Book fair interviews, sex scenes, tragic endings, Tarzan and cultural omnivores – yes, it’s another linkdump

Today is another linkdump day, sorry. It was either that or a rant about the blind techno-optimism of certain SF writers regarding nuclear power, which I would probably delete thirty seconds after posting once I realized that calling some author more famous and important than me a wrongheaded idiot was not a good idea. Still, the cavalier reaction to the Japan nuclear disaster in parts of the US has caused me to think less both of the MIT, who seem to be the chief among the pro-nuclear cheerleaders in the US, and several SF writers (all of them male, coincidentally).

So, instead of ranting about the wrongheaded nuclear cheerleading of certain American SF authors and the MIT, I set up the alternative energy photo gallery over at the ABC Buhlert site. I took all of the photos at my parents’ today and I will probably replace some of them. For starters, it was difficult to get a good shot of the roof solar panels from the ground. Plus, I realized that in my enthusiasm to take the photos, I completely forgot to remove a stack of freshly laundered towels from view.

Also instead of nuclear power rants, have some more video interviews from the Leipzig Book Fair (in German). These are the IMO highlights, more interviews are available at the ZDF site:

Writer and TV show host Jörg Thadeusz on writing thrillers and the secrets of hairdressers. I particularly like the bit where he says that his plots tend to sound completely insane, when summed up. Because that happens to me, too. A lot.

Thriller writer Simon Beckett with, among other things, an interesting comparison between vampires and serial killers.

Dutch writer Margriet de Moor is interviewed about what sounds like a very fascinating historical novel. This is the Rembrandt sketch mentioned in the interview and the novel by the way.

SFF writer Wolfgang Hohlbein talks, among other things, about the old literary vs. genre fiction conflict and being a slow-burning but steady seller. He also briefly goes into the indie publishing question.

This is a very good interview, unfortunately marred by a totally clueless and borderline insulting interviewer. She asks Wolfgang Hohlbein where he gets his ideas – after he has already explained where the idea for that particular book came from! Then she claims that writing fantasy must be easy – because you can just make up shit. And she keeps making disparaging remarks about Hohlbein being so prolific. Really, this interviewer is stunningly awful. I really admire Hohlbein, both for not losing his patience with the interviewer and for actually giving intelligent answers to her inept questions.

Sometimes I wonder whether it’s inexperience with the genre or deliberate design that causes the interviewers on German culture TV to always mess up the few interviews they do with SFF writers. I have seen interviews with SFF writers where the interviewer got hung up on basics such as how does a space elevator work and totally wasted the interview.

Non-fiction writers Kai-Hinrich and Tim Renner take on the digital pessimism that is still extremely widespread in Germany. The interviewer, unfortunately, is the same woman who botched the Wolfgang Hohlbein interview, though she seems more in her element here.

Clemens J. Setz, winner of the award of the Leipzig Book Fair for fiction, on the problems of writing sex scenes among other things.

While on the subject of sex scenes, Juliette Wade has a great post on character driven sex scenes Those are really the best kind, because the sex is neither gratuitous nor is it the sort of cookie cutter “How to write a sex scene 101” sex one sometimes finds in poorly written romances.

Israeli writer Guy Hasson guestblogs on happy and tragic endings and which of the two is better at Bibliophile Stalker.

What I found most interesting here is the almost throwaway line that Hasson preferred unhappy endings from his early twenties up to his early thirties. This matches with observations I have made that those who tend to enjoy bleak endings most and are most likely to decry happy endings as unrealistic are usually young people in their late teens and twenties. I know that I used to prefer my fiction a lot darker or bleaker up to my late twenties, then I grew out of it. This mechanism can also be observed with many writers – if they started to write and publish young. The early works tend to be a lot darker, while works created from their thirties on upwards are more optimistic and usually more beautiful.

Here is a great article on Tarzan at Open Letters Monthly.

National Public Radio has a great article (well, given the venue I suspect it was a broadcast once) on cultural omnivores, i.e. people who consume and enjoy both what is considered high and low culture, and what the decline in the number of such omnivores means.

I like the idea of cultural omnivores, though I somewhat disagree with the examples given. In my world, the inexplicably popular Downton Abbey would count as middlebrow culture. High culture would be a dogme film on 3sat or an opera production broadcast live on arte. Though arte is the perfect example of cultural omnivorism. You get live opera performances, highbrow discussion rounds on subjects such as philosophy and obscure arty short films on the one hand and documentaries on rock music, B-movies and reruns of The Avengers and The Prisoner on the other. And documentaries on East German claymation porn. Honestly. And it was the most awesome thing ever.

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8 Responses to Book fair interviews, sex scenes, tragic endings, Tarzan and cultural omnivores – yes, it’s another linkdump

  1. Pingback: Book fair interviews, sex scenes, tragic endings, Tarzan adn … | Cartoon World

  2. Sherwood says:

    I listened to half of the Hohlbein interview–have to get the day started. I need to listen a couple more times because I rarely get a chance to hear German, so I stumble to comprehend unless I can listen a few times, but it seemed to me that the woman doing the interview had not read a word the man had written. She kept referring to her notecards; I stopped the interview and went over to Amazon DE to read a bit about the book, and damned if her very words didn’t show up in the editorial blurb. It seemed like she hadn’t even read her prompt cards beforehand, much less the book.

    • Cora says:

      Yes, I noticed that she kept glancing at her notecards, too. The only excuse for her total cluelessness would be if she had to take over the interview for someone else in a hurry and had no time to prepare. It’s still not very professional – how long can it take to read a few notecards? And even utter unpreparedness is no excuse for being borderline insulting and not listening to what Hohlbein already said. They really should have gotten a genre friendly critic (there are at least two, though they work for a rival TV station) for this interview. The 3sat interview with Wolfgang Hohlbein that I linked to yesterday is much better IMO, at least the interviewer has half a clue.

      Anyway, I’m glad the interviews gave you a chance to listen to some German. The ZDF and ARD and 3sat sites are very good sources for German language clips anyway, since they put almost all of their programming online free for anyone to watch.

  3. Estara says:

    “Still, the cavalier reaction to the Japan nuclear disaster in parts of the US has caused me to think less both of the MIT, who seem to be the chief among the pro-nuclear cheerleaders in the US, and several SF writers (all of them male, coincidentally). ”

    In which case, don’t read the BVC today, because a female SF writers seems to be pro-nuclear, too (it was two posts before yours on my friends list, that’s why my impression of that is fresh).

    • Cora says:

      Thanks for the warning. Though I doubt that post can be as annoying as the one by a male SF writer who shall remain unnamed or the link to a supposed science site which is busily saving humanity from the threat of homeopathic cold medication, but seems to be not even the slightest bit alarmed by nuclear radiation.

      The disconnect in this issue is stunning, though, considering that here in German even the most die-hard pro-nuclear-power politicians have – at least publicly – changed their tune.

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