Friday, February 02, 2007

Did you have a problem yesterday?

Also in today's blog
The Expendable Man
How long is too long?

When I finished checking yesterday's blog and clicked on the Publish button, up came a message advising me there was a problem.

At first, because the message was in Spanish, I thought the problem must be local. But a visit to Blogger's help group quickly revealed it was international. More than 7,000 bloggers had been affected.

Whatever the problem was, it was dealt with quickly, and the following statement published.
"Thursday, February 01, 2007
Some users see the error code bX-vjhbsj when trying to view a blog. We have identified the source of this error and will push the fix to the site shortly. In the meantime, hitting Refresh in the browser may workaround the problem. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Update 10:50AM(PST): The issue has been fixed. Unfortunately pushing out the new build involved a few minutes outage. We apologize for trouble."

I long to know more details but I don't suppose we shall ever learn What Went Wrong.

The Expendable Man

Some time ago a member of the small rural book group I belong to in Spain lent me the 2006 Persephone edition of The Expendable Man, first published by Random House in 1963, by Dorothy B Hughes [1904-1993].

The author bio says that Hughes' first thriller was published "to great acclaim" in 1940, with 13 others appearing over the next ten years.

The Expendable Man is well worth reading but I can't write about it without spoiling the plot for you.

Instead I'll write about Persephone, a publisher which "prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget. We sell mainly through mail order, through selected shops and we have our own shop."

They have 10,000 people on their mailing list. I used to be on it myself but, after a while when I hadn't bought anything from them, quite understandbly they took me off it. The reason I didn't buy was not because they weren't offering books I wanted to read, but because, unlike many of my friends, I'm not terribly keen on online shopping…or indeed any shopping apart from occasional sorties into charity shops. Perhaps shopping, apart from necessities, is something people grow out of.

However, for those of you who haven't grown out of it yet, there are some tempting titles at the Persephone site.

How long is too long?

I don't often disagree with Grumpy Old Bookman [see link in right-hand sidebar] but I'm not sure his view on chapters lengths is sound.

He writes: "I have developed a crude rule of thumb these days. Turn to the back of the book, note the number of the last chapter, and the total number of pages. Do the arithmetic and work out the average length of a chapter. If the answer is 10 pages or below, you're probably going to be OK -- well, I am, anyway. If the answer is 35, one's heart sinks.

Here the average chapter is just under 6 pages long. Indeed the prologue is about two thirds of a single page, and it sets the scene perfectly. Chapter 1 confirms the impression that we are in safe hands, and so it goes on."

I'll do some test-counts over the weekend and return to this subject on Monday. Will also share a particularly nice email with you. For the moment…adios!


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