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 >>
* The Latest Literary Jolly *
If you, like me, are partial to the writings of Sylvia Townsend Warner, you should hurry over to Helen Parry’s a gallimaufry blog to obtain all the gen on Sylvia Townsend Warner Reading Week, which is taking place from 1st to 7th July 2019. You are invited to “celebrate the life and works” of this English author and poet, best known for penning such novels as Lolly Willowes (1926), Mr Fortune’s Maggot (1927) and Summer Will Show (1936). “If you haven’t tried her work before, now is the time”, says Helen. “All you need to do is read something by Sylvia Townsend Warner and then write about it during the first week of July.”
* 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:
Who was changed and who was dead – some thoughts on Dostoevsky’s “The Devils” – This “complex,” darkly humorous work “will continue resonating” with Karen Langley at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings “for a long time.”
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – Kate W of booksaremyfavouriteandbest describes this 2013 collection as “smart” and “a triple-threat memoir”, by which she means it is “equal parts candid, funny and melancholy”.
Thursbitch, by Alan Garner – Lisa Hill at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog found Garner’s 2003 fantasy novel “difficult and pessimistic”. She also struggled with the dialect, which she describes as “uncompromising”.
Book Review: Wayfinding – Kim declares Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World by M.R. O’Connor “a gem of a book”. Discover why we are “far more capable than our devices would have us believe,” at Traveling in Books.
The interlinked processes of reading and writing grief: Thoughts on Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno – JM Schreiber at roughghosts thinks Zambreno’s meditation on coming “to terms with her mother’s death” is like “a literary scrapbook”, resulting in an “oddly eclectic assemblage”.
The Turquoise Shop (1941) by Frances Crane – Dead Yesterday describes this sleuthing novel as “a charming prewar mystery that makes the most of its colorful location”.
* 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:
The New York Times: A Bookstore of One’s Own – “Persephone Books in London — devoted mostly to overlooked works by female writers in the mid-1900s — celebrates its 20th anniversary this year”, says Sarah Lyall.
Literary Hub: 17 Writers on the Role of Fiction in Addressing Climate Change – A group of writers speak out about the author’s responsibility to a planet in crisis.
The New Yorker: Who Owns a Story? – “I was reviewing a novel. Then I found myself in it.” Katy Waldman on the question of appropriating other people’s lives as fiction.
Lapham’s Quarterly: Looking for Shakespeare’s Library – “The Bard clearly read many books. Where did they go?” asks Stuart Kells.
Vox: Why Notre Dame matters, in one Victor Hugo passage – “What Victor Hugo wrote to save Notre Dame when it was on the brink of destruction”.
World Literature Today: Malaysian English Writing Today – Dipika Mukherjee considers the recent zeitgeist in Malaysian writing and exactly what has and hasn’t changed.
ABC: Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s ‘The Erractics’ takes out Stella Prize – Catch the episode on RN Breakfast of Laveau-Harvie discussing the story of her return to Canada to care for her ageing, estranged parents and the conflict of loyalty, love, obligation and damage that ensued. (Many thanks to Lynette at Life after Sixty-Five for highlighting this interview.)
The Guardian: ‘Extraordinary’ 500-year-old library catalogue reveals books lost to time – Alison Flood discovers that “The Libro de los Epítomes was a catalogue for Hernando Colón’s 16th-century collection, which he intended to be the biggest in the world”.
The Outline: The thesaurus is good, valuable, commendable, superb, actually – B.D. McClay writes in defence of “the much-maligned reference book.”
Book Marks: Lydia Sigwarth on Girl Sleuths, Evil Librarians, and Finding Home in a Children’s Library – “The children’s librarian was such a positive influence on my life […] that I decided there and then that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up”, says Wisconsin-based children’s librarian, Lydia Sigwarth.
Publishing Perspectives: The UK’s Wolfson History Prize Announces its 2019 Shortlist – “The Wolfson History Prize 2019 shortlist includes biographies of Wilde and Victoria, and studies in archaeology, ornithology, seagoing wartime commerce, and ‘legacies of Nazi persecution.’”
The Bookseller: Authors told to write under pseudonyms to fuel debut obsession, claims Harris – Award winning novelist, Joanne Harris has claimed that authors are being told to “write under pseudonyms to present themselves as debut writers”.
Jezebel: Woman Finds Ring Filled With Charlotte Brontë’s Hair, Is Now $26,000 Richer – A woman appearing on the Antiques Roadshow brought along a ring inscribed with the words ‘C. Brontë’.
The Atlantic: Writing the Pulitzer-Winning The Overstory Changed Richard Powers’s Life – Rosa Inocencio Smith finds that Power’s “12th novel was inspired by what he’s described as a kind of ‘religious conversion.’”
BBC News: Graffiti punished by reading – ‘It worked!’ says prosecutor – Two-and-a-half years after five teenagers were sentenced by a court to read a list of books, all are still in education and none has reoffended.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Books That Changed Me: Barbara Toner – Barbara Toner thinks Vanity Fair is the best novel ever written.
CBC: 5 writers make 2019 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist – Read all five finalists’ stories. The winner will be announced on 24th April.
Mental Floss: Beowulf Was Written By One Person, According to Computer Analysis – Researchers have concluded that the Old English epic is probably the work of one author.
The Paris Review: The Royally Radical Life of Margaret Cavendish – “I first encountered [Margaret Cavendish] through Woolf’s exquisitely savage portrait in The Common Reader”, says Michael Robbins.
The Times Literary Supplement: Vast, beautiful and full of writers – “Rozalind Dineen visits the Iceland Writers Retreat”.
Tor.com: Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Glorfindel, Resurrected Hero and Spiritual Warrior – In this biweekly series, Megan N. Fontenot explores “the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium”.
Stylist: The feminist backstory that will make you love The Moomins even more – Amy Swales thinks “our love for Tove Jansson’s stories goes beyond adoring the charming characters.”
The Guardian: Hunchback of Notre-Dame goes to top of bestseller list after fire – Jon Henley discovers that various “editions of the Victor Hugo classic occupy five slots in Amazon France’s top 10”.
Words Without Borders: The Watchlist: April 2019 – Tobias Carroll with new and forthcoming must-read releases from Argentina, Korea, Finland, Indonesia, Iceland, Croatia and Germany.
Design Week: New Hay Festival branding looks to capture event’s “growth” and “utopian” spirit – Alina Polianskaya reveals Hay Festival’s new look.
The Irish Times: Mentors for independent bookshops are changing the game, one shop at a time – “Mentoring for small bookshops [is] benefitting towns and villages in UK and Ireland” says Sheila O’Reilly.
Boston Review: “More Queer Writing, Please” – “Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is being celebrated as the vanguard of a new trans lit. In this interview, Lawlor talks about Paul’s origins, trans identity, and the future of queer literature.”
San Antonio Express-News: Long-lost Kafka works could emerge after messy legal battle – Aron Heller reports that a hidden trove of unpublished works by Franz Kafka may soon be revealed following a messy legal battle.
ABC News: Brisbane’s Boswells Books closing down but final chapter has happy ending – “After trading for more than 50 years and being a family’s pride and joy spanning three generations, one of Brisbane’s iconic bookstores is closing its doors” says Loretta Ryan.
Bored Panda: Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents’ Favourite Books – Street artists Jan Is De Man and Deef Feed teamed up to create a literary mural for a neighbourhood in Utrecht.
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.