09 July 2007

Even More Miscellaneous Than Usual

If that's possible.
  • Is it possible that it's now hip to be a librarian? I didn't think so, either. One thing to note: The high proportion of law librarians discussed in this article. Next thing we know going to law school is going to be hip.
  • The WGA is trying to explain away a drop in total compensation paid to writers in 2006. Although some of the explanations offered surely contributed, I'm surprised that the article failed to note several other factors that are probably more important. Probably the most important is simply that fewer film projects under WGA jurisdiction went to a second draft in 2006 than in 2005. Under WGA rules, this generates more money for the scriptwriters. It reflects two things: A slight slowdown in the feature-film pipeline, and an increased proportion of films from outside WGA jurisdiction (primarily indie productions). Variety is usually a bit more sensitive to industry dynamics than that.
  • So, then, what will Joanne Rowling do with her fortune (and time) after Friday next?1 John Walsh concludes that:

    The hot question is, of course: What now for JK Rowling? How can she possibly top the best-selling children's books in history? How can she match the weight of expectations about her next move? Will she write something quite unexpected — a history of the Franco-Prussian war, say, or a grown-up three-decker family saga set in Scotland? (Either would, of course, become a massive best-seller.) One imagines the senior management at her publishers, Bloomsbury, sitting around the boardroom table, gently trying to steer her towards a new seven-part childhood chronicle, but without becoming too, you know, insistent about it — nobody is likely to apply pressure to the glamorous goose that has laid seven enormous golden eggs. In fact, so nervous are they of giving the slightest offence to their star author, nobody at her publishers or her agent's office will talk to the press about Jo Rowling at all.

    The author herself has supplied a bulletin of sorts about her next publications: an eighth Potter book, gathering together all her unpublished material to make an encyclopedia of the Harry world. She's also written "a few short stories" and, for younger readers, "a political fairy story" about a monster, but she knows that's not what everyone wants to know. That's just flannel and dross, a holding pattern. What everyone wants to know is the nature and dimensions of the new universe — not so much a book or book series as a whole planetary system — she will next create in which her billions of readers can live and lose themselves for the foreseeable future.

    "JK Rowling: Learning to Live With Fame, Fortune and Life Without Harry," The Independent (09 Jul 2007).

    That is, more of the usual. The bulk of the article consists of quasibiographical musings and hints, but at least does not make the mistake of completely conflating the person Joanne Rowling with the author J.K. Rowling. No, the key to understanding Walsh's conclusion is that second parenthetical (the one actually in parentheses) in the first paragraph quoted above. J.K. Rowling is no longer an author per se; J.K. Rowling is a brand identifier in the world of fiction. So far, at least, Joanne Rowling has managed to avoid conflating the two and becoming a self-parody, unlike so many other contemporary "author-brands" I could name.

  1. There's a meme running around that Americans who use Anglicisms in their writing are "posers." Some of us, however, lived there; and, perhaps even worse, studied twentieth-century English writers in that particularly intensive/obsessive manner known well to graduate students. It's not a "pose" if it's completely unconscious, or if the expression in question is merely unambiguous in a way uncommon to American colloquy. And it's not a "pose" if, like the Chinese swearing in Firefly, it's an expressive device to get the bloody sentiment out while evading censorship.