Meredith Sue Willis's
November 17, 2015
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In this issue of Books for Readers (# 180):
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I've started a web page of posts and articles with practical ideas for writers of prose narrative. Some of these will be short pieces I've written; some will be by other people, such as...
Latest from Irene Weinberger Books :
Mitch Levenberg's Dementia Diaries
ISSUE # 33 Fall 2015 of The Hamilton Stone ReviewPoetry by William Aarnes, Ace Boggess, Doug Bolling, John Davis, Camillo DiMaria, Keith Dunlap, John Freeman, Howie Good, James Grabill, Nels Hanson, Tricia Knoll, Susanna Lang, Michael Lauchlin, Rita Maria Martinez, Larry Narron, Stan Sanvel Rubin, David Salner, Sanjeev Sethi, D. E. Steward, Millie Tullis, James Valvis, Laryssa Wirstiuk, and Mark Young; Fiction by Tyler Atkinson, Jane Lazarre, Anne Leigh Parrish, Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger, Fred Skolnik, Esvelyn Walsh, and Iromie Weeramantry; Nonfictionby Jim Brega, Reamy Jansen, Johnathan Jones, Alice Lowe, Helen Park, and Kenny Yuan.
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I want to begin with the deaths of two people very important to literature and my literary life. One was Merle Moore, a great West Virginian builder of libraries and festivals and supporter of West Virginia writers and all literature. Here's what I wrote about her in my blog.The second was Vera B. Williams, working class children's writer and artist. I was in the same writers' peer group with her in New York City for many years. She received loving, moving obituaries in The New York Times and Publisher's Weekly .
Saul Bellow and Matthew Neill NullIf you are a fan of Saul Bellow, I hope you'll write and give me your thoughts, as I am having a hard time warming up to his work. He is undoubtedly a brilliant writer (after all, he won the Nobel Prize!). He created a diction that includes both high culture and street language, especially the rhythms of Chicago and New York, and, of those rhythms, especially the resonance of Yiddish and Russian. So I'm deeply admiring of his technique and accomplishment, but--for me--something ismissing. Over the summer I readHumdoldt's Gift and I reread The Adventures of Augie March. There are passages and scenes in those books (and in his excellent, short Seize the Day) that are as good as anything written in English since 1900. But--and again, I'm hoping for another opinion on this-I find myself feeling feel the performance, not the experience.Halfway through my reading Humboldt's Gift(the roman a clef about Delmore Schwartz, who I spoke about in in Issue #179), I wrote in my journal, "Humboldt's Gift has some wildly wonderful scenes but also a lot of attitudes to women that make me want to puke. I can't say I like Saul Bellow, but when he's on, he's really on. There's great long section about the bashing of protagonist Charlie Citrine's Mercedes by a punk criminal wannabe and then a crazy day of Charlie and the same punk running around together.... I get the picaresque–I get the complex relationship between Charlie and Humboldt, I get that Charlie likes getting turned on by women (and that he thinks he loves women, but he only loves sex as far as I can see and maybe some forms of mothering.)"The plot, and especially the plots of the movie treatments Charlie and Humboldt write together for fun, are over the top with what I think is supposed to be comedy and hyperbole, but largely seem angry and weird ...I suppose if you won the Nobel Prize for literature (1976) you must feel at some level like there's something in every thought and idea you have. Still, when he's good, he's very very good: the stuff with Rinaldo Cantabile the punk wanna be gangster, all that is tons of fun. The late passage on the narrator's brother's heart surgery and his love for the brother, crass businessman that he is– that whole long section is almost worth reading the 487 pages for. Maybe."In some ways I liked The Adventures of Augie March better. It too has a crass businessman brother and deals magnificently with the strains between the brothers that are always suffused with love. There are stunning, thick passage of rich detail of his brother's possessions, especially expensive shirts and shoes. Augie has tremendous energy and momentum in its tumble forward, and some memorable characters, especially the Chicago types and eccentrics. There's "Grandma," a Russian Jewish grand dame who lets the impoverished March family live in her apartment and then uses them mercilessly for chores and personal service. There's the paralyzed local businessman/crime boss Einhorn (Bellow is extremely good on the many levels of low lifes and petty criminals) and certain scenes (again) are just super. I especially liked the Depression sequence when Augie goes on the bum and jumps railroad cars with the hobos. He works for a union for a while and helps with organizing a chambermaids' strike, but Bellow drops that in a hurry and sends Augie off to Mexico with a ditzy rich girl who wants to train an eagle to hunt.The lovers' dialogue is often awkward and feels dated. I don't think dialogue is Bellow's strong suit-- he's great on speeches and monologues and internal and external philosophizing. Actually, I liked Augie, at least part of the time. He goes to war in the Merchant Marine, gets married and then torpedo'd, then adrift in a boat with a madman, finally ending up doing illegal import deals and living in Paris. The ending works, and the adventures largely work, and also the wonderful juxtaposition of forties Chicago slang with highly erudite imagery. Still, for all of what works, and all of what is brilliant, I am left cold by something about Bellow: it isn't just the misogyny, either, it's some lack in the personality of the writer (I believe) that he tries to hide in brilliance, in good stories, in vast glossolalian explosions of language. Again, if you're a fan, please 'fess up and tell me where I've gone wrong!Next I want to share an excellent new novel, Honey from the Lion, by Matthew Neill Null. Set in the late nineteenth century timber clearing camps and towns of north central West Virginia, it creates its world convincingly, but is thoroughly twenty-first century in its bleak view of politics and human nature. Nascent union efforts are foreshadowed as damned from the beginning, and the most politically conscious people are are killed early on. The survivors, including the main character, are apolitical at best. One character sees that the effort is failing here, and goes to the coal fields of southern West Virginia where the unionization has more success, but Null's interest isn't with him, but rather with the texture and violence of the world of timber exploitation.The novel captures the moment in the late 1800's when outside companies were blithely buying and stripping timber off the mountains. The workers are at once proud of this huge thing they are a part of and aware that what they are doing is ugly and destructive. The point is made that the magnificent spruces and ancient oaks are turning into clothes pins and newspapers that go quickly from today's news to outhouse wiping paper. This is the tragic given--the ground-- of the story Null wants to tell.One of Null's great successes here is in hinting just enough at the language of a a hundred and thirty years go, and using just enough examples of the material culture to create his world believably and without condescension.We are told that the main character, Coleman "Cur" Greathouse will live a long life, so we're not too jumpy about him being killed in one of the many violent incidents in the novel. He is presented as a psychological drifter: the great emotional event of his life occurs when he is in his teens, in a triangle among himself, his father, and his father's young second wife. The rest of his life is a kind of drifting search for someone to admire, follow, love.The book is unapologetically omniscient, slipping easily into various people in the boom town of Helena: a god-ravaged preacher, the "absentees" who own the timber company--as young men, they discovered the vast stands of forest when they were soldiers in the Union army. Now one is a senator, one a judge. They are appealing in their youth and corrupt in their middle age.I have a couple of quibbles, all in a context of great appreciation and enjoyment. One is that Cur's return to his home place and family is appropriately unhappy, but in a way that seems to me maybe too neat. This may be taste, though. The other quibble is what I mentioned at the beginning, that the whole union organizing/labor wars theme gives no quarter to the workers. You know from the very beginning that the efforts to unionize the timber fields will fail, which is, I assume historically correct. But the organizing scenes are undermined by our fore-knowledge. The most serious union leaders are killed brutally almost immediately, and the most successful action is a free-lance assassination by a character who has been mostly offstage. Again, this is not about accuracy, but it is about Null's choice of what to highlight.I'm always looking for a different book, I guess, the one in which the characters, unlike attractive but somewhat dim Cur, have a consciousness of history and their own place in it. Denise Giardina managed this in Storming Heaven, and I am probably asking Null for something he had no interest in doing. So read it for the story, the characters, and the wonderful evocation of a semi-frontier world in northern West Virginia in the 1800's.
Ghost Dance by Edwina Pendarvis gives an overall impression of wide variety and a deep fund of wit. Pendarvis takes us to the world of legends and myths, and she brings us up close to the texture of our lives. She has enormous range– from light-hearted to heart-rending. The first section is loosely governed by reflections on the Ghost Dance, a religious movement of the Plains Indians at the end of the nineteenth century. The poems in this section include everything from instructions on "How to enter an Iceberg" ("Blue-green popsicle tinting your lips/wearing shoes of fire.) to surviving a bad day "What with Johnny Cash dying ("and George Bush in the White House,/all in the same season./and my son moved out to Utah"). There are also sections called "Phosphors," and others called "Fairy Tales" and "Games" and "Riddles." The luminescent phenomena described in "Phosphors" include morning mist and frost-whitened lawns, New York City seen during a plane landing, a frosted wedding cake, and a snowy rural scene where "as a gate to empty fields/never gives, never yields,/so the spirit takes its form/from each thing that calls it home."Some of my favorites are probably the short narratives like "Lot's Wife," which is a retelling of that Bible story, and a memory poem called "Paper Dolls" in which Liz Taylor and Mitzi Gaynor join Ann Blythe and Betty Grable– starlets, punched out of cardboard, rocking back and forth on little paper feet from one linoleum square to another.There is also a very real "Catfish" that reminds me of some of Marianne Moore's work; a charming "Operetta" that is organized by acts; and a sequel to "Twelve Dancing Princesses" called "Twelve Languishing Princes" in which the executed suitors' bodiless heads play an important part.There are also character poems like the touching observation of what I take to be the poet's child as he/she goes scuba diving. I also especially liked one called "Dovey" about a girl who is the only African-American in her junior high class. She does everything right, is treated badly– and manages to get a subtle revenge. I could go on listing and quoting, which is exactly what a collection like this makes you want to do. This is poetry that is intelligent and rich, clever and beautiful– yet never esoteric. It is an eminently readable collection that deserves a broad audience and wide acclaim.Tarzan in Kentucky: Poems by Judith Moffett is a chewy, sinuous collection of poems by a living poet who went many years without writing poetry, but is--to our great benefit--writing again. Called "An effortless" virtuoso by James Merrill and "among the most accomplished of her generation" by Daniel Hoffman, Moffett writes brilliantly lucid everyday language contained--and freed--by tight forms like tercets and and sonnets. You only notice the form if you are looking-- you feel is the emotion, see the picture, hear the voice and the story. The forms are certainly there, though, giving her poems a musculature that makes much of the free verse we are used to seem flaccid.The fourth and final section of the book, "Tarzan and the Apes," is a long poem that is part autobiography of the poet (who was raised in Kentucky and southern Ohio in a fundamentalist church), and part history of the human relationship with other primates. It raises the question of whether or not chimpanzees and gorillas are able really to use language, to which question Moffett gives a resounding yes. She writes especially movingly of Kanzi, a bonobo, whose mother Matata has been the subject of language experiments. Matata is removed for "breeding leave," and
Now little Kanzi, frantic,
Runs to the keyboard, heretofore ignored,
To say what no one ever tried to teach him:
Help Kanzi Where Matata Where MatataIn other words the young bonobo, who was not instructed, has learned to keyboard and communicate in English by observing. It's such a brilliant passage, so sad, so straightforward, so quintessentially Moffett. Every poem is worthwhile: a number of them are about her farm, and there is a long section called "Grief" in which she writes about the aftermath of her husband's death. The poet speaks to herself in one called "Broken Couplet:"
Solutions, none. No cures.
This task alone is yours:
to make each day a quest
for getting through it best
when "best" cannot mean "well..."You feel here what rhyme is about: an arbitrary way of linking things that then makes meaning of what started out as arbitrary. Next after "Broken Couplet" is another long semi-narrative poem also about loss and relationships, in this case about the William Wordsworth-Dorothy Wordsworth-Samuel Taylor Coleridge triangle--written in the meter of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Moffett's poem, replete with knowledge of the Romantic poets' circle and the Lake district of England, is called "The Rime of Poor William and The Recluse." She also writes about her mentor and friend James Merrill and about Original Sin and other issues of fundamentalist Protestantism. She writes about dogs and evolution. She writes with a sinewy natural line that gives it all up to us, if we'll only listen.For more information, go to http://www.davidrobertbooks.com/moffett.htmlNahid Rachlin's novella Crowd of Sorrows is a gripping and sad story of broken families and damaged children. A woman takes her little girl and leaves her husband. The mother and child move into an apartment complex with lots of other families, and the main character looks out her sliding doors to a common play space and learns more about the lives of her neighbors than she thinks she wants. It is, however, this crowd of people and its sorrows that becomes the center of the story.One family's child is seriously ill; one mother and child leave and go back to England; there is one troubled boy who hits the others and generally appears dangerous. Meanwhile, the narrator gets a job with a small Turkish/English magazine. Many of her happiest memories during a much-traveled childhood were of Turkey, and she is attracted to her boss, who reminds her of a teenage boyfriend.The largest event of the novella is when the narrator's daughter goes missing and she has to to face the horrors of failing to keep a child safe. The girl survives intact, but the Turkish magazine folds. The boss wants her to come back to Turkey with him, and there is a resurgence of sense memories in her of how much she loved that place, implicitly comparing it to the bleak sorrows of this northeastern U.S. apartment complex.I also read In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler, who is best known as the playwright of The Vagina Monologues. The memoir starts out being about her activism helping build an institution for women who have survived the horrors of war in the Congo. Soon, however, the book is overwhelmed by Ensler's personal cancer story. On the one hand, it feels wildly wrong to insist on this connection--that she, a first world white woman with a terrible illness somehow represents all the women raped and ravaged in political turmoil. Still, you probably need crazy egomaniacs like Even Ensler as catalysts for action: if the Internet isn't lying, her institution, The City of Joy appears to be wonderful place .Finally, Theodore Dreiser's Jennie Gerhardt, which doesn't get a lot of praise compared to Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy. I have a lot against it, but surprised myself in the end by liking it a lot. The main character Jennie is loving and attractive, but a total sap around men: that is, by inclination and training, she does as she's told. There's a kindly but lecherous older bachelor (another U.S. senator!) she has sex with once, and she is immediately pregnant. He dies, and she has the baby, Her stiff-necked German Lutheran father disowns her, but her mother manages to keep her near.Next, Jennie gets a job as a ladies maid in a fancy society woman's home. Enter Lester Kane, wealthy young scion of a carriage business family, and he decides he wants her: "You're mine," he says repeatedly, and she says no no no and it's really yes yes yes because of the extreme neediness of her family and her own sense of herself as already damaged beyond repair and also her sensuality. Soon she's taking trips with Lester, then being kept by him, then living with him.The situation is infuriating: marry her you pusillanimous twerp, one shouts at the page. Yet, Lester cares for her in his own arrogant way. He keeps her from getting pregnant, teaches her, dresses her. etc. He becomes more and more attached to her. He just won't marry her. There are are various crises: she keeps her daughter's existence from him; she lies to her father and convinces him, after her mother's death, to move in with her and Lester, and brings the girl too, once she finally confesses. No one ever really deserts Jennie, except by death.Finally, Lester's father dies and the will has a complicated set of stipulations that essentially force him either to discard Jennie and get lots of money, marry Jennie and get less money, or stay with Jennie without marriage and get no money. Lester spends the entire three years he's given for the decision dithering, but in the end sets Jennie up in style and marries another woman who also adores him. On his deathbed, he calls for Jennie and tells her he made a mistake. He has always loved her. There's a lot of Dreiser's pseudo-philosophy about the essential meaninglessness of life and how we are in the end completely buffeted by fate.I think I'm telling the whole plot here because I can't imagine that many people will go out and read this--even though it's free or almost free for your e-book. The old fashioned type of womanhood is hard to take, and Dreiser's writing can be clunky, but against all my ideological convictions, I found myself believing this book, partly because of Dreiser's sharp eye for the stupidity of America's borrowed class distinctions.
I suppose it had to come. For the last year or two I've been telling you that sales of e-books were on the up and up. Well, it seems that's over, at least for the time being. HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster and Hachette, three of the biggest guns in publishing, have recently reported that revenue from e-books declined in their last quarter.An article last month in the New York Times, boldly headlined E-BOOKS SLIP, AND PRINT IS FAR FROM DEAD quoted Len Vlahos, a former executive director of The Book Industry Study Group as saying that "E-books were this rocket ship going straight up. Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music."The Times article went on "But the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital have instead slowed sharply."That's as maybe, but I wouldn't swap my Kindle for all the tea in China.
John Birch's blog is at http://www.johnbirchlive.blogspot.com/
Cathy Weiss's website for writers and readers: Check it out! http://www.armoredoxfords.com/
Read John Birch's latest blog post, "A Taste of Sherri."
Prodigal's Chair has memoir, fiction, etc. online at http://www.prodigalschair.com .
Cathy Weiss's piece "Sturdy Black Shoes" is at http://www.prodigalschair.com/sturdy-black-shoes.html .
Jack Deacy has an excellent two-part memoir piece on his experience as a journalist on Bloody Friday in Belfast in The Easthampton Star at: http://easthamptonstar.com/Fiction/2015714/Baptism-Belfast and http://easthamptonstar.com/articles/Fiction .
And more Jack Deacy! Click, then scroll down !
Ingrid Hughes's blog has a story of one woman's journal through serious mental illness.
The New York Times on eight women's suspense writers of the 1940's.
Evelyn Walsh has won the SEÁN Ó FAOLÁIN SHORTSTORY COMPETITION for her story "White Rabbit !" Also see her work in the current issue of The Hamilton Stone Review.
Troy Hill has a new website at http://www.troyernesthill.com/
Just published by Austin Macauley Publishers in London is Alexandra Psaropoulou's long poem with graphic designs, ALL THE STARS. See http://alexandrapsaropoulou.wix.com/books
Latest poems by Barbara Crooker online: http://www.barbaracrooker.com/online.php
A NOTE ABOUT AMAZON.COM
I have a lot of friends and colleagues who really despise Amazon. For a discussion of Amazon and organized labor and small presses, see the comments of Jonathan Greene and others in Issues #97and #98 .
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.
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 use Bookfinder or Alibris. Bookfinder gives the price with shipping and handling, so you can compare what you’re really going to have to pay.
Another source for used and out-of-print books is All Book Stores. Also consider Paperback Book Swap, a postage-only way to trade books with other readers.
If you are using an electronic reader like Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, don't forget free books at theGutenberg Project—mostly classics, and free, free, free!
Kobobooks.com sells e-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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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.
"I hereby release my Goodreads review under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License." -- Joel Weinberger
Meredith Sue Willis, the producer of this occasional newsletter, is a writer and teacher and enthusiastic reader. Her books have been published by Charles Scribner's Sons, HarperCollins, Ohio University Press, Mercury House, West Virginia University Press, Monteymayor Press, Teachers & Writers Press, Hamilton Stone Editions, and others. She teaches at New York University's School of Professional Studies.
#180 Saul Bellow, Edwina Pendarvis, Matthew Neill Null, Judith Moffett, Theodore Dreiser, & more
#179 Larissa Shmailo, Eric Frizius, Jane Austen, Go Set a Watchman and more
#178 Ken Champion, Cat Pleska, William Demby's Beetlecreek, Ron Rash, Elizabeth Gaskell, and more.
#177 Jane Hicks, Daniel Levine, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Ken Chamption, Patricia Harman
#176 Robert Gipe, Justin Torres, Marilynne Robinson, Velma Wallis, Larry McMurty, Charlotte Brontë, Henry James, Fumiko Enchi, Shelley Ettinger
#175 Lists of what to read for the new year; MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE OF WEST VIRGINIA; Peggy Backman
#174 Christian Sahner, John Michael Cummings, Denton Loving, Madame Bovary#173 Stephanie Wellen Levine, S.C. Gwynne, Ed Davis's Psalms of Israel Jones, Quanah Parker, J.G. Farrell, Lubavitcher girls
#172 Pat Conroy, Donna Tartt, Alice Boatwright, Fumiko Enchi, Robin Hobb, Rex Stout
#171 Robert Graves, Marie Manilla, Johnny Sundstrom, Kirk Judd
#170 John Van Kirk, Carter Seaton,Neil Gaiman, Francine Prose, The Murder of Helen Jewett, Thaddeus Rutkowski
#169 Pearl Buck's The Exile and Fighting Angel; Larissa Shmailo; Liz Lewinson; Twelve Years a Slave, and more
#168 Catherine the Great, Alice Munro, Edith Poor, Mitch Levenberg, Vonnegut, Mellville, and more!
#167 Belinda Anderson; Anne Shelby; Sean O'Leary, Dragon tetralogy; Don Delillo's Underworld
#166 Eddy Pendarvis on Pearl S. Buck; Theresa Basile; Miguel A. Ortiz; Lynda Schor; poems by Janet Lewis; Sarah Fielding
#165 Janet Lewis, Melville, Tosltoy, Irwin Shaw!
#164 Ed Davis on Julie Moore's poems; Edith Wharton; Elaine Drennon Little's A Southern Place; Elmore Leonard
#163 Pamela Erens, Michael Harris, Marlen Bodden, Joydeep Roy-Battacharya, Lisa J. Parker, and more
#162 Lincoln, Joseph Kennedy, Etel Adnan, Laura Treacy Bentley, Ron Rash, Sophie's Choice, and more
#161 More Wilkie Collins; Duff Brenna's Murdering the Mom; Nora Olsen's Swans & 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
#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
#38 Steven Bloom No New Jokes
#37 James Webb's Fields of Fire
#36 Middlemarch#35 Conrad, Furbee, Silas House
#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