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Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Year’s most expensive titles, ‘The Entertainer,’ Pat Bertram, Natasha Trethewey

During the fall, those of us who love to read find the Internet packed full of lists of the year’s best books and of lists for our holiday shopping. I like the holiday shopping lists better because they often include books by local and regional authors along with books in various genres that don’t appear on the radar of most book reviewers during the rest of the year.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, for example, ran an article yesterday called “”Holiday books roundup: Regional books” that includes books that are perfect for those who follow the authors, tourist destinations and history close to home. Perhaps your newspaper will also publish a list like that, reminding us that all the books worth reading do not come from big New York publishers or receive reviews in “Kirkus” or “Publishers Weekly.”

  1. News: Book gives up-close look at Graham Greene’s political writing, by David Adams – “In 1965 British author Graham Greene arrived in the Dominican Republic fresh from neighboring Haiti where he witnessed first hand the ‘unique evil’ of Haiti’s brutal dictator, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier.” Reuters
  2. Lists: Books of the year 2012: authors choose their favourites – “From a meditation on walking Britain’s ancient paths to an epic American novel, from reportage on life in a Mumbai slum to a blockbuster biography of LBJ … writers choose their books of the year” The Guardian
  3. Resource: Bloom: Welcome to Bloom — a literary site devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older.  Bloom is also a community of artists and readers who believe that “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one, and who are interested in bringing to attention a wide variety of artistic paths — challenging any narrow, prevailing ideas about the pacing and timing of creative fruition.  If someone is labeled a “late bloomer,” the question Bloom poses is, “Late” according to whom?
  4. Feature: Realizing the true potential of digital reading, by Matthew Bostock – “The world of digital reading is, of course, growing rapidly but is this growth fundamentally changing the way we read books, or is it offering us new channels to explore, discover, share and understand on an even greater scale than ever before?” The Huffington Post
  5. Interview: A Daughter Remembers Her ‘Entertainer’ Father – “If you look up the name Lyle Talbot on IMDb, you’ll find dozens of films and television shows he appeared in, starting with the 1931 short The Nightingale and ending with roles on Newhart and Who’s the Boss. He made a movie with Bogart before Bogart was a star. He worked with child star Shirley Temple, was featured in the Ed Wood cult classics Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda?, and had a recurring role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as Ozzie’s friend and neighbor Joe Randolph.” NPR
  6. Obituary: Best-selling Australian author Courtenay dies, by Rod McGuirk – “Best-selling Australian author Bryce Courtenay (“The Power of One”), whose first and final books drew on his tough early-life experiences in Africa, has died of stomach cancer. He was 79.” Associated Press
  7. Feature: The Most Expensive Books of the Season – “It’s holiday shopping time! For those of you who already gifted Fifty Shades of Grey for an earlier 2012 holiday, we have books on wine, Marilyn Monroe, and Star Wars that would make perfect stocking stuffers. One catch: they’re not cheap. Read on if you really love books.” Publishers Weekly
  8. Essay: In praise of the cliche, by Hephzibah Anderson – “At the end of the day, sometimes you’ve just got to think inside the box.” Prospect
  9. Lists: 5 Cases of Confusion Between Things and Their Names, by Mark Nichol – Do you recognize these examples!  Daily Writing Tips
  10. Factoid: More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library.  – ParaPublishing
  11. Interview: Pat Bertram (“A Spark of Heavenly Fire”) with Linda Bonney Olin – “If there is a message in my fiction, it’s that nothing is as it seems. We are not necessarily who we think we are, history did not necessarily happen the way we think it did, and what we see is not necessarily the truth.” Faith Song
  12. Viewpoint: Being Ruthless, by Theodora Goss – This post comes out of a Faulkner quotation: “The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.” Theodora Goss
  13. Recent New Title: “Unleashing Coulter’s Hell: a National Park Thriller,” by Sean Smith – “With the recent release of Skyfall, the new James Bond adventure, I’m reminded of how my love of the secret agent’s adventures and my passion for national parks led to writing a Bond-style thriller, set in Yellowstone National Park. Unleashing Colter’s Hell tells the story of a single park ranger’s race to prevent an attack that could destroy the United States.” Park Advocate
  14. Commentary: I’m Done, by Michael Dirda – “When Philip Roth recently announced his retirement from writing fiction, I was surprised and impressed. After all, one of the great artistic rules, less often observed than it should be, is knowing when to stop.” The American Scholar
  15. Viewpoint: The hows and whys of writing poetry, by William Wootten – The denizens of writing workshops speak of readers and poets as “a mutually respectful community.” Nonsense. They confuse poetry with social work. Times Literary Supplement
  16. News: China: Dissident Poet Jailed for 12 Years – “The poet, Li Bifeng, who was formerly imprisoned for five years for his involvement in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, was sentenced in Sichuan Province, said his lawyer, Zhao Jianwei.”  The New York Times
  17. Interview: Natasha Trethewey with Emily Wagster Pettus – “The librarian of Congress, James Billington, named Trethewey as the nation’s 19th poet laureate in June, and she began the one-year position in September. She has already given speeches and public readings in Washington, D.C., and in two states where she grew up, Mississippi and Georgia.” Huffington Post
  18. Feature: Arrests over Facebook comments fan debate in India, by Sumit Galhotra – “The arrest of two women in India this week because of posting and “liking” an opinion on Facebook has further inflamed debate over the right to freedom of expression in the world’s largest democracy.” Committee to Protect Journalists
  19. Lists: 10 of the Most Gloriously Frustrating Endings in Literature, by Tom Hawking – “There’s been an interesting back-and-forth happening in the books section of the Guardian‘s website this week, catalysed by the publication of a kinda vapid blog post about how ‘narratives that finish without resolving their plots… are unending torture for readers.’ If that premise annoys you, you’re not the only one, and sure enough, yesterday the paper published another post rebutting the initial argument.” Flavorwire

“Book Bits” is compiled by contemporary fantasy author Malcolm R. Campbell


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4 thoughts on “Book Bits: Year’s most expensive titles, ‘The Entertainer,’ Pat Bertram, Natasha Trethewey

  1. Wow! I made your list! I am honored to be listed among such illustrious folk. Thank you!

  2. I made the list too! Thanks for the shout out for Unleashing Colter’s Hell.

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