End Notes For Thursday, 19 May 2011

WELCOME TO END NOTES, Advance Copy's weekly trawl for all the book and publishing news that's fit to print, with some music thrown in for good measure. Email me at:



Man Booker International Prize: What's a major literary award without some controversy? Philip Roth won the prize, which is awarded every two years in recognition of an author's contribution to literature. Not everyone is happy about this one, though. One member of the three person jury, Carmen Callil, resigned in protest, arguing that no one will be reading Roth in twenty years. Seems a strange argument, given that Roth has been a titan of literature for the past half century.

Christopher Hitchens: I must say I've developed a soft spot for the cantankerous old geezer. I rarely agree with what he has to say (except when he's praising George Orwell or calling out Noam Chomsky), but he's a rare polemicist, one with undeniable flare. He reviews Adam Hochschild's To End All Wars and somehow manages to make the review about himself and his views. And I love it. And even better news, Hitchens has been deemed worthy of a book of his collected quotes. Brilliant.

Speaking of Orwell...: Will Skidelsky in The Guardian notes the man's long shadow over writing today.

King James Bible: The allegedly definitive version of The Bible (I wouldn't know, I was raised Catholic) is celebrating its 400th birthday this year. Happy birthday.

Disease & Epidemics: In reviewing Carl Zimmer's A Planet of Viruses, Leonard Cassuto makes the seemingly obvious point that disease and epidemics have shaped human history. And yet, if it was obvious, we wouldn't need books like Zimmer's.

Hitler: In the wake of Lars Von Trier's idiotic, moronic, and profoundly stupid statements about Hitler at Cannes, Erik Larson's new book on the rise of Hitler seems especially à-propos. Larson's genius in his previous works, most notably The Devil in the White City, has been in exploring the details, the common-person's view of events. In the Garden of Beasts looking at Berlin in the 1930s as Hitler was rising to power, is no different. Can't wait to read this one.

Kindle: is apparently selling twice as many e-books for the Kindle as it is hard cover. In related news, iPad users prefer e-books. Laptop users do not. Makes sense. iPads are easier to read.

HMV: I'm not sure what to make of this. I've been off for over three months from my duties here at Current Intelligence, and I come back to find that HMV is still trying to sell Waterstone's. Plus ça change...I guess. Talks between HMV and Russian tycoon Alexander Mamut are now in the advanced stage after Mamut upped his offer to £43 million, cash. In slightly related news, I have to say I'm not sure how HMV is holding on as a retailer. The HMV flagship store in downtown Montreal used to attract a huge amount of foot traffic as people snapped up the latest must-buy records, and there were long lines at the checkout.These days, the store is almost barren, just rows and rows of DVDs and CDs no one wants to buy.

Independent Booksellers' Prize: The short-list for the prize was revealed today. Readers are now called upon to submit their votes. You can do so by following the link in the story.



Beastie Boys: Alright, so I'm showing my age here, but it's nice to see the Beasties return to form with their new record, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. While Rolling Stone argues that the Beasties' obliviousness to pop culture in recent years is a good thing, Hot Sauce Committee is no Paul's Boutique, but it is a kick in the arse reminder of why we loved them in the first place. Here's some video of Ad-Rock discussing the new album.

Oh, Mozza, do shut up: Stephen Patrick Morrissey may be more or less irrelevant as a musician, but he's still one opinionated jerk. This week, he's compared Queen Elizabeth II to Moammar Qadafi. Seriously.

Achille Lauro: The 1985 PLO highjacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro was a defining moment of my youth. Along with Apartheid in South Africa, it marked the beginning of my interest and knowledge of international politics. The English National Opera is developing an opera based on the event, due to reach the stage in February 2012.

Johnny Clegg: My twelve year old self's curiousity about Apartheid in South Africa was piqued by the music of Johnny Clegg and his bands Juluka and Savuka. For most of the 80s, he was one of my favourite artists. In many ways, Clegg was a revolutionary, a white lad from Johannesburg protesting Apartheid, playing music with black musicians and challenging the injustices of the system. His 2010 album, Human, is seeing an American release this week, his first in seventeen years.

Alt.Latino: NPR's new blog, covering alternative Latino music, is well worth the read.

Punk Rocker Makes Good: Sometimes we ageing punks make good. Look at me, for instance. Even more impressive is Bad Religion's front man, Greg Graffin. Graffin, a PhD in Zoology, will be teaching a course on evolution at Cornell this summer. Sweet.

Benghazi Raps: Video of a group of rappers and artists in Benghazi discussing their hopes for a better future in Libya. Powerful stuff.



Johnny Clegg & Savuka: This sounds incredibly dated now, but the power of Clegg's music cannot be denied:

Speaking of punk...: The greatest post-punk track of all time, Public Image Limited's "Public Image." Sure, John Lydon is like Morrissey, an opinionated eejit, but, unlike Mozza, Lydon can claim to have been involved in the creation of two musical/cultural movements in the late 20th century, both of which are still with us today:

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