Book Bits: Juan Felipe Herrera, XPRIZE for Literacy, ‘Target Tokyo,’ Karen Campbell
While reading an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Indie bookstores are places where words live) I liked the idea of service-oriented, often-homey, independent bookstores that manage to hang on against the tidal wave of Amazon by providing wonderful experiences for readers. The stores are often eager to get writers inside the doors because we’ll help spread the word in the war against, say, an Amazon monopoly. Tell your friends. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Mention us in your blog.
I wish the store/writer relationships were more balanced. While some indie book stores have a local authors’ table, this is a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, it reminds readers that–like buying local when it comes to everything else–there are local books, too. However, the segregated table of local authors somehow allows readers to infer that those books aren’t good enough to be shelved with the regular books.
The other thing is, authors are expected to bring in those books and offer them on a consignment arrangement. And sometimes, the store expects a bigger cut of the suggested retail price than it would get if it ordered the books through a distributor. This is unfair to the authors. It also makes extra work. How much writing would J. K. Rowling and John Grisham get done if each store carrying their books expected a separate consignment agree with them? My message to independent bookstores is to order indie press books from the publishers at the standard bookseller discounts. Carry our books the same way you carry those of the rich and famous. That’s how you help the authors who have been helping you.
- News: Juan Felipe Herrera Named U.S. Poet Laureate, by Colin Dwyer – “Poetry readers, prepare yourselves for a passing of the laurels. The Library of Congress announced in the wee hours Wednesday that the next U.S. poet laureate will be California writer Juan Felipe Herrera. He will be the first Latino poet to be appointed to the position. ‘This is a mega-honor for me,’ Herrera said in the announcement, ‘for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 — the honor is bigger than me.'” NPR
- Feature: Can Reading Make You Happier? by Ceridwen Dovey – “For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain. ” The New Yorker
- News: XPRIZE And Barbara Bush Foundation Set Sights on Empowering 36 Million U.S. Adults Through Literacy – “$7M Adult Literacy XPRIZE Will Incentivize Mobile Applications to Bring Low-Literate Adults to Basic Literacy Within 12 Months” Business Wire
- Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (ages 8-12) – “Seventh-grade narrator Suzy Swanson will win readers’ hearts as she silently struggles to come to terms with the death of her former best friend, Franny Jackson.” Shelf Awareness
- News: Grey: New Fifty Shades book ‘stolen’ – “Kent Police has launched an investigation after Random House discovered a copy of Grey had gone missing on Monday. It is feared thieves may leak the novel, or sell extracts to the media.” BBC
- Quotation: “If your mother tells you stories, she is a poetry maker. If your father says stories, he is a poetry maker. If your grandma tells you stories, she is a poetry maker. And that’s who forms our poetics.” ― Juan Felipe Herrera
- Review: “Target Tokyo,” by James M. Scott, reviewed by Ray Locker – “Scott doesn’t try to rebuild or tear down the legend, but to reshape it and provide the kind of clarity that emerges 73 years after the fact. He researched Target Tokyo in more than three dozen archives around the country and in Japan. He adds new depth to a story that many Americans think they already know, and he takes you into the airplanes, prison camps and Chinese villages where the crews sought refuge.” USA Today
- News: Poet Richard Blanco is launching a writing project to lift what he calls Cuba’s ’emotional embargo.’ Blanco and writer Ruth Behar, both Cuban-Americans, told The Associated Press they are launching ‘Bridges to/from Cuba’ as a forum for Cubans on and off the island to share their hopes for the future as the U.S. and Cuba move closer to normalizing relations.” Associated Press
- Review: “Rise” by Karen Campbell – “A young woman on the run from a vicious pursuer, a troubled marriage, a man tormented by a sneering ghost, and the fight to save a sacred landscape from development are the ingredients in a Scottish author’s impressive U.S. debut…An engaging writer introduces herself with this fresh, intelligent entertainment, full of satisfying moving parts.” Kirkus
- Feature: Actors and Literary Translators, the Great Imitators, by Shelly Bryant – “Last year, the world lost one of the greatest comedic geniuses of our times when Robin Williams passed away. While he will be remembered for many roles on television and in the movies, his earliest claim to fame was as a stand-up comedian. From those early days of his career, one of the main tools of his trade was the impression, and he was one of the best. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ed Sullivan, Groucho Marx, Robert De Niro, and Carol Channing were just a few of the celebrity impressions Williams employed in a single film, Aladdin. He captured the mannerisms and voice of each one convincingly, alerting his audiences immediately to whom he was depicting…This same gift of imitating others’ voices and quirks comes to life on the page in the work of a gifted literary translator. ” LEAP+
- Quotation: “When we walk into a bookstore, the first place we go is the staff recommendation shelves—it’s how you get a quick sense of the personality of the store. The very best bookstores are merely a reflection of the eclectic, deeply felt opinions of the book-lovers who work there.” The Literary Hub
- Interview: Joshua Cohen (“Book of Numbers”) – “I think if German literature could survive the ’40s, and Russian literature could survive Sovietism, American literature can survive Google.” NPR
- Commentary: The Writer’s Shadow, by Tim Parks – “How is it possible that even when I know nothing about a novelist’s life I find, on reading his or her book, that I am developing an awareness of the writer that is quite distinct from my response to the work?” The New York Review of Books