The Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough going blind

Australian writer Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds and a dozen other acclaimed novels, has revealed she is going blind and may soon no longer be able to write her own books.
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Publicity-Shy Librarian aka "The Poet of Dirty Words"

A revised edition of Philip Larkin's "Collected Poems" has been released, showcasing the cantankerous, misanthropic side of the poet-librarian. Dismissed as a confessionary crank as little as a decade ago, Larkin's life has become sort of a cottage industry and subject of intense voyeuristic interest. "By the time of his death, Larkin, a grumpy, publicity-shy librarian, had become an unlikely celebrity, a rabbity symbol for his readers' accumulated regrets, calling his own childhood a forgotten boredom.'" More here from Slate.

Those of you who are adamantly child-free will appreciate the poem, "This Be the Verse," the last stanza of which reads:

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can
And don't have any kids yourself.

'Da Vinci' author: I left out even more

Though "The Da Vinci Code" was contentious enough to produce 10 books attempting to discredit it, its author said he left out what likely would have been the most controversial part.

Dan Brown said that when he wrote the best seller that dissects the origins of Jesus Christ and disputes long-held beliefs about Catholicism, he considered including material alleging that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion.
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The New York Times:The Curious Incident of the Boxes

Anonymous Patron writes "The NY Times peaks inside cardboard boxes, more than a dozen of them, sat in a corner of a London office, gathering dust while lawyers argued about whom they belonged to and scholars dreamed about what was inside for more than 25 years. It turns out they belonged to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and this has provoked another fight and a mystery almost worthy of Holmes himself."


The Vanishing Author

nbruce writes "Today’s Wall Street Journal had an article about a disappearing author (sorry, no link). Apparently, an employee of Merck Carolyn Cannuscio was the epidemiologist co-author of a Circulation (American Heart Association) article that was funded by Merck. The usual admissions were made about support for the research, but Merck had her name removed from the author list because the article was not kind to Merck. Apparently her name was in the on-line version in April, then removed for the final print version, but she is referred to and thanked anonymously in a footnote as the person who provided the epidemiological work for the article. One of the editors of JAMA thought Merck missed an opportunity to take the high road and set a good example for other corporate funded research."


Intrigue surrounds Conan Doyle's papers

Bob Cox writes "Toronto Star has this article which tells how

Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts got a rare glimpse into the private world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as thousands of personal papers - from his passport to his jotted-down story ideas - went on display today. At the same time, the archive has become entwined in a mystery worthy of Doyle's celebrated fictional detective: the bizarre death of a leading Holmes scholar.

The papers are to be auctioned off Wednesday, perhaps to disappear again into the obscurity of private ownership, a fate that had obsessed Richard Lancelyn Green, a former chairman of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London."


Book opened orchid-growing to the world

Bob Cox spotted a Seattle Post-Intelligencer Piece on the 1950 book "Home Orchid Growing." They say this book is still the bible for growers -- amateur and professional alike, -- and did for orchids what Julia Child did for French cooking, said one orchid lover. Her greenhouse still contained hundreds of orchids when she died April 30 at age 93 in Des Moines, where she lived with her daughter.

"She's the reason we have orchids in Trader Joe's," said Northen's daughter, Betty Lyons. "Truly, she was an orchid grower's orchid grower,"


Authors now entertaining in bars

Info Whale writes "Once confined to libraries and bookstores, authors are now providing a new form of entertainment at bars around the country.
NYTimes Has The Article."


Results of the Second River Cities’ Reader Short-Fiction Contest

Bob Cox writes "The number of entries in this year’s River Cities’ Reader short-fiction contest jumped to over 120, up more than 25 percent from last year. There was one significant rule change – the word limit was cut from 250 to 200 – but that didn’t seem to affect the quality of entries. Writers from the Quad Cities and beyond gave us interesting, provocative, and dense narratives, and winnowing the list down to the finalists was difficult. The subjects ranged from religion to relationships to murder, with just about everything in between.

We present 15 of the best entries here, five winners and 10 other finalists. While they’re disparate in tone, content, and style, most share a few traits: They’re full of idiosyncratic detail, the authors have breathed life into the characters, and they have a ring of authenticity." See the

River Cities' Reader Online ".


Happy Birthday to the Bard!

Anonymous Patron writes "Happy 440th to the Bard of Avon!

Huzzah to all the valiant public librarians
asked to identify or interpret obscure quotes.

The Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image at the Univ. of Penn. has some cool
scanned texts of Bill S's plays."

See here.



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