Archive for July, 2010

Saturday Quote of the Night

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

“To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can’t eat it.”

-Leo Tolstoy




Saturday Evening Book Reviews

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Walter Isaacson combs the past for the secrets to a better future in PROFILES IN LEADERSHIP: HISTORIANS ON THE ELUSIVE QUALITY OF GREATNESS.

Doug Dorst follows up a well-received debut novel with THE SURF GURU, a collection of short stories that promises to earn him just as many accolades.

Poet Ron Whitehead’s latest collection, THE STORM GENERATION MANIFESTO, is examined in his native Kentucky.

And The LA Times opens its review archives to commemorate Davis Foster Wallace’s INFINITE JEST.

Afternoon Viewing: Neil Gaiman

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

From the YouTube description:

British born author, Neil Gaiman, sits down to talk to us about being a writer and what was the inspiration for his very scary children’s book, Caroline, that is now becoming a stop-motion animation movie.

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Tim Martin reports on his exclusive access to the JG Ballard archive. (Telegraph)

Can David Markson’s library be put back together again. (Jacket Copy)

Pocket Books launches online community for romance and urban fantasy readers. (Publishers Weekly)

Who will blink first in the eReader price war? (PCWorld)

Rachel Harvey offers an update on the Alan Shadrake trial in Singapore. (BBC)

Booktrust launches a new literary award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, starting in 2011. (Booktrust)

The 15 biggest bestsellers… evah. (Huffington Post)

Angela Wang marvels at Emily Dickinson’s green thumb. (The Epoch Times)

“On this day in 1485, William Caxton printed Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur. England’s first printer was more than a printer: in his preface to The Order of Chivalry, a practical book on knight-errantry to go with Malory’s Romance, Caxton complains that the knights of his day are altogether too un-Arthurian, spending far too much time at brothels, dice and “taking ease.”" (Today in Literature)

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, July 30th, 2010

“No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.”

-Hunter S. Thompson



Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Author Allegra Goodman fares pretty well in The Los Angeles Times with her novel, THE COOKBOOK COLLECTOR.

At this point, I’m completely bamboozled by the number of books banged out to explain what just happened to spur this most recent financial crisis.  No matter.  Here’s another one.  The good news is, The Washington Post thinks this one – Suzanne McGee’s CHASING GOLDMAN SACHS: HOW THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MELTED WALL STREET DOWN… AND WHY THEY’LL TAKE US TO THE BRINK AGAIN – is really good.

The Telegraph finds Francine Prose’s ANNE FRANK: THE BOOK, THE LIFE, THE AFTERLIFE a bit maudlin.


Afternoon Viewing: Justin Cronin

Friday, July 30th, 2010

From the YouTube description:

Kaye Cloutman and Alex C. Telander interview Justin Cronin, author of “The Passage” for the Sacramento Book Review.

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Anne Rice quits Christianity. (GalleyCat)

Boyd Tonkin rounds up some modern classics that are favorites of contemporary authors. (The Independent)

John Freeman credits American writers with the “you can’t go home again” genre before rescinding it. (Guardian Books Blog)

Benyamin Cohen talks to author Michael Largo about the strangest religious practices he’s documented. (The Daily Beast)

Jeff Rivera chats it up with literary agent Gwendolyn Heasley. (GalleyCat)

Vit Wagner profiles UK historian and novelist Alison Weir. (Toronto Star)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5 going for the gusto with a print run of five million copies. (Publishers Weekly)

Lawyers for JK Rowling move to have plagiarism charges dismissed. (

New Sarah Palin book cover revealed. (CNN)

Huge Winston Churchill archive, consisting of a million documents, to go online. (The Independent)

“On this day in 1818, Emily Bronte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire. Most accounts portray Emily as the brightest, most intense, and most difficult of the three sisters — “not a person of demonstrative character,” wrote Charlotte, “nor one, on the recesses of whose mind and feelings, even those nearest and dearest to her could, without impunity, intrude unlicensed.”" (Today in Literature)

Thursday Quote of the Night

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

-E.B. White




Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY, by Gary Shteyngart, gets not a lot of love at The Wall Street Journal.

At The Washington Times, there’s no surprise in finding much nodding over Zev Chafet’s report on RUSH LIMBAUGH: AN ARMY OF ONE.

Entertainment Weekly looks to save us from the trouble of reading Andrew Morton’s new tell-some book on ANGELINA.


Afternoon Viewing: Jane Litte

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

From the YouTube description:

Jane Litte from the website Dear Author interviews erotica author Lauren Dane about her characters:

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Nate East profiles poet Keetje Kuipers. (The Rumpus)

Will Peter Carey become the first three-time Booker winner? (Telegraph)

Amazon unveils a $139 Wi-Fi Kindle. (GalleyCat)

Gary Shteyngart discusses his new novel, Super Sad True Love Story, along with the art of the book blurb and the art of teaching James Franco. (The Daily Beast)

Has the internet killed the unauthorized celebrity tell-all? (ABCNews)

David Barnett highlights the perfect site for those who “obsess about what other people are reading.” (Guardian Books Blog)

Gabriel Josipovici goes giant hunting… (The Guardian)

…Harry Mount reacts. (Telegraph)

Susan Kamil named Random House publisher. (Publishers Weekly)

R.I.P. Carola Hicks, art historian and biographer. (The Guardian)

“On this day in 1909 Chester Himes was born. Until recently, Himes was known primarily for his contributions to the noir-hardboiled genre — Cotton Comes to Harlem, and his other “Harlem Domestic” detective novels. Recent, restored editions of some of his other books and several recent biographies make the case for regarding Himes, rather than such contemporaries as Wright and Baldwin, as “America’s central black writer.”" (Today in Literature)

Wednesday Quote of the Night

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

“I’m of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.”

-Barbara Kingsolver




Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

The California Literary Review is unimpressed by Laurence Gonzalez’s green cautionary tale, LUCY.

WILDFLOWER: AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH IN AFRICA, by Mark Seal, sounds quite interesting by this Christian Science Monitor account.

USA Today has a new summer book review roundup.

And have a look at NINE LIVES: IN SEARCH OF THE SACRED IN MODERN INDIA, by William Dalrymple.

Afternoon Viewing: John Thorndike

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

A Writers Talk Interview with John Thorndike, author of The Last of His Mind at the Ohioana Book Festival:

5 Minutes Alone… With Heather Sharfeddin

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Heather Sharfeddin comes to us just as her latest novel, SWEETWATER BURNING, gets rolling with a timely and layered story that’s some literary heavy lifting in the summer reading aisle.  All the better to strengthen and entertain you with, my dear.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Heather: My first publication credit was a short-short titled “Birdshot” in Sacred Stones, an anthology edited by Maril Crabtree. It was a semi-autobiographical piece I wrote about a Nez Perce arrowhead I found as a kid in central Idaho and have carried with me since. I didn’t get paid, though I was (and still am) proud of the piece. In 2005, the following year, my first novel was released, and I haven’t written many short stories since, though I often think I ought to. I love to read short fiction, and with the rapid pace of life they are a great way to discover new authors.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Heather: SWEETWATER BURNING just hit the store shelves on June 22nd. It’s the story of Chas McPherson, a social outcast and self-proclaimed loner in a small Idaho town. His character is drawn on the quote (and I can’t remember who said it) “Show me a loner, and I’ll show you someone who tried to fit in.” By the time we meet Chas, he’s done trying to fit in. He’s built a sturdy wall of crusty attitude, fueled by hard-drinking, to protect a tender and generous heart.

Chas’s journey takes off when he reluctantly hires a homecare nurse for his estranged father, allowing the former preacher to die at home. While Chas deals with the presence of this man he fears, even as the elder McPherson is paralyzed by Parkinson’s Disease, and that of Mattie Holden, a woman who could only have taken the job if she were crazy or hiding something, he is accused of burning down the home of a local Muslim family. Only Sheriff Edelson, new to Sweetwater, is able to look past long-held resentment toward the McPherson men, and learn who Chas truly is.

SWEETWATER BURNING has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal and was recently honored at the San Francisco Book Festival.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Heather: My family has been very supportive of my writing, allowing me hours, days, and weeks away from them. And by “away” sometimes that means holed up in the library. I face the same challenges of writing while holding a day job, raising children, etc. Being surrounded by people who believe in you can be the difference.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Heather: For years I wrote in the middle of the night because I battled insomnia. When you’re tired, you write stuff you might never put on paper in the light of day. I went down some dark rabbit holes and plumbed the depths of heinous crimes during those wee hours. The cool thing about writing at night is that my inner critic was usually absent. Then I changed my eating habits and started sleeping like a baby! That was a challenge to overcome, and it actually took me several months to find my balance again. Now I get my best traction from late morning through early evening. Fortunately, I’ve written enough by now to know how to turn the critic off manually when necessary.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Heather: If you are unable to take college and graduate-level creative writing classes, hire a professional editor with publishing experience (not to be mistaken for a publishing service–be sure the editor is not affiliated with vanity press). Storytelling is not easy. There are so many intricate parts that must come together; it’s like a symphony. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Critique groups can sometimes be good, and sometimes they can be very bad. Paying for an editorial service ensures that you get professional advice and not simply random opinions. And never stop honing your craft. Even after you’ve gotten published, there is so much yet to learn.


SWEETWATER BURNING is out now in bookstores and ready for delivery from your favorite online outlet.  Learn more about Ms. Sharfeddin on her website and author profile, and find her on FaceBook and Twitter for even more.

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Jonathan Segura teases with some first lines from James Franco’s upcoming story collection, Palo Alto. (Publishers Weekly)

The 2010 Man Booker longlist announced… (Official site)

…M.A. Orthtofer analyzes the list. (The Literary Saloon)

Laura Stampler chats it up with Damaged author Alex Kava. (Kansas City Star)

Alison Flood recaps this year’s annual Hemingway lookalike contest. (Guardian Books Blog)

Stieg Larsson becomes first author ever to sell a million eBooks on Amazon. (The Guardian)

Jeff Rivera recounts author Jeremy Robinson’s journey from self-publication to podcasts to major publishing deal. (GalleyCat)

Dan Brown shatters record for most first-week paperback sales. (

R.I.P. Les Pockell, editor and anthologist. (USAToday)

“On this day in 1655 Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac died at the age of thirty-six. He was the model for the hero in Edmond Rostand’s 1897 hit play, and a writer himself — several plays, and two science-fantasy novels. The real de Bergerac wasn’t the swordsman of legend, but he had a big nose, and a belief that “A large nose is the mark of a witty, courteous, affable, generous, and liberal man.”" (Today in Literature)

Tuesday Quote of the Night

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

“There’s a lot to be said for doing what you’re not supposed to do, and the rewards of doing what you’re supposed to do are more subtle and take longer to become apparent, which maybe makes it less attractive. But your life is the blueprint you make after the building is built.”

-Richard Ford



Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Back in the day, when global warming was young, New York city sweltered through the summer of 1896, big time.  Edward P. Kohn tells us more about it and the political fallout of heatstroke in HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN: THE GREAT HEAT WAVE OF 1896 AND THE MAKING OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT.



And Andrew Morton snags a chance to opine, in an unauthorized capacity, on the life and celebrity of ANGELINA.

Afternoon Viewing: Monica Holloway

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

From the BetterWorldBooks description:

Abbey interviews Monica Holloway, author of “Driving with Dead People” and “Cowboy & Wills” at the Better World Books booth during Lilith 2010: