“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
-Edgar Allan Poe
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
-Edgar Allan Poe
The Chicago Sun-Times approves of Jeffrey Meyers’ biography of, JOHN HUSTON: COURAGE AND ART.
The Horn Book gives us a peek at the starred reviews from its current issue.
The LA Times makes Ben H. Winters new thriller, BEDBUGS, sound like a must-read.
And AMERICAN NATIONS: A HISTORY OF THE ELEVEN RIVAL REGIONAL CULTURES OF NORTH AMERICA, by Colin Woodard, is a thought-provoking read in Seattle.
Darragh McManus shares a Halloween reading list. (The Guardian)
Josh Dzieza examines horror literature’s “highbrow” turn. (The Daily Beast)
Christian House profiles the highly entertaining French novelist, cartoonist and screenwriter, Jean Teulé. (The Independent)
The rise of internet sales has forced Harvard Square to rethink its role on campus. (The Harvard Crimson)
Anne Rice compares her vampires to those of Stephenie Meyer. (GalleyCat)
Mark Sanderson surveys a new crop of poetry. (The Telegraph)
Paul Sweeten talks to Hungarian-born British poet and translator George Szirtes. (The Oxonian Review)
Rahul Bhattacharya’s debut novel, The Sly Company of People Who Care, takes The Hindu Literary Prize for Best Fiction 2011. (IBN Live)
“On this day in 1611 The Maid’s Tragedy, by Francis Beaumont (left) and John Fletcher, was entered in the Stationers’ Register. Beaumont and Fletcher dominated English theater throughout the 17th century; many of their plays were the sex-murder “stews” so popular at the time, but they were produced and praised at four or five times the rate of Shakespeare’s plays, and contemporaries placed Fletcher in a “triumvirate of wit” with Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.” (Today in Literature)
“When a murder is satisfied, it isn’t the beginning of the story; it’s the middle. We shouldn’t forget that fact because murder has ripples. You never go back to being the same. The people that investigate these crimes never go back to being the same as they were before they started the investigation. The people’s whose lives have been affected, the victim’s families, even the murderer themselves are profoundly changed. That’s why murder is still the most interesting crime for us to write about, because it is the only crime where something unique is taken away from the world, something that can’t be replaced.”
The Great Pumpkin is in this one, so don’t miss, THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1981 – 1982, by Charles M. Schulz.
The San Fransisco Chronicle features a peek at new picture books for kids due out this fall.
BLUE NIGHTS, by Joan Didion, moved The California Literary Review to the tune of three and a half stars (out of a possible four.)
And Kirkus chooses THE APOCALYPSE GENE, by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark, as one of its new crop of Critic’s Choice novels.
Anthony Horowitz examines the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes. (The Telegraph)
Philip K. Dick’s estate is going after the makers of “The Adjustment Bureau.” (NYTimes)
Steve Kolowich takes on (a different sort of) P.D.A. in the library. (Inside Higher Ed)
The longlist for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize has been announced. (Official)
Christopher Fowler muses on why writers are often forgotten. (The Independent)
Craig Fehrman chronicles the “short, unsuccessful life” of the American Book Awards. (NYTimes)
Elizabeth Day talks to Greek-Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas about (among other things) the “tameness” of the modern novel. (The Guardian)
How to piss off an English professor. (BBC)
“On this day in 1811 Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published. Early reviewers found it to be “a genteel, well-written novel” as far as “domestic literature” went, and “just long enough to interest without fatiguing.” Virginia Woolf would take a different view: “Sometimes it seems as if her creatures were born merely to give Jane Austen the supreme delight of slicing their heads off.”" (Today in Literature)
“I have no ambition to surprise my reader. Castles with unknown passages are not compatible with my homely muse.”
The San Jose Mercury News is well impressed by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s biography on VAN GOGH: THE LIFE.
Romantic suspense author, Stephanie Tyler, fares well for her latest Shadow Force novel, NIGHT MOVES.
ABRAHAM’S BAGEL, Misha Feigin’s new collection of poetry, is lauded by The Louisville Courier-Journal.
And Ali Soufan’s memoir, THE BLACK BANNERS: INSIDE THE STORY OF 9/11 AND THE WAR AGAINST AL-QAEDA, is heavily marked up with redacted text and still it’s worth our time.
Rosanna Greenstreet conducts a rapid-fire exchange with Margaret Atwood. (The Guardian)
Ashley Fantz goes between the covers of Bram Stoker’s journal. (CNN)
Spend on minute with novelist Alice Hoffman. (The Independent)
Poet and former arts minister Michael D. Higgins is Ireland’s next president. (Sydney Morning Herald)
eBooks are kicking ass. (Publishers Weekly)
Susan Cheever discusses how Joan Didion’s new memoir almost wasn’t. (The Daily Beast)
Peter Ingham surveys a new batch of science fiction and fantasy books. (The Telegraph)
R.I.P. Elizabeth Winship, journalist and columnist. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
“On this day in 1933 Dylan Thomas’s “The force that through the green fuse” was published. It is one of his most anthologized poems, and its publication in a London newspaper just two days after Thomas’s nineteenth birthday would cause the scholar William Empson to mark the calendar: “what hit the town of London was the child Dylan publishing ‘The force that through the green fuse’ … and from that day he was a famous poet.”" (Today in Literature)
“I hold any writer sufficiently justified who is himself in love with his theme.”
THE SENSE OF AN ENDING, Julian Barnes’ Booker Prize winner, is a hit for nuance and subtlety at The Washington Times.
Inside The List at The New York Times kicks off the reading weekend.
The Columbus Dispatch features a look at Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum’s, IF I WANT MY MTV: THE UNCENSORED STORY OF THE MUSIC VIDEO REVOLUTION.
As the buzz builds for Jon Reiner‘s memoir, THE MAN WHO COULDN’T EAT, AuthorScoop is quite lucky to have snagged his sleeve and pinned him in place for ’5 Minutes Alone’. Or maybe we’re just bullies. Either way, what follows is a funny and interesting look at the man behind one of this year’s most well-received memoirs.
We’d like to thank him for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.
AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?
Jon: Not to diminish the triumph of my “adaptation” of Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the third grade, but it may be more interesting to your readers for me to describe my first “non-credit” for ghostwriting. In my 20s, my first professional “opportunity” (i.e., unpaid) was to ghostwrite a Parade magazine cover story for then-First Lady Barbara Bush. The subject matter was Mrs. Bush’s personal relationship to the White House as a resident and historical custodian. I did not have the benefit of an interview, or even any background material, and I was given a 24-hour deadline in which to produce several thousand words that would sound like the First Lady’s to 50 million readers. It was my first experience with unreasonable demand — or potentially notable opportunity, depending on how you looked at it. I closed my eyes, imagined her standard outfit — blue dress, white hair, pearls the size of globe grapes — and conjured the voice and life of Barbara Bush. Parade kept about three-quarters of my prose, verbatim, in the story. Sorry, Barbara. The secret is out.
AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.
Jon: It’s brilliant. Just look at the cover; can’t you tell? THE MAN WHO COULDN’T EAT is a first-person memoir about a year in my life and the lives of my family members (February 2009 — February 2010) beginning with a medical emergency that nearly killed me in an instant, and the existential crisis that followed, triggered by the months in which I was sentenced to “Nothing By Mouth” — no food, no drink — and concluding with a complicated return to eating. Is life worth living if something as essential and pleasurable as eating is taken away? Food lent itself literally and metaphorically as the creative structure on which to hang the story, and it was an exceptionally rich vein to mine. The story started as a feature piece I wrote for Esquire that — in the ultimate irony — won the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award. I’m the anti-food food writer. It’s a niche, and I’m the only member. We always have a quorum.
AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?
Jon: If we’re discussing success on the page, then more than anything else, I would credit other writers and their books. I imagine most writers would say the same. I’ve taught writing at the college level and am the product of a graduate school English department, but nothing in the classroom compares to the influence of reading and considering the work of other writers. The awareness also gets more profound, you get more attuned to it, the longer you’re at it. Everyone’s got their own favorites, but there’s nothing like the relationship between a writer and a reader/writer exacted through the power of a compelling story. Regarding my success on the tennis court, I credit John McEnroe.
AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?
Jon: I am a stay-at-home dad to two school-age boys, so my writing time is dictated by the boys’ entirely unyielding schedules. I write when they’re at school, and I don’t like having to cut-off at precisely 2:00 p.m., especially if I’m in a productive rhythm. I’ve got no flexibility in the matter and typically resolve to come back to the writing after my wife and I have cleaned-up dinner and gotten the boys to bed. Sometimes, that makes for very late writing nights, which is not great for sleep. My preference is to start writing as soon as I wake up, but it’s hard to do that during the school year. I write when I can and where I can. I’ve had some of my most concentrated creative moments on the subway.
AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?
Jon: To unpublished writers I would simply say, “Don’t give up,” trite as that may sound. Look at me; it took me 25 years to get published, or as my Esquire editor Mark Warren put it, “You almost had to die to get published.” We all suffer for our art, but did mine have to be so literal? All that time I had written — fiction, drama, screenplays, essays — and gotten close, receiving some exceptionally — but also frustratingly — encouraging rejections. One comment on my previous manuscript was, “This is a powerhouse of a novel, which is all the more reason that I’m sorry we are declining to publish your book.” Eventually, when I was presented with a life-changing opportunity to write my story, I was prepared and excited to say yes and believe in my ability to produce a quality manuscript. Even though I had failed for years to break through, and was often discouraged about my situation, psychologically I never quit on myself. I never stopped believing that I would become a published author, or that I had the talent to do so. You must have confidence, even arrogance, regarding your ability. It’s a bold action to write a story and send it out for the public to accept or reject. Writing is not a sport for weaklings. To published writers I would say nothing. If you’re already published, you don’t need to hear advice from me.
THE MAN WHO COULDN’T EAT is available in your local bookstore and pretty much in any way a that book can be buy-able. Do it however you like, just do it. And check in with Jon Reiner online at his website, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Libyan author Hisham Matar discusses his country’s revolution and path forward. (The National)
Shirley Hughes surveys “the naughtiest children in fiction.” (The Telegraph)
War poetry, like war itself, persists. (The Independent)
Jennifer Bowen Hicks talks to author, teacher and journalist Steve Almond about his third story collection, God Bless America. (The Rumpus)
Susan Hill counters World Book Night with “Not World Book Night.” (Guardian Books Blog)
David Margolick shares a wrenching excerpt from his book Elizabeth and Hazel. (The Daily Beast)
Kobo, like Amazon before it, plans to jump into book publishing. (GalleyCat)
Books-A-Million is planning to open 41 new stores. (Publishers Weekly)
“On this day in 1958 Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape was first performed. It was one of Beckett’s favorites, one so “nicely sad and sentimental” that fans of Waiting For Godot and Endgame were sure to be confused: “It will be like the little heart of an artichoke served before the tripes with excrement of Hamm and Clov. People will say: good gracious, there is blood circulating in the old man’s veins after all….”" (Today in Literature)
“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.”
BRIGHT’S PASSAGE, the debut novel by Josh Ritter, is a hit at The Baltimore Sun.
The California Literary Review is warmed by Lou Ureneck’s, CABIN: TWO BROTHERS, A DREAM AND FIVE ACRES IN MAINE.
Dagoberto Gilb rings true to The Los Angeles Times with his collection, BEFORE THE END, AFTER THE BEGINNING.
Lydia Millet’s new novel, GHOST LIGHTS, goes over swimmingly at The San Fransisco Chronicle.
The Book Beast presents an exclusive clip from Griffin Dunne’s film about his aunt, Joan Didion… (The Daily Beast)
…and Novid Parsi talks to Didion about her new memoir, Blue Nights. (Time Out Chicago)
Gabrielle Gantz talks to Salon’s Laura Miller about her career and the publishing world. (The Rumpus)
Actor and comedian Mackenzie Crook says his first foray into writing was tougher than any acting gig. (The Telegraph)
Robert McCrum muses on the best time of day (or night) to write. (Guardian Books Blog)
Jason Boog reports on the 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award winner. (GalleyCat)
Levi Asher looks back at Qaddafi’s last days through the prism of Camus’ “Caligula.” (Literary Kicks)
R.I.P. Morio Kita, novelist and essayist. (The Japan Times)
“On this day in 1922 Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room was published. This was the first full-length book put out by the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press, with a Post-Impressionistic cover designed by sister Vanessa. It was “a new form for a new novel,” wrote Woolf before starting; afterwards, she felt confident “that I have found out how to begin (at 40) to say something in my own voice,” and that “Either I am a great writer or a nincompoop.”" (Today in Literature)
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”
Tamora Pierce brings her Bekka Cooper series to a long-awaited and powerful close with, MASTIFF: A TORTALL LEGEND.
PIRATE HUNTER OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE ADVENTUROUS LIFE OF CAPTAIN WOODES ROGERS, by David Cordingly, reminds The Washington Times why modern life is so easy by comparison.
Biographer, James Curtis, gives us SPENCER TRACY: A BIOGRAPHY, and The Denver Post says it could be a doorstop except that it’s too good to relegate to the floor.
And the Winnipeg Free Press enjoyed Brian Kellow’s look at esteemed and infamous movie critic, PAULINE KAEL: A LIFE IN THE DARK.
The long-anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s DARK TOWER series heads to HBO. (Yahoo News)
Self-published author, Barbara Freethy, crests the million-ebooks sold hurdle. (The Sacramento Bee)
The Chicago Tribune to expand their book review section – for a price. (Chicago Business)
Letters reveal that CATCH-22 author, Joseph Heller, was a happy soldier. (The Daily Mail)
Dubai literary festival gets its permanent home. (AMEinfo.com)
Linda Amyot wins Canadian Children’s Literature Award. (The Montreal Gazette)
RIP Florence Perry Heide, prolific children’s author. (The Washington Post)
“On this day in 1822, seventeen-year-old Hans Christian Andersen enrolled in school, taking his place in a second form classroom of eleven-year-olds. Andersen’s school experiences would lead to a gallery of outcast and misfit heros in his stories, and though his own life would take fairytale shape, he had lifelong nightmares of mocking laughter and of headmaster Meisling, ‘in front of whom I stood miserable and awkward.’” (Today in Literature)
“For that reason you can’t write with music playing, and anyone who says he can is either writing badly, or not listening to the music, or lying. You need to hear what you’re writing, and for that you need silence.”