Friday, December 12, 2008


"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

- Sir Winston Churchill

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

picture books: words and pictures together

Two really cool picture books (The Snow Show and Snow) are reviewed in the Times this week. But it's the review, written by a Prince of Children's Books, Paul O. Zelinsky, and his words about how a good picture works that struck me. He says (among other great things): "In any good picture book, words and pictures complement each other, each of them necessary and neither sufficient." Working on picture books, you must check your ego at the door. At least if you want a good picture book. It's what one of my publishers calls, "Breaking through The Author Barrier": where you suddenly find that what you're most concerned with is not keeping all of your words, but making the best book. Even if that means, as Faulkner said, murdering "your darlings." (Those pieces of text you are so fond of and think are so wonderful and the very apex of your literary skill usually are the very things that must go. Because in order to keep them you make everything else work around them and end up forcing things. And that, as far as I can tell, never works in books and stories anymore than it does in life.) Putting the book first--not your words--takes the focus off you (and saves you from that awful self-indulgence and thinking it's all about self-expression) and puts it where it belongs: to thinking first of the reader and asking not "Am I a good writer?" but, "Am I telling a good story?" Read more here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"one of the funniest books of the year"

No, it's not just me saying it. Radio 4 said it. Honestly. And they know things. (Radio 4 is the high brow radio station of the UK--for the benefit of non-Brits) In FRONT ROW'S round up of the best books to give younger readers this Christmas, How To Be A Baby: by Me, The Big Sister was in the list! And that's when they said that thing about it being "one of the funniest books of the year" (sorry, did I already say that?) Listen here if you feel like a bit of Brit Radio... Front Row.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Subprime Banking Mess

John Bird and John Fortune (the Long Johns) (who I think surely must have written that interview "the front fell off" in the last post) here brilliantly describing the mindset of the investment banking community in this "interview." Shows how great comedy is for pointing out the ridiculousness of things. The only trouble is no one takes it seriously.

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