Tag Archives: literature judging

“Never judge a book by its movie” – The Mystery


How many times have we heard this comment and seen the quote on the web? We also hear friends or family members complain that ‘the movie was not as good as the book’?  How wonderful is it to have so much more in a book?… and I am talking about a good book.

Have you ever wondered who J.W. Eagan is? He or she is supposed to be the author of the quote.

“Never judge the book by its movie” is one of the most popular book quotes on the web – but do you know its author?

She or he must be a writer. Or maybe a literary critic. A screenwriter? Hollywood-based reporter? A charismatic lecturer or passionate librarian?

The web including Google and Wikipedia, do not know this clever person. You won’t find J.W. Eagan bio on the internet.

It’s interesting that one of the most quoted persons of the Internet is so astonishingly anonymous. The quote has been shared hundreds of thousands of times each day in social media. It’s being reused on posters, t-shirts, mugs, and endless number of quote pictures.

Read more of this interesting story here.

Short stories are back in fashion

I am not quite sure where any stories or short stories were in or out of fashion but I had to share this post from The Independent. Perhaps this point was made based on the literary publications’ responses to short stories in the past. All I could think of was, things must be looking better for short story writers.

Short stories revived: They are back in fashion, as established, and fledging, writers return to the form

Aesthetica magazine writing competition
ARIFA AKBAR Author Biography Thursday 18 December 2014

Raymond Carver, in a Paris Review interview, spoke of seeing his first short story, “Pastoral”, published in a literary magazine as “A terrific day! Maybe one of the best days ever.”

When he reached another landmark moment in the 1960s and his story, Will you Please Be Quiet, Please? was printed in The Best American Short Stories Annual, he took the book to bed with him.

This year, I helped to judge a short story writing competition for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual – a collection of new writing in poetry and short fiction. The writers in the annual, plucked from a longlist of over a thousand entries, should feel the same sense of reward and validation as Carver. These are stories that the reader can take to bed and there, encounter the joyous flexibility of a form that can present an entire fictional world in just 2,000 words, or the entirety of a single, crystallised moment in the same word count.

It is particularly satisfying to see the fortunes of the short story revived in recent times. Following Alice Munro’s crowning last year as Nobel Prize winner for literature, some of our most revered writers – Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, Graham Swift – have since proved with their latest collections that the short story is to be taken seriously and not merely a transitional form for fledging novelists-in-training.

I found a refreshing breadth of style and subject matter in competition entries. What makes them so diverse is not just the internationalism of their entrants but their imaginative scope. Themes range from family dysfunction, love and loss to the hard-edged social realities of dementia, domestic violence and public acts of terror, though there is playfulness too. Several dramatise the fragile, polar states of old age and of childhood in original ways.

Corinne Demas’s Thanksgiving, a subtle story of sibling bonds and betrayals, stood out for judges as this year’s winner. It is an unshowy piece of writing – nothing more, it would seem, than a brother and sister taking a car-ride together after a festive family dinner. Yet, emotional undercurrents swirl beneath the surface to give it heft and complexity, and there is a quiet, controlled confidence in its telling.

Each selected story was marked by its distinctive voice, from the lyrical to the spare to the loud and large-hearted. These are the tales that wriggled their way beneath the skin, working a groove in the mind to surprise, impress, or merely to remain memorable. We hope that readers will be as moved, unsettled, and dazzled, as we found ourselves in their reading.

*The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, now in its eighth year, s an annual prize hosted by Aesthetica Magazine. It is as an opportunity for emerging and established writers to showcase their work to an international audience, and the winners and finalists are published in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual – a collection of new writing in poetry and short fiction.

For more information visit, http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting

Turning Pages: Is criticism of creative-writing courses justified?

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Part-time writer: Samuel Beckett

I found this article by Jane Sullivan interesting because the argument she has discussed is the same used for other creative professions. Are institutions ‘killing’ the creative mind?  How so I ask? And if creativity (in writing) cannot be nurtured through mentoring, writers’ grants nor creative writing workshops – what are we suppose to do?..Quit? 

Having said that, aren’t we (bloggers) all lucky that we could write stories here on WordPress for free in our own genres, languages etc and build our own readership without worrying about whether someone reads the stories or not? 

Turning Pages: Is criticism of creative-writing courses justified?

There’s a scene in the Simon Pegg TV sitcom Spaced when a writer is kicked off the dole and has to get a job washing dishes. She complains to the manager: “But this isn’t me. I’m a writer.” The manager replies: “Oh, everyone who works here is a writer, dear.”

They used to make that joke about actors. Now it’s writers. Not that it’s new, exactly. Writers have always taken pride in listing menial and bizarre jobs on their book cover bios, and have taken comfort in the thought they were following in the footsteps of Hemingway and Beckett. A full-time writer is still quite a rare beast, and is usually a writer of books for children, or of books in a highly commercial genre.

So why is a Nobel Prize for Literature judge, no less, complaining about the rather meagre and intermittent help writers can get from institutions? You’d think Horace Engdahl would be totally in favour of writers’ grants and creative-writing programs to nurture talent and to supplement what are usually very modest incomes.

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Nobel judge: Horace Endgdahl.

But no, he thinks they are impoverishing Western literature. Just before the Nobel team announced that the 2014 prize had gone to the French author Patrick Modiano, Engdahl told the French newspaper La Croix that “professionalisation” of the writer’s career is having a negative effect: “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions.” He cited writers including Samuel Beckett, who had to work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living.

Engdahl’s comments were reported in The Guardian, which drew some miffed responses from writers (one of them mentioned the Spaced scene). They just don’t view their lives as he does.

Most writers still take the Beckett route, combining paid work with writing in their spare time, and most don’t get any other income until they are published. Grants are still few and far between, last for a few months at most, are always under threat of cutbacks, and the competition for them is intense.

There’s always someone ready to rail against literary grants as a waste of taxpayers’ money. Creative-writing programs are similarly under siege. Although they have grown at a huge rate, they are as vulnerable as any section of academia to cutbacks, and they regularly get attacked.

Writers and teachers themselves have joined the offensive. The British novelist Hanif Kureishi has denounced creative-writing courses as a waste of time, even though he teaches one himself, at Kingston University. He complained “99.9 per cent” of his students were not talented, and many of them couldn’t tell a story. Lucy Ellman has agreed with him, calling creative-writing courses “the biggest con-job in academia”.

It’s true most creative-writing students will not end up in full-time careers as published writers (though they might well end up working in the publishing industry). They may not have the talent; they may not have the right teachers; almost certainly they won’t have the fanatical determination that is necessary. But it’s a huge jump from there to assert that all courses are a waste of time, or a con-job, or part of a “professionalisation” that diminishes literature.

Writing is a vocation that attracts a huge number of beginners; very few stay the course. Those who stay need all the help they can get. And the charge that a bit of intermittent assistance from a creative-writing course or a grant will put them out of touch with society seems out of touch with reality.


October 25, 2014

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/turning-pages-is-criticism-of-creativewriting-courses-justified-20141016-1170v2.html#ixzz3HcN4yvV9