December 07, 2007



Congratulations the world over(hee, hee)- what a wonderful bit of news first thing in the morning!



Fantastic fucking news, Mark. Congratulations!


Good stuff. I have been following all the updates. Congratulations!

On a tangential note (and since it features in this post), can one enact a law/rule to stop using the word "poignant" already when reviewing books. It shows up alarmingly in almost every blurb I read and is as my kids would say it's getting "vomitrocious."

Poignant, limn, and roil. There oughta be a law :-)

Good work!


That's really great news, Mark. It must be hard to remain seated long enough to post. I know I'd be jumping around my apartment. Congratulations!


That is fabulous news. Congratulations!

Dan Green



Local boy makes good. How long before John Banville is queuing up to interview you?


Outstanding news! Canongate is cool personified. Watching from here with great interest, Mark.

Nigel Beale

Congratulations on this great news! Look forward to reading the book...and raving.

You mention Jamie Byng. I had the pleasure of interviewing him last year at BookExpo. Here's a brief summary of what we talked about, and a link to listen, if there is an interest:

Jamie Byng appreciates and understands that myth and The Bible lie at the core of creative imagination and the Western Canon. He marries this knowledge with a skill for presentation and promotion that few other publishers can match.We talk here about how he does it, about ambiguity, about the responsibility we parents have to make the lives of our children interesting if not easy, and about living without fear.



Congratulations! I’ll read your book in Italian. Could you kindly tell me the name of the Italian publisher? Thank you, I’m curious!


Well done Mark, Canongate are one of my favourite publishers.


Oh my gosh, wow, congratulations! The first line of your last paragraph -- huge understatement!


Thank you, everyone, for the kind wishes. Annarita, we haven't settled on an Italian publisher yet, but I'll be sure to announce that when we do.


Good work my friend. Will you be accepting applications for sycophants and hangers-on soon?



Congratulations, Mark! You've made it to gawker.com, too which means you truly have arrived! ;-0


Great news, Mark. Jump high, make a big splash.


Long time reader is very happy for you.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe


    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."