Archive for February, 2010

Sunday Quote of the Night

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

“Talent trumps all. If you’re a ­really great writer, none of these rules need apply.”

-Sarah Waters

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Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Herman Wouk is back to us, sporting an endorsement from the finicky Kirkus reviewers, with THE LANGUAGE GOD TALKS.

In Boston, author David Bianculli is applauded for his treatment of DANGEROUSLY FUNNY: THE UNCENSORED STORY OF THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR.

Oh look.  More zombies. But these are short stories, so taken in small doses, you might end up inoculated – THE NEW DEAD: A ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Christopher Golden.

And Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL convinces The Atlantic that all the applause has been well-deserved.

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Andrew Anthony profiles Ian McEwan. (The Guardian)

Carolyn Kellogg teases Levi Asher’s compelling new literary mystery. (LATimes)

Agata Klapec reports on a new documentary on the life of Nobel winner Wislawa Szymborska. (AP)

Randy Kennedy joins the growing group of contortionists trying to pretzel their way into justifying plagiarism (a side-by-side pic with James Joyce? Really?). (NYTimes)

Sam Leith does his part to cement Martin Amis’ position as a literature’s sullen curmudgeon. (The National)

NPR wrestles with the notion of Ozzy Osbourne: author. (NPR)

An Agatha Christie enthusiast got more than she bargained for when she found jewelry belonging to the author’s mother tucked away in an antique trunk. (Telegraph)

Christopher Fowler turns the spotlight on yet another “forgotten author”: Dorothy Bowers. (The Independent)

AL Kennedy, Martine McCutcheon and John Sutherland debate the merits of celebrity novels. (The Observer)

“On this day in 1749 the publication of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones was announced in “The General Advertiser,” along with an apology: “It being impossible to get Sets bound fast enough to answer Demand for them, such Gentlemen and Ladies as please, may have them sew’d in Blue Paper and Boards, at the Price of 16s. a Set, of A. Millar over against Catharine-street in the Strand.”" (Today in Literature)

Saturday Quote of the Night

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

“Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan.”

-Margaret Atwood

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Saturday Evening Book Reviews

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Gonzo charity (and the publicity that comes with it) is chronicled in THE POWER OF HALF by Kevin and Hannah Salwen.

The Economist runs an audio review of four of their favorites books of the month.

Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell gets credit for heading back towards his best work with THE MAN FROM BEIJING.

THE WATCHERS: THE RISE OF AMERICA’S SURVEILLANCE STATE by Shane Harris is unlikely to leave you with warm fuzzies, but a paranoid glow might keep you warm anyway.

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

John Niven says (and rightly so, in my opinion) that the public needs to stop being distracted by the scandals and the haters and recognize Martin Amis as the literary giant he is. (The Independent)

Princeton announces its Firestone Library is housing five unpublished stories by JD Salinger, along with some letters. (centraljersey.com)

Emily Stokes lunches with Jonathan Safran Foer. (Financial Times)

“Christian diet book author” (odd description) scores $55,000 in a royalty dispute with Strang Communications. (Publishers Weekly)

David Tresilian visits with with the “godfather of African publishing,” James Currey. (Al-Ahram)

Jason Boog shares some interesting tidbits for weekend reading. (GalleyCat)

Johanna Seltz goes behind the scenes of the Hingham Poetry Study Group. (The Boston Globe)

“On this day in 1812 Lord Byron spoke for the first time in the House of Lords, choosing for his topic the recent Luddite rioting. Byron was twenty-four, recently returned from the obligatory Grand Tour of Europe, and ready for a career; had his speech been the success he hoped for, there is every chance that the career might have been in politics, rather than in poetry and persecution.” (Today in Literature)

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, February 26th, 2010

“Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.”

-Joyce Carol Oates

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Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, February 26th, 2010

“Perversely entertaining” is high praise for Booker-winner, John Banville’s THE INFINITIES.

LETTERS TO JACKIE: CONDOLENCES OF A GRIEVING NATION, by Ellen Fitzpatrick, finds a new angle in which to frame the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the turmoil of its aftermath.

Do not look to feel good at the end of John McGregor’s novel of homelessness and addiction, EVEN THE DOGS.

Joel Kotkin looks ahead with predictions toward THE NEXT HUNDRED MILLION: AMERICA IN 2050.

Afternoon Viewing: The Charles Bukowski Tapes 5

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Courtesy of YouTube user woodychaos. From the Wikipedia description:

The Charles Bukowski Tapes are an altogether more than four hours long collection of 52 short-interviews with the American cult author Charles Bukowski, sorted by topic and each between one and ten minutes long. Director Barbet Schroeder (Barfly) interviews Bukowski about such themes as alcohol, violence, and women, and Bukowski answers willingly, losing himself in sometimes minute-long monologues. Amongst other things, Bukowski leads the small camera team through his parents’s house and his former neighbourhood, but the largest part of the interviews takes place in Bukowski’s flat or backyard. The documentary includes a scene in which Bukowski reacts violently toward his wife Linda Lee.

Related:

The Charles Bukowski Tapes 1
The Charles Bukowski Tapes 2
The Charles Bukowski Tapes 3
The Charles Bukowski Tapes 4

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Zimbabwe novelist Chenjerai Hove finds a safe haven in Miami. (Miami Herald)

Jason Boog reports on the reaction to Harriet the Spy’s “21st Century makeover.” (GalleyCat)

The Salman Rushdie archive opens today at Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

David Barnett discusses how the internet has pulled back the curtain to reveal the inner workings of the publishing industry. (Guardian Books Blog)

Andrew Boryga looks for some precedence in his quest to determine the best position in which to write. (Lit Drift)

Dave Eggers continues his crusade to save newspapers. (NYTimes)

Random House making some major moves into digital operations. (Publishers Weekly)

Nintendo leaps into the eBook market with a new, larger version of its DS game system. (GalleyCat)

“On this day in 1956 Sylvia Plath described in her journal her first meeting with Ted Hughes: “…Then the worst thing happened, that big, dark, hunky boy, the only one there huge enough for me, who had been hunching around over women, and whose name I had asked the minute I had come into the room, but no one told me, came over and was looking hard in my eyes and it was Ted Hughes….”" (Today in Literature)

Thursday Quote of the Night

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

“Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.”

-Michael Morpurgo

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Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Greensboro, North Carolina casts a local-gone-national-gone-straight-into-the-tabloid-crapper eye towards the reports of Senator John Edwards’ shenanigans in Andrew Young’s THE POLITICIAN.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, by Seth Grahame-Smith, gets a C+ at CNN.

Linda Lael Miller does modern cowboy romance in MCKETTRICKS OF TEXAS: TATE.

Polish author, Witold Gombrowicz, is translated to acclaim for his dark novel, PORNOGRAFIA.

Afternoon Viewing: The Charles Bukowski Tapes 4

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Courtesy of YouTube user woodychaos. From the Wikipedia description:

The Charles Bukowski Tapes are an altogether more than four hours long collection of 52 short-interviews with the American cult author Charles Bukowski, sorted by topic and each between one and ten minutes long. Director Barbet Schroeder (Barfly) interviews Bukowski about such themes as alcohol, violence, and women, and Bukowski answers willingly, losing himself in sometimes minute-long monologues. Amongst other things, Bukowski leads the small camera team through his parents’s house and his former neighbourhood, but the largest part of the interviews takes place in Bukowski’s flat or backyard. The documentary includes a scene in which Bukowski reacts violently toward his wife Linda Lee.

Related:

The Charles Bukowski Tapes 1
The Charles Bukowski Tapes 2
The Charles Bukowski Tapes 3

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto inspires a new string quartet by composer Elena Ruehr. (San Jose Mercury News)

Stuart Evers explores the inspirational power of walking. (Guardian Books Blog)

Dr. Seuss goes digital. (Wired)

Jason Boog passes along the news about the launch of OffTheBookshelf.com, “a writing community where authors can build an online bookstore for their digital books.” (GalleyCat)

Russell Smith offers some commentary on the ever-strong writing advice industry. (The Globe and Mail)

Meanwhile, Laura Miller offers writers some advice from a reader’s perspective. (Salon)

Rare book dealer Kevin Johnson talks to movie poster dealer Walter Reuben about literature in film. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

What books are bestsellers in your city? (The Daily Beast)

A German judge has granted six publishers an injunction against filesharing site Rapidshare “to monitor and prevent the sharing of 148 books.” (GalleyCat)

“On this day in 1830 Victor Hugo’s Hernani premiered in Paris. Though the play is rarely read or staged now, the opening night is regarded as one of the most momentous in French theater history, part of a larger and most theatrical conflict between the new-wave bohemians in Hugo’s “Romantic Army” (these included Dumas, Balzac and Berlioz) and the old-guard Classicists — a conflict soon decisively won.” (Today in Literature)

Wednesday Quote of the Night

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

“You don’t always have to go so far as to murder your darlings – those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page – but go back and look at them with a very beady eye.”

-Diana Athill

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Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Fact added to a little of Jerome Charyn’s fiction and you’ll wonder for certain at THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON.

And for something uplifting, Basil & Spice recommends the essay collection, HOW TO ACHIEVE HEAVEN ON EARTH: 101 INSIGHTFUL ESSAYS FROM THE WORLD’S GREATEST THINKERS, LEADERS, AND WRITERS.

Slate Magazine is charmed by THE POSSESSED: ADVENTURES WITH RUSSIAN BOOKS AND THE PEOPLE WHO READ THEM, by Elif Batumen.

SHADOW TAG, by Louise Erdich, goes over well in Chicago.

Afternoon Viewing: The Charles Bukowski Tapes 3

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Courtesy of YouTube user woodychaos. From the Wikipedia description:

The Charles Bukowski Tapes are an altogether more than four hours long collection of 52 short-interviews with the American cult author Charles Bukowski, sorted by topic and each between one and ten minutes long. Director Barbet Schroeder (Barfly) interviews Bukowski about such themes as alcohol, violence, and women, and Bukowski answers willingly, losing himself in sometimes minute-long monologues. Amongst other things, Bukowski leads the small camera team through his parents’s house and his former neighbourhood, but the largest part of the interviews takes place in Bukowski’s flat or backyard. The documentary includes a scene in which Bukowski reacts violently toward his wife Linda Lee.

Related:

The Charles Bukowski Tapes 1
The Charles Bukowski Tapes 2

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Salman Rushdie planning to write memoirs recounting his days of living under a death sentence. (dnaindia.com)

Anne Boleyn: scapegoat or “common whore?” (Telegraph)

Kate Youde traces the influence of steampunk on books, fashion and film. (The Independent)

Easton Area School District challenged over the inclusion of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed in an 11th-grade Advanced Placement English class.  (lehighvalleylive.com)

Once again, women writers are ignored. (Guardian Books Blog)

JK Evanczuk points to some “spiffy” book cover designs. (Lit Drift)

The Nook and acquisition of College Booksellers have offset otherwise weak sales at Barnes & Noble. (Publishers Weekly)

Stephen Emms reaches a point of diminishing returns in David Shields’ “buzzy manifesto,” Reality Hunger. (Guardian Books Blog)

Dick Francis was buried at his home in the Caribbean yesterday. (Telegraph)

“On this day in 1809 London’s Drury Lane Theatre burned down; when those watching the spectacle from a nearby pub with theater owner-parliamentarian Richard Brinsley Sheridan remarked on his composure, he famously responded, “A man may surely take a glass of wine by his own fireside.” One-liners aside, Sheridan was most famous in his later years for a five-hour parliamentary speech which brought both sides of the House down.” (Today in Literature)

Tuesday Quote of the Night

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

On dedication to the craft: “Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not ­counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.”

-Anne Enright

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Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Treacherous, flinchy groundhogs and endless snow advisories notwithstanding, baseball’s Spring training is just around the corner.  And to rev your engine for it, James Hirsch gives us WILLIE MAYS: THE LIFE, THE LEGEND.

Barbara Demick’s, NOTHING TO ENVY: REAL LIVES IN NORTH KOREA, is making the rounds and impressing all over. Here’s The Scotman’s praise of it.

Jack Cady’s last, RULES OF ’48, draws admiration over at Monsters & Critics.

And The Telegraph casts a wary eye to David Shields’ take of the state of modern fiction, REALITY HUNGER: A MANIFESTO.