An end of week recap
Today I deliver a mini wind-up accompanied by a sheepish beg-pardon. All my saintly intentions of re-establishing good writing habits and following a carefully planned reading schedule in 2020 have, I’m afraid, gone to the dogs.
For a variety of reasons, my partner and I have decided to move to our lodge in Mid Wales for the foreseeable future, leaving our home of the past 20 years, which is currently on the market. After several days of frenzied packing, we stuffed our car to capacity – squeezing in two large Labradors and an overly-hairy Cypriot rescue dog – and, like the Clampetts of yore, lumbered over to the coast. All that was missing was grandma in her rocking chair on the roof.
Consequently, I’ve had little opportunity to write my usual book-related summation of the past week. I have, nevertheless, cobbled together a few bits and bobs to show willing. Hopefully, my stress levels will have returned to normal by next Saturday and I will wind up the week in a less wound-up fashion. I therefore share a paltry smattering of literary titbits and book-related happenings.
* 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:
Book review – Abi Daré – “The Girl with the Louding Voice” – “This is an exceptional and important novel”, says Liz Dexter from Adventures in reading, running and working from home. It may only be January, but she already believes it is “likely to be one of [her] books of the year.”
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman – While the second book in Pullman’s Book of Dust series may not be as “immediately thrilling as La Belle Sauvage”, Clare of A Little Blog of Books found it “thoroughly engaging” and is “intrigued to see how the trilogy will conclude.”
No 500 Swann by Carol Shields – Cathy Brown of 746 Books found Shields’ 1987 literary mystery a “delight of a book”, which is “beautifully structured” and features “a host of fantastically realised characters.”
* 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:
Guardian Australia: Be honest. You’re not going to read all those books on your holiday, are you? – “When it comes to my summer downtime, the last thing I want to do is read very serious and important things”, says Stephanie Convery.
The Millions: Annotate This: On Marginalia – Ed Simon on his favourite marginalia: “When Shylock gives his celebrated soliloquy, in which he intones, ‘If you prick us, do we not bleed?’, the book’s previous owner approvingly added in the margins ‘Bring your own BOOYEA!’”
TLS: Cursed with hearts and brains – Ann Kennedy Smith on female intellectuals, muses of the twentieth century and Francesca Wade’s group biography, Square Haunting: Five women, freedom and London between the wars.
BBC News: When sexual abuse was called seduction: France confronts its past – “An 83-year-old French writer once feted by the Paris intellectual set now finds himself ostracised because of his writings about sex with teenage boys and girls”, finds Hugh Schofield.
Jane Friedman: What Your Choice of Dialogue Tags Says About You – Christopher Hoffmann on dialogue tags and the way writers use them.
AAWW: Creating Your Own Mythology: A Conversation with Meng Jin – Jen Lue talks to Chinese American author Meng Jin about her debut novel, Little Gods.
The Nation: The Debauched, Sometimes Sublime Essays of D.H. Lawrence – “His nonfiction writing, filled with terrible politics and startling prose, inspires awe and loathing”, says Zachary Fine.
Tor: Long Live Short Fiction: The New Golden Age of the SFF Novella – The novella is “experiencing a renaissance in the publishing world”, says Rebecca Diem.
BBC News: Shrewsbury book collector gifts LGBT ‘legacy’ – “An LGBT book collector ‘passionate about justice’ has left his 30,000-piece collection to a university.”
Independent: 28 powerful literary quotes to inspire you in 2020 – “Whether it’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s observations on race in Americanah or Jules Verne on solitude in The Mysterious Island – the best works of fiction contain important and perpetually relevant truths”, writes Roisin O’Connor.
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