The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits for November 12: Amazon again, Roth’s retirement, ‘Sweet Tooth’ and ‘In Sunlight and In Shadow’

As we celebrate Veterans Day, it’s appropriate for me to mention that among my earliest heroes were the reporters who covered World War II. Some of their best war reporting often made its way into anthologies and commentaries about the war, many of which were on my father’s book journalism book shelves. Their work impacted the way the public would come to view the war; many of them continued to impact how print and (later) how television news was reported. One of these men was Associated Press bureau chief Edward Kennedy.

On May 7, 1945, he broke the story about Germany’s surrender before the military said he could release it, creating a controversy about news embargoes and censorship. On May of this year, his personal account, “Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press,” was released by the Louisiana State University Press. Now, as noted in Item 11, some journalists believe Kennedy deserves a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

Here are your readers’ and writers’ links for Monday, November 12, 2012:

  1. News: A publishing mystery: Amazon ‘buy’ button disappears, by Husna Haq – “Was the temporary disappearance of Amazon’s ‘buy’ button from books of major US publishers a mere techno glitch – or a kind of threat?” The Christian Science Monitor
  2. Feature: Read 15 Literary Figures’ Responses to Philip Roth’s Retirement, by Emily Temple – “As might be expected, the literary world has been reacting on Twitter since the news emerged, with responses ranging from dismay to relief to pithy comments (aren’t pithy comments always the response, though?). After the jump, we’ve collected a few of the Twitter responses to Roth’s retirement from writers and literary critics — check them out, and let us know your own reaction in the comments.” Flavorwire
  3. Interview: Susannah Cahalan (“Brain on Fire”) with Alden Mudge in “A Million-Dollar Medical Mystery” – “At the age of 24, Cahalan, a reporter for the New York Post, began feeling less and less herself, then had a seizure, and then ended up in the hospital for a month, out of her mind for most of that time, while a small army of doctors and medical researchers tried to figure out what was wrong with her.” BookPage
  4. Lists: 8 Rules You’ll Need to Become An Editor’s Go-To Writer, by Thomas Ford – “Whatever stage of development your blog is in, it’s useful to consider the elements that characterize a good blog writer. Perhaps you’ve recently begun accepting guest posts. What are the criteria that inspire you to publish or make the call to reject a post?” ProBlogger
  5. Viewpoint: Hiding in the Writing Closet: Good or Bad? by Jody Hedlund – “I was a “closet writer” for most of my adult life. I spent years crafting books, but I never told anyone about my writing pursuits other than my family. They knew of my secret life and the hours I spent on my lap top making up stories, but that’s as far as it went.” Jody Hedlund
  6. Interview: Ian McEwan (“Sweet Tooth”) with Scott Simon – “You could say that all novels are spy novels and all novelists are spy masters. Novelists have to be adept at controlling the flow of information, and, most crucially, they have to be in charge of the narrative.” NPR
  7. How To: Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal, by Jane Friedman – “A book proposal argues why your book (idea) is a salable, marketable product. It is essentially a business case or a business plan for your book.” Jane Friedman
  8. Quotation:  In response to the often-asked question, I’m almost done writing my book. How do I publish by Christmas? Hope Clark’s response is: “I want to sit down and have coffee with this person, take his hand, and tell him to quit thinking about publishing. When I tell people to focus more on writing, some get disgruntled with me. “Easy for you to say, you’re published.” I get impatient, too, but try to get rid of the anxiousness to publish. It hurts your work. Edit and edit and edit to the point of fanatical. No, you cannot over edit. Not in this day and age. Not when 99.9 percent of the writers do not edit enough.”
  9. Review: “In Sunlight and In Shadow,” by Mark Helprin, reviewed by Malcolm R. Campbell – “Mark Helprin recalls post World War II New York City throughout In Sunlight and in Shadow with the accuracy and atmosphere of A Winter’s Tale (1983) and his protagonist’s combat experiences with the chilling combat detail of A Soldier of the Great War (1991).” Literary Aficionado
  10. Obituary: Valerie Eliot, widow of TS Eliot, dies at 86 – “The widow and literary executor of the Nobel laureate has died after a short illness” The Guardian
  11. News: Journalists Campaign to Award Posthumous Pulitzer to Edward Kennedy, by Nu Yang – “A group of nearly 40 journalists have rallied together to start a campaign to award a posthumous Pulitzer Prize to Edward Kennedy, the reporter who first broke the news of Germany’s surrender in World War II.” Editor and Publisher
  12. Feature: Why You Should Write By Hand, by Jason Boog – “Some writers have discovered that writing your manuscript by hand can produce better results than simply typing your novel.” GalleyCat
  13. Review: “The Liberator,” by Alex Kershaw, reviewed by Matthew Toffany – “Historical reportage at its finest, “The Liberator” covers a vast swath of the war, mostly from the wide-ranging perspective of one soldier.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  14. Essay: Can paper survive the digital age? by Ian Sansom – “Civilisation is built on paper. Paper money has made our economies. Paper maps divided our land. Paper laws propped up our governments, and paper books helped shape our minds. Despite the obvious encroachments of the digital, we all still use so much paper to note, to register, to measure, to account for, to classify, authorise, endorse and generally to tot up, gee up and make good our lives that it would be a Joycean undertaking to provide a full history of all the paper in just one life on one day, never mind in one city on one day, or in the life of one nation.” The Guardian
  15. News: Books-A-Million Unveils Expanded Children’s Department – “Books-A-Million, which has consistently reported solid performances in its children’s area, is unveiling a new 8,000 sq. ft. Kids-A-Million department in its flagship store in Birmingham, Ala. on Saturday, November 10. ” Publishers Weekly
  16. Viewpoint: Why Random and Penguin Must Merge—And When They Almost Did, by Gayle Feldman – “Sixty years ago the founders of Penguin and Random House contemplated a merger, but now their successors are going forward with one. There’s no other choice against the might of Amazon and the huge changes of digital publishing writes Gayle Feldman. ” The Daily Beast
  17. Review: “Eight Girls Taking Pictures,” by Whitney Otto, reviewed by Betty Rhule – “Otto’s photographers navigate work and home life, parenthood and romantic love amid events spanning the 20th century. Some of the women are more memorable than others, but all of their stories are thoughtful, nuanced depictions of the complexity of women’s lives, then and now.” USA Today
  18. Essay: The Precarious State of the Literary Interview, by Sarah Fay – “According to some, literary interviews—which were once the apotheosis of the form—have become platitudinal and monotonous. In 2006, Pico Iyer attributed the decline of the literary interview to an overreliance on sound bites about authors plucked from search engines like Google and recommended that interviewers actually read an author’s work.” The Atlantic
  19. News: Library of Congress to Host First International Summit of the Book – “The Library of Congress on December 6 and 7 will host the first International Summit of the Book, a gathering of leaders in academia, libraries, culture and technology to debate and discuss the powerful and crucial form of information transmittal: the book.” Library of  Congress

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy and satire novels from Vanilla Heart Publishing of Washington State.

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