Archive for June, 2013

Afternoon Viewing: Dr. Seuss, as you’ve never quite imagined…

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, June 30th, 2013



The 2013 Locus Awards are announce at (TOR)

The Chicago Tribune invites kids to review the books they’re reading. (The Chicago Tribune)

Here’s a bit on the people who read books, out loud for money. (The New York Times)

As ye have written, so shall ye die? (NY Review of Books)

Author Curtis Sittenfeld has a new novel out, SISTERLAND, and also a chat with (Salon)

Jane Austen is in the running to have her face on British money. (The Guardian)

Jeremy Scahill breaks down why most writers aren’t as loaded as people think they are. (Galley Cat)

Gavin Extence, on taking lessons from Vonnegut. (The Huffington Post)

Author, Philip E. Slater, has died. He was 86 years old. Rest in peace. (The New York Times)

Poet, Oliver Bernard, has dies. He was 87 years old. Rest in peace. (The Guardian)

“On this day in 1936, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was published. It had been extensively promoted, chosen as the July selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club, and so gushed about in pre-publication reviews — ‘Gone With the Wind is very possibly the greatest American novel,’ said Publisher’s Weekly — that it was certain to sell, though few predicted the sustained, record-breaking numbers….” (Today In Literature)

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

one book


Independent Booksellers Week starts in the UK today! Go buy a book from an indie an show your support. (The Bookseller)

Why do teens love to contemplate the end of the world-as-we-know-it? Lauren  Sarner talks about the appeal of dystopian fiction at (The New York Daily News)

Comedian, Norm Macdonald, has a book club on Twitter. (Ballast)

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, by Ransom Riggs, will get the Tim Burton treatment for the big screen, (GalleyCat)

Richard Russo puts a literary toe into the epublishing pool. (NPR)

Joyce Carol Oates has a chat with (The New Yorker)

Tess Gerritsen works a campaign for Alzheimer’s research. (January Magazine)

Francis Slakey relates a moving encounter with a reader about his book, TO THE LAST BREATH. (The Huffington Post)

What on the buffet, graphic novel-wise, for Common Core? (Publishers Weekly)

“On this day in 1613, The Globe playhouse, of which Shakespeare was part-owner, burned down. The fire started during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry the Eighth (also called All This is True) when sparks from a cannon set off to announce the King’s entrance in Act I ignited the thatched roof, destroying the building in an hour. There are a number of contemporary descriptions of the event, including the cheeky ‘Sonnett upon the pittiful burneinge of the Globe playhowse in London.’ This was published anonymously, but as competition for the entertainment pence was fierce…” (Today In Literature)

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, June 28th, 2013

“I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.”

? Cormac McCarthy





Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Benjamin Evans on Nigel Farndale’s The Road Between Us: ” If Farndale is most interested in how the capacity to love can outlast war, the vestiges of hope within this achingly poignant novel are hard earned indeed.” (Telegraph)

Stevie Davies on Evie Wyld’s All The Birds, Singing: “Thriller, beast-fable and fantasy, Evie Wyld’s second novel is a sparky, dark yarn set in a georgic world of sheep husbandry where things have gone spectacularly awry.” (The Independent)

Nahal Toosi on Sahar Delijani’s Children of the Jacaranda Tree: “…a novel whose pieces never gel, and where what appear to be intentional attempts to keep things vague for purposes of ambience can leave a reader confused.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

Carrie Rickey on Peter Evans and Ava Gardner’s The Secret Conversations: “Hers is the heartbreaking memoir of the ultimate heartbreaker, a memoir that had me laughing and crying audibly.” (

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, June 28th, 2013



Kenny Rogers, novelist? (The Telegraph)

Author, Dan Savage, tells it By The Book to (The New York Times)

Readers and literary types are still sniffing around JD Salinger’s vacant seat at the table, hoping for some overlooked scraps. (Slate)

And what of reading just because you like to? Teachers voice their frustration at curriculum restrictions. (The Bookseller)

Some rising literary stars share their favorite books over at (Real Simple)

The Design Observer reveals its picks for the best book covers from last year. (The Huffington Post)

Best known for his Civil Rights campaigning, John Lewis is set to write a no holds barred memoir. (The Guardian)

Oh no! The Chicago Sun Times jettisons its Book Pages. (The Reluctant Blogger)

Don’t like science fiction? Not so fast. These five sci-fi novels might just change your mind. (The Guardian)

Anne Rice defends Paula Deen. (The Huffington Post)

“On this day in 1915 Henry James wrote to the British Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, to inform him of a ‘desire to offer myself for naturalisation in this country.’ James was seventy-two years old, and had been resident in England for forty years; becoming a citizen in the early days of WWI was his way of signaling ‘my explicit, my material and my spiritual allegiance, and throwing into the scale of her fortune my all but imponderable moral weight — a poor thing but mine own.’

Beneath such rotundity there was both heartfelt emotion and a joke. Naturalization was a straightforward process requiring neither quotations from Shakespeare nor letters to the Prime Minister….” (Today In Literature)

5 Minutes Alone… With Susan Tekulve

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

 Susan Tekulve surges onto the literary scene with her gorgeous debut novel, IN THE GARDEN OF STONE. Susan has generously shared her journey and expertise with us here. So settle in for a treat.

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?

Susan: Wow, that was a long time ago, but I remember quite clearly that it was a short story that I published in the Indiana Review in 1990. At the time I wrote this piece, I was twenty years old, and enrolled in my first workshop with the novelist James Lee Burke in the MFA program at Wichita State University.   I had a short story due for workshop in about a week.  I had an idea for a story about two twelve-year-old Catholic schoolgirls, Anna and Lee, from Southern Ohio.  One of the girls, Lee, had received a mini tape recorder from her father, a painter who was divorced from the Lee’s mother.  The father was living down in Kentucky, and every weekend he came for a visit, bringing Lee another adaption for the mini tape recorder. The divorce was a really big deal for my two main characters, pretty much an anomaly since the girls lived in an all-Catholic community in rural Ohio, in the early 1980s. Lee also had an older sister who’d come home from her secretarial job in Washington D.C., pregnant without the benefit of marriage, and she’d just been forced to give her baby up for adoption.  The sister was still living at home, half crazy with the postpartum blues and grief.  The pregnant sister was also a big deal because premarital sex was a bigger sin than divorce in the Catholic community around this time.  So I had a bunch of details about the schoolgirls and their parochial school, and I had plenty of conflict with the one family’s divorce and the unwed pregnant sister.  But I didn’t have a plot to hang these details and conflicts on, and I didn’t know how or where to begin.  Essentially, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.

One day, as I was fretting about this short story, I wandered down the hall of the English department to Jim Burke’s office to talk to him about my ideas.  When I walked into his office, I noticed immediately that he had a pair of deer antlers hanging on the wall behind his desk. Jim listened to me ramble on for a while, and then he said, “If you were a kid, what would you notice first in my office?”  I said I’d notice those deer antlers on the wall behind his head. He nodded, and I realized he was gently suggesting that I needed to use a child’s perspective to tell my story.  Next, he asked me what my characters wanted, and I said I supposed they wanted to know more about love and marriage, and how all of this ties into the Catholic concept of sin, particularly mortal and venial sins.   (I also knew that my young characters wanted to know a whole lot more about sex, but I was too shy to mention this part to Jim.)  Then he told me I needed to give my characters “a job,” something to do, and he suggested that I have the girls do something with the mini tape recorder that the one girl had been given.  In just a short conversation, Jim was able to give me a solid definition of what a story is:  Every story must begin with a character who wants something, and that character must do something to get what she wants.  Finally, every character must come up against something that prevents her from getting what she wants.

I went home and wrote a quest story about two Catholic school girls, Anna and Lee, who come upon a mini tape recorder and set out after school one day to interview everyone they meet about sex and sin.  I chose to tell the story through Anna’s perspective, in first person.  On some intuitive level, I knew that using this perspective would create a lot of dramatic irony, perhaps because Anna could observe and report all the inherent conflict in Lee’s broken family, and even though Anna didn’t understand everything she saw and heard, the adult reader would.   The two girls use the mini tape recorder to interview their favorite, eccentric nun up at the convent beside their school.  They go down into the village and sneak into a bar to interview a couple of bikers.  The story climaxes when they go to interview Lee’s older sister, Bridget, the one who got pregnant and had to give her baby away.  I titled this story “Venial Sins,” and turned it into Jim.  A few days later, I heard Jim walking toward my office.  He always wore the same black cowboy boots, so I could hear his heels squeaking down the hallway before I saw him.  He ducked into my office doorway, shook my hand, said, “Congratulations.  This story is the real deal.” Then, he turned and walked out, and I could hear him walking down to his own office.

I don’t recall much about the actual workshop, but I do remember that Jim told me to send the story to the director of the creative writing program, who then sent the story on to the AWP Intro Award contest, a project that featured the work of student writers in national literary journals.  That’s how my first short story ended up in the Indiana Review.  Then, I spent the next three or four years trying to figure out exactly how I’d written that story because I wrote the whole thing intuitively.  It wasn’t until much, much later that I returned to Jim Burke’s basic definition of a story.  Now, the lesson he taught me that day in his office is my mantra.  Every time I begin a new project, whether I am working on a story or a novel, I ask myself, Who is my character? What does she want?  What does she do to get what she wants?  What, or who, is preventing my character from getting what she wants?  I try to keep the plot line this simple, and I try to keep all place and character details in service to the story, but I allow the motivations to become complex as the story evolves.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Susan: My new novel, In the Garden of Stone, is a multi-generational story about a family who migrates from a coal camp in War, West In the Garden of StoneVirginia, to a mountain farm outside of Bluefield, Virginia. Set between 1924 and 1973, the novel follows three generations of a family all bound to the beautiful, and sometimes harsh, landscape of Appalachia.

The story is told through the points of view of four different narrators. The first narrator, Emma Palmisano, is the daughter of a Sicilian coal miner. The novel opens as a rail car overturns, burying Emma’s family’s house in coal while they are sleeping. Emma wakes to find a railroad man named Caleb Sypher digging her out. Though she knows nothing about Caleb, she marries him a week later and moves to his 47-acre farm near Bluefield, Virginia. The novel eventually moves into the perspectives of Dean, Emma’s son; Sadie, Dean’s wife; and Hannah, the daughter of Dean and Sadie.

This kind of novel, which is sometimes called “a composite novel” or a “novel-in-stories,” requires unifying elements beyond the chronological retelling of a family story. This novel requires more, and different, unifying elements that a traditionally-structured novel doesn’t necessarily require, such as recurrent images and protagonists, and a strong sense of place. While each chapter could exist on its own, together they must rest upon each other and have the longer arc of a novel. I would say that the various gardens that appear in the novel—the wooded mountains, the Italian stone garden that Caleb eventually builds for Emma, the cemeteries and even the coal mines—provide the key garden images that unify the whole novel.

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

Susan: Maybe because I have been at this for a while, I have had a lot of talented and gracious writers take me under their wings.  I would say that the writers who have had the greatest influence on me are the ones who are my mentors and friends.  The fiction writers Jean Thompson, Jim Burke and Thomas E. Kennedy have been my teachers and mentors for over twenty years.  These writers taught me a lot about the craft of writing.  However, because they welcomed me into their lives and became genuine friends, they also taught me a whole lot about how to establish good writing habits. These writing habits prepared me for a long career that has withstood times of triumph, and times when I haven’t had a lot of external affirmation.  These people also served as good role models for how writers should behave towards each other, and towards their writing students.  I never once heard any of these people make a cutting remark about a student or a colleague or another writer, and they never validate themselves by making other writers feel small or low.  They don’t get into ugly competitions with other writers.  They only compete with themselves, or with the great writers who came before them.

I’ve also learned a lot from my writer friends and colleagues, just by talking over coffee, or by sitting at a bar with them.  When I taught English at Clemson University, I met two superb fiction writers, Bart Barton and Dale Ray Philips.  We all taught four sections of composition every semester, and so every Friday, after we finished our last class of the day, we all went down to a local bar called Nick’s to drink a pint, swap stories.   We talked about our favorite books and repeated our favorite lines from those books.   Nick’s was the kind of bar where people took their dogs and children, so there were pinball machines and even an ice cream case so that the children who came into the bar with their parents could eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while their moms and dads drank a pint.  I think I learned just as much about writing fiction while sitting on a bar stool at Nick’s, talking to Bart and Dale Ray, as I did in my official fiction workshops.  I’m not saying this to belittle my formal education; that training was invaluable because I learned most of my foundation skills in the classroom, and by talking with my teachers.  But the talks with my writing peers made me feel connected, and there was always a kind of good energy that came out of our informal “writing group” at Nick’s that inspired me, and made me feel like writing all the time. Though I no longer live in Clemson, and I’m not able to go to Nick’s, I still make an effort to find writers who live nearby, or I meet writers with whom I enjoy an email correspondence.  I still need to feel this connection. I still enjoy, and thrive upon, this camaraderie among my writer friends.

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

Susan TekulveSusan: When I have a longer stretch of time, usually in the summer, I try to create a work regime by repeating certain habits. I wake up before the sun rises, and go downstairs to make a pot of coffee. I talk to my cats, go out to my garden to see what’s blooming.  I find out if any of my tomatoes and red peppers have ripened. We have one blackberry vine that produces about three or four berries a day, so I usually pick those and put them in a bowl so that my husband can put them on his cereal when he wakes.  I return to my office and read something, usually poetry, until I feel like writing.  I’ll write for 4-6 hours, knowing that one of those hours will be spent immersing myself into whatever project I’m working on, and one of those hours will be spent coming back out of that project.  When I’ve finished writing for the day, I’ll take notes about where I’ll begin the next day.  I think it’s really important to know what your next day’s work will be at the time you quit working for the day.  Then, I’ll take a long walk, eat lunch, nap, read.  Around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, I must admit, my “real” writing gets done.  By this, I mean that dialogue and scenes from my story come to me unbidden, when I’m not in my office, and when I’m not necessarily thinking about the act of writing.  A friend of mine likes to call this state of mind “writing when the policeman of the mind is asleep.”  Essentially, this is the time of day when the part of my brain that censors and criticizes is off, and this is when I grab a pencil and a yellow legal pad and frantically write down all the scenes that are coming to me. Sometimes, I’ll even go back to my office to work again until it is time for bed.  Sometimes, I’ll just write the notes, read, fall asleep, wake up and start all over again the next morning.

That is definitely my ideal schedule.  Like a lot of people, I work a full-time job, and I have a family.  The main thing I try to do is read a lot, take a lot of notes, and carve out smaller moments to write.  Over the years, I’ve had to grow a spine, and I’ve learned to defend these moments pretty fiercely.  I am a natural-born people pleaser, so I used to put everything, and everyone, before my writing. Also, I drive a pickup truck, so friends and neighbors often call me up while I’m writing, asking me to drive them some place to pick up something that they can’t fit into their cars. A lot of people send me out with their giant propane tanks to get them filled, or they ask me to haul mulch for them.  Once, a neighbor called while I was writing, and he asked if I’d drive him to a junkyard to pick up an engine for a car he was rebuilding, and I ended up way out in the country, sitting in my truck with a bunch of junkyard dogs snarling at me for several hours while this guy hunted for car parts.  I felt pretty resentful of my neighbor at the time, but now I realize that it was my own fault for answering the phone while I was writing.

Anyway, I still do this for people, just not during my writing time.  The main thing I try to do is what Flannery O’Connor calls establishing “the habit of art.”  If you establish a firm writing routine, the very act of writing every day will get you through times when you have a heavy load at your day job, when it is next to impossible to concentrate on your own fiction.  You’ll remain in practice, so to speak, so that you remain ready for when your novels and stories come to you. Also, having this routine will help you make it through time when you aren’t receiving much external affirmation. Oh, and here’s a glorious story about what can happen if you are a good neighbor AND you remain loyal to your writing routine:  When the neighbor who asked me to drive him to the junkyard heard that my novel had just come out, he surprised me with a congratulatory case of Highland Thunderstruck Coffee Porter.  This happened years after our infamous trip to the junkyard.  Apparently, while I was driving him around that day, we talked a lot about beer, and I told him I was a porter and stout drinker, and he remembered this!  I thought this was a remarkable gesture. I even took pictures of this case of beer because I was so touched by his thoughtfulness.

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

Susan: The market is changing right now. I used to tell beginning writers to submit to local publications or national contests and journals geared toward student writers. This was a way to build a reputable and solid publication record. But I think the percentage rate of fiction acceptances in literary journals is about 1% now, and a lot of really good print journals have had most, if not all, of their funding cut by the universities that house them. The editors of these journals have had to go from producing 3 print issues a year to producing 1 print issue and several web issues. Many have gone under, and many have gone completely online. Also, a lot of established writers with five or six book publications have been dropped by their large publishing houses, so they’re now publishing with good small publishers or university presses. These writers bring prestige to the small presses, but this phenomenon also makes it much tougher for young, emerging writers to find a publisher for a first book, especially if they are trying to publish short story collections or other non-traditional works that a big house won’t touch.

Also, I love having a print book or a print journal in my hands when I read, but I am realistic about what is happening right now to the printed word. The fact that people are creating new and reputable online journals and ebooks shows that good writing and literature will prevail, but perhaps it will prevail in another form. We don’t have the same resources we had ten or twenty years ago, and yet there are very good writers and editors out there who are finding ways to make good writing and books available online. More and more presses are using the print-on-demand approach to publishing books too. As a writer trying to break into the market, you do have to be careful about putting your work on the Internet. There are sometimes disreputable people who prey upon those who desperately want to publish. I have students asking me all the time whether a certain online journal is reputable, and I always say, “Did they ask you for money? If anyone asks you for money before they publish you, then they probably aren’t too reputable.”

In terms of honing your craft, I highly suggest that you read everything.  Keep your nature open.  Travel far enough away from home so that you gain perspective about your home and about yourself.  The more perspective you have about where you come from and who you are, the better you’ll be able to process and understand the new places and people you encounter.  Know that sometimes people and memory can serve as a “place” in story.  Even if a physical place disappears, or no longer exists in the same way you experienced it, you’ll still have your memory of that place and its people to write about.  Learn how to listen to other peoples’ stories.  I find that a lot of people like to tell interesting stories about themselves, and those stories can be great gifts for a writer.  Go to your writing regularly, even when it’s going badly.  If you can’t stand to look at your own fiction, move into a different genre, such as poetry or nonfiction, and explore your ideas in that genre until you are ready to move back into fiction writing.  This keeps the writing muscles toned for the times when the good story ideas come to you.  Keep in mind that you got into reading and writing because you wanted to discover something.  If those feelings of wonder and curiosity stop, you need to find new ways to recover those feelings that made you start writing in the first place.


IN THE GARDEN OF STONE is out now and you can find Susan Tekulve on the web at

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

writers & love


Can a pair of writers make it as a couple? (Salon)

Alyssa Nutting doesn’t shy away from the shocking and her new novel, TAMPA, is going to have people talking. (Salon)

Apparently, it’s science: cafe noises can make you more creative. (The New York Times)

A TIMES TO KILL, by John Grisham, gets the Broadway treatment. (The Huffington Post)

A reader documents his unique reaction to David Foster Wallace’s INFINITE JEST. (GalleyCat)

The project is to turn Shakespear’s plays into novels. The prognosis? Iffy. (The Los Angeles Times)

The plagiarist says it wasn’t her. (GalleyCat)

If you like polls and numbers, here’s a bit about ereading habits. (Shelf Awareness)

When is a bad book a good book to read? (BookRiot)

The book was better than the film and here are 11 changes made to screen adaptations that prove the point. (The Huffington Post)

“On this day in 1928 Sylvia Beach hosted a dinner party in order that F. Scott Fitzgerald, who ‘worshipped James Joyce, but was afraid to approach him,’ might do so. In her Shakespeare and Company memoir Beach delicately avoids describing what happened, although she perhaps suggests an explanation: ‘Poor Scott was earning so much from his books that he and Zelda had to drink a great deal of champagne in Montmartre in an effort to get rid of it.’…” (Today In Literature)

5 Minutes Alone… With Ramsey Hootman

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Ramsey Hootman debuts with a contemporary story of life and relationships that goes where, well, others don’t. Launching to critical acclaim, AuthorScoop is thrilled to get a chance to hear a little bit about how it all started and how it all works.

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?

Ramsey: When I was 13, Christopher Reeve (Superman, to me) fell off his horse and broke his neck. I was one of thousands of people around the world who wrote him a letter of encouragement. A couple of years later, Dana Reeve decided to collect their favorites in a book called Care Packages. I got a letter asking for permission to use mine – which I promptly threw away. By then, I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I was embarrassed by my gushy, childish missive. They sent another letter. I disposed of it. Finally, a lawyer called my parents and explained that my letter was one of Dana’s favorites and she really wanted it to be included. How could I say no?

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Ramsey: Samuel Cooke knows most women wouldn’t give him a second glance even if he were the last man on earth. He’s the cripple with the Courtting Gretacrutches, the nerdy computer genius every female past puberty feels compelled to mother. So when he leaves his lucrative career to teach programming to high schoolers, romance definitely isn’t on his radar.

Perhaps that’s why Greta Cassamajor catches him off guard. The sarcastic gym coach with zero sense of humor is no beauty – not even on the inside. But an inexplicably kind act toward Samuel makes him realize she is interesting.

Samuel is certain she won’t accept his invitation to dinner – so when she does, he’s out of his depth. All he knows is that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her as long as he can. Pretending he’s got his class under control? Easy. Being vulnerable enough to admit why he ditched his programming career for teaching? Um, no. That would require honesty. And if there’s one thing Samuel can’t live without, it’s the lies he tells himself.

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

Ramsey: The people in my support network. Growing up, my dad told stories constantly – about his childhood, his time in Vietnam, anecdotes from the day at work, folk stories, jokes, everything. My mom read to me daily, usually harsh, real-world stories of survival and nature that most parents would consider totally age-inappropriate. Finally, my husband’s belief in my abilities has always been constant. He allowed me the time and emotional space to pursue my passion – and never let me give up.

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

Ramsey HootmanRamsey: As a mother of small children, there is no “ideal” day or time. It’s whenever I can get it. Right now, I have Mondays to myself, so I try to clear my calendar in advance and reserve the day for writing. Inspiration comes at all hours… but getting words on paper is mostly about discipline.

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

Ramsey: Kill your ego. Writing is first and foremost about communicating effectively with others. Criticism, therefore, is not your enemy; it’s your closest ally. Criticism is what helps you improve, hone your craft, and become the best writer you can be. Find people who have good taste – very selective taste – and listen to what they have to say. Learn to love harsh critiques, because the wounds that sting are the ones that will teach you the most.


COURTING GRETA is available now in bookstores and online. Find Ramsey Hootman on the web at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013



The 2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing goes to Tim O’Brien. (Publishers Weekly)

And Robin Dresser, editorial director at Knopf, takes the 2013 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction. (Publishers Weekly)

Adding to Shakespeare can be a bit tricky, Joss Whedon. (The Atlantic)

National Security Correspondent, Jeremy Scahill, talks about journalism and his books. (GalleyCat)

Arthur C. Clarke’s DNA to be sent into space. Bon voyage, sir. (The Guardian)

THE LOTTERY, by Shirley Jackson, has received quite a spectrum of letters over the years. (The New Yorker)

Kids in Columbus, Ohio are set to get new library cards – ones that don’t rack up fees. (The Columbus Dispatch)

Have a look at some of the oldest bookstores in the world. (BookRiot)

“On this day in 1284, the Pied Piper lured the children away from Hamelin, to something better or worse, depending on which legend, poem, play, film, song, scholar or physician you consult. The oldest document for the event is a note in Latin, written 150 years after the fact, although possibly earlier sources include a stained glass window with an inscription describing how there ‘came a colorful piper to Hamelin and led 130 children away to calverie on the koppen mountain.’ Perhaps the piper was a Rattenfanger, and perhaps he played a drum, or nothing at all….” (Today In Literature)


Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Paula L. Woods on Marcia Clark’s Killer Ambition: “… presents a refreshing and suspenseful portrayal of high-stakes trials, criminal lawyers on both sides of the aisle and the strategies behind their every move.” (LATimes)

Colleen Kelly on Carl Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey: “…both a rollicking murder mystery and an elegy to the Florida that is fast disappearing.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

VS Grenier on LRW Lee’s Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury: “The story plot is simple and easy to follow. There is no questionable subject matter that parents or educators need to worry about. In fact, if you have a reader who liked the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and/or Leven Thumps by Obert Skye, chances are your reader will enjoy this new series for middle grade fantasy readers.” (Blogcritics)

Leland Cheuk on Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother: “Ironically, the novel drags a bit of it’s own flab and becomes a tad overreliant on Pandora’s lengthy, and at times, repetitive exposition. And the obesity-as-a-metaphor-for-sibling-relationships is never fully developed so we’re left wondering whether this is a book about the Big or a book about the Brother.” (The Rumpus)

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

richard matheson


The reading world mourns the passing of one of the Greats. RIP, Richard Matheson. He was 87 years old.

… from (The Guardian)

… from (The Atlantic)

… from (io9)

… and a re-posting of an interview from (Boing Boing)

An exhibit of his personal papers and belongings provides a look at the life of author Roberto Bolaño. (Salon)

The quirks of English spelling get a once-over at (The Huffington Post)

Barnes & Noble takes a thumping, balance sheet-wise. (GalleyCat)

Chris Kluwe talks Ayn Rand and libertarians in (Salon)

Randy Susan Meyers digs up some interesting (and often surprising) book stats. (Beyond the Margins)

Look at all those… ladies’ backs? Faceless covers are the topic at (The New York Times)

Anne Rice’s CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT is in development for the big screen. (January Magazine)

“On this day in 1857, Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal was published. Critics now regard it as one of the most important and influential collection of poetry to come out of the 19th century, and an essential bridge between Romanticism and Modernism, but contemporary newspapers like Figaro would have no part of it…” (Today In Literature)

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Monday Morning LitLinks

Monday, June 24th, 2013


summer reading


Robert McCrum talks about how it’s not a vacation if you didn’t bring a book. (The Guardian)

Author, Alice Aycock, has a chat with (BOMBLOG)

Apparently, in the future, we’ll be able to have computers do our reading for us. (Financial Times)

The decline of the English major… (GalleyCat)

Joyce Carol Oates talks about dog encounters and her latest book over at (The New Yorker)

Yet another World War II memoir goes under the microscope for authenticity. (The Daily Mail)

Novels reveal our ambivalence toward wealth. (Forbes)

Here’s a peek inside the adaptation of Stephen King’s UNDER THE DOME. (The Huffington Post)

If you want to be creative and don’t mind heart palpitations, take in a lot of caffeine. (The Atlantic)

“On this day in 1842, the writer-reporter-wit Ambrose Bierce was born in Horse Cave Creek, Ohio. Those familiar with Bierce usually approach him through his Civil War stories (‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,’ ‘Chickamauga,’ etc.) and then stay to enjoy, or at least marvel at, his celebrated aphorisms and definitions. These offer a scoff for every situation, and are so thoroughly, happily bitter that even H. L. Mencken recoiled in horror. Almost any sampling from The Devil’s Dictionary will demonstrate what Bierce was capable of feeling about human relationships…” (Today In Literature)

Sunday Quote of the Night

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

“Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.”

? Jules Renard




Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Walter Kirn on Stephen King’s Joyland: “King’s ambition this time around isn’t to snatch us and hold us in his grasp but to loft us up high, then briskly set us down the way a Ferris wheel does. Or a first love.” (NY Times)

Melissa Maerz on Curtis Sittenfeld’s Sisterland: “Full of quiet, surprisingly relatable moments, it’s a thoughtful look at the near-supernatural closeness between sisters, even those who’d rather not know what’s going on inside each other’s heads.” (

David Wheatley on John Redmond’s Poetry and Privacy: Questioning Public Interpretations of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry: “Redmond has an enviable knack for telling asides (“Maxwell, we might say, divided Auden into eleven parts and threw ten away”, Burnside is a “taxidermist on an epic scale”), but there is wisdom as well as wit in his throwaway style.” (The Guardian)

Elizabeth Lowry on Jane Gardam’s Last Friends: “At its best Gardam’s spare prose is loosely constructed, the realism achieved through its weightlessness; the geometry of her plot, on the other hand, is densely wrought.” (The Times Literary Supplement)

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

World War Z


The film adaptation of Max Brook’s WORLD WAR Z is quite a bit different than the book. (The Huffington Post)

Have  look at the most beautiful books of 2013, courtesy of (Publishers Weekly)

And for your consideration: Simon Vance as Master of the Audiobook. (The Huffungton Post)

How William Carlos Williams’ poetry lives on in… tweets? (Jezebel)

33% of parents claim a bedtime storybook is a nightly ritual. (GalleyCat)

Author, Barbara Prym, is profiled in (The New York Times)

Michael Baigent, co-author of the controversial HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL has died. He was 65 years old. Rest in peace (The New York Times)

… and a bit more on his death and his struggle with The Da Vinci Code. (The New Zealand Herald)

“On this day in 1961 John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent was published. The book was written during Steinbeck’s despair that fame or friends had led him away from ‘true things’ to ‘shiny easy things,’ and with a hope that he could ‘slough off nearly fifteen years and go back and start again at the split path where I went wrong.’ The first reviews were mixed, though Steinbeck would get the Nobel the following year….” (Today In Literature)



Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Uncle Sam


Reading Salon Magazine or The Onion might be bad for your standing with your Uncle Sam. (Salon)

DIVERGENT fans can look forward to four short stories leading up to the series conclusion, ALLEGIANT. (Publishers Weekly)

Might Stephen King pen an update to DANSE MACABRE? (GalleyCat)

The Edinburgh International Book Festival will honor the late Iain Banks. (The Guardian)

The Apple trial heads to the judge. (Publishers Weekly)

So what does a guy do with nearly $3 million in stolen textbooks? (

The Chinese government makes a move against a Taiwanese bookstore. (CNN)

Edward Kelsey Moore talks about being a debut novelist at the age of 52. (The New York Times)

Twitter and writers, in (The New Yorker)

Here’s a bookstore in Malaysia that’s weathered 87 years of, well, everything. (New Strait Times)

The Guardian wonders if Alice Munro really means it this time. (The Guardian)

“On this day in 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that found Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to be obscene. This was three years after the book’s first publication in America, thirty years since its publication in Europe, and a hundred years since Comstock began to patrol the mails for such ‘vampire literature.’ Though but one judgment in a series of significant decisions — most importantly, those concerning Ulysses, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Fanny Hill — the Miller ruling is considered landmark for having led the way to the establishment of a new, more liberal standard in censorship….” (Today In Literature)

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, June 21st, 2013

“For the source of the short story is usually lyrical. And all writers speak from, and speak to, emotions eternally the same in all of us: love, pity, terror do not show favorites or leave any of us out.”

- Eudora Welty



Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Bill Morris on Tom Knox’s The Babylon Rite: “…doesn’t just dissolve a genre. It pours half a dozen genres into a literary Waring blender, hits the puree button, and serves up something that can only be called the first archaeological Knights Templar Meso-American whodunit Dan-Brown-send-up international drug-cartel Mafia splatter-fest of a cult thriller.” (The Millions)

Michael Burgin on Max Barry’s Lexicon: “…Barry’s tale provides its reader with an intriguing, satisfying ride through a world where the phrase “has a way with words” refers to the author’s own world-building as much as to the characters who inhabit it.” (BookPage)

Carol Memmott on Tami Hoag’s The 9th Girl: “The growing problem of bullying linked to social media sites, as well as America’s tattoo culture, play key roles in this character-driven novel.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

David Evans on Deirdre Madden’s Time Present and Time Past: “…begins as a low-key domestic drama before developing into a compelling meditation on memory, transience and loss.” (Financial Times)