Archive for July, 2009

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, July 31st, 2009

All words are pegs to hang ideas on.”

-Henry Ward Beecher




Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, July 31st, 2009

It’s not like these things grow on trees, you know.  Someone had to think it up and here’s the story of how that happened – THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCK: THE MAN BEHIND THE LEGENDARY FESTIVAL, by Michael Lang (with Holly George-Warren.)

And pinning the musical theme smack in the middle of the USA, Larry O’Dell and Jeff Moore offer ANOTHER HOT OKLAHOMA NIGHT: A ROCK AND ROLL HISTORY.

Thriller writer, Gregg Hurwitz, can’t be displeased by the review he gets in Denver for his latest, TRUST NO ONE.

Todd Strasser’s NIGHTTIME – TOO DARK TO SEE could be just the thing to draw the children to the dark side, if they’re so inclined.

Afternoon Viewing: Leonard Cohen

Friday, July 31st, 2009

From the YouTube description:

The poet and singer/songwriter speaks about his distinguished career with the host of CBC Radio’s “Q”, Jian Ghomeshi, from his home in Montreal:

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Entertainment Weekly reposts its commissioned drawing of Thomas Pynchon, based on his 1955 high school yearbook photo. The drawing was an attempt by forensic artist Stephen Mancusi to project what the reclusive author might look like.

Meanwhile, The Complete Review stubs out its page for reviews of Pynchon’s highly anticipated Inherent Vice.

The academic book world meets Hollywood and devolves into a literary war of words.

Publishers Weekly reports that Publishers Weekly is for sale.

“Jeff Bezos ate my homework.”: Student sues Amazon over deleted Orwell text which rendered his electronic notes useless.

Alison Flood comments on the first review of Nabokov’s The Original of Laura, which appears today in Publisher’s Weekly (read the review here).

The Daily Beast launches its book club, kicking it off with 2008 Booker winner Aravind Agida.

Today in Literature: On this day in 1485, William Caxton printed Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur.

Thursday Quote of the Night

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

“Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.”

-Edmund Morrison Wyant




Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

William T. Vollmann makes a weighty and impressive volume, IMPERIAL, chronicaling the U.S./Mexican border and the migrant workers who dash the line.

Nick Laird gets another strong nod, this time from Salon, who calls his novel, GLOVER’S MISTAKE, a must-read.

Salon magazine applauds Maile Meloy short-story collection, BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT.

Skin and ink led Jeff Johnson to write TATTOO MACHINE: TALL TALES, TRUE STORIES, AND MY LIFE IN INK, which is well-recieved at The Washington Post.

Afternoon Viewing: Eric Barnes

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

From the YouTube description:

An interview with Eric Barnes, writer of the novel Shimmer, an IndieNext pick. Eric talks about Shimmer, Ponzi schemes and Bernie Madoff. Shimmer is a quiet and intense novel about ponzi schemes, high tech and the people and friends at the heart of a lie. One man, one company, one disastrous lie. Literary fiction, contemporary fiction, a literary thriller. Published by Unbridled Books.

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

U.K. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy offers a “a sombre yet supremely uplifting poem” on the occasion of the death of Harry Patch, the last British soldier from the First World War.

Galleycat is gearing up for next week’s release of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, with listings of Pynchon parties and the promise of more “Pynchon-inspired content” in the coming days.

What’s the world coming to when an author’s public readings are censoredin bookshops?

Simon Kernick defends that awful cover trumpeting Dan Brown, but I’m still not buying it.

Nicholas Baker’s New Yorker essay on the Kindle 2 (reported here) caused quite a storm, so much so that the writer returned to the scene of the crime for a live (and lively) chat. Read the transcript here.

The coroners’s report indicates it was heart disease that did E. Lynn Harris in.

The Google Book Search Settlement debate raged on at a panel discussion last night in New York.

James Campbell offers up an intriguing essay at Times Online on how Raymond Carver’s literary style was shaped by external forces—specifically, his editor and his wife.

The Times has more on the restoration of John Keats’ Hampstead home.

Adam Roberts goes to war with the sci-fi establishment over his displeasure with the lineup for this year’s Hugos. Allison Flood parses the venom.

Today in Literature: On this day in 1818, Emily Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire.

Wednesday Quote of the Night

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

“Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.”

-David Ben Gurion




Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Two kid’s books and King Tut make Dave Wood smile this week.

Kirkus fairly gushes over Paul Auster’s latest, INVISIBLE, to the point I might have to buy it.

OPERATION BITE BACK: ROD CORONADO’S WAR TO SAVE AMERICAN WILDERNESS, by Dean Kuipers, well-stirs the debate on eco-terrorism.

USA Today grants a kind review to Stieg Larsson’s, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE.

Discussion of the Day: The “Am-I-Crazies?”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Literary agent Nathan Bransford (Curtis Brown Ltd.) has opened up his blog today for discussion of the often bizarre mental state that unpublished novelists experience as they wrestle with the self-doubt and uncertainty of the writing process:

You probably know what I’m talking about: the “Am I crazies” are that feeling you get where you’re spending so much time writing a novel or multiple novels, your friends and family are wondering what you’re doing, and you have idea whatsoever whether you will ever see publication. You could be spending your hours writing the great American novel or you could be writing something that will only be read by your critique partners. No way of knowing. That’s when you stare at the ceiling and wonder, “Am I crazy for spending so much time doing this?

Join in the discussion here.

Afternoon Viewing: Electric Literature

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

From the Vimeo description:

Electric Literature teamed up with animator Jonathan Ashley and musician Nick DeWitt to produce this animated trailer for Jim Shepard’s “Your Fate Hurtles Down at You”.

Read the story–one of five–in Electric Literature #1.

Get it at

Electric Literature presents Jim Shepard’s “Your Fate Hurtles Down at You” (trailer) from Editors Electric Literature on Vimeo.

Vollman Revealed

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

William T. Vollman—the gun-toting, globetrotting, eyebrowless writing machine whose new book, Imperial (released tomorrow), weighs in at 1,300 pages—gets a thoroughly fascinating profile in the New York Times, courtesy of Charles McGrath.

McGrath describes him as “a loner, a bit of a recluse, despite being married and the father of a daughter, and a throwback: a wandering, try-anything writer-journalist in the tradition of Steinbeck or Jack London. Some people think he’s a little nuts.” Gawker, who rarely compliments anyone without using the back of their hand, says he’s “probably the last of a dying breed: The badass literary figure.”

The figure struck by the profile is at once reckless and calculating, intimidating and generously polite.

The most interesting comment, for me at least, is his acknowledgement that the length of his new book might cost him some readers: “The world doesn’t owe me a living, and if the world doesn’t want to buy my books, that’s my problem.”

Check out the entire piece here.

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The longlist has been announced for the 2009 Man Booker Prize:

The Children’s Book by AS Byatt
Summertime by JM Coetzee
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
How to paint a dead Man by Sarah Hall
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
Me Cheeta by James Lever
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
Not Untrue & Not Unkind by Ed O’Loughlin
Heliopolis by James Scudamore
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Love and Summer by William Trevor
The Little Stranger Sarah Waters

Sarah Crown offers her intitial reactions. More Booker coverage at the LAT, AFP, Times Online and National Post.

The American Scene debates the worst children’s books ever.

Literary Saloon’s M.A. Orthofer points us to a nice selection of writing from Cyprus in 91st Meridian.

Gawker compares and contrasts doggies vs. Didion.

Publishers Weekly reports that U.K. online bookseller opens a U.S. storefront at

R.I.P. Simon Karlinsky, professor emeritus of Slavic languages and literature at UC Berkeley.

R.I.P. John Dickson, poet.

Today in Literature: On this day in 1909, Chester Himes was born.

Tuesday Quote of the Night

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

“Here is laid the body of Jonathan Swift…..where savage indignation can no longer tear his heart”

-epitaph of Jonathan Swift, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin




Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The Dallas Morning News highlights identity theft and bootstrap tugging for the movers and shakers.

Publishers Weekly has children’s books galore.

Nick Laird gets a great review for his novel, GLOVER’S MISTAKE.

I enjoy The Andover Townsman’s youth reviews, and especially this one. Nice to know that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD hasn’t lost its power.

Afternoon Viewing: Mark Waid

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Babs from Comic Vine interviews the “Kingdom Come” author:

Stanley Middleton (1919 – 2009)

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

From The Guardian:

The Booker prize-winning author of Holiday, Stanley Middleton, has died aged 89, his publisher Hutchinson said today.

Middleton, who lived in Nottingham, jointly won the Booker in 1974 for his quietly skilful novel in which a lecturer retreats to a seaside resort to escape the death of his son and the failure of his marriage. Ronald Blythe, reviewing the book at the time, said that “we need Stanley Middleton to remind us what the novel is about. Holiday is vintage Middleton. The result of Mr Middleton’s analysis is so satisfying that one has to look at 19th-century writing for comparable storytelling.” He shared the prize with Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist.

Further down the article, an interesting experiment and an hilarious response:

In 2006, the Times sent the first chapter of Holiday to publishers and literary agents to test their reactions. All but one of the 21 replies were rejections. Middleton, contacted about the story, was unsurprised. “People don’t seem to know what a good novel is nowadays,” he told the Times.


Breaking News: God Resigns

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

From the always fun McSweeney’s:

It would be apathetic for me to just hunker down and “go with the flow.” So by stepping down as God I’m avoiding the flow, which makes me a better God. This makes sense for a lot of reasons, reasons of which I will not go into now for fear of giving in to pressure. And I am not one to “give in to pressure from other people.”

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Got a literary tattoo? Have it immortalized in a book.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced the acquisition of Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s new novel, The Elephant’s Journey.

Nicholas Baker recounts his experiences with the Kindle 2 for The New Yorker.

Publishers Weekly reports that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued its long-awaited statement of policy on the tracking labels required for all manufacturers of children’s products, but offers children’s book publishers some flexibility in how they comply.

A memoir from Mary Jo Buttafuoco? Really?

The Post-Intelligencer offers up some tasty French literary treats.

How sausage is made: the machinations behind bringing Michael Jackson’s memoir back from the dead.

Stephen King, adept at getting his writing out in a plethora of media, makes a stand for print.

Interesting insights into random readers: Forgotten Bookmarks

Today in Literature: On this day in 1655 writer Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, best known as the model for the hero of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play,  died at the age of thirty-six.