The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Drag Queen Story Hour, Smoky Zeidel, Mass Market Paperbacks, Jean Stein

Here are a few items that forced themselves into my consciousness while I was trying to use up the day (after grocery shopping) reading an ancient novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Mother Night). It’s a trade paperback from the days when trade paperbacks were the best way of buying inexpensive books as long as you didn’t have to have them as soon as the hardback edition was released. Today, the industry doesn’t seem to know whether to keep using this format or not (Item 3).

  1. Feature: ‘Drag Queen Story Hour Puts the Rainbow in Reading,’ by Una Lamarche – “This is Drag Queen Story Hour. The brainchild of the writer Michelle Tea and Radar Productions, it is exactly what it sounds like: drag queens reading stories to children. It began in San Francisco in December 2015 and spread to Brooklyn last summer, thanks to social media attention.” The New York Times
  2. New Title: ‘Shadowed Places: A Collection of Short Stories’ by Smoky Zeidel (Thomas-Jacob Publishing May 21) – “Breathe: how many people can pinpoint the precise time their marriage died; can repeat verbatim the words that sent the marriage plunging into the grave? Goodbye, Emily Dickinson: Sometimes the delusion is what helps us get through the reality. Lesser Offenses: Stepmothers had disappeared before, for lesser offenses. It was Carlotta’s time to go.” Amazon
  3. Viewpoint: ‘Is Mass Market Dying, Or Just Evolving—Again?’ by Rachel Deahl – “In steady decline for years, the format is either enduring an incredibly slow death or has begun to right itself in the market.” Publishers Weekly
  4. Quotation: “Owning this store was never a dream or fantasy of ours because it never would have occurred to us. It turns out it’s a lot of people’s fantasy, though they don’t realize how hard it is. It’s been this full immersion into this world that we barely knew, but now represents really everything we care about.” – Lissa Muscatine, co-owner with Bradley Graham of Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. Shelf Awareness
  5. Benton

    Interview: Janet Benton with Lauren Bufferd, ‘A tale of motherhood set on the brink of modernity’ – I’ve written fiction since I was very young, and I have an MFA in fiction writing. But Lilli de Jong is the first novel I’ve finished. The voice I heard from the beginning was that of Lilli telling her story. I didn’t choose how to explore the story; it never struck me as a subject area, but rather as an embodied and urgent tale.” Book Page

  6. Obituary: ‘That Voice, Those Parties: Remembering Jean Stein,’ by Guy Trebay and Jacob Bernstein – “To conjure Jean Stein you must first imagine the voice — a soft and breathy near-whisper, by turns merry or full of steel. It was a voice suited to late-night telephone conversations and dinners at the corner tables of now-forgotten Manhattan restaurants.” New York Times
  7. Feature: ‘Body of work: Women writers on disordered eating, writing the body and the book launch diet’ by Joanna Novak – “Before my book came out I thought about dieting, despite my history. Was I being shallow? Was I alone?” Salon

Book Bits is compiled randomly by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of magical realism, paranormal, and contemporary fantasy short stories and novels.

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