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 >>
Sadly, I’ve no reviews to share with you this week because my partner was hospitalized on Monday after receiving chemo the previous Friday and becoming poorly. Hopefully I will have something new for you in WUTW #58.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you six of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it was difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea (2019) – Jane at Beyond Eden Rock found the writing “dark and lovely” but had “reservations” about the structure of this intriguing historical novel set in 17th century Iceland.
‘Collected Stories’ by Richard Yates – “Some readers may find Yates a bit bleak”, warns Jonathan, although he thinks it is merely “a bit ‘grubby’ at times.” Discover why at Intermittencies of the Mind.
My “Hello” to Philip Roth! – Davida Chazan of The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog was “pleasantly surprised to find out how very nicely [this 1959 collection had] aged.” In fact, she says, “some stories [were] practically evergreen in their subject matter.”
‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Although Susana Faria felt this 2009 short story collection had a “slightly repetitive tone”, she found the characters “fascinating” and “wanted to know more about their lives”. Read her full review at A Bag Full of Stories.
Sacred Darkness by Levan Berdzenishvili – Nirmala of Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs found Berdzenishvili’s “semi-autobiographical novel” about the Soviet gulags a real eye-opener.
Listening to Literary Podcasts – Over at The Book Stop, Deb (aka CurlyGeek) explores the world of literary podcasts.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds (or adding them to our Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:
BBC News: Obituary: Andrea Levy – “Andrea Levy, who has died of cancer at the age of 62, told the stories of the Windrush generation with humour and compassion.”
Humanities: Ursula K. Le Guin Was a Creator of Worlds – “Places, real and imaginary, were important to Ursula Le Guin”, writes Julie Phillips.
Literary Tourist: London’s Rich Store of Publishing Houses and Bookstores: Day 1 – Nigel Beale explores London’s many literary nooks and crannies.
Longreads: Stalin’s Scheherazade – An unremarkable writer, Mikhail Sholokhov somehow rose to fame in his early twenties. Critics said it was too good to be true – they were right.
The Chronicle of Higher Education: How a Dispute Over the N-Word Became a Dispiriting Farce – “Since when is reading James Baldwin out loud in class an academic crime?” asks Randall Kennedy.
The Guardian: There’s no shame in reading whatever books you want – literary snobs be damned – “After discovering most novels of ‘literary value’ are written by dead white men, Emily Maguire asks, who gets to decide? And what’s the criteria?”
Electric Literature: The Center for Fiction’s New Home Reflects a Change in How We Read – “A modern space addresses the needs of modern readers and writers”.
Vanity Fair: Kazuo Ishiguro Was Knighted by Prince Charles – Erin Vanderhoof reports on the popular Japanese-born British novelist becoming a knight.
The Paris Review: Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction – Twenty-five years ago, Sven Birkerts declared that a diminution of reading would diminish our sense of self. Have his fears come to pass? asks Mairead Small Staid.
Publishers Weekly: 10 Essential Scary Books by Women – Maryse Meijer shares a selection of books by “storytellers whose work has kept [her] up at night, wondering about [her] own relationship to the fantastic horrors they depict.”
Book Riot: We’re Celebrating Historical Fiction Day! – An abundance of lists for Historical Fiction Day.
Mail Online: Ups and downs of life in a bookshop: Chinese store leaves customers on a stairway to literary heaven – “The Zhongshuge Bookstore in Hangzhou, China is a world of optical illusions with thousands of books inside”, writes Zoie O’brien.
The Times Literary Supplement: Iris Murdoch and the power of love – “Anil Gomes considers Murdoch’s view that morality is real and that, with the right conceptual resources, we can perceive it.”
Smithsonian: How 18th-Century Writers Created the Genre of Popular Science – Lorraine Boissoneault explains why “French writers such as Voltaire and Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle helped shape the Enlightenment with stories of science”.
The Calvert Journal: Infinite Jest comes to Russia. Why translators finally took on the ‘untranslatable’ novel – “One of the most important — and untranslatable — novels written in English has finally been translated and published in Russian”, writes Josh Nadeau.
CBC: 6 must-read Canadian nonfiction works for Black History Month 2019 – Ryan B. Patrick thinks these “recent works of nonfiction by black Canadian authors help inform, illustrate and shape national viewpoints, truths and experiences.”
The New York Times: The Hit Podcasters Breaking Down Harry Potter, Chapter by Chapter – Renan Borelli has discovered a podcast that breaks down Harry Potter chapter by chapter.
NPR: Random House Copy Chief: Stand Tall, Wordsmiths! (But Choose Your Battles) – Benjamin Dryer speaks to Terry Gross about “wan intensifiers” and being a stickler for grammar and punctuation.
Literary Hub: 5 Reasons a Writer Should Move to Brisbane – Kim Bussing thinks life in Australia’s sunshine state capital sounds like the bee’s knees.
Los Angeles Times: Burglar hits legendary bookstore, steals rare edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – A thief stole “at least 20 books” from Baldwin’s Book Barn in Philadelphia, including a rare edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
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 or comment below. 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.