Friday, September 15, 2006

Nathan Is Super

I'm sorry to hear that Nathan Whitlock didn't like my review of Lanzarote Platform The Possibility of an Island The Continuity Girl.

Since I actually have nothing against Whitlock (see blog posting title) I'll leave it there.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Fearsome Yet Elementary Particles

I’ve been reviewing books for a few years now, but I’d hesitate to call myself an expert. Given my focus on non-fiction and contemporary fiction, it’s not as if I have the breadth and experience to be, oh, say, the review editor of Quill & Quire. I mean, you’d really have to know your stuff to be the review editor of the Canadian book industry trade magazine.

So, like I said, I’m no expert. But it strikes me that if you decide to review a book, you might want to take the time to make sure you spell the title correctly. In today’s Sunday Star, Nathan Whitlock takes a crack at The Fearsome Particles. Only problem is that he calls the book The Elementary Particles. Twice:

Cole attempts something both slightly bigger and slightly smaller with The Elementary Particles, his second novel. Instead of resting all of the story's weight upon the shoulders of a singular figure such as Norman Bray, Cole shares the narrative and the troubles among three main characters — a father, a mother, and a son.


Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life lived and died by its central character, who overshadowed all others. In The Elementary Particles, Cole has expanded his range effectively, though with some loss of narrative vitality and cohesion. Both books suffer from endings that feel more like a sudden loss of authorial will than a conclusion. Yet I finished both novels feeling completely satisfied, even grateful, like a lab rat happy to see food appear every time it presses the lever.

Perhaps Cole's new book is very Houellebecq-ish. I'm not sure. All I know is that we're all human, and we all make mistakes. Even Nathan Whitlock.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Take a Journalism Course With Me

Hello. I have no idea how much traffic this blog receives, let alone who comprises that traffic, demographically speaking.

Regardless, if you happen to be someone who wants to write for a living, or wants some tips on how to improve your chances of writing for a living, might I suggest you take the U of T SCS course The Freelance Writing Business (1711) .

I have somewhat of a bias in making this recommendation, given that I will be teaching the course. It begins Monday, October 16 of this year and runs for eight weeks.

Course Details: Polish your freelance newspaper and magazine writing skills, and learn how to establish your own freelance writing business. Topics include identifying markets, marketing stories, writing query letters, researching, interviewing, writing, editing and polishing articles. Tax implications and incentives, and professional organizations are also discussed.

Also worth keeping in mind for the New Year is Freelancing the Feature (1722) that begins February 6th of 2007. It’s also eight weeks, and it’s also taught by me.

Course Details: Freelancing the Feature is designed to teach students the architecture behind a compelling, well-written feature article, including interview techniques and narrative strategies. Students will learn the process of writing a feature, from initial idea to negotiating payment. Classes will be a mixture of short lecture and group discussion. Students will be expected to complete the appropriate readings before each class and should be prepared to consider, discuss and critique said material.

And if you really want to take The Freelance Writing Business, but can’t do it this fall, I’ll be teaching the course again beginning April 16, 2007.

Classes tend to be small enough so that students receive plenty of feedback, and I tailor courses based on student feedback. Please email me any questions you might have: ryan [dot] bigge [at] utoronto [dot] ca

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Future of Pop Culture Journalism

Well, here is what the future of time-killing but none-the-less enjoyable journalism about old television shows looks like.