Archive for September, 2013

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, September 30th, 2013

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

? Jane Austen





Monday Evening Book Reviews

Monday, September 30th, 2013

David L. Ulin on T.C. Boyle’s Stories II: “In “Stories II” we stare down 15 years of fiction, from the great to the serviceable, and how does it add up?” (LATimes)

The Independent on Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge: “Bleeding Edge has been trailed as Pynchon’s 11 September novel, his attempt to narrate the internet, a postmodern game of join the dots (or dotcoms) linking venture capitalism, virtual reality and terrorism. The plot itself is a baggy detective story that elevates the conspiracy theory to high art.” (The Independent)

Karen E. Quinones Miller on Terry McMillan’s Who Asked You?: “There’s not a lot of drama or glamour in Who Asked You?, and the book starts off a little slowly. Then again, so does life.” (

Michael Sangiacomo on Congressman John Lewis’ March: “Hopefully, subsequent books in the series will soon follow, to give inspiration to people young and old.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Monday Morning LitLinks

Monday, September 30th, 2013

mark twain


Mark Twain: not a God fan. (Salon)

The Library of Congress will close its website if the US government shuts down tomorrow. (GalleyCat)

Jonathan Franzen’s recent take on things gets dissected over at (Publishers Weekly)

… and the cause is taken up at (The Daily Beast)

Here’s a preview of some fall horror novels creeping up on us. (Kirkus)

The shortlist for The Samuel Johnson Prize is revealed. (The Telegraph)

The New York Public Library lists the 100 most popular children’s book of the last 100 years. (NY Daily News)

“On this day in 1868 Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was published. It was an immediate best seller, bringing the thirty-five-year-old Alcott a cult following of teenage girls and a hero status which she grew to regret. In her letters she scorned ‘the young generation of autograph fiends’ that were lionizing her, and when she left for Europe, she took precautions: ‘Don’t give anyone my address,’ she wrote her publisher, ‘I don’t want the young ladies’ notes.’ But the book — in all, three-dozen books and hundreds of stories — made good the vow she had made to herself early on: that, though a woman, she would make both her own and her parents’ living, and that she would do it by writing….” (Today In Literature)

Sunday Quote of the Night

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”

- Paul Valery





Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Barbara Kingsolver on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Signature of All Things: “The narrative stretches but its center holds, thanks to the protagonist’s engaging credibility as a woman on good terms with her strengths and limitations.” (NYTimes)

Jackie Wullschlager on (editor and translator) Alex Danchev’s The Letters of Paul Cézanne: “At the heart of the book lies the relationship with Emile Zola, Cézanne’s friend from Aix’s Collège Bourbon, where the future artist won prizes for Latin and Greek (quotations from Horace and Virgil unexpectedly pepper his prose) but never for drawing. Zola was weedy, fatherless and foreign, and sturdy Cézanne protected him.” (Financial Times)

Geoff Dyer on Guido Mina di Sospiro’s The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong: “The book does raise one unanswerable question though. We can see its appeal and why Mina di Sospiro might have been offered a contract to write it. But how on (this spinning) earth did that contract remain intact when the publisher read the manuscript that resulted?” (The Guardian)

Kirkus on Mary Miley’s The Impersonator: “Historian Miley, winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, presents a colorfully detailed mystery that partially succeeds and a heroine whom readers will want to see succeed even more.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

malcolm gladwell


Malcom Gladwell has a chat with (The Telegraph)

Poet, Stephen Burt, talks to (The Bookslut)

If you have a hankering to learn more about George Washington, this is the place for you. (Library Journal)

Bill Wyman deals in some Nobel speculation in (The New York Times)

Book people on Pinterest come up with some very clever things. (BookRiot)

Robert McCrum wonders what modern publishing’s founding fathers would think of Amazon. (The Guardian)

Spoilers in the preview of the next Bridget Jones novel have left some fans shocked. (The Guardian)

“On this day in 1902 William McGonagall, poet and tragedian of Dundee, died. Today McGonagall is a cult figure, his many collections of poetry translated into over a dozen languages and selling well to those wishing to investigate a reputation for ‘the worst poetry ever written, in any language, at any time.’ The middle-aged weaver was contemplating the beauties of a June day when he felt ‘a flame as Lord Byron has said’ telling him to “write, write, write.” McGonagall’s Muse stayed for the next twenty-five years…” (Today In Literature)

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Hatchet Job of the Year


Confessions of a book-panner. (The New Yorker)

Ever read these terrific translations? Probably not. (Publishers Weekly)

On bookends… (The New York Times)

Authors on Twitter this week, compiled by (The San Fransisco Chronicle)

INVISIBLE MAN, by Ralph Ellison, is no longer banned in North Carolina. (The Los Angeles Times)

Book covers are more complicated than ever in the digital age. (Forbes)

A 1200 year old prayer book goes on display in Austin. (Forward)

Here’s a dozen examples of movies that are as good as the books they’re based on, according to (The Huffington Post)

“On this day in 1970 John Dos Passos died at the age of seventy-four. He is now one of the more forgotten Lost Generation writers, but the U.S.A. trilogy (The 42nd Parallel, 1919, The Big Money, published 1930-36) was important reading in the forties and fifties, both for its angry indictment of the ‘prosperity myth’ and its style. Influenced by Joyce, Dos Passos incorporated a ‘stream-of-society’ technique into his best fiction…” (Today In Literature)

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, September 27th, 2013



So what does David Bowie read? (Quill & Quire)

What does it matter if characters are likable? (The New York Times)

After more than a decade to wait, Allan Gurganus has a new book, LOCAL SOULS. (Kirkus)

Is writing about violence very different than writing violence? (A.V. Club)

Reading in America, by the numbers. (GalleyCat)

… a bit more on the study from (Publishers Weekly)

Bill Bryson charms (The Telegraph)

Author, Jude Devereaux’s psychic trouble ends in a 14-count fraud conviction for Rose Marks. (The Palm Beach Post)

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross are very funny on the screen, but did you know they were great writers, too? (The San Fransisco Chronicle)

Gary Soto gives up writing children’s literature. (The Huffington Post)

“On this day in 1929 Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms was published. Hemingway took his title from a 16th century poem by George Peele, in which Peele expresses regret to Queen Elizabeth I that he is too old to bear arms for her. The ‘arms’ in question for Frederic Henry, Hemingway’s hero, were those he and some half-million Italian soldiers gladly dropped in the retreat from Caporetto in the autumn of 1917…” (Today In Literature)

Thursday Quote of the Night

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.”

― Beverly Cleary





Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Gerard DeGroot on Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control: “Schlosser scares his readers by frequent reference to what might have been. He’s awfully fond of the words “if” and “could”.” (Telegraph)

Stephan Lee on Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project: “…unlike its unexpectedly lovable hero, this rom-com is bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and intentional humor.” (

Sarah Churchwell on Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927: “The book is filled with eccentric, flamboyant characters and memorable stories: Lindbergh’s parents never embraced, instead shaking hands when they said goodnight. A close associate of President Herbert Hoover’s said that in 30 years of working with him he never once heard Hoover laugh; his predecessor, Calvin Coolidge, worked an average of four hours a day, and napped more than any other US president.” (The Guardian)

Lynda Barry on Kathryn Davis’ Duplex: “When I finished “Duplex” I had the unshakable feeling that I’d only read half of the book, and the other half was still in there and if I wanted to finish it, I’d need to read it again. I wasn’t wrong.” (NYTimes)

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, September 26th, 2013



David Gilmour stirs up a barge-load of ill will by announcing that there are no women writers he finds worth teaching. (Salon)

… The Globe and Mail responds. (The Globe and Mail)

… so does writer Anne Thériault (The Belle Jar)

… then David Gilmour tries to make it better. (The Globe and Mail)

… Salon is unimpressed. (Salon)

Author, Andrew Solomon, doesn’t seem to have these problems. (The New York Times)

Study show that romance readers are more emotionally perceptive than the more Vulcan literary types. (The Millions)

You, too, can eat like a Jane Austen character. (Kings Palace)

Carolyn Cassady, the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s Camille, has died. She was 90 years old. est in peace. (The Millions)

“On this day in 1957 West Side Story opened at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theater for a run of 732 performances. Jerome Robbins first presented the idea of a modern Romeo and Juliet to Leonard Bernstein in 1949 — at this point he envisioned a Jewish-Catholic conflict fought on New York City’s east side — but neither had time to develop it further. When writer Arthur Laurents and Bernstein resumed discussions in 1955, they moved the turf war to the west side…” (Today In Literature)

Tuesday Quote of the Night

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

“There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge.”

? Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Carol Memmott on Alice McDermott’s Someone: “It’s a novel to be savored for the way it pries open the ordinariness of everyday life and finds within that banality the joys of being alive.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Edward Stourton on Justin Cartwright’s Lion Heart: “… part love story, part grail quest, part historical detective novel.” (Financial Times)

Nicholas Mancusi on Rick Bass’ All the Land to Hold Us: “… the pleasures of this novel have little to do with its plot. Bass is, to put it simply, a prose shaman, and by binding his characters to the land, he brings both them and the land to life.” (Washington Post)

Helen W. Mallon on Alissa Quart’s Republic of Outsiders: “Quart nimbly investigates the ramifications of the “attention economy,” in which anyone with ambition and a decent computer can vie for fame.” (

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013



Was Dante narcoleptic? (The Guardian)

Katherine Powers takes a swing at critics who reveal too much of the story in their reviews. (Barnes & Noble)

Marjorie Braman talks editing and getting back to fundamentals with (Publishers Weekly)

The Rona Jaffe Awards are announced at (

Hispanic Heritage Month has its literary angle. (NBCLatino)

So what books have been challenged this year? In honor of Banned Books Week, here’s a reading sample from (GalleyCat)

… it seems the censors home in on teen books. (The Guardian)

… and here’s a look at the history of banning books. (TIME)

Stephen King fans have been waiting for DOCTOR SLEEP. Here, have a reading sample to tide you over. (The Huffington Post)

Books and fish hatcheries – there’s a correlation if you squint and read this article. (

Author, Christopher Koch, has died. He was 81 years old. Rest in peace. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

“On this day in 1991 Theodor Seuss Geisel died at the age of eighty-seven. Geisel turned to children’s books in his late twenties, when his job creating ads for ‘Flit’ insect repellent-his ‘Quick, Henry, the Flit!’ became a household slogan across America-left him comfortable and bored. His first children’s book, To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street (1937) was rejected by twenty-seven publishers, but over the next fifty years he would write and illustrate forty-eight books, collect a Pulitzer, two Emmys and three Oscars…” (Today In Literature)

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

“What is art but the life upon the larger scale, the higher. When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite?”

? Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Monday Evening Book Reviews

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Piers Brendon on Graham Farmelo’s Churchill’s Bomb: A Hidden History of Science, War and Politics: “Farmelo, prize-winning biographer of the physicist Paul Dirac, recounts this important story with skill and erudition.” (The Guardian)

Elisabeth Egan on Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire: “You wouldn’t expect a novel about a teenager in a concentration camp to be even remotely uplifting, but “Rose Under Fire,” Elizabeth Wein’s follow-up to the historical blockbuster “Code Name Verity,” somehow manages to provide a sense of catharsis alongside its shock and chagrin.” (LATimes)

Adam Beaudoin on Sam Byers’ Idiopathy: “…a pitch-perfect contemporary take on the social novel, somewhere in the vicinity of Evelyn Waugh or Jonathan Franzen.” (Full Stop)

Lucy Felthouse on Natalie Anderson’s Whose Bed Is It Anyway?: “… the storyline is interesting, the writing easy to digest and very engaging, the sex hot, and the romance perfectly swoon-worthy.” (Blogcritics)

Monday Morning LitLinks

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

the expats


Chris Pavone’s THE EXPATS takes the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. See a list of winners and a recap of the Bouchercon event at (Publishers Weekly)

Poet, Kofi Awoonor, is remembered after his murder in Kenya. (The Telegraph)

You may soon be able to keep reading your Kindle during takeoff and landing. (The Daily Beast)

Jonathan Franzen vs. the internet, Round 626. (The Millions)

Plagiarism comes back to haunt poet, CJ Allen. (The Los Angeles Times)

… and there’s more than one poetry scandal simmering at the moment. (The Australian)

The saga of Kelly Clarkson and Jane Austen’s ring, all wrapped up at  (The Guardian)

Scholastic donates a million books. (GalleyCat)

“On this day in 1819, twenty-five-year-old John Keats wrote to his friend, Charles Brown, to say that he was giving up poetry for journalism. This is also the first day of autumn; four days earlier in 1819 Keats had written ‘To Autumn,’ now one of his most popular poems, and one which many critics regard as ‘flawless in structure, texture, tone, and rhythm’…” (Today In Literature)

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013



Junot Diaz is growing out of easy access to his most neurotic thoughts. And he doesn’t much care for Orson Scott Card. (Salon)

James Patterson has $1 million dollars up his sleeve and sits for a chat with (Shelf Awareness)

Violence in literature is explored by acclaimed author, Jhumpa Lahiri. (Financial Times)

Journalist, Rob Sheffield, talks karaoke with (USA Today)

A few books are common denominators for some very powerful people. (The Huffington Post)

James Franco inspires some mocking. (BuzzFeed)

America’s oldest book tours with auctioneer, David Redden. (The Blade)

Ernest Hemingway was a funny guy, as you’re soon about to find out. (NPR)

Author, Julie Bindel, is harrassed right out of a speaking engagement. (Salon)

“On this day in 1940 Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again was published, two years after his death from tubercular meningitis at the age of thirty-seven. Earlier novels in his four-book, autobiographical series included the best-selling Look Homeward Angel, and the lesser-known middle books, Of Time and the River and The Web and the Rock. Wolfe’s legendary style of writing, like that of his life, was flowing and impassioned…” (Today In Literature)

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013



JD Salinger’s life falls under more scrutiny. (The New York Times)

Elena Lappin, editor in chief of Pushkin Press’ ONE imprint, was way ahead of the curve, calling for Booker inclusion of American authors since 2003. (Slate)

The National Book Awards unveils its longlist for the 2013 poetry prize. (The Daily Beast)

Is science writing sagging? (The Guardian)

And still I’m ambivalent about this – ART MADE FROM BOOKS. (The Los Angeles Times)

The Online Journalism Award posts a list of its finalists. (mediabistro)

Elif Shafak presents the best of literary mothers in (The Telegraph)

More free samples are on offer from the NBA’s longlist nominees for best in young readers’ literature. (GallryCat)

“On this day in 1954 William Golding’s first novel, The Lord of the Flies, was published. The novel was rejected by twenty-one publishers and had lukewarm reviews but it was immediately popular, despite its bleak view of human nature. By the sixties, it was on its way to being labeled a “cult novel,” being taught in almost every high school, and bringing in enough money to enable Golding to retire from his own twenty-year career as a school teacher to write full-time….” (Today In Literature)

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, September 16th, 2013

“You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”

? James Baldwin