eric forbes’s book addict’s guide to good books
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Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
CHUAH Guat Eng ... The Old House and Other Stories (Holograms, 2008)
CHUAH GUAT ENG, the author of Echoes of Silence (Holograms, 1994), has just come out with her first collection of short stories, The Old House and Other Stories (Holograms, 2008).
Saturday, December 15, 2007
THE BEST READS OF 2007
YES, IT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN. Here’s a recapitulation of some of the books that were published in 2007 and the wonderful ones that took our breath away with their outstanding writing and stories. There is truly no greater pleasure than reading finely crafted prose by writers who not only care about good stories but the telling of them as well.
1. Call Me By Your Name (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / André Aciman
2. Lost City Radio (HarperCollins) / Daniel Alarcón
3. The Blood of Flowers (Little, Brown) / Anita Amirrezvani
4. A Golden Age (John Murray) / Tahmima Anam
5. Keeping the House (Random House) / Ellen Baker
6. Fieldwork (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Mischa Berlinski
7. The Lizard Cage (Harvill Secker) / Karen Connelly
8. The Welsh Girl (Houghton Mifflin) / Peter Ho Davies
9. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead) / Junot Díaz
10. The Ministry of Special Cases (Faber & Faber) / Nathan Englander
11. Bitter Sweets (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press) / Roopa Farooki
12. According to Ruth (Harvill Secker) / Jane Feaver
13. Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown) / Joshua Ferris
14. The Book of Beasts (Coteau) / Bernice Friesen
15. Bearing the Body (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Ehud Havazelet
16. Winter Under Water (Picador) / James Hopkin
17. Loving Frank (Ballantine Books) / Nancy Horan
18. Wintering (Portobello Books) / Derek Johns
19. The God of Animals (Scribner) / Aryn Kyle
20. The Night Birds (Soho Press) / Thomas Maltman
21. Children of the Revolution (first published as The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears in the U.S. in March 2007) (Jonathan Cape) / Dinaw Mengestu
22. The Peacock Throne (Sceptre) / Sujit Saraf
23. Resistance (Faber & Faber) / Owen Sheers
24. The Septembers of Shiraz (Ecco) / Dalia Sofer
25. The Journal of Dora Damage (Bloomsbury) / Belinda Starling
26. The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon) / Tan Twan Eng
1. The Virgin of Flames (Penguin) / Chris Abani
2. The Friends of Meager Fortune (MacAdam Cage) / David Adams Richards
3. Goodbye Lucille (Jonathan Cape) / Segun Afolabi
4. Winterton Blue (Picador/Grove/Atlantic) / Trezza Azzopardi
5. The Air We Breathe (W.W. Norton) / Andrea Barrett
6. Skin Lane (Serpent’s Tail)/ Neil Bartlett
7. Away (Random House) / Amy Bloom
8. The Devil’s Footprints (Jonathan Cape) / John Burnside
9. Five Skies (Viking) / Ron Carlson
10. The Song Before It Is Sung (Bloomsbury) / Justin Cartwright
11. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (HarperCollins) / Michael Chabon
12. The Pesthouse (Picador) / Jim Crace
13. The Eyrie (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) / Stevie Davies
14. Falling Man (Scribner) / Don DeLillo
15. The Maytrees (HarperCollins) / Annie Dillard
16. The Empress of Weehawken (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Irene Dische
17. The Gathering (Jonathan Cape/Black Cat) / Anne Enright
18. Notes from an Exhibition (Fourth Estate) / Patrick Gale
19. A Free Life (Pantheon) / Ha Jin
20. Engelby (Hutchinson) / Sebastian Faulks
21. Oystercatchers (Fourth Estate) / Susan Fletcher
22. World Without End (Macmillan) / Ken Follett
23. Over (Chatto & Windus) / Margaret Forster
24. Tom Bedlam (Random House) / George Hagen
25. The Carhullan Army (Faber & Faber) / Sarah Hall
26. Late Nights on Air (McClelland & Stewart) / Elizabeth Hay
27. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Bloomsbury) / Khaled Hosseini
28. North River (Little, Brown) / Pete Hamill
29. Remembering the Bones (Atlantic Monthly Press/Sceptre) / Frances Itani
30. Mister Pip (John Murray/The Dial Press) / Lloyd Jones
31. Day (Jonathan Cape) / A.L. Kennedy
32. Consequences (Fig Tree) / Penelope Lively
33. Where White Horses Gallop (Key Porter) / Beatrice MacNeil
34. When We Were Bad (Picador) / Charlotte Mendelson
35. Landscape of Farewell (Allen & Unwin) / Alex Miller
36. South of the River (Chatto & Windus) / Blake Morrison
37. The Gravedigger’s Daughter (St. Martin’s Press) / Joyce Carol Oates
38. Divisadero (Alfred A. Knopf/Bloomsbury) / Michael Ondaatje
39. Run (Harper/Bloomsbury) / Ann Patchett
40. Exit Ghost (Houghton Mifflin) / Philip Roth
41. Bridge of Sighs (Alfred A. Knopf) / Richard Russo
42. Angelica (Random House) / Arthur Phillips
43. Peony in Love (Random House) / Lisa See
44. Secrets of the Sea (Harvill Secker) / Nicholas Shakespeare
45. The Visible World (Houghton Mifflin) / Mark Slouka
46. Death of a Murderer (Bloomsbury) / Rupert Thomson
47. Between Each Breath (Jonathan Cape) / Adam Thorpe
48. The Road Home (Chatto & Windus) / Rose Tremain
49. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (St. Martin’s Press) / Gail Tsukiyama
50. If Today Be Sweet (William Morrow) / Thrity Umrigar
Fiction in Translation
1. All Whom I Have Loved (Schocken) / Aharon Appelfeld [trans. from the Hebrew by Aloma Halter]
2. The Yacoubian Building (Harper Perennial) / Alaa al Aswany [trans. from the Arabic, ‘Imarat Ya’qubyan (2002), by Humphrey Davies]
3. The Savage Detectives (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Roberto Bolaño [trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer]
4. Collected Stories of Ivan Bunin (trans. from the Russian by Graham Hettlinger) (Ivan R. Dee) / Ivan Bunin
5. Nada (Modern Library) / Carmen Laforet [trans. from the Spanish, Nada (1944), by Edith Grossman]
6. Night Train to Lisbon (Grove Press) / Pascal Mercier (trans. from the German by Barbara Harshav)
7. Fire in the Blood (trans. from the French, Chaleur du Sand, by Sandra Smith) (Alfred A. Knopf/Chatto & Windus) / Irène Némirovsky
8. White Walls: Collected Stories (trans. from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis and Jamey Gambrell) (New York Review Books) / Tatyana Tolstaya
1. Song for Night (Akashic Books) / Chris Abani
2. On Chesil Beach (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday) / Ian McEwan
3. The Elephanta Suite (Hamish Hamilton) / Paul Theroux
1. The Friend of Women and Other Stories (Houghton Mifflin) / Louis Auchincloss
2. The New Granta Book of the American Short Story (Granta) / Richard Ford (ed.)
3. The People on Privilege Hill (Chatto & Windus) / Jane Gardam
4. Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black and Other Stories (Bloomsbury/Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Nadine Gordimer
5. My Wife’s Lovers: Ten Tales (Black Ace Books) / John Herdman
6. The Frozen Thames (McClelland & Stewart) / Helen Humphreys
7. Transparency (Black Bay Books) / Frances Hwang
8. What You Call Winter (Alfred A. Knopf) / Nalini Jones
9. Walk the Blue Fields (Faber & Faber) / Claire Keegan
10. Missing Kissinger (Chatto & Windus) / Etgar Keret
11. The Complete Stories (Pantheon) / David Malouf
12. Valentines (Pantheon) / Olaf Olafsson
13. The Separate Heart and Other Stories (Jonathan Cape) / Simon Robson
14. Christmas Stories (Everyman’s Library) / Diana Secker Tesdell (ed.)
15. I Think of You (Bloomsbury) /Ahdaf Soueif
16. Cheating at Canasta (Viking) / William Trevor
17. The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories (Penguin Canada, 2007) / Jane Urquhart (ed.)
18. The Loudest Sound and Nothing (Faber and Faber, 2007) / Clare Wigfall
1. Next Life (Wesleyan) / Rae Armantrout
2. Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007) / John Ashbery
3. A Worldly Country (Carcanet) / John Ashbery
4. The Door (Virago Press) / Margaret Atwood
5. Collected Poems (Modern Library) / W.H. Auden (ed. Edward Mendelson)
6. Domestic Violence (Carcanet) / Eavan Boland
7. Gift Songs (Jonathan Cape) / John Burnside
8. Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf) / W.S. Di Piero
9. The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972-2007 (Graywolf Press) / Albert Goldbarth
10. Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 (Ecco/HarperCollins) / Robert Haas
11. Pessimism for Beginners (Carcanet Press) / Sophie Hannah
12. The Collected Poems, 1956-1998 (Ecco) / Zbigniew Herbert (trans. from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott and edited by Alissa Valles)
13. Waterlight: Selected Poems (Graywolf Press) / Kathleen Jamie
14. The Meanest Flower (Carcanet) / Mimi Khalvati
15. The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press) / David Kirby
16. My Body: New and Selected Poems (Hanging Loose Press) / Joan Larkin
17. Public Dream (Picador) / Frances Leviston
18. The Pomegranates of Kandahar (Chatto & Windus) / Sarah Maguire
19. Typewriter Music (University of Queensland Press) / David Malouf
20. Crocodiles and Obelisks (Faber & Faber) / Jamie McKendrick
21. Collected Poems (Faber & Faber) / Louis MacNeice (ed. Peter McDonald)
22. A Book of Lives (Carcanet Press) / Edwin Morgan
23. Look We Have Coming to Dover! (Faber & Faber) / Daljit Nagra
24. Sleeping and Waking (Flood Editions) / Michael O’Brien
25. The Drowned Book (Picador) / Sean O’Brien
26. Gulf Music (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Robert Pinsky
27. Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems 2004-2006 (W.W. Norton) / Adrienne Rich
28. Space Walk (Houghton Mifflin) / Tom Sleigh
29. Tilt (Jonathan Cape) / Jean Sprackland
30. Poems: New and Selected (1965-2006) (Overlook) / David Shapiro
31. Bird with a Broken Wing (Jonathan Cape) / Adam Thorpe
32. Selected Poems (Faber & Faber) / Derek Walcott (ed. Edward Baugh)
33. Like Something Flying Backwards: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe) / C.D. Wright
1. Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey (Chicago University Press) / James Attlee
2. City Lights: Stories About New York (St. Martin’s Press) / Dan Barry
3. Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore (Crown Journeys/Crown Publishers) / Madison Smartt Bell
4. The World in a City: Traveling the Globe Through the Neighborhoods of the New New York (Ballantine Books) / Joseph Berger
5. The Father of All Things (Pantheon) / Tom Bissell
6. The Decline and Fall of the British Empire 1781-1997 (Jonathan Cape) / Piers Brendon
7. Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote (Random House) / Truman Capote
8. Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 (Harvill Secker/Viking, 2007) / J.M. Coetzee
9. Brother, I’m Dying (Alfred A. Knopf) / Edwidge Danticat
10. Bernard Malamud: A Writer’s Life (Oxford University Press) / Philip Davis
11. Classics for Pleasure (Harcourt) / Michael Dirda
12. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World (Scribner) / Anthony Doerr
13. When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir (Picador) / Peter Godwin
14. Peeling the Onion (Harcourt) / Günter Grass [trans. from the German, Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (2006), by Michael Henry Heim]
15. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve Books/Atlantic Books) / Christopher Hitchens
16. Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts (W.W. Norton/Picador) / Clive James
17. Travels with Herodotus (Alfred A. Knopf/Allen Lane) / Ryszard Kapuscinski [trans. from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska]
18. Descents of Memory: The Life of John Cowper Powys (Duckworth/Overlook) / Morine Krissdóttir
19. Family Romance (Faber & Faber) / John Lanchester
20. Edith Wharton (Chatto & Windus) / Hermione Lee
21. The Wild Places (Granta) / Robert Macfarlane
22. Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff (Little, Brown, 2007) / Rosemary Mahoney
23. Ezra Pound: Poet: Volume I: The Young Genius 1885-1920 (Oxford University Press) / A. David Moody
24. The River Queen (Henry Holt) / Mary Morris
25. Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Alfred A. Knopf)/ Arnold Rampersad
26. John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand (Atlantic) / Richard Reeves
27. The Letters of Ted Hughes (Faber & Faber) / Christopher Reid (ed.)
28. The Discovery of France (Picador) / Graham Robb
29. In My Father’s House (Simon & Schuster) / Miranda Seymour
30. Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties (Ecco) / Robert Stone
31. Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism (Alfred A. Knopf) / John Updike
Friday, December 14, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
From the Websites
David L. Ulin, book editor of the Los Angeles Times, looks at rereading a novel after many years and how such an exercise can bring new revelations about its depth and intent. Alas, disappointments also can ensue.
On December 8, 2007, Doris Lessing, aged 88, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In her acceptance speech she recalls her childhood in Africa and laments that children in Zimbabwe are starving for knowledge, while those in more privileged countries shun reading for the inanities of the age of the Internet.
In The Telegraph, A.S.Byatt admits that she had never been able to read Agatha Christie but explains why she loves the timeless detective fiction of Margery Allingham.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1997)
I REMEMBER READING French fashion magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir of life in death, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), when the English translation by Jeremy Leggatt first came out a little over 10 years ago in May 1997. After suffering a devastating stroke in December 1995, Bauby, who was then just 43 years old, emerged with a rare affliction called “locked-in syndrome” (LIS), perhaps the most devastating of medical conditions. Though he retained his vision and hearing, and his mind continued to function perfectly, his body was almost totally paralysed. Mobility and speech was no longer within his grasp. He wrote his memoir by blinking his left eyelid. Sadly, he died a few days after the release of the French edition of the book, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, an exquisitely lyrical little book, in March 1997. It’s good to know that French director Julian Schnabel has now made a movie based on Bauby’s story. It stars Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner and Marie-Josée Croze. I heard it is pretty good: an expansive, sensual, pungent and funny film, a joyful celebration of the triumph of the human spirit. “Although he doesn’t identify himself as a writer,” Sanford Schwartz in a review of the film says that, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an astonishing report from so damaged and deprived a state of being that most of us resist imagining what it would be like in such a situation. It is also, unbelievably, a wry, tender, and beautifully measured piece of writing.”
Friday, December 07, 2007
Janet TAY reviews Measuring the World (2007)
Review by JANET TAY
Measuring the World
By Daniel Kehlmann
(Quercus Publishing, 272pp)
ON THE BACK of the novel is an excerpt of a rave review from The Guardian, lauding 31-year-old Daniel Kehlmann as a “literary wunderkind already being compared to Nabokov and Proust”. More praise follows: “The novel has sold more than 600,000 copies in Germany, knocking J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown off the bestseller lists.”
With these expectations in mind, the arduous journey of reading and completing the novel began. Kehlmann details the lives of Carl Friedrich Gauss and Alexander Von Humboldt. One is a German child prodigy who grew up to be “The Prince of Mathematicians” and the other, a Prussian naturalist and explorer who scaled the Chimborazo and trudged through the jungles of the Amazon. Both are scientists who pursue different goals but share a similar passion for their work, oblivious to everything and everyone else in their lives.
Measuring the World is Kehlmann’s first novel to be translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway. It begins with the impending meeting of a reluctant Gauss and Humboldt (at the insistence of the latter) at the German Scientific Congress in Berlin, in September 1828. Kehlmann goes on to introduce the two capricious characters and their origins─Gauss, the genius son of a gardener, and Humboldt, the son of a wealthy man with a minor nobility─whose paths would later converge despite their seemingly different personalities and life choices.
While Gauss stays at home in Göttingen to formulate mathematical theories, Humboldt─accompanied by Aimé Bonpland, a French botanist who alternates between sampling native women, being violently ill and staring incredulously in the face of Humboldt’s eccentricities─explores South America and documents extensive discoveries in physical geography and meteorology. Although the reader may be enthused by Humboldt’s colourful and vividly descriptive encounters during his travels (conquering record-high peaks, unwittingly indulging in cannibalism, finding fleas living under his toenails), the chapters on Gauss are no less intense despite being introspective.
He possesses the strength of character that appears to transcend beyond mere idiosyncrasies; he is never afraid to speak the truth although by doing so, he is indifferent to the acerbity of his remarks, such as when he comments on the study of language by a Prussian diplomat (who is, unbeknownst to him, Humboldt’s brother): “Linguistics was for people who had the precision for mathematics but not the intelligence. People who would invent their own makeshift logic.”
The novel’s flaw lies in the lack of quotation marks for dialogue. One has to wrestle with whether a certain dialogue is a conversation between two people or just thoughts in a character’s head.
The book has some memorable dialogue and statements, though. Kehlmann’s cleverly timed and suitably positioned quips are peppered throughout the novel.
Humboldt’s antics in the name of research, namely tasting poison that is deadly enough to “kill angels”, and electrocuting himself with eels, are near-theatrical yet honest, and will certainly leave an imprint in the reader’s mind.
But if Kehlmann had intended to endear the reader to Gauss and Humboldt by attempting to humanise them, he failed. Despite the larger-than-life characters portrayed in the novel, one is left only with the impression of two men who determinedly and selfishly pursued their lifelong work with a vigour that brought them success, but also prevented them from sustaining any meaningful relationships with their families.
Also, one would have expected the meeting of great minds to be more climactic but when the parallel lives finally come together, it feels more like a tired conclusion rather than the long-awaited reunion of two people who purportedly share a kindred spirit.
Nevertheless, this is a novel that may appeal to history buffs. However, they would do better to equip themselves with some biographical reading of Gauss and Humboldt before attempting to trek through Kehlmann’s account of their lives, which is interspersed with scientific discoveries and forgotten loves.
Review first published in The Star, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
The Kite Runners
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I have yet to sink my teeth into Khaled Hosseini’s first novel, The Kite Runners (Bloomsbury/Riverhead, 2003), the story of friendship, childhood betrayal and ethnic tension in pre-Taliban Afghanistan. Despite having heard so many wonderful things about it, I have yet to get round to reading this best-selling novel. The movie will be out in December 2007. His new novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Bloomsbury/Riverhead, 2007), a story of women in a land torn by strife and upheaval, has been setting the book charts on fire since it was released in May 2007.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
2007 Guardian First Book Award Winner
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Call for Submissions
MPH GROUP PUBLISHING is pleased to announce an open call for submissions of short fiction for an anthology tentatively entitled Chinese Stories. We aim to publish the anthology in 2008, depending on the number and quality of submissions we receive.
The theme of the anthology will be on Chinese life in Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere, with writings that explore questions of fate and destiny, culture, spirituality, language, human longings and their consequences, ironies of life, identity and family. And the joy and turmoil of love, of course. Stories could be sweet or sour. Or places in between. Or issues that have not been explored before.
Stories must be original, between 3,000 and 5,000 words, and must not have been previously published. We invite submissions from both emerging and established writers. Stories for children are not eligible for this compilation. Manuscripts must be edited, typed double-spaced with 12pt font and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address, telephone number and email address. You may submit as many pieces as you wish. Faxed or handwritten submissions will not be entertained and manuscripts will not be returned. We will contact you only if your piece has been selected for inclusion in the compilation. Writers whose submissions are selected will be expected to work with the editors to fine tune their stories.
Deadline: 30 June 2008
Payment: A small flat fee and two copies of the anthology
Monday, December 03, 2007
December 2007 Highlights
DECEMBER is traditionally not a great month when it comes to new fiction and other things literary. This is the month for celebrity memoirs, cookbooks by celebrity chefs, interior decor, humour and other such stuff which make wonderful Christmas gifts. However, this is a great month to catch up on your reading.
1. Wolves of the Crescent Moon (trans. from the Arabic by Anthony Calderbank) (Penguin, 2007) / Yousef Al-Mohaimeed
2. Remembering the Bones (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007/Sceptre, 2007) / Frances Itani
3. Night Train to Lisbon (Grove Press, 2007) / Pascal Mercier (trans. from the German by Barbara Harshav)
1. Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo (W.W. Norton, 2007) / Richard Hugo
1. A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century (Allen Lane, 2007) / John Burrow
2. The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again (Graywolf Press, 2007) / Sven Birkerts
3. Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World (Hudson Street Press, December 2007) / Dan Koeppel
4. The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (The Free Press, 2007) / Andrew Lycett
5. Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey: A Biography (Atlantic Monthly, 2007) / Alberto Manguel
6. In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams (Bantam, 2007) / Tahir Shah
Sunday, December 02, 2007
THESE are the 10 Best Books of 2007, according to the leading arbiter of literary taste, The New York Times Book Review.
1. Man Gone Down (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic) / Michael Thomas
2. Out Stealing Horses (Graywolf Press) / Per Petterson (trans. Anne Born)
3. The Savage Detectives (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Roberto Bolaño (trans. Natasha Wimmer)
4. Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown & Company) / Joshua Ferris
5. Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Denis Johnson
1. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (Alfred A. Knopf) / Rajiv Chandrasekaran
2. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression (Bantam Books) / Mildred Armstrong Kalish
3. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (Doubleday) / Jeffrey Toobin
4. The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (Pantheon Books) / Linda Colley
5. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) / Alex Ross
Saturday, December 01, 2007
It's Just So Bally Malaysian-lah!
THIS is another recent one:
A: Could you have my book ready by next month?
B: No, I can’t, I’m afraid. Your manuscript is so badly written that I will have to outsource it for a rewrite!
A: Oh dear! But I must have it ready by next month.
B: Perhaps you might like to consider sending your manuscript to one of those production or vanity publishing houses. Then you can have your book ready within a week. I do know of some places where you could get your book ready within a working day. The wonderful thing is, You don’t even have to edit it! Isn’t that mighty lovely?
A: That wouldn’t be legit. I really must have it by next month. You see, it’s my mama’s birthday [wedding anniversary, one’s birthday, take your pick] and I need the book to be ready by then!
B: Can’t you just buy a cake or something like most people?
Another funny one:
A: Your manuscript is very badly written, you know.
B: I know.
A: Would you like to rewrite it?
B: It is not really my fault. It is the fault of the education system.
This is not a recent one, but it has occupied my thoughts for years:
A: I write short stories. Do you publish short stories?
B: We will publish short stories as long as they are well written.
A: Will you publish mine?
B: I have read some of your stuff and I’m afraid they are not good enough. Perhaps you would like to improve on them; rewrite the old ones and write some new ones.
A: That’s the best I can do. You will have to rewrite them if you want them. Can’t you like pay someone to write for me. I don’t mind paying them.
B: That’s not the way it works.
A: Why not?