Sunday, 29 August 2010

Radio Interview

Did a brief interview on  3WAY-FM Great Ocean Radio last Thursday morning with John MacInnes.  John was asking me about The Grease Monkey's Tale and the Port Fairy launch of the PaperBooks edition, which took place yesterday evening at Blarney Books & Art (photos coming soon).  It's always good to be able to plug a book and an event, and I thank John and 3WAY-FM for that.

Such news leaves me with the option to segue into Video Killed the Radio Star, almost any track from Radiohead or On the Radio from Regina Spektor. Although I'm a fan of both Radiohead and Regina Spektor, the lady won because I've always loved the poetry of the following lyrics.
This is how it works:
You're young until you're not,
You love until you don't,
You try until you can't,

You laugh until you cry,
You cry until you laugh,
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath.
Spot on!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sylvia Plath

Don't often get to see a play, unfortunately, but caught a tremendous one at the weekend on the life of Sylvia Plath: The Girl Who Wanted To Be God, directed by Brenda Palmer.  A very sharp script (with even a touch of Gerard Manley Hopkins in there) and superbly acted, it presented three personas of Plath and how they were often in conflict with one another.  Sylvia Plath's husband (the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes) didn't come across too well (unsupportive, egotistical, adulterous) and that may well have been a fair representation of how things were, but I remember thinking years ago - when Ted Hughes visited Kingston Poly, where I was studying Literature at the time - what a cheery scene breakfast must have been in the Plath/Hughes household.  There'd be Sylvia with more than a few problems of her own on one side of the table and a dour Ted on the other - just a crumpled box of Cornflakes between them.  Both stunning poets, but each, I imagine, engrossed in their own poetry.

Incidentally, hearing Ted Hughes recite his work marked the beginning of a conviction - which I haven't changed since - that poets should never read their own poems.  There he stood in his drab overcoat, just a few feet from the Student Union bar, with a pint of beer in one hand and a tatty piece of paper in the other, monotoning his poetry to death.  Mind, it was a cold night and the beer was bloody awful... and I'm still a fan of his writing.

By the by, The Girl Who Wanted To Be God was performed at Blarney Books & Art, which is hosting an event this Saturday to celebrate the UK launch of The Grease Monkey's Tale - bless 'em.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Moyne Gazette profile

One of the local newspapers - The Moyne Gazette - interviewed me last week and ran a one-page profile on Thursday.  I've posted the piece over on the Reviews/Interviews page (see tabs above).  It's running ahead of a local launch for the PaperBooks edition of The Grease Monkey's Tale next weekend.

Was looking through the ImprovEverywhere site for that Grand Central piece a  couple of posts back and came across the No Pants Subway Ride clip.  Tremendous.  Apparently it happens every year: thousands of New Yorkers take off their daks at the same moment to ride the subway.  You've gotta love the looks of surprise on the faces of the other unsuspecting passengers.

ImprovEverywhere pull some wonderful stunts.  Take, for instance, the Star Wars Subway Car.  Here are both clips.  Check 'em out and then go do something silly.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Blood, sweat and tears ... but finished!

The front of my head is bruised from all the times I've hit it against the wall in frustration, but after a year of cursing (and more than a few tears), the new website is finally finished and up and running.

Yep, the makeover of http://paulburman.net/ is complete.  It's a Flash-based website, this one, and first time round it might take 30 seconds to load (depending on the speed of your connection), but hopefully it'll be worth your while... and it'll load in a flash after that.

Enjoy - I hope you do.

Also, have just posted a profile of the Australian literary agent (and author) Gaby Naher over on the Opportunities page of The View from Here.

Now to repair that hole in the wall.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Dancing on the beach

Am in the mood for a little dancing on the beach, so here you go...

And, in a similar vein - well, no, it's the opposite really - here's the Improv Everywhere scene I posted a couple of years back from Grand Central, which still amuses me.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Gary Davison on Technology

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Gary Davison (Fat Tuesday, Streakers, A Tale of Two Halves) and I would be mixing things up a bit between our two blogs, and today we start.  We're talking technology this week, and you can read Gary's thoughts about this below.  Meanwhile, you can find me rabbiting on over at Gary's blog here.

Ebooks, emails, iphones, smart phones, not-so-smart phones, YouTube, blogs, bogs, ipads, video-phones… Throw them all at me and I want to run a mile. Grab a newspaper or book, turn my back on all and everything and kick back on a park bench reading. Chilled out. Nice and easy. Leave the world and its gadgets behind and ride off into the sunset and be done with it all.

But I run this blog, so I can’t be against all technology. Then I have that iphone, the one I said I would never get because I’m a dinosaur when it comes to technology, but… it’s… so… good. I love it. I can’t get enough of the iphone. I check work emails, private emails, check on the books and websites I like, all so easily and the speed of it is amazing. Much better than that laptop t-mobile blagged me into buying at Christmas. You can nip down and stick the veg on and prepare the dessert while that’s getting into gear.

When e-books were first announced, or when they came to my attention, I was adamant, that me, and possibly my generation, my type of people, would not entertain them at all. How can a screen take the place of a nice book you can hold, bend the cover, shove in the beach bag?

I don’t think e-books will because ‘we’ the people before ipad and over thirty will always want to read the conventional way with a book in our hands. I know I will when I go on holiday and I’m chilling out on the beach. That’s when I like to have a book handy. That aside, I think there is room for e-books in my life along with the many other things that an ipad, or similar device, can give you.

Take the newspapers. The Times is nine quid a month as an app, or you can get it in paper form for thirty-five a month. Weather, golf gps – which is fantastic, by the way – dictionary, app to teach your kids how to tell the time, drawing app, it goes on and on, and the more I get into it, the more I like it.

If I buy an ipad, there’s a fair chance I’ll be seduced into e-books. If I buy an ipad. A year ago I would have burst out laughing. Now, I’m convincing myself, that despite not needing an ipad, because no one needs one, it just looks so much fun, I’m close to weighing over for one.

If I can be pulled up to speed with all this igear and find it fun, anyone can. And the reason being is that it is all so easy and amazing to use. And I can’t be the only one feeling like this as e-books, since the release of the ipad, have overtaken sales of normal books for the first time.

Verdict – If you enjoy doing something, do it. I’m in on this particular way of technology.

Buy Gary's books on Amazon here.
Go to PaperBooks A Tale of Two Halves competition here.

Cheers, Gary.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

5 star review for The Grease Monkey's Tale

Great to pick up a 5 star review already on Amazon.co.uk for The Grease Monkey's Tale.  Brief but sweet: 
"The Grease Monkey's Tale is a brilliant read
it gathers momentum and is very hard to put down."
Thanks, wonderful reader!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Recent Reads

Stumbled through a pile of books across the last couple of months that I didn't hit it off with and which I duly ditched somewhere between page 40 and page 80.  I don't get on well with books that are too full of naval-gazing introspection, where 5 pages might focus on opening a pair of curtains (especially if there's no surprise waiting behind them), or where the characters are so insipidly unengaging that it'd be more interesting to watch paint dry than turn one more page in their company.

Instead, I'm always looking for fiction that's entertaining, but fast-paced; has action, but is thought-provoking; that takes risks, but carries me with it; where the language is fresh and exciting, and where I give a damn about the characters.

One of the novels I stuck with recently was Nick Hornby's How To Be Good.  It's the first Nick Hornby I've read and it was especially refreshing to come across such a book during this slump and enjoy the superb craftsmanship of his writing - to see how it could be done.
According to her own complex moral calculations, Katie Carr has earned her affair.  She's a doctor, after all, and doctors are decent people, and on top of that her husband David is the self-styled Angriest Man in Holloway.  When David suddenly becomes good, however - properly, maddeningly, give-away-all-his-money good - Katie's sums no longer add up, and she is forced to ask herself some very hard questions...
Have added recently to my tottering book tower with a couple of titles I've been wanting to read for a long while: Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and J. D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey.  I'm a BIG fan of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 and Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye - they certainly fulfil all those qualities I mentioned above - and so I'm particularly looking forward to tucking into these two.