Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Books for Readers Newsletter # 190


Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 190

April 6, 2017

When possible, read this newsletter online in its permanent location.

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In This Issue of Books for Readers:

(If there's no byline, it's by MSW)

Deborah Clearman's Concepcion and the Baby Brokers reviewed by Ed Davis

All the Light We Cannot See

Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods reviewed by Phyllis Moore

Butler's Kindred versus Whitehead's The Underground Railroad

Miss Fourth of July, Goodbye by Christopher G. Janus Reviewed by Donna Meredith

The Patron Saint of Liars

Paul the Apostle by Karen Armstrong


Dreama Frisk on Larry Brooks

Eddy Pendarvis on science fiction writers

Rita Quillen on Using Social Media when you don't live in the Literary Center

MSW on Reading her Old Science Fiction Novel and Writing a New One


Follow-Up to Previous Issues

Readers Write    

   Things to Read & Hear Online    

Announcements and News    

Irene Weinberger Books


Books for Readers # 190


New issue of The Hamilton Stone Review (no. 36, spring 2017) now online! 

Poetry by Chris Abbate, Michael Aird, Bruce Alford, Lisa Bellamy, Tony Beyer, Ace Boggess, Carrie Bond, Michelle Brooks, Richard Cecil, Natalie Crick, Norita Dittberner-Jax, William Doreski, Abigail George, Howie Good, James Grabill, Nels Hanson, Michael Hettich, Alicia Hoffman, Clara B. Jones, Sandra Kolankiewicz, Kristin LaFollette, Allie Longn Kevin J.B. O’Connor, Al Ortolani, Roger Pfingston, Daniel Pravda, Zack Rogow, Terry Savoie, Barry Seiler, D.E. Steward, Lynn Strongin, Tim Suermondt, Ben Swimm, Pepper Trail, Lisa Zimmerman; Fiction by Ellen Conley, Troy Hill, Halvard Johnson, Lynda Schor, and Jane Stark; Nonfiction by Edward Myers. 

Main Reviews

Ed Davis on Deborah Clearman's Concepcion and the Baby Brokers

Deborah Clearman's novel Todos Santos (Black Lawrence, 2010) introduced us to the titular rural Guatemalan town; her new story collection, Concepcion and the Baby Brokers (Rain Mountain Press, 2017) takes us even deeper into a culture the author understands, loves and has resided in, off and on, since 1978; plus, she has the gift of making readers appreciate it and love it, too. Her themes are rich and fascinating, dramatized by an array of colorful, tragic, funny and always interesting characters. At the forefront of the collection, Clearman ambitiously examines the sad practice of Americans adopting babies obtained illegally by Guatemalan dealers in the novella "A Cup of Tears." The story is well researched and constructed, highlighting an important, timely issue all Americans should be educated about. The plot eventually focuses on an American woman whose wrenching decision brings the story to a stunning finale.
However, compelling as "Cup" is, I found myself preferring the other stories, often dealing with racial, class and sexual issues. For example, "The Flor" is a wonderful exploration of cuckoldry, Guatemalan style. Dona Clara Luz' pastor-pharmacist husband has been cheating on her with Hilda Florencia for some time; when young Felix wrecks his bus, Dona Clara appoints herself his "physical therapist" and (hilariously) his bible teacher. As his and his siblings' caretaker, Dona Clara uses the young man's recovery as an opportunity to restore his health and her marriage in a creative act involving her own infidelity. Tragedy is averted; humor, forgiveness and acceptance reign.
Readers are under no illusions by the time they reach the last page; Clearman has truthfully shown that life is extremely hard in Guatemala's countryside as well as in its cities, with grinding poverty, unemployment, drugs and gang violence, plus the heartbreaking outflow of young people to the U.S.; however, she balances those problems (which, let's face it, exist in the U.S., too) with moving, convincing portraits of courage, compassion, faith and, above all, humor. Laughter; sensuous, sacred love; and family seem to be the holy trinity to these hardy, enduring people I come to admire. Lively, rich, meaningful and beautiful: Clearman's collection is highly recommended.
(For more thoughts on the book, see Ed Davis blog.)

Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods reviewed by Phyllis Moore

Call me eccentric, I like to read and write book reviews, especially reviews of books by authors of West Virginia. It is my passion and has been since around 1990. Each year I find it is harder and harder to keep up with what is new or what I may have overlooked in past years.
Enter the year 2017 and I find a review copy of Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia in my mailbox. Edited by Laura Long and Doug Van Gundy, it is chock full of brief pieces written by sixty-three West Virginia fiction writers and poets, many of whom are among the famous, and most of whom I know and have hung out with at some Appalachia literary event. These are my people.
Having said this let me add, I am, I hope, an honest and fair reviewer. Believe me, this work speaks for itself. Quality is the key. This anthology, from cover to cover, is unique. It opens with the poem "To My Reader" by one of the state's revered (now deceased) poet laureates, Irene McKinney. Its final line: "Remember the words, and I'll remember you." A good choice for a quote regarding a book full of some of the best writing you will find. This work has memorable words from Gail Galloway Adams, Laura Treacy Bentley Jonathan Corcoran, Andrea Fekete, Denise Giardina, Crystal Good, Rajiia Hassih, Norman Jordan, Marie Manilla, Rahul Mehta, Sheryl Monks, Matthew Neil Null, Ann Pancake, Jayne Anne Phillips, Natalie Sypolt, Glenn Taylor, Randi Ward, Meredith Sue Willis, and a host of others. Variety is the hallmark.
About half way through the anthology the story "Robbing Pillars" by Sheryl Monks had me holding my breath. It is a gripping tale about coal mining and a new-to-mining nineteen year old trainee or, as they are referred to in the trade, Red Hats. He is shadowing and learning from the experienced "White Hats" about the protocol and the dangers: high voltage lines, roof collapses, fires. My family is not a mining family but this story brings the inside of a mine right into your living room. It is the best mining story I've ever read.
The selections in the work are arranged in alphabetical order by author. This is an author-friendly and fair way to organize so many luminaries. My old friend Meredith Sue Willis has a story on page 288, "The Roy Critchfield Scandals". It is one of her humorous looks at the facets of life in a small town in West Virginia. The town in question is not sure what to make of Critchfield, a non-conservative preacher whose open manners create some differences of opinions in the town. Some would like to see him leave but one supportive woman thinks "he might have righteous instincts".
The collection closes with two poems by the up and coming poet William Woolfitt. His "Absentee" speaks of a facet of life here: Holy Rollers, Queen Anne's lace, fists, trailers, and junk cars. The state is, of course, multi-faceted. It is a place not exactly like any other place. I came away from this work amazed at how much depth and variety there is in the current crop of West Virginia's mountain of writers. All states should be so fortunate as to have a work such as this for use in schools and for readers everywhere to enjoy.

Miss Fourth of July, Goodbye by Christopher G. Janus Reviewed by Donna Meredith

Although this novel was published in 1968, its subject matter feels more relevant today than ever. The story is told in a series of fictional letters from author Christopher Janus’s real life sister Niki to her grandfather in Greece in 1917. Sixteen-year-old Niki and her family have recently arrived in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, only to find not everyone in Montgomery, WV, welcomes them.
Niki’s father is a chemist, and top-honors graduate Niki speaks a half dozen languages. Their excellent education and courteous behavior to all doesn’t prevent the KKK from throwing a rock through their window, warning them to “Stay with [their] own kind.” A fearless young woman, Niki sends a letter to local newspapers explaining why the family came to America and scolds the cowards to come forward and identify themselves. She says the family “will not be coerced.” Most residents are far kinder than the KKK, though the hate group has broad membership in the community.
Since Niki is fluent in French, she soon goes to work for the mayor as an interpreter for a French battalion that arrived in Montgomery, supposedly for rest and relaxation, but Niki suspects they are secretly working on gas warfare.
Janus does an excellent job of portraying the immigrant experience, particularly that of the mother who has difficulty learning the new language and customs, and the children, who adapt more easily to change.
The epistolary form lends itself well to the wide range of topics of interest to an intelligent, spunky teenager, including descriptions of her new hometown, love interests, WWI, Chautauqua lectures, and the Spanish flu epidemic. Yet it also limits the author to the simple sentence structure and vocabulary suitable to letters between family members. The simplicity could be seen as a bonus, allowing the novel to be enjoyed by all ages, from middle-school to adult. It would be a fantastic cross-curriculum novel in a classroom—if only it was easily available in 2017. It’s worth asking your library to get a copy.
The novel was made into a Disney movie, Goodbye, Miss 4th of July, starring Academy Award winner Lou Gossett, Jr., Emmy Award winner Roxanna Zal, Chris Sarandon and Chantal Conturi.
Janus spent the first years of his life in Montgomery, then graduated from Harvard with a degree in philosophy and did graduate work at Oxford. He died in 2009.


All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr

I finished and liked All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is a lovely, serious book with a live-or-die story line. Two widely separated children are entering adolescence during World War II, one in France, one in Germany. The book has a joyful maximalist accumulation of details of radio building and minerals and jewels and the natural world that Doerr uses extraordinarily well– he is artful and exuberant without showing off.
The boy character gets chosen for an elite Nazi school where an ugly Fascist sensibility merges with the typical horrors of boys' boarding school novels. The girl, blind from the age or six or seven, flees with her father to Saint Malo, a Medieval city on the coast of Brittany that gets flattened by Allied bombs in the final push into Europe. The young people's lives are partly tied together by chance, partly by a secret radio broadcast, and party by a fabulously valuable jewel from the museum in Paris that is being sought by a dying, crazed Nazi functionary.
It all comes together–bombing, partisan radio broadcasts, boy and girl, danger, the jewel– in a brilliant climax. If the novel has a weakness (as a novel–not as a theory of reality), it is the final forty or fifty pages that bring everyting into the 21st century. Yes, I want to know happens to some of the characters, but it is all fairly random. I appreciated the almost casual rapes of the women in Berlin by Russian soldiers–but I can barely remember the rest of the denoument. On the other hand, I don't think this guy could write a bad paragraph if he tried– still, the story was over for me sooner than the book was.

Notes on Kindred and The Underground Railroad

Octavia Butler is the best. She was in her twenties when she wrote Kindred. It was written, and is set in, a time before personal computers and smartphones--the mid nineteen seventies, but its contemporary reality is as real as 2017 and as the nineteenth century to which characters time-travel.
I made the mistake of finishing this book and then immediately starting the new Colson Whitehead novel The Underground Railroad that covers some of the same period. About twenty pages, I laid the Whitehead down for a while. His world of slave times seemed so diffuse compared to Butler's deep reality. I did go back to The Underground Railroad, and ended up liking it better than I thought I would, but I should never have read it in such close temporal proximity to Kindred. The scholarly article at the end of Kindred called the book an invented slave narrative, and that felt right to me: it had that sense of witness rather than literary making, as Whitehead's novel does. Whitehead uses slave narratives, but Butler inhabits one.
So if you don't know Kindred, I highly recommend it, but you do need to be ready to accept one piece of unreality, which is the unexplained but powerful time travel. The main character, 1970's Dana, is suddenly drawn back into 1819 and subsequent years. We don't know how this time travel happens, but we do know that it occurs whenever her white slave owning ancestor's life is threatened. The first time, he is a little boy drowning. Subsequent visits to the past involve Dana more and more in his life and in the life of her black ancestors as well. At one point, her white liberal husband comes back with her. Sometimes the time travellers stay only briefly, but other times, they stay long enough to experience slavery first hand.
All the characters are interesting– the various enslaved people in all their complexity and variety; but perhaps especially Rufe, the needy red-headed kid who grows into an increasingly weak and degenerate adult exploring the possibilities of brutality to his human chattel. It is a grim portrait of how slavery affected white people, as well as how it affected the enslaved.
It would be an ideal group read, and it is one of my favorite books of all time. I thought a bit about why it seems so natural and timeless. Butler had both youthful conviction and the fullness of her writing powers. Perhaps the painful imaginative visit to the past was so full for her as a writer that she forgot, or maybe even merged with, her material (and her readers) more than writers usually do. She certainly did lots of research, and almost certainly borrowed (as does Colson Whitehead) from books like Frederick Douglass's autobiographies and Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, but once she'd done her literary due diligence, she went extraordinarily deep into that creative place where writers find their best work.
I'm ready to read it again!


Eddy Pendarvis on science fiction writers:

"I finally got to read the February newsletter and was happy to see old friends Clifford Simak and Philip K. Dick mentioned. Your comments reminded me of a stereotype I've formed of science fiction writers--it seems like they're a pretty conservative group, sort of like engineers. Maybe I'm just overly influenced by Robert Heinlein's work. Well, I said it was a stereotype. I know there are wonderful exceptions, like you and Kim Stanley Robinson, but at least the ones from the 'golden age' of science fiction seem to over-represent the right of the political spectrum. I'm not counting fantasy writers....I don't think it those science fiction writers were conservative just because of the times. Sexist, yes, because of the times partly, but I'm talking about a more elitist attitude."

Non-Science Fiction Book Suggestions from Eddy: "I read one of Iris Murdoch's books, The Time of the Angels, which I probably wouldn't have read if a friend hadn't sent me her copy--it's been so long since I read one of Murdoch's books and I didn't remember being that crazy about it--it was probably either The Green Knight or the Severed Head. For whatever reason, however, I really was caught up by The Time of the Angels (maybe it's only because there's a lot of mention of snow (which reminds me of angels anyway--not that I believe in angels) and ballet music in it!   I followed The Time of the Angels up with The Bell, but didn't like it as much.
"Have [also] been reading Ian Rankin mysteries, but mostly for sentimental reasons--they're set in Edinburgh and my daughter and I went there last summer."

Dreama Frisk on Larry Brooks (of

Recently in the course of feedback for my novel, I began to hear about Brooks and searched out his books and his online presence. The titles of his earliest books, published by Writer's Digest, are: Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing (2011) and Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling. I checked them out and tore through them for how they might be useful to me. The one I bought: Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant (2015) was not available at my library. I did use one of Brooks' underlying theses about story telling, but it took quite a bit of effort to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The endless promotion overwhelmed me in a Facebook streaming program with Jennifer Blanchard (free). I puttered and cleaned up my desk through a lot of the chit-chat. What did I use? Now in my final revision, I used his ideas and case studies on strengthening my concept and premise.
That seemed right to me. The historical time for my novel is three months at the beginning of WWII. The title is Before We Left the Land. Now, revising chapter 6 and going forward to the final six, I try to add depth to my premise. Fearful that I might overdo, I weave in doubts about the world, especially outside West Virginia. So far, this has worked.




Paul: the Apostle We Love to Hate by Karen Armstrong.

This seemed to be an Amazon original, more of a monograph than a full-scale book. Armstrong blames St. Paul's apparent misogyny on various tendentious books about him, and those that pretended to be him (the fake Pauline letters). It follows his struggles to organize a church; and emphasizes his efforts always to work for his bread, at tent making usually; his identification with the poorer people; and also–new to me– a long imprisonment and probably failure of his enterprise in his own eyes at the end of his life. Supposedly the letters were written to be read aloud dramatically, even semi-performed!
Just for the record, the books of the Christian Bible that he really wrote, as best scholarship can tell us, were Romans, 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, Philippians, Philemon 1, and Thessalonians.

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

This was her first, back in the early nineties, and pretty good–she's generally an excellent writer, satisfactory stories and characters. This one felt like Joyce Carol Oates, but without the violence and Gothic elements--and without some of the political awareness too.
So while I liked the book, I don't suppose this counts as full-throated praise. When I laid it down, I was happy to return to reading it, and liked the closed world of the nuns and unwed mothers.  I liked Rose's mysteries and general dissatisfaction with life. These things felt like they had flamed out of Patchett's soul. Other parts felt more constructed–albeit constructed very, very well.


Coming soon: A List of Appalachian/West Virginia Coming of Age/YA novels from Phyllis Moore.

Rita Quillen on Using Social Media when you don't live in the Literary Centers

Let's talk a little bit this morning about promotion. With novels it is much easier to identify potential readers based on what your novel is about, etcetera. With my novel HIDING EZRA being based on a true story from history, it was easy to focus on people who like history or in this case were interested in military history. Poetry is much harder, of course. Nowadays, most poets have a platform of being a college or university professor in creative writing. That immediately gives them a credibility and a Launch Pad!
But when you are someone like me-- just an old woman living on a farm in the mountains--you don't have that. So I have tried to use social media such as Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to connect with real people who don't care about academic connections. I use hashtags such as farming, FarmHer, country life, etc. In place of readings at universities and libraries. I have read my poems on both public and commercial radio, and I am trying to line up another opportunity to do that. Again, it's just another way to reach out to an audience via a different channel. Anyway, trying to go over the heads of the many gatekeepers and natural obstacles is exhausting but I will persist and hope you will, too.
Social media does help me sell books, there's no question. And to the great hierarchy and bureaucracy of the writing world these days, basically, yeah, I'm an old woman living down on the farm.....

Reading My Own Book:The City Built of Starships

I've often re-read passages of my own books, but I don't think I ever sat down and read a whole book straight through, except for a light editing of A Space Apart a couple of years ago in preparation for a revised edition. This re-reading of my first science fiction novel was needed to coordinate "facts" for the sequel-prequel I'm working on. The quotation marks are because it is a world I built myself, so the "facts" are ones I made up, but want to keep as consistent as possible across the two books.
I was, in the event, appalled by how many "facts" I'd have to change, especially as I read the first chapters of Starships. Once the story got rolling, and the world was established, I could read much more comfortably, and I'm happy to say I very much enjoyed most of it. I really love the world, which I invented for myself over maybe twenty or thirty years before I actually wrote the book. I think I did a lot well.
The final section, however, though evocative,probably ended too fast. This is one of my most typical criticisms of all contemporary novels, and perhaps especially science fiction: the energy of invention seems to peter out at the end. Even my favorite Octavia Butler tends in her science fiction (like her Xenogenesis  trilogy) to pull everything together and end arbitrarily for my taste.
My favorite characters in Starships continue to be the minor ones like Brash and Corrine and Big Cook. I'm doing the Soledad book in first person, and I think I'll want a single consciousness for the third book, if I ever do it. Funny, but I was sure one character got cooked and eaten in Starships. But he doesn't. It ends with him in the front lines of the hands, ready to fight. Then the book turns to Espera and Soledad, and Soledad's past is what I wanted to write about next.
Some of the action doesn't feel to me like it has as much momentum as the best science fiction and other action books I've read. I remember working so hard on the logistics and visualizing. But given all that, I feel very proud of the book, sorry about a couple of the "facts" that I left in, so I have to rethink parts of my new book.
There were a lot of unanswered questions, and that may be why I got into writing this present book (working title Soledad of the Desert), which I think of as a sequel, even though in time it comes before The City Built of Starships.
I'd love to get people's comments if they've read The City Built of Starships. Here's a short review of it I like. It's available (cheap!) as a kindle or epub book.



See another take on Hillbilly Elegy, which was reviewed in this newsletter by Denton Loving in Issue #189 .

Books every woman should read by the age of thirty?
Joan Newburger's story "A Bad Day in the Promised Land"  online at Persimmon Tree!
Belinda Anderson is one of "50 Writers from 50 States."
A list of books by and about refugees .
Podcast: link to an interview with Ingrid Hughes, author of Losing Aaron, on the The Kathryn Zox Show. The show is also available for download from The Kathryn Zox Show podcast page in iTunes
MSW interviews Helen Wan, author of The Partner Track.
Lithub's list of 75 great American novels.
Anthony Trollope's writing discipline: how he wrote all those books. See The Practical Writer.



Writings in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election: Howl, 2016! Poems, Rants, and Essays on the Election, edited by Trish MacEnulty (Prism Light Press). Especially check out the piece by Carole Rosenthal--a strange and compelling story of being lost.
Suzanne McConnell's story "Neighbors" is going to be translated into Chinese and published in a Chinese literary magazine! Thanks to New Ohio Review's prize and publication and the internet! And thanks to Ping Xu, Associate Prof. of Modern Languages at Baruch College for choosing it and doing the work of translating.
See an excellent article online by Jane Lazarre, "Where Do They Keep the White People?"

Coming soon! The Other La Bohème, a novel by Yorker Keith, author of Remembrance of Blue Roses   (see Issue # 181). "Yorker Keith writes beautifully, and those who love music, especially fans of La Bohème, will be smitten by this story as well as those who just enjoy the opera..."
Spring Publications and Contest from Marsh Hawk Press.
Poem of the month from Barbara Crooker.
New: Marx by Fred Skolnik--an account of Marxist theory and modern capitalism.
Penner Publishing has more reprints of the novels of the late Monique Raphel High. (See our interview with Monique in issue, #185)
Don't forget The Courtship of Eva Eldrige by Diane Simmons--nonfiction about leaving the farm, women in war industry in the 1940-s, and serial bigamy!   See review in Issue # 186.

Fom Irene Weinberger Books:


I have a lot of friends and colleagues who really despise Amazon. See the recent discussion in Issue # 184, as well as older comments from Jonathan Greene and others here.
The largest unionized bookstore in America has a webstore at Powells Books. Some people prefer shopping online there to shopping at An alternative way to reach Powell's site and support the union is via Prices are the same but 10% of your purchase will go to support the union benefit fund.


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.
Still another place to buy books: Ingrid Hughes suggests "a great place for used books which sometimes turn out to be never-opened hard cover books is Biblio. I've bought many books from them, often for $4 including shipping."
If you are using an electronic reader (all kinds), don't forget free books at the Gutenberg Project—mostly classics, and free, free, free! sells e-books for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.


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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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 Some individual contributors may have other licenses.

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     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 SonsHarperCollinsOhio University PressMercury HouseWest Virginia University Press, Monteymayor PressTeachers & Writers PressHamilton Stone Editions, and others. She teaches at New York University's School of Professional Studies.



#190 Clearman, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods, Doerr, Octavia Butler, Colson Whitehead, Miss Fourth of July, Goodbye and more.
#189 J.D. Vance; Mitch Levenberg; Phillip Lopate; Barchester Towers; Judith Hoover; ; Les Liaisons Dangereuses; short science fiction reviews.
#188 Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban; The Hemingses of Monticello; Marc Harshman; Jews in the Civil War; Ken Champion; Rebecca West; Colum McCann
#187 Randi Ward, Burt Kimmelman, Llewellyn McKernan, Sir Walter Scott, Jonathan Lethem, Bill Luvaas, Phyllis Moore, Sarah Cordingley & more
#186 Diane Simmons, Walter Dean Myers, Johnny Sundstrom, Octavia Butler & more
#185 Monique Raphel High; Elizabeth Jane Howard; Phil Klay; Crystal Wilkinson
#184 More on Amazon; Laura Tillman; Anthony Trollope; Marily Yalom and the women of the French Revolution; Ernest Becker
#183 Hilton Obenzinger, Donna Meredith, Howard Sturgis, Tom Rob Smith, Daniel José Older, Elizabethe Vigée-Lebrun, Veronica Sicoe
#182 Troy E. Hill, Mitchell Jackson, Rita Sims Quillen, Marie Houzelle, Frederick Busch, more Dickens
 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 & KlonsLady Audley's Secret
#160 Carolina De Robertis, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ross King's The Judgment of Paris
#159 Tom Jones. William Luvaas, Marc Harshman, The Good Earth, Lara Santoro, American Psycho 
#158 Chinua Achebe's Man of the PeopleThe Red and the Black; McCarthy's C.Farm City; Victor Depta;Myra Shapiro
#157 Alice Boatwright, Reamy Jansen, Herta Muller, Knut Hamsun, What Maisie Knew; Wanchee Wang, Dolly Withrow.
#156 The Glass MadonnaA Revelation
#155 Buzz Bissinger; reader suggestions; Satchmo at the Waldorf
#154 Hannah Brown, Brad Abruzzi, Thomas Merton
#153 J.Anthony Lukas, Talmage Stanley's The Poco Fields, Devil Anse
#152 Marc Harshman guest editor; John Burroughs; Carol Hoenig
#151 Deborah Clearman, Steve Schrader, Paul Harding, Ken Follet, Saramago-- and more!
#150 Mitch Levenberg, Johnny Sundstrom, and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns.
#149 David Weinberger's Too Big to KnowThe ShiningThe Tiger's Wife.
#148 The MoonstoneDjibouti, Mark Perry on the Grimké family
#147 Jane Lazarre's new novel; Johnny Sundstrom; Emotional Medicine Rx; Walter Dean Myers, etc.
#146 Henry Adams AGAIN!  Also,Fun Home: a Tragicomic
#145 Henry Adams, Darnell Arnoult, Jaimy Gordon, Charlotte Brontë
#144 Carter Seaton, NancyKay Shapiro, Lady Murasaki Shikibu
#143 Little America; Guns,Germs, and Steel; The Trial
#142 Blog Fiction, Leah by Seymour Epstein, Wolf Hall, etc.
#141 Dreama Frisk on Hilary Spurling's Pearl Buck in China; Anita Desai; Cormac McCarthy
#140 Valerie Nieman's Blood Clay, Dolly Withrow
#139 My Kindle, The Prime MinisterBlood Meridian#138 Special on Publicity by Carter Seaton
#137 Michael Harris's The Chieu Hoi Saloon; Game of Thrones; James Alexander Thom's Follow the River#136 James Boyle's The Creative Commons; Paola Corso, Joanne Greenberg, Monique Raphel High, Amos Oz
#135 Reviews by Carole Rosenthal, Jeffrey Sokolow, and Wanchee Wang.
#134 Daniel Deronda, books with material on black and white relations in West Virginia
#133 Susan Carpenter, Irene Nemirovsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kanafani, Joe Sacco
#132 Karen Armstrong's A History of God; JCO's The FallsThe Eustace Diamonds again.
#131 The Help; J. McHenry Jones, Reamy Jansen, Jamie O'Neill, Michael Chabon. 
 Lynda Schor, Ed Myers, Charles Bukowski, Terry Bisson, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism 
#129 Baltasar and Blimunda; Underground Railroad; Navasky's Naming Names, small press and indie books.
#128 Jeffrey Sokolow on Histories and memoirs of the Civil Rights Movement
#127 Olive Kitteridge; Urban fiction; Shelley Ettinger on Joyce Carol Oates
#126 Jack Hussey's Ghosts of Walden, The Leopard Roger's Version, The Reluctanct Fundamentalist 
#125 Lee Maynard's The Pale Light of Sunset; Books on John Brown suggested by Jeffrey Sokolow
#124 CloudsplitterFounding Brothers, Obenzinger on Bradley's Harlem Vs. Columbia University#123 MSW's summer reading round-up; Olive Schreiner; more The Book Thief; more on the state of editing
#122 Left-wing cowboy poetry; Jewish partisans during WW2; responses to "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#121 Jane Lazarre's latestIrving Howe's Leon Trotsky; Gringolandia; "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#120 Dreama Frisk on The Book Thief; Mark Rudd; Thulani Davis's summer reading list
#119 Two Histories of the Jews; small press books for Summer
#118 Kasuo Ichiguro, Jeanette Winterson, The Carter Family!
#117 Cat Pleska on Ann Pancake; Phyllis Moore on Jayne Anne Phillips; and Dolly Withrow on publicity
#116 Ann Pancake, American Psycho, Marc Harshman on George Mackay Brown
#115 Adam Bede, Nietzsche, Johnny Sundstrom
#114 Judith Moffett, high fantasy, Jared Diamond, Lily Tuck
#113 Espionage--nonfiction and fiction: Orson Scott Card and homophobia
#112 Marc Kaminsky, Nel Noddings, Orson Scott Card, Ed Myers
#111 James Michener, Mary Lee Settle, Ardian Gill, BIll Higginson, Jeremy Osner, Carol Brodtick
#110  Nahid Rachlin, Marion Cuba on self-publishing; Thulani Davis, The Road, memoirs
#109 Books about the late nineteen-sixties: Busy Dying; Flying Close to the Sun; Looking Good; Trespassers
#108 The Animal Within; The Ground Under My Feet; King of Swords
#107 The Absentee; Gorky Park; Little Scarlet; Howl; Health Proxy #106 Castle Rackrent; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; More on DrownBlindness & more
#105 Everything is MiscellaneousThe UntouchableKettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher
#104 Responses to Shelley on Junot Diaz and more; More best books of 2007
#103 Guest Editor: Shelley Ettinger and her best books of 2007
#102 Saramago's BLINDNESS; more on NEVER LET ME GO; George Lies on Joe Gatski
#101 My Brilliant CareerThe Scarlet Letter, John Banville, Never Let Me Go
#100 The Poisonwood Bible, Pamela Erens, More Harry P.
#99   Jonathan Greene on; Molly Gilman on Dogs of Babel
#98   Guest editor Pat Arnow; more on the debate
#97   Using Thomas Hardy; Why I Write; more
#96   Lucy Calkins, issue fiction for young adults
#95   Collapse, Harry Potter, Steve Geng
#94   Alice Robinson-Gilman, Maynard on Momaday
#93   Kristin LavransdatterHouse Made of DawnLeaving Atlanta 
#92   Death of Ivan Ilych; Memoirs
#91   Richard Powers discussion
#90   William Zinsser, Memoir, Shakespeare
#89   William Styron, Ellen Willis, DuneGerminal, and much more
#88   Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo
#87   Wings of the Dove, Forever After (9/11 Teachers)
#86   Leora Skolkin-Smith, American Pastoral, and more
#85   Wobblies, Winterson, West Virginia Encyclopedia
#84   Karen Armstrong, Geraldine Brooks, Peter Taylor
#83   3-Cornered WorldDa Vinci Code 
#82   The Eustace Diamonds, Strapless, Empire Falls
#81   Philip Roth's The Plot Against America , Paola Corso
#80   Joanne Greenberg, Ed Davis, more Murdoch; Special Discussion on Memoir--Frey and J.T. Leroy
#79   Adam Sexton, Iris Murdoch, Hemingway
#78   The Hills at HomeTess of the D'Urbervilles; Jean Stafford
#77   On children's books--guest editor Carol Brodtrick
#76   Mary Lee Settle, Mary McCarthy
#75   The Makioka Sisters 
#74    In Our Hearts We Were Giants
#73    Joyce Dyer
#72    Bill Robinson WWII story
#71    Eva Kollisch on G.W. Sebald
#70    On Reading
#69    Nella Larsen, Romola
#68    P.D. James
#67    The Medici 
#66    Curious Incident,Temple Grandin 
    Ingrid Hughes on Memoir
    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 
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 
    On Libraries....
#24    Tales of the City
    Nonfiction, poetry, and fiction
#22    More on Why This Newsletter
#21    Salinger, Sarah Waters, Next of Kin
#20    Jane Lazarre
#19    Artemisia Gentileschi
#18    Ozick, Coetzee, Joanna Torrey
#17    Arthur Kinoy
#16    Mrs. Gaskell and lots of other suggestions
#15    George Dennison, Pat Barker, George Eliot
#14    Small Presses 
#13    Gap Creek, Crum
#12    Reading after 9-11
#11    Political Novels
#10    Summer Reading ideas
#9      Shelley Ettinger picks
#8      Harriette Arnow's Hunter's Horn
#7      About this newsletter
#6      Maria Edgeworth
#5      Tales of Good and EvilMoon Tiger
#4      Homer Hickam and The Chosen
#3      J.T. LeRoy and Tale of Genji
#2      Chick Lit
#1      About this newsletter

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