The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: ‘Gatsby’ at Cannes, Ben Katchor, UK bookstores fight back, Roberts’ ‘Whiskey Beach’

ibsenIn the changing times department when even the most timid books, plays and movies dance with the unmentionable themes and desires of yesteryear, Today in Literature notes that this is the anniversary of the London premier of Ghosts in 1891.

“Because of its references to syphilis, free-love, incest and euthanasia, the play had been damned, constrained by censors, and shunned by most major and state theaters in Europe.”

What scandal! What outrage!

  1. News: ‘The Great Gatsby,’ Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, to Open 66th Cannes Film Festival, by Marlow Stern – “The movie will screen at the competition on May 15 at the glitzy Grand Théâtre Lumière of the Palais des Festivals as part of the Official Selection. It will, however, already be out in the U.S., where it will be released nationwide on May 10.” The Daily Beast
  2. womensprizelogoNews: Women’s Prize For Fiction Longlist 2013 Announced (previously called the Orange Prize for Fiction) – “The longlist features quite a few literary heavyweights, including Hilary Mantel (this is the third major literary award nomination she has received for her newest book Bringing Up the Bodies), Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver and AM Homes. It also features many buzzed-about books from last year, including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, and Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be?”  The Huffington Post
  3. Lists: 10 Books That Will Hook You on Page One – “Publishers write the breathless, rhapsodic text you’ll find on the inside flap of a book cover. It’s their job to make a book’s description as moving as possible so you’ll buy the book. We always skip that stuff and head right to the opening pages. That’s where we get our highs.” Kirkus Reviews
  4. handdryingReview: “Hand-Drying in America,” by Ben Katchor, reviewed by Jeet Keer – “His work is Katchorian and nothing else. Critics earn their bread by finding apt comparisons, but finding useful analogies for Katchor’s work is an elusive task. The cartoonist is a bizarre melange of competing tendencies: His deft weaving of half-believable fantasies suggests Jorge Luis Borges, his street-level alertness to urban life recalls Jane Jacobs, his verbal dexterity at describing sensual experiences echoes Vladimir Nabokov, and his political concern over branding and globalization evokes Naomi Klein.” Globe and Mail
  5. korytaFeature: Full Measure of Koryta. by Ali Karim – “Michael Koryta’s work took a while to cross the Atlantic. This had much to do with the fact that his first four books, concluding with The Silent Hour (2009), were all P.I. tales, and professional investigators-for-hire have never been staples of Britain’s literary culture. (The tradition over here has been much better stocked with amateur or aristocratic sleuths of the sort created by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton.)”  The Rap Sheet
  6. Commentary: Will UK Bookstores’ Plot to Poach Customers From Amazon Work? by Dennis Abrams – “The Independent reports that several major bookstore chains in the UK are making use of new marketing tactics to lure customers into their stores and away from on-line competitors.”  Publishing Perspectives
  7. strayedphotoLists: 10 Women Who Should Be Writing for ‘Harper’s’ by Emily Temple – “There has been much discussion on the Internet about gender distribution in the bylines of high-profile journals and magazines after the release of the 2012 VIDA Count. Most of the publications surveyed published a laughably small number of women compared to men — perhaps most notably Harper’s, whose ratio surprised many, including the editors of more gender-equitable magazines who we recently interviewed. So, maybe they just need a few suggestions of great lady essayists to solicit for contributions?” Flavorwire
  8. teachingtolkienNews: A new blog — Teaching Tolkien, by Jason Fisher – Here’s a note about a new blog for teachers of Tolkien founded by Holly Rodgers.  “Ms. Rodgers’s students are not only fifth and sixth graders, they’re students whose first language is not English. Not only are their cradle tongues not English, they aren’t even European. Her class of thirteen speaks an assortment of Asian languages, including Somali, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, Farsi, and Korean.” Musings of a Fish
  9. burnpalaceReview: “The Burn Palace,” by Stephen Dobyns, reviewed by By Scott Martelle – “What starts off as a paranormal thriller turns into a dissection of small-town life when violence rears its head.” The Los Angeles Times
  10. How To: Ten Ways to Avoid Gender Bias, by Mark Nichol – “How do you write around the outmoded usage of the pronoun he or him when a male is not necessarily the subject of the reference? Here are ten strategies — none ideal in every circumstance — for achieving gender neutrality.” Daily Writing Tips
  11. News: Hippies Were Dirty And Liked Music By Satanists, Louisiana Textbook Claims, by Annalisa Quinn – “An American history textbook used by some schools in Louisiana’s voucher system has caused a bit of a stir over passages describing 1960s counterculture.” NPR
  12. whiskeybeachReview: “Whiskey Beach,” by Nora Roberts, reviewed by John Charles – “With its compelling characters and irresistible plot, this is a perfect synthesis of romance and suspense, guaranteed to keep Roberts’ fans up long past their bedtimes.” Book List
  13. Feature: The women behind Russia’s most famous writers, by Joy Neumeyer – “Russia’s most celebrated writers – including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn and Mandelstam – are often depicted as solitary geniuses. But many of their works were the fruits of creative partnerships with their wives. Far from being passive typists, they served as editors, researchers, translators, publishers and more.” The Moscow News
  14. polishhouseInterview: Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden (“From a Polish Country House Kitchen”), with Jessa Crispin – “Like all stereotypes, the “bad central European food” stereotype is simply outdated: The “carp in the bathtub” cliche belongs to the 1970s.  In fact, a real food revolution has taken place over the past two decades. There has been an explosion of restaurants, high-end food production companies, cookbooks and cooks. A lot of what was always great about Polish food — the proliferation of fresh vegetables, the chickens that were organic because they lived in someone’s garden, the real dedication to home-cooked and the absence of processed food — is now recognized and celebrated.” Bookslut
  15. News: DoJ Price-Fixing Case has Generated Over Eight Million Pages of Evidence – “How complicated and costly is the Department of Justice’s price-fixing suit? According to an exchange of letters over whether Apple CEO Tim Cook will be deposed, Apple attorneys note that it has produced over 3.6 million pages of documents for the case, while the publisher defendants have produced nearly five million pages. In addition, at least 29 witnesses have sat for depositions.”  Publishers Weekly

“Book Bits” is compiled several times a week by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the heroine’s journey novel “Sarabande”

Contemporary fantasy on Kindle and in paperback

Contemporary fantasy on Kindle and in paperback

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