An end of week recap
I must regretfully report a far from productive week – in fact, no posts whatsoever. I have therefore produced an extra fat end-of-week digest, in the hope you will bear with me until my life returns to an approximation of normal.
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.
* Robertson Davies Reading Week *
Lory at The Emerald City is planning a celebratory reading week in honour of one of her favourite authors, the Canadian (with Welsh ancestry) novelist, playwright, critic and journalist Robertson Davies (1913-1995). She invites fellow bloggers to take part in Robertson Davies Reading Week from 25th to 31st August 2019 – a date encompassing what would have been his 106th birthday on 28th – by posting content relating to any of his eleven novels, numerous non-fiction publications, diaries, collections of letters, short fiction, plays etc. If you would like to participate in what promises to be a fun and fascinating reading event, please nip over to Lory’s place, check out her suggestions and share your thoughts in the comments.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you seven 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:
Discovering Tove Jansson – Rachel at Book Snob “had no idea what to expect” from the Moomin creator’s writing for adults but was “instantly enchanted” by The Summer Book, Jansson’s 1972 “series of vignettes [about] life on a tiny Finnish island”.
Throw Me to the Wolves by Patrick McGuinness – Clare at A Little Blog of Books found McGuinness’s latest novel an “intriguing piece of literary crime fiction”, based on the true murder of a young woman in 2010.
The seamy side of pre-Revolutionary Paris – Casanova and the Faceless Woman by Olivier Barde-Cabuçon is “an absorbing and intriguing book”, although it occasionally veers into “bodice-ripper territory”, writes Karen Langley at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings of this recently published historical novel from Pushkin Vertigo.
Pen in Hand by Tim Parks – As a reader who likes books about books, Simon Thomas of Stuck in a Book found Parks’ collection of literary essays ideal “to dip in and out of – or to binge in one go”.
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson: Jackson, how we’ve missed you. – Susan Osborne at A life in books declares Atkinson’s latest Jackson Brodie mystery an “intelligent, thoroughly satisfying piece of crime fiction”.
I don’t mind unhappy endings – Lizzie Ross read the 1966 short story collection A Stranger with a Bag for Sylvia Townsend Warner Reading Week. One of her favourite authors, Lizzie concluded: “Townsend Warner doesn’t write cheerful stories” but there are “funny moments” and her insights into people are “powerful”.
Review: Solaris by Stanisław Lem – Diana at Thoughts on Papyrus found the Polish writer’s 1961 Science Fiction novel “engrossing” and “a ‘brainy’ journey into the unknown.”
* 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 Guardian: Saving ‘woman hand’: the artist rescuing female-only writing – “Kana let women express themselves freely and was used to write the world’s first novel – then it was wiped out. Meet the master calligrapher keeping the script alive”.
The Penguin Newsletter: The book that changed my summer – “From otter-spotting in Scotland to monsoons in Kolkata, here Ali Smith, William Boyd and nine other Penguin authors share their favourite holiday reading memories.”
The Washington Post: Books for the ages – Marvin Joseph picks the “best books to read at every age, from 1 to 100”.
Independent: Christobel Mattingley: Prolific Australian children’s author – “Covering a range of topics as diverse as the worry of starting a new school and a child’s view of life as a refugee, Mattingley’s books were much lauded both for their prose and their compassion”, writes Christine Manby.
Nature: James Lovelock at 100: the Gaia saga continues – “Tim Radford reassesses the independent scientist’s groundbreaking body of writing.”
The New Yorker: The Strange Story of a Secret Literary Fellowship – Daniel A. Gross was offered ten thousand dollars as part of “a new award funded by the chairman of Barnes & Noble.” However, he was “not supposed to tell anyone about it.”
CBC: 19 Canadian writers to watch in 2019 – CBC Books reveals the 2019 edition of its annual Writers to Watch list.
The Oprah Magazine: 10 Spanish-Language Authors Whose Books Will Change Your Literary World – McKenzie Jean-Philippe selects ten Spanish-language authors who have come to define the canon.
Teachers & Writers Magazine: Knowledge Isn’t Neutral: On Radical Librarianship – Jehan Roberson talks with “cataloguer Michelle Chan and metadata librarian Alexandra Provo, colleagues of [hers] at New York University”.
Newsroom: How to open a bookstore in Greymouth – “In the first in an occasional series on bookstores around New Zealand, Wendy Barrow tells how she left Invercargill to follow her dream in Greymouth.”
European Literature Network: The Queer Riveter: What is Queer Writing by Paul Burston – “What do we mean when we talk about queer writing?”
LoveReading: Our LoveReading Recommended Booky Day Out In London – Liz Robinson has a “booky” day in London with reviewer Victoria Goldman.
BBC News: Masquerade: Kit Williams’ archive to be auctioned – “A ‘unique’ archive revealing the workings behind a real-life treasure hunt book that became a global phenomenon is to be auctioned.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: How climate anxiety is changing the face of Australian fiction – Broede Carmody examines the reasons why Australian publishers and booksellers are using the term ‘cli-fi’ to help classify a string of environmental catastrophe books hitting shelves.
The Millions: Literature’s Favorite Houseguests – Kate Gavino looks at Jessica Francis Kane’s list of favourite literary houseguests.
Crime Reads: Why Most Great Thrillers Are Really About Love—Destructive, Obsessive Love – “Delusions, obsessions and love are “the core of psychological thrillers”, says Araminta Hall.
Brain Pickings: Thomas Bernhard on Walking, Thinking, and the Paradox of Self-Reflection – Another fascinating literary essay from Maria Popova – this time examining the Austrian novelist, playwright, and poet Thomas Bernhard’s thoughts on “the nature of thinking and the impossibility of accurate self-reflection.”
The Bookseller: Half of women over 40 say older women in fiction are clichés, survey finds – A survey carried out in the UK finds that older women feel misrepresented in fiction.
The Irish Times: The plot thickens: A list of less than accurate summaries of famous novels – Martin Doyle confesses: “We wrongly described Milkman by Anna Burns as being ‘about a young woman’s affair with a married man in Troubles-era Belfast’.” He supplies a few more amusing “gross acts of description”!
Vintage: Where to start reading Iris Murdoch’s books – In honour of the centenary of Iris Murdoch’s birth, Vintage has been “celebrating her funny, subversive, fearless and fiercely intelligent work.”
The Guardian: Oliver Twiss and Martin Guzzlewit – the fan fiction that ripped off Dickens – “Press baron Edward Lloyd caused outrage with his cheap imitations of Dickens’ great novels – and paved the way for his own hugely popular ‘penny dreadfuls’”.
Current Affairs: World Without Men – Lyta Gold on the “wisdom and weirdness of feminist utopian novels…”
The Calvert Journal: This new book captures the history and reality of the black experience in Russia and Europe – Matt Janney discovers that in Johny Pitts’ new book he adds to “a rarely acknowledged but rich body of literature detailing the black experience in Russia and Europe.”
Book Riot: 30 of the Best Joan Didion Quotes – In celebration of [Didion’s] extensive body of work,” Alex Luppens-Dale shares some of her heroine’s most memorable quotes.
The Conversation: Australian Gothic: from Hanging Rock to Nick Cave and Kylie, this genre explores our dark side – “Gothic texts are not all bloodsucking vampires and howling werewolves”, says Emma Doolan. “An Australian Gothic tradition took root alongside colonisation, influencing writers from Marcus Clarke to Alexis Wright.”
The Verge: 12 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out this July – “Stories of interstellar war, dragons, and ancient gods”.
The Curious Reader: When Is A Movie Adaptation Better Than The Book – Nirbhay Kanoria asks keen book readers and movie goers what makes for a great adaptation?
The Paris Review: The Many Lives of Lafcadio Hearn – Once celebrated on the level of Poe and Twain, Lafcadio Hearn has been forgotten, with two remarkable exceptions: in Louisiana and in Japan.
Booklist Online: Graphic Novels on Audio – Heather Booth discovers how is it possible to listen to a book created in a visual format.
Huffpost: Where Are All The Black BookTubers? – “There’s something missing from YouTube’s book blogging community: Black people and books by Black authors”, says Jolie A. Doggett.
Town & Country: The 6 Best Books to Read This July – Adam Rathe suggests “five standout new releases of the month—and one old favorite to revisit.”
BuzzFeed: How Many Of The “Top 100 Books Of All Time” Have You Actually Read? – “OCLC, the Online Computer Library Center, has shared a list of the Top 100 novels of all time found in libraries around the world. How many have you read?” asks Shyla Watson.
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.