Archive for November, 2013

Saturday Quote of the Night

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

“Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyse yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it.”

- Octavia Butler




Saturday Evening Book Reviews

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Jeffrey Wasserstrom on Jung Chang’s Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China: “When Chang goes further – describing Cixi as a “revolutionary” with life-long progressive leanings, veering into the historical novelist’s terrain with claims about the ruler’s innermost thoughts – she moves on to shakier ground, overstating the significance of archival fragments and memoirs that support her interpretation, while dismissing those that contradict it. In the end, Chang’s most convincing arguments are her least novel, while her most novel assertions are least convincing.” (Financial Times)

Lydia Kiesling on Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch: “…full of class markers, comical names (Kitten), kinds of antiques, and names of schools, so that the reader occasionally has the sense of being bludgeoned with a sledgehammer from some very tony shop.” (The Rumpus)

Darren Franich on George R.R. Martin’s The Princess and the Queen: “…densely packed with warfare, politicking, bloody melodrama, and dragon-on-dragon assault. It reads like Martin’s outline for a Game of Thrones prequel that never was.” (

Maria Puente on Deborah Soloman’s American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell: “As his new and apparently first serious biographer, Deborah Solomon, makes clear in this highly readable, illuminating book, Rockwell was more than an illustrator.” (USAToday)

Afternoon Viewing: Willis Barnstone

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

From Wayne Lindberg’s  YouTube description:

Willis Barnstone, prolific poet, translator, scholar, and memoirist has authored, edited, or contributed to countless volumes over six decades. In this conversation with Mariano Zaro, he talks about his development as a poet and the work of some poets he has translated and admires.


Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, November 30th, 2013



It sounds as if the stage adaptation for Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL is going to be very good. (The Guardian)

What is a poem, asks (The Atlantic)

Some writers give thanks for a selection of wonderful photographs. (The New Yorker)

For durability, book are still the best way to store information. (Salon)

… and 62% of readers in the UK still prefer paper books to ebooks. (GalleyCat)

The New York Times unfurls its list of notable books for 2013. (The New York Times)

Editor, Peter Kaplan, has died. He was 59 years old. Rest in peace. (Gawker)

“On this day in 1667, Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin. The exact location seems pregnant with significance: a few blocks this way was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Swift would be Dean; much closer that way, almost his backyard, was Dublin Castle, representing the Englishness he would both covet and skewer; the specific address, his uncle’s home at 7 Hoey’s Court, almost perfect for perhaps the most famous scoffer in literature….” (Today In Literature)

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, November 29th, 2013

“When people ask me if it has been a hard or easy road, I always answer with the same quotation, the end is nothing, the road is all.”

? Willa Cather




Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Gelareh Asayesh on Goli Taraghi’s The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons: “Her accessible prose straddles the boundary between memoir and fiction, documenting life in Iran and in exile and in the airports that mediate the two.” (Washington Post)

Connie ogle on Wally Lamb’s We Are Water: “…a mesmerizing novel about a family in crisis that pulls together many characters and diverse themes and sets the bulk of its action against our collective modern angst and ambivalence.” (Miami Herald)

Kevin Grauke on Russell Banks’ A Permanent Member of the Family: “All in all, these two stories are emblematic of the collection as a whole. Every story that challenges us with its subtle characterizations and moral ambiguities (“Snow Birds,” “The Outer Banks,” the title story) seems to have a counterpart that fails to reach such heights – heights that, over the decades, we have come to expect Russell Banks to attain regularly.” (

Robert Weibezahl on Donna Leon’s My Venice and Other Essays: “Savoring these short and engaging pieces is akin to sharing a latte at a Venetian café with an entertaining, opinionated, intelligent friend.” (BookPage)

Afternoon Viewing: Evelyn Waugh

Friday, November 29th, 2013

From the YouTube description:

He was a novelist known for his quick and cruel wit, his wide-eyed opinions and his indifference about saying the shocking. So a BBC Home Service programme called Frankly Speaking in which Evelyn Waugh is quizzed by three abrasive questioners was never going to be a walk in the country. Today what was later described as the most ill-natured interview ever broadcast can be heard for the first time since 1953.


Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Emma Thompson


Emma Thompson talks about playing author, P.L. Travers, with (The New Yorker)

English, as we all know, makes no sense. (

Three JD Salinger stories find their way onto the internet. (USA Today)

Author, Hannah Kent, turns to Iceland for inspiration. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Have a look at some beautiful literary posters. (The Huffington Post)

Unlike athletes, writers tend to get better with age. (The Los Angeles Times)

Meet Glen Miranker. He’s got more Sherlock than anybody. (Forbes)

Boswell’s papers give a glimpse at life in the past. (Standing Point)

Here’s a bookish gift guide for children and teens. (The Los Angeles Times)

… and one from (Publishers Weekly)

“On this day in 1811 a final notice appeared in the Richmond, Virginia Inquirer asking for donations in aid of the destitute young actress, Eliza Poe, and her children, two-year-old Edgar and his baby sister, Rosalie:
To the Humane heart. On this night Mrs. Poe, lingering on the bed of disease and surrounded by her children, asks your assistance and asks it perhaps for the last time. The Generosity of the Richmond Audience can need no other appeal….“ (Today In Literature)


Wednesday Quote of the Night

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

“To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.”

? Jeanette Winterson




Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Damon Marbut on Robert Bly’s Stealing Sugar From The Castle: Selected Poems 1950-2013: ” It is rare that a faithful audience of this genre, this niche, can witness both evolution and steadiness in the hands of a writer who tells his own story, shares his own perception and humanity with an equal faithfulness.” (The Rumpus)

Peter Geye on Siân Griffiths’ Borrowed Horses: “Griffiths’ great accomplishment in dealing with the men in Joannie’s life is that she manages to be sympathetic to both Joannie’s physical desires (many of which are described in sensual detail) and her almost feminist nature.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Daniel Dyer on James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird: “A masterful example of the illuminative friction between fiction and history…” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Janet Maslin on Gigi Levangie’s Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale: “Her gift is for satire, not for moral instruction. Not for plotting. Not for reflection. And certainly not for taking herself seriously.” (NYTimes)

Wednesday Morning LitLinks

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Sherman Alexie


The inaugural Indies First Day will have famous writers volunteering in local bookstores. (The Los Angeles Times)

Adam Kirsch and Rivka Galchen talk Hannah Arrendt’s, EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM. (The New York Times)

The Costa Awards announce their shortlist. (The Telegraph)

Classics borne of writing stunts, from (

It’s 3,000 words or Richard Dawkins has taken the day off. (The Daily Beast)

Three years in and #ReaderThanks is becoming a Twitter pre-Thanksgiving tradition. (GalleyCat)

The Massachusetts Library System tests statewide ebook pilot program. (LibraryJournal)

20 bits of trivia about George Schultz is a good start. (The Huffington Post)

Here’s The Telegraph’s pick of 2013′s best sports books. (The Telegraph)

“On this day in 1953 Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbyewas published. Many say it is his best novel, and the biographers trace many connections to Chandler’s personal life, none of them happy ones. Nor would any of them have been encouraged by Chandler: Yes, I am exactly like the characters in my books…. I do a great deal of research, especially in the apartments of tall blondes. I am thirty-eight years old and have been for the last twenty years. I do not regard myself as a dead shot, but I am a pretty dangerous man with a wet towel. But all in all I think my favorite weapon is a twenty-dollar bill.…” (Today In Literature)

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

barbara kingsolver


Barbara Kingsolver remembers Doris Lessing. (Amazon)

James Smythe is up to FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT in his rereading of Stephen King’s entire catalog. (The Guardian)

You can get in on the ground floor with some of these bookish Kickstarter projects. (BookRiot)

Poetry and airports, in (The New Yorker)

If you’re looking to be a writer these days, this list of common terms and what they really mean can be quite helpful. (The New York Times)

HOMEFRONT author, Chuck Logan, talks about how Sylvester Stallone changed his book for the screen. (MPRNews)

Louise Erdrich takes top honors at the American Book Awards for her novel, THE ROUND HOUSE. (SCTimes)

Kirkus shares its picks for the best of 2013 children’s books. (Kirkus)

Will fan fiction be the next big thing? (Pacific Standard)

Children’s author, Charlotte Zolotow, has died. She was 98 years old. Rest in peace. (NPR)

“On this day in 1919, twenty-two-year-old William Faulkner published his first prose, a short story entitled “Landing in Luck.” It is a lighthearted tale about an air force cadet’s first solo flight, and it gives little sign of the style or fame to come, but the autobiographical details behind its telling are pure, playful Faulkner….” (Today In Literature)

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, November 25th, 2013

“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”

― Dylan Thomas



Monday Evening Book Reviews

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Patricia Craig on Jennifer Johnston’s A Sixpenny Song: “As ever, Johnston marshals her material with deftness, charm and aplomb, makes an enticing tale of it, and keeps her narrative concise.” (The Independent) on Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis’ Death of a Nightingale: “While I found the novel a bit convoluted at times, I did enjoy it and thought the Ukrainian chapters were fascinating and terrifying.” (Blogcritics)

Adam Markovitz on Dana Goodyear’s Anything That Moves: “The mix of mini-profiles, memoirish passages, and research reports doesn’t always blend seamlessly. But the overall effect is of sharing a story-packed meal with Goodyear, an experience any real gourmand would savor — as long as you can occasionally opt not to have what she’s having.” (

Hector Tobar on César Aira’s Shantytown: “…with Aira the melodrama quickly falls away. There are no easy truths here, no pat judgments about good and evil. Instead, with a few final acts of narrative sleight of hand (and some odd soliloquies) the reader is left at once dazzled and unsettled.” (LATimes)

Monday Morning LitLinks

Monday, November 25th, 2013



Comic book collecting can mean big bucks. (The Telegraph)

The Washington Posts publishes its ‘Best of’ list for 2013 fiction. (The Washington Post)

More than a billion dollars is not quite enough for The New York Public Library. (The Wall Street Journal)

Anakana Schofield reflects on “unsinkable” characters in fiction in (The Guardian)

The tricky business of selling books on college campuses. (Publishers Weekly)

And what of all these book awards? Do they matter? (The Wall Street Journal)

… Daniel Mendelsohn and Jennifer Szalai talk it over at (The New York Times)

Do children learn contemplation through storytime? Michael Morpurgo thinks so. (The Telegraph)

“On this day in 1970 Yukio Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide, also known as hara-kiri). Mishima was a three-time Nobel nominee, the most famous and translated Japanese writer of his generation – The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the SeaThe Sea of Fertility, ten other novels — and, in his last year, so internationally popular that he made Esquiremagazine’s ‘Top 100 People in the World’ list. His spectacularly staged death was front-page news around the world, and it is still being analyzed for what it says about him, or his fiction, or Japan….” (Today In Literature)

Sunday Quote of the Night

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

“There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.”

? Anthony Trollope





Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Wendy Lesser on Ann Patchett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage: “Patchett’s own self-criticism would suggest that as a writer she sometimes “errs frankly on the side of sweetness.” Yet there is little sign of that gentle failing in the essays…” (NYTimes)

Antonia Clark on Lynn Levin’s Miss Plastique: “The poems in this collection display Levin’s studied attention to craft and a delightful versatility. She is equally at home with received forms (sonnet, villanelle, sestina, aphorism) and free verse.” (The Rumpus)

Randy Boyagoda on J Michael Lennon’s Norman Mailer: A Double Life: “The subtitle “A Double Life” serves as Lennon’s governing premise for exploring how Mailer’s personal life mattered to his writing life and vice versa, but he does far more than merely affirm this abundantly obvious, abundantly volatile relationship.” (Financial Times)

Ursula Le Guin on Delphine de Vigan’s Nothing Holds Back the Night: “I don’t think it is a novel, but I respect the author’s honesty in not calling it a memoir. The first part of it, the portrait and history of a family, combines apparently factual accounts drawn from interviews and other sources, with long passages of fiction: inventions by the author-character – descriptions of scenes she did not witness, thoughts she imagines in the minds of people alive before she was born.” (The Guardian)

Afternoon Viewing: Kiran Nagarkar

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

From the Literature Live! The Mumbai Litfest YouTube description:

“A great book is a very rare event,” says the vibrant bilingual novelist and playwright Kiran Nagarkar. His novels include Saat Sakkam Trechalis, which is considered a landmark in Marathi literature and according to some critics, it reinvented Marathi. His other novels are all in English: Ravan and Eddie, Cuckold, God’s Little Soldier and The Extras.

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

thomas jefferson


A handwritten letter, from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. William Eustis about Lewis and Clark, is predicted to fetch nearly three quarters of a million dollars at auction. (BookTryst)

Paul Harding offers up some writing tips at (Publishers Weekly)

Here’s a nod to the best monsters in children’s literature from (Flavorwire)

Poet, Michael McClure, has a chat with (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Politics spawns great literature, now more than ever. (PolicyMic)

Peter Cole talks with the (Bookslut)

Writers and New York City: a love story. Oh, and love is a pain in the tail. (The New York Times)

The work routines of some famous writers make for some interesting reading. (The Telegraph)

Poet and essayist, Wanda Coleman, has died. She was 67 years old. Rest in peace. (The Los Angeles Times)

Author and translator, William Weaver, has doed. He was 80 years old. Restin peace. (The Washington Post)

“On this day in 1947 John Steinbeck’s The Pearl was published, to coincide with the release of the film version. Steinbeck developed his “parable” from a traditional Mexican folk tale, and in such a way as to guarantee it a permanent position on the high school curriculum, but some biographers interpret it in a more personal way. Kino, the poor-but-happy fisherman who finds “the Pearl of the World,” is Steinbeck finding international wealth and fame with his previous book, The Grapes of Wrath…” (Today In Literature)

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013



Cary Elwes to write a book about the making of THE PRINCESS BRIDE. (The Los Angele Times)

Seamus Heaney was honored by some wonderful poets at a London event at The Royal Festival Hall.  (The Telegraph)

Apple’s been banning a bushel of comics this year. (Publishers Weekly)

Kelly Jensen dissects the trick of portraying a female character in YA fiction. (BookRiot)

Take the time for these very quick classics, courtesy of (The Huffington Post)

What we’ve lost in never writing letters by hand anymore. (The Huffington Post)

Writers are always complaining, but what about reader’s block (Publishers Weekly)

J.R.R. Tolkein will get his story told in an upcoming biopic. (io9)

Tim Manly talks about how Tumblr is better than an MFA. (Publishers Weekly)

Author, John Egerton, has died. He was 78 years old. Rest in peace. (Nashville Public Radio)

“On this day in 1678, ‘Ephelia’ had her first public writing licensed by the King’s censor, thereby marking her official entry into the world of Restoration literature. The writing in question is a poem on the ‘Popish Plot’ hysteria that was rocking the Court and all of England, but more interesting than poem or occasion is Ephelia herself. Once ‘a reputedly intractable case in the annals of English pseudonyma,’ she has now been almost conclusively identified…” (Today In Literature)