Book Bits: Ryan Anderson, Haim Gouri, ‘Jefferon’s Daughters,’ Film Noir, Anca Szilágyi

I once asked my ophthalmologist if he felt blurry. “No,” he said. “Darn,” I said, “it must be my eyes.” Well now things are getting blurry again and that means that on Valentine’s Day, I have to go back to the outpatient surgical center for a laser procedure to make the world clear again. Meanwhile, I just bought stronger glasses because I’m not going without books. For those of you who feel the same way about your reading, here are a few links:

  1. News: Ryan Anderson’s book on transgender people is creating an uproar, by Ariana Eunjung Cha – “Ryan T. Anderson’s new book isn’t even out yet, but it has already hit Amazon bestseller lists.” Washington Post
  2. New Title: Tree Story and Other Poems by Douglas G. Campbell. Melanie Springer Mock writes, “Tree Story and Other Poems challenges us to see through a different lens, one that clarifies and sharpens the natural world, and that places humans as supporting actors in the grand drama nature gives us. It beautifully traces the centuries-old life of a Douglas Fir, the tree itself narrating an epic journey with the action occurring at the tree’s roots and around its trunk.”  Oblique Voices Press
  3. Feature:What’s the future of books? by Agatha French – “We ask a psychic at Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice to tell us straight, by – “As a books reporter in the Digital Age, I’m often asked: What’s the future of books? Although I can honestly say that I believe books are as vital and significant now as they ever have been, the truth is that I can’t predict the future.” Los Angeles Times
  4. Gouri – Wikipedia photo

    Obituary: Haim Gouri, Poetic Voice of a Rising Israel, Is Dead at 94, by Isabel Kershner – “Haim Gouri wrote of the terrible sacrifice of war, and of memory and camaraderie. A celebrated and often critical voice of Israel’s founding generation and its conscience, he also wrote of the wrenching inner dilemmas, complexities and contradictions of the Zionist enterprise that tormented him.” The New York Times

  5. Quotation: ““Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” – Patti Smith
  6. ReviewJefferson’s Daughters’ tells the story of three of Thomas Jefferson’s daughters – white and black, by Barbara Spindel – “Like all great histories do, Jefferson’s Daughters brings its period vividly to life, a credit to Kerrison’s exhaustive research, her passion for her subject, and her elegant writing. It is unfortunate that so much remains a mystery.” Christian Science Monitor
  7. Film:  Darkly Beautiful Film Noir-Inspired Paintings; Femme fatales and hardboiled detectives get the fine-art treatment, by Allison Nastasi – “If you have an affection for shadowy film fiends and femme fatales, let us introduce you to the work of artist Gina Higgins. The figure painter’s most popular series, called American-Noir, pays homage to the film noir genre. We first spotted the artist’s work on Instagram and Ego – AlterEgo.” Flavorwire
  8. Dialogue: Elastic Realism and Political Fiction; or, A Conversation Between Anca Szilágyi and Susan DeFreitas, by Anca Szilágyi and Susan DeFreitas – “While our novels are very different in style and setting, we’re both writers who grapple with how to engage with current events and past atrocities in fiction, and we both blend realism with fantasy. In anticipation of our “in conversation” event at Powell’s on February 19, 2018, Anca and I have been corresponding via email about writing political fiction in these fraught times.” – Powell’s
  9. Feature: I Spent 24 Hours Reading Last Weekend and I Didn’t Lose My Mind – Actually, I kind of found it, by Jamie Green -“I didn’t come up with this stunt on my own. It’s called 24 in 48, which is really straightforward — you read for 24 hours within 48 hours, from 12:01am Saturday to 11:59pm Sunday. I’d seen the hashtag flitting around Twitter, intermittently, for years. (It took me an oddly long time to figure out what it meant.) This year was the first time that I heard about the scheduled weekend far enough in advance. I blocked it out on my calendar, a two-day event: READATHON.” Electric Lit
  10. Event: Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere, will be the official Author Ambassador for Independent Bookstore Day 2018. Scheduled for Saturday, April 28, the fourth annual Indie Bookstore Day will be celebrated by more than 490 independent bookstores around the country. – Shelf Awareness

“Book Bits” is compiled randomly by author Malcolm R. Campbell. Disclaimer: Douglas G. Campbell is my brother.

Malcolm

 

Book Bits: Workplace abuse, In memoriam, literary forums,’Wrinkle in Time’ movie, stolen books

It’s getting more and more difficult to talk about books, publishing, and authors without straying into political issues that often have a very polarized reader-base.  Some people believe CNN 100%, while others believe FOX 100%. I’ve more or less stopped posting anything political on my Facebook page because it always ends up with people shouting at each other. Sexual harassment is one of those issues. I mention this here because Publishers Weekly ran into a few snags with a recent article about sexual harassment in our business (Item 1). Maybe they’ll get it sorted out this time.

  1. IssuesLetter from the Editors: Covering Sexual Abuse in the Book Business, By Jim Milliot, Rachel Deahl, and John Maher – “The difficult nature of covering the subject hit home on December 5, when we ran a story announcing the resignation of Giuseppe Castellano, executive art director of Penguin Workshop, following claims of sexual harassment by actress and comedian Charlyne Yi. The article we published was intended to be a balanced account based on verifiable facts. Not everyone agreed that it was. Some readers expressed frustration that we put too much emphasis on Castellano’s account over Yi’s.” Publishers Weekly
  2.  News: Notable Literary Deaths in 2017, by Emily Temple – “This has not been the best year. In addition to, well everything, we lost a number of literary luminaries in 2017: beloved novelists, champions of the written word, legendary editors, and genre-defining journalists.”  Literary Hub
  3. One of the new forums focusing on book and writers.

    News: The Tale of Two Literary Forums, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “If you were out on the Internet in the 1980s, you probably remember that CompuServe was a major ISP, providing e-mail and forums for millions of users. In those days, almost every hi-tech company, whether hardware or software, had a forum staffed in part by representatives of the company to help people with bugs, usage issues, and other information. In addition to these forums, CompuServe also maintained forums for pets, religion, political discussions, hobbies, and literature.” Malcolm’s Round Table

  4. Film: Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Why it took 54 years to turn A Wrinkle in Time into a movie, By Eliza Berman – “A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel of the same name, will come out on March 9, 2018. The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry, a gangly adolescent who travels across dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Meg is guided by a trio of guardian angels collectively called “the Mrs.” The book, and the movie, is about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems only to proliferate. It also makes the case for thinking independently when conformity is the norm.” Time Magazine
  5. Quotation: “When I see a store, I MUST GO IN. I’m a sucker for books, but indie bookstores take that up a few levels because they’ll curate for me. I go in saying I want to learn about some obscure topic and they won’t look at me as if I’m from Mars! Instead it’s almost as if I see my own curiosity reflected back at me, and they share it instantly. I’ve had that same experience happen in multiple cities, so I think it’s common to independent bookstore owners and I love them for it.” – Author Jessee Mecham Shelf Awareness
  6. Review: THE ICE HOUSE – Home is a long way from here, by Laura Lee Smith, reviewed by Thane Tierney – “The Scots didn’t invent stubbornness, but they perfected it, raised it to a high art where irresistible force and immovable object are sometimes locked like two neutron stars in a perilous dance. So it is with American immigrant Johnny MacKinnon and his Scottish son, Corran, in Laura Lee Smith’s second novel, ‘The Ice House.'” Book Page
  7. Lists: The Ultimate Best Books of 2017 List, by Emily Temple – “It’s the end of the year, and everybody has an opinion. And of course, where there’s an opinion, there’s a listicle. The river of Best of 2017 lists can be exhausting this time of year, so as a public service, and because my math skills are always in need of a little exercise, I’ve created a streamlined master list of the books that the most people loved this year.” Literary Hub
  8. News: Cat Person author’s debut book sparks flurry of international publishing deals, by Alison Flood – “Following her viral short story hit, Kristen Roupenian’s You Know You Want This has been sold to Cape in the UK, with the US auction said to be topping $1m.” The Guardian
  9. ReviewLITTLE LEADERS: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison ; illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Age Range: 6 – 12) – “Visual artist Harrison introduces 40 trailblazing black women from United States history in this inspiring volume for young readers…Perfect for exploring together at bedtime or for children to browse independently, a gorgeous invitation for children of all backgrounds, and especially for black girls, to learn about black women who were pioneers.” Kirkus Reviews
  10. News: Indie Bookstores Tell Us About Their Most Stolen Books – Which volumes walk out the door most often, and why? by Jo Lou – “Independent bookstores are magical, endangered places. Stealing from these small, often struggling establishments is a mortal sin and the Book Gods will smite you. If you must kidnap books (which you shouldn’t, because libraries exist) then steal from big box stores instead.” Electic Lit

Book Bits is compiled randomly by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of paranormal, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism novels and short stories.

Linking Book Editions on Amazon’s Author Central

In case you’re not aware, Amazon’s Author Central is a FREE service. If you missed our very first tutorial on setting it up, see that HERE. If you haven’t already, read it. Do it. Then come right back here and I’ll show you how to merge your books. I heard that grumble. Yes, you need to merge your books. Here’s why.

via How to Link Book Editions on Amazon’s Author Central ‹ Indies Unlimited ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

Here’s a handy tip for using Author’s Central. If you’re an author and don’t have an Amazon author’s page, you’re missing a free opportunity for publicity. The page displays when a prospective reader clicks on your name on any of your book’s listings. The page not only shows readers all your books, but bio information and your latest blog post.

Naturally, as K. S. Brooks suggests, if you have multiple editions of a book, it helps to link them together on the page.

–Malcolm

A smattering of writing news

  • I’m slowly working on a new novel called Lena as a sequel to Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. For reasons that might become apparent once it’s published, you’ll see why I’m moving so slowly on it. It begins like this: “So, Eulalie sang ‘Lady Luck Blues’ as she drove the 1949 clover green Studebaker pickup truck down that southbound road while creeks, wiregrass, longleaf pines, and sunny autumn afternoon savannahs slow-drag danced past the open windows and South Wind’s children teased her hair into sweet disorder. She was happy and heading for Willie Tate down in Carrabelle.” Unfortunately for Eulalie, the happiness isn’t going to last.
  • I rely on a lot of books and websites for source material about conjure. Unfortunately, Spiritual Information–featuring Voodoo Queen–will no longer have new posts. The author, who is older than I am, has become too ill  to continue, and wants to retire after she finishes healing. The good news is that her blog will remain online as a reference. There’s a handy index of topics on the left side of the screen. A quick glance at this list will show you how wonderful this blog has been for those who want to learn more about the oldest hoodoo traditions from days gone by.
  • My publisher Thomas-Jacob will be featuring Eulalie and Washerwoman, Redeeming Grace (Smoky Zeidel), A Shallow River of Mercy (Robert Hays) and The History of my Body (Sharon Heath) in Amazon promotions during December. Keep an eye on Amazon for some wonderful books and opportunities.  While Robert Hays’new book will be released on December first, it’s already available for pre-order.
  • I appreciate the support of those of you who also followed my other blog “The Sun Singer’s Travels.” In trying to simplify (whatever that means), I’ve closed that blog. It was my oldest, having started on Blogger many years ago, subsequently moving here to WordPress. I’ll try to keep you up to date on this blog as well as my website.
  • This has nothing to do with writing, but my friend and Thomas-Jacob colleague Smoky Zeidel, who lives in a southern California desert community, has been posting glorious pictures of her vegetable garden on Facebook. I’m jealous. My tomatoes, banana peppers and jalapenos finally bit the dust with our cooler temperatures. I still have some hardy oregano and parsley. If you’re taking notes, the oregano and parsley won’t be on the test.

–Malcolm

a few of my favorite Kazuo Ishiguro quotes

According to the Nobel Prizes website, the selection committee commended Ishiguro as an author “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”

Wikipedia photo

In his Nobel interview, Ishiguro said, “No, I don’t think it will sink in for a long time. I mean, it’s a ridiculously prestigious honour, in as far as these kinds of things go. I don’t think you would have a more prestigious prize than the Nobel Prize. And comments I would make, I mean, one is, a lot of that prestige must come from the fact that the Swedish Academy has successfully, I think, kept above the fray of partisan politics and so on. And I think it’s remained one of the few things that’s respected, whose integrity is respected by many people around the world, and so I think a lot of the sense of honour of receiving the Prize comes from the actual status of the Swedish Academy. And I think that’s a great achievement unto itself, over all these years the Swedish Academy has managed to retain that high ground, in all the different walks of life that it honours. And then the other reason it’s a terrific honour for me is because … you know I come in a line of lots of my greatest heroes, absolutely great authors. The greatest authors in history have received this Prize, and I have to say, you know, it’s great to come one year after Bob Dylan who was my hero since the age of 13. He’s probably my biggest hero.”

Some of my favorite quotes from Ishiguro’s work

“I have this feeling that all it will take will be one moment, even a tiny moment, provided it’s the correct one. Like a cord suddenly snapping and a thick curtain dropping to the floor to reveal a whole new world, a world full of sunlight and warmth.” – The Unconsoled

Wikipedia photo

“What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.” – The Remains of the Day

“That was the only time, as I stood there, looking at that strange rubbish, feeling the wind coming across those empty fields, that I started to imagine just a little fantasy thing, because this was Norfolk after all, and it was only a couple of weeks since I’d lost him. I was thinking about the rubbish, the flapping plastic in the branches, the shore-line of odd stuff caught along the fencing, and I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field, and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call. The fantasy never got beyond that –I didn’t let it– and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.” – Never Let Me Go

“The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.” – The Remains of the Day

“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.” – The Remains of the Day

Wikipedia photo

“Perhaps there are those who are able to go about their lives unfettered by such concerns. But for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans, chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents. There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end, as best we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm.” – When We Were Orphans

“When you are young, there are many things which appear dull and lifeless. But as you get older, you will find these are the very things that are most important to you.” – An Artist of the Floating World

“But God will know the slow tread of an old couple’s love for each other, and understand how black shadows make part of its whole.” – The Buried Giant

“If I’m alone at home, I get increasingly restless, bothered by the idea that I’m missing some crucial encounter out there somewhere. But if I’m left by myself in someone else’s place, I often find myself a nice sense of peace engulfing me. I love sinking into an unfamiliar sofa with whatever book happens to be lying nearby.” – Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Malcolm

Writers, who’s your fashion icon?

Flavorwire has a regular feature called “Sweetest Debut” in which they interview emerging authors to “find out about their pop culture diets, their writing habits, and their fan-fiction fantasies.”

On February 15, they featured Teresa Messineo (“The Fire By Night”), on February 14, the column’s author, Sarah Seltzer, talked to Ethel Rohan (“The Weight of Him”), and on February 9, the focus was Kathleen Kent (“The Dime”).  The interviews begin with the question: What is your elevator pitch to folks in the industry describing your book?

fashionOkay, fair enough, “elevator pitch” is today’s jargon for a short, logline kind of statement that quickly explains a novel without getting boring. The point is, you’re in an elevator and have just moments to speak. If the whole “elevator pitch” thing has value, it teaches authors to get to the point, whether they’re trying to sway an editor, movie producer, or a reader.

I’ll stipulate that Flavorwire is a pop culture magazine. The column is, no doubt, supposed to make writers human, to dredge up fun facts about them that everyday folks (e.g., non writers) will find absolutely fascinating. That said, I stumbled when I saw that the column’s guests were being asked to name their fashion icon as well as the name of the TV show they “binge watch” when they’re not writing.

Since these are emerging authors, they’re a lot closer to being everyday folks than, say, the Hollywood celebrities who try to pretend like they’re regular people even though they own two or three houses with a combined value of $50 million. After all, most debut authors haven’t had a chance to get filthy rich and start acting, well, uppity.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m not really drawn to an author who has a fashion icon. I don’t even like the term “binge watching,” because it sounds like a slovenly thing to do. Worse yet, since the authors being interviewed are younger than I am, they’re listening to music and watching television shows I’ve never heard of. One of them did say The Great Gatsby is overrated, and so I crossed her off my list immediately, though I was pleased she mentioned a book that wasn’t about the rise and fall of the little black dress.

I don’t know how long “The Sweetest Debut” has been running because, the columns I saw didn’t interest me enough to drag me back to past months. I did hope to see a man interviewed to find out if he would get a different set of questions, I dunno, something stereo-typically masculine like “What fashion model do you wish you were having sex with?” or “Who’s the most famous NFL quarterback you beat up back in a high school PE class?”

I’m not saying the column is asking “women’s questions,” but I’m suspicious.

Could be, I’m just out of touch. If they interview me (fat chance), I’ll tell them my fashion icon is Levi Strauss and that I binge watch old episodes of “Walker Texas Ranger.” Actually, I watch Masterpiece Theater, but I have a feeling that answer might get edited out for lack of, well, popular flavor.

As for fan-fiction fantasies, Flavorwire, you’ve got to be kidding.

–Malcolm

 

 

Isaac Mizrahi on a Love of Old Things, and Surviving the Nightmare of the Present 

“When I look back at my life, I think about what a wonderful, happy, satisfying life I’ve had. It’s so funny. It’s like living through things is a nightmare. The present of things is a nightmare—the not being gratified by things in the moment is a nightmare. But then when you look back at the decades of your life, like in your twenties, or your thirties, or your forties, you go, “Wow, it was so great living through that and gosh I got so much out of that, and gosh this and gosh that.” And yet living through it is never as satisfying.”

Source: Isaac Mizrahi on a Love of Old Things, and Surviving the Nightmare of the Present | Literary Hub

I have often felt this way. At the time, life was just life. Fortune was always slinging it’s outrageous arrows. Guardian angels were slinging miracles like hash house oatmeal. Yet later, all these “gosh this” things turn into our stories and our inflated tall tales and remember whens.

Some people tell these stories to their children and whoever else risks visiting them on the front porch or the nursing home. Some people put put their stories into memoirs that read like (and probably are) fiction. And some people put their stories into fiction that read like (and just might be) a bit of truth wearing a mask to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Click on the link for a few minutes of potent thought that will–depending on your age and current state of mind–remain with you only as long as you’re reading the article or for the rest of your life. (though you may not know that until later).

–Malcolm

Incidentally, if you live in the U.S. and hang out on the GoodReads site, you have a chance to win a paperback copy of my new novel Eulalie and Washerwoman in a November 6-14 give-away,