An end of week recap
Conditions on the coast are rather wild here at present as Storm Ciara makes land. We’re expecting the lodge to take a battering tonight but at present D, the dogs and I are snugly ensconced under-cover, listening to the rain and wind lash our small home. If the exceptionally high tide doesn’t carry us away, Moomin-like, into the open sea, I hope to respond to all your recent comments tomorrow, which, I’m ashamed to say, have accumulated alarmingly in recent days.
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.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
* Wales Readathon 2020 *
If you would like to take part in Dewithon 20, this is your three-week alert. For the second year I am inviting everyone to take part in the Wales Readathon, which begins on 1st March and runs throughout the month. We had great fun in 2019 – you can see all the fabulous posts right here. For more information on this year’s event, please see >> Are You Ready for Wales Readathon 2020? >>
* One Hundred Years of Solitude ReadAlong *
Silvia Cachia and Ruth of A Great Book Study have announced the One Hundred Years of Solitude ReadAlong (6th March to 17th April 2020), and invite you to follow their official reading schedule. The event begins on the day of Gabriel García Márquez’s birth and concludes on the day of his death. If you have a predilection for this Nobel-winning author’s works, please check out ANNOUNCING: One Hundred Years of Solitude ReadAlong for all the details. Be sure to let the ladies know if you’re planning to take part.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you five 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:
Reflections on The Salt Path – Raynor Winn’s 2018 memoir “resonated with [Stargazer from For Book Lovers and Random People] on so many levels”, in particular, with “descriptions of the hiking experience”. She declares it “one of the best and most inspirational books [she’s] read in a long time.”
The Cove: A Lyrical Haunting Narrative of Man Against the Elements – Cynan Jones’ 2016 novella is “packed with intensely atmospheric prose”, says Karen from BookerTalk. She found his book “haunting” and senses it is one she’ll re-read.
André de Richaud – The Author Who Inspired Camus to Become a Writer – Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat was “curious to find out” why La Douleur “was such a scandalous book” when it was first published in 1930. She feels that for a contemporary reader, several passages were “outspoken but not explicit” but, nevertheless, says the book is “courageous and interesting”.
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater – Deb Baker at bookconscious “loved” this true crime story about “restorative justice”, describing it as “honest” and “beautiful”.
Theatre review: The Curious Case of a Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon – Georgiana from Readers’ High Tea went to Bucharest National Theatre shortly before Christmas to see the play “based on the book of same name by Mark Haddon.” She was impressed with the performance and recommends it “with all [her] heart!”
* 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:
Wired: This Startup Wants to Help Indie Booksellers Take on Amazon – Kate Knibbs reports on Bookshop, “an ecommerce start-up intended to help independent bookstores assert themselves online”.
Fine Books & Collections: Special Edition of Atwood’s Testaments Supports Bird Conservation – A special limited edition of Margaret Atwood’s 2019 Booker Prize-winning novel, The Testaments has been published to raise funds for bird conservation, finds Rebecca Rego Barry.
Penguin: Are you guilty of any of these ‘crimes against books’? – “Do you keep your novels pristine, or do you love them to within an inch of their lives?” asks Matt Blake. “From dog-earing to margin-scribbling, these are the most divisive reading ‘sins’ – and the surprising list of authors who endorse them.”
The Hedgehog Review: An Ever More Perfect Novel – “The Great American Novel? Why are we still banging on about that old thing?” wonders Tyler Malone.
BBC US & Canada: Books pulled over ‘literary blackface’ accusations – “The largest bookseller in the US has pulled a new series of ‘culturally diverse’ classic book covers after facing widespread criticism.”
The Paris Review: The Closeting of Carson McCullers – Through her relationships with other women, one can trace the evidence of McCullers’s becoming, as a woman, as a lesbian, and as a writer.
The New Yorker: Joanna Russ, the Science-Fiction Writer Who Said No – “For Russ, science fiction, like feminism, was less about remaking reality than making contact with it”, finds B. D. McClay.
Book Riot: 5 Australian Audiobooks for Your TBR – Kendra Winchester with Novel Gazing, the first episode of a biweekly podcast dedicated to news, recommendations and general goings-on from the world of literary fiction.
Literary Hub: 15 Essential Colombian Novels You Should Read – “Recommendations from Juan Cardenas and Margarita García Robayo, on the eve of Hay Festival Cartagena”.
The Oregonian: Patti Smith hears about break-in, vandalism at small Portland book shop; the author, rock icon and bookstore lover offers help – “After learning about a burglary at Portland’s Passages Bookshop, Patti Smith sent signed copies of her books to the store.”
International Business Times: Dutch Art Sleuth Finds Rare Stolen Copy Of ‘Prince Of Persian Poets’ – “A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez has been recovered by a Dutch art detective after an international ‘race against time’ that drew the alleged interest of Iran’s secret service”, says Jan Hennop.
CrimeReads: Agatha Christie’s Greatest Mystery Was Left Unsolved – “In December of 1926, Agatha Christie vanished after an argument with her husband, only to resurface 11 days later. A crime writer explores why we’re still so fascinated with her disappearance.”
The Outline: James Joyce’s grandson and the death of the stubborn literary executor – “Stephen Joyce was notoriously protective of his family’s legacy, much to the consternation of Joyce scholars. But the days of one person holding all of a dead writer’s communications are probably over”, writes B.D. McClay.
The Atlantic: Naming a Kid for a Fictional Character Is High Stakes – Julie Beck finds the “Jolenes and Daeneryses of the world have some baggage to contend with.”
Nature: Isaac Asimov: centenary of the great explainer – “The indefatigably curious chemist and science-fiction icon championed rationality for the common good in 20 million published words”, says David Leslie.
Philadelphia: Women Writers Are Driving Philadelphia’s Literary Renaissance – “How a cluster of talented authors and one low-key but incredibly influential writing group called the Claw are making Philly a lit hotbed.”
Independent: The 10 best European novels, from War and Peace to The Leopard – “Philip Womack looks at what European culture has given us in the form of great literary works by Virgil, Voltaire, Kafka and Olga Tokarczuk”
Smithsonian: Even in Death, Charles Dickens Left Behind a Riveting Tale of Deceit – “New research unravels the scheme to bury the Victorian writer in Westminster Abbey—against his wishes”, finds Leon Litvack.
Humanities: Dorothy Parker’s Daring Wit – “Her zingers still zing”, says Danny Heitman.
Slate: This New Zealand Fantasy Masterpiece Needs to Be Published in America, Like, Now – Dan Kois would like everyone to read The Absolute Book by New Zealand fantasy writer Elizabeth Knox.
Daily Beast: Venice Is Brilliant Inspiration for Any Writer—and Also Hell – “Venice is ‘the ultimate romantic fantasy capital on the verge of extinction.’ Its beauty has seduced—and frustrated—generations of artists, including this author”, says Christopher Bollen.
BBC News: George Steiner: Holocaust survivor and literary critic dies aged 90 – “Literary critic and essayist George Steiner has died in the UK, aged 90.”
The India Express: Legendary Gujarati bookstore Lokmilap shuts shop after nearly seven decades – “The Bhavnagar bookstore, started by poet Jhaverchand Meghani’s son, which ran a publishing house by the same name, published more than 200 books in Gujarati”, says Parimal A Dabhi.
Library Journal: 67 Compelling Titles | Starred Reviews, Feb., 2020 – LJ Reviews lists its most anticipated books for February according to genre.
Longreads: ‘I Want Every Sentence To Be Doing Work’: An Interview with Miranda Popkey – “Something I did learn writing this book is that being impressed by something doesn’t mean you should try and do it,” says Popkey.
World Architecture: Wutopia Lab creates layers of green hills on the facade of a bookstore in Wuhan – “Shanghai-based architecture practice Wutopia Lab has completed a new bookstore in Wuhan, China”, namely the Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore.
The Point: Real Characters – Toril Moi on “literary criticism and the existential turn”.
Australian Library and Information Association: How you can help: bushfire recovery – “ALIA has published a statement in response to the ongoing bushfire crisis.”
The Hindu: This virtual reality installation explores the literary world of Kafka in five minutes – A virtual reality installation in Prague lets its users explore the literary world of Franz Kafka.
Vintage: Shelf Life: Anne Enright on the five books that made her – “The Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering reflects on a lifetime of reading, from Alice in Wonderland to what she learned from Toni Morrison.”
Publishers Weekly: Virus Impacts Publishing In and Out of China – Ed Nawotka reports on how the 2019-nCoV pandemic (better known as the coronavirus) is impacting on global publishing business.
The Moscow Times: ‘The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution 1918-1921’ – Eric Lee’s fascinating book in English about Georgian history is avidly read in Tbilisi and Moscow finds Michele A. Berdy.
The New York Review of Books: Waterlines: On Writing and Sailing – The “sea is everywhere, including in fiction”, says Martin Dumont, who found himself “lost among an ocean of books”.
Electric Literature: 11 Indie Literary Magazines You Should Be Reading – “Steven Watson, founder of Stack, recommends print lit mags.”
The New York Times: New Literary Prize Will Award Over $100,000 to a Female Novelist – “The Carol Shields Prize is an effort to raise the visibility of women writers, in part with a sum that far exceeds many other book awards.”
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