The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Gillian Flynn, Alice Monroe, Literary time-travel cameos, Laini Taylor’s writing tips

With Thanksgiving company arriving this weekend for our holiday festivities next week, “Book Bits” will take a brief hiatus unless there’s a really long lull in the conversation. Meanwhile, here are a few links for your weekend.

  1. News: Flynn Extends Contract with Random House, by Rachel Deahl – “Bestselling writer Gillian Flynn is staying at Random House. The author of the current hit Gone Girl has signed to do another book with Crown (her current publisher), along with a young adult novel for the house’s Delacorte Press imprint.” Publishers Weekly (Click on the photographs to see Flynn’s and Moran’s web sites.)
  2. Obituary: Prize-winning poet Jack Gilbert dead at age 87 – “Jack Gilbert, a prize-winning poet known for his clear and subtle verse, has died at age 87. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Gilbert died Tuesday in Berkeley, Calif., after suffering for years from Alzheimer’s disease ” – The Denver Post
  3. Feature: The Image of a Writer, by Randall Fuller – “Refusals [by Melville and Dickinson to supply photographs of themselves] begins Michael Kearns’s ‘Writing for the Street, Writing in the Garret: Melville, Dickinson, and Private Publication,’ a meditation on the way both authors imagined themselves as authors. Describing the conditions of authorship in the years just before and  after the Civil War, Kearns’s book might also be taken as a cautionary tale about the perils of being a writer in a nation defined and driven by the twin engines of democracy and market capitalism.” Humanities
  4. Review: “Dear Life: Stories,” by Alice Monroe, reviewed by by Alan Cheuse – “More than a dozen short-story collections since Canada’s Alice Munro published her first book, and she now seems as much an institution as any living writer. We count on her for a particular variety of short story, the sort that gives us so much life within the bounds of a single tale that it nourishes us almost as much as a novel does.” NPR
  5. Viewpoint: What NOT to Blog About, by Rachelle Gardner – “It can be easy to fall into a “letting it all hang out” mindset with blogging and social media, but from a professional standpoint, you can’t afford major missteps in your online persona.” – Books & Such
  6. Lists: The 10 Greatest Historical Literary Cameos on Time-Traveling TV Shows, by Matthew Bower – “Bibliophiles that we are, one of our favorite silly pseudo-historical plot devices is when a famous dead author is revived in fictionalized form.” Flavorwire
  7. Interview: Michelle Moran (“The Second Empress”) with By Elaine Lies – “Marie-Louise is 18 years old in 1809, the cherished daughter of the Austrian king, when she is forced to make a horrible choice – leave her nation to become Napoleon Bonaparte’s second wife, or see France attack her country. So begins “The Second Empress” by Michelle Moran, her fifth novel and the latest in a collection of tales about strong women throughout history, from ancient Egypt’s Nefertiti to Cleopatra and Madame Tussaud.” Reuters
  8. Viewpoint: Prepare for the Critics, the Nasty Ones, by Beth Hill – “No matter how well written, your books will have critics. And I don’t mean critics such as those who judge a work based on its merits or its intended promises, pointing out where it either fulfilled or failed those promises. I’m talking about nasty critics who sling mud at a book just because they can.” The Editor’s Blog
  9. Lists: 5 Writing Tips from Laini Taylor, by Laini Taylor – “Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood & Starlight (the follow-up to the equally outstanding Daughter of Smoke and Bone) is filled with dazzling writing, not to mention fantasy, suspense, and a page-turning story. Take notes, because Taylor’s sharing her 5 writing tips.” Publishers Weekly
  10. Review: “The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days,” by Ian Frazer, reviewed by John Freeman – “The cursing Mommy’s life is collapsing around her: no wonder she’s so vocal .In his new novel, Ian Frazier captures life’s comic absurdities.” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  11. Feature: Fighting to Build “Brand Bulgaria” in Literature, by Daniel Kalder – “For five years, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation has fought to raise awareness of Bulgarian writing by sponsoring prizes, seminars and publications at home and abroad.” Publishing Perspectives
  12. How To: How to Use and Asterisk, by Mignon Forgarty – “The asterisk is the little star symbol above the “8” key on your keyboard. The word comes from a Greek word meaning “little star.” In the past, asterisks were used to show the omission of a letter or a passage in time, but that role has largely been taken over by the ellipsis.” Grammar Girl
  13. Quotation: “I am reading a book that I hate right now. I hate it with a cleansing self-righteousness. I make fun of it in my head, and I feel superior in every way to its aims. And I will miss it once I get to the final page, because being in awe of a novel doesn’t really give you the same kick.” – Jessa Crispin on Bookslut
  14. Feature: Capote’s Swan Dive, by Sam Kashner – “’La Côte Basque 1965,’ the first installment of Truman Capote’s planned roman à clef, ‘Answered Prayers,’ dropped like a bomb on New York society when it appeared in Esquire’s November 1975 issue. Iced out by the friends he’d skewered—such of his ‘swans’ as Slim Keith, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Babe Paley—Capote began his slide into an early grave. Sam Kashner pursues the scandal’s mysteries, including the fate of the unfinished manuscript.” Vanity Fair
  15. Essay: Language Matters, by Michael Dirda – “As soon as I decided to write about language for this Browsings column, my sentences started to grow clumsy and fall all over one another. Nothing sounded right, and I questioned the grammar and syntax of virtually every clause. Isn’t there an old joke about how a bird couldn’t fly or a creepy-crawlie couldn’t skitter along once either started to contemplate how the flying or skittering was done” The American Scholar

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the contemporary fantasy novels “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande.” His paranormal short story “Moonlight and Ghosts” was published for Kindle and Nook in September.

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