Winding Up the Week #90

An end of week recap

WUTW2WUTW is a little light on book blogging content this weekend but thankfully not late. D has completed her second week of radiotherapy – four more sessions left and it’s all over. I’ll see you on the other side!

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.


* 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:

SECRET LIFE BOOKSThe Secret Life of Books – Tom Mole (2019) – Over at Heavenali, Ali Hope was delighted to discover the author “understands the physical relationship we have with our books” and found his recently published title contains a wealth of “fascinating little nuggets of information with lots of historical facts”.

Soviet Spotlight: Where the Jews Aren’t by Masha Gessen – Mark Curnell from Maphead’s Book Blog declares Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region, a “great book for people like [himself] who love reading about those quirky and forgotten parts of history.”

Éric Mathieu, The Little Fox of Mayerville – Simon Lavery from Tredynas Days found himself “engaged” by the protagonist in “this “magical realist bildungsroman”. He did, however, feel the narrative “[lost] its way a little towards the end”.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper – Helen at She Reads Novels says this second book in Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ series, which was first published in 1973, is “genuinely creepy” but wishes she had “saved it until December as it would have been a perfect Christmas read.”

Neil Gaiman, Rafael Albuquerque, A Study in Emerald (2018) – Ola G of Re-enchantment Of The World “really enjoyed this absolutely crazy tale” – describing it as a “cheeky and heartfelt tribute to both Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft”.

Shadow Giller: Michael Crummey’s The Innocents (2019) – “There is a lot to admire” in this “uncomfortably intimate” Newfoundland survival novel, says Marcie from Buried in Print. “It’s a hard story to swallow,” she concludes, because “rooted in hard truths.”

* Irresistible Items *

close up of books on shelf

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:


PEOPLE IN TROUBLELambada Literary: ‘People in Trouble’ at Thirty: On Realism, Trump, and the AIDS Cataclysm – “Thirty years after its completion, [Sarah Schulman’s] novel People in Trouble has taken on resonance far beyond [her] original passions and intention.”

NPR: Nobel Prizes In Literature Go To Olga Tokarczuk And Peter Handke – Congratulations to both of this year’s Nobel Prize winners in Literature.

Nature: Doris Lessing at 100: roving time and space – “On the centenary of the Nobel laureate’s birth, Patrick French explores her science-infused series Canopus in Argos.”

Georgia Today: UNESCO Names Tbilisi World Book Capital 2021 – The Director-General of UNESCO named Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) World Book Capital for the year 2021, following a recommendation by the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.

Australian Book Review: Favourite Australian Novels of the twenty-first century – “Ten years after the first ABR FAN Poll, the second one was limited to Australian novels published since 2000”.

Book Riot: How To Search Books By Color – Librarian, Anna Gooding-Call, explains how to search for books by colour.

BBC News: Wigtown book festival ‘beats all expectations’ – “Organisers have hailed another “superb year” for the Wigtown Book Festival which ended [last] weekend.”

Crime Reads: Stephen King Is Quietly Enthralled By “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” – Brenna Ehrlich on the “poem that seems to hold a secret to the Stephen King multiverse”.

Brain Pickings: The Great Czech Playwright Turned Dissident Turned President Václav Havel on Hope – Havel composed “an anti-communist manifesto in response to the imprisonment of the Czech psychedelic rock band The Plastic People of the Universe” and was imprisoned “multiple times for upholding his ideals of justice and humanism”, writes Maria Popova.

Dangerous Minds: When William S. Burroughs met Francis Bacon: Uncut – “When William Burroughs met Francis Bacon a lot of tea was drunk, cigarettes smoked, a few secrets shared but very little was revealed about the two men.”

Haaretz: Destroying Books and Jailing Dissidents: Erdogan’s Cultural Purge Is in Full Swing – “Since 2016, more than 300,000 books have reportedly been confiscated in Turkey, including textbooks banned for mentioning Pennsylvania, where Erdogan rival Fethullah Gulen is exiled”.

The Conversation: Jane Eyre translated: 57 languages show how different cultures interpret Charlotte Brontë’s classic novelJane Eyre has been “translated into at least 57 languages, at least 593 times” and is “continually putting down roots in different cultures”, says Matthew Reynolds.

JSTOR Daily: Who Decides Which Books Are “Great?” – The concept of ‘Great Books,’ the historian Tim Lacy explains, developed in the late nineteenth century as an attempt to foster a ‘democratic culture.’”

Shondaland: Black British Authors Are Finally Getting Their Due – In honour of British Black History Month, Christabel Nsiah-Buadihere suggests five books “to add to your must-read list.”

The Washington Post: A favorite of J.K. Rowling, Edith Nesbit was a pioneer of children’s books and so much more – Michael Dirda finds, Nesbit led “a tumultuous, often soap-operatic life.”

Booknet Canada: 5 questions with Michelle Berry – Five questions are posed to the owner-operator of Hunter Street Books in Peterborough, Ontario.

The Moscow Times: ‘Godless Utopia: The Anti-Religious Campaign in Russia’ – “Author Roland Elliot Brown on the fight against the ‘opium of the people.’”

JAP GHOSTSThe Japan Times: ‘Japanese Ghost Stories’: The ghostly ascent of Lafcadio Hearn’s tales of the supernatural – “Hearn filtered Japanese ghostly originals through the prism of his own expansive imagination and traumatized experience to create works that were distinctly, and chillingly, his own”, writes Damian Flanagan.

The New York Times: Ciaran Carson, Versatile Belfast Poet, Is Dead at 70 – “In his poetry, as well as in his prose,” writes Neil Genzlinger, “he conveyed the complexities of his city and his country.”

Literary Hub: On Patrick White, Australia’s Great Unread Novelist – Madeleine Watts discovers Patrick White became a literary icon but he was aware people rarely read his work.

RFI: Literary renaissance grips Mosul in Iraq – “Literature and poetry are regaining ground in the Iraqi city of Mosul two years after its brutal occupation by the Islamic State armed group that branded artists as criminals”, writes Rosie Collyer.

The Irish Times: The world of literature and the world of literacy are very far removed from each other – “Cat Hogan on the challenge and the thrill of programming Waterford Writers Weekend”.

Publishers Weekly: 20 Years of NYRB Classics – Series’ editor, Edwin Frank, reflects on the origins and objectives of NYRB Classics.

DW: Siegfried Lenz’s classic novel ‘The German Lesson’ turned into film – “It was one of the great literary successes of German postwar literature: Deutschstunde was translated into 20 languages. Now adapted into a film, it remains as relevant as ever.”

Fine Books & Collections: Collecting Paperbacks from Hell – Rebecca Baumann looks at how horror authors bewitched collectors.

Granta: How to Take a Literary Selfie – Sylvie Weil explains what it means to write a literary selfie.

The Onion: U.N. Report On Magical Realism Warns Of Increased Incidences Of Women’s Tears Flooding The Entire World – “In addition to flooding caused by a grieving young widow, the U.N. warns the world’s air could forever smell of gardenias, the very flowers worn in her hair on her wedding day.”

Kyodo News: Missing part of oldest “Tale of Genji” manuscript discovered – According to experts, a missing part of the oldest copy of classic Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu, has been discovered among the heirlooms of the family of a former feudal lord.

Nederlands Letterenfond: Launch of ‘New Dutch Writing’ campaign – Bas Pauw reports that under the title ‘New Dutch Writing’, “Dutch literature will be presented at more than seventy festivals and events in the United Kingdom and Ireland from October onwards.”

The Walrus: The Return of Political Fiction – André Forget looks at the new generation of Canadian writers turning politics into art

HONEY CATSThe Calvert Journal: Poland’s rising star of fiction conjures a consumerist dystopia that will make you laugh and cry – “Dorota Masłowska’s Honey, I Killed the Cats doesn’t read like a novel, but rather a sequence of tabs on an internet browser, each one a minor digression into a deeper chaos”, writes Matt Janney.

AP News: Controversy stalks Nobel Peace, Literature prizes – “Why?” asks Mark Lewis, does “[controversy stalk] the Nobel prizes for peace and literature in a way it rarely does for science?”

Gizmodo: Dive Into October’s Harvest of New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books – Cheryl Eddy has plenty of “fantastical, spooky, and spaced-out” reading suggestions for October.



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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29 replies

  1. Thanks for the kind words! My goodness you have a terrific blog!

  2. Yay! Such wonderful news! And a wonderful post, too, Paula! See you on the other side! ♥️

  3. Wooohoooo, 2 down & 4 to go, my fingers are very much crossed! Hope she’s managing with it as well as possible  ♥
    I’m intrigued about the poem that Mr King loves so much, off to check that out now 😊
    Have a restful weekend, Paula xx

    • Thank you, Caz. 🤗 Are you a fan of Stephen King? I went through a phase of reading his books but I’m not well up on his more recent stuff. He strikes me as being quite a fascinating person. I hope you too have a restful weekend. 😊 xx

      • Same here, Paula – I’m not as well read on his more recent stuff. I also read his memoir, ‘On Writing’. Have you read that? It’s quite a fascinating look into the working’s of his mind and his work! 😊xx

      • Yes, I did read it quite a number of years ago (it’s knocking about on my shelves somewhere), though I have vague recollections of it being updated since then. A good book if memory serves. 🤔 xx

  4. Great news about the end of radiotherapy being sight! I hope all goes well.

    I had no idea Stephen King liked Prufrock – I’m intrigued…

  5. Good luck with it all as ever.

    I’m unsure about Patrick White not being read. While I didn’t know he was iconic (maybe I don’t use the term), I absorbed The Tree of Man and was amazed by the brutal power of Voss.

    Way back when, I had a conversation with someone who ranked White alongside Malouf and Carey as their three favourite Australian writers, but I had to keep a little quiet in places because I was only familiar with the work of four Australian novelists in total.

    • Thank you, John. 😊

      I have to confess, I’ve not read anything by Patrick White!

      • You are both so nearly there, Paula; I bet neither of you can imagine life without constant appointments and debilitating treatments. Not long now!

        I have just finished White’s Tree of Man so flagging that article is perfectly timed for me!


      • Thank you so much, Sandra. The Herceptin injections will continue for a while but, as you say, there will be far less hospital appointments. 🤗

        Well, what a coincidence. Is Tree of Man a book you would recommend? Yet another author I simply must read. I need to iron the creases out of my reading mojo and get cracking! 🙄

  6. I’m going to remember The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper for December. I’ve never read it, and it sounds wonderful!

  7. I’m happy to hear things are progressing with her, Paula! Sounds like a light’s becoming visible at the end of the tunnel. Hope you both are doing well 🤗

    I don’t know how you find so many intriguing stories every week. I had to laugh at that one about finding books by color…when I worked at a bookstore in college that was by far the hardest and such a common customer request – “I saw it on a table here last week and it had a blue cover”, etc. It was maddening!

    And I’m so fascinated by this Stephen King/Eliot connection!! Thanks for that one. Enjoy your Sunday!

    • Thank you, so much, Rennie. D’s quite fatigued, which is to be expected, but the RT is nowhere near as nasty as the chemo, thank goodness. It really does feel as if we’re getting closer to the light. 🤗

      I never know from week to week which links will prove popular and it’s fascinating because it’s seldom the ones I imagine. This time quite a few of you highlighted the Stephen King/Prufrock piece, so I’m jolly glad I spotted that one! 😃

      • I can imagine she’s fatigued, poor thing. Hang in there, both of you!! Almost there! Sending you lots of positive thoughts 🙂

        I’m glad you spotted it too, was a fascinating read! Must’ve been popular because people have lots of feelings about the two of them…combine them and everyone gets even more excited 🙂

  8. A marvellous series of links as always Paula – I enjoyed the Shondaland post on Black female writers this week.

  9. Always so many interesting articles! I’ve never read Stephen King because he always seems so scary but this article about his fondness for Eliot comes during a week when I seem to have seen nothing but beautiful and wise things said by him, making me wonder if should be reading him all along?

    • Thank you, Jane. Well, it’s almost Halloween! 🎃 I went through a bit of a horror phase in my teens and read practically everything King (and others such as James Herbert) had written up to that point. Then, when I was fully glutted on all the scary stuff, I completely lost interest in the genre and moved on. Stephen King is about the only writer from this period in my reading life whose works I recall in any detail. No doubt because he’s a talented storyteller. You wouldn’t normally associate him with Eliot but it doesn’t entirely surprise me to learn he’s been influenced by Prufrock and other TS poems – he’s obviously quite widely read. I’m not sure that I would seek his work out any longer but books like The Shining, in particular, will always stick in my mind!

      • FWIW, I’ve always felt that he was as much about character as about horror (and people are horrifying at times). My experience discovering him sounds a lot like yours, Paula. But I have gone back (beginning about a decade ago, but spottily, I simply can’t keep up with his publications) and he’s still doing all the same good things. Doctor Sleep was a great follow-up to The Shining, I thought, but different in that it focuses on elements that missed completely as a younger (happily entertained) reader!

      • I’m not going anywhere near The Shining, what was I thinking? I’ll just stick with his wise words out of context!

  10. A great collection of links as usual! Thanks for mentioning my review of The Dark is Rising. 🙂

  11. Thanks kindly for including the link to one of my Shadow Giller reviews, Paula. One every Friday from now until the prize is announced. Prizelist season is also a busy reading time, so I’m glad that I don’t read this way all year long! (Well wishes for the remaining appts!)

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