A Bunch of White Guys, or The Hugo Awards

It isn’t a surprise to anyone that I am not the biggest fan of that literary ghetto of a genre, science fiction/fantasy. Despite publisher attempts to rescue books from that dreaded pit by re-labeling them speculative fiction, it remains a genre that has become a shorthand for basement-dwelling, mouth-breathing virgins. Not that all readers of…

Trigger Warning (As If)

Let the people write whatever they want, and let the readers make the decisions based on their own experience, and posterity will sort out the rest. I’m not sure that any intellectually curious reader would appreciate being told what is and isn’t safe reading.

Podcast: Catalogues, Books and Writing

So I wandered into a lovely office in a nursery in Johannesburg to speak at Radio Today, a community radio station, to talk about the Exclusive Books catalogue that took four months to produce and is now a glorious, bountiful collection of books. We also talk about publishing, books as objects of lust and untapped…

The Foolishness of Book Jackets

Bad cover design delegates books to the wrong sections, gives them the wrong or no readers and so often puts great books on sale tables, alone and unwanted and left to die next to untold numbers of Dan Brown books.

Criticism of The Fifty Shades Trilogy: Smackdown Round-up

I refuse to accept that there are better things for me to do with my time than round up all the best criticism of Fifty Shades of Fail. I could be saving kittens from trees, probably. However, if I could I would use this post to raise money for all the women that end up in abusive relationships like the one described in Shades of Black and Blue.

The State of South African Literature

“Why don’t you stock more local authors? Why can’t I find any South African poetry? Why are there so few black authors?” These complaints come my way every now and then, and are often brought up at store level. While these are very valid questions, the answer is more complicated (and a little bit sadder)…

Tony Blair, A Journey and the Armchair Activists

Despite the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is basically a handguide to how abusive relationships start, and that Game of Thrones is an airbrushed Medieval Europe where feminism and civil rights are things that happen to other books, I would never call for these books to be banned or burnt. You’d think this would…

The Life and Death of the Book Store

I don’t mean to wax lyrical and mewl like an old lady on her stoep with a blanket on her knees and a cat on her lap, but I remember drive-ins. The slap chips, the giant radios that threatened to crack the window, my parents smoking freely while we ran down to the playground just…

Traditional versus Self-Publishing

Let it be said that the current publishing model, as a whole, doesn’t work perfectly. Great writers don’t make it, mediocre ones do, and the idea of nurturing an author into a bestseller is a part of the past. With eBooks, agency pricing and antitrust cases and debacles around author rights, the system is far…