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 nightstand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
Next up is a short piece on The Abbess of Crewe, Muriel Spark’s 1974 satirical novel based on a real-life political scandal – reimagined within the claustrophobic walls of a convent. This will be another tick on my 10 Books of Summer 2019 list.
PAUSE FOR A POD >>
* Lie Back and Listen *
In order to ginger up this post a little, I will henceforth recommend engaging podcasts I’ve come across during the week. Hopefully you will enjoy them, too.
Last week Vintage brought together Daisy Johnson, author of Everything is Under, and Jeanette Winterson to talk about her Booker longlisted novel, Frankissstein. Their conversation covered everything from Mary Shelley and AI to love and how much they think about the reader when writing. >> Listen to Daisy Johnson in Conversation with Jeanette Winterson >>
* An Exciting New Reading Challenge *
My latest literary project entails reading books written by or about Tove Jansson – creator of the Moomins. Please feel free to join me in this challenge. >> TOVE TROVE: Reading the Books of Tove Jansson >>
* 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:
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – The “hype” surrounding this forthcoming thriller made Sara Catterall rather wary, however, she discovered it to be “an epic social novel” that “took over [her] life for three days” and insists, “it is not to be missed.”
Fictions of Home – Over at More than Modernism, Matilda Blackwell shares her experiences of attending summer school at the University of Cambridge to study ‘Fictions of Home’ – a course looking at “the meaning of ‘house’ and ‘home’ across literature from the early nineteenth century to the present day.” She found it enabled her “to develop new perspectives on texts [she] thought [she] knew.”
Being the Change by Peter Kalmus – Deb Baker at Bookconscious found Kalmus’s 2017 exposition of climate change, “a very interesting book”, which “will (and should) alarm you”. Nobody, she says, could surely read it “without feeling at least slightly empowered to begin breaking fossil fuel’s grip on their lives”.
“Delayed Rays of A Star” by Amanda Lee Koe – Koe’s recently published historical novel, which captures the lives of three up-and-coming German movie stars from the 1920s, proves she is “a master storyteller”, declares Martie at Leave Me Alone I Am Reading and Reviewing. Furthermore, she says, the “ambiguous novel takes on many subjects” and will “appeal to a wide variety of readers”.
A few thoughts about language and reading in translation – Joseph Schreiber at roughghosts has been reading Herbert, the New Directions America edition of the “Bengali cult classic by Nabarun Bhattacharya”. He also read the Seagull edition of the same novel to see “what, if any, small changes are made in making a text more […] palatable, for a particular English language audience.” He was equally impressed with both versions and describes Bhattacharya’s ground-breaking work as “a very special little book”.
Voices in the Evening by Natalia Ginzburg (tr. D. M. Low) – Jacqui of JacquiWine’s Journal describes this Italian novel, first published in 1961, as “an episodic work” that is “simple yet subtle” and with prose “direct and unadorned”. It was her first post for Women in Translation Month.
* 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 Yorker: Olga Tokarczuk’s Novels Against Nationalism – “In the face of the Polish government’s rightist dogma, the country’s preëminent writer explores its history of ethnic intermingling” writes Ruth Franklin.
BBC Culture: Ten books to read this August – “From a poetic song cycle and an intimate memoir, to a true crime thriller, Jane Ciabattari picks some reading ideas for this month.”
Words Without Borders: Reimagined Communities: Writing from Wales – This month WWB feature a diverse selection of writing from Wales.
The Guardian: Rebel, radical, relic? Nadine Gordimer is out of fashion – we must keep reading her – “Returning to his survey of the best short story writers of all time, Chris Power looks at Gordimer’s long career documenting South African apartheid”.
The Berkshire Eagle: Berkshire Athenaeum to receive Literary Landmark status on Herman Melville’s 200th birthday – Ben Garver reports that his “city’s public library […] will be designated a Literary Landmark under the auspices of the American Library Association.”
Longreads: The Cost of Reading – “Ayşegül Savaş contemplates the way women’s and men’s time is valued and the uneven burden taken by women writers in literary citizenship.”
Literary Hub: Why Don’t I Read All My Books? – “Karen Olsson on the ghosts on her shelves”.
Slate: 100 Great Books for an Ambitious Teenage Reader – The list Dan Kois gave to his daughter this summer.
Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed: Online book-selling scams steal a living from writers – Douglas Preston berates online book-selling scammers for stealing a living from authors.
Bitch Media: Bye Sharam – Madhuri Sastry finds that “Indian women are tapping into the enduring power of memoir”.
The Irish Times: Museum of Literature Ireland to open for first time on Culture Night – “The UCD-National Library of Ireland venture will be a landmark cultural institution on St Stephen’s Green”.
Montreal Eater: A Club Chasse Et Pêche Owner and Coffee Pro Team Up For New Mile End Café-Bookshop – Cafe Éclair, a bookstore/café, has recently opened in Montreal.
Electric Literature: Everything We Learned About Women’s Anatomy from Male Authors – “Wait, you think women keep their credit cards WHERE?” asks Jess Zimmerman in this humorous article.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Trauma and humour make a winning combination in Miles Franklin – Jason Steger finds that Too Much Lip, Melissa Lucashenko’s Miles Franklin prize-winning novel, was her most difficult book to write.
Book Trust: How to read again: Falling back in love with books – Book Trust’s Writer in Residence, Candy Gourlay was a keen reader when growing up – then she stopped for ten years. She talks about falling in love with books again.
DW: Primo Levi: Remembering the Holocaust writer born 100 years ago – “He managed to survive Auschwitz by chance. The Italian Jewish chemist then went on to write invaluable autobiographical accounts of life in the Nazi concentration camps and of displaced people after World War II”, writes Nadine Wojcik.
Oxford Mail: Blackwell’s bookseller who met Agatha Christie completes 50 years – Peter Saxel’s “dedication to Blackwell’s is no mystery – he enjoys going to work to sell customers the books they love”, says Andrew Ffrench.
Humanities: Honest to a Fault – “Samuel Pepys’s journals bear witness to events large and small . . . and to his own despicable treatment of women”, writes Danny Heitman.
CBC: The Next Chapter: Why publisher and writer Anna Porter fell in love with Canada and its literature – The author and publisher Anna Porter was born in Budapest, studied in New Zealand and began her publishing career in London (UK), finally settling in Canada.
NPR: John Steinbeck’s ‘The Amiable Fleas’ Published In English For The 1st Time – “The Strand Magazine is publishing a short story by John Steinbeck that until now was only published in French. David Greene learns more from Andrew Gulli, The Strand’s managing editor.”
The Korea Times: ‘Buy a book, choose a chocolate’ – Jung Hae-myoung finds a book shop in western Seoul’s Yeonhui-dong area where the “owner encourages readers to taste exquisite handmade chocolate”.
The Verge: 10 new science fiction and fantasy novels to check out this August – Andrew Liptak suggests ten stories of dystopian futures, magic and technology.
Man Repeller: My Little Trick for Reading More Books – In her search for something to stimulate her lacklustre reading habits, Edith Young came up with the ’26 in 52 Google Sheet’.
The Nation: Remaking the Everyday – Farah Jasmine Griffin explores the interior worlds of Kathleen Collins’s fiction and film.
Australian Book Review: Bruce Pascoe reviews ‘On Identity’ and ‘Australia Day’ by Stan Grant – “Grant wrestles as Australia wrestles, searching for a way to be Australian and excluding nothing”, says Pascoe.
Stylist: Circe: Madeline Miller’s beloved Greek myth retelling is being turned into a TV series – “With its feminist themes and thrilling prose, Madeline Miller’s bestselling Circe became the book of the year. Now, HBO Max is working on a television adaptation” reveals Hannah-Rose Yee.
Spine: University Press Cover Round-Up – Jordan Wannemacher “highlights a selection of recent university press cover designs.”
Roadtrippers: The Book Bus, an independent bookstore on wheels, brings the joy of reading to those who need it most – “After Melanie Moore retired from teaching, she filled a 1962 Volkswagen Transporter with books and hit the road”, writes Morgan P. Vickers.
International Business Times: ‘Bookbound Brigade’ Is An Adorable Metroidvania Starring Literary Heroes Learned In School – Do you like playing video games? Julio Cachila recommends Bookbound Brigade, a soon to be released side-scroller that brings various literary characters together for a quest to find the “Book of Books”.
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.
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