The language rule they don’t teach in school

This story from the NYTimes was just too good to not share. As someone who studied journalism as an undergrad and creative writing as a grad student, and who has job duties now that include being the guardian of Time Union style (aka Conan the Grammarian), I had no idea that the world of publishing included the rule mentioned in the following story:

NYTIMES December 14, 2006

“Next,” Michael Crichton’s new novel about the perils of biotechnology, has not proved as polarizing as his previous thriller, “State of Fear,” which dismisses global warming. But one of the new book’s minor characters — Mick Crowley, a Washington political columnist who rapes a baby — may be a literary dagger aimed at Michael Crowley, a Washington political reporter who wrote an unflattering article about Mr. Crichton this year.

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Events on Wednesday, Dec. 13

bahama_new.gifPaul Rutherford on Wednesday, December 13, 6-9 p.m., will sign his new novel “The Bahama Triangle” at the Tri-City Latham Tennis Club, 944 New Loudon Road, Latham NY.
ACC Lecture Series December 13: Lale Davidson and Laying the Groundwork for Novel Writing – QUEENSBURY – Dr. Lale Davidson, Professor of English at Adirondack Community College, will discuss different methods for novel writing on Wednesday, December 13, as part of ACC’s Lecture Series.The program will be held in Eisenhart Hall, Room 118 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. The lecture is free and the public is invited. Light refreshments will be served.Davidson’s presentation – “Laying the Groundwork for Novel Writing” – will include a discussion of two different writing styles, the intuitive and the Continue reading “Events on Wednesday, Dec. 13”

A death, and a memorial

Mary R. Faulkner, age 92, the mother of Donald Faulkner, director of The New York State Writers Institute, passed away Saturday, Nov. 25 in Ft. Myers Beach, FL. She was born July 3, 1914 in Pittsburgh, Pa. She and her late husband, John V. Faulkner were married on May 27, 1937, in Pittsburgh. John passed away in 1976.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to a special fund established in her name at The New York State Writers Institute to promote the work of young writers. Contributions to the Mary Faulkner Fund for Young Writers may be made by check, identifying the Fund, to the University at Albany Foundation, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY, 12222.

Sobol award news — winners to be published

This is from the Hillel Italie at the AP about the novel contest that costs $85 to enter. Note the final quotation from Sobol’s executive vice president ofcontest management, Sue Pollock, : “The Internet has been more difficult to penetrate than we had hoped.”

A division of Simon & Schuster has agreed to publish the top three winners of the Sobol Award, offering advances of up to $100,000 for a controversial new literary contest for agentless writers that also includes a $100,000 first prize.

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Richard Ford’s “Lay of the Land”


If you read my review of Ford’s book in Sunday’s Times Union, you know that I started the book with high hopes, and ended in disappointment. That, of course, is just me. Or is it?
Having finished reading the book and writing the review, I allowed myself to read other reviews, and found the disconnect between the NYTimes Michiko Kakutani and A.O. Scott to be quiet interesting.
Kakutani’s review includes these lines:

the lethargic third installment of Frank’s story (it follows “The Sportswriter,” published in 1986, and the 1995 sequel “Independence Day”)

the book tends to substitute a lot of talk about New Jersey property values and realtor strategies for genuine insights about how people live today.

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Audio Books: A confession


My name is Mike J.

And I’m a fan of audio books.

Now, some people don’t take audio books seriously. True, it isn’t reading, it’s listening. But isn’t that a kind of throwback to pre-literate days of childhood, of being read to by an adult? Or even further back, of an oral tradition that, in the West at least, goes back to Homer?

Of course, if you’ve read my audio books reviews in the Times Union (which should be available here), you’ll know that I’m not listening to classics, but a mix of contemporary fiction and nonfiction. As someone who pretty much reads words all day for a living (as a slot editor and book reviewer) and who has about a 30-minute commute each way, audio books are a good driving distraction, and a way to zone out while I’m at the gym.

Most of the books I’ve listened to have come from the library. For years, it has been my chief enabler. It’s made me a big fan of Elmore Leonard and Michael Connelly.

This past year, one of the more delightful surprises was Joshilyn Jackson’s “Between Georgia.”

One I’m looking forward to is the New York State Theatre Institute’s “Sherlock’s Legacy.”

Are there are audio-bibliophiles out there? What are some of your favorites? Next week, I’ll post what I think was the best audio book I listened to this year.

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