For a Free E-mail subscription to this newsletter, click below:
Welcome to the one hundred eighty second issue of Books for Readers. It seems like a very large number!
This issue begins with a guest review by Belinda Anderson of an excellent collection of essays called Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia.Best title ever. We also have reviews of books by Troy Hill, Charles Dickens, Frederick Busch (his novel about Dickens), by Marie Houzelle, and Mitchell Jackson, among others. Also, Don't miss Rita Sims Quillen's piece on learning (successfully, I might add) to use social media in her literary life or a poem by Phyllis Moore. There's also a special money saving offer that John Birch has found for us in his regular column,The E-Reader Report. Finally, I have a request from a friend for someone who might be interested in trading in-process manuscripts for mutual reading.
It can be challenging to make essays charismatic, but shortly after starting Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean:Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia ( edited by Adrian Blevins and Karen Salyer McElmurray, Ohio University Press), I was slain in the spirit by Silas House's "The Forbidden Gods." He engaged me right away with plain but telling detail such as "her stockings produced from a plastic egg." (How did he remember that? I had forgotten those.) Zooming me back to a certain time were other telling details, such as his mother's hands snagging on her hosiery, "causing small tears she repaired with dabs of clear nail polish." All that remained to totally hook me was this metaphor: "…prayers eating their ways through the ceiling ..." His experiences as an Appalachian targeted for prejudice resonated with me: "A whole lot of Americans have bought into the media's portrayal of the rural dialect to equate to ignorance, racism, homophobia, misogyny, outright stupidity."
In the essay "Confessions of a Halfalachian," Mary Crocket Hill writes, "What culture in the current age of hypersensitive political correctness is it still acceptable to mock? Hillbillies, of course. The same person who would never think of making a rude remark about someone else's race or religion has no problem telling a West Virginia joke." Richard Currey offers similar sentiments: " … one way of maintaining Appalachia's status as an impoverished sideshow of American life has been through humor. … it is more than a passing note that Appalachia continues to hold the lead for a demeaning brand of humor where incest, bestiality, sodomy, and single-digit IQs are the core (and apparently only) subjects of humor. … the wider stereotyping of mountain people seems to persist."
And then there's the challenge of being an outsider within Appalachian. I expected to read about race, about LGBT issues. But what I hadn't expected was to be thrust into a backwards time warp reading in "Outsider Appalachian" about how Melissa Range grew up being derided for displaying what she was learning, for violating the perceived offense of putting on airs.
The book's title is taken from an essay by Jessie Van Eerden. She sets the stage: "I walk till the dogs get mean, far up the road through the little houses in the black trees, past the trailers pinned with lattice and past the cinder block ruins. The dogs come out of the shadows – part pit bull, all mange, different color eyes, no collar, no chain …" Later in the essay, she writes about how her marriage had fallen apart and she found herself writing on a scrap of paper, "Walk till the dogs get mean then walk a little further. …" She adds, "This metaphor is not a neat one. The dogs aren't neat symbols for things that terrify me and clamp me down ..." But I found it a neat metaphor, a call to courage for Appalachians, for anyone facing barriers: Walk a little further.
Myxocene by Troy Ernest Hill reviewed by MSW
Myxocene by Troy Ernest Hill is a speculative fiction novel set in the very near future, or perhaps even the present. It is a kind of medical/neurological thriller, only instead of the conventional thriller's constant upping of the danger ante (the narrator's daughter, for example, never gets kidnaped by the bad guys), the tone is more wryly humorous than frightening. The bad guys are not entirely bad–indeed, they can be fairly convincing. Part of the pleasure of this novel is following the arguments about how to and whether to stop the coming population growth and concomitant mass suffering from global warming. Should we– rationally speaking– commit suicide as individuals and a species? This would be a wonderful book choice for a book group that likes to talk about ideas.
At the same time, balancing the ideas, is the inner life of the first person narrator, a woman who writes free lance copy for Big Pharma companies. She has been many things in the past, including an actor and director. Presently, she is a single mother who has to deal with a grumpy eleven year old and an irritating evangelical Christian mother who can't bear the narrator's atheism and sexual freedom. My favorite minor character is an ex lover who is an attractive but rather sweetly narcissistic actor who wants to get involved in his daughter's life, but blows his one chance because a casting director from New York shows up at the last minute.
The people on the bad guy side are scientists with some experimental pills that can erase traumatic events from our brains and cause us to become frightening clear in our thinking, able, in fact to embrace the idea of suicide as a constructive choice. There is one superb scene towards the end– the classic crisis– when the narrator coolly weighs whether the life of someone she loves should be saved or not–does the person in danger have any redeeming social value, as it were? Chilling and believably done, and very dramatic.
Troy Ernest Hill has a way of looking at the world that is sharp, well-observed, and just a fraction off plumb in a way that is endlessly entertaining. See Troy's website athttp://www.troyernesthill.com/
Special Notes for Writers About Using Social Media for Publicty by Rita Sims Quillen
Rita Sims Quillen is a poet and novelist. Her novel, Hiding Ezra (reviewed below), is set during WWI in southwest Virginia. Published by Little Creek Books, Hiding Ezra has the unusual history of having sold as well its second year as its first. This is remarkable in an industry where novels are said often to have a shelf life shorter than yogurt.
Rita Quillen writes here about the experience of publishing her novel:
"When I came to the heartbreaking conclusion that I was never going to get my novel Hiding Ezra placed with an agent or academic press, I knew that I was undertaking a journey where I'd be a stranger in a strange land– a poet peddling a novel. But I was determined to do all I could to get my story read by as many people as possible, given the very real obstacles I would face.
" I knew that social media was my only means to find readers. Neither I nor my small publisher could come up with a big advertising budget or afford to buy reviews from all the usual "big league" literary sources. So I used Squarespace (http://www.squarespace.com/) and created a decent website, created an author page on Amazon, created an author Facebook page and a Goodreads author site. I review others' books there and I also blog on Goodreads. I learned to tweet, and have about 1000 followers now!
I'm on Instagram as well. I also found that book giveaways are good promotion. I gave away a couple of copies each on Goodreads, Amazon, and on my FB author page.
"To be effective in using social media to promote your writing or any other creative endeavor, it's got to be more than an electronic billboard. You have to be interesting, engaged, real, funny, humble, grateful—if people like you, feel comfortable, are curious about you, if they sense you are interested and engaged with THEM, they will want to read your writing or listen to your music or whatever it is you do. In other words, you will have to devote some time to it and make yourself available and vulnerable, to some extent. It has worked for me pretty well."
Is anyone looking to trade manuscripts with a long time professional journalist who is writing a first novel? The journalist is looking for someone to do a straight-through reading of a manuscript in digital format for story line, pacing, etc.– not line editing! In return, the writer will do the same for you. If you're interested, e-mail MSW for an exchange of e-mail addresses.
MSW makes no promises or representations beyond what's detailed above!
VICTOR DEPTA ON BLAIR MOUNTAIN PRESS AND BOTTOM DOG PRESS
Victor Depta writes, "We at Blair Mountain Press recently published Poems: What Love Is, in which I attempted to re-create the sound of the voices from my home country of southern West Virginia. Earlier on, we published Azrael on the Mountain, my poems in protest of mountaintop removal coal mining, again in voices from our Appalachian coal fields.
"Now Bottom Dog Press (P.O. Box 425, Huron, Ohio, 44839 http://smithdocs.net) has publishedVoices from the Appalachian Coalfields, interviews with coal miners from southern West Virginia in the 1970s and 80s....
"I was very much moved by the book. Not only were the people interviewed from my area of West Virginia (I'm from Logan County) and a period of time in my life when the issue of mining was intense (I was writing A West Virginia Trilogy in the 80s), but several of my other books have people from that world as speakers (Plays from Blair Mountain: Four Comedies and Mountains and Clouds: Four Comedies).
" My thought was, and my hope is, that the voices in my books are nearly as authentic as those collected by the Yarrow family.
"Voices from the Appalachian Coalfields is listed on amazon. All Blair Mountain Press books are available from the Press and from amazon. "
(by MSW unless otherwise noted)
I am considering using Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag in a class on Literature and Medicine. It's a famous book, published in 1978, but really more of a treatise than a book. Or, better yet, an essai of the type Montaigne wrote: loose in style, with lots of quotations from literature and philosophy. In the end, like Montainge's essais, it is highly personal.
Sontag was herself recovering from cancer when she wrote it and feeling, I surmise, that her suffering and experience were being misused in media and the culture at large. She handles this with high intellectual flair and an insistence that metaphors for disease cut at least two ways: they express the speaker or writer's thoughts with a powerful image, but at the same time, they twist our thinking about the disease and damage the lives of real human beings.
The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson feels like autobiographical fiction even though the words "a novel" are crossed out on the cover. I began less drawn in than admiring of the language and how it enhances and uplifts the energy and poetry of street dialect. I did some light research afterward (reviews in the NYTimes and elsewhere) and found out that the book is, in fact, highly autobiographical, that Jackson did go to jail for selling crack, that his mother was addicted to crack. That he has in recent years visited his old prison (where people he played basket ball with are still incarcerated).
Some of the chapters seemed repetitive in the action covered, as they switch between the main characters, the mother and the son, but the longer I read, the more its music drew me, and its strong structure. It begins with a prologue (Champ in jail, Mom visiting) and then goes back to the time before this crash. It is in many ways a love story between a son and a mother, and between an older brother and his youngers. Champ endangers his love relationship, his freedom, trying to buy a house where his family was once happy, and is swindled by a sleazy white real estate dude.
There's one oddity, which is that the book-- the novel-that's-not-a-novel-- has a sadder ending than Jackson's actual life, which is much more productive and happy. Are we expected to know the real life story in order to get the full juice from the book?
Interesting in any case, and stunningly rich language.
Hiding Ezra by Rita Sims Quillen is another family love story, in this case set among mountain farm people in the early twentieth century in southwestern Virginia--Scott County, just over a couple of mountains from where my father's people came from in Lee County. The folkways described--the quilting and selling quilts, the shooting a rabbit and cooking it for lunch on the trail, the descriptions of the landscapes, especially the mountains-- are all beautifully done, but the real strength is the story, which is different from anything I've ever read.
Ezra Teague, the main character, is a griendly, social, well-regarded young man who goes into the army to train to fight in World War I. Pegged as an excellent marksman and possibly slated for special duty, he deserts when his mother dies. His disabled father and widowed sister need his help, so he chooses family over patria, and hides out in the hills, occasionally coming down to chop wood or put a metal patch on the roof of the family home. In return his sister brings him bundles of clothes and other necessities. We learn her sad story of loss, and we meet the woman who loves Ezra.
The story covers two years of Ezra's hiding. His choice is largely supported by the community, even though there is a $50 price on his head. How he comes back to join the community is the main thrust of the story.
Interestingly, the epilogue is not a happy ending in this book either. Ezra and his beloved marry, but she dies with that brutal suddenness of illness in past centuries. We are thus reminded that this is not romance, but a real story of real people and the real tensions between family loyalty, community loyalty, and relationships to a distant government.
Tita by Marie Houzelle is a small delight to read. A reviewer on Goodreads spoke of the sense you have of being drawn into French culture, which I'd agree is a large part of the pleasure-- feeling like you're learning something from the inside out. The main character is the precocious little girl Tita, who lives with her little sister, her frivolous fashionista mother, (who turns out to be afraid of having her lower class roots show), and her father, older and divorced. He worries about his business failing. Meanwhile Tita and her little sister have older half-sibs who live in Paris and are super cool to the little girls, and the older sister makes close friends with the second wife, Tita's mother. The father's family is traditional--Catholic school for the girls even if it isn't a very good school. Real struggles, but all told with a light touch, and très français.
What to say after reading David Copperfield once again? It's the whole Dickens ball of wax: So much sentimental feeling, so much invention, so much vindication of the suffering of young people, the wonderful Phiz illustrations, and so many memorable characters. There are the awful, soul destroying Murdstones, the inimitably 'umble Uriah Heep. Noble Dan'l Peggoty, the awful child-wife Dora, the magnificently dramatic and impecunious Micawbers, David's friend Traddles, the tragically flawed Steerforth
I read it on my Kindle (free or almost free!), forgetting for a while it was a triple decker--vast number of pages, over 800. I also had my old hard copy available for the illustrations and a sense of how massive it was. There is also a lot to deplore in Dickens: especially his disapproval of women's sexuality, but I just can't help smiling at the momentum and the cornucopia of people tumbling through the pages.
While discussing Dickens, I ought to mention that I also read a book called The Mutual Friend by Frederick Busch, which fictionalizes the last days of Dickens, particularly his famous public Readings, which were extremely lucrative and also devastating to his health. The idea of this book is that the story is being told by DIckens' assistant for the Readings, George Dolby, who is dying of TB in a charity ward, writing his memoirs and drinking too much, thanks to the ministration of an orderly. The NYTimes review agreed with me that it is admirably written but too static-- a series of set pieces. Some of the point of view characters, namely the women but also the attempt at Dickens' own voice seemed to me to be an exercise in high quality padding–padding with carefully written sentences, highly polished, etc. Ellen Ternan, the actor and Dickens' great love, is imagined primarily as a sexual being. This seems to be the specialty of a certain type of male writer: to expropriate the voice of a woman, and then imagine her as wanting the kind of sex the writer likes. An interesting premise, but too writerly for my taste.
Two Old Science Fiction Novels: Favorites of mine when I was fifteen:
The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke captured me when I was in high school. The writing isn't terrible, but like a lot of other science fiction, it speeds up towards the end, in this case with a lot of quick trips around the universe that feel thinly imagined and written.
In the end, the most famous science fiction isn't really about people but about ideas. This one, published in 1956, has the usual casual sexism of its time, but it isn't space cowboys shooting at each other. What is beautifully imagined is the City and ditto a few non-human creatures. There's a lot to like, but also that vaguely insulting science fiction tendency to speak about Man meaning all of humanity–I'm not speaking here of sexism particularly, but of the gall of speaking for all of us. The strokes are broad too, everything done a little too quickly, too little explained. Maybe that's just Science Fiction of the nineteen-fifties. I remember, though being uplifted by the whole idea of humanity's destiny of "reaching the stars."
I looked up Arthur C. Clarke on the internet. He is, of course, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a closeted gay guy, which is perhaps why the best (only?) remotely human relationship in the book is between two young men.
Star Gate by Andre Norton was my absolute favorite science fiction novel when I was in high school, and this one holds up pretty well, although this one too speeds up the action toward the end.
I'm now, in official old age, drafting a prequel to The City Built of Starships. Anyhow, I didn't have very high hopes for this re-reading of Star Gate. I was afraid I would find it unbearable, the prose awful, etc.-- and that I would have stolen everything from it! But it turns out to be pretty cleanly written, with the caveat about the final quarter. Also, it is probably at least as much sword and sorcery fantasy as science fiction.
I had a wonderful time picking ou the bits I stole. It is a bildungsroman, a young person setting out on a search /quest /adventure, encountering secrets about his origins. There are interesting indigenous life forms. I especially liked the mords, the hero's hunting "pet," a big headed four legged dino-bird, a prototype for my own flying dragon pterodactyl yaegers. There are two suns, the servant class are called "hands." Oh, my novel just flatters the heck out of this one with my little borrowings and imitations..
Anyhow, the first three quarters was delightful, and I had forgotten the alternate worlds conceit in which you can conceivably meet a corrupt, hateful version of your own ethical self. I'm happy I still liked it, and also happy to see that while it influenced me a lot, my book was still my own.
JOHN BIRCH E-READER REPORT: WANT TO UPGRADE YOUR E-READER? TIME SENSITIVE!
If you've got a Nook -- Barnes & Noble's successful response to the Kindle -- and are in the market for an upgrade to your e-reader or tablet, take a look at some of the substantial offers and trade-ins B&N are making in February.
For a limited time, B&N are offering a $50 reduction for all nine of their Nook e-readers, and $50 off the price of their range of Samsung Galaxy tablets. For example, their Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 7 is reduced from $139.99 to $89.99, and their top of the range Galaxy Tab S2 Nook from $349.99 to $299.99.
John Birch has been running a blog for the past few years, and it now contains several dozen of his fiction and nonfiction stories, many of which have been published here and there in the U.S. and Europe. See it at www.JohnBirchLive.blogspot.com. His latest post is "In the Dark."
ANNOUNCEMENTS, BOOKS RECEIVED, CONTESTS, WORKSHOPS, READINGS AND MORE.
Chela: The Adventures of Jack and Ty is in part a tribute to one of the greatest writers andhumorists of the twentieth century, Sir P.G. Wodehouse, and a spoof on the fantasy genre where anything and everything can happen at any given moment and time. Jack is a hungry jackal, booted out of his clan for being lazy and incapable of providing for himself. One night while wandering a patch of forest he accidentally steps on the tail of a tiger that is understandably furious at the jackal. The tiger Ty, confronts the jackal with the latter begging forgiveness. The commotion dies down and they soon go their separate ways. Fate, however, brings them together again and and they soon realize they are both facing a similar predicament – an acute shortage of food. The two strangers soon become comrades and along with Herbert, a cross between a wolf and a pariah dog, set out on a journey through the vast woodland of Baganpore and beyond in search of food. On the way they face perils aplenty in the form of diabolical relatives, cunning scavengers, a mysterious banyan tree and a lake that isn't what it appears to be.
Saurabh Kumar, 23 years old, lives in Mumbai. He has a degree in Fashion Marketing and Management from Raffles Design International, Mumbai. He attended the Film, Television and Media Studies program at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Creative Writing from the New York University. One of his short stories 'A Red Rose' has been published in an anthology by Penguin India. It is edited by Sudha Mur thy. When not staring at a laptop screen and writing he enjoys reading the works of P.G. Wodehouse and watching the TV sitcom, Seinfeld.
Don't Forget-- A Few Books Recently Reviewed Here:
IRENE WEINBERGER BOOKS:
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.
#182 Troy E. Hill, Mitchell Jackson, Rita Sims Quillen, Marie Houzelle, Frederick Busch, more Dickens #181 Valerie Nieman, Yorker Keith, Eliot Parker, Ken Champion, F.R. Leavis, Charles Dickens #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 #159Tom 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. #156The 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. #148The 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 #143Little 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. #134Daniel 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. #131The 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 #129Baltasar 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 #127Olive 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 #124Cloudsplitter, 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 #115Adam 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 #108The Animal Within; The Ground Under My Feet; King of Swords #107The Absentee; Gorky Park; Little Scarlet; Howl; Health Proxy #106Castle Rackrent; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; More on Drown; Blindness & more #105Everything 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 #101My Brilliant Career, The Scarlet Letter, John Banville, Never Let Me Go #100The 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 #93Kristin Lavransdatter, House Made of Dawn, Leaving Atlanta #92Death 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 #87Wings 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 #78The 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 #74In 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 #67The Medici #66Curious Incident,Temple Grandin #65 Ingrid Hughes on Memoir #64 Boyle, Worlds of Fiction#63The Namesame #62Honorary Consul; The Idiot#61Lauren'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 #55Addie, Hottentot Venus, Ake #54 Scott Oglesby, Jane Rule #53 Nafisi,Chesnutt, LeGuin #52 Keith Maillard, Lee Maynard #51 Gregory Michie, Carter Seaton #50Atonement, Victoria Woodhull biography #49Caucasia #48Richard Price, Phillip Pullman #47 Mid- East Islamic World Reader #46Invitation to a Beheading #45The Princess of Cleves #44 Shelley Ettinger: A Few Not-so-Great Books #43 Woolf, The Terrorist Next Door #42 John Sanford#41 Isabelle Allende #40Ed 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.... #24Tales of the City #23 Nonfiction, poetry, and fiction #22 More on Why This Newsletter #21 Salinger, Sarah Waters, Next of Kin #20 Jane Lazarre #19Artemisia 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 #13Gap 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 #5Tales 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