The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: ‘Harvest,’ Amazon Bestsellers, Amity Gaige, Room to Read, ‘The Girls of Atomic City’

AWPJulianna Baggott (“Pure”) noted in her blog that mainstrean publishing representatives were mostly absent from the Associated Writing Programs annual conferences (AWP) again. Now, some who commented on this link in Facebook said that AWP has a labyrinthine process of approving those who want to participate and that some publishers aren’t going to put up with it. True?

I can’t say, though I agree with Baggott when she says we’re risking a total separation of so-called literary fiction and commercial fiction here. Personally, I’m tired of being called snobbish for liking literary fiction, so I’m listening to what Baggott is noting and hoping some of those who can keep literary fiction alive are also listening and taking part in fairs and conferences.

  1. amazonlogoNews: Amazon’s Quest for Web Names Draws Foes, by Greg Bensinger – “Large and small companies are vying for control of an array of new Internet domain names, but Amazon.com Inc.’s plans are coming under particular scrutiny.”  The Wall Street Journal
  2. News: ForeWord Reviews has announced the finalists for the 2012 Book of the Year Awards. The finalists were selected from 1300 entries covering 62 categories of books from independent and academic presses. Here is an alphabetical listing. Foreword Magazine
  3. harvestReview: “Harvest,” by Jim Crace, reviewed by Anna Mundow – “The narrator of Jim Crace’s new novel, Harvest, introduces himself and his neighbors as plain, quiet folk. ‘We’re not a hurtful people hereabouts,’ Walter Thirsk declares of an 18th-century community that is ‘…two days by post horse’ from the nearest market town. Before summer has turned to fall, however, Walter’s isolated English village will be convulsed by murder, rape, and mutilation. The land he loves will be home no longer…This atmospheric tale begins with an 18th-century village in flames and builds to a soaring drama.” The Christian Science Monitor
  4. Feature: How Many Copies Does It Take To Be an Amazon Bestseller? by Gabe Habash – “By studying the print bestseller list for a two-week period, we were able to determine that a title in Amazon’s top five averages 1,094 print copies sold across all channels, including other retailers, on a typical day. And because the general industry thinking is that Amazon accounts for about 30% of print sales, that means it likely takes around 300 copies per day to reach Amazon’s top five, depending on the day of the week and the time of year.” Publishers Weekly
  5. odysseyFeature: International Women’s Day: Joan Grenier keeps the 50-year old Odyssey Bookshop a popular place for readers and authors, by Judith Kelliher – “’My father did say to me he didn’t know if he was giving me anything but headaches after two fires and not enough insurance to cover it. We definitely had our ups and downs,’ she said. But the younger Grenier never left, eventually moving the bookshop in 1991 to its current location in the Village Commons. Her dad died in 1997. The Odyssey is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year. “  The Massachusetts Republican
  6. gaigeInterview: Amity Gaige (“Schroder”), with Adam Boretz – “Breaking out sounds wonderful. If it means that lots of people read Schroder, then I will be happy to call it my breakout book. My other books were written with the same goal as Schroder — to write as well as possible about deeply felt themes. But maybe it’s significant that I wrote Schroder very quickly — it felt ‘channeled.’”  The Millions
  7. How To: Crazy English Idioms, by Mignon Fogarty – “A few weeks ago I got a delightful book in the mail: The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. I love flipping through books like this and find them handy to have around when I hear an odd expression and want to know what it means. Today, I’ll tell you stories about a few interesting idioms and where they come from.”  Grammar Girl
  8. Feature: Get Fit With Haruki Murakami: Why Mohsin Hamid Exercises, Then Writes – “Here’s how to get a writer’s body in seven days (the familiar story goes). Spend hours hunched over a keyboard in low light, exercising nothing but your eyelids and your finger muscles. Subsist on coffee, cigarettes, and the occasional croissant. Drink no water; whiskey’s better. Look up at your heroes on the wall: sickly, malnourished, funny-looking people who died of lupus and liver failure on the hot trail of the truth. If you don’t look just like them, you’re not working hard enough. Sacrifice your body for your art. ” The Atlantic
  9. FeverReview: “Fever,” by Mary Beth Keane, rebiewd by W. S. Lyon – “ever tells the torrid tale of the life of Mary Mallon, an Irish-American immigrant who became the first known healthy carrier of the pathogen that causes typhoid fever, and the only one to be imprisoned long-term for her condition. She is better known to American history as the infamous “Typhoid Mary.” But readers will feel compelled to qualify that epithet after finishing Mary Beth Keane’s sympathetic portrayal of this woman scorned by circumstance.” Book Page
  10. applelogoNews: Apple CEO Tim Cook May Testify in E-Books Antitrust Suit, by Bob Van Voris – “Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook may testify in the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against the world’s biggest technology company over e-books pricing. The U.S. sued Apple and a group of book publishers last year, claiming they conspired to raise prices for electronic books in violation of U.S. antitrust law. Cook’s possible testimony was disclosed today in a brief order by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan, who is overseeing the case. ”  Bloomberg
  11. roomtoreadFeature: The Most Influential Children’s Publisher You’ve Never Heard Of, By Kate Whitehead – “You’ve probably heard of John Wood, the former Microsoft executive who quit his job to change the world. The NGO he founded in 1999 — Room to Read — has reached out to 7.5 million children and built 15,000 libraries and 1,600 schools. What you probably haven’t heard is that Room to Read is also a huge publisher. In the almost 10 years since the NGO entered the publishing game, it has published more than 850 titles. That figure will hit 1,000 by the end of this year. ”  Publishing Perspectives
  12. atomiccityReview: “The Girls of Atomic City,” by Denise Kiernan, reviewed by Kim Ode – “It’s not that the story about women who unwittingly helped develop the atomic bomb isn’t fascinating. It is, right down to the shin-deep mud of their makeshift town in which many high heels were lost. But it’s difficult to read “The Girls of Atomic City” without wondering about a larger question: How in the world did the government ever pull off this secret operation?”  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  13. Essay: Such a Good Boy: A word for your consideration, by William Deresiewicz – “There are those words that everybody loves, the ones that come from other languages and express concepts that seem at once uniquely characteristic of their culture of origin and universally relevant. The most celebrated, these days, is schadenfreude, but think of some others we’ve assimilated relatively recently: chic, macho, karma. The traffic flows in the other direction, as well. The most successful word in history, it’s said, is okay, an index of the reach of both American power and American sensibility.”  American Scholar
  14. Viewpoint: A plague of genres, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “I am one of those who fully expects today’s genres to be broken down into more and more sub-genres, each with its rules, laws, precepts, character traits, etc. I can visualize genres in which dogs are not permitted to have fleas and cats aren’t allowed to purr.” The Sun Singer’s Travels
  15. tigersareathomeReview: “Where Tigers Are at Home,” by Jean-Marie Blas de Robles, by Liviu Suciu – “Where Tigers Are at Home is a novel that deserves all the accolades and prizes it got as it succeeds in everything – narrative energy that keeps one turning pages and wanting to know what happens next, interesting characters from the distant genius Kircher as seen by his adoring pupil, to the earnest Eleazard and the oddly compelling Moema and Nelson, superb atmosphere that moves from the quiet town, to the wild jungle, the college life and the beach party, all in seamless transitions which intertwine to the literally half-world away in space of and time that was Europe of the 17th century.  ”  Fantasy Book Critic
  16. douglasadamsFeature: Douglas Adams is still the king of comic science fiction, by David Barnett – “Intergalactic travel may seem ripe for comedy, but Douglas Adams, whose 61st birthday is celebrated by Google today, showed that the funniest laughs are found in the real world” The Guardian

Book Bits” is compiled several times a week by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy, including “The Sun Singer”

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