Archive for November, 2008

Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Kenneth Cole makes pretty clothes and shoes and handbags and… books? To augment his philanthropy, he’s released, AWARENES: INSPIRING STORIES ON HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

I’m all about the ‘why’, so this might be the food book for me – THE SCIENCE OF GOOD FOOD by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss.

Buzz and controvery are the wheels of WAR SURGERY IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN: A SERIES OF CASES 2003-2007.

WOUNDED WARRIORS is the third compilation of journalist, Mike Sager’s, riveting pieces.

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Harvard pondering curriculum change that would deep-six two required survey courses of British literature.

Jaki Shelton Green named inaugural Piedmont Laureate.

Poetry as an Olympic event and other crazy ideas to get people to pay attention.

Rising star Nam Le interviewed by Times Online.

“Writers and politicians” share their Christmas reading lists with the Guardian…

…while the Times presents its own list from the ranks “critics and celebrities”.

Saturday Evening Book Reviews

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

I thought I’d seen everything. Obviously, I’m a self-deluded egoist, even if I’m only flinging around a saying. But now I’ve seen everything, up to and including a study on the cultural significance of Brian De Palma’s ‘Scarface’. Ken Tucker lays it all out for you in SCARFACE NATION.

Poet, Allen Grossman, caught the attention of The New Republic with his latest, DESCARTES LONELINESS.

Last year’s children’s holiday book list couldn’t be irrelevent already, could it? From Hornbook Magazine’s archives, their picks for 2007.

Charlotte’s Web meets Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan, not Steve McQeen)? Well, sort of. Check out Elise Broach’s MASTERPIECE.

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

André Alexis, writing for the Globe and Mail, looks at the judgment calls inherent in literary awards.

Are poets immune to economic downturns?

io9 sets up Paolo Bacigalupi’s short story “The Gambler”. You can read the whole thing here.

The Times and Vintage Classics team up to let the kiddos have a crack at the new cover of the classic The Wind in the Willows

…Gawker mocks the winner (and provides a gallery of covers through the years).

Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Renowned and lettered biologist, Stuart Kauffman, champions the existence of God in REINVENTING THE SACRED.

There’s been much sneering over political partisanship. So much so, that I’m well past hating that word. But here it is again and this time, I might be willing to suffer it for Nancy Rosenblum’s take on it – ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS: AN APPRECIATION OF PARTIES AND PARTISANSHIP.

The story of the book, the physician’s first bible, muse of artists and television producers – THE MAKING OF MR. GRAY’S ANATOMY: BODIES, BOOKS, FORTUNE, AND FAME.

A quick three-fer from The Baltimore Sun never hurt anybody. Probably.

Afternoon Viewing: Dennis Hopper Recites Kipling

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Dennis Hopper recites Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, “If”:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Liticks’ Levi Asher weighs in on the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt freeze on new acquisitions.

Terry Pratchett urges more discussion to break the “superstition and witchcraft” surrounding Alzheimer’s.

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman interviews South African activist and artist Breyten Breytenbach.

Diane Johnson reflects on the trials and tribulations of juggling work and family.

R.I.P. William Gibson

Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

A.N. Wilson’s novel, WINNE AND WOLF, muses on the what-ifs of Hitler having spawned and Salon magazine praises it as a well-mulled must read.

DRIFTLESS, by thirty year absentee, David Rhodes, gets a pleasant nod from The New Yorker.

Italian crime fiction shorts are compiled by Giancarlo de Cataldo (translated by Andrew Brown) in CRIMINI. Then it gets good reviews. Could be time to expand my crime fiction experience. Could be yours, too.

Two YA fantasies get the once over at The Christian Science Monitor.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Juan Marsé takes Spain’s highest literary honor, the Cervantes Prize.

Not to be overshadowed by Updike’s special achievement in the field, Rachel Johnson welcomes her own Bad Sex in Fiction honor.

Husband of novelist condemns the suicide law that kept him from his wife’s deathbed.

Some revealing letters to the editor on the selection of the new British Poet Laureate…

…while Julian Gough, writing for the Prospect, sees Sarah Palin as a slam-dunk choice for America’s top poet. (thanks, Chris)

Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Slate Magazine endorses Mark Bostridge’s well-rounded, FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE: THE MAKING OF AN ICON.

Comedian John Hodgman, of The Daily Show and PC/Mac commercials fame, tells it like it is in MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE.

Emily Perkins is named ‘amazing’ by January Magazine for her new book, NOVEL ABOUT MY WIFE.

Extreme to be sure, Sara Maitland’s quest for solitude, A BOOK OF SILENCE, drew in The Economist for endorsement.

Afternoon Viewing: Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

A clip from the actor’s 1967 performance:

Mark TwainThe most popular videos are here

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

John Updike wins the Bad Sex prize.

Borders feeling the pinch.

L.A. tour bus company launching “Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles”.

Geeks rejoice: new “Halo” novel released.

Broccoli Books folds. Is the comic book industry in danger of tanking?

The Baltimore Sun talks “Twilight” with Stephenie Meyer.

Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Tween novel, SAVVY, by Ingrid Law, gets high praise from a critic who doesn’t like fantasy.

Time dissected for the layman is Dan Falk’s IN SEARCH OF TIME – THE SCIENCE OF A CURIOUS DIMENSION.

A pair of volumes of concrete poetry tell two intersecting stories on a teenaged brother and sister.

Susanna Sonnenberg’s memoir, HER LAST DEATH, gets gritty and grim, but remains riveting.

Afternoon Viewing: The Lost Shakespeare

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

From the YouTube description:

A literary detective believes he has evidence that links an 18th Century play, Double Falsehood, to a lost work by Shakespeare.

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

io9′s Charlie Jane Anders gushes over The Lab, proclaiming it “a YA book that’s a gateway drug to hard science fiction”.

Juan Goytisolo takes the National Prize for Spanish Literature, one of Spain’s most prestigious awards, worth 40,000 euros ($51,000),

Wisconsin Public Radio examines the future of science fiction.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt puts the brakes on new acquisitions.’s Tony R. Rodriguez chats it up with novelist Joshua Braff.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao author Junot Diaz dicusses “becoming American” with NPR (thanks, Trish).

Midnight Poetry: “shiny new playground”

Monday, November 24th, 2008

shiny new playground
(Kim Michele Richardson)

hold my hand boy
say good bye
is parting such sweet sorrow
when the heart doesn’t cry

off to cali lights
that never grow dim
where you’ll bury your pains
keep them hidden within

on a shiny new playground
you can play
no broken hearts
to litter the way

just another tradeoff
to hide from the truth
why are you running boy
what will you prove

see your playground
all glittered in gold
sparkling from another’s tears
it’s this i know

you can lie to yourself
but you can’t lie to me
you can cloak your soul
so the world won’t see

but don’t you know boy
you can’t trade your soul
for a shiny new playground

glittered in gold

(Read more of Kim Michelle Richardson’s poetry here)

Editor’s note: ‘Midnight Poetry’ is a showcase for work by poets across the spectrum—from the pantheon of literary giants to contemporary, underground and new voices.

If you would like to submit your work for consideration, please see our Submission Guidelines.

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, November 24th, 2008

“If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works.”

- John Dos Passos



Monday Evening Book Reviews

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Mike Huckabee does a good bit of complaining, but they’re still saying DO THE RIGHT THING is worth the read.

Harold W. Fenton edits the LEGENDS OF PAUL BUNYAN to acclaim in Minnesota.  Hey, they’ll like it in other places too, but it was bound to start up there.

A Ziegfield biography and a new novel by Ivan Doig rule the review page at The International Herald Tribune.

And a page of Science and Technology from Library Journal should make you smarter.  Well, it couldn’t hurt.  Much.

Afternoon Viewing: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Monday, November 24th, 2008

“We Call Upon the Author”, performed live May 30, 2008 in Fiorentino, Italy:

What we once thought we had we didn’t, and what we have now will never be that way again
So we call upon the author to explain

Our myxomatoid kids spraddle the streets, we’ve shunned them from the greasy-grind
The poor little things, they look so sad and old as they mount us from behind
I ask them to desist and to refrain
And then we call upon the author to explain

Rosary clutched in his hand, he died with tubes up his nose
And a cabal of angels with finger cymbals chanted his name in code
We shook our fists at the punishing rain
And we call upon the author to explain

He said everything is messed up around here, everything is banal and jejune
There is a planetary conspiracy against the likes of you and me in this idiot constituency of the moon
Well, he knew exactly who to blame
And we call upon the author to explain

Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!
Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!

Well, I go guruing down the street, young people gather round my feet
Ask me things, but I don’r know where to start
They ignite the power-trail ssstraight to my father’s heart
And once again I call upon the author to explain

We call upon the author to explain

Who is this great burdensome slavering dog-thing that mediocres my every thought?
I feel like a vacuum cleaner, a complete sucker, it’s fucked up and he is a fucker
But what an enormous and encyclopaedic brain
I call upon the author to explain

Oh rampant discrimination, mass poverty, third world debt, infectious diseease
Global inequality and deepening socio-economic divisions
Well, it does in your brain
And we call upon the author to explain

Now hang on, my friend Doug is tapping on the window (Hey Doug, how you been?)
Brings me back a book on holocaust poetry complete with pictures
Then tells me to get ready for the rain
And we call upon the author to explain

I say prolix! Prolix! Something a pair of scissors can fix

Bukowski was a jerk! Berryman was best!
He wrote like wet papier mache, went the Heming-way weirdly on wings and with maximum pain
We call upon the author to explain

Down in my bolthole I see they’ve published another volume of unreconstructed rubbish
“The waves, the waves were soldiers moving”. Well, thank you, thank you, thank you
And again I call upon the author to explain
Yeah, we call upon the author to explain

Prolix! Prolix! There’s nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Beliefnet looks at the religious conversion of Anne Rice.

Random House pulls out of BookExpo Canada 2009 because they feel the show “is no longer effective in helping us promote and sell books together with the booksellers”.

Publishers rolling in dough in the midst of the ‘Obama book boom’.

Show the world you’re a poet with an Emily Dickinson Deluze Baby Doll T-Shirt.

The New York Times Book Review looks back at the life and works of poet Donald Finkel.