An end of week recap
A much shorter end-of-week summary than usual as I am having a few days away with my partner and the dogs. She underwent surgery last week and needs time to recuperate before starting an intensive course of radiotherapy, so where better to relax than a mere amble from a beautiful sandy beach in magnificent Mid Wales – especially when the sun is shining.
As ever, 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 nightstand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
* Wales Book of the Year 2019 *
Ailbhe Darcy was the overall winner of the 2019 Wales Book of the Year Award with her superb poetry collection, Insistence. The winner of each category is revealed. >> WALES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019: The Winners >>
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you three of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it’s difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier Review – Jane at What Jane Read Next describes the narrator of this 1969 fantasy novel as “fun” and was “sucked into the story from the first pages”.
Review 1365: The Witch Elm – “Tana French is really good at evoking an atmosphere of dread”, says Kay of Whatmeread, in her critique of this new novel. It is one of the suspense writer’s “darkest novels” and she was “riveted throughout”.
20 Books of Summer, #2 and #3: Queenie and Pulp – Writer and historian, Laura Tisdall felt Candice Carty-Williams’s debut novel, Queenie, was “far less ‘feelgood’ than most chick lit [but] for all the right reasons”. Robin Talley’s Pulp, on the other hand, had “a great premise” but she wasn’t “confident” with the author’s handling of the 1950’s setting.
* 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 my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:
The New York Times: On the Centennial of Iris Murdoch’s Birth, Remembering a 20th-Century Giant – As Iris Murdoch’s 100th birthday approaches, Dwight Garner looks back on her literary legacy.
Independent: One-hit wonders: Why some authors get stuck after their debut novel – “Charlotte Cripps looks at why some authors buckle under the strain, take forever or just don’t have it in them to write that elusive follow-up”.
The Paris Review: Re-Covered: A Blisteringly Honest Lesbian Suicide Memoir – First published under a pseudonym, Rosemary Manning’s out-of-print memoir describes her failed suicide attempt as a logical response to the homophobic world of the seventies.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney’s independent bookstores defy the doom and gloom – Following the recent news that a much-loved Sydney book shop was closing; Helen Pitt sets out to show that Australians still adore books.
Public Books: Authorship After AI – “Authorship attribution is helpful if you suspect fraud,” says Sarah Allison – also if “authorship is unknown, and you want to assign credit”.
Literary Hub: How Many Copies Did Famous Books Sell in the First Year? – Anything from two to two million, according to Emily Temple.
It’s Nice That: They said books were dead, they were wrong: Adrian Shaughnessy on a decade of Unit Editions – “As Unit Editions enters its second decade, it looks as if books are here to stay, and the doubters were wrong,” says Adrian Shaughnessy.
The New York Times: What Happens After Amazon’s Domination Is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues – David Streitfeld takes a long, hard look at Amazon’s dominance in the book business.
The Guardian: Thousands petition Netflix to cancel Amazon Prime’s Good Omens – “US Christian group condemns Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s story as ‘making satanism appear normal’ – but petition wrong company”, writes Alison Flood.
The American Scholar: The Great Summer Read – “Why do we persist in this often-futile literary quest?” asks Joseph Luzzi.
Irish Examiner: We Sell Book: ‘Marie Kondo effect is devaluing Books’ – Marjorie Brennan speaks to the owners of Midleton Books and Fermoy Books in Cork about the Marie Kondo effect.
Aeon: Noah Webster’s civil war of words over American English – Peter Martin on Noah Webster and the “American dictionary wars”.
Book Trust: The Book That Made Me: Katherine Rundell – “Author Katherine Rundell knew Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones was pretty special, when it kept her entertained as a girl through a bout of car sickness. Here’s why she thinks this clever, quirky fantasy will stand the test of time.”
Literary Tourist: Motoring to Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago and Syracuse – Nigel Beale goes on his literary travels to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and New York State.
Fine Books & Collections: After Extensive Renovations, Victor Hugo’s House Reopens – Barbara Basbanes Richter finds that Hauteville House, Victor Hugo’s home on the island of Guernsey, has reopened to the public following an 18-month renovation.
L’Orient-Le Jour: Papercup: ten years of “pleasant harmony” – A Lebanese bookshop celebrates 10 years of being a haven for booklovers.
Lit Reactor: 5 Horrifying Books Outside The Horror Genre – Autumn Christian looks at the ways in which horror exists outside the expected genre.
ArabLit: Multilingual Chinese Bookshop Opens in Rabat – Les Etoiles Bookshop opened earlier this year, selling books in Chinese, French, Arabic and English.
The Guardian: ‘Revolutionary’ project reveals reading habits of 19th century working-class Australians – The Australian Common Reader “tracks reading habits of mostly working-class Australians between 1861 and 1928”, finds Stephanie Convery.
The Paris Review: Feminize Your Canon: Catherine Carswell – In her monthly column, Emma Garman explores the life and work of a notorious but “gifted Glaswegian writer”.
Read it Forward: How Books Make Us Feel Less Alone – “The author of How Could She remembers finding hope (and glamour) in the Vintage Contemporaries.”
Time: How Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Colson Whitehead Finds Inspiration for His Books – Colson Whitehead talks inspiration with Annabel Gutterman.
The Buffalo News: New bookstore opens at Fashion Outlets – Samantha Christmann peeks inside the recently-opened bookstore at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls.
Literary Hub: I Read One Hundred Books Just to Write One – “Heather O’Neill on the compulsive joy of endless research”.
Penguin Classics: The classic I fell in love with, as chosen by our authors and readers – Penguin is celebrating individual books loved by its readers.
The Brag: Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop lease denied on account of landlord’s “Spiritual Beliefs” – Mike Hohnen reports that The Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne, open since 1997, has lost its lease due to “spiritual objections.”
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.