The latest books and literature reviews, comment, features and interviews, with extracts from famous texts and neglected gems.
FREE Speech looks to the Economist, a magazine read by business suits and people keen to appear smart and knowing. But the Economist is no leader, no thought provoker. It’s a publication as uncertain as a worm in flip-flops.
The Economist published a review of Edward Baptist’s “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism”. The review ends with the line:
Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.
An odd view, for sure. Not all whites supported slavery; but blacks were the enslaved victims.
So. Cue the Twitter mob. Outraged they wrote in.
Baptist told TalkingPointsMemo: “Maybe this is crass, but I did realize as soon as I read it that this is not actually going to hurt. It has definitely enhanced my Amazon ranking.”
So. What did the Economist do? It became a non review. It was given its own page, so as not to pollute the rest of the ‘newspaper’s’ website. And it is now topped by an apology:
Apology: In our review of “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward Baptist, we said: “Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.” There has been widespread criticism of this, and rightly so. Slavery was an evil system, in which the great majority of victims were blacks, and the great majority of whites involved in slavery were willing participants and beneficiaries of that evil. We regret having published this and apologise for having done so. We have therefore withdrawn the review, but in the interests of transparency the text remains available only on this special page and appears below.
THE only writers I’ve read all my life is Charles Schulz:
It was the Peanuts collections in my grandfather’s basement office that really stayed with me through childhood and into college. Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy, and Lucy all felt like real people to me. I even felt so sorry for Charlie Brown at one point that I wrote him a valentine and sent it to the newspaper, hoping he’d get it. I’ve said it many times before, but Charles Schulz is the only writer I’ve continually been reading since I was a kid. And I know I’m not alone. He touched millions of people and introduced empathy to comics, an important step in their transition from a mass medium to an artistic and literary one.
JIMMY Savile is the subejct of Dan Davies’s book Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile. The man known in his lifetime as Sir Jimmy has now buried in muck and filth. Savile never was arrested, charged nor tried in his lifetime. He is the alleged paedophile and rapist who operated on the BBC and NHS’s watch.
Rachel Cooke writes:
As I read Davies’s book, the term “light entertainment” suddenly struck me as the greatest joke. What a misnomer. It wasn’t light at all. It was dark and heavy: clodhopping at best, sinister at worst. All the programmes I enjoyed most as a child came with heavy doses of innuendo, low-level violence, sadomasochism. There was Dick Emery, who dressed up as a sexually frustrated spinster – at the time I didn’t know what frottage was, except I sort of did, thanks to her – and as a toothy vicar whose pious exterior made for a sharp contrast with his visits to “naughty” strip clubs. (Davies, I notice, has a picture of this vicar on his Twitter account.) There were the two Ronnies, Barker and Corbett, whose show included peculiar serials such as “The Worm That Turned”, a dystopian fiction starring Diana Dors, in which women ruled the world (mostly in hot pants and jackboots) and men wore women’s clothes and kept house, and “Band of Slaves”, in which an all-girl orchestra was sold into slavery. Rod Hull and his puppet Emu performed a tango of aggression so convincing, you couldn’t help but rub your upper arms as you watched, imagining the bruises on those of their victims. Benny Hill was forbidden in our house – he was on ITV – but I knew the shtick. He chased girls. Round and round and round. (Hill, incidentally, made a shrine of his dead mother’s clothes, just as Savile did with those of his beloved “Duchess”.) Somehow, Ben Elton’s controversial attack on Hill – the comedian’s routine, he suggested, incited rape and other acts of violence against women – doesn’t seem quite so over-the-top now as when he made it in 1987.
CELEBRATE every moment in your waking life with a Coloring For Grown-Ups artwork.
THERE’S no two-ways about it – comics have been a bit white, male and hetero. Of course, that isn’t entirely the case, but chances are, your favourite superhero is a straight white guy.
However, everything is turning on its head. Iron Man is getting a new silver suit for a kick off. Okay, that’s not interesting. How about this – Thor is now a woman. It isn’t Thorette or Thorita. Thor is now a woman. About time there was another female leading role in comicsville.
And now, Captain America is red, white and blue… and black.
Marvel announced that Captain America’s mantle will be taken over by his long-time pal, the Falcon, the soaring superdude from Harlem (who is normally called Sam Wilson).
AFTER the mind-melting success of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling is able to do as she pleases. She’s clearly still got a huge love for writing and, as we know, she’s got balls bigger than Godzilla.
So, in her next novel, she’s decided to have a go at those responsible for phone-hacking.
Rowling’s second crime thriller (which is written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith) will use her own experiences under oath at the Leveson Inquiry after she suffered at the hands of press intrusion.
THE Toff, or to give him his proper name, the Honourable Richard Rollison, was the creation of the novelist John Creasey and first appeared in the tuppenny weekly crime magazine in 1933. The first novel ‘Introducing the Toff’ appeared in 1938. There were eventually fifty-seven books in the series the last of which, ‘The Toff and the Dead Man’s Finger’ wasn’t published until five years after the author died in 1973.
Fifty-seven novels is a lot of writing (Creasey occasionally published six Toffs in just one year) but actually it was just a fraction of Creasey’s output who, according to his publisher, is the 6th or 7th most prolific writer of all time.
“TWISTED”, “Depraved”, “Warped” – these are words often found on the covers of sleazy lesbian paperbacks of the 1950s and 60s. Anything other than “normal” heterosexuality was seen as shameful and deviant. Yet, the populace gobbled up these lesbian tales by the truckload… it was sinful to practice, but evidently okay to read and fantasize about.
Here, for your vulgar amusement, are 33 covers of sinful tales of women who love women (the horror!). I’ve divided them up into 3 categories. Just because it’s filth, doesn’t mean we can’t keep it organized.
1. ABNORMAL TALES
Lesbianism is an abnormality, a sickness. Somebody call a doctor!
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”
- Oscar Wilde
Dr. Wertham’s 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, was an American bestseller – it tapped into the fears of parents from sea to shining sea and led to the a frenzy of censorship in the comic book world. The irony, however, is that the book was so poorly researched, that much of its content was simply made up. Of course, the public didn’t give a baker’s f**k about facts, and Seduction of the Innocent became a sensation.
IN 1987, John Ray Bohlen taught parents how to raise children in his guide How to Raise ‘Purfect’ Kids. You can read more of his wisdom on the Great Commission Ministries Website.
In this day when juvenile delinquency is rampant and broken homes are rife, here is a safe, sure, and sane —– guaruntee from God!!! Here are practical Kingdom principles on how to raise perfect children written by a couple who did!!!
In these pages, meet Joey, Kari, Dawn Joy, and Josh. They are fun loving, people loving and God loving! They are obediant, but creative; righteous but not religious; rrespectful, but not restrained.
John has yet to write a book on spelling, but he is massively popular (it says here):
John Bohlen is a person of unquestioned integrity who has dedicated his life to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. John’s message about “The King’s Greatest Secret” has blessed many throughout the United States, and his books are in great demand in Africa as well as in the United States.
Terrifying quiz from ’87 Evangelical book “How to Raise ‘Purfect’ Kids” encourages “thwacking” and dating children pic.twitter.com/mfP82sdLql
— Alan Scherstuhl (@studiesincrap) June 17, 2014
Does it work? Well, look at his kids:
Spotter: Christian Nightmares
THERE’S no better insight into the teenage girl psyche than those ubiquitous teen magazines. So, let’s step into the mind of early Seventies teenyboppers and take a look at the March 1971 issue of ‘TEEN magazine. It’s chock full groovy advertising and advice, fashion and feminine hygiene. Within its glorious pages we’ll find a plethora of mini-skirts, a cry for the whereabouts of Peter Tork, and how to look fabulous in the jungles of Vietnam. Come take a look!
DYE ADVERT – MAY CAUSE ACID FLASHBACK
This tie-dye painting in combination with that wallpaper is causing a bit of a sensory overload. While I’m sure that wall is nice while gobbling up psychedelics, it would be migraine inducing on a daily basis.
SUCH a joy to be back among you, especially given the egregious state of blogging these days. I can but do my best, permitting you a glimpse of Arcati’s ancient soul which bubbles with spite and acuity and long memory, though I dress it all up in a sage’s garb and vocabulary of daunting endowment. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, I shall be publishing a naked Prince Harry artwork – by a former mayor (only the best on Arcati). But before that exciting controversy, I wish to do what we all do these days – and offer you my ass.
Read the rest of this entry »
‘WE Go To The Gallery’ is artist Miriam Elia’s twist on Ladybird children’s books Peter & Jane.
THERE’S only a finite number of ways you can arrange a canvas. Naturally, there’s going to be some patterns that emerge, and certain motifs will be copied and repeated to oblivion within the pop art landscape. An artful conception will suddenly be mimicked on comic book covers to movie posters to paperbacks to album covers, and it will continue for decades.
PHILIPPE Petit Is talking to the New York Times about his new book Creativity: The Perfect Crime. It begins: “Make no mistake. I frown upon books about creativity.”Is talking to the New York Times about his new book Creativity: The Perfect Crime. It begins: “Make no mistake. I frown upon books about creativity.”
Most books on creativity are written by an author who references all the great creators of humanity — very often Einstein, the Beatles. They’re not drawing from themselves, and these books are usually in the self-help department. And very often, at the end of a chapter, they have an exercise for you to do. I don’t frown upon them; let’s be frank, I hate them.
On his wire-walking:
…two years ago in Washington Square Park. I put a little rope between two trees, and I improvised. If a leaf fell from a tree, I’d stop juggling and play with the leaf. I went to my prop bag and got a little bandage and stuck the leaf back on the tree. People loved it.
GAME of Thrones author George RR Martin has been talking to Rolling Stone:
“Ideas are cheap. I have more ideas now than I could ever write up. To my mind it’s the execution that is all-important. I’m proud of my work, but I don’t know if I’d ever claim it’s enormously original. You look at Shakespeare, who borrowed all of his plots. In A Song of Ice and Fire I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow gel into what I hope is uniquely my own. I don’t know where it comes from, yet it comes — it’s always come.
“If I was a religious guy I’d say it’s a gift from God, but I’m not, so I can’t say that.”
RIP L Feldstein: editor of the once great MAD magazine.