Monday, June 20, 2011

Around the Word

The search for the Craigslist Thriller: Most ghosts know that Craigslist has been regularly featuring help wanted ads looking for writers for book projects for years. But this is oddly news to, the supposedly with-it culture site. Someone over there stumbled upon an ad on the New York listings  seeking a ghost who can mimic the style of best-selling author James Patterson -- or as the ad says, to "help pattersonize our novels" and duplicate his fast-paced thriller style. Even weirder still, Nerve writer Jeff Mills seemed as scandalized as he was mystified. "Is this just an extension of what people like artist Jeff Koons and author James Frey are doing, farming out the work as a business proposition?. . . What's next, Dr. Franzenstein's House of Prose?"

How's that new cliche working out for ya? Sarah Palin's folksy colloquialisms -- and Tina Fey's brilliant impression of them -- have been making headlines ever since she emerged on the national scene in 2008. But one classic Palin-drome from last year -- derived from the tea party punchline, "How's that hopey-changey stuff working out for ya?" -- has gotten particularly hot. In fact, "hopey-changey" has been repeated so often in so many different context that the New York Times took the trouble this past weekend of cataloguing the usages of our new favorite term of snark, in reference to   everything from Hezbollah to DSLR tripods to American Idol.

Book burns: We wrote recently about some of the saltiest resignation letters from writers, and now we have another collection of clever zingers from wordsmiths to share. Flavorwire has compiled a list of the best insults from one famous writer to another. A fellow author can be your harshest critic, and we would never like to be on the receiving end of any of these literary disses. From Charles Beaudelaire calling Voltaire the "king of nincompoops" to Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway ("I read him sometime in the early 'forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it") these author-on-author insults are sure to have you laughing.

Unrevised and overpriced? Want another sign of how the Internet is transforming the publishing marketplace? Rare review copies of famous literary works are selling for big bucks on some online bookselling sites. As Salon reports, a proof copy of a beloved book can cost you thousands of dollars. A rare Canadian review copy of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four costs $1,837, while a proof set of the first three Harry Potter novels will set you back $27,500. And here we thought print was dead.

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