Book Bits: ‘The Truth According to Us,’ E. L. James, Cynthia Hurd, ‘Primates of Park Avenue’
If you arrived on this planet on or before June 23, 1961, you saw the release of John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent. Or perhaps you read it in a high school or college English class. Or, perhaps you stop what you’re already reading on June 23 every year and re-read this novel about Ethan Allen Hawley who works as a clerk in a grocery store because his father lost the aristocratic family’s fortune. According to Today in Literature, Steinbeck’s “view of America, sharpened by a year in England, was of a nation sliding into ‘cynical immorality’ and consumerism — the recent quiz show scandals seen as one marker. Perhaps worst of all was his mental health” I enjoy Today in Literature as a time portal.
- News: Former Durst Prosecutor [Jeanine Pirro] Writing About Book About Murder Case – “The former district attorney from New York who tried to convict millionaire murder suspect Robert Durst is writing a book.” ABC News
- Review: “The Truth According to Us,” by Anne Barrows, reviewed by Martha T.. Moore – “It takes a brave author to make the heroine of a new novel an observant and feisty girl who has no mother and adores her father, growing up during the Depression in a small Southern town where everybody knows everybody and their business.” USA Today
- Feature: 7 Book Franchises We Really Need To Say Goodbye To, by Claire Fallon – “It’s really hard to say goodbye, especially to a favorite book series, movie franchise, or media-spanning brand. More and more, it seems like we’re not even being asked to do so.” The Huffington Post
- News: After First Weekend, E.L. James’s ‘Grey’ Sells over 1 Million Copies, by Rachel Deahl – “After its first weekend on sale, E.L. James’s latest addition to her Fifty Shades series, Grey: Fifty Shades as Told By Christian, has moved over 1 million copies.” Publishers Weekly
- Obituary: James Salter, a ‘Writer’s Writer’ Short on Sales but Long on Acclaim, Dies at 90, by Hellen T. Verongos – “James Salter, whose intimately detailed novels and short stories kept a small but devoted audience in his thrall for more than half a century, died on Friday in Sag Harbor, N.Y. ” The New York Times
- Interview: Andrew Ervin (“Burning Down George Orwell’s House”), with James Tate Hill – “Every generation gets the Big Brother that its technology dictates. The ongoing transition from analog to digital technology is allowing for the collection of data and of metadata on a scale that was unthinkable in Orwell’s day. Only the tools have changed. The global war on terror (and what a perfectly Orwellian term that is) gave government agencies the opportunity to frame the debate as Privacy v. Security. With all those supposed evildoers out there who “hate our freedom” (whatever that means) we’re being told that we can be safe or we can have privacy, but we can’t have both and that’s of course absurd.” The Rumpus
- Lists: The 10 best independent bookshops in the world – readers recommend, by Marta Bausells – “Wherever you are in the world, visiting a bookshop is always a treat – but with their numbers dwindling, independent stores that offer something unique are increasingly becoming a destination in themselves. Last year we rounded up some of the world’s most weird and wonderful bookshops.” The Guardian
- News: Librarian Cynthia Hurd dedicated her life to books, educating others, by Robert Behre – “Cynthia Hurd worked her way up Charleston County’s library system to become manager of one of its busiest branches, but those who knew her best say she was much more. One of the nine victims of Wednesday’s church shooting, Hurd spent her life helping people, particularly helping them become educated, said Jamie Thomas, the library system’s spokeswoman and Hurd’s friend.” The Post and Courier
- Review: “Primates of Park Avenue,” by Wednesday Martin, reviewed by Keith Herrell – “Any population is fair game for anthropological research, so why not the super-rich, super-thin and oh-so-well-dressed mothers of New York’s Upper East Side? That’s the reasoning of author Wednesday Martin, and she puts it to the test in Primates of Park Avenue, her account of six years as a wife and mother in Manhattan’s toniest neighborhood.” Book Page
- Essay: Having an Opera Made of Your Life, by Brian Castner- “Who has an opera made of their life? Roman gods, doomed lovers, Nixon, and now, to our great surprise, my wife Jessie and I. As I wrote my memoir, I admit that I didn’t have an operatic adaptation in the front of my mind, so when American Lyric Theater contacted me about optioning the book, I was not so much excited as dumbfounded.” Literary Hub
- Commentary: How to Translate ‘Spinglish’ by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf – “The English language has been twisted and turned to a level of misdirection that is nearly impossible to cut through. So let us help.” The Daily Beast
- Review: Regional non-fiction works reviewed by Sandra Dallas highlight Western history – “Following in the footsteps of Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner is a flourishing industry these days. Who wouldn’t want to experience the Southwest the way the two writers and environmentalists did a couple of generations ago?” The Denver Post
- Feature: Digital Publishing: Production Pals, by Gretchen A. Peck – “You’ll quickly spot some patterns if you speak with pressroom pros or go to the tradeshows where they and publishers ponder what the future of newspapers will look like. Recurring themes arise: Press runs are shorter as some print subscriptions give way to electronic ones. Publishers seek to print more than just newspapers. They’re thinking more creatively about inserts and supplements, native advertising campaigns and commercial print. There is increasing talk about the quality of audience and how segmentation and hyperlocal publishing may better appeal to audiences who want their newspaper to help solve day-to-day dilemmas and measurably enrich their lives.” Editor & Publisher
Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and a series of Tate’s Hell stories including “Dream of Crows.” “Dream of Crows” is free on Kindle between June 24 and June 28. It’s a dark story that should be avoided by those who are prone to nightmares about crows and swamps and sexy conjure women.