About Angela Meyer

Angela Meyer worked for Books+Publishing from April 2008, to March 2010, as editorial assistant then acting editor. Angela is now completing a Doctor of Creative Arts through the University of Western Sydney. She has had fiction, articles, reviews and interviews published and broadcast. She can be seen on panels at various writers' festivals, and she blogs regularly at http://blogs.crikey.com.au/literaryminded.

Miller and the Miles Franklin: Do we have too many awards?

From today’s Crikey newsletter, former Bookseller+Publisher editor and literary blogger Angela Meyer writes:

Are there too many literary awards in Australia, and is our oldest one “slipping away”? If an Australian literary award was provided increased funding and focus, would the Miles Franklin be the most relevant?

Every year the Miles Franklin Literary Award attracts some debate and controversy, but the award’s prestige is waning, noted Alex Miller — a two-time winner and shortlisted author in this year’s awards — at the shortlisting ceremony yesterday. Miller, as reported in The Australian, said Prime Minister “Rudd the Dud” and arts minister Peter Garrett should have invested in the nation’s oldest literary award, instead of creating the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2008 (worth $100,000, to the MF’s $42,000), which he said “gets no publicity and will probably disappear when someone else becomes prime minister”.

Miller’s main point is that there are too many literary awards, and so it’s inevitable that there will be less focus on each. Besides the Prime Minister’s awards, there are various state Premier’s awards, and many other trust, media, festival, company and privately funded awards. Many are relevant for their individual fields and genres (such as the CBCA awards for children’s and young adult literature) but dispersing funding around for fiction awards when one solid, prestigious and attention-focused literary award could be developed, is a good point. Would the public pay more attention?

If this was put into effect, though, is the Miles Franklin really the award for the job? Sure, it was established in 1957, and has been won by culturally important, and stimulating, authors and books. Patrick White’s Voss was the recipient of the first award, as Miller noted. But the Miles Franklin’s criteria is stricter than awards established since: “It is awarded for the novel of the year which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases”. This is what Miles Franklin included with her bequest. What “Australian life in any of its phases” means, exactly, is something that comes up often in discussion of the shortlisted books. Continue reading

Literary iPhone apps: bite-sized, pocket-sized and with Shakespeare to go

As someone who takes every opportunity to read, I’m usually distraught when I’ve forgotten to put a book in my bag in the morning. Not anymore. I got my iPhone a few months ago and have discovered plenty of cheap, quality reading material to peruse on lunch breaks, on public transport, and at home in bed.

My favourite literary app so far is the American journal Electric Literature. I bought Issue 1 ($5.99) because I love the work of Michael Cunningham—and there is an extract from his upcoming novel in the issue. The other authors I hadn’t yet heard of, but enjoyed their stories. They are T Cooper, Lydia Millet, Jim Shepard and Diana Wagman. Looking at my phone now, I discovered that along with an update for the app, Issue 2 has found its way onto my phone. Colson Whitehead—woo! And Stephen O’Connor to round it out. Issue 3 is also available.

American journal McSweeney’s also has an app, which updates itself with bonus material from the website and print journal. McSweeney’s content is highly entertaining. I recently read a conversation between author/artist/film director Miranda July and actor/aspiring writer James Franco. Available also is a short story by Wells Tower, an interview with Francis Ford Coppola, comics, and plenty of digestible nonfiction and humour titbits.

What’s it like reading on the iPhone? After a few pages I don’t notice the weeny screen. That said, I don’t think I’d read a whole novel… Short stories, which I love anyway, are perfect for reading on a device. The apps remember where you’re up to in the text, and you can make adjustments to the screen with text and colours Continue reading