Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Meredith Sue Willis's BOOKS FOR READERS #170

Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 170

June 3, 2014

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In this Issue:

John Van Kirk's Song for Chance
Carter Taylor Seaton's Hippie Homesteaders
The Murder of Helen Jewett
Francine Prose

Susan Taylor Chehak; Thaddeus Rutkowski; Neil Gaiman;
Backchannel Report;  The E-Reader Report with John Birch;
Things to Read Online; Announcements;
  Responses from Readers; Phyllis Moore Notes

 

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Love Palace
now available as a paperback!

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





When I settle in to do one of these newsletters, I always discover that I've collected a lot of notes to turn into responses and short reviews. I also collect responses from readers (and often use those for my own ideas for free reading).
Please! Send me your notes on what you are reading too!

The first book I want to talk about in this issue is John Van Kirk's novel, Song for Chance. This is the story of a rock star/song writer/lounge pianist, Jack Voss, whose early breakthrough album was a romantic rock opera with a triple suicide at the end that became the catalyst for several real life suicides. The story line follows how, as a man approaching 60, Jack's past comes back to destroy his own daughter, who he has only recently begun to know. He goes on a road trip seeking answers, and in the end learns the humility of taking responsibility for your own actions.
I don't think, however, that the story-- or Jack's personal insights arethe most important reason to read the book. There's lots of interesting background-- drugs, sex, and rock 'n roll through two generations. The flashback material to life on the road with a carousing young band in the seventies is vivid and well-done; the all-American road trip has wonderful descriptions of landscape (and sky-scape) from New Jersey to Carmel, California, across Canada to poor rural New York State. There are also solid minor characters and the contemplation of the changes we go through as individuals and a nation with the passage of time.
But for me, the the most powerful element of the novel is how it captures something of how an artist works– not in a moment of inspiration, which most likely all human beings experience, but for the long haul.
Jack Voss in this novel's present is not as famous as he once was, but he has wealth enough to do most things he wants, and what he really wants to do as he approaches old age -- the same as when he was young -- is to create songs. Van Kirk does a good job of managing the slight of hand of using language to give the reader an idea of how ideas must come to a musician. Jack is also, of course, a lyricist too, so his sense of the world comes in words as well as music. This is all brilliantly done: the life of a musician who no longer fills amphitheaters with screaming teen fans, but still makes music. Towards the end, after Voss has learned a few things about himself and about life, Van Kirk writes this about his efforts to do some give-back in the world: "Voss was a selfish man, and there was no point in deluding himself with the idea that he was doing this for anyone but himself. It would be an escape and a refuge, and that was what he needed now. And when it came to an end...when it came to an end, the next thing would present itself and he would deal with it then."
Jack Voss really has loved his art more than he ever loved his best friend or his wife or his daughter. He has been a man who hires other people to manage his life (he calls his accountant periodically and asks if he can afford a certain car, a house, an important act of expiation). He drinks too much and smokes too much grass even after he has officially given up drugs. But he is also a man who is, by the end, making a serious effort to take actions guided by compassion (he is also an occasional practitioner of meditation). He wants to try to ease some small part of the suffering he has been associated with, even if he hasn't caused it, but he also wants to do this while he continues to make his art. .
This is, at its heart, a book for grown-ups, about how little we can change from who we are, yet how essential it is that we make the changes we can-- and how for those of us who are lucky, creative work abides.



Carter Taylor Seaton's Hippie Homesteaders is a nonfiction account of back-to-the-landers who went to West Virginia in the nineteen-seventies. I suspect I'll return often to this as a reference and because it makes a wonderful balance to my own experience as one of the West Virginians who left. These people are more or less my age, sharing many of my values--but they made the reverse move.
Interview by interview, too, this is a striking book. Seaton has interviewed dozens of people, many of whom she already knew from her involvement in the craft world in West Virginia as it evolved. The homesteaders in the book were essential to developing West Virginia's arts and crafts, both the revival of old traditional crafts and the introduction and creation of new ones. The story is also, indirectly, about how government and nonprofit support helped people find a new way to make a living.
Many of these out-of-staters (and the native craftspeople as well) thrived under the support of the state arts council and the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Festival and-- eventually, the high-end outlet for West Virginia arts, Tamarack.
It's a fascinating and complex story. First there were the artistic and craft-inclined young people looking for a rural life who found cheap land in West Virginia. Then there were the old timers living around them, who were generally extremely generous and friendly. These rural people were often the ones whose own children had left the land, and there must have been an element of vindication for those who stayed when these new young people chose their life style or elements of it. They gave the in-movers farming advice and in some cases taught the newcomers folk art. The newcomers in turn honored the folk art and farming techniques and in some cases shared new techniques as well as marketing strategies.
Almost all of the events and people in this book live outside of the industrial West Virginia where I grew up. That is, the lives of miners and the power of Big Coal are almost absent from the book, except indirectly, as when sculptor Bill Hopen is offered a commission to do a statue of Senator Robert C. Byrd, names his price, and no one even blinks. No one blinks because money available, and not from the small dirt farms or the black lung miners.
Hippie Homesteaders gives us the information and tells us a story about lives and art forms of some wonderful people who taught themselves pottery and weaving and stained glass and basketry and music. I love the fascinating interplay between the natives of my beautiful, often exploited state and young people (young no more of course) looking for a better life, a rural life, a safe place, a communal life. Sometimes it didn't work out, and Seaton writes about that too. Sometimes it led to deep roots and an influx of energy and ideas into the state. Carter writes with thoroughness and affection about a complex situation, and this is in the end, perhaps the best way to capture history: on the ground, through a multitude of individuals and their individual stories that, in the end, describe the arc of history.


Another excellent nonfiction book I read recently is The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York by Patricia Cline Cohen. This is quite a move from rural West Virginia in the nineteen seventies-- a wonderful dip into early nineteenth century New York City when men were vicious in their privilege and sex workers were surprisingly independent.
The focus is on a crime but also on the life of prostitutes and the "respectable" young single men who did business with them. Then it is about how the judges and lawyers close ranks to save someone they identify with. At the trial, the testimony of the prostitutes is devalued and not admitted. Since "good women" are not even supposed to know these things happen, there is breathtakingly circular logic: no decent woman could be involved in a trial for murder, and you can't believe the women who do know what happened-- because they aren't decent.
The prostitutes aren't angels, of course, but they are very interesting, especially in how they choose the men they'll sleep with. Helen Jewett/Dorcas Doyen, the victim, always offers and demands a patina of romance with her clients--she reads poetry with them and writes them flowery letters. Her world (located around present day City Hall in New York City) is one where brothels are next door to expensive private homes and legitimate boarding houses.
The book also includes a lot of information about the penny press and the legitimate press, and about police and court procedures two hundred years ago. Part of the story takes place in small town Maine, and finally in frontier East Texas where Richard Robinson the probable killer goes into exile. He makes a lot of money and has a respectable life, but-- to my satisfaction-- dies young.


Finally-- and I seem to be on a nonfiction roll today-- there is How to Read Like a Writer by Francine Prose . This will go on my list of books that I return to for thinking about literature. My other ones include Camille Paglia's Break, Blow, Burn, James Woods's How Fiction Works, and Joan Silber's The Art of Time in Fiction– as well as the book that opened my high-school-senior eyes, How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi.
At one level, then, How to Read Like a Writer is an excellent book. Francine Prose has read tremendously much and well, and she has a long list of books to "read immediately." One enthusiastic chapter details the wonders of Chekhov, and I promptly ordered the collected stories for my Kindle. Her love of literature is infectious and stimulating and a tonic for someone like me who has to read too many student pieces and other work not always of my own choosing.
But her advice for writers pretty much sucks.
She makes the case that the essential thing about literature–what matters fundamentally– is language. Obviously language is what we use to make literature, but Francine Prose insists that this is the most important thing to learn about and read for– and that somehow you can write by being conscious of language. This sits all wrong with me. In my writing practice, I certainly work hard to polish and select the right words, and I cast around for images that suggest ideas I don't have precise words for, but this my late stage revision. These are also only some of my tools for plunging into material that interests me.
Please don't misunderstand: I was trained as an undergraduate in explication de texte, and I get a lot of pleasure out of following someone's discussion of how a poem or paragraph works. But for me, the language is always in the service of understanding experience and thus the world. Art and Experience in my mind move back and forth in a sort of dance: sometimes the language and form take precedence, and sometimes it's the raw witness of a voice telling a story. We read, I believe, millions of ways for millions of reasons. But Francine Prose– not in her enthusiasm for individual works but in her prescriptions for how to read and write– is too sure that her way is the only way, and that people who don't do it her way are somehow spiritually inferior.
Fifty years ago, you could make a case that the practice of high literature was one of a handful of the greatest endeavors of human beings. It's harder to do that today. The necessary great audience for great literature still exists, but it is smaller and increasingly scattered. Thus, for me, How to Read Like a Writer is a book that offers little to writers beyond the perennial advice to read great literature.
It is, however, full of excellent commentary of a certain kind on some works of fiction.


                                                                                  Meredith Sue Willis


 

SHORT TAKES    (by MSW Unless Otherwise Noted)


Tetched by Thaddeus Rutkowski


Tetched is a minimalist and intense novel, almost all heightened moments, leaving the reader to draw the connections. It concerns an eccentric childhood under the influence of an angry Caucasian father, often drunk, who is the caretaker for his children while his Chinese wife earns most of the family income. For the children, there is no one around them who looks half-Asian, or, for that matter, like any other kind of minority.
The narrator becomes an unhappy adolescent and a young man with a taste for bondage. He yearns to hog-tie women, but is mostly made to suffer by the women he chooses. There is lots of sexual frottage, especially with the women who aren't interested in the role playing games. A lot of it also captures the world of funky New York City apartments with their claustrophobic close quarters.
There is certainly a creepy element in all of this, but you find yourself more taken with Rutkowki's wonderful directness and humorous honesty.


Harmony by Susan Taylor Chehak

Susan Taylor Chelak is known as a practicioner of Midwestern Gothic (see her webpage here), and this is an excellent example of it-- the rising waters of evil come seeping up into a material culture of home sewing and jell-O molds. The objective of the protagonist, Clodine Wheeler, is to escape the suffering endemic to smalltown midwestern life.The novel is set in a kind of perpetual nineteen fifties where the surface is an aggressive all-American goodness, with evil just under the crust.
The changes begin in Clodine's life when she meets her doppelganger, a pathetic trailer-trash young woman named Lilly Duke, whose baby was conceived in a prison waiting room. Its father is an admitted killer on Death Row in Nebraska. The women of the town, necessarily, shun Lily (and thus Clodine).
The visual setting for the novel centers on a manmade lake from which the branches of dead trees rise, giving a constant source of hopeless imagery– if you stay here, you drown. If you stay here, you live with hidden threats. Clodine creates a relationship with Lily, and gradually all of what was inside Clodine but expressed outwardly in Lily's life becomes exposed.
Clodine also has a baby in the course of the novel, and her husband has telltale icy blue eyes. We are told that he is deeply in love with Clodine, but, in fact, his character is far more opaque that that of Tim Duke, the death row inmate who never even appears directly in the novel. Somehow Tim's told confession and self-explanation are clear, and oddly understandable, but Clodine's husband Galen is more like a locus of evil-- the kind of character that Cormac McCarthy likes to put in his novels: an ultimately inexplicable human demon.
Chehak doesn't write about the supernatural, but her gripping, tightly focused noir novel has a lot of that mood without wandering out of the natural world.
That may be scarier than supernatural evil anyhow.


 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Endlessly inventive, Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods has that delightful vision of someone whose America is imagined over a scaffold of facts. Towards the end, I got a little bogged down in the strong silent American heroics of the protagonist Shadow, who is repeatedly killed or almost killed, but always suffers (nine days tied to a tree at one point, topping Jesus). Some of the plot is clunky at best, but the thing with fantasy is that you can do as you please.
What I liked best were the surprises and the physicality of it. Gaiman also has an appealing idea of the essential humanity of our gods-- and of us people too. This is a novel about the decline of gods who become grifters and performers of magic. Gaiman doesn't need my endorsement-- he's wildly popular and clearly brilliant. I'd read read more, occasional, in small doses, maybe his work in graphic novels next..

 

PHYLLIS MOORE NOTES ON READING

The beat goes on! I've no hopes of keeping up with all the books I'd like to read. Yesterday I put them out of my sight. But today I finished two. FIELD NOTES FROM GRIEF: THE FIRST YEAR by Judith Gold Stizel, a retired WVU professor is one I think you'd like. It is the painfully honest look at the death of a spouse; a spouse of long standing.
THE PRISONERS is one of those books you read in support of the author but don't expect to like. There should be a title for this genre. Written by Huntington's Ace Boggess, it describes his just completed 5 years in prison. It is honest and hopeful. Much better than I expected, it recalled DARKNESSS AT NOON.
Ace is a WVU School of Law grad who didn't take the bar exam.
I did finish TENDER IS THE NIGHT and found large portions of it very boring. I did admire [Fitzgerald's] descriptions of the landscapes as well as his well rounded, mostly unlikable, characters. It felt as if he was writing from scenes in a photographic memory and didn't know what to cut. I will say, he does women well. Zelda [Fitzgerald]'s WAITING TO WALTZ seemed more alive to me. She does so much so well but blew descriptions out of proportion, at least for me. I like her style better than Scott's.



RESPONSES FROM READERS

In response to the discussion of Pearl Buck's work in # 169, Belinda Anderson wrote: "People admire her but I don't think they really know her works. I went through a period, probably shortly after I moved to Greenbrier County, West Virginia, near the birthplace of her father, where I read about her intensively– those books, a bio, a novel of hers I didn't know, etc. I found it a very powerful experience."


Laura Treacy Bentley of WV Living Magazine drew our attention to interviews she did about the Pearl Buck homestead in Hillsboro, West Virginia:http://www.wvliving.com/Summer-2011/Conversations-about-Pearl-S-Buck/index.php?cparticle=2&siarticle=1#artanc http://www.wvliving.com/Summer-2011/Conversations-about-Pearl-S-Buck/index.php?cparticle=2&siarticle=1#artanc .


Laura also mentions the 1958 Mike Wallace interview of Buck available as a video on the Internet: http://www.c-span.org/video/?288844-1/mike-wallace-interview-pearl-buck . Buck's voice is lovely, and Wallace's constant smoking is pretty amazing.


BACKCHANNEL REPORT

Back Channel directs us to The Guardian on Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie . Here's my take on it in Politerature: http://politerature2012.wordpress.com/2013/07/

More from Back Channel: A nonfiction book about the gastrointestinal tract: "Charming Bowels" -- bestseller! http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/07/gut-reaction-book-digestive-tract-german-bestseller . "While this is a non-fiction book, note the author also wrote "a novel about an 18-year-old girl sent to hospital for a haemorrhoid operation." Great idea for constipation in the article: a stool for the stool.



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

How fast do you read? I've just done a test of how fast I read. It's fun, and if you'd like to try it, just type: "What speed do you read?" into Google.
In my case it showed how slowly I read, rating be me 16% below the national average! The interactive test, unexpectedly on the Staples website, will ask you to read a passage and then pose multiple choice questions to check that you were paying attention. It then tells you your speed in words per minute, and, compares your score with the natural average.
My wife, Lynn, an avid reader, and not usually a shy wallflower, actually refused when I suggested she do the test. Surprising, when she's just read Donna Tartt's wonderful 771 page bestseller The Goldfinch in a few hours longer than a couple of days.
John Birch's latest post is about spring cleaning! Check it out at www.JohnBirchLive.blogspot.com.
 

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR THE CREATIVE WRITERS OPPORTUNITIES LIST (CRWROPPS)?

This is an excellent, free, several-times-a-week aggregation of resources, contests, and publishing opportunities. 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.

 

THINGS TO READ ONLINE
A tribute to the \Chuck Kinder.
Another on not writing obituaries for the novel too soon: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/02/will-self-novel-dead-literary-fiction
A piece on good contemporary novels you may not know: includes our friend Pamela Erens!
 

ANNOUNCEMENTS, NEWS, CONTESTS, WORKSHOPS, READINGS ETC.

Kirk Judd's book MY PEOPLE WAS MUSIC is a fabulous collection of Kirk's poems, and as a bonus, there is a bound in the book CD of his spoken word performances. He's accompanied by some of the greatest musicians that West Virginia has to offer. Beautiful photographs throughout the book. A wonderful treat! Order from Mountain State Press, http://www.mountainstatepress.org/
THE NOTEBOOK is now accepting submissions for the Fall 2014 issue (their third!). The theme for this issue focuses on SECRETS, BETRAYALS, LIES and REGRETS. All genres of writing or digital imagery will be considered as long as some aspect of the theme is related to the experience of rural or small town women or girls, either directly or indirectly. You'll find details for submissions at www.GrassrootsWomenProject.org.

For poets who are women over fifty: http://quillsedgepress.com/2014/03/25/what-well-be-doing/
Stevie Phillips's memoir has just been acquired by St. Martin's Press for summer 2015.
Barbara Crooker has some lovely poems online at http://levurelitteraire.com/barbara-crooker-2/
July workshop on turning your story into a play in Rhinebeck, NY with Rosary O'Neill.
 

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 other things as well.
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:

#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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