An end of week recap
Arriving a day earlier than usual due to my catching a boat from Liverpool tomorrow morning, this is, as always, 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.
I will return from my cruise a week on Sunday. In the meantime, I will endeavour to remain in touch. Happy reading everyone!
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I read and reviewed A Nail, A Rose, Madeleine Bourdouxhe’s 1944 short story collection, brought back into print by Pushkin Press. Another title crossed-off my 10 Books of Summer list! >> BOOK REVIEW: A Nail, A Rose >>
* 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’s difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
Not so jolly – Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove did some “light holiday reading” on a recent visit to Bigbury-on-Sea in south Devon – the setting for Agatha Christie’s 1941 whodunnit, Evil Under the Sun. It is here Hercule Poirot investigates “the usual panoply of colourful characters” in a murder case. The novel was something of “an hors d’oeuvre rather than a sustaining meal”, says Chris, but he thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area.
The Twins – Although its premise was “interesting”, Angharad at Tinted Edges had issues with the “rigid structure” of this 1993 historical novel by the Dutch author, Tessa de Loo. She felt the “stories dragged” and wondered if it might have been better in its original language. Overall, she preferred the film adaption.
Burnt Island ~ Kate Rhodes – Rhodes’ third book in the DI Ben Kitto series, which is set in the Scilly Isles on St Agnes, has a “well thought through” plot and “persuasively drawn” characters, says Ann of Café Society.
The Custom of the Country, Edith Wharton (1913) – Laurie Welch at Relevant Obscurity has “now read most of Edith Wharton’s” works for her year-long 2019 Author Reads challenge. She found this 1913 novel to be “challenging” and “complex”, yet “rich in commentary on the American expat experience”. She admits to breathing a sigh of “relief” on turning the final page.
Russians in July: Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers – Marina Sofia at Finding Time to Write was delighted to be introduced to the works of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky by a Russian friend. She thought this 1972 science fiction novel “funnier, more exciting [and] faster-paced than the film” adaption.
Sylvester (1957) by Georgette Heyer – As “a fan of this writer” since her schooldays, Val Hewson of Sheffield Hallam University’s Reading 1900-1950 considers Heyer “an under-rated writer”. She found this historical romance “beautifully written” and believes that within her genre, “there is still no-one to touch her.”
* 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:
Nature: Moon on the mind: two millennia of lunar literature – “Fireworks, wild swans and super-cannons were propelling people mentally Moonwards long before 1969, reveals David Seed.”
The New York Times: The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years – The New York Times’s book critics select what in their opinions are “the most outstanding memoirs published since 1969.”
New Zealand Herald: Kiwi discovers previously unknown short story by Katherine Mansfield – Meghan Lawrence is excited to report that a “Kiwi scholar has discovered what is thought to be a previously undocumented short story by New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield.”
Smithsonian Magazine: How a Voyage to French Polynesia Set Herman Melville on the Course to Write ‘Moby-Dick’ – William T. Vollmann retraces “the journey that had a long-lasting influence on the enigmatic author’s improbable career”.
The Times Literary Supplement: World literature: lightness, multiplicity, transformation – “Adam Thirlwell considers the history of créolité and literature transcending a single language”.
Pan Macmillan: What happens in Wonderland when Alice isn’t there? – “The authors of Return to Wonderland, a collection of short stories inspired by Lewis Carroll’s original tale, share their love for Wonderland.”
Mental Floss: 10 of the Best-Selling Books in History (Minus Religious Texts) – Austin Thompson on which books have sold the most throughout history.
WBUR: Brown University Is Archiving Gay Pulp Fiction To Preserve A Moment Of LGBTQ History – Miranda Suarez on Brown University’s enormous gay pulp fiction archive.
CBC: 26 Canadian books that won awards in the first half of 2019 – A round-up of Canadian books that have won national and international awards in the first half of 2019.
Popsugar: Post-Gone Girl, Here’s How These Authors Are Moving the Psychological Thriller Genre Forward – “In the seven years since Gone Girl’s publication, the novel has continuously inspired other women in the same genre to push the envelope”, says Victoria Messina.
The Walrus: The Power of a Good Sentence – Douglas Glover on why writing a good sentence isn’t as easy as you think.
Sunday Times SA: Story power in motion as tuk-tuk libraries take to the streets – “The aim is to make reading for enjoyment a hobby and for everyone to have access to library resources”, writes Carla Lever of South Africa’s Nal’ibali (National reading-for-enjoyment campaign).
The Hindu: Queer literature in India: Son, are you Mohanaswamy? – Ruth Dsouza Prabhu believes India needs “queer literature in regional languages to tell the non cis-het stories of small towns and villages”.
Columbia News: Professor Sharon Marcus on Books, Fame and Her Ideal Dinner Guests – “Sarah Bernhardt, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Maria Callas would be there. It would not end well.”
The Curious Reader: The Life And Times Of A Second-Hand Bookseller – Prasanna Sawant meets Hitler, a bookseller in Mumbai.
Crime Reads: Guilt, Innocence, and Doubt in the Historical Crime Novel – “Resolution is overrated” says Laura Purcell. “It’s time to embrace doubt instead.”
Interesting Literature: 13 of the Best Literary Quotes about Cats – “Many authors have owned cats, and many authors have written whole books about cats, so it’s of little surprise to learn that there are many wise, witty, funny, and true quotations about cats to be found in the world of literature.”
AP News: Camilleri, author of Montalbano detective series, dies at 93 – Frances D’Emilio reports on the death of Andrea Camilleri, creator of the Commissario Montalbano series.
Tablet: The Brilliance of Batya Gur, Israel’s Greatest Detective Author – Sean Cooper on the “late writer’s best work reflects the larger anxieties of a society trying to shield its founding ideals against threats from hostile populations”.
Stylist: Your guide to 2019’s best non-fiction books – “From Nikmo Ali’s look at living with FGM to the stories of working-class artists, 2019’s non-fiction releases will provide you with inspiration, advice and more”, writes Sarah Shaffi.
Stack: A magazine named after the greatest poet who never existed – Ossian is named after James Macpherson – the greatest poet who never existed.
The Scotsman: Extended shelf-life: the rise of Edinburgh’s indy bookshops – “David Robinson hails the new breed of booksellers.”
JSTOR Daily: Who Really Wrote The G-String Murders? – “Gypsy Rose Lee, the most famous burlesque star of the 1940s, wrote a series of letters published by Simon & Schuster that may prove her authorship” of The G-String Murders, suggests Matthew Wills.
Russian Art + Culture: 5 Russian books for your summery reading list – Five new and old Russian novels that are “worthy to be added to your summer reading list”.
Goodreads: From ‘Big Little Lies’ to Outback-noir, Australian Crime Novels Have a Moment – “Australia is having a moment right now as a crime-writing mecca”, writes Megan Goldin.
Publishing Perspectives: Poland’s ‘Fashionable’ Book Fairs: ‘Building Book Readership’ – Jaroslaw Adamowski finds “literature festivals in Poland may be enjoying a certain fashionable appeal among the 40 percent of Poles surveys indicate [read] regularly.”
Poetry Foundation: An Introduction to the New York School of Poets – Barbara Guest explores “one of the most lasting styles of mid-century American poetry.”
Kyodo News: Two women named for Japan’s Akutagawa, Naoki literary awards – “Two female novelists were selected Wednesday to receive Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa and Naoki literary awards”.
Lapham’s Quarterly: Ups and Downs – Elizabeth Della Zazzera and Caroline Wazer on how to graph a book.
The New Yorker: The Absolute Originality of Georges Perec – Paul Grimstad gets to grips with the conundrum at the heart of Perec’s work.
Refinery29: 7 Books You ‘Should’ Read That Are Much Easier As Audiobooks – “Audiobooks ease the unspoken pressure that fair-weather readers know all too well”, claims Jazmin Kopotsha.
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.
Categories: Winding Up the Week