In Praise of the Language Police

For all those who believe they do not need help with your writing, I present Tim Park’s argument for what an editor can do for you:

The editor’s job then becomes one of helping the writer to see where an unessential, perhaps unconscious departure from the norm is actually draining energy away from places where the text is excitingly unconventional. That is, the editor reminds an author that to construct a coherent identity he has to remember his relationship with society and with the language we share and cannot express ourselves without. To go out on a limb linguistically, accepting no compromise and creating an idiolect that really is entirely your own, may win awed admiration, as did Finnegans Wake, but will likely not attract many readers, and arguably does not allow for the communication of nuance, since all the ordinary reader will understand is that you are indeed off on a trip on your own…

In Praise of the Language Police by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

Man Booker International finalists revealed

The shortlist of 10 authors competing for the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize has been announced.  The finalists come from nine different countries and include a Swiss writer for the first time.

The judging panel is chaired by literary critic Sir Christopher Ricks and features Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li and Tim Parks.

The 10 nominees are:

  • U.R. Ananthamurthy (India)
  • Aharon Appelfeld (Israel)
  • Lydia Davis (USA)
  • Intizar Husain (Pakistan)
  • Yan Lianke (China)
  • Marie NDiaye (France)
  • Josip Novakovich (Canada)
  • Marilynne Robinson (USA)
  • Vladimir Sorokin (Russia)
  • Peter Stamm (Switzerland)

BBC News – Man Booker International finalists revealed.

In Defense of the Pun

To pun or not to pun, that is the question. The lowest form of wordplay, or an ancient art form embraced by the likes of Jesus and Shakespeare, asks Sally Davies.


No pun is an island. Within less than a mile of my house in Brooklyn, a wanderer will find:


  • Fish & Sip, a coffee and seafood joint
  • Prospect Perk Cafe, an allusion to the restorative properties of caffeine and of nearby Prospect Park
  • The Winey Neighbor, a liquor store that pays homage to the venerable New York tradition of grumbling about the noise from the apartment next door

Where good humour and refreshments abound, puns seem to follow.

Yet this neat little linguistic device – which exploits the multiple meanings of words or phrases that sound the same or similar – is considered by its detractors to be as irritating as it is irrepressible.

In the English-speaking world, punning is viewed as more of a tic than a trick, a pathological condition whose sufferers are classed as “compulsive”, “inveterate” and “unable to help themselves”.

via BBC News – The pun conundrum.

Feds see red, seize funds from book

A writer’s book advance was seized by the government, because the title of his book is the same as a terrorist organization.

David Axe is a freelance reporter and author of the graphic novel Army of God, which details the aggressive and violent exploits of Joseph Kony, the leader of Central Africa’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group.

Kony, you probably know, is accused of terrorizing Ugandan civilians and using children as soldiers and sex slaves; he was the subject of Kony 2012, an online campaign designed to remove him from power before the end of 2012.

According to War is Boring, a collective (including Axe) of citizen journalists with an interest in world and national security, the federal office of Foreign Assets Control confiscated the majority of Army of God’s advance payment, claiming it was being used to fund a terrorist organization.


Feds see red, seize funds from book » MobyLives.