nancy Drew books?I don’t even
    Nancy Drew books?
    I don’t even ask why you’re asking – the answer’s so utterly obvious. Of course I read them. I even owned them. I could pick one up and finish it before you could say: “her handsome father and her little roadster…”

    Why, are they making it a musical?
    don’t tell me

  8. Can’t believe they didn’t put
    Can’t believe they didn’t put Ahab on that list of anti-heroes. Driven to madness by hate and desire for revenge? Come on, it doesn’t get more villainous than that.

    Also, can anyone enlighten me on the meaning of “creepy-peepy”? The Oxford Site doesn’t give you definitions unless you pay (creepy-peepy bastards). They do have a nifty word of the day link- yesterday it was Ish- as in “not entirely creepy-peepy, just creepy-peepy-ish.”

  9. Well kilgore, I’m glad you
    Well kilgore, I’m glad you asked! Apparently, a “creepy-peepy” is a type of wireless camera that is used for closeup shots for movies being filmed on location. But I think it deserves many other uses.

  10. World Poetry DayYesterday was
    World Poetry Day

    Yesterday was UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s) world poetry day, meant as “the restoration of dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music, painting and so on, and with topical themes like the culture of peace, non-violence, tolerance, etc.”.

    World Poetry Day

    unesco site:

    literature and poetry

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!