Sunday, May 07, 2006

Star Turn

Starmag is looking for book reviewers - and that could mean you!:
Do you have a brilliant read that you want others to try? Write a review of not more than 500 words and send it to Published reviews will be paid.
There is for sure a shortage of good reviewers in Malaysia, and those of you who drop by the blog are pretty passionate about books, so why not give this a go?

My personal tips:
  • Aiyoh - don't just regurgitate the plot! If we're interested, we'll read it anyway. If not, you're wasting your breath.
  • Don't read other reviews of the book until you have your own opinion firmly formed. What matters is what you think of the book, even if other reviewers have a very different opinion.
  • Of course, be prepared to support your opinion with examples from the book.
  • Be fair!
  • Important this - Don't gobbledegook over the heads of readers, no matter how brilliant you are.
  • Stick to the word limit, or you'll get cruelly chopped.
And if you want to know what good reviews look like, read the book pages of the newspapers listed in the sidebar of this blog.

Today's copy carries a review of The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru. Kee Thuan Chye liked it less well than I did, but it's a nicely written piece.

What tickled me was that the book is referred to (under the heading) as "an obscure gem"!

Elsewhere in Starmag is the news that travel writer/ novelist Paul Theroux (left) was in town, travelling the route he took 33 years ago (when writing The Great Railway Bazaar?) Y.S. Lim interviews him, but the questions, for this fan of his books, are just too vague and general, and elicit uncharacteristically polite and diplomatic responses! (C'mon, Theroux, grouch a bit and let us know it's really you!)

There's a nice piece on Pramoedya by Anu Nathan who points out, quite rightly, that while this great writer was not well known in Malaysia and Indonesia, she was amazed to meet German and Dutch backpackers in Indonesia:
... who not only knew who Pramoedya was but were also toting around well-thumbed copies of Child of all Nations.
It's an interesting irony. And a deeply shaming one.

This Sunday morning, nursing my first cup of tea, am aware at how big a hole in my life the absence of the Malay Mail has created. (Sad life, hey!) I miss all the murders and the scandals and the gossip gleaned from Britain's Daily Mail. It will be back on the newstands soon, spruced up, reformulated and designed to appeal to a younger set. I hope it will still be the only afternoon newspaper in the world you get to read over breakfast!


amir said...

I hope so too, really. Muahahaha.

Will tell you and everybody of any news that can be made public concerning the paper soon.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks amir - how i miss your "spotted at bangsar shopping complex" interviews (you never find me there though, 'spose i am not datin-ish for you guys) ... and magi mee features ... oh and yes, the entertainment news too

apparently your paper is going to be aimed at the younger set now - even your colleague azrai was sighing to me that he felt too old at 31 ...

Sharanya Manivannan said...

Hi Sharon,

Thought you might want to check this article out:

The most intriguing part, of course, is who the mystery writer is. Post-"Opalgate" and that Hollywood darling who was a front for a collectively written book (vague, I know, do you know who I'm talking about? Can't remember his name!), I wonder how much interest and controversy this will create.

bibliobibuli said...

thnaks sharanya - this intrigues! haven't seen more than half an episode of "lost" yet, because i'm so blur i never time my tv viewing right ... the half episode i did watch was back in UK where my nephew is an addict ... he had to keep explaining what was happening

The Great Swifty said...

Hehe, will reviews like this or this suffice?

Anonymous said...

31 isn't too old, 35 is. That's when they start pointedly excluding you from all the "youth" stuff (like Inky 'ands) because you're just too old, so get back to your rocking chair and stop bothering us young guys already :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and they only pay at most RM300 for a review. Most overseas (who uses that word these days ?) publications will pay a little more than that, and it's still cheap to them (especially if your writing is virtually indistinguishable from anything anyone in a predominantly English-speaking country would have written.)

(Okay, but it's four am.)

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah swifty, send it in.. you actually like to write, so you might as well make money from it.

Erna said...

It's a good way to add to your writing portfolio - bylines and all. But not for the money. Star's an inefficent paymaster when it comes to freelancers. They can take up to three to six months to pay after publication.

They will just need to do a lot of badgering to make sure they get around to it. Which really shouldn't be the case for the biggest paper in the land. I know magazines who actually call up their freelancers to tell them their cheque's ready without being chased. So as a meal ticket, Star's last on my list.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never had anyone call me. Most are late though, maybe 1-2 months.. but I don't think I've had anyone late by three months :)

Saviour-V said...

Erna, who would you suggest as GOOD paying publications?

Since the Star may not be able to pay its contributors on time, perhaps you might know about who else is a better paymaster.

Do let me know, please. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Erna (Mahyuni I suppose) writes for PC.Com :) so maybe they pay on time ? :)

bibliobibuli said...

must say i've not had problems with payment from the star ... and everyone i've written for has paid me in the end, tho' it can take a while

Erna said...

I received a cheque from StarMag a couple of weeks back...for a review I wrote a year ago. They misspelt part of my address so I never got the cheque then. eyeris notified the people in charge on my behalf, bless the man.

Yeah, part of my job as editor is making sure my contributors get paid on time. My employers don't pay much but they always pay on publication. I usually email/call/IM them when their cheques are ready. I like keeping my contributors. Most other publications will usually take 1-2 months but for big jobs, I advocate a contract or a small upfront payment.