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 Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, a diligently researched debut about a literary icon and his beautiful, wealthy Swans. It is a clever and brilliantly written historical novel, but the characters left me cold! >> Read my thoughts >>
I devoured In Search of Lost Books: The Forgotten Stories of Eight Mythical Volumes by Giorgio van Straten, the gripping account of eight lost books, and the mysterious circumstances behind their disappearances. My post was a Featured Review on NetGalley. >> Share my impressions >>
Next up is Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. Published in 1937, this humorous classic is an irreverent satire of London’s Fleet Street and its hectic pursuit of hot news. It’s my chosen title for May’s Monthly Genre Challenge (Comedy/Tragedy), which is hosted by The 2018 Reading Challenge Group on Goodreads.
Coming soon is …Well, it could be one of several titles languishing on my TBR shelf. As I’m heading to Hay for the Festival later this month (I’m quite sure you are heartily sick by now of me reminding you), I intend to keep my reading options open. For this reason, my schedule is far less rigorous during the festival period. Is there a perfect book to pop in my suitcase, I wonder? What would you ideally read during the event? I would love to hear your suggestions.
* The Latest On Reading Wales *
In the second of our occasional features about Wales to be posted in the run-up to Dewithon 2019, we looked forward to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14th May, then turned back to relive a memorable performance from 2003. >> Read International Dylan Thomas Day >>
As always, I received some insightful and entertaining responses to this post:
Karen from BookerTalk recollected: “One of my first experiences of Dylan Thomas was listening to a recording of a performance of Under Milk Wood which was staged in New York with Thomas taking the narrator’s role. It was mesmerising…far, far better than any stage production I have seen (and I have seen many!)”
Chris of Calmgrove was able to surprise me once again with the words: “I’ve written a couple of villanelles for a creative writing course partly based on Thomas’ Rage, rage exemplar (published recently on a sister blog of mine, [Zenrinji: Micropoetry and flash fiction].” I suggest you head over there and take a look.
He also wrote: “I tried very hard to like the filmed version of UMW (the one with Richard Burton narrating and with Peter O’Toole starring, among others, partly shot in Old Town, Fishguard) but couldn’t get on with its bleakness. I much preferred the wonderful BBC Wales TV version broadcast a couple or so years ago; I could watch that again and again.”
Please feel free to join in with this conversation and share your thoughts and memories, or indeed, ask questions about Thomas and Welsh literature in general.
You may find a recent post on Created to Read of interest: Crime & Coffee – A Festival of Crime Fiction in Cardiff gives the lowdown on the Welsh capital’s new two day event celebrating crime literature, authors, reading and libraries. It will take place at Cardiff Central Library Hub on 1st and 2nd June, and will “promote Wales-based crime writers and stories set in Wales.” Look out for the #cdfcrimefest and #GŵylStraeonDitectif hashtags on Twitter. >> Buy your tickets here >>
* The Right Kind of Writing *
I was excited to encounter the name of a new playwright, poet and public speaker from Machynlleth, Rhiannon Lloyd-Williams, on the Longlist of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018 (Essay Collection category). Rhiannon, like me, is a late-diagnosed autistic woman, and I found her writings on the subject extraordinarily moving. Why she hasn’t made it on to the NWWA shortlist (announced on Thursday evening) with The Wrong Kind of Happiness, I do not know. Her first play, The Duck, to be performed by the Autact Theatre Company, kicks off at Plymouth Fringe Festival on 2nd June, moving on to Aberystwyth Arts Centre on the 8th and then to Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest for three performances (29th June to 1st July). If you catch her one-woman play, I would love to hear all about it, as sadly I won’t be able to make any of those dates. She is definitely a fresh and spirited talent worth watching.
Incidentally, for those who may wish to do so, writing on the subject of Wales-related literary blogs for Reading Wales 2019 is perfectly fine, if not encouraged.
* 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 Paris Review: Women Intellectuals and the Art of the Withering Quip – Rebecca West said of Henry James: “He splits hairs until there are no longer any hairs to split, and the mental gesture becomes merely the making of agitated passes over a complete and disconcerting baldness.”
GQ: Why Hay Festival is so much more than a literary festival – With outposts all over the world – from Aarhus to Arequipa – Hay Festival continues its mission of cultural diplomacy.
World Literature Today: 5 Favourite Literary Instas – A list of five Instagram pages that deliver literature’s power in small moments.
BBC Global News: Anne Frank’s American Pen Pal – The diary of Anne Frank is one of the 20th century’s most powerful books. But did you know it is not her only correspondence? Anne was also the pen pal of two girls in Danville, Mississippi, and her letters will now be exhibited at their local cultural centre.
The Guardian: Exploration of transhumanism movement wins Wellcome book prize – Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, about humanity’s attempts to conquer death through technology, has won the £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize.
Independent: The mysterious Cambridge library tower, supposedly full of banned books, is opening to the public – Cambridge University’s librarian, Jessica Gardner has announced that a new exhibition, Tall Tales: Secrets of the tower, will reveal texts telling the story of Britain’s national life.
LA Review of Books: Cosplay and Clotted Cream: The Lasting Appeal of Jane Austen – Leah Angstman writes on Ted Scheinman’s Camp Austen and the lasting appeal of Jane Austen in the 21st Century.
Good Housekeeping: The best literary festivals in the UK – Megan Sutton shares a small selection of her favourite UK book festivals in 2018.
Unbound Worlds: 5 Books for Understanding the Chernobyl Disaster – A disaster on the scale of Chernobyl can be difficult to comprehend, but here are five books that might help.
Signature: A Reader’s Guide to Renowned Writer and Poet Robert Graves – A look at highlights from Robert Graves’s work, which spans a host of genres, from crime stories to tactile evocations of the distant past.
Vintage: Where to start reading Angela Carter – Angela Carter wrote over 20 books in her lifetime – fiction, poetry, short stories and books for children. Don’t know where to start? The Vintage Classics editors picked a few of their favourites to remember Angela on her 78th birthday.
Stylist: Shocking research shows how little we value books written by women – A new study has found that books written by women are valued at nearly half the price of those written by men. Sarah Biddlecombe asks why?
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.