Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hearing Diane di Palma Read






One of the highlights of my trip to San Francisco was hearing Diane DiPrima read her poem "For Amiri Baraka."  It turns out that halfway up the hill to Joel and Sarah's apartment is a wonderful small San Francisco bookstore, Bird and Beckett  (in the Glen Park neighborhood).  Walking home from the market, I stopped in for a moment and heard the redoubtable feminist beatnik poet giving a reading.  She is very frail and had to sit to read, but the poem was moving--written after Baraka's death earlier this year.  He was her lover long ago, and they had a magazine together as well as a daughter.  The poem is about some of what really matters after all the dust of controversy and sex and political battles settle.

Here's an of her poems available online: Song for Baby-O , and an article about her from the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

With Joel and Sarah in Sonoma

We're in San Francisco with Joel and Sarah, went wine tasting in Sonoma-- very beautiful, sunny dry, ravens, trees, hillsides brown and olive green.



Thursday, October 02, 2014


Wow! Someone on FB gave this link to possibly the only recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice--  http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/04/29/craftsmanship-virginia-woolf-speaks-1937 . It almost sounds like a foreign language, or at least heavy dialect, to me– she's reading an essay from The Death of a Moth and Other Essays.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

9-21-14 People's Climate March in New York was Huge!


I was there for part of it: so large, we stood in our little holding pens for nearly two hours before stepping off, and a lot of people took much longer to get started.The organizers are saying 300,000, and I can't imagine how anyone counted, because while the main march was forty or fifty across, there were also tons of people just walking along on the sidewalk, heading home, or deciding to go rogue, or whatever.  It was a very quiet, low-key event, albeit with some singing from older folkies  ("Down by the Riverside") and cheers from others.  The moment of silence for people who have suffered from extreme weather was nice, although I didn't know till later what we were doing:  arms up, holding hands, and a wonderful preternatural silence of the thousands.  Wow.   Groups I wandered among included Westchester to Stop Climate change, and the Clearwater group along with a prominent band of vegans blaming animal farming for CO 2-- there was a big black and white inflatable cow carrying their message.  Lots of families and strollers, some with dogs instead of babies.  A terrific teen age drum corps, lots of banners, professional and homemade.  A soft message, but a heck of a lot of human beings willing to embrace it.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Word Study: Nonplussed

    I went through a period of looking up a lot of words, especially for their etymology. I loved Indo-European roots, and discoveries like the fact that the words “black” in English and “blanco” in Spanish go way back to the same Indo-European word for lightning or maybe blaze: brilliant white light that leaves things charred black.
     I was less interested in usage, which brings up judgements about right and wrong and when change is good and when it is only inevitable.
     Recently I was going over a manuscript for a colleague, and came across a passage in which the narrator is on a walking pilgrimage and bares her feet to protect a developing blister with moleskin:  “The other pilgrims were nonplussed," she writes. "One nodded sympathetically and one asked to borrow my scissors.”  These sentences completely nonplussed me.  They didn’t seem to match.  If the other pilgrims were so shocked by her bare feet, why were they calmly asking to borrow the scissors?
    Looking up words in the Internet age is far quicker than it used to be, although it has lost some of the comforting ritual that came with dragging down Eric Partridge’s Origins or pulling out the magnifying glass for the compact OED. Within seconds, I had Googled "nonplussed," and the first definition was just what I expected, suggesting that my colleague was misusing the word: "surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react."
    But wait!  There was a second definition, labeled as a “North American" usage. Since my colleague is Canadian, I thought maybe that was going to be the explanation, a Canadian usage. The second definition was  "not disconcerted, unperturbed"– pretty much the opposite of how I understood the word.  I looked a little further and found a usage note saying that while in standard use “nonplussed” means “surprised and confused,” a new use has developed in recent years, meaning “unperturbed.”  The new use may have arisen from an assumption that “non” is the normal negative prefix and must therefore have a negative meaning.  The second “nonplussed” is not (yet) considered part of standard English.
    Is this word is in the process of slipping over to its opposite meaning the way many people use “drone?”  “Drone" seems well on its way  from leaving its meaning of "non worker male bee" to something more like "drudge," possibly because of the boring sameness of the sound denoted by another version of  “drone.”
    In the end, the writer decided to go with “unperturbed” just to make sure her narrative wasn’t misread. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Books for Readers # 172


 

Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 172

September 5, 2014

 

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In this Issue:

Fran Simone's Dark Wine Waters Reviewed by Phyllis Moore
Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
Under an English Heaven by Alice Boatwright
The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout
The Liveship Novels by Robin Hobb
Masks by Fumiko Enchi

The E-Reader Report with John Birch
Backchannel Report
Things to Read & Hear Online
Announcements and News


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I've done a lot of reading this summer, on my e-reader, in paperback and hardcover, and even on my smart phone-- more than I will report on in this issue. My reading has run the gamut from genre books like Alice Boatwright's new "cozy" mystery (see below) and Robin Hobb fantasies to Helen Benedict's searing Iraq war novel Sand Queen and an excellent nonfiction book on the history of the Comanches.
But I want to begin with a book I have not read.
My sister-in-law Ann Geller read Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch for her book group this summer. Ann told me that she also read some reviews of the book, and found that about half the reviewers thought it was a modern classic and the other half hated it. She said her own opinion is that "It was 800 pages long and should have been 200." I think it's important to note that my sister-in-law is not intimidated by big books. She reads a lot: fiction for pleasure, but she is also a Ph.D. in philosophy and a student of Talmud, so she has no intrinsic difficulty with large, dense books.
The problem, according to her, was what she calls self-indulgence on the part of the author: "The main character walks down the street, and there is an elaborate simile describing each person he passes."  To repeat, I haven't yet read The Goldfinch, so I can't comment on it directly, but Ann's remarks started me thinking about a kind of writing that I come across too often in novels praised as brilliant and beautiful. (In fact, for comments on one of these books that I have read, see below). It is a kind of writing that depends on thick layering of figurative language and sense description and aggregation– that is, heaps of detail and metaphor and sometimes also multiple flights along tangential story lines. When this kind of writing gets out of control, reading it is like eating rum-soaked fruit cake with pecans and currants and candied cherries, and then topping it with both hard sauce and full-fat vanilla ice cream.
This is not meant to be against richness, or against imaginative flights of language or experimentation. What it is against– and very much against– is doing these things lazily or ineptly, or self-indulgently. The longer I read, the more I have become demanding of quality and precision in long sentences and long books. This may have something to do with a cultural restlessness that has come along with visual media and Twitter and e-mail and blogs. I also spend a great deal of time reading student writing. But whatever the reasons, I am impatient with sloppy prose.
All of us who write ought to do a lot of cutting and polishing, of course, but the kind of revision I am talking about here is not only out of respect for the reader's time. It is also essential for the writer's own art. The initial foray into the material you want to write needs to be drafted with whatever tools work for you. If long pages of extremely detailed sense impressions or similes help you feel the texture of the world you're creating, write that way. If you are an outliner who has to get the plot down first and then fill in the details, do that.
It's what comes next, however, that moves the writing to another level. I've called this Deep Revision, and it's the time when you refine and make choices, but also the time when you make new discoveries and come up with new ideas and material. In fact, long before I start polishing, I cut whole characters and scenes, add new scenes, move scenes, and try to face the fact that a lot of the material that helped me reach my characters and their world is a kind of scaffolding that should be taken down. For me as a writer, these second and third and thirteenth go-throughs are where the value is added. I don't want to denigrate the wonder of initial inspiration: if you're a writer, you live for inspiration. But for me, equally satisfying and probably more important are the times when I am discovering what underlies the initial vision, when I am adding more, going deeper, diving under-- and then, when that's all done, cutting away the metaphors that don't fit anymore, getting rid of everything that isn't necessary to express what I've discovered.
Do some writers get it right the first time round? Of course. Do some truly need to polish the first paragraph before they can write the second?  Is the style of some writers all about metaphor to the exclusion of almost everything else? Yes and yes.
There are such writers, but probably not as many as claim to be. What infuriates me is the grandiosity of believing every word you write is sacred and should be displayed for admiration and/or worship.
                     
                             Meredith Sue Willis


Fran Simone's Dark Wine Waters: My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows, Reviewed by Phyllis Moore.

When addiction is the elephant in the room most families are thoroughly confused about where to turn or what to do. Fran Simone shares her experiences in her candid memoir DARK WINE WATERS: MY HUSBAND OF A THOUSAND JOYS AND SORROWS. The title speaks volumes: The joys of marriage become sorrows as a well-educated wife watches her beloved lawyer husband's progress from an occasional drink to full-blown alcoholism. The parade of broken promises, blame, guilt, lies, and hopes for sobriety are a drum beat through the years. Eventually a line is drawn: Therapy and an inpatient stint are a last resort. Sadly, relapses, deceptions, promises, lies, arguments, blackouts, automobile accidents, and loss of a driver's license result in an unexpected drinking bout on Christmas Eve and a totally unanticipated Christmas Day suicide. Simone, suddenly a grief stricken widow, is not just a widow. She is a mother, a professor in a small city, and the widow of an alcoholic lawyer who committed suicide in his downtown office. The feeling of stigma is palpable. How can a survivor cope? Simone shares what she learned when she marshalled her resources and joined a support group of survivors of the suicide of a loved one. Aided by this, and other support groups, her recovery process included writing this memoir as an "…act of discovery". In the discovery and recovery process she learned to forgive her husband and herself. As a result, here is her memoir, a gift "…for all who know the joys and sorrows of loving an addict." She is a generous and courageous writer.

Dark Wine Waters: My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows (2014) by Fran Simone, Ph.D. is published by Central Recovery Press, Paperback, $15.95. For more on this book, read Library Journal: http://centralrecoverypress.com/books/blog/dark-wine-waters-reviewed-in-the-library-journal/


 

SHORT TAKES  (by MSW Unless Otherwise Noted)

The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy

Here's a case in point about self-indulgence and bloat: Pat Conroy's novel about the Citadel and Charleston, South Carolina. Yes, it's gripping. Yes, it has all kinds of cinematic moments-- and wait! There was a movie made of it in the eighties!  But, oh my, does this guy overdo the suffereing and navel gazing of the narrator.
I read somewhere that Conroy is a big fan of Thomas Wolfe, which appears to mean you get to dump out gorgeous metaphors by the ton.  Much of the novel seems to be about narrator Will's confusion, his love-hate for "The Institute," and his feelings of not belonging. When this is dramatized, it's terrific stuff. When it's told over and over again, it gets annoying.
I liked the insider's look at The Institute. The cadets were extremely well done, including the black cadet Pearce who Will is supposed to keep in school in the face of racist efforts to intimidate him into leaving. I was also willing to accept the secret society of the Ten, whether or not all the the cloak and dagger stuff and violence is based on facts, but I didn't believe the love interest, Annie Kate.  In Conroy's effort to write a Big Book, I think he pulled together a few too many threads at the end, and they didn't all work. But the heart of the story, if you can lay aside the bloat and the repetitive descriptions of Charleston, is quite strong.
Frank Bruni says in a New York Times review of another Conroy book: "Conroy tends to paint in extravagant strokes, and The Death of Santini instantly reminded me of the decadent pleasures of his language, of his promiscuous gift for metaphor and of his ability, in the finest passages of his fiction, to make the love, hurt or terror a protagonist feels seem to be the only emotion the world could possibly have room for, the rightful center of the trembling universe. There's something quintessentially Southern about this, and Conroy is indeed a child of the South. Its mischief and melodrama are in his blood."
Some people really seem to enjoy gorging on this stuff. Personally, when I'm in the mood for violence and Southern-style grotesquerie and drama-- and elaborate metaphors, I'd rather read Cormac McCarthy.


Masks by Fumiko Enchi

This small book was first published in Japan in 1958. I assume I probably missed a lot of the nuances, because of cultural gaps, but I was engaged anyhow. It explicitly (according to commentary) uses as its structure one of the most famous sections of The Tale of Genji. It is about the indirect revenge and the exercise of power by women.
The story includes a lot of men's speculations about women, and the male characters ultimately choose their friendships with one another over lovers. All the characters, in typical Japanese fashion, are presented as highly sensitive to light, seasons, flowers, fabrics, literature etc.
The story centers on two widows, a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, who live together with a mysterious third woman in a beautiful home that has a collection of exquisite kabuki masks. It's definitely worth checking out, to see if it suits your taste.


The Magic Ship and Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

I love Robin Hobb's sprawling fantasy world where dragons have a supercilious attitude toward the rest of us and are tended by an adoring semi-human race. In the liveships trilogy, where dragons are always in the background, sea-going vessels have figureheads with human personalities. Each ship is tied to one of the trading families of Bing Town, who are related to the strangely physically changed people of the Wild River. There is also a nicely corrupt emperor who makes bad decisions that threaten the traders, and also a lot of feisty women.
The sea writing is entertaining: storms and sea serpents that are more than they seem. There's also an excellent pirate, determined to be evil but so naturally charismatic that the people around him love him and make him better than he wants to be. He's a kind of heroic-foppish Captain Hook who loses a leg à la Capt. Ahab.   I think Hobb must have had a crush in her girlhood on the animated Disney Captain Hook with his Cavalier hair and lacy sleeves.
Hobb offers ethical dilemmas that are surprisingly interesting in the middle of all the action and entertainment. I'm saving the third book for a treat.

 

The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout

At my husband's family's summer cottage, there is a complete set of crumbling paperback Nero Wolfe mysteries. I reread one of my favorite ones, The Mother Hunt, written in the early nine-teen sixties. Rex Stout takes a lot of time for his set up (no murder till forty or fifty pages in). These are so dependable in their pleasures: narrator Archie Goodwin is always fresh, in at least two ways; Wolfe always sits in his big chair and tries to get out of work and says "pfui!" when he doesn't like how things are going. As always he sets up a few stunts to catch his bad guys without leaving home, if possible, although every few books he reluctantly does leave home, as in this one. Archie has some romance. Wolfe's ego is wounded when someone is murdered on his watch, wonderful rich meals are described, along with Wolfe's orchid gardening. NYPD Inspector Cramer shows up chewing his cigar hoping to catch Wolfe doing something illegal, but of course always admiring Wolfe's slick successes.
It's a lot of fun-- New York City during whatever decade Stout is writing, and oh yes, there's a clever mystery solution, but that's never been why I read mysteries.
 
 

Under an English Heaven: an Ellie Kent Mystery by Alice Boatwright

This is Alice Boatwright's "cozy" mystery, set in an English village, with an American protagonist. It has excellent Amazon reviews from the fans of "cozies," which are all set in the English countryside without too much blood and gore and sex. Ellie Kent, the sleuth in this novel, is divorced from a prizewinning poet bounder of a husband and has now married a sweet English vicar. She moves to Little Beecham with him, and tries to follow in the footsteps of his beloved late wife-- but everyone still sees Ellie as a foreigner.
When the deaths begin to pile up, the neighbors and the police tend to think Elliemust be the prime "person of interest" for all sorts of reasons, especially including a book of poems on one corpse written in Italian, and Ellie's ex-husband is Italian-American, and she once in Italy for a few months.
Even if it isn't your special genre, you can't miss the draw of all the tea and cake and crisp autumn air and walks with the dog.
After a while, Ellie begins to try to figure out for herself what's going on, and willfully keeps a lot of information to herself. Needless to say, she gets in trouble, and even begins to think her husband has lost faith in her. She discovers that the first wife, too, has a mystery surrounding her death-- and all the time, you know it's going to come right, and the fun is all in the how, and of course the quirky characters.



THINGS TO READ AND HEAR ONLINE

An interesting article in The New Statesman on the value of fan fiction.
 
Phyllis Moore points us to an interesting article especially for fans of To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee– but for everyone else too: a personal reminiscence of growing up with Harper and Truman: http://www.storysouth.com/2014/03/harper-lee-and-words-left-behind.html
 
Jeremy Osner's poems: https://soundcloud.com/the-modesto-kid/the-moment-of-the-poem
 
A free performance sample from Kirk Judd's My People Was Music!   Click here!
 
John Birch's poem about the Aftermath of 9/11 http://www.johnbirchlive.blogspot.com/
 
Terrific l story about a family and monkeys from novelist Thaddeus Rutkowski (See review of his novel TETCHED in Issue 170).
 
Barbara Crooker's poems "Cut" and "At the Poultry Reading" are in the new issue of Light:http://lightpoetrymagazine.com/revamp/barbara-crooker-summer-14/ and "Salt" appears in the late summer anthology of PoetryMagazine.com: http://www.poetrymagazine.com/poets_reunion/ (scroll down for names, and click). Also see Barbara Crooker on Writers Almanac.
Marie Manilla on PBS http://wvpublic.org/post/marie-manillas-patron-saint-ugly

 




 

BACKCHANNEL REPORT

Back Channel likes the movie version of The Dollmaker starring Jane Fonda, "who seems a bit miscast, but she does a serviceable job: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=021jNReJXDQ . Based on the novel, which I'm betting you know about, perhaps have read. This movie isn't bad, especially for TV."

Also, online writing ideas: Write with Fey



JOHN BIRCH E-READER REPORT: TIRED OF PAYING FOR E-BOOKS? GET 'EM FREE FROM YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY.

More than 11,000 public libraries in the US now offer e-books through their websites, for Kindles and Nooks and all shapes and sizes of e-readers, tablets, laptops, smartphones and whatever. They're free, and if you're as surprised as I am by how much I've paid Amazon in the past couple of years, sometimes for books I've abandoned after the first two or three chapters, you may like to visit your local library and ask what they can do for you. They'll be glad to help. Most libraries loan e-books for a couple of weeks, and they'll e-mail you when the loan's about to expire, and again when it's floated off into the ether. If, like my wife and me, you and your partner both have a Kindle on the same account, you can read the same book on your e-readers simultaneously, providing you've both finished it before the loan expires.
Read John's poem about 9/11 on his blog.



WHAT THE NEW YORK TIMES SAYS ABOUT E-BOOK MONTHLY SUBS

NYTimes video on new monthly sub ebook plans: http://www.nytimes.com/video/technology/personaltech/100000003028492/paying-with-your-phone.html?playlistId=100000002688520


 

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


 
Ed Davis's new novel: http://www.davised.com/2014/09/israel-jones-live/
 
 
 
Miguel Ortiz's new collection of stories is At Fortunoff's-- "A collection of short stories dealing with the life of New Yorkers in the second half of the twentieth century."
 
 

 

Michael K. Lyons Same Same: Marketing Basics from the Streets of Bangkok is now avaiable. Michael Lyons' Same Same may be about arketing but I was sold by the descriptions of a lively and sensual old city.

 
 
Blair Mountain Press is having a 15th anniversary sale-- all books $10.00 each. See the website at www.blairmtp.net. Latest title is Victor Depta's Poems: What Love Is. Here's a sample:

What Love Is on a School Bus

If he were less vulnerable, maybe years later, in his thirties when he's
outgrown his scrawny, miserable fourteen-year-old body and has the
strength for objectivity, he would, embarrassed as adults are by love
beyond their ironies, spoil the scene with realism
 
with spring, first of all, comparing the jonquils and forsythias to the
yellow school buses, dingy and mud-spattered, and stinking with
exhaust behind the vo-tech building
 
and then spoil the scene by describing the dreary students, drained of
their joy by the classroom, straggling in lines to board them homebound
to the camp houses, the black dust and burning slag heaps, the tipples
and coal trains in the mountains
 
and spoil it, then, with all the clichés of the adolescent—the acne, the
oily face, the smell of stale, anxious sweat, the burden- some books,
the bullying and blustering, the furtive glances, the awkward profanity
 
he would, as an adult, embellish the scene, perhaps with pathos, or with
hilarious, slapstick absurdities and obscene love, but the boy can't be
touched by any of that, not even by his fourteen-year-old ignorance, not
even by what would follow, flesh to flesh
 
I am not my clichés
I am not my body
I am is what love means
I am love's body
 


Ellen Bass workshsop in November: A weekend workshop with Roger Housden, author of many wonderful books, including his newest, Keeping the Faith Without Religion . See http://www.noetic.org/earthrise/events/ . This weekend promises to be rich with inspiration—and you are likely to write some poems, stories, and reflections that astonish you! WRITING WILD: TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE A Weekend Workshop November 14-16, 2014 Earthrise at Ions, Petaluma, CA. Both beginning and seasoned writers will find this a fertile environment to deepen your relationship with yourself and listen more intimately to your original voice.
DATE: November 14-16, 2014 TIME: The weekend begins with dinner on Friday, November 14th at 6:00 pm and ends after lunch on Sunday, November 16th at 1:30 pm. LOCATION: Earthrise at Ions, Institute for Noetic Sciences, 101 San Antonio Road, Petaluma, CA 94952
FEE AND REGISTRATION: Non-residential: $497 Double room accommodation: $667 Single room accommodation: $847
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Andrea Livingston at IONS: 707-779-8224 alivingston@noetic.org
 

 



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 the Gutenberg 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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LICENSE

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"I hereby release my Goodreads review under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License." -- Joel Weinberger




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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Couple of Things

Here's a poem by Daniel Johnson who was a personal friend of the journalist James Foley who was executed in Syria by ISIS. 

All through college I imagined being the one scholars studied:  and now-- a French dissertation on Appalachia literature:   http://climas.u-bordeaux3.fr/index.php/membres/35-dufaure-sarah-doctorante-litterature-americaine

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I just realized that this is roughly my tenth anniversary of using blogger/blogspot.  I had absolutely no idea I'd been doing it that long.  It started out as a kind of good news blog, as I stopped blogging as a page on my web site, and later I started doing  wordpress blog for politerature, first with Shelley Ettinger, then alone.  I keep a desultory facebook page.  Two, actually.  Mostly here I note days at the museum, vacation theatrical experiences, and I put up a copy of my books newsletter.  All of which is to say I still don't know how to use these things, at least not in a way that draws the world into my orbit.  Maybe I'm fated never to draw in the world.

But I would never have guessed it was ten years.  Some things I line up well, many of them important dates in Joel's life:  he and Sarah got married in 2010; he graduated college in 2007, we went to Italy in 2005.  But ongoing things slip off in their sameness, or likeness.  My newsletter has been going since 2000 or so.  I've been living all these years.  That's hard to get your head around too.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Kristin Wold in "Shakespeare's Will"

This was one of Shakespeare & Company's occasional plays by others, and Wold was super, but I didn't think much of the play itself.  She was Anne Hathaway in an imaginative recreation of the Shakespeare-Hathaway marriage that sort of threw in Shakespeare-is-gay plus Anne has lots of lovers plus a revenge explanation for the famous "second best" bed bequest.  She did children and Anne Hathaway's father so well, plus "Bill" and his sister Joan.  She was really terrific.

The play or novel someone should write is about the female Shakespeare Virginia Woolf imagined-- how a woman could never have been a Shakespeare in the sixteenth century.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Poem About Living All the Way to the End


Here's a beautiful Stanley Kunitz poem (via poem-a-day) about living till it's all over. It says, among much else:


I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Books for Readers #171


Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 171

July 15, 2014

When possible, read this newsletter online for updates and corrections.
 To create a link to this newsletter, use this permanent link.  
For Back Issues, click here.

MSW Home

In this Issue:
Guest Editor Ingrid Hughes on Robert Graves' Goodbye to All That;
Marie Manilla's The Patron Saint of Ugly;
Johnny Sundstrom's For Spacious Skies;
Kirk Judd's New Poetry Collection My People Was Music ;
Some Suggestions for Summer Reading from Democratic Left;
Places to Submit Your Creative Work;
Backchannel Report;
The E-Reader Report with John Birch;
Things to Read Online;
Announcements

Special! Indiegogo Campaign for a Bookstore on the South Shore of Long Island!

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  This issue has as its guest editor Ingrid Hughes. She writes about the autobiography of Robert Graves and gives a short but essential list of novels and other books about the First World War.

                                                                                         Meredith Sue Willis


Ingrid Hughes on Robert Graves

Goodbye to All That is the only autobiography among Robert Graves's many volumes of poetry, fiction, biography, retellings of myth, translations and critical works.  Goodbye covers the first thirty years of his life, and is a terrifically good read, especially riveting in the two hundred pages devoted to his experiences serving in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during World War I.
Wanting to put off his enrollment at Oxford, outraged by the German violation of Belgian neutrality, and believing predictions that the Germans would be defeated within a few months, Graves volunteers in the fall of 1914. The most ludicrous of his stories comes from the period he spends in training in Wales. The Regimental goat-major, a corporal, is charged with disrespect to an officer, the officer being the king, who had given the regiment a goat from his herd at Windsor. For hiring the goat out as a stud the goat-major is busted to the ranks, despite pleading that he did it for the goat’s sake.
The issue of the British caste system is even more appalling on the front.  After serving for several months with the Third Battalion, Graves is transferred in July of 1915 to the Second, where he is greeted coldly when he reports at headquarters.  Later he asks another junior officer why. 
"The senior officers are beasts.  If you open your mouth or make the slightest noise in the Mess, they jump down your throat.  Only officers of the rank of captain are allowed to drink whiskey or turn on the gramophone....  We've even got a polo-ground here....Subalterns who can't ride like angels have to attend riding-school every afternoon.... They keep us trotting around the field, with crossed stirrups most of the time, and on pack-saddles instead of riding saddles....   You notice everyone's wearing shorts?  The Battalion thinks it's still in India. The men treat the French civilians just like n------s, kick them about, talk army Hindustani at them."'
"All this is childish.  Is there a war on here, or isn't there?'  Graves asks. "'The Royal Welch don't recognize it socially," he's told.
Graves is interested in everything about the war: the men he commanded, his fellow officers, the upper echelons; the conditions in the trenches, the battles he fought in. His narration of the slaughter is matter-of-fact. At their briefing for the Battle of Loos, Graves and other company officers recognize the impossibility of the plans they are to follow for a subsidiary attack with no support intended as a diversion.  As they begin to laugh at their orders one of them says, "Personally, I don't give a damn.... We'll get killed whatever happens."'  They laugh even more. Most worrying is the plan to use poison gas, despite the fact that none of the various types of respirators issued work, though the Germans' respirators did.  The young commanders (Graves is twenty) are told to make sure their men press forward, since the gas is heavy and will sink into the trenches. The battle is one deadly snafu after another. (Snafu, a World War II term,stands for situation normal, all fucked up, which seems like the right word here.) In the subsidiary attack alone, total casualties are nearly 11,000. Though the captain commanding the gas-company telephones headquarters with the message that in the dead calm it's impossible to discharge the gas, the response is 'Discharge at all costs.' The costs, of course, are British lives.  The gas is released and gradually collects in the British trenches. 
After the failure of the first initiative, orders come down to try again.  "We waited on the fire-step from four to nine o'clock, with fixed bayonets, for the order to go over."  The acting CSM, or Command Sergeant Major protests to Graves: "It's murder, Sir."  "Of course, it's murder, you bloody fool. And there's nothing else for it, is there?" ' Graves tells him. Fortunately, that particular part of the attack was called off.
Graves is clearly a kind and sensitive man.  He describes the enlisted men he commands with compassion and agrees with his friend, a fellow-officer and poet Siegfried Sassoon, that the worst crime an officer can commit is to abuse his men. In his free time he plays with French children or writes poetry. (His first book of poems is published in 1916.) In the course of the war he marries a feminist and later has four children with her, sharing childcare and housework. But while knowing that the war is a hideous and unjustifiable slaughter he believes he must put his own life on the line and lead his men to almost certain death in battle. That's what I don't understand. How can such a sensible person buy the idea that an essential  male attribute is the willingness to kill and be killed at war? (Not that Graves wants to die.  He describes working out his chances of surviving the war: best to be wounded, best to be wounded while above ground at night, since the chance of a head wound is less then than when only his head is exposed over the top of a trench during the day, and so on.)
While he's on light duty in a training camp in Harlech, Wales, after a long interval on the front, he meets a captain from another regiment who tells him: "'In both the last two shows I had to shoot a man of my company to get the rest out of the trench.  It was so bloody awful I couldn't stand it. That's why I applied to be sent down here.' I felt sorrier for him than for any other man I met in France.  He deserved a better regiment."
Here I am amazed that his sympathy goes not to the soldiers killed by their commanding officer, but to that officer, for the cowardice, as he sees it, of his men. Yet during this same period at Harlech, when Graves is required to lecture 3,000 Canadians being prepared for the front, he tells them the "real story of Loos...." This despite the fact that he is supposed to inspire the troops to fight the Germans, not undermine confidence in the army's leadership.
When Graves is wounded it is at the Somme in July of 1916. The worst of several wounds is caused by a piece of shell penetrating just below his right shoulder blade and exiting through his chest.  "Old Gravy's got it, all right," he hears the stretcher-bearer say. In the dressing-station he is left in a corner to die and his colonel sends a condolence letter to his mother, saying how gallant Graves was, and what a loss to the regiment his death is.  Next morning when it turns out he is still alive, he's sent by train to hospital.  There he receives a letter from the colonel: "I cannot tell you how pleased I am you are alive.... I also wish to thank you for your good work and bravery, and only wish you could have been with [your men.] .... I have never seen such magnificent and wonderful disregard for death as I saw that day.... "
Following this Graves had a long period of convalescence in various places, and did not return to the battlefield.  While in London he spent time with a number of writers and intellectuals, including Bertrand Russell. Russell, an ardent pacifist:
[Russell] turned sharply on me one afternoon and asked, "Tell me, if a company of your men were brought along to break a strike of munition-makers, and the munition-makers refused to go back to work, would you order the men to fire?"
"Yes, if all else failed.  It would be no worse than shooting Germans.
"Would your men obey you?"
"They loathe munition-workers... They think they're all skrimshankers."
"But they realize the war's wicked nonsense?"
"Yes, as well as I do."
He could not understand my attitude.

Grave's assertion may have been more bravado than an assessment of how he would act.  He didn't hold with "anti-war idealism," though when Sassoon spoke out against the war, Graves protected him from a court-martial by having him sent to a convalescent home.  Still, like Bertrand Russell, I don't understand the attitude of this fascinating and complicated man.
NOTE: The best late twentieth century novels about World War I are Pat Barker's Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road. Major novels of the war from earlier in the century include All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, and The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford.  Siegfried Sassoon's memoir, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer is also interesting for its portrait of Graves, though it doesn't hold a candle to Goodbye to All That in its descriptions of the war itself. 
           

SHORT TAKES  (by MSW Unless Otherwise Noted)


Marie Manilla's novel The Patron Saint Of Ugly, set in industrial, northern West Virginia, has been described as a blend of "Southern Gothic and Sicilian malocchio." It is an earthy magical realist novel, with a couple of the best family dinner scenes I've ever read– especially the raucous, realistic, hilarious one when the mother of the narrator ("Saint" Garnet), is introduced to her in-laws. The family-- almost always referred to as la famiglia in one of many nice touches of Italian language and culture that bring the heritage of Sicily and Calabria into the forefront of the story-- is eager to please the WASPY blonde beauty their son Angelo brings home, until they realize the young couple is already married– and not by a priest!
She says blithely, "...we didn't need a priest because I'm not even Catholic."
Another favorite of mine, not so funny but capturing the family dynamic beautifully, is when the heroine young Garnet is forced by her grandpa to eat a piece of bloody steak. Perhaps even better than individual scenes are the ongoing characters: Garnet's Sicilian grandmother Nonna, whose history and actions are essential to the novel, but also poor wall-eyed Betty, Nonna's other daughter-in-law, who is good hearted and loving, but whose menfolk cause general pain and catastrophe. Betty is the mother of the completely awful Ray-ray and married to the almost-as-awful Dom.
There's an interesting nineteen fifties proto-feminist, or perhaps simply woman-centered theme to the whole novel. All the men aren't bad people, but patriarchy is destructive. Even Garnet's Anglo-Saxon grandmother who is a horror of bad values and misused wealth, can be seen as a woman of talent and energy twisted by a world in which women are so severely limited in their activities.
But Nonna and her Old Religion are always celebrated, and the amulets and "portafortunas" are richly rendered. The fantasy and folkloric elements move the story along with rollicking wish fulfillment (Don't you wish you could cause a volcano to get rid of your enemies?).
Even though the center of the story is Garnet's strange pattern of birthmarks like a red map of the world over her body (and a map that mysteriously changes with world events), we are so much inside Garnet's consciousness that it is the world around the Patron Saint of Ugly, and her family's past, that engage us most.
It's extremely inventive novel, often very funny, always full of deep affection for the powerful grandmothers of the world.
For more on the novel, see The Pittsburgh Gazette article.



Johnny Sundstrom's latest novel For Spacious Skies is about the settling of Eastern Oregon in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is made up of a lot of good stories that tend toward the quotidian rather than the dramatic, but when violence does occur, it comes as it does in real life, unexpectedly, with no scary music to manipulate the reader.
The story begins in the aftermath of the Civil War in Virginia with a wounded Confederate veteran who is hiding his name because he was briefly a low level aide in the administration of the Confederacy. It then moves to the Oregon trail (which is slightly less dangerous that it was before the war). There is a wagon train and some rough and ready cowboy types as well as Mormon settlers, both fine people and some pretty nasty ones. There are native Americans who are human and interesting but not especially noble-- a tale of the old west, in other words, much more like what it really was.
It is a highly readable book. I looked forward to returning to it, to being in the lives of people. The largest plot knot is the possibility that the most important woman, Sarah Beth, can't have children. The passionate desire for children comes on gradually to Abe and Sarah Beth, and it isn't completely clear to me what cultural patterns and folkways make their need for children so intense. Sundstrom assumes we understand this, but I could use a little more sharpness about the cultural folkways of the protagonists to match up with those of the Native Americans and Mormons in the book.
Sundstrom structures the novel with the Biblical story of the patriarchs Abraham and Sarah, and their relationship with Hagar, who appears in this novel as Helga, a runaway from oppression by the bad Mormons. Sundstrom ends the novel with the story line hanging: What appeared to be a reasonable way to get a baby for Abe and Sarah Beth is suddenly causing emotional storms and unexpected abysses between the people. Questions abound: what will happen to Helga's baby? Is Abe more in love with his beautiful Eastern Oregon valley than with any of the women in his life? Sundstrom has at least one more volume of the story underway, and he invites our responses.
I look forward to the next one!

 

KIRK JUDD'S NEW COLLECTION

My People Was Music by Kirk Judd is an excellent collection of poetry by a lifelong writer, creative writing instructor, and performance poet who co-founded a number of important Appalachian institutions including West Virginia Writers, Inc. and the Allegheny Echoes Bluegrass Music Summer Workshops. Praised by national figures including the late Gwendolyn Brooks and Lee Maynard, Judd's work is rich and solid, using precise descriptions of the natural world and physical activities to lift up words and the reader's spirits toward something transcendent. For example, in "Hill Sailor" he begins,
He was like the wood of the mast
he brought from the ship
to make the four foundation logs.
He saved the unsalted top
to spoke-shave the Norway Spruce
down for his fiddle-box.
Judd often also writes celebrations of people who have passed on, especially figures in blue grass music, but also family members and friends. In "For Richard" he says,
It's not much,
but the air is changed
now that you're not breathing it.
The streams
fall down the mountain differently
now that you're not standing in them,
trying the hit a trout in the head
with your sinker.
The deer are a bit more wary,
somehow already knowing
that someone else
who really wants to kill one of them
has taken your place in the woods.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this book, however, is that it comes with a cd recording of Judd performing his works with a number of well known musicians and once with a mountain clogger. He also collaborates with one of his poems and a friend's poem. All this is wonderfully communal, poems brought to vigorous life with his strong, flexible voice carrying us on, lifting us up. Kirk Judd's performance poetry is a national treasure.

The book also has beautiful photographs throughout by Dave Lambert. Order from Mountain State Press, or Amazon or any of the other usual suspects.

 

More Short Takes: Summer Reads Recommended by Democratic Left

I’ve read some of these, and look forward to the ones I haven’t yet:
  • The Green Corn Rebellion William Cunningham About 1917 rebellion by Oklahoma’s tenant farmers
  • Tell me a Riddle Tillie Olsen
  • The Dispossessed Ursula LeGuin Political science fiction
  • Strumpet City James Plunkett Dublin working class 1907 – 1913
  • Sugaree Rising J. Douglas Allen-Taylor 1930′s South Carolina Gullah story
  • Rosa Jonathan Rabb Serial killings: is one of the women Rosa Luxemburg
  • The Regeneration Trilogy Pat Barker

Where To Submit Your Creative Work: Suggestions from Jason Schneiderman

I would start with journals that are published by creative writing programs-- WASHINGTON SQUARE, COLUMBIA POETRY REVIEW, GULF COAST, LAKE EFFECT, etc. These have student editors, and so are often amenable to student writing. The students can also research MFA/PhD program by looking at their publications, which means that you can give them a way to control the search, and you are not the oracle providing lists of journals to which they can submit. Many of us were schooled on the logic that publication is something one does after one has established a mature voice. This is clearly no longer the case: my eleven year old nephew recently recommended that I read stories on blog by one of his classmates.
The most important thing is always read/see/know the journal before you submit. Editorial staffs tend to have a high turn over rate, especially at student run journals, but the basic look and feel is important to know. I was just on a publishing panel at which one of the audience expressed frustration that she had "aimed too low" in publishing a poem, and wanted to know if she could republish the poem in a "better journal." My response was-- and I said this as nicely as I could-- that you should never insult the people who have selected your work, and that while the poem may appear in anthologies or her own books, insulting your previous editors is as unwise as complaining about former bosses on a job interview.
In terms of the logistics, make sure [you] know to keep a spreadsheet and to check submission rules regarding simultaneous submissions. The postal problem of crossed letters has essentially disappeared, and many journals now accept simultaneous submissions-- but you must withdraw the poem as soon as it is selected elsewhere. I am somewhat agnostic regarding submission fees. They are becoming common, and I suspect are a reaction to 1) the fact that you no longer have to buy envelopes or stamps and 2) the ease of electronic submission has created an overwhelming situation for editors. On principle, I am against submission fees, but in practice, it allows editors to keep the magazine going. On the other hand, submission fees for contests are standard and normal.
But... be warned against the sort of scams where you submit to a journal that publishes everything and charges $60 to get a copy of the book. But then, we owe the Flarf movement to such a scam, so these scams are not without *some* merit in the larger universe.
The submissions calendar at Poets and Writers (http://www.pw.org/toolsforwriters) is fantastic. CLMP (the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses) can also be helpful in terms of standards and fairness.


More Sources for Submitting

Don't forget to email CRWROPPS-B@yahoogroups.com and get on their list. They send out almost daily lists of places to submit poetry and prose. To add yourself to the list, send a blank email to crwropps-b-subscribe@yahoogroups.com . You will receive a return message with further sign-up instructions.

1. Poets & Writers (http://www.pw.org)
2. Poets Market (a book that you have to buy, but worth the investment for new writers: http://www.writersdigestshop.com/2014-poets-market-group
3. Duotrope.com (has a fee)
4. http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/pbonline.html
5. CLMP's Member Directory: http://clmp.org/directory/
6. Calls for Submissions on Facebook, (Poetry, Fiction, Art) https://www.facebook.com/groups/35517751475/
 

FREE E-BOOK!!


Summer Special through July 31, 2014: Meredith Sue Willis's Oradell at Sea. Get it free in any e-book format. Go to Smashwords.com (You may have to register first). At check-out, put in this coupon code for your free copy: 

YZ48G

(The physical book is still available as well from  WVU Press)





The Continuing Amazon Hachette Dust Up

Below is an open letter fro Richard Russo in his role as Co-Vice President of the Authors Guild. If you want my take, see my blog post here:
The primary mission of the Authors Guild has always been the defense of the writing life. While it may be true that there are new opportunities and platforms for writers in the digital age, only the willfully blind refuse to acknowledge that authorship is imperiled on many fronts. True, not all writers are equally impacted. Some authors still make fortunes through traditional publishing, and genre writers (both traditionally published and independently published) appear to be doing better than writers of nonfiction and “literary” mid-list fiction. (The Guild has members in all of these categories.) But there’s evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that as a species we are significantly endangered. In the UK, for instance, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society reports that authors’ incomes have fallen 29 percent since 2005, a decline they deem “shocking.” If a similar study were done in the U.S., the results would be, we believe, all too similar.
On Tuesday, Amazon made an offer to Hachette Book Group that would “take authors out of the middle” of their ongoing dispute by offering Hachette authors windfall royalties on e-books until the dispute between the companies is resolved. While Amazon claims to be concerned about the fate of mid-list and debut authors, we believe their offer—the majority of which Hachette would essentially fund—is highly disingenuous. For one thing, it’s impossible to remove authors from the middle of the dispute. We write the books they’re fighting over. And because it is the writing life itself we seek to defend, we’re not interested in a short-term windfall to some of the writers we represent. What we care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive. We believe that ecosystem should be as diverse as possible, containing traditional big publishers, smaller publishers, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as both e-books and print books. We believe that such an ecosystem cannot exist while entities within it are committed to the eradication of other entities.
Over the years the Guild has often opposed Amazon’s more ruthless tactics, not because we’re anti-Amazon but because we believe the company has stepped over the line and threatened the publishing ecosystem in ways that jeopardize both our livelihoods and the future of authorship itself. There’s no need to rehash our disagreements here. But it is worth stating that we are not anti-Amazon, or anti-e-book, or anti-indie-publishing. Amazon invented a platform for selling e-books that enriches the very ecosystem we believe in, and for which we are grateful. If indie authors are making a living using that platform, bravo. Nor are we taking Hachette’s side in the present dispute. Those of us who publish traditionally may love our publishers, but the truth is, they’ve not treated us fairly with regard to e-book revenues, and they know it. That needs to change. If we sometimes appear to take their side against Amazon, it’s because we’re in the same business: the book business. It may be true that some of our publishers are owned by corporations that, like Amazon, sell a lot more than books, but those larger corporations seem to understand that books are special, indeed integral to the culture in a way that garden tools and diapers and flat-screen TVs are not. To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can’t be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn’t strike us as an oversight. If we’re wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. We’d love to be your partners.


BACKCHANNEL REPORT

Curious way to get a book deal: http://www.theguardian.com/music/shortcuts/2014/jun/22/one-direction-harry-styles-fan-erotic-fantasies-publishing-goldmine
Article has a link to the online "book," which got the author a 6-figure book deal. I couldn't get into it myself: guess other people having sex just doesn't appeal to me. I haven't seen so many cliches bunched up together since the last political speech I heard. And I didn't even get to any of the sex bits. Good grief, wonder what they're like? So the message...is: adopt a pseudonym, write a sex book online, retire in style.... Does it irritate you as much as it does me to see crap writing making the authors of it rich? When great writers languish?


THE E-READER REPORT WITH JOHN BIRCH: HOW FAST DO YOU READ?

John Birch is traveling this month in England--in Brontë country!
 

THINGS TO READ ONLINE

Deborah Clearnman's short story "The Bicyclist" is now up on Witness, a terrific online magazine. You can read it at their website. Set in New York City, says Deborah, "this is a tale told by an unreliable narrator that in no way reflects my attitude toward Michael Bloomberg, CitiBike, or any other hot-button transportation issue of our times. Just so we get that clear!"

MSW's take on the Amazon Hachette dustup: http://meredithsuewillis.blogspot.com/2014/06/my-take-on-amazon-hachette-dispute.html .

Summer issue of Persimmon Tree is not available here: http://www.persimmontree.org/v2/?utm_source=June+17%2C+2014+-+FINAL&utm_campaign=June072014Final&utm_medium=email


Timewell magazine offers a monthly theme with a mix of excerpts from classic literature with contemporary stories, poems, and art. The past year themes: Women, Youth, War Stories, Law/Justice, Infidelity, Power, Marriage, Before/After, Speculative Fiction, Deceit, Revelation, Crime, Stupidity—and the next issue will be Elegance: http://www.timewell.us/





ANNOUNCEMENTS, NEWS, CONTESTS, WORKSHOPS, READINGS ETC.

Don't forget MSW's latest novel Love Palace , now available as a paperback!   Take a look at some New reviews! Buy it from Irene Weinberger Books  Buy it online -- Buy it as an e-Book from Foreverland Press Kindle --  Nook --  iBook --  All Digital formats


MSW's short story "Sheherezade and Dunzyad," collected in Re-Visions, was translated into Arabic by Mohammad Abd alhalim Khanyam and appeared online in Elaph, London :2415, Dec. 2012, republished online 4524, Oct.10, 2013 http://www.elaph.com/Web/Culture/2009/2/409952.htm, republished in AlHilal Magazine (Cairo , Egypt, as a hard copy)-- and used in a comparative literature class at Kuwait University!
The professor says that the students are impressed to see the influence of their culture on American literature in the twenty first century!


Fran Simone says of her new book Husband of Joys and Sorrows, "Alcoholism, widely recognized as a wasteland that sucks addicts and their loved ones dry, is a disease that fosters fear, diminishes dignity, and compromises love. Left untreated, alcoholism destroys families and lives. I was one of its causalities." Learn more at : http://centralrecoverypress.com/books/blog/husband-of-joys-and-sorrows/


Halvard Johnson has a new book of poetry SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME from Gradient Books: http://gradientbooks.blogspot.fi/2014/06/halvard-johnson-songs-my-mother-taught.html



Time is Running Out! Help a new bookstore café! Before July 26, 2014-- Turn of the Corkscrew Bookstore has an Indie gogo campaign. Two Long Island women are raising money to open a bookstore-café on the South Shore! See https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/turn-of-the-corkscrew-books-and-wine .

I reviewed a novel by one of the entrepreneuses, Carol Hoenig, in Issue 152 of this newsletter: http://www.meredithsuewillis.com/bfrarchive151-155.html#oflittlefaith)


Sad News: End of Gently Read Literature: Daniel Casey wrote, and Deborah Clearman passed on, that Gently Read Literature's Fall 2014 issue, which will go out on September 1st, will be its last. He thanks readers, contributors, writers, agents, publishers, and presses that made the this tiny electronic magazine possible. He says, "I began GRL in 2008 and have had a very fruitful and engaging time editing it over the years. I hope you have enjoyed the reviews and essays GRL has provided. I hope that the final issue of Gently Read Literature leaves you with pleasant memory of a review that tried to bring more discussion of poetry and fiction into the world." http://about.me/danielcasey


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 the Gutenberg 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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LICENSE

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BACK ISSUES:

#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 & Klons; Lady 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 People; The 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 Madonna; A 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 Know; The Shining; The Tiger's Wife.
#148 The Moonstone, Djibouti, 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 Minister, Blood 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 Falls; The 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 Cloudsplitter, Founding 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 latest; Irving 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 Drown; Blindness & more
#105 Everything is Miscellaneous, The Untouchable, Kettle 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 Career, The 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 Lavransdatter, House Made of Dawn, Leaving Atlanta
#92   Death of Ivan Ilych; Memoirs
#91   Richard Powers discussion
#90   William Zinsser, Memoir, Shakespeare
#89   William Styron, Ellen Willis, Dune, Germinal, 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 World, Da 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 Home; Tess 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 Evil; Moon 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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