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Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Dan Brown, Amazon coins, ‘The Woman Upstairs,’ Anchee Min

BookBitsWelcome to “Book Bits” links for Thursday, May 16, 2013.

  1. News: Dan Brown appears at Lincoln Center to talk religion, science, and reveal his secrets (sort of), by Jeva Lange – “‘Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride.’ Onstage at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center last night, renowned author Dan Brown paused thoughtfully. ‘That was fun, I’m going to do it again,” he said and then recited the seven deadly sins a second time for the audience. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth…'”  New York Daily News
  2. amazoncoinsNews: Amazon Debuts Its Virtual Currency, by Annalisa Quinn – “Amazon debuted a virtual currency called “Amazon Coins” on Monday. The coins can be used to buy apps in Amazon’s Appstore and on Kindle Fire. A dollar will get you 100 of the new coins, though the Internet retailer will discount coins bought in bulk.”  NPR
  3. InfernoNews: Critics label Dan Brown’s “Inferno” a clunky page-turner – “Early reviews of Dan Brown’s fast-paced fourth book in “The Da Vinci Code” series labeled it a “clunky” page-turner that will nevertheless delight his fans. Critics said the dark mysteries, mind-bending codes and history-laced tourism in “Inferno” will thrill Brown devotees, but panned the U.S. author for passages they said were more suited to a Hollywood film script than a novel.”  Reuters (The “Inferno” is currently number one in books at Amazon with a wildly diverse selection of reader reviews, including “dynamic mesh of medieval literature” to “really boring.”
  4. Quotation: “On this day in 1939 Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust was published. Although now ranked as one of the best novels about Hollywood, and on the Modern Library’s Top 100 of the Century list, The Day of the Locust was a commercial flop, compelling West to continue working as a screenwriter, and living in the place that his novel so darkly satirized.” – Today in Literature
  5. BK05WOMANReview: “The Woman Upstairs,” by Claire Messud, reviewed by John Broening – “How do you follow something as good as “The Emperor’s Children?” For a more audacious novelist, say, a Norman Mailer, the answer is obvious: Go bigger. But the canny and self-aware Messud has, after seven years of silence, produced a novel, “The Woman Upstairs,” that is more modest: shorter, with a smaller cast of characters and an intimate, domestic theme.”  The Denver Post
  6. Commentary: The Banning of Harry Potter, by Deji Olukotun – “Harry Potter is now the most banned book in America, according to the American Library Association. It is undeniable that themes of death and resurrection abound in the stories, as well as detailed depictions of potions and other hocus pocus. But while there are Christians who decry the celebration of witchcraft, there are other Christians who consider Harry’s journey an edifying allegory for Jesus Christ. ”  The Huffington Post
  7. booklikesNews: Social Site BookLikes is Now Open for Business, by Susan Lulgjuraj – “BookLikes has been in beta version for quite some time, but the website has now launched its full release. The site seems to combine different aspects of social media sites such as Tumblr and Goodreads to become a place for readers to share thoughts and reviews. BookLikes is not just limited to reviews. Users can create different posts about anything.”  TeleRead
  8. Essay: Enlightened monsters, by Michael Saler _ “The child may be father to the man, but how did a girl become mother to the monster? We continue to ask that of Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818) before she turned twenty. It is a startling work from someone so young, combining profound philosophic disquisitions with melodramatic blood and thunder.” Times Literary Supplement
  9. salmallaneReview: Childhood innocence and adults’ dark deeds fill “On Sal Mal Lane” by Ru Freeman, by Malcolm Forbes – “The eponymous street at the heart of Ru Freeman’s accomplished second novel is home to a colorful cross-section of Sri Lankan society. Rich live next door to poor; Tamils and Sinhalese coexist in harmony. Instead of tracking the lives of the adults, Freeman focuses on the children. Sunlit days are spent flying kites, playing cricket and developing crushes. But the skies grow overcast and the serenity is punctured by the ominous thunder of imminent civil war. ” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  10. How To: 17 Steps to a Reader-Grabbing Title, by K.M. Weiland – “Smart readers know better than to judge a book by its cover (or maybe not), but what about judging a book by its title? A book’s title is there not just to identify the book, but also to make a statement about what’s inside its pages. ” Wordplay
  11. minInterview: ‘The Cooked Seed’: Anchee Min’s Journey From China to America, by by Katie Baker – “Bestselling author Anchee Min pens a follow-up to ‘Red Azalea’ about her long, hard road to success in the U.S. The Daily Beast spoke with her about immigration, China today, and the ecstasy and terror of writing honestly.”  The Daily Beast
  12. News: Howard Jacobson takes Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize – “The author won the comic writing prize for ‘Zoo Time,’ a novel about a novelist who is distracted from writing by the provocative presence of his highly strung wife and her alluring mother.” The Independent

seekergoodreads“Book Bits” is compiled several times a week by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of paranormal short stories and contemporary fantasy novels.

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