A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A gentle newsflash

I've now read around 450 of the proposals, so only another 150 to go. At this stage, it's looking like the shortlist will consist of around 140 possible books... Your patience is greatly appreciated. Once we've got the shortlist finalized, we'll send an email to all those who *didn't* make the cut, and then we'll post the remainining contenders on here. I suspect it'll be another couple of weeks.

In the meantime, if you like sunshine, you ought to love this:

My wife was given one for Christmas, and it's really a splendid thing. Sunlight, in a jar. Sunshine on a rainy day. And so on.


alexburnsdisinformation said...


Gareth Branwyn has sung 33 1/3's praises @ today's BoingBoing:


Maybe you can develop a second series on iconic objects such as the SunJar :)

Alex Burns

Anonymous said...

I've been kicking this ridiculous idea around for a bit, but I haven't completely thought it through, and I also know that, practially speaking, it might not work, but I'll post it here anyway. Since this series is about music, albums, bands, etc, how about doing a short run of books marketed as b-sides/rarities/bonus tracks, containing snippets of the proposals that almost made the cut but that didn't quite get there. Again, I realize that such a project might not make any practical or economic sense, but it seems to fit the theme of the series. And who knows, people might really want to buy it, particularly if their proposals show up in it.

Anonymous said...

I also think (and again, it might not be an idea that floats but does seem to go hand in hand with the whole album/book thing) - box sets! Small boxes of say 5 titles that thematically go together - so you could do a selection of the fiction 3 1/3s, say, or punk 33 1/3s or soul 33 1/3s or...

Should I just shut up?

The Lecherous Frenchman said...


I actually just heard from the artist I wrote my proposal about saying that he is pretty sure he would be willing to participate. Is it worth letting you know about formally? If so, what would be the best way to contact you? Thanks.


Anonymous said...

what would be the best way to contact you?

I suggest lecherously, and au francais.

Did you write about Bill Fox?

Anonymous said...

Ever the optimist(!) I feel mine will be one to fall at the first hurdle. In preparation, I just wondered whether the emails will be a brief "thanks but no thanks", are a more detailed critique. I understand doing the latter is improbable.


The Lecherous Frenchman said...

I did not write about Mr. Fox.

Anonymous said...

David, can I follow up on something Jamie has touched on? If some of us are unlucky with our proposals, can we come back and ask you for some tips on where we are going wrong with our writing? I'm a first-timer but would like to be a writer full-time some day and so feedback of any kind would be very helpful. Of course, if it's too much given the sheer number of proposals you got I would understand.

Anonymous said...

he did say he's doing the proposal reading on nights and weekends, so my guess would be that he is not available for 1 on 1 tutoring...

David said...

A couple of quick responses:

Best way to contact me for something like that would be my regular work email address - david at continuum-books.com

Jamie and Anon: I think when I send out the mass rejection email (and just typing that phrase makes me feel grim), it'll say something like "I can't respond to hundreds of queries, but if you're really really curious about how your proposal could have been improved, or a reason it didn't make the cut, feel free to write back, on the understanding that it might take me quite some time to respond - but I'll try."

Anonymous said...

But what happens after the shortlist? What will be expected of those on the shortlist?

Illinois Jacket said...

Antacids and Xanax.

Anonymous said...

What happens after the shortlist is Shortlist v.2, even more likely to lead to Antacids and Xanax (haha) because your expectations have been raised, but the odds may still be 100+ to 1! Win or lose, you'll need to be intoxicated to mark the event. I think the runners-up should get a medal or something ...

David said...

What will be expected of those on the shortlist? Nothing, really! A handful of us here at Continuum HQ will spend more time reading through the shortlisted proposals - if we have any specific questions, we might email you about them. Otherwise, we'll just carry on making our decisions, until we're agreed on the proposals we like the most. As for the odds, if you're on the shortlist, you'll have about an 8-1 chance of being offered a contract. Medals would be good, too! Or brownies. Mmmmm, brownies.

Anonymous said...

I made brownies the other night. Damn. They were good. Next time, I'll share.

Anonymous said...

'Brownies'? You mean those litte Girl Scout types in Brown outfits? I haven't seen any for years.

Anonymous said...

if a committee is reading my proposal, I'm screwed. I was hoping for the idiosyncratic loner in my corner.

Of course, I'd gladly submit more info or something more like a concrete outline if asked.

I still like 1 in 8 better than 1 in 597... though I feel sorry for you with multiply proposed topics who will be shortlisted. oh, the angst!

Anonymous said...

This is really exciting!

David, I'm interested in knowing whether any you've looked through so far are really outstanding, like, total goer's? Have you read any so far that are way above the others in terms of quality, making you think, 'that one's not just for the shortlist, that's an absolute definite'? I don't expect you to name names, but you could say a 'yes or no'!


Anonymous said...

Dear Handful of Persistent Bill Fox Obsessives,

Give it a rest.


Everybody Else

billykek said...

Thanks for keeping us updated so frequently. I'm on the edge of my seat everyday.
-billyk (NYD's)

Anonymous said...

Is anonymous one person, or are we all the same person?

Is this all part of the 33 1/3 conceptual zeitgeist, or are all these anonymous lottery goers an essential part of the 33 1/3 audience?

If I write a 2000 word proposal what are the 3 essential elements to be included in said proposal (and what do I do with it after its been rejected)?

OK, after spelling, grammar, and style what part does professional experience, public profile and industry connections have to do with the final selection process?

David said...

Shoebiz: good question. I've read almost 500 proposals so far, and I wouldn't say there are any that absolutely scream "YOU WILL PUBLISH ME!!" Just a heck of a lot of very, very good proposals. How we'll decide between them, I do not know. Last time around, there were in fact three proposals that jumped out at me instantly as 100% definites - for the books by Carl Wilson, John Darnielle, and DX Ferris.

Anonymous said...

Not related, but just wanted to say that I'm currently reading the first book in the series, on Dusty Springfield, and it's REALLY good. I don't think many entries could get away with being that idiosyncratic (I'm almost done, but I can't say that I know much more about the record than I did before), but the story that Zanes is weaving is fantastic. He's a really good writer, and I'm liking the book a lot. However, I kind of wish these little books were longer...

Anonymous said...

Before the REAL shortlist gets posted, i finally tabulated my wish-list picks.

55 shortlist choices (by sheer title aesthetics)

(… does the following mean I’m way eclectic? Too curious for my own good? Just deranged? My own proposal is included on this list, of course. No, don’t try to guess.)

Top 10, in order:
1 Pussy Galore – Exile on Main Street
2 Billy Bragg and Wilco – Mermaid Avenue (a bigger deal to me than all the other separate BB and Wilco titles, but I’d read those, too, if chosen)
3 Various Artists – Reservoir Dogs soundtrack (just to finally get a good analysis of Tarantino’s musical tastes)
4 Uncle Tupelo – Anodyne (for the looming breakup story – I consider it their ‘White Album,’ in that sense)
5 Jimmy Cliff (et al.) – The Harder They Come
6 Half Japanese – Sing No Evil (An act too-long-overlooked)
7 Betty Davis – Nasty Gal (Please, unravel the mystery better than the Oxford American did)
8 The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle (and it’s about time!)
9 Uncle Tupelo – March 16-20, 1992 (for the Peter Buck/John Keane/traditional folk song stories)
10 Various Artists – Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Vol 1

Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
Jellyfish – Spilt Milk
REM – Fables of the Reconstruction (since ‘Reckoning’ and ‘New Adventures in Hi Fi’ weren’t proposed)
Phil Spector – Back to Mono (1958-69) (I’d almost cherish it for the Christmas album alone!)
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree (it was hard to choose just one TMG album to favor)
Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything
Beck – Sea Change (for the themes, although ‘Mutations’ has powerful charm)
The Bee Gees – Bee Gees 1st (I love the early Bee Gees)
Karen Dalton – In My Own Time (another mystery to unravel)
The Knack – Get the Knack (oft-derided, but I consider them pure pop standard-bearers)
Leon Russell – Carney (one of my all-time favorite albums since about 1972. I’m so glad someone wanted to give it the 33.3 kind of love!)
The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (my fave of the Stones LPs proposed)
Alexander “Skip” Spence – Oar (a true underground classic)
Jeffrey Lewis – 12 Crass Songs (Ditto. even for this project, though I prefer Jeffrey’s original songs. I’d hope this is effectively a two-fer as a critical bio.)
Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
X – Los Angeles (really, ANY X title on the list)
Beat Happening – Beat Happening (I’d read anything about BH.)
The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us (ditto)
The Raincoats – The Raincoats (ditto)
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (double ditto)
Robyn Hitchcock – I Often Dream of Trains (d-d-d-ditto)
Galaxie 500 – Today (ditto ditto)
The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey (triple dot ditto)
Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music (… maybe as part of a limited-edition box set, with ‘Metal Box’ – think of all the metal fans who would buy this!)
Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw
Joe Jackson – Night and Day
The Clash – Sandinista!
The Dream Syndicate – Days of Wine and Roses

Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East (and I’d buy a copy for my son)
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (as the star-making album, although I’d also love reading about the recording of ‘Elephant’…)
The Who – Quadrophenia
Wilco – Being There (the YHF saga having been covered ad nauseam)
Townes Van Zandt – Townes Van Zandt
The Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II (another classic, directly prefiguring alt-country)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Gospel Train
They Might Be Giants - Lincoln
Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town
Camper Van Beethoven – Key Lime Pie
Bill Fox – Transit Byzantium (count me among the newly converted – this is my first comment about it)
The Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Johnny Cash – American Recordings
Little Feat – Sailin’ Shoes
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
Phil Ochs – Rehearsals for Retirement

--- I have, uh, 96 more on a secondary list. I will stress that I’m pulling for Graham Parker and a Leonard Cohen choice as well.)
Now I will go back to counting down with the rest of you…

Anonymous said...

David, have you started sending out rejection letters yet? Checking my email is a nightmare at the moment...