The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: LA Times Book Prizes, ‘The Sympathizer,’ Monica Burne, ‘Black Dove White Raven’

BookBitsSometimes I think the editors are on vacation when bestselling novels roar through the publishing house. I won’t tell you the title and author, but suffice it to say, when I’m reading what’s advertised as a fast-paced, spy-vs.-spy thriller, I don’t want the action to lurch to a stop while the author uses an entire chapter to describe the upbringing of one of the characters. We just don’t care.

  1. latimesbookprizesNews: Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Winners Announced, by Claire Swanson – “In addition to the category winners, T. Coraghessan Boyle received the 2014 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. The Innovator’s Award, which “spotlights cutting-edge business models, technology or applications of narrative art,” was presented to Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton.” Siri Hustvedt won in the fiction category for “The Blazing World”  Publishers Weekly
  2. Feature: Lessons From Writers – Robert Jordan, by JMD Reid – “Every book you read can teach you something to help improve your writing from pitfalls to avoid to examples to follow, and in this series of blog posts I’m going to talk about the authors that have had the most impact on me and my writing, and what I took away from them. This week is Robert Jordan”  The Storm Below
  3. LOClogoNews: The Library of Congress Is Uploading 75 Years of Poetry and Literature Recordings, by Allison Meier – “Yesterday selections from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress became available to stream online for the first time — the launch of a project digitizing some of their 2,000 recordings from the past 75 years of literature. ‘I think that reading poetry and prose on the page is important, but there’s nothing that can replace listening to literature read aloud, especially when it is read by the creator of the work,’ Catalina Gomez, project manager for the process of putting the archive online, told Hyperallergic.”  Hyperallergic
  4. sympathizerReview: “The Sympathizer,” by Vtet Thanh Nguyen, reviewed by David Burr Gerrard – “From time to time, there will be a surge of public arguments over whether the protagonists of novels must be “sympathetic.” This term was on my mind as I read Viet Than Nguyen’s spectacular debut novel The Sympathizer, and not merely because of the title. The narrator, an unnamed North Vietnamese spy, would most likely not be considered sympathetic by many American readers (particularly not by those who prefer their characters sympathetic), and yet I cannot remember the last time I read a novel whose protagonist I liked so much. ”  Barnes & Noble Review
  5. Essay: Too Many Books? by Tim Parks – “Is there a relationship between the quantity of books available to us, the ease with which they can be written and published, and our reading experience? At present, for example, it’s hard not to feel that we are in an era of massive overproduction.” New York Review of Books
  6. byrneInterview: In Debate Over Hugo Awards, Science Fiction Community Engages With Issues Of Bias, Monica Burne with Arun Rath – “A nasty fight has been raging in the world of science fiction and fantasy writers, also known as speculative fiction. This after conservative fans successfully rallied supporters to nominate a slate of culturally conservative writers for the coveted Hugo Awards. That prompted a number of high-profile writers to boycott the awards, as well as a lot of debate and (unintelligible) about diversity in speculative fiction.”  NPR
  7. News: Median earnings of professional authors fall below the minimum wage, by Alison Flood – “According to a report into the earnings of almost 2,500 working writers released on Monday by Queen Mary, University of London, there is a “huge inequality” in the amount of money made by writers, with the top earners taking a vast proportion of the total money earned.”  The Guardian
  8. Feature: The Stoner Canon: Essential Weed Movies, Books, Music, and TV Shows – “Pot-smoking and pop culture consumption go hand in hand: do the former, and you run the risk of only wanting to partake in the latter — especially if you’re smoking an Indica strain.”  Flavorwire
  9. News: Rocker Nick Cave Creates His First Poetry Collection, by Maryann Yin – “Musician Nick Cave has written his first collection of poetry. In the past, Cave published two novels: And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) and The Death of Bunny Munro (2010).” Galley Cat
  10. blackdoveReview: “Black Dove White Raven,” by Elizabeth Wein, reviewed by Deborah Hopkinson – “Readers who know Elizabeth Wein’s award-winning books Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, both set during World War II, may be surprised by the 1930s Ethiopian setting of her warm-hearted, ambitious new novel, Black Dove, White Raven.”  Book Page
  11. Feature: The Fastest-Selling Adult Novel in History: Paula Hawkins’ ‘The Girl On The Train’ by William O’Connor – “Stephen King is a fan. Dreamworks just bought the movie rights. Your book club is definitely reading it. Author Paula Hawkins discusses her debut mega-hit, The Girl on the Train.”  The Daily Beast
  12. editorsblogHow ToReaders are Smart—Respect What They Bring to Books, by Beth Hill – “This time, however, my friend didn’t have a positive recommendation to share, but a complaint…What my friend was getting at is that the author took pains to explain the setup behind the unusual rather than to simply let the unusual play out in a way that readers could investigate for themselves. The author didn’t trust readers to discover why the fictional world developed as it had and why the beings/characters in it behaved as they did.”  The Editor’s Blog
  13. allthelightweNews: Anthony Doerr Wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by  Lincoln Michel – “Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction today for his best-selling historical novel All the Light We Cannot See. The novel, which was the break-away literary fiction novel of last year, was cited by the Pulitzer Prize as ‘an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology.’ ”  Electric Lit

KIndle cover 200x300Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the granny-vs.-the-Klan novella, “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”


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