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Books

Friday news round-up

Not much going on in Book World this week if you're not Tom Cruise. Cruise's latest ravings have shown up on the web via a nine-minute video clip in which the actor proclaims himself near God-like. Here's a sample: "[Scientologists] are the authorities on getting people off drugs. We are the authorities on the mind. We can bring happiness and peace and unite cultures ... If you are a Scientologist, you see things the way they are, in all their glory, in all their complexity... It's rough and tumble. It's wild and woolly. It's a blast." Gawker.com has a video of Cruise's speech, which is apparently an acceptance speech for the Scientology 'Freedom Medal of Honor'. It's also supposed to inspire new recruits.

The video is just more bad publicity for Cruise, who is facing off against author Andrew Morton over Tom Cruise: An Unathorized Biography, which further exposes the actor as a nutjob whose daughter was conceived from the sperm of dead Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. (One wonders why Cruise is so worried about this book making him look mad when he does so well at that himself?) My opinion of Andrew Morton is so low that I hope Cruise gets the book banned and, if wishes were horses, Morton sent to scum-author hell. Time will tel. Cruise, too, has a good, solid record of winning lawsuits, so it could happen. Apparently, though, the book is on sale online in Australia, so he better get to work.

In other, far more important news...

Check out this heartbreaking story of a librarian forced to retire from the Ferguslie Library in Paisley. Paisley council members think 65 is too old to work, and have sent library stalwart Isa Erroch packing. This hits home for me as my 60-year-old mum thrives in her job as the local librarian. Recently, a new librarian was brought in to work with mum. This new woman has scolded my mum for her friendly, welcoming attitude to patrons. This worries me for two reasons. Firstly, because the library is often the talking spot for patrons, especially older patrons who love a good chinwag, and my mum has provided that for 15 years. Secondly, who's this young upstart to demand anything change in a functioning, popular environment? A library visit without a good chat is just unthinkable. Or is it true that libraries are going the way of everything else -- business, business, business?

It's interesting that at our local library, when you enter, there's chatter, laughter, good times being had. There are colourful pictures on the walls and images of new books on the way. It's relaxed, comfortable. When you enter the bigger, city library a few towns over, you feel trapped in a big sterile box and risk a caning if you open your mouth too wide. I don't know -- it's concerning. How are libraries run these days? The new sterile way, or the old comfortable way? My mum knows her patrons. She knows who likes what and what to recommend. She's got fans, who trust and respect her opinions. That kind of rapport takes a long time to secure. I realise my mum's not being shown the door like poor Mrs. Erroch, but is it that far away?

On a completely different note:

Michael Leahy discusses religion with Ron Jeremy. Leahy says: "It was pretty surreal, because we were talking about heaven and hell and 'Is there a God?' and those coeds were walking up and asking Ron to autograph their body parts." Leahy is the author of Porn Nation, which describes his young days as sex-addict. Jeremy was on hand to offer his own insights into porn and the modern age. A recovering sex-addict becoming chummy with the biggest name in porn? A good idea?

Did pulp fiction "murder long sentences"? Check out this NPR piece: "I think it was really the beginning of a different kind of writing. The kind of writing in the world of literature that everyone had been familiar with was Henry James with long sentences, long paragraphs. And then Ernest Hemingway came along and Dashiell Hammett came along and they started to write short, quick, clipped sentences that didn't require lots and lots of description. The pulps provided the perfect springboard for that literary tone".

And lastly, consider this when throwing out your old, used books: "Is there any other industry in which such high-quality goods regularly make their way to consumers via a trash bin? Stand in the bookselling line at the Strand and the store starts to feel less like a dusty bastion of erudition and more like a messy, mulchy place where old ideas struggle to find new life."

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