Sunday, January 18, 2015

Books for Readers EXTRA #175

Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers EXTRA # 175

Jamuary 19, 2015

This Issue is an EXTRA: if you haven't read the last full issue, it's available here.

  For Back Issues, click here.
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A Word from our sponsors: Cat Pleska's Review of Love Palace at theCharleston-Gazette      

A new book coming February 2, 2015 from Hamilton Stone Editions: Shelley Ettinger's Vera's Will

In this EXTRA Issue:

Review of MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE
OF WEST VIRGINIA by Marc Harshman

Suggestions for Your Reading Pleasure from
Janice Eidus, Shelley Ettinger, and Crystal Wilkinson

The E-Reader Report with John Birch

The Painter's Bad Day by Peggy Backman

Reader Comments

Things to Read & Hear Online

Announcements and News


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This issue is an extra, which means it is short on reviews (although it has a couple, including a review of a book of West Virginia child lore by Marc Harshman and John Birch's E-Reader Reportas well as fresh announcements and things to read online). If you haven't read the last full issue, it's available here .

The main purpose of this extra is to ask your response to some comments I blogged in reaction to an essay at Slate by Daniel Menaker.   Menaker is someone I know socially, ex-fiction editor at The New Yorker as well as ex-editor at Random House. Here's what I wrote.
The question I'd like responses to is this: in this new age of e-books and self-publishing and ever-closing doors to the world of commercial publishing, where do you think we'll go in the future to find out what to read?
It used to be that there were great editors who loved literature more than lucre. There was at least a slim possibility for a writer to be taken on by one of them and brought along by a commercial publisher till her or his work began to make a modest amount of money. There were also book reviews in most newspapers in big cities and medium sized ones as well.
All of this is rapidly collapsing.
Therefore--where do we get ideas for what we read now? And where will we get what we read next year and in the years after? Do you depend for your book choices on The New York Times Book Review?   Here is New York Times Notable Books of 2014: I think I've read none of them. Below are more lists  from some people I respect.
I'm looking for your ideas and books lists, but also ideas for how to create new gatekeepers and book sources. Do you miss the good old days? Were the old days really good? Where do you get your book recommendations now?
What do you predict for the future of literature?

                                                                     Please write me at MeredithSueWillis (at) gmail.com.

 

READER COMMENTS ON RECENT ISSUES

Jeffrey Sokolow says (of Madame Bovary discussed in Issue # 174"Bovary is simply devastating. Infuriating woman, foolish and materialist, an uncaring mother, impossible to forget."
He also comments on a new book about why we keep reading The Great Gatsby:  "Maybe you can find a Gatsby fanatic to review it. Made me want to reread Gatsby again for the umpteenth time. How odd that the two greatest American novels -- both the very long one (Moby Dick) and the very short one (The Great Gatsby) -- were...commercial failures whose authors were nearly forgotten by the time of their deaths. Who says there are no second acts in American letters? Solace to writers everywhere (assuming they're as good as HM or FSF!)"


REVIEW BY MARC HARSHMAN OF MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE OF WEST VIRGINIA – Ruth Ann Musick & Walter Barnes, ed. Judy Prozzillo Byers.

This handsomely produced book is clearly a labor of love for many people but I think especially for its gifted editor, Judy Byers. Of course, it is, as well, the result of the earlier passion of its late authors, Ruth Ann Musick and Walter Barnes, seminal collectors and champions of Appalachian folklore.
What a reader will find here are all the permutations imaginable for child "lore" from WV, from play party games to sobering ghost tales, from Mother Goose-like rhymes to jokes, riddles, and much, much more. The preface alone is uniquely valuable as it provides intriguing historical perspective on both Musick, Barnes, and their life's work, as well as Byers' own intersection with that work.
Personally, I was captivated by the weird darkness to be found in several of the sections. For instance, among the 'Mother Goose' rhymes can be found this: "In eighteen hundred and four, / My grandfather went to war. / He pulled two triggers / And shot ten strangers, / And that was the end of the war." Some of the rhymes are very close to the familiar rhymes from more generic collections such as this one: "Rub-a-dub-dub, / Three men in a tub: / The butcher, the baker, / The candlestick maker, / All jumped out of a rotten potato." And some were as simply mind-blowingly surreal as any French poet: "'Twas a nice day in October, last September in July; / The moon lay thick on the ground, and the mud shone in the sky. / The flowers singing sweetly and the birds were full of bloom, / As I went into the cellar to sweep an upstairs room."
Of course, there is much more here than the "jingles and rhymes" section and I don't have room to point to them all but I will say that the whole of this gathering represents a treasure trove to any enterprising teacher of young children. The songs, group and play- party games alone are numerous enough to keep any group of children captivated. There are, as well, the finger and act-out games of which I've never encountered such a large gathering – the "fist stock" portion of these are a singular treat.
In yet another section readers of a certain age will find stories such as "Tailypo" familiar to readers of Richard Chase's landmark collection THE GRANDFATHER TALES as "Chunk O Meat," as well as other remembered stories from more distinctly European antecedents – all a delight with the special flavor preserved from their dissemination and recording in West Virginia.
I can not recommend this book too highly for parents, teachers, librarians, anyone who might work with young people throughout Appalachia and beyond. Easily accessible, illustrated, and with accompanying instructions for the games, it should be a gift that will demand re-gifting in only the best of ways.
Order MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE OF WEST VIRGINIA – Ruth Ann Musick & Walter Barnes, ed. Judy Prozzillo Byers, 2013 Fairmont State University Press, WV from the The Frank & Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center, 1201 Locust Avenue, Fairmont, WV 26554 or emailbeth.martin@fairmontstate.edu .


JOHN BIRCH E-READER REPORT: JOHN BIRCH E-READER REPORT: KINDLES AREN'T PERFECT

Amazon says it wants to make reading a Kindle easier than reading a traditional book. Well, in my view it isn't. Not yet, anyway. Alright, it's great to change to bigger or smaller type, or to be able to read your Paperwhite in semi-darkness before the movie begins. But a key reason why Kindles aren't perfect is that, without extraordinary gymnastics, you can't turn pages back to remind yourself of a character's name, or confirm some twist in the plot.
Try reading Hilary Mantel's excellent "Wolf Hall" for instance. And it's doubly annoying for nonfiction readers who almost always need to take a quick peek at the index or footnotes. Another thing is that several perfectly honest and decent people I know, especially mystery and romance enthusiasts, enjoy the perverse pleasure of sneaking a look at the last page to discover whether the butler did it, or whether Lady Sybil finally marries her chauffeur. You can't do that easily with a Kindle.
Read John's blog.


SHORT TAKE

Peggy Backman's The Painter's Bad Day is a charming miscellany of stories, anecdotes and bits of memoir, and poetry. The writer is a psychologist turned fiction writer whose work is set in Manhattan and the Hamptons, with wry observations and imaginings of human behaviors in both places.
My favorites are probably the one about what it is like to face privileged little trick-or-treaters in a high rise on the Upper East Side and the one about hiring a cleaning woman whose degree is possibly more advanced than your own (hint: check out who does the most work in the end). The title story is a wonderfully grim takin- to-extremes of thoughts or daydreams any one might have.
Some of the pieces are inspired by uneasy dreams (day and night), and others are more grounded in waking life. Lots of fun and some shivers as well.

 

SOME LISTS OF THINGS TO READ:

1. BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS BY JANICE EIDUS
She says, " They're in no particular order, and are both fiction and nonfiction. I've very much enjoyed all of these." Thank you, Janice! See her website athttp://www.janiceeidus.com/
-- BIG LITTLE MAN: IN SEARCH OF MY ASIAN SELF -- Alex Tizon
-- THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS -- Cristina Henriquez
– FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES -- Charles M. Blow
-- FLORENCE GORDON -- Brian Morton
-- THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR -- Rufi Thorpe
-- THE GODDESS OF SMALL VICTORIES -- Yannick Grannec
-- I LOVED YOU MORE -- Tom Spanbauer
-- THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE -- Rebecca Makkai
-- THE LIAR'S WIFE: FOUR NOVELLAS -- Mary Gordon
-- THE MEASURES BETWEEN US -- Ethan Hauser
-- THE TRANSCRIPTIONIST – Amy Rowland
 
2. SOME OF WHAT CRYSTAL WILKINSON IS TEACHING IN HER AFFRILACHIAN LITERATURE CLASS AT BEREA COLLEGE
Sable Girls
Black Hill Folk and Brown Country
Teaching the Affrilachian Poets
Beetlecreek by William Demby
Memphis Tennessee Garrison
Saint Monkey by Jacinda Townsend
Alena Hairston's The Logan Topographies
Blacks in Appalachia by William Turner and Ed Cabell
 
3. SHELLEY ETTINGER'S BEST BOOKS SHE READ IN 2014
Fiction & poetry
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Bleak House
 by Charles Dickens
Into the Go-Slow by Bridgett M. Davis
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
My Father's Ghost is Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron
Philadelphia Fire by John Edgar Wideman
She Rises by Kate Worsley
I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita
A History of the African American People (Proposed) By Strom       Thurmond by Percival Everett
See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
How It All Began by Penelope Lively
I Dreamt I Was in Heaven by Leonce Gaiter
The City of Palaces by Michael Nava
Perla by Carolina De Robertis
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
The Unseen by Nanni Balestrini
Long Man by Amy Greene

Non-fiction
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
Goliath by Max Blumenthal
 

BOOKS RECEIVED

Asking My Liver for Forgiveness by Rob Cook, from Rain Mountain Press (www.rainmountainpress.com)

READ AND LISTEN ONLINE

Check out Fractious Fiction–essays on modernism, mostly in the novel:http://www.fractiousfiction.com/index.html

ANNOUNCEMENTS, BOOKS RECEIVED, CONTESTS, WORKSHOPS, READINGS ETC.

Halvard Johnson's newest book is Junkyard Dog: http://gradientbooks.blogspot.fi/2015/01/halvard-johnson-junkyard-dog.html
Listen to an interview of Ed Davis after the publication of his THE PSALMS OF ISRAEL JONES athttp://wyso.org/post/book-nook-psalms-israel-jones-ed-davis
Cathy Weiss's piece "The Animals in Our Family" at http://www.prodigalschair.com/the-animals-in-our-family.html . Her memoir is coming this spring. Cathy Weiss, Director The Cathy Weiss Project 203 376 0892 email cathy_weiss@yahoo.com .
It's too late to see this New York City production, but note the good notice received by West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman's daughter Sarah Jane Harshman:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/29/arts/the-play-of-daniel-at-trinity-church.html?_r=2
 

ABOUT AMAZON.COM
The largest unionized bookstore in America has a webstore at Powells Books. Some people prefer shopping online there to shopping at Amazon.com. An alternative way to reach Powell's site and support the union is via http://www.powellsunion.com. Prices are the same but 10% of your purchase will go to support the union benefit fund.
For a discussion of Amazon and organized labor and small presses, see the comments of Jonathan Greene and others in Issues #97 and #98 .

WHERE TO FIND BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS NEWSLETTER

If a book discussed in this newsletter has no source mentioned, don’t forget that you may be able to borrow it from your public library as either a hard copy or a digital copy. You may also buy or order from your local independent bookstore. (To find a bricks-and-mortar store, click the "shop indie" logo left).
To buy books online, I often go first to Bookfinder or Alibris. Bookfinder gives the price with shipping and handling, so you can compare what you’re really going to have to pay.
A lot of people whose political instincts I respect prefer the unionized bricks-and-mortar bookstore Powells (see "About Amazon.com" above) that sells online at http://powellsbooks.com.  
Another source for used and out-of-print books is All Book Stores. Also consider Paperback Book Swap, a postage only way to trade books with other readers.

If you are using an electronic reader like Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, don't forget free books at theGutenberg Project—mostly classics, but free, free, free!
Kobobooks.com sells books for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.

RESPONSES TO THIS NEWSLETTER

Please send responses to this newsletter and suggestions directly to Meredith Sue Willis . Unless you instruct otherwise, your responses may be edited for length and published in this newsletter.
 

BACK ISSUES click here.


LICENSE

Creative Commons License Books for Readers Newsletter by Meredith Sue Willis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.meredithsuewillis.com. Some individual contributors may have other licenses.
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BACK ISSUES:

#175 Lists of what to read for the new year; MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE OF WEST VIRGINIA; Peggy Backman
#174 Christian Sahner, John Michael Cummings, Denton Loving, Madame Bovary#173 Stephanie Wellen Levine, S.C. Gwynne, Ed Davis's Psalms of Israel Jones, Quanah Parker, J.G. Farrell, Lubavitcher girls
#172 Pat Conroy, Donna Tartt, Alice Boatwright, Fumiko Enchi, Robin Hobb, Rex Stout
#171 Robert Graves, Marie Manilla, Johnny Sundstrom, Kirk Judd
#170 John Van Kirk, Carter Seaton,Neil Gaiman, Francine Prose, The Murder of Helen Jewett, Thaddeus Rutkowski
#169 Pearl Buck's The Exile and Fighting Angel; Larissa Shmailo; Liz Lewinson; Twelve Years a Slave, and more
#168 Catherine the Great, Alice Munro, Edith Poor, Mitch Levenberg, Vonnegut, Mellville, and more!
#167 Belinda Anderson; Anne Shelby; Sean O'Leary, Dragon tetralogy; Don Delillo's Underworld
#166 Eddy Pendarvis on Pearl S. Buck; Theresa Basile; Miguel A. Ortiz; Lynda Schor; poems by Janet Lewis; Sarah Fielding
#165 Janet Lewis, Melville, Tosltoy, Irwin Shaw!
#164 Ed Davis on Julie Moore's poems; Edith Wharton; Elaine Drennon Little's A Southern Place; Elmore Leonard
#163 Pamela Erens, Michael Harris, Marlen Bodden, Joydeep Roy-Battacharya, Lisa J. Parker, and more
#162 Lincoln, Joseph Kennedy, Etel Adnan, Laura Treacy Bentley, Ron Rash, Sophie's Choice, and more
#161 More Wilkie Collins; Duff Brenna's Murdering the Mom; Nora Olsen's Swans & KlonsLady Audley's Secret
#160 Carolina De Robertis, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ross King's The Judgment of Paris
#159 Tom Jones. William Luvaas, Marc Harshman, The Good Earth, Lara Santoro, American Psycho 
#158 Chinua Achebe's Man of the PeopleThe Red and the Black; McCarthy's C.Farm City; Victor Depta;Myra Shapiro
#157 Alice Boatwright, Reamy Jansen, Herta Muller, Knut Hamsun, What Maisie Knew; Wanchee Wang, Dolly Withrow.
#156 The Glass MadonnaA Revelation
#155 Buzz Bissinger; reader suggestions; Satchmo at the Waldorf
#154 Hannah Brown, Brad Abruzzi, Thomas Merton
#153 J.Anthony Lukas, Talmage Stanley's The Poco Fields, Devil Anse
#152 Marc Harshman guest editor; John Burroughs; Carol Hoenig
#151 Deborah Clearman, Steve Schrader, Paul Harding, Ken Follet, Saramago-- and more!
#150 Mitch Levenberg, Johnny Sundstrom, and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns.
#149 David Weinberger's Too Big to KnowThe ShiningThe Tiger's Wife.
#148 The MoonstoneDjibouti, Mark Perry on the Grimké family
#147 Jane Lazarre's new novel; Johnny Sundstrom; Emotional Medicine Rx; Walter Dean Myers, etc.
#146 Henry Adams AGAIN!  Also,Fun Home: a Tragicomic
#145 Henry Adams, Darnell Arnoult, Jaimy Gordon, Charlotte Brontë
#144 Carter Seaton, NancyKay Shapiro, Lady Murasaki Shikibu
#143 Little America; Guns,Germs, and Steel; The Trial
#142 Blog Fiction, Leah by Seymour Epstein, Wolf Hall, etc.
#141 Dreama Frisk on Hilary Spurling's Pearl Buck in China; Anita Desai; Cormac McCarthy
#140 Valerie Nieman's Blood Clay, Dolly Withrow
#139 My Kindle, The Prime MinisterBlood Meridian#138 Special on Publicity by Carter Seaton
#137 Michael Harris's The Chieu Hoi Saloon; Game of Thrones; James Alexander Thom's Follow the River#136 James Boyle's The Creative Commons; Paola Corso, Joanne Greenberg, Monique Raphel High, Amos Oz
#135 Reviews by Carole Rosenthal, Jeffrey Sokolow, and Wanchee Wang.
#134 Daniel Deronda, books with material on black and white relations in West Virginia
#133 Susan Carpenter, Irene Nemirovsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kanafani, Joe Sacco
#132 Karen Armstrong's A History of God; JCO's The FallsThe Eustace Diamonds again.
#131 The Help; J. McHenry Jones, Reamy Jansen, Jamie O'Neill, Michael Chabon. 
#130
 Lynda Schor, Ed Myers, Charles Bukowski, Terry Bisson, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism 
#129 Baltasar and Blimunda; Underground Railroad; Navasky's Naming Names, small press and indie books.
#128 Jeffrey Sokolow on Histories and memoirs of the Civil Rights Movement
#127 Olive Kitteridge; Urban fiction; Shelley Ettinger on Joyce Carol Oates
#126 Jack Hussey's Ghosts of Walden, The Leopard Roger's Version, The Reluctanct Fundamentalist 
#125 Lee Maynard's The Pale Light of Sunset; Books on John Brown suggested by Jeffrey Sokolow
#124 CloudsplitterFounding Brothers, Obenzinger on Bradley's Harlem Vs. Columbia University#123 MSW's summer reading round-up; Olive Schreiner; more The Book Thief; more on the state of editing
#122 Left-wing cowboy poetry; Jewish partisans during WW2; responses to "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#121 Jane Lazarre's latestIrving Howe's Leon Trotsky; Gringolandia; "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#120 Dreama Frisk on The Book Thief; Mark Rudd; Thulani Davis's summer reading list
#119 Two Histories of the Jews; small press books for Summer
#118 Kasuo Ichiguro, Jeanette Winterson, The Carter Family!
#117 Cat Pleska on Ann Pancake; Phyllis Moore on Jayne Anne Phillips; and Dolly Withrow on publicity
#116 Ann Pancake, American Psycho, Marc Harshman on George Mackay Brown
#115 Adam Bede, Nietzsche, Johnny Sundstrom
#114 Judith Moffett, high fantasy, Jared Diamond, Lily Tuck
#113 Espionage--nonfiction and fiction: Orson Scott Card and homophobia
#112 Marc Kaminsky, Nel Noddings, Orson Scott Card, Ed Myers
#111 James Michener, Mary Lee Settle, Ardian Gill, BIll Higginson, Jeremy Osner, Carol Brodtick
#110  Nahid Rachlin, Marion Cuba on self-publishing; Thulani Davis, The Road, memoirs
#109 Books about the late nineteen-sixties: Busy Dying; Flying Close to the Sun; Looking Good; Trespassers
#108 The Animal Within; The Ground Under My Feet; King of Swords
#107 The Absentee; Gorky Park; Little Scarlet; Howl; Health Proxy #106 Castle Rackrent; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; More on DrownBlindness & more
#105 Everything is MiscellaneousThe UntouchableKettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher
#104 Responses to Shelley on Junot Diaz and more; More best books of 2007
#103 Guest Editor: Shelley Ettinger and her best books of 2007
#102 Saramago's BLINDNESS; more on NEVER LET ME GO; George Lies on Joe Gatski
#101 My Brilliant CareerThe Scarlet Letter, John Banville, Never Let Me Go
#100 The Poisonwood Bible, Pamela Erens, More Harry P.
#99   Jonathan Greene on Amazon.com; Molly Gilman on Dogs of Babel
#98   Guest editor Pat Arnow; more on the Amazon.com debate
#97   Using Thomas Hardy; Why I Write; more
#96   Lucy Calkins, issue fiction for young adults
#95   Collapse, Harry Potter, Steve Geng
#94   Alice Robinson-Gilman, Maynard on Momaday
#93   Kristin LavransdatterHouse Made of DawnLeaving Atlanta 
#92   Death of Ivan Ilych; Memoirs
#91   Richard Powers discussion
#90   William Zinsser, Memoir, Shakespeare
#89   William Styron, Ellen Willis, DuneGerminal, and much more
#88   Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo
#87   Wings of the Dove, Forever After (9/11 Teachers)
#86   Leora Skolkin-Smith, American Pastoral, and more
#85   Wobblies, Winterson, West Virginia Encyclopedia
#84   Karen Armstrong, Geraldine Brooks, Peter Taylor
#83   3-Cornered WorldDa Vinci Code 
#82   The Eustace Diamonds, Strapless, Empire Falls
#81   Philip Roth's The Plot Against America , Paola Corso
#80   Joanne Greenberg, Ed Davis, more Murdoch; Special Discussion on Memoir--Frey and J.T. Leroy
#79   Adam Sexton, Iris Murdoch, Hemingway
#78   The Hills at HomeTess of the D'Urbervilles; Jean Stafford
#77   On children's books--guest editor Carol Brodtrick
#76   Mary Lee Settle, Mary McCarthy
#75   The Makioka Sisters 
#74    In Our Hearts We Were Giants
#73    Joyce Dyer
#72    Bill Robinson WWII story
#71    Eva Kollisch on G.W. Sebald
#70    On Reading
#69    Nella Larsen, Romola
#68    P.D. James
#67    The Medici 
#66    Curious Incident,Temple Grandin 
#65
    Ingrid Hughes on Memoir
#64
    Boyle, Worlds of Fiction#63    The Namesame
#62    Honorary Consul; The Idiot#61    Lauren's Line
#60    Prince of Providence
#59    The Mutual Friend, Red Water
#58    AkÉ, 
Season of Delight
#57    Screaming with Cannibals

#56    Benita Eisler's Byron
#55    Addie, Hottentot Venus, Ake
#54    Scott Oglesby, Jane Rule
#53    Nafisi,Chesnutt, LeGuin
#52    Keith Maillard, Lee Maynard
#51    Gregory Michie, Carter Seaton
#50    Atonement, Victoria Woodhull biography 
#49    
Caucasia 
#48    
Richard Price, Phillip Pullman
#47    Mid- East Islamic World Reader
#46    Invitation to a Beheading
#45    The Princess of Cleves
#44    Shelley Ettinger: A Few Not-so-Great Books
#43    Woolf, The Terrorist Next Door
#42    John Sanford #41    Isabelle Allende
#40    Ed Myers on John Williams
#39    Faulkner
#38    Steven Bloom No New Jokes
#37    James Webb's Fields of Fire
#36    Middlemarch#35    Conrad, Furbee, Silas House
#34    Emshwiller
#33    Pullman, Daughter of the Elm
#32    More Lesbian lit; Nostromo
#31    Lesbian fiction
#30    Carol Shields, Colson Whitehead
#29    More William Styron
#28    William Styron
#27    Daniel Gioseffi
#26    Phyllis Moore 
#25
    On Libraries....
#24    Tales of the City
#23
    Nonfiction, poetry, and fiction
#22    More on Why This Newsletter
#21    Salinger, Sarah Waters, Next of Kin
#20    Jane Lazarre
#19    Artemisia Gentileschi
#18    Ozick, Coetzee, Joanna Torrey
#17    Arthur Kinoy
#16    Mrs. Gaskell and lots of other suggestions
#15    George Dennison, Pat Barker, George Eliot
#14    Small Presses 
#13    Gap Creek, Crum
#12    Reading after 9-11
#11    Political Novels
#10    Summer Reading ideas
#9      Shelley Ettinger picks
#8      Harriette Arnow's Hunter's Horn
#7      About this newsletter
#6      Maria Edgeworth
#5      Tales of Good and EvilMoon Tiger
#4      Homer Hickam and The Chosen
#3      J.T. LeRoy and Tale of Genji
#2      Chick Lit
#1      About this newsletter
 
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Literary Laments and the Future

Many people are currently writing what I call literary laments.  These essays mourn the passing of traditional publishing models in which editors and writers work together to make great literature.  The one I read most recently was by my acquaintance Daniel Menaker at Slate.  Menaker is a former New Yorker fiction editor and former top editor at Random House.  He joins in the witty but pessimistic decrying of what e-books and other electronic devices are doing to literature– with emphasis on the great shapeless surge of bad, self-published novels.

Dan knows, of course, that the days of Maxwell Perkins at Scribner’s ended long, long ago, and that dedication to “moving the units” started well before Smashwords.com and the other digital self-publishing juggernauts. We all hated what Barnes & Noble did to the book world before Amazon became the bigger, badder boy.

The collapse of the old model of well-edited and genteelly marketed  literature was well underway by the early nineteen-eighties when the traditional commercial publishers began selling out wholesale– lock, stock and barrel– to enormous non-literary corporations. Supporting yourself as a book writer even then was tough for serious mid- listers, and that particular way of making a living isn’t even a dream for most of us now.  Even Dan Menaker thinks there are (or did he say were?) only a double handful of editors truly supporting letters. “In my judgment,” he writes, “there are between 20 and 30 editors and publishers in New York who—along with experienced and discriminating publicists, marketers, and sales reps—have over the decades regularly and successfully combined art and commerce and, in the process, have supported and promulgated art. They are in fact the main curators of our life of letters.”  (See piece at Slate).

So it seems that we can all agree that commerce was always king, at least on this side of the Atlantic.  There were never many of these literary editors, and even agreeing (as I do) that there still are some wonderful editors finding wonderful literature, there aren’t many of them, and I would add– equally important to me– that even the best of them represent a small subset of possible tastes in literature. It seems to me that many powerful, beautifully written stories (especially ones representing groups and views out of the mainstream) have gone begging for a long time past. Sometimes there will be a publishing fad– stories of immigrants, for example have been popular for a while– that brings wonderful writing to the mainstream, but books that earn profits in the low single digits are not considered commercially viable.  Period.

Of course I agree that the many versions of self-published e-books called Vampire Zombie Sex Addict Love Story are abominably written, stupid, and mind numbing. So what?  Let a million skunk cabbages bloom and rot.

The serious issue to my mind is what comes next?  If we can’t depend on Dan Menaker at Random House to bring us the good stuff anymore, where do we find our literature? Where are– or better, how do we create–  new paradigms and new gatekeepers, perhaps with more diverse viewpoints than the old New York City literary establishment?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Books for Readers Newsletter #174



Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 174

December 27, 2014



When possible, read this newsletter online for updates and corrections.
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Cat Pleska's Review of Love Palace
at the Charleston-Gazette 
     


In this Issue:

"Song of West Virginia" by Marc Harshman

John Michael Cummings's Don't Forget Me, Bro

Christian Sahner's Among the Ruins 

Denton Loving's Crimes Against Birds 

Madame Bovary
 by Gustave Flaubert

The E-Reader Report with John Birch

Canada by Richard Ford

Short Takes

Things to Read & Hear Online

Announcements and News


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I have four very different books to share this issue-- all simply things that interest me for various reasons: an important book of nonfiction about the Middle East; a collection of excellent poems; a novel of what might be called Appalachian Gothic; and a re-read classic.

The nonfiction book is Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present by Christian C. Sahner. This 2014 book from Oxford University Press should have received far more attention than it did. Christian Sahner was in the Middle East working on his Ph.D. thesis on the role of non-Muslims in Islamic societies when the Arab Spring and the present civil war in Syria broke out. He is an historian, not a journalist, but his deep knowledge of the history, art, and architecture of the region along with his personal experiences living in Syria and Lebanon, make him a wonderful guide to these places and these events.
This is the book I had been waiting for as a way to address my ignorance: what is the difference between the Sunnis and the Shias?  What is an 'Alawite (the Muslim sect of the Assad family, recent dictators of Syria)? What is a Druze? Why were the Maronite Christians the ruling elite of Lebanon for so long (they were closely associated with colonial France and involved in Lebanon's separation from Syria in the mid twentieth century)? What were the issues of the Lebanese Civil War thirty years ago, and how do they reflect the issues in the present Syrian civil war?
This is a wonderful, informative yet personal introduction to the history of Greater Syria. Sahner tells how Syria was the center of the early Islamic empire, and how, while it is a Sunni nation, the head of Hussein, the prophet's grandson and hero of the Shia, is entombed in Damascus. He alternates this lively, many layered version of history with personal story that center on real people like his Arabic teacher, the pious Muhammad who is later caught up in the vicissitudes of the Syrian Civil War and ends up as a refugee.
The book makes no predictions about the political future, which truly appears grim, but offers us the history and the culture and the people-- and at least a little hope that some of this will be preserved.

The poems in Denton Loving's collection Crimes Against Birds have a freshness and clarity that is never simple but always tremulously open to observation and experience. He names the plants and trees with admirable precision, and turns even the most quotidian lists (what his father likes for breakfast in "Where I'll find My Dad After He Dies!") into something rich and striking. One of my favorite poems comes toward the end ("Elemental"), and it features how "There is no way to tell you..." about so many natural beauties: light, of course, but also April winds blowing blossoms off pear trees. The end of the poem has a Renaissance style turn into a message to the beloved: There is no way to tell how often I think of you, either. You never feel that Loving is showing off his skills, just that he has found the only images (mostly natural) and the only forms for saying what he has to say.
There are a number of oblique but deeply felt love poems: "Morning Light" is about waking and finding last night's dishes cleaned and drying on a tea towel while the lover is absent, perhaps still abed. I also like very much the animal and farming poems like "Reasoning with Cows" in which the narrator's cows shove and bully each other, trying to get the best hay:
I try but can't reason with these brute beasts,
can't make them know this pile and that pile
come from the same bale of hay, and each bale
comes from the same June cutting of summer
grass, fed by the same sun and rains, all
from the same field where their hay has grown
for years and years-- all their many lives.
This poem has a Biblical epigraph and includes an attempt to quote Jesus to the recalcitrant cows. It's charming and witty. There are more cow poems; and bird poems, as the title suggests; dream poems; and lots of poems about light. There are losses of individual people and places, like the wonderful "Horse Cemetery" about a mysterious place on the family farm where past inhabitants executed their old horses, which is also about the subdivision of farms and the end of a way of life.
These are not poems with the natural world as a backdrop, but fully human observations and explorations of a world in which human nature is natural, if often pain-inducing and destructive. As Loving writes in the title poem:
Man cannot walk through life outside the company of birds.
For more information about this collection see the publisher's web site athttp://mainstreetrag.com/bookstore/product/crimes-against-birds/


Well, I re-read Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, and while I know I read it long ago, and while you can't have any kind of literary life and not hear references to its characters and famous scenes, and while I certainly remembered it is about a petit bourgeois doctor's unhappy, romantic wife and her affairs and suicide–it felt like a brand new book to me. I read eagerly, thinking, "How beautiful! How despicable!" I was reacting to Emma herself,  of course, but also to the Bovary's friend the chemist, to stupid husband Charles, to his quarrelsome mother, to Emma's lovers– there is a sense of ugly people and gathering despair through the whole thing.
Halfway through, I stopped to read A.S. Byatt's old discussion of the book online (the introduction to a Norwegian edition), which was very helpful. Byatt says the novel is all surface, there is no depth, there are only objects and things and Emma's vague yearnings and inevitable steps toward ruin. She and the others are objects, Byatt says, and the book "opened a vision of meaninglessness and emptiness, which was all the more appalling because it was so full of things, clothes and furniture, rooms and gardens."
Then she complains about how "Madame Bovary appeared in a British newspaper listing of the 'fifty best romantic reads.' It was, and is, the least romantic book I have ever read."
Amen to that, and yet, I remember reading it as a young girl and thinking I was supposed to identify with Emma (all the other books were like that!) and then being shocked by the ending.
Byatt also has some good analysis of the place of this seminal work among realist novels: "Fairy stories end with the lovers marrying and living happy ever after. Jane Austen's novels keep that pattern. The great realist novels study at length what happens after marriage, within marriages, within families and businesses. One of the great subjects of the realist novel is boredom–narrow experiences in small places and unsympathetic groups. There is no greater study of boredom thanMadame Bovary–which is nevertheless never boring, but always both terrifying and simultaneously gleeful over its own accuracy."
Probably I didn't give myself over fully to reading the novel this time until near the end. I was deeply moved by Mme. Bovary's long, slow, ugly dying. This section is the great counterweight: Emma loved beautiful objects and sensuality; now we see the senses and objects in dissolution. It is also a wonderful rendering of the social and cultural aspects of dying in this time and place: people constantly come in and out of the death chamber. The effects of the poison are painstakingly described, and then there are elaborate details of the funeral.
The book ends with the brief sad narratives of the other characters' lives. Emma's daughter (who no one bothered to teach to read), for example, ends up as a factory girl. (There's an alternative literature story to write).
I'll end with a quotation from Flaubert's own letters (taken from the A.S. Byatt piece referenced above) about writing one of the big scenes in Madame Bovary. Flaubert asserts that he spent from July to the end of November in 1853 working on this one scene of an agricultural fair. He spoke of it in terms of orchestration. "If the effects of a symphony have ever been conveyed in a book it will be in these pages. I want the reader to hear everything together in one great roar– the bellowing of bulls, the sighing of lovers, the bombast of official oratory. The sun shines down on it all, and there are gusts of wind that threaten to blow off the women's big bonnets. I achieve dramatic effect simply by the interweaving of dialogue and by contrasts of character."
If you've never read Madame Bovary, give it a try. You can get it in any library and free or almost free as an e-book.


Finally, I read John Michael Cummings' Don't Forget Me, BroThis novel is set in West Virginia, albeit not the West Virginia I grew up in. He creates a fast-paced, quirky world just this side of Southern Gothic– maybe something more like Appalachian Gothic, which I would suggest is more grounded in this real world than the other kinds.
The novel begins when the narrator, Mark Barr, comes home to a fictional county in the easternsection of West Virginia upon the death of his schizophrenic brother from diseases related to obesity and alcoholism– related also, the narrator is convinced, to the poor management of his medications. The story takes place during the week between Mark's arrival from New York City, where he has an unsatisfying life in a long term but dysfunctional relationship, and the family's final disposal of his brother's remains. There is a lot of event and rich mise-en-scène, which captures the world as Mark apprehends it. The interiors of houses are stuffed with clutter and cluttered with stuff. Cummings gives long, entertaining descriptions of the old furniture and boxes and stacks of magazines. There are also wonderful passages of landscape that never drift from the intense darkly humorous vision of the main character:
An old, familiar melancholy returned. Did sorrow live in these hills, in the black rocks and brittle brown brush? Did it somehow kill Steve? All around me, mountains were streaked brown like stained commodes and skeleton-shell barns flashed by, as if retreating. In that moment, I felt that this land had never stopped waiting for me to return. That like an enemy, it had me for life.
                                                                                                (p. 11 manuscript galleys)
The tight time frame and story line hold together Mark's picaresque rambles through the tiny towns of his youth-- and his memories. He is on a quest for his brother Steve and, of course, for his family and for himself. Along the way he encounters a number of vivid characters like the possibly pederastic wheel-chair bound neighbor who took hundreds of photographs of Steve in symbolic outfits and Steve's mentally challenged girl friend. Most especially there is the angry, abusive father Bill who lives separately from his wife in a mini-survivalist wing--nut world. Mark's mother is vague and weak, but comes into focus as she obsessively arranges the trove of photographs of Steve in costumes. At one point Mark imagines her thoughts as she observes her husband and two surviving sons working on a truck:
....Why her family was working on poor Steve's truck, finally, how nice. So important the men of the family lean over a smelly, dirty truck engine with the backsides stuck out like cows at a watering trough. Mercy, men and their mechanical contrivances!
Mark's father has decided to cremate Steve and not allow the remains to be buried in the family plot, as Steve appears to have wanted. Steve's end-of-life phone calls to Mark and others may or may not have been rational, but Mark is determined to follow his wishes. He cannot bear the idea of cremation for his brother:
....the word didn't sound like itself, but rather something... I might do with food: cremated chicken soup, cremated apple pie. No: fire, industrial-sized oven, Steve vaporized, gone, no casket, no body in the ground, nothing. Poof.
The final phase of the novel is how Mark both fails and succeeds as he tries to get hold of Steve's ashes, and then finds a way to deal with them. In the end, the novel is a comedy in the classic sense of having a kind of happy ending. Mark's neurotic relationship ends, and he thinks he is going to stop wandering around the country and stay in Appalachia. But mostly, the family – amazingly together for the first time in decades– turns a deteriorating parlor in a deteriorating house into a shrine for Steve's ashes.
It's not a lot, but enough for Mark, and to satisfy us readers.

                     
             Meredith Sue Willis


SHORT TAKES  (by MSW Unless Otherwise Noted)

 

Song of West Virginia by Marc Harshman




This is beautiful limited commemorative edition of West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman's long poem was written in honor of the 150th anniversary of the great state of West Virginia. There are only 1,000 copies (numbered), printed on glossy paper with magnificent photos of the state by Steve Shaluta (you can order directly from Quarrier Press atwww.wvbookco.com).
The poem sings its song of the mountains, the music, the history, and the ordinary people. It highlights everyone from Chief Logan to Sid Hatfield and Mother Jones, from Chuck Yaeger and Mary Lou Retton to Anna Jarvis and John Henry. It is a poem of celebration, not political protest or even criticism, but near the end, Harshman exhorts us all to

                                                                                                                  ...Take up the patterns
of those who've given us their lives. Take up the patches of this history quilt, this
dream-flagged quilt. Wave it high and walk proud these crumpled folds and crags of
mountain and valley, these green, rolling hills. And let no man haul it way, no
coward with a bankroll buy us out, no circus fast-talkers take what's ours.
It's a splendid book and a stirring poem-- even if you don't have the good fortune to be a native of West Virginia!



Canada by Richard Ford

I read this because it came up as a very cheap e-book in a promotion from Amazon. I haven't' read much of Ford's work, so I tried Canada, and generally liked it with a few reservations about too much faux philosophy. It begins as a study of a family that goes extremely wrong when the parents decide to deal with their financial problems by robbing a bank. They do it stupidly, out of a kind of contempt for the people in the small town where the bank is. Their action destroys the family as a family, and comes close to destroying the lives of the children as well, a twin brother and sister.
The narrator of the novel is the boy twin, and his flight from being a ward of the state (in Great Falls, Montana) takes him across the border into Canada and an association with a crime much worse than bank robbery. He survives this too, and the story moves well with its mid nineteen sixties background and wonderful landscapes in Montana and Saskatchewan.


Thomas Eakins by Fairfield Porter

This little monograph has been sitting around in my mother's house for thirty years or so. The reproductions aren't great, but they are ample. A lot to learn about Eakins, whose dates are 1844 to 1916. He was very practical and severe, determined to make his art into work (possibly suffering from guilt over how his father supported him) but also to present a severe truth. His casual but important work on creating a method of using a single camera to photograph motion was seminal but unappreciated by the film industry.
I particularly liked his portraits of Americans, and the famous realistic images of medical events:



Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz

A collection of Oz's stories, which I admire exceedingly, although I never warm to his work as much as I feel I ought to. I very much recommend the wonderful memoir of growing up in Israel and his mother's death, but even that one feels just a little distant to me. These stories have more magical realism than I expected, and each piece is brilliant and sad. It's also an inside look at Israeli life in a little town that has become popular with weekenders and antiquers. Oz is a life long, patriotic Israeli who also thinks that the government has been largely mistaken in its politics. The political is only peripheral here, though: just sad people struggling in a vaguely twilit atmosphere, thwarted loves, loss and yearning.


JOHN BIRCH E-READER REPORT: SALES OF E-BOOKS STILL HAVE A WAY TO GO BEFORE THEY OUTSELL TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED BOOKS

More readers this past summer were still reading traditional "old fashioned" hard cover and paperback books than e-books, according to the worldwide ratings firm Nielsen, who report that digital book purchases accounted for only 21% of all industry sales. Paperbacks accounted for 43% of all book sales, while hardcover sales stayed "fairly steady" at 25%.
These figures pretty much prove that digital books still have a way to go before they ever beat print. It seems, too, that readers would rather wait for the traditionally published paperback version to come out, rather than shell out extra money for the hardcover. Nielsen's quarterly book surveys show that out of the 21% of people buying e-books, 57% bought the Kindle editions from Amazon, and that Barnes & Noble's Nook was the only other major competitor, garnering 14% of all digital book sales. Apple had a modest 6% market share.
There's a beautiful meditation of family in John's blog. Read "A CHRISTMAS TO FORGET " in John's December post at www.JohnBirchLive.blogspot.com

READ AND LISTEN ONLINE

Several new poems by Barbara Crooker up online: http://www.hippocketpress.org/canary/#405 ;http://www.verse-virtual.com/barbara-crooker-2014-december.html  ;http://www.valpo.edu/vpr/v16n1/v16n1poetry/crookerwomen.php ; andhttp://www.wordgathering.com/issue32/tinytim/tinytim.html .
New issue of Persimmon Treehttp://www.persimmontree.org/v2/?utm_source=December+16%2C+2014+-+FINAL+VERSION&utm_campaign=Dec162014FINAL&utm_medium=email
 

ANNOUNCEMENTS, BOOKS RECEIVED, CONTESTS, WORKSHOPS, READINGS ETC.

The Ginosko Literary Journal is accepting short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, social justice, literary insights for Ginosko Literary Journal. See  http://GinoskoLiteraryJournal.com/ . Editorial lead time is 1-2 months; they accept simultaneous submissions & reprints; length flexible, accept excerpts. Receives postal and e-mail submissions—prefer e-mail submissions as attachments in .wps, .doc, .rtf. —or by Submittable, https://ginosko.submittable.com/submit/ . Authors retain copyrights.  Read year-round.
Marlen Bodden suggests submitting to these writing contests:http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2014/11/27/19-short-story-competitions-2015/
Suzanne McConnell's flash fiction story "The Heavenly Editorial Offices" won first prize in a contest for Prime Number magazine. Read it here:http://www.primenumbermagazine.com/Issue61_FlashFiction_SuzanneMcConnell.html
Review of Peggy Backman's new book coming soon. For now, take a look at The Painter's Bad Day: and Others Stories of Life's Mysteries and Idiosyncrasies
Now available: Valley At Risk: Shelter in Place, a Novel by Dwight Harshbarger, at http://valleyatrisk.com.
See www.longreads.com for the best of the New Yorker, Gawker, etc.–nonfiction of the week
Take a look at https://hourofwrites.com/index/welcome
 
Fred Skolik (writing as Fred Russell) has a new novel, The Links in the Chain. It is available at Amazon or through the publisher at http://www.cclapcenter.com/linksinchain .
In the late 1980s, the Arab-Israel conflict reaches the streets of a pre-gentrified New York City when an Israeli minister visits his sister in Brooklyn and rival assassins play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the minister's nephew, a young horse-playing slacker by the name of Arnold Gross. Gross may be sharp and wise in the ways of the street but finds that he has bitten off more than he can chew when he comes up against the PLO, the Israeli secret service, fugitive Nazis and more money than he knows how to count. Written with stylistic flare and an insider's knowledge of the Middle East, this Elmore-Leonardesque crime caper is a pitch-black yet smartly hilarious look at a bygone age, a droll retro thriller that enhances the growing reputation of American-Israeli author Fred Russell.
Norman Julian's award-winning novel Cheat has gone to a third printing and is available for the first time on Amazon.com. as a new book. An adventure tale first published in 1984, it takes place in the severe winter of 1975-76 in the Cheat River area. Ken Sullivan, head of the West Virginia Humanities Council, called it "a thrilling adventure story set in the upper Cheat River Country...a far more sympathetic portrayal of mountain life than James Dickey's book and movie, `Deliverance.'" Paul Atkins, professor emeritus of the WVU School of Journalism, said, "It has a lot of suspense. You wanted to get back to it after you put it down." The late Ruel Foster, past chair of the WVU English Department, said, "It has something of Jack London's sense of the wild earth and the wild life that moves upon it." Julian says, "It is heartening that `Cheat' continues to sell year after year. The hope is that now that it is available on Amazon, more readers can be reached." The book is published by Trillium Publishing in cooperation with CreateSpace. http://www.amazon.com/Cheat-A-novel-West-Virginia/dp/1468181378
 

ABOUT AMAZON.COM
The largest unionized bookstore in America has a webstore at Powells Books. Some people prefer shopping online there to shopping at Amazon.com. An alternative way to reach Powell's site and support the union is via http://www.powellsunion.com. Prices are the same but 10% of your purchase will go to support the union benefit fund.
For a discussion of Amazon and organized labor and small presses, see the comments of Jonathan Greene and others in Issues #97 and #98 .

WHERE TO FIND BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS NEWSLETTER

If a book discussed in this newsletter has no source mentioned, don’t forget that you may be able to borrow it from your public library as either a hard copy or a digital copy. You may also buy or order from your local independent bookstore. (To find a bricks-and-mortar store, click the "shop indie" logo left).
To buy books online, I often go first to Bookfinder or Alibris. Bookfinder gives the price with shipping and handling, so you can compare what you’re really going to have to pay.
A lot of people whose political instincts I respect prefer the unionized bricks-and-mortar bookstore Powells (see "About Amazon.com" above) that sells online at http://powellsbooks.com.  
Another source for used and out-of-print books is All Book Stores. Also consider Paperback Book Swap, a postage only way to trade books with other readers.

If you are using an electronic reader like Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, don't forget free books at theGutenberg Project—mostly classics, but free, free, free!
Kobobooks.com sells books for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.

RESPONSES TO THIS NEWSLETTER

Please send responses to this newsletter and suggestions directly to Meredith Sue Willis . Unless you instruct otherwise, your responses may be edited for length and published in this newsletter.
 

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BACK ISSUES:

#174 Christian Sahner, John Michael Cummings, Denton Loving, Madame Bovary#173 Stephanie Wellen Levine, S.C. Gwynne, Ed Davis's Psalms of Israel Jones, Quanah Parker, J.G. Farrell, Lubavitcher girls
#172 Pat Conroy, Donna Tartt, Alice Boatwright, Fumiko Enchi, Robin Hobb, Rex Stout
#171 Robert Graves, Marie Manilla, Johnny Sundstrom, Kirk Judd
#170 John Van Kirk, Carter Seaton,Neil Gaiman, Francine Prose, The Murder of Helen Jewett, Thaddeus Rutkowski
#169 Pearl Buck's The Exile and Fighting Angel; Larissa Shmailo; Liz Lewinson; Twelve Years a Slave, and more
#168 Catherine the Great, Alice Munro, Edith Poor, Mitch Levenberg, Vonnegut, Mellville, and more!
#167 Belinda Anderson; Anne Shelby; Sean O'Leary, Dragon tetralogy; Don Delillo's Underworld
#166 Eddy Pendarvis on Pearl S. Buck; Theresa Basile; Miguel A. Ortiz; Lynda Schor; poems by Janet Lewis; Sarah Fielding
#165 Janet Lewis, Melville, Tosltoy, Irwin Shaw!
#164 Ed Davis on Julie Moore's poems; Edith Wharton; Elaine Drennon Little's A Southern Place; Elmore Leonard
#163 Pamela Erens, Michael Harris, Marlen Bodden, Joydeep Roy-Battacharya, Lisa J. Parker, and more
#162 Lincoln, Joseph Kennedy, Etel Adnan, Laura Treacy Bentley, Ron Rash, Sophie's Choice, and more
#161 More Wilkie Collins; Duff Brenna's Murdering the Mom; Nora Olsen's Swans & KlonsLady Audley's Secret
#160 Carolina De Robertis, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ross King's The Judgment of Paris
#159 Tom Jones. William Luvaas, Marc Harshman, The Good Earth, Lara Santoro, American Psycho 
#158 Chinua Achebe's Man of the PeopleThe Red and the Black; McCarthy's C.Farm City; Victor Depta;Myra Shapiro
#157 Alice Boatwright, Reamy Jansen, Herta Muller, Knut Hamsun, What Maisie Knew; Wanchee Wang, Dolly Withrow.
#156 The Glass MadonnaA Revelation
#155 Buzz Bissinger; reader suggestions; Satchmo at the Waldorf
#154 Hannah Brown, Brad Abruzzi, Thomas Merton
#153 J.Anthony Lukas, Talmage Stanley's The Poco Fields, Devil Anse
#152 Marc Harshman guest editor; John Burroughs; Carol Hoenig
#151 Deborah Clearman, Steve Schrader, Paul Harding, Ken Follet, Saramago-- and more!
#150 Mitch Levenberg, Johnny Sundstrom, and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns.
#149 David Weinberger's Too Big to KnowThe ShiningThe Tiger's Wife.
#148 The MoonstoneDjibouti, Mark Perry on the Grimké family
#147 Jane Lazarre's new novel; Johnny Sundstrom; Emotional Medicine Rx; Walter Dean Myers, etc.
#146 Henry Adams AGAIN!  Also,Fun Home: a Tragicomic
#145 Henry Adams, Darnell Arnoult, Jaimy Gordon, Charlotte Brontë
#144 Carter Seaton, NancyKay Shapiro, Lady Murasaki Shikibu
#143 Little America; Guns,Germs, and Steel; The Trial
#142 Blog Fiction, Leah by Seymour Epstein, Wolf Hall, etc.
#141 Dreama Frisk on Hilary Spurling's Pearl Buck in China; Anita Desai; Cormac McCarthy
#140 Valerie Nieman's Blood Clay, Dolly Withrow
#139 My Kindle, The Prime MinisterBlood Meridian#138 Special on Publicity by Carter Seaton
#137 Michael Harris's The Chieu Hoi Saloon; Game of Thrones; James Alexander Thom's Follow the River#136 James Boyle's The Creative Commons; Paola Corso, Joanne Greenberg, Monique Raphel High, Amos Oz
#135 Reviews by Carole Rosenthal, Jeffrey Sokolow, and Wanchee Wang.
#134 Daniel Deronda, books with material on black and white relations in West Virginia
#133 Susan Carpenter, Irene Nemirovsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kanafani, Joe Sacco
#132 Karen Armstrong's A History of God; JCO's The FallsThe Eustace Diamonds again.
#131 The Help; J. McHenry Jones, Reamy Jansen, Jamie O'Neill, Michael Chabon. 
#130
 Lynda Schor, Ed Myers, Charles Bukowski, Terry Bisson, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism 
#129 Baltasar and Blimunda; Underground Railroad; Navasky's Naming Names, small press and indie books.
#128 Jeffrey Sokolow on Histories and memoirs of the Civil Rights Movement
#127 Olive Kitteridge; Urban fiction; Shelley Ettinger on Joyce Carol Oates
#126 Jack Hussey's Ghosts of Walden, The Leopard Roger's Version, The Reluctanct Fundamentalist 
#125 Lee Maynard's The Pale Light of Sunset; Books on John Brown suggested by Jeffrey Sokolow
#124 CloudsplitterFounding Brothers, Obenzinger on Bradley's Harlem Vs. Columbia University#123 MSW's summer reading round-up; Olive Schreiner; more The Book Thief; more on the state of editing
#122 Left-wing cowboy poetry; Jewish partisans during WW2; responses to "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#121 Jane Lazarre's latestIrving Howe's Leon Trotsky; Gringolandia; "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#120 Dreama Frisk on The Book Thief; Mark Rudd; Thulani Davis's summer reading list
#119 Two Histories of the Jews; small press books for Summer
#118 Kasuo Ichiguro, Jeanette Winterson, The Carter Family!
#117 Cat Pleska on Ann Pancake; Phyllis Moore on Jayne Anne Phillips; and Dolly Withrow on publicity
#116 Ann Pancake, American Psycho, Marc Harshman on George Mackay Brown
#115 Adam Bede, Nietzsche, Johnny Sundstrom
#114 Judith Moffett, high fantasy, Jared Diamond, Lily Tuck
#113 Espionage--nonfiction and fiction: Orson Scott Card and homophobia
#112 Marc Kaminsky, Nel Noddings, Orson Scott Card, Ed Myers
#111 James Michener, Mary Lee Settle, Ardian Gill, BIll Higginson, Jeremy Osner, Carol Brodtick
#110  Nahid Rachlin, Marion Cuba on self-publishing; Thulani Davis, The Road, memoirs
#109 Books about the late nineteen-sixties: Busy Dying; Flying Close to the Sun; Looking Good; Trespassers
#108 The Animal Within; The Ground Under My Feet; King of Swords
#107 The Absentee; Gorky Park; Little Scarlet; Howl; Health Proxy #106 Castle Rackrent; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; More on DrownBlindness & more
#105 Everything is MiscellaneousThe UntouchableKettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher
#104 Responses to Shelley on Junot Diaz and more; More best books of 2007
#103 Guest Editor: Shelley Ettinger and her best books of 2007
#102 Saramago's BLINDNESS; more on NEVER LET ME GO; George Lies on Joe Gatski
#101 My Brilliant CareerThe Scarlet Letter, John Banville, Never Let Me Go
#100 The Poisonwood Bible, Pamela Erens, More Harry P.
#99   Jonathan Greene on Amazon.com; Molly Gilman on Dogs of Babel
#98   Guest editor Pat Arnow; more on the Amazon.com debate
#97   Using Thomas Hardy; Why I Write; more
#96   Lucy Calkins, issue fiction for young adults
#95   Collapse, Harry Potter, Steve Geng
#94   Alice Robinson-Gilman, Maynard on Momaday
#93   Kristin LavransdatterHouse Made of DawnLeaving Atlanta 
#92   Death of Ivan Ilych; Memoirs
#91   Richard Powers discussion
#90   William Zinsser, Memoir, Shakespeare
#89   William Styron, Ellen Willis, DuneGerminal, and much more
#88   Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo
#87   Wings of the Dove, Forever After (9/11 Teachers)
#86   Leora Skolkin-Smith, American Pastoral, and more
#85   Wobblies, Winterson, West Virginia Encyclopedia
#84   Karen Armstrong, Geraldine Brooks, Peter Taylor
#83   3-Cornered WorldDa Vinci Code 
#82   The Eustace Diamonds, Strapless, Empire Falls
#81   Philip Roth's The Plot Against America , Paola Corso
#80   Joanne Greenberg, Ed Davis, more Murdoch; Special Discussion on Memoir--Frey and J.T. Leroy
#79   Adam Sexton, Iris Murdoch, Hemingway
#78   The Hills at HomeTess of the D'Urbervilles; Jean Stafford
#77   On children's books--guest editor Carol Brodtrick
#76   Mary Lee Settle, Mary McCarthy
#75   The Makioka Sisters 
#74    In Our Hearts We Were Giants
#73    Joyce Dyer
#72    Bill Robinson WWII story
#71    Eva Kollisch on G.W. Sebald
#70    On Reading
#69    Nella Larsen, Romola
#68    P.D. James
#67    The Medici 
#66    Curious Incident,Temple Grandin 
#65
    Ingrid Hughes on Memoir
#64
    Boyle, Worlds of Fiction#63    The Namesame
#62    Honorary Consul; The Idiot#61    Lauren's Line
#60    Prince of Providence
#59    The Mutual Friend, Red Water
#58    AkÉ, 
Season of Delight
#57    Screaming with Cannibals

#56    Benita Eisler's Byron
#55    Addie, Hottentot Venus, Ake
#54    Scott Oglesby, Jane Rule
#53    Nafisi,Chesnutt, LeGuin
#52    Keith Maillard, Lee Maynard
#51    Gregory Michie, Carter Seaton
#50    Atonement, Victoria Woodhull biography 
#49    
Caucasia 
#48    
Richard Price, Phillip Pullman
#47    Mid- East Islamic World Reader
#46    Invitation to a Beheading
#45    The Princess of Cleves
#44    Shelley Ettinger: A Few Not-so-Great Books
#43    Woolf, The Terrorist Next Door
#42    John Sanford #41    Isabelle Allende
#40    Ed Myers on John Williams
#39    Faulkner
#38    Steven Bloom No New Jokes
#37    James Webb's Fields of Fire
#36    Middlemarch#35    Conrad, Furbee, Silas House
#34    Emshwiller
#33    Pullman, Daughter of the Elm
#32    More Lesbian lit; Nostromo
#31    Lesbian fiction
#30    Carol Shields, Colson Whitehead
#29    More William Styron
#28    William Styron
#27    Daniel Gioseffi
#26    Phyllis Moore 
#25
    On Libraries....
#24    Tales of the City
#23
    Nonfiction, poetry, and fiction
#22    More on Why This Newsletter
#21    Salinger, Sarah Waters, Next of Kin
#20    Jane Lazarre
#19    Artemisia Gentileschi
#18    Ozick, Coetzee, Joanna Torrey
#17    Arthur Kinoy
#16    Mrs. Gaskell and lots of other suggestions
#15    George Dennison, Pat Barker, George Eliot
#14    Small Presses 
#13    Gap Creek, Crum
#12    Reading after 9-11
#11    Political Novels
#10    Summer Reading ideas
#9      Shelley Ettinger picks
#8      Harriette Arnow's Hunter's Horn
#7      About this newsletter
#6      Maria Edgeworth
#5      Tales of Good and EvilMoon Tiger
#4      Homer Hickam and The Chosen
#3      J.T. LeRoy and Tale of Genji
#2      Chick Lit
#1      About this newsletter

 
 
 
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