The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Burns manuscripts discovered, Joshua Foer, ‘Pure,’ Melanie Benjamin, Would you like books with that?

BookBitsAccording to an article in The Telegraph, researchers believe that reading the works of Shakespeare, Wordsworth and other classics is better therapy than self-help books. Authors have always suspected that their best work ramps up their readers’ brain activity and, as the article notes, self-reflection. Now science says yes.

Here are your writing links to begin the week of January 20, 2013:

  1. News: Lost Robert Burns manuscripts discovered, by Alison Flood – “Original versions of two poems, as well as letter from poet’s beloved ‘Clarinda'”  The Guardian
  2. News: Sundance: ‘Spectacular Now’ Director Boards YA Novel ‘Pure’ for Fox 2000 – “James Ponsoldt, the helmer behind the upcoming Shailene Woodley vehicle, will write and direct the adaptation of Julianna Baggott’s popular book” Hollywood Reporter
  3. foerInterview: Joshua Foer: How I Write, with Noah Charney – “I have a woodshop in my garage. If I’ve made good progress in the morning, I’ll reward myself by going out back to spend an hour making sawdust, before returning to work for the afternoon. Woodworking requires a completely different kind of thinking and problem-solving ability than writing. With writing, you take a set of facts and ideas, and you reason your way forward to a story that pulls them together. With woodworking, you start with an end product in mind, and reason your way backward to the raw wood. ” The Daily Beast
  4. Viewpoint: Bad Writing Advice From Famous Authors, by Emily Temple – “Aspiring writers will never tire of reading lists of writing advice from famous authors, whether legendary or living. And why should they? These lists, the most recent of which to bubble up in our collective consciousness being advice from W.G. Sebald, contain countless encouragements, tips, and (in almost every case) directives to get to it and stop fooling about.”  Flavorwire
  5. Obituary: John Powers, author who wrote about growing up Catholic, dies – “John Powers, a U.S. author and motivational speaker who wrote about his experiences growing up Catholic in Chicago including the novel “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” has died, his family said on Thursday.” Reuters
  6. artofbetrayalcoverReview: “The Art of Betrayal: The Secret History of MI6,” by Jordon Corea – “For an organization that’s supposed to be “secret,” the British Secret Service, MI6, is awfully famous. MI6 agents turned novelists include Ian Fleming, Graham Greene and John LeCarre, and their books — together with the film franchise starring Fleming’s James Bond — have made the intelligence organization a global brand.” NPR
  7. Essay: Demons Where Once There Were None, by Jessica Love – “Salman Rushdie wrote in Midnight’s Children that memory “selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.” To this I would add that what one believes to be her own version may be someone else’s. What can people be persuaded, knowingly or not, to believe?” The American Scholar
  8. How To: The tedious (but necessary) part of editing, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “When I read an author’s work for the first time, I quickly discover his or her habits, pet phrases, favorite sentence structures, and unique approaches to dialogue or description. I also see whether or not s/he has taken a word, phrase or mannerism that was magical the first time it appeared and then reduced its impact by using it excessively throughout the rest of the novel.” Malcolm’s Round TableMuriel
  9. killanythingReview: “Kill Anything that Moves,” by Nick Turse, reviewed by Steve Weinberg – “Nick Turse reveals his grim finding that the notorious slaughter at My Lai was not an isolated incident” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  10. How To: 3  Ways to Compress Your Story Like Les Misérables – “Like much of America, in the days after Christmas my family and I went to see Les Misérables. If you’ve been alive in the last month you’ve heard some of the reactions to it, and ours, I’m sure, were nothing new. We were all very moved, it had been a long time since I left the theater feeling like that. That is the amazing thing about stories. You can take a 1,200 page novel, compress it down to a three hour musical, and it’s still powerful. ” Writer Unboxed
  11. News: The Free Book Incident: Nothing to Buy, Nothing to Return – “The Free Book Incident (FBI), a month-long experiment & celebration of books & community. – “Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers and Olson Kundig Architects have partnered to create a unique environment to celebrate the power of books and investigate what can happen when they are available for free. FBI is inspired in part by The Book Thing of Baltimore, an ongoing free book exchange whose ‘mission is to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them.'” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  12. melanieInterview: Melanie Benjamin (“The Aviator’s Wife”) with Bronwyn Miller – “Melanie talks about the neglected women of history, the artistic battle between truth and fiction, and the difficult task of searching out the secret heart of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.” Book Reporter
  13. News: McDonald’s to offer £1 deal on 15m books, by Charlotte Williams – “McDonald’s has launched a two-year children’s books campaign, committing to “hand out more than 15 million books by the end of 2014” through a £1 book offer on its Happy Meal boxes.” The Bookseller
  14. Feature: Better Boundaries, With Muriel Spark, by Maud Newton – “Though I am no longer by any metric young, this year I’ve taken to heart a lot of Choire’s advice to young people on the subject of “operators, divas, drama queens, vampires, bitter underminers and soulless careerists.” To those categories one of my other favorite advice-givers, Nancy Hawkins, would propose an addition, or at least a subset: the pisseur de copie.” The Awl
  15. suspectReview: “Suspect,” by Robert Crais, reviewed by Bill Ott – “The most multifaceted and appealing new protagonist in crime fiction this year just may turn out to be a dog—and a hard-boiled dog, to boot. Maggie is a German shepherd trying out for the LAPD’s K-9 unit, but it looks like she isn’t going to make it. ” Booklist
  16. Essay: Don’t Get Frosted, Wear Sunglasses… – “That’s a nugget of advice to Richard Blanco, served up by David Ward at the Smithsonian as he meditates on the role of poetry in the presidential inauguration. Much skepticism exists about the role of poetry in such a public spectacle—can this marginal art rise to the occasion?, can the poem escape the orbit of propaganda?, can the poem simply be good? ”  Harriet
  17. How To: 5 Uncommon Figures of Speech to Spice Up Your Writing (Part 1), by Lisa B. Marshall – “When you hear the term “figures of speech,” you probably think of metaphors, similes, and idioms. I like to think of these as the salt and pepper that spice up words.”  Grammar Girl

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the contemporary fantasy novels “The Sun Singer,” “Sarabande” and “The Seeker” (March 2013)



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