The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: MacArthur Genius Grants, Susan Cheever, ‘The Maidens’ War,’ Books for Syria, Astrid Lindgren diaries

BookBitsYou probably know this is Banned Books Week. Some people think the term “banned” is over-used since true banning seldom occurs in the U.S. Consider this view: “Banned Books Week Is a Crock: That’s good news! No one bans books anymore. We won!” by Ruth Graham.

Is that heresy or a reasonable acknowledgement that challenging books in schools and libraries and (at times) getting them removed or restricted is a far cry from actual book banning?

Maybe we should call it Freedom to Read Week

Maybe we should call it Freedom to Read Week

According to Graham, “Once upon a time, book bans were a serious issue in the United States. The Comstock Law, passed by Congress in 1873, made it illegal to circulate ‘obscene literature.’ Even classics like The Canterbury Tales fell under that description in the eyes of Victorian moralists, and in the middle of the last century, publishers and booksellers of forbidden novels including Tropic of Cancer and Fanny Hill were actually prosecuted in court.”

It mostly happens in other parts of the world (including New Zealand) where authorities haven’t gotten the memo that only cowards ban books. In the U.S., those people are sometimes known as school boards. (Items 3 and 5.)

  1. macarthurNews: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ben Lerner Awarded MacArthur Genius Grants, by Lincoln Michel – “Authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ben Lerner were among the 24 recipients of grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation this year. The grants, commonly known as ‘genius grants,’ are awarded to Americans who ‘show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.’ The grant comes with a huge no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000.”  Electric Lit
  2. News: Five Books Making News This Week: Memoir Queens and Ping-Pong Losers, by  Jane Ciabattari – “A U.S. Poet Laureate
    On the list.

    On the list.

    offers a stirring new collection, a revered short story author’s new book compiles 46 stories written over a half century, the author of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction is back with an absurdist novel about an eccentric named Gustavo ‘Highway’ Sánchez who is auctioning off his teeth, a celebrated memoirist publishes a primer on the art that rings with her own distinctive voice, and more attention to Man Booker shortlisted Marlon James.”  Literary Hub

  3. Essay: My Banned Book, by Smoky Zeidel – “It’s Banned Book Week, that week when readers get to scratch the head and ask, “What the heck?” over the American Library Association’s list of the books most challenged by outraged readers who want to dictate what the rest of us read. Sex scenes, violence, anti-Christian sentiment, homosexuality, witchcraft, and single parenthood have all been reasons books have made the list. I had my own banned book, once. My first novel, as a matter of fact, Redeeming Grace. And while the book is out of print, I still have a story about it I love to tell.” SmokyZeidelBooks
  4. drinkinginamericaReview: “Drinking in America: Our Secret History,” by Susan Cheever – “Historian and biographer Susan Cheever (E.E. Cummings) believes alcohol and drinking have been an underlying force shaping the American story from the 17th century to the present. She launches her engrossing, insightful narrative with the Mayflower, which transported 200 barrels of alcohol to the New World.”  Shelf Awarness
  5. News: Banned New Zealand YA Novel Acquired By U.S. Publisher, by Rachel Deahl – “A young adult novel that has come under fire in its author’s native country will be making its way to the U.S. Ted Dawe’s Into the River, which earlier this month became the first book in more than two decades to be banned in New Zealand, has been acquired by Jason Pinter at Polis Books. ”  Publishers Weekly
  6. How To: While You Were Writing: Tips and Tricks, by Laurie Boris – “In case you’ve been too busy writing or watching cat videos to notice these small conveniences, I thought I’d round them up and bring them right to your eyeballs. Hopefully these tips and tricks will enhance your authorly productivity so you can go back to keeping up with the Kardashians and such.”  Indies Unlimited
  7. maidenswarReview: “The Maidens’ War,” by Lynne Cantwell, reviewed by ?wazithinkin – ” Interesting story, a timeless tale, will the power struggle between women and men ever be on equal ground? Which is stronger, a matriarchy or a patriarchal society?…The story switches back and forth between time settings. Sarka and Vlasta’s story from the Czech myth over a thousand years ago, to Maggie and Dr. Khout’s story during the 1980s in Huntington, West Virginia. I like the way the story elements were woven together through the two different time periods. It made it easy to see the parallels in the characters between the two different stories.”  Big Al’s Books and Pals
  8. bookssyriaNews: Buy Books For Syria: Bestselling authors join Waterstones campaign to raise money for refugees, by Priyanka Mogul – “Authors including Khaled Hosseini, Jacqueline Wilson, Hilary Mantel and David Walliams are among those taking part in the Buy Books For Syria Campaign. This was started by Waterstones, which is aiming to raise £1m through the sale of books, with 100% of the retail price being donated to Oxfam’s Syria Appeal. Some of the industry’s biggest publishers have joined in to donate book titles to the cause, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster.”  International Business Times
  9. Feature: The Writer I Was: Six Authors Look Back on Their First Novels, by Meredith Turits – “I asked six writers to look back on their debut novels, released as many as 25 years ago, and talk about how their relationships with their books have evolved with time and distance.”  The Millions
  10. Willis


    Interview: Keith Willis (“Traitor Knight”), with Malcolm R. Campbell – “When I first came up with the idea for Traitor Knight, I knew I wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary—to turn the old ‘knight vs dragon’ trope on its head. So I ended up with a dragon suffering from hiccups and a damsel-in-distress who’s fiercely suspicious of her rescuer. The story is really more a swashbuckler with a large dash of wit, and is intended as an homage to all those great old Saturday matinee movies. ”  Malcolm’s Round Table

  11. News: Astrid Lindgren’s second world war diaries published in Sweden, by Alison Flood – “Years before her stories of the red-braided Pippi Longstocking would make her famous, Astrid Lindgren was a 32-year-old mother in Stockholm with two small children, recording the nightmares of the second world war in 17 volumes of diaries that have just been published in Scandinavia for the first time.”  The Guardian

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




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