Sunday, July 24, 2011

Soup and Salad: Jane Austen on the Auction Block, A Pittance for Melville, Writers Famous for the Wrong Book, The Carolyn Parkhurst Collection & Nathan Englander's Coffee

On today's menu:

1.  A "lost" Jane Austen manuscript recently fetched a hefty sum on the Sotheby's auction block when Oxford's Bodleian Library bid three times the expected amount (£993,250) for "The Watsons," an unfinished novel started between Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. The novel tells the story of four sisters who are the daughters of a widowed clergyman, and their attempts to marry well.  The Daily Mail has the full story.

2.  I'm not sure how much Jane Austen earned for her novels (certainly not anywhere near a million pounds), but Bibliokept has this chart of Herman Melville's "lifetime literary earnings."  It comes as little surprise that his greatest work, Moby-Dick, is near the bottom of the chart.  Back in the day, it put a total of $1,259.45 in Melville's threadbare pocket.

3.  My assertion that Moby-Dick is Melville's triumph is, of course, only my humble opinion.  Many other readers stand by Typee.  To each his/her own.  The Guardian has no argument one way or the other for Melville, but it does have a short list of writers who are "Famous for the Wrong Book," including Evelyn Waugh, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Joseph Heller who, the article claims, should be known for Something Happened rather than Catch-22.  My hackles went up at that, but before I start throwing punches, I should probably sit down and read Something HappenedThe Guardian is not the first to tell me good things wait for me in its pages.

3a.  Speaking of Heller's classic World War Two satire, Catch-22 turns 50 this year and I have plans for a week-long birthday bash sometime this Fall.  If you haven't already read this novel, now is the time to do so.  Then come back here and join in the discussion.  It'll be major major fun.

4.  I leave you today with two videos.  First, Carolyn Parkhurst (The Dogs of Babel) shows us how to make the perfect book trailer.  This infomercial for "The Carolyn Parkhurst Collection" is really a pitch for her latest book, The Nobodies Album.  But you may be laughing too hard to realize that.

Next, Nathan Englander (For the Relief of Unbearable Urges) shows us how to make a perfect cup of coffee, but he also serves up a side order of writing advice.

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