The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Ivan Doig, Obama’s reads, Amazon’s workplace, ‘In a Dark, Dark Wood’

BookBitsAs a lover of all things Montana, I include a lot of the fiction written in or about the state on my book shelves. Ivan Doig (1939-2015) died in April and will be greatly missed. Best known for This House of Sky, he has penned a wonderful final novel called Last Bus to Wisdom. I appreciate this quote about his writing: “If I have any creed that I wish you as readers, necessary accomplices in this flirtatious ceremony of writing and reading, will take with you from my pages, it’d be this belief of mine that writers of caliber can ground their work in specific land and lingo and yet be writing of that larger country: life” And, I’m happy to see the positive review in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about Last Bus to Wisdom (Item 3)

  1. fireflyhollowNews: PW Picks: Books of the Week, August 17, 2015 – “his week, books from Clarice Lispector, Adam Johnson, and Lucia Berlin.” I’m enchanted by the cover of “Firefly Hollow.”  Publishers Weekly
  2. Viewpoint: Don Quixote adaptation branded ‘a crime against literature,’ by Martin Chilton – “An accessible modern re-write of Spain’s most revered novel, Don Quixote, has become a bestseller but the version been branded ‘a crime against literature.’…But Spanish academics have lashed out at what they see as tampering with their beloved Quixote.”  The Telegraph
  3. lastbusReview: “Last Bus to Wisdom,” by Ivan Doig, reviewed by Jim Carmin – “In the delightful “Last Bus to Wisdom,” Doig puts to good use his old-fashioned traditional storytelling skills. He deftly mixes wild yarns into a lively narrative, inserting stories and homegrown local expressions into the tale of 11-year-old Donal Cameron’s adventures of traveling alone by bus in 1951 from the Montana Rockies to Manitowoc, Wis., and heading westward again, ending eventually in Wisdom, Mont.”  Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  4. News: Obama’s beach reads span climate change to race relations – “The White House on Thursday released a list of six books President Barack Obama will be reading over his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. They span from novels to nonfiction books about climate change and race relations in the United States. ”  Reuters
  5. smallercirclesReview: “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” by E.H. Batacan, reviews vy J. Daniel Elam – “WHEN F.H. BATACAN’S Smaller and Smaller Circles was first published in the Philippines in 1999, it was heralded as inaugurating a new genre in Filipino literature — one that, sixteen years later, appears to be as large in Manila as it is in the United States. Batacan had allegedly written the first ‘Western-style’ crime novel in the Philippines. ”  The Los Angeles Review of Books
  6. News: Authors Want Mississippi to Change Its Flag, by Dianna Dilworth – “Authors John Grisham, Kathryn Stockett and Richard Ford have joined together as part of a group calling the state of Mississippi to remove the Confederate emblem from its state flag.”  Galleycat
  7. FBIlogoFeature: Why Did the FBI Spy on James Baldwin? by Hannah K. Gold – “James Baldwin’s FBI file contains 1,884 pages of documents, collected from 1960 until the early 1970s. During that era of illegal surveillance of American writers, the FBI accumulated 276 pages on Richard Wright, 110 pages on Truman Capote, and just nine pages on Henry Miller. Baldwin’s file was closer in size to activists and radicals of the day — for example, it’s nearly half as thick as Malcolm X’s.”  The Intercept
  8. helenphillipsInterview: Helen Phillips (“The Beautiful Bureaucrat”) with Celia Johnson – “With the publication of her debut novel, The Beautiful Bureaucrat, Helen Phillips has been compared to a host of literary masters: Kafka, Davis, Calvino, Atwood, Saramago, Borges, and more. Take note of the breadth of that list.”  Slice
  9. Feature: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace, by Jodi Kantor and David Streifeld – “The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.” The New York Times
  10. darkwoodcoverReview: “In a Dark, Dark Wood,” by Ruth Ware, reviewed by Anna Lauren Levy – “In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is every adult’s worst nightmare. In her debut novel, Ware rips off the Band-Aids binding her characters’ adolescent scars in order to reopen unforgettable, unforgivable wounds. The question here is whether protagonist Lenora Shaw is wounded, dangerous or both.”  Book Page
  11. bezosNews: Jeff Bezos Responds To ‘New York Times’ Report On Amazon’s Workplace, by Laura Wagner – “Bezos encourages staffers to read the Times piece but states, ‘The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.” He later writes that “anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay.””  NPR
  12. How To: Writing Your Book’s Back-Cover Copy, by Jessi Rita Hoffman – “So you’ve written your book, you’ve chosen your title and cover design, and you’re breathing a sigh of relief. Now you have to decide what goes on the back cover. New authors sometimes rush this decision, writing the first thing that comes to mind. After all, it’s the back of the book. How important can it be?  A lot more important than a person might think. The hundred-and-fifty words you’ll place on your back cover are arguably the most important words in your entire book.”  Jane Friedman
  13. bookscrystalsQuotation: “It’s Maui’s only independent bookstore. I used to be a school teacher and books are passionately important to me. I believe they are part of our intellectual freedom in this world. I’m not a fan of that ‘A’ company. We call it that ‘A’ word in our shop.” – Judy Levy, in Maui Time

KIndle cover 200x300Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” about a granny who fights racism with folk magic. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99 cents on Amazon August 18.



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