The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Shakespeare drawing? Bronte drama, ‘The Sage of Waterloo,’ Kate Betts

BookBitsCensorship by petition? If you don’t like somebody or something, contact or a similar group and start a petition. With luck, those you don’t like will be fired, censored or disciplined by companies and organizations who are frightened of negative public opinion.  These petitions have had an impact, I think, when they focused on dangers to the environment that government doesn’t appear to be addressing. I’m less certain of the morality behind them when they focus on writers who write what we don’t like.

If I ever met Vanessa Place, I don’t think I’d like her. I dislike her work because–as has been claimed–it’s racially insensitive and probably racist. In fact, I’m appalled by it. Can we separate art from the artist? Apparently the Association of Writers & Writing Programs can’t, for they have removed Place from her position for writing what a large number of signatories to a petition don’t like. I don’t like it either. But I think punishing an author for his or her work in this way is a dangerous thing to do because there’s little difference between an inflammatory petition and mob action.  (Item 9) This whole mess bothers me to the extent that I’m hardly comfortable with my own opinion that both the writer and the petition are wrong.

  1. Shakespeare? "There's no evidence that anybody thought that this was Shakespeare at the time." Michael Dobson, Univeristy of Birmingham Shakespeare Institute

    Shakespeare? “There’s no evidence that anybody thought that this was Shakespeare at the time.” Michael Dobson, University of Birmingham Shakespeare Institute

    News: ‘True face of Shakespeare’ appears in botany book, by Tim Masters – “A 400-year-old botany book contains what could be the only known portrait of Shakespeare made in his lifetime, according to an academic expert.”  BBC

  2. Feature: 10 Beautiful Literary Locations That Inspired Beloved Novels You Can Visit Now And Remember Forever – “But since we can’t dive into our fictional wonderlands, we have to turn to the real world sometimes. Luckily, there’s so much to satisfy our hungry literary appetites right here on planet Earth. Beyond just trekking to the coffee shop where J. K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter — which is still super-cool! — we can go to places that inspired the settings on the pages that we so crave to live in. ”  Bustle
  3. News: Wainwright to write Bronte drama, by Caroline Carpenter – “‘Happy Valley’ creator Sally Wainwright is to write and direct a drama about the Brontes for BBC1.” The Bookseller  See also: TV drama to explore Bronte family life
  4. waterlooReview: “The Sage of Waterloo,” by Leona Francombe, reviewed by Jaclyn Fulwood – “n a debut filled with history and whimsy, Leona Francombe retells the Battle of Waterloo through the lore and bedtime stories of a modern-day family living on the battle site at Hougoumont Farm. This clan is set apart from most historians by one notable factor–they are rabbits.”  Shelf Awareness
  5. News: Booksellers Heap Promotions on New Harper Lee Novel, by  Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg – “High hopes for sales inspire special events ranging from film screenings to read-a-thons.”  The Wall Street Journal
  6. Essay: How This Tokyo Bookstore Made Me Fall Back In Love With Print – “I was more than a little surprised when I recently entered the flagship Tokyo store of a multimedia chain called Tsutaya, and saw throngs of people eagerly crowding the magazine section. The store, in the Daikanyama district, felt like a testament to the continued power and relevance of the written word — a place where browsing, reading, and buying books and magazines was a popular and pleasurable experience.”  Gone
  7. News: Success of ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ Leads Publisher to a Sequel. by Alexandria Alter – “Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel, “An Ember in the Ashes,” was greeted with such breathless accolades before its April release that it seemed unlikely it could live up to the hype. The hype appears justified. The novel shot to the No. 2 spot on The New York Times young adult best-seller list.”  The New York Times
  8. myparisdreamReview: “My Paris Dream,” by Kate Betts, reviewed by Patty Rhule – “Even if your summer travel plans don’t include a stroll on the Champs Élysées, you’ll always have My Paris Dream…Kate Betts became the youngest editor of Harper’s Bazaar at age 35 but this book is the prequel to her storied career.” USA Today
  9. Viewpoint: Vanessa Place, Mongrel Coalition and notes on coercion, by Collin Kelley – “I fully believe in her right to make art – even if it is grotesquely offensive – but I am less certain if she should be selecting panels for an organization [Association of Writers & Writing Programs] which claims to strive toward diversity (that’s a whole other post, probably). Art has consequences, especially if it is tone-deaf and culturally appropriative. When your “artist’s statement” makes no sense, don’t expect your racist words and imagery to make sense to the public at large.”  A Modern Confessional  See also: AWP has removed Vanessa Place from the AWP Los Angeles 2016 Subcommittee
  10. ishiguroInterview: The Long Haul of Love –  Kazuo Ishiguro with Jane Gayduk – “IN HIS EARLY CHILDHOOD, Kazuo Ishiguro’s family left their home in Nagasaki, Japan, for a Southern England small town, and he was forced to adjust. In his early adulthood, Ishiguro failed to fulfill his dream of becoming a jazz musician and was once again forced to adjust. This time he more than ‘adjusted’ — with an acclaimed debut novel at the age of 27. Now, at 60, Ishiguro has managed to maintain a steady literary momentum, a steady amount of creative space, and a steady success rate. ”  Los Angeles Review of Books
  11. News: The campaign to fund ‘The Mary Review’ – “Fast Company associate editor Jillian Goodman has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new general interest magazine with a staff comprised entirely of women. The Mary Review will feature criticism, poetry, fiction, art, and news reports. Though all of Mary’s content will be written and created by women, the publication aims to appeal to everyone.” Poets & Writers

Book bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell



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