An end of week recap
This is a weekly post in which I summarize books read, reviewed and currently on my TBR shelf. In addition to a variety of literary titbits, I look ahead to forthcoming features, see what’s on the night-stand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I read and reviewed Freedom: Vintage Minis, in which Margaret Atwood asks the question: can we ever be wholly free? She holds a mirror up to our world, and the reflection we are faced with, of men and women in prisons literal and metaphorical, is frightening but not entirely without hope. >> Read my thoughts >>
Look out for my review of Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s literary debut, Swan Song – a novel based on the rise and self-destructive fall of Truman Capote and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his swans. Scheduled for publication by Cornerstone on 14th June.
Next up is Song Castle by Luke Waterson – a novel set in 12th century Wales about the charismatic players and intrigues of the very first Eisteddfod – still Europe’s largest competitive festival of poetry and music to this day.
Coming soon is In Search of Lost Books: The Forgotten Stories of Eight Mythical Volumes, a non-fiction title in which Giorgio Van Straten recounts the stories of eight lost books and the mysterious circumstances behind their disappearances. To be published by Pushkin Press on 8th June.
* My Contribution to the 1977 Club *
I posted my piece on Sylvia Plath’s Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams just before the 1977 Club event ended. Simon and Karen have since announced that the next reading year, which runs from 15th-21st October, is going to be 1944. I’m really looking forward to taking part – even if I’m able only to critique one book – because it was a year rich in fascinating publications despite a war raging around the world. For example, there was Gigi by Colette, Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith, The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham and Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. Then there was the short story collection Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges, and in drama came The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. There are so many from which to choose and ample time to plan schedules. Roll on the 1944 Club. >> Read my comments on Johnny Panic and the 1977 Club >>
* Definitely Not a Bucket List *
I have produced a literary wish-list that is absolutely not, in any way, shape or form a bucket list. Got that? Good! >> Booket Not Bucket, If You Please! >>
Since posting this checklist of book-related places to visit in the UK and, to a lesser extent, other parts of Europe, fellow bloggers have been suggesting all manner of literary hotspots. Many thanks to all of you – please keep sharing your ideas. Here are a few to stimulate your book-buds:
Annabel of Annabookbel suggested stopping off for refreshments at The Eagle and Child after visiting Oxford’s Bodleian Library, as it was here The Inklings literary group met regularly during the ’30s and ’40s. She also praises Blackwell’s Norrington Room for its “non-fic cavern,” which she calls “amazing”!
Karen of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings came up with my favourite: Charleston, the Sussex home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, which became a gathering place for The Bloomsberries. I added this one immediately!
* Thoughts on Reading Wales *
In recognition of World Penguin Day (the bird not the publisher) on 24th April, Seren Books posted the poem Penguin Love by Nerys Williams on its blog (taken from her 2011 collection, Sound Archive). This volume may well be of interest to those taking part in Dewithon 2019 as Nerys hails from West Wales. In 2017 she was poet in residence at Passa Porta, Brussels, as part of the Welsh Government’s Poetry of Loss / Barddoniaeth Colled commemoration of the Welsh language First World War poet Heed Wyn. >> Read: Friday Poem – ‘Penguin Love’, Nerys Williams >>
Wales Readerthoners should also take a look at BookerTalk’s Bookends #5 April 22 post, in which Karen discussed Creed by Margiad Evans, a novel set in the fictional Welsh town of Chepsford. Originally released in 1936, it was republished by Honno Welsh Women’s Press earlier this year. She describes Evans as a “poet, novelist and illustrator who, though of English origin herself, closely identified with the Welsh border country.”
* Fab Features *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds, but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:
The Guardian: Hisham Matar: International literature is hugely underrated, while English books are often overrated – The British-Libyan writer, Hisham Matar believes English books are often overrated. He says this is boring and dangerous!
Publishers Weekly: Let’s Stop Writing Books About ‘Girls’ – A college writing-teacher questions the abundance of books with the word ‘girl’ in their titles.
The Writing Cooperative: Thoughts In An English Bookshop – H.J. Stead visits an old-fashioned book shop in York.
The New York Times: When Neo-Nazis Marched Through Berlin’s Old Jewish Quarter, a Bookshop Took Notice – How a bookseller in modern Berlin stood up against fascists.
Electric Literature: 11 Highly Literary Tote Bags – Are they the ultimate symbol of the well-read? Jo Lou takes a light-hearted look at bookish canvas bags.
The New Yorker: Encounters with Shakespeare – New Yorker writers share their experiences of reading, watching, studying, performing, memorizing and falling in love with the work of the Bard.
Bookwitty: The American Way of Death and Six Other Books Bowie Thought You Should Read – David Bowie was a voracious reader. Some of his favourite books are highlighted in this article by Shane O’Reilly.
Open Culture: Braille Neue: A New Version of Braille That Can Be Simultaneously Read by the Sighted and the Blind – Braille Neue can be read by the sighted and the visually impaired at the same time – a huge step toward a universal typeface.
If there is something you would particularly like to see on Winding Up the Week or if you have any suggestions, questions or comments for Book Jotter in general, please drop me a line. I would be delighted to hear from you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you a week bountiful in books and rich in reading.
NB In this feature, ‘winding up’ refers to the act of concluding something and should not be confused with the British expression: ‘wind-up’ – an age-old pastime of ‘winding-up’ friends and family by teasing or playing pranks on them. If you would like to know more about this expression, there’s an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.