Monday, May 05, 2003

"Do you have to?" "Yes I have to." "Oh." "Don't Get up."

Only on for a few moments -- I'm Barcelona, and have been for two days, and have just figured how to get online from my room (it's only possible if you ignore the hotel's non-functioning "internet connection" completely, rather than trying to make it work.) Several hundred e-mails waiting, along with the discovery that lots of portuguese e-mails didn't reach the people they were meant to have reached, which needs to be remedied, and I also need to sleep...

Lots and lots and lots of you told me that Warren Zevon wrote and recorded "My Ride's Here" before he learned he was dying.

Some hasty FAQs...


I'm hoping you can help me out with something. There's thousands of variations of 1001 Arabian Nights available through B&N and Amazon and other such places. Which would be the best to get, not just for reading and enjoyment, but for source material as a writer?

And this, bizarrely, is Frequently Asked. My favourite of all the translations is the Mardrus and Mathers translation (I think Mardrus translated it into French, and Mathers from French into English, but I could be wrong). It doesn't seem to be in print, but bookfinder and abebooks both have many editions. You're best off searching it under Mardrus, because whether a bookseller will have listed it as "the book of a thousand nights and one night" or "the arabian nights" or what is anyone's guess.

Richard Irwin (who wrote the wonderful novel The Arabian Nightmare -- a sort of metafictional Night's disturbance) wrote an Arabian Night's Companion, which tells the history of the Nights, and the books they inspired. It's where I learned about Patocki's Saragossa Manuscript.

I'm an education major and I'm doing a unit plan for Coraline. I was
wondering if there are any lesson plans out there using Coraline as a
resource because I need some ideas. Thanks

I passed this one to the ever-wonderful Clare Hutton at HarperChildren's... Her reply:

Hey Neil,

We've got a reading guide to CORALINE coming out with the paperback that teachers will be able to print out from the website as well as get paper copies of, and that would be the perfect answer to her question, except I bet she needs it before August and it's not written yet.

I'm afraid I don't know much about how lesson plan units are organized, but I think there are lots of things in Coraline that might make a good lesson, though, don't you? Like:

Camouflage and disguise are huge elements of Coraline, first introduced when Coraline watches the educational program on camouflage as protection in nature. Class could discuss other occurences of disguise and camouflage in the book: the other mother disguises herself as Coraline's mother, she disguises the children's souls as toys, Coraline masks her intentions to dispose of the hand with the guise of an innocent tea party, etc.

Coraline defines herself as an explorer. How might the other characters in the book define themselves? Is that the way Coraline, or the reader would define them? Can the class define themselves?

Coraline steps through the door into another world. Have the students read other books where the main character enters another world? How do those worlds differ from and resemble the characters' own worlds?

Or the class could discuss objects and who possesses them in Coraline--the key, the marbles, the dogs, the mouse circus, etc., and what it says about the characters and the plot, and how they use them--for instance, Coraline changes out of her outfit and back into her real pajamas and robe to play against the other mother.

And so on. I don't know if this'll be any help to her, but it seems like there's lots of things that a class discussion could focus on, and maybe it'll help her think of some ideas. Sorry not to be more help.


Which seems terribly sensible to me.

Regarding the wonderful Digital Clock: It sets itself by the date and time on your computer, so if you want some real fun, change that to the minute before midnight Dec. 31 1999 and watch everything change at once.


which was followed by

I,ve got only one quwstion: what's wrong you guys?! your site is so boring... :(((

I know. I know. But if you go to the digital clock link in the last post and set your clock for Dec 31st 1999 things could get really wild.

have heard both that your short story "Goliath" inspired and was inspired by "The Matrix." Which the correct order of events?

After The Matrix was filmed, but before it was released, Warners set up the whatisthematrix website and put comics and short stories up by various people to help promote it. I was one of the people. They sent me the script and some photocopied storyboards, and I read it and wrote "Goliath", which they then put up on their website, to help promote the film. It's been up ever since. So it was definitely written for the movie, and based on the world of the movie, or at least, what I took from it from that first script. It's a story I'm very fond of, and it'll be in the next short story collection, whenever that's ready.

This from the redoubtable Lucy Anne:

Not so much a strange-but-weird site as a compendium of such. Or at least the only one that I imagine could load regardless of one's computer connection.

Which fell into the click-on-it, take one look, save-it-to-favourites category.


Spent today being interviewed by Spanish journalists. My favourite moment of the day was discovering that (a) Catalan is a completely different language to Spanish, and (b) Coraline's also been translated into Catalan. So I'm here for two books, not just one.

Was also pleased that when I explained my theory the two different types of photographer to Patricia, the PR from Salamandre, the two photographers who then turned up were perfect examples of each kind I had described.

Signing tomorrow. More journalists. Keeping on keeping on.