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The LOOP Print Emailer

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The LOOP Print Emailer

Friday 30 March 2000

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"To be a book critic, and agonise over those serious-minded literary novelists who have themselves agonised over every word, must be hell." - film critic Pauline Kael, on receiving a lifetime achievement award from the US National Book Critics Circle.

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NEWS

POTTER WRITER SUED

Author Nancy Stouffer is suing the writer and publishers of the Harry Potter books, claiming that plots and characters in the wildly popular children's series originated with her. Stouffer argues in her federal lawsuit that ideas for JK Rowling's Potter series were lifted from her 1984 book The Legend of Rah and Muggles, which includes a character named Larry Potter. Scottish author Rowling has become a cult figure among the novels' readers, and her three books about Harry Potter, a young orphaned wizard, have sold 19 million copies in the United States. A fourth is due for release in July. In Stouffer's book, 'muggles' are little people who care for two orphaned boys who magically turn their dark homeland into a happy place. In Rowling's books, 'muggles' is the word wizards use for humans. Stouffer's books has a character named Lilly Potter - Rowling's books have a Lily Potter. The Stouffer book has characters identified as 'Keepers of the Gardens' - Rowling's books have a 'Keeper of the Keys'. "If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a duck," says Stouffer. (AP, Philadelphia)

LIFE TO CEASE

The American magazine industry will lose one of its oldest and best-known titles in May when Life publishes its last monthly issue. The decision marks the second time that Time Inc has pulled the plug on the magazine. Started as a weekly in 1936 by publishing pioneer Henry Luce, who also founded Time and Fortune magazines, Life was suspended from regular publication in 1972 and brought back as a monthly in 1978. Parent company Time Inc will continue to put out occasional issues for special events as well as books that carry the Life brand. (AP, NY)

E-TAILERS WANT SPEEDY DELIVERIES

Amazon.com has unveiled an alliance with Kozmo.com, a quick delivery service that will bring a selection of Amazon's books, music and toys to shoppers in less than 60 minutes. Under terms of the agreement, Amazon.com can also use other one-hour delivery service providers. Web purchases in the States usually take at least a day to arrive, but as e-tailers explore ways to get products to customers within hours of order time it seems that instant gratification may not be the sole domain of bricks-n'-mortar stores for long.

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REVIEW

BAD ACID SOUNDTRACKS

Bad Acid Soundtracks, the first novel from Nelson publisher Subsonic Press, landed on my desk right on deadline for the last LOOP - a book so many steps from the norm that I couldn't resist giving it a 'preview' (rather than a review) in the magazine. I've had a good read since then and, while it remains the most intriguing book I've come across in a long time, White's stream-of-consciousness, low-punctuation prose (written with performance in mind) is a difficult read. The book's eye-catchingly stark cover will attract attention, but its content could have used some loving editing - moments and phrases that deserve to shine are almost buried under those that... don't. White tackles some gritty subject matter, and I admit that I struggled through a few patches with raised eyebrows. Quite an accomplishment, considering that I'm a big Bret Ellis fan, enjoying American Psycho not once but twice and without throwing up at all. Perhaps I missed White's point, but I think my discomfort really comes down to the fact that the ultra-dry satire of Ellis and Irvine Welsh (the undisputed masters of 'sex n' drugs' literature) is missing. It is the aspect of social commentary that gives the shock tactics of these authors real impact, and would be particularly interesting in a New Zealand work. All said, the author deserves congratulations. Not many are willing to go out on a limb, and it is writers/publishers such as White, making bold moves in publishing, that will keep the industry moving in new directions. I'm looking forward to reading more daring, refreshing and hopefully thought-provoking work from both the author and his publishing house.

Author David White will be performing at Arc cafe in Dunedin (with David Eggleton) and Bar Bodega in Wellington, "in a couple of months". He may be accompanied by a couple of DJs, contributing to what looks like a growing, and welcomed, trend for prose/electronica hybrids. Those with delicate sensibilities have been warned.

- Annabel Crerar


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