The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: GoodReads turmoil, Pat Conroy, ‘Archangel,’ Eleanor Catton

BookBitsAs a reader, I am discouraged about the turmoil at GoodReads. I would like to be able to go there and read fairly written and objective reviews about the books I’m thinking about buying.

I don’t want to read fake reviews by readers who lavish sight-unseen praise on their friends’ books as a matter of course. I also don’t want to read one-star reviews by readers who have a grudge against certain genres and certain authors and in many cases, haven’t even read the books. I hope the site’s management will find a smoother way of sorting out the problem than it has up to now. (Item 9)

Here are today’s writing links:

  1. News: ‘Santini’ writer Pat Conroy has an offer for Robert Duvall, by Bob Minzesheimer – “He’s offering “for free” the memoir’s film rights to Duvall, 82, and his three co-stars. All they have to do is reprise their roles in a non-fiction sequel about what Conroy calls ‘this ridiculous family I was born into.'”  USA Today
  2. archangelReview: “Archangel,” by Andrea Barrett, reviewed by James Orbesen – “Andrea Barrett, winner of the National Book Award and author of the new collection ‘Archangel,’ attempts not only to tell a story but also to communicate with the reader. Comprised of several longer short stories, ‘Archangel’ is a dispersed narrative that features characters, some fictional and others not, cropping up again and again in different places and in different circumstances. Stretching from a lonely island off the East Coast, to a torpedoed freighter in the North Atlantic, to the scattered American bivouacs around the Russian city of Archangelsk, ‘Archangel’ has scope.”  Bookslut
  3. Viewpoint: Public Letter on Standardized Testing from Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Youth – “We the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.” FairTest
  4. simonNews: Simon & Schuster to Launch Science Fiction, Fantasy Imprint, by Jim Milliot – “Simon & Schuster is preparing to up its presence in the science fiction, fantasy and horror market with the launch of a new imprint dedicated to the category. The as yet unnamed imprint will be overseen by Jon Anderson, executive v-p and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, but will, S&S said, publish books “for readers of all ages.” Anderson told PW the audience for the new imprint is seen as “YA and above.””  Publishers Weekly
  5. highmoonInterview: Patricia Chapple Wright (“High Moon Over the Amazon”), with Barbara J. King – In answering why she wrote about South American monkeys, Wright said,’High Moon’ is the unique story of how a simple curiosity about my pet monkey’s behavior led to my lifelong obsession with the wilds from where it came. The book describes my struggles as a young single mother venturing to a remote jungle of the Amazon with a toddler, on a quest many deemed impossible.”  NPR
  6. Essay: God’s Workshop, by sam Apple – “Love, love, love the Noah chapter. My only concern is that there’s an awful lot of “telling.” Is there a way to do more “showing” so that we can see Noah experiencing 40 days and nights on a boat with two of every living beast on Earth? That had to have been crazy?! Like, where did they all go to the bathroom? ” Slate
  7. News: Romania’s ReadForward Angles to Be “Facebook for Education,” by Daniel Kalder – “Bucharest-based developer Read Forward has produced original ebooks, luxury digital editions of classics and is now moving into education, with fully interactive HTML5 textbooks.”  Publishing Perspectives
  8. lionseekerReview: “The Lion Seeker,” by Kenneth Bonert, reviewed by Kenneth Champeon – “As the subject matter demands, The Lion Seeker is an ambitious novel. Sometimes its ambition gets the better of it: Bonert’s facility with and delight in language, including the incorporation of Afrikaans slang and what the characters call “Jewish,” can disrupt the storytelling. This becomes less so as the novel progresses—Bonert’s Joycean aspirations take a back seat to his compelling historical tale, and the reader is less required to peer through thickets of linguistic virtuosity to see Isaac courting a girl or cuckolding an abusive colleague.”  Bookpage
  9. Commentary: How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers, by Laura Miller – “A small but growing faction of longtime, deeply involved Goodreads members are up in arms about recent changes to the site’s enforcement of its policies on what members are permitted to say when reviewing books, and many of them blame the crackdown on the Amazon deal. ”  Salon
  10. on the list

    on the list

    Lists: 11 Psychological Stories That Will Make You Worry for Your Sanity, by Jason Diamond – “There are books that simply scare you, and then there are books that actually get into your head. Maybe you call them thrillers; others deal with characters whose point of view might be distorted for whatever reason, and some just build you up for hundreds of pages only to reward you with an “Oh my God” moment that you won’t be able to get out of your head for days. Since this is the time of year that we tend to go for things that give us instant scary payoff, here are ten great books that go a bit deeper than just giving us chills.” Flavorwire

  11. How To: Biweekly Versus Semiweekly, by Mignon Fogarty – “I have some friends who work in New York, and a couple of years ago they received a notice that said they were going to be paid biweekly from now on. The problem was that nobody could tell what ‘biweekly’ meant, and their Human Resources department reported being inundated with calls from confused employees. ”  Grammar Girl
  12. Catton


    Interview: Eleanor Catton: ‘Male writers get asked what they think, women what they feel,’ by Charlotte Higgins – “The 2013 Man Booker-prize winner on the unfair treatment of female writers and why her book The Luminaries riled male critics of a certain age.” The Guardian

  13. Feature: Twain to Tartt, a long tradition of author uniforms, by John McMurtrie – “Tartt’s author photo shows her wearing her trademark crisp black jacket and white dress shirt, an androgynous look — topped off with bobbed hair — that she’s had since the publication of her breakthrough novel, ‘The Secret History,’ in 1992. This got us wondering about other author uniforms, as it were. Below is a gallery of notables. Can you think of others?” San Francisco Chronicle
  14. News: World Book Night U.S. Announces 2014 Book Picks – “Following Wednesday night’s announcement of the titles for the April 23, 2014, celebration of World Book Night in the U.S., the application process has opened for those who would like to be part of the event’s army of 25,000 volunteer book givers.”  Bookselling This Week

LandBetweenCover“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasies, paranormal short stories and folktales, including “The Land Between the Rivers.”

“The Land Between the Rivers” begins where the Seminole Creation Myth ends and imagines life in the Florida swamps for Panther, Snake Bird, and Black Bear at the dawn of time.


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