There has recently been, as most readers know, a generally shuttering of print newspapers, particularly their book reviewing departments. Not replacing them, but cropping up like a vast field of mushrooms (some amazingly delicious and some likely to cause nausea) have been the short evaluations you find on Amazon.com and Goodreads as well as many other places. One of my reasons for writing this newsletter has been to share my own reading, in my own way, and to make a space for those of you who might want to share reviews here-- Please contribute!
Meanwhile, for myself, I continue to reread books by favorite authors. Sometimes I get lists from group reviews in places like The New York Review of Books or online aggregators like Literary Hub. I also get a lot of books to blurb, review, or evaluate for university presses; but maybe most of all I get ideas word-of-mouth from my friends and students. Some of my friends also blog. Shelley Ettinger's Read Write Red features her excellent taste in literature as well as her strong left-wing world view, and NancyKay Shapiro's Books Make a Life is a new blog, and one of the sources she recommends is Backlisted Podcast.
The book I want to talk about first here comes directly from a face-to-face conversation with Alice Robinson-Gilman, a serious and constant reader. She recommended a book called Joe by Larry Brown of Oxford, Mississippi (yes, that Oxford, MS). It is a book that she says she keeps re-reading, and that in itself made me very curious. The genre is Southern Gothic, which usually involves a lot of drinking and violence and eccentric, often down-and-out characters. An article in Publisher's Weekly a couple of years back lists what it considers the quintessential examples of Southern Gothic, and they include Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (when he was Southern not Western), Twilight by William Gay, and Faulkner's Sanctuary. Larry Brown shows up in the article, but not as one of the top ten. The genre isn't my favorite, as it has always seemed a little exploitative to me: Southern Gothic writers have a tendency to go slumming and play at poverty. I'm sure they have suffered in their lives as we all have, but they have also had for at least a while, access to a room of their own and a publisher. So I was skeptical when I started Joe, but I ended up liking it a lot. Brown's book has plenty of the requisite violence and grotesquery, but it feels earned.
The novel is mostly a study of the eponymous character Joe, although large sections follow the life of an illiterate boy named Gary from an astonishingly dysfunctional family headed by a Faulknerian Old Man named Wade Snopes-- sorry, I mean Wade Jones. About the only enormity Wade doesn't perform on his children is to have sex with them, at least not on stage in this book. But that's probably because by this time in his life he appears to have drunk himself into impotence.
Meanwhile, Joe lives a far more affluent life than the Wades. He runs a crew of tree poisoners for a lumber corporation, which then hires him to plant pine trees to replace the dead trees. He has a house, buys a fancy truck in the course of the novel, has an ample supply of whiskey and a cooler in the truck full of beer. He also has a divorced wife, children, and a grandchild. People like him, women of course, but also a local store keeper and the sheriff.
On the other hand, he is clearly on a downhill roll. He repeatedly gets in trouble with the local cops and engages in a blood feud with another local good old boy. Through the novel, Joe's deterioration gains momentum, and the events increase in violence-- Old Man Wade as well as Joe is revealed as more and more evil. There is a general blow up at the end, with a kind of self-sacrifice from Joe. This all feels believably inevitable. The hard-working but preternaturally ignorant young Gary does does appear to have a little luck, though, because Wade, though he unfortunately lives, leaves Gary. Interestingly, Brown chooses to write an epilogue about the natural world. It feels like the right way to end this-- the closest, maybe, that Brown can come to a happy ending.
Thrust , Ken Champion's latest novel, follows three men, two of whom are largely loners, with many similarities of style, but completely different world views, particularly in politics and architecture. Piero is a renowned and increasingly wealthy international architect of post modern sensibilities and a conviction that his art takes precedence over everything else. Liam dabbles in various kinds of work but is mostly a sort of modern day flâneur– a stroller, a café denizen, a walker in the city-- London, in his case. He, like Piero, is highly sensitive to buildings and light and skylines, and part of the pleasure of this novel is the observations of both men.
The third man, Jim, has fewer point-of-view sections and is a skilled bricklayer who has a relationship with the bricks he works with that is analogous to the architectural sensibilities of the other two. Jim, though, has a wife and at least one deep friendship, and is a touchstone for the novel. Champion's work always finds groundedness in people who work with their hands. Jim's work is part of what allows him a real friendship and a wife.
The other two have difficulty sustaining long relationships, although Piero has an engineering colleague who follows him around the world and Liam, slowly over the course of the novel, has a growing relationship with Mary. I think Liam's real love, though, is London, which he takes into his pores as he walks and observes, loving the evidence of the past as well as London's polyglot present.
The three stories make their way in parallel narratives that one trusts will eventually braid together, and the expectation is nicely fulfilled. Jim's Polish co-worker dies in a work accident that is partly related to post-modern architecture, if not directly to one of Piero's buildings. Piero comes finally to London where he is unexpectedly jolted out of his life of jet-setting and art by bad deeds from the past. Liam grows most: both in his developing love relationship and also in taking on some political activism in speaking out against the razing of old churches and other structures. Finally, Liam and Piero meet face to face and have a long dialogue about building and society. Characteristically of Champion, the plot climax– while certainly exciting– takes second place to the conflict about building and razing and the question of what is progress.
It is a solid novel, determined to take its proper time using its own proper materials. The writing draws you in and the threads have an inevitable satisfying tying up into a final knot that stays in your memory and imagination.
Medusa's Country is more stunning poems from Larissa Shmailo. She is endlessly surprising, riffing off other literature-- an erasure poem using lines from "The Lotus Eaters" section in Joyce's Ulysses; one called "My Vronsky" with reference to Nabokov's failure to understand Anna Karenina-- but also about a relationship destructive to the narrator. There is also a poem called "Daddy's Elusive Love" with short lines and hard-hitting rhymes like 's Sylvia Plath's famous "Daddy." Shmailo's Daddy,. though seems to have hidden his love.
I looked for it in boxers;
In the dumps of ten detoxes;
In the roll of rundown rockers;
In anal & banal boys.
There is, of course, a lot more Here, as in her previous books, we have passages of her personal story of living on the edge and in the lower depths as in the "The Trick Wants to Go to Plato's," the old Plato's Retreat sex club where single men aren't. The narrator, who is indeed in the sex business, says " I sign a document attesting that I am not a prostitute; my whore name is Nora."
These poems alternate with ones using myth and rhyming patterns and parody (See "Fragment from the Ilatease of Homey, from a Recently Discovered Mycenaean Test." The final poem of the book, the title poem, about Medusa, ends
But once a man stood like a statue
Before my cave of trees
His eyes transfixed by my serpents
That hardened, froze, and pleased.
You will never be bored by Larissa Shmailo's poetry. I don't suppose that sounds like much of a recommendation to read it, but what I want to say is that her inventiveness and wit are only matched by her searing life experiences and her observation of death.
She surprises over and over.
I thought I was going to have the curmudgeonly pleasure of saying negative things about the highly popular Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and this one, to my taste, started badly, but improved a lot. Gone Girl was a big hit when it came out in 2012. It is Flynn's third novel. Only three, too. She's been busy having a life as a journalist for Entertainment Weekly, getting married, having kids, etc.
Anyhow, I started out not believing in Nick as a man, really disliking Amy in her "diary" entries. It's efficiently written, and somewhere towards the middle when it is finally revealed that Amy is a psycho manipulator, I began to get really engaged. I went another third of the book interested in how Flynn was going to play this--interested in the plot but totally not caring about the people. I had seen at least part of the movie version and vaguely remembered some of the redneck resort part.
In the final section when Amy's voice began to come on strong, and I finally believed in Nick at least, and started to realize that is is probably a dark comedy. There are no real stakes--the main characters, who I didn't care about anyhow, were going to live (one minor character is murdered, but it's someone you feel like killing yourself).
It is a comedy in the technical sense too-- a wedding at the end, in this case the rejoining of the already-married young couple. I was pleased by Flynn's cleverness, and I think I get the book's success, but doubt I'd read anything else by Flynn.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell started as a long essay or monograph, a staff article of The New Yorker. Like many nonfiction pieces that began in this form and then became a book, it has a ton of brilliant stuff early on that makes me want to think and discuss and read more– and then peters out and repeat itself and uses weaker examples in the effort to grow book-sized.
Nor does everything ring true to me--for example Gladwell's conviction that the Broken Windows theory of crime control was the real–and he appears to argue only-- reason crime dropped in NYC. He always writes well, of course, all enthusiasm and flashes of insight, but the book doesn't have the texture that the best nonfiction does (I'm thinking of The Murder of Helen Jewett about the death of a prostitute in nineteenth century New York). Gladwell himself says of his work, "You're of necessity simplifying....If you're in the business of translating ideas in the academic realm to a general audience, you have to simplify … If my books appear to a reader to be oversimplified, then you shouldn't read them: you're not the audience!"
Hilton Obenzinger's new book of poetry, Treyf Pesach, has been praised by Paul Auster, Michael Lally, and Diane di Prima among others. It is mostly occasional pieces-- poems for a revised Haggadah, secular prayers, and psalms for the months since Mr. Trump became president. Obenzinger does his prophesying in long lines that are alternately outraged and humorous as he comments on politics and human follies over the last ten or fifteen years. Some of the poems are as up to date as "Dear Mr.. Donald Trump," one of 12 Psalms that end the book and says, "Due to a world that you cannot make into your own image/Due to shoddy real estate deals in the guts of refugees/We have to let you go/You're fired."
He typically uses everyday language in the classic American style of the New York poets and William Carlos Williams and, of course, the progenitor himself, Walt Whitman. Some of the poems have an incantatory quality and are meant to be read aloud, and indeed many have been performed. One of my favorites is a poem that was performed with a jazz ensemble that is called "Peace Comes to the World" and is full of delightful, zany imagined changes:
Politics becomes a way to meet new people and make sense of the world, a kind of dating service and Department of Public Works rolled into one.
The suicide bomber walks into the marketplace, yanks the string. Candies shoot our in all directions. He's become a suicide piñata, except he forgets to die in the explosion of sweets.
Excerpts, of course, don't do justice to this kind of poetry that builds its effect through its long sentence-lines and heaps of images. A wonderful shorter poem called "Remembering/2011" is about how easy it is to be confused by how much you wanted something to happen in history: "Didn't Al Gore refer to that speech in his own inaugural ten/ years ago? I can't quite recall." And a sweet, very long 2014 poem called "Goodbye Books" is a valediction and farewell to a long list of favorite books: "The books line up and I shake the hand of each and every /one of them."
Charming and political, ranting and rough-edged, it's a book to read it to yourself, or read aloud to serotherapies as a substitute for the religious texts you have rejected in time when you need support.
But feel free to laugh.
Answering Fire by John Wheat croft is a small book consisting of a short story and a novella, centering on the World War II experiences of a young sailor. The short story "Kamikaze," is wonderfully dark: we experience with the teen-aged protagonist some of the daily life of a big air craft carrier that is under constant threat from the Japanese suicide planes. The tension and horror of that are bad enough, but there is a possibly hallucinatory story line about another sailor, repeated described as silent, animal-like, and unintelligent, who hates their noncommissioned officer and gradually draws the protagonist into a mutual crime that is a deep look at the secret dark side of the human soul. It's an intense little piece, and a perfect mood-setter for the longer story.
"Answering Fire" is about an aging, highly civilized and thoughtful protagonist, who may be the young man from the first story fifty years later, on holiday in England with his wife. He is thrown back in memory by an encounter with another vacationer, a teacher from Japan. He begins to remember his experiences when the American naval forces, who had been told like the rest of America, that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had saved the U.S. forces from a devastating resistance if they invaded Japan. Instead, the sailors, even far away from the nuclear devastation, find flattened cities and people living in holes, trading any saved valuables for cigarettes. This is an unusual and excellent book about what even that so-called righteous war did to combatants and victors as well as to victims.
I Married a Communist by Phillip Roth is usually described as a roman à clefabout Roth's marriage to Claire Bloom, but I pretty much missed all of that, and just read it as a Roth novel. I love many of the characters, especially the ones Roth loves (one of whom is not Nathan Zuckerman the protagonist). It's hard not to feel for the spectacularly flawed "Iron Zinn," and even more the older brother, Nathan's teacher, who as a ninety year old narrates most of the story. The background is wonderfully detailed, especially the romance of communism for a brainy Jewish kid growing up in Newark, NJ at the end of the thirties and during WWII. We get a lot of the black list and McCarthyism of course, and it goes on too long in places. I like how Roth gets excited about various crafts (glove making inAmerican Pastoral, taxidermy and rock collecting here), but he probably uses more of his research than the novel requires.
I don't know if this is prime Roth, but second rate Roth is better than nine tenths of the books you read. Read and enjoy, Iron Inn and Murray the Teach and even tremulously manly Nathan Z., as they try to figure out America..
Still More Books!
Carole Rosenthal read George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo and liked it a lot. She says, "Saunders is very appealing to me, straight-eyed but deeply humane and often both moving and hilarious. One of the few white male biggies to depict working-class in a sympathetic way--although he can be and is viciously satirical. The collage he creates in Lincoln in the Bardo is very effective and an interesting way of seeing the USA--not completely dissimilar from Dos Passos many years before, but much more strange. Ghosts, or spirits anyway."
Phyllis Moore says that Lee Maynard's final novel, A Triumph of the Spirit, "proved to be another emotional high octane ride....the Jesse or Jesse-type guy gets pretty down and dirty in this new book. There are daring deeds: fights to near death, lots of women with beautiful body parts, wrecked motorcylces. It will repulse the spinsters and shock the mild-mannered. Queen Victoria would read it in secret. Just Maynard being Maynard If you are a Maynard fan, you will recognize pieces from his other books. They fit. He found a fitting way to wrap up his adventures and bid us goodbye."
READ AND LISTEN ONLINE
Joan Newburger's story "A Bad Day in the Promised Land," published in the spring 2017 issue of PersimmonTree, has been selected for a "2017 Write Well Award." The Write Well Award Anthology has just been published. The purpose of the anthology is to "recognize authors of some of the best stories on the web" and to raise funds for Silver Pen, Inc. a non-profit organization that helps writers by offering online courses, etc.
And for something completely different-- a short story by the excellent science fiction writer N.K. Jemison. It plays nicely with time by dividing into out-of-order "chapters," and gives the old style satisfaction of a surprise ending: "Henosis."
ANNOUNCEMENTS, UPCOMING BOOKS, GOOD NEWS, AND MORE.
Don't forget Blair Mountain Press--they do what Amazon.com can't, including providing signed copies, inscriptions upon request, a means of supporting your local post office, etc. etc. Their catalog will be sent on request, and their website is www.blairmtp.net.
Chany G. Rosengarten's new novel now available! "...a tale of Yerushalayim of the recent past, when families struggled to put bread on the table and children grew up before their parents’ plans for the future had a chance to unfold. In a story spanning decades and continents, a family struggles with the trials of facing the unknown and conquering their fears, as they hold on fervently to the promise of Jerusalem."
Jeff Biggers forthcoming book, The Trials of a Scold: The Incredible True Story of Writer Anne Royall. Years in the making, Trials chronicles the wild life and times of America's first female muckraker, Anne Royall, who was convicted as a "common scold" in 1829 in one of the most bizarre trials in Washington, DC. In praise of the book, Dorothy Allison calls Royall "a role model for those of us living in the age of Trump." For more info, check out the starred review in Publisher's Weekly.
More good news about Yorker Keith's The Other La Bohème: The novel about four opera singers is featured in the August 15, 2017, issue of Kirkus Review Magazine in an article called "Chasing Musical Dreams" that highlights three books whose theme is music (page 224 of the issue)
Joseph Harms has a new collection called _Bel_ coming from Expat Press .
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.
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!
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 request otherwise, your responses may be edited for length and published in this newsletter.
#193 Larry Brown, Phillip Roth, Ken Champion, Larissa Shmailo, Gillian Flynn, Jack Wheatcroft, Hilton Obenziner and more. #192 Young Adult books from Appalachia; Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse; Michael Connelly; Middlemarch; historical murders in Appalachia. #191 Oliver Sacks, N.K. Jemisin, Isabella and Ferdinand and their descendents, Depta, Highsmith, and more. #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 #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