An end of week recap
“People make trouble, trouble makes history.”
– John Graves (born 6th August 1920)
Since it is my birthday tomorrow and we have friends (plus George the Doberman) staying for the weekend, I thought it wise to wind up the week a day early.
As ever, this is a weekly post in which I summarise 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.
If you are planning a reading event, challenge, competition or anything else likely to be of interest to the book blogging community, please let me know. I will happily share your news here with the fabulous array of bibliowonks who read this weekly wind up.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am going to share with you one of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it is difficult to pick only one – which was published over the last week or so:
‘The Feast’ by Margaret Kennedy – The Feast is the much-loved English author’s ninth novel, “set in Cornwall during the summer of 1947,” says Kirsty of The Literary Sisters in her review of a book “loosely based upon the seven deadly sins.” We are “made aware from the outset” that “guests have perished” when a cliff collapses on Pendizack Manor hotel, and the “narrative shifts back” to the week leading up to the accident – during which “we learn about each [individual] character” (including members of staff) in “all their eccentric glory.” There are comedic aspects to the story, the plot is “well balanced” and the “more serious elements […] are peppered with amusing details.” Nevertheless, Kirsty admits that while she is “drawn to Kennedy’s writing,” the “ending [isn’t] particularly satisfactory” – indeed, it is somewhat underwhelming. However, it has “an intelligent idea at its heart” and much to interest her as a reader.
* 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 selection of interesting snippets:
Book Marks: 10 New SF and Fantasy Books to Augment Your August – “Featuring Megan Giddings, Tasha Suri, R.F. Kuang” and others.
The Paris Review: Re-Covered: Lucy’s Nose by Cecily Mackworth – Lucy Scholes re-examines the Welsh writer, journalist, poet and explorer, Cecily Mackworth’s compelling 1992 novel, Lucy’s Nose, which follows the narrator’s search for Lucy R. – a young Scottish governess briefly described in Freud’s Five Studies in Hysteria.
The Marginalian: Iris Murdoch on the Myth of Closure and the Beautiful, Maddening Blind Spots of Our Self-Knowledge – The “ways in which we are all susceptible to drowning ourselves into drama, and what it takes to float free,” are explored by Iris Murdoch in her 1978 novel, The Sea, the Sea, says Maria Popova.
BBC US & Canada: Stephen King testifies against merger of publishing giants – “American horror novelist Stephen King is taking on a new monster: corporate consolidation.”
Tor.com: Announcing the Shortlist for the Inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction! – The shortlist for the first Ursula K. Le Guin Fiction Prize has been revealed, featuring works “of imaginative fiction” from nine authors.
The Nation: Pulling Punches – “What happened to newspaper book reviewing?” asks Frank Guan.
The Conversation: ‘Suburban living did turn women into robots’: why feminist horror novel The Stepford Wives is still relevant, 50 years on – In his 1972 novel The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin powerfully dramatized women’s suburban alienation and men’s resistance to feminist change. Michelle Arrow traces its enduring influence.
Oprah Daily: Crime Fiction Goes Global and Diverse, as These 20 Books by Women Writers Show – “Writer Carole V. Bell celebrates a genre that is embracing political and social relevance and voices from around the world.”
Guernica: Olena Rybka: Ukraine’s Literary Identity – “The editor discusses publishing books in a time of war and working to preserve the Ukrainian language.”
Literary Hub: From World Wars to Airborne Fairies: How History, Myth, and Folklore Shape Our Stories – “Emma Seckel on the weightiness of history and the vastness of landscape.”
Esquire: All the Little Things You Lose in the Culture War – “The lending library of Vinton, Iowa, is just the latest victim of bigotry,” finds Charles P. Pierce.
JSTOR Daily: The Symbolic Survival of The Master and Margarita – “Neither supernatural forces nor Soviet censors were able to suppress individual creativity and determination,” says Emily Zarevich.
Smithsonian: Have Scholars Finally Deciphered a Mysterious Ancient Script? – “Linear Elamite, a writing system used in what is now Iran, may reveal the secrets of a little-known kingdom bordering Sumer,” discovers Andrew Lawler.
Pop Matters: Why is Booker Prize Winner Stanley Middleton Forgotten? – “Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence, and Alan Sillitoe loom large over Nottingham’s literary landscape. Why is Book Prize winner Stanley Middleton not among them?” wonders John Burns.
Sydney Review of Books: At a Crossroads – “Where will you go? Will you follow Lili, an Australian young woman of Asian heritage in 1980s France, or Lyle, a middle-aged man who also migrated from Asia in post-pandemic Australia?” asks Intan Paramaditha in her review of Michelle de Kretser’s Scary Monsters.
BBC Culture: The 26 best books of the year so far 2022 – “Memoir, poetry and time travel stories are among the BBC Culture picks, write Rebecca Laurence and Lindsay Baker.”
The Guardian: Top 10 stories of modern India – “From hi-tech executives to Adivasis defending their tribal lands,” Aravind Jayan finds “the best Indian fiction portrays the extraordinary diversity of a changing country.”
Wired: Bookstagram Is Fueling an Unnerving Trend – “Authors aren’t above criticism—but when they’re tagged in negative social media reviews of their books, it can stifle the conversation,” says Amelia Tait.
Catapult: How Do Algorithms Help (and Hinder) Book Sales? – “As a marketing professional, [Cindy Fazzi] mastered the art of writing for algorithms. As a novelist trying to sell [her] books, it’s more complicated.”
Africa is a Country: Reading List: Patrice Nganang – “The novelist on 3 books he returns to: by Wole Soyinka, Ibn Khaldun, and a third on the history and the system of writing of an early 20th-century Cameroonian king.”
The Critic: On pretending to have read books – It is, according to Simon Evans, “an art in itself.”
The Observer: The joy of crime fiction: authors from Lee Child to Paula Hawkins pick their favourite books – “Val McDermid, Nicci French, Anthony Horowitz and more reveal what makes a great novel, celebrating writers including Patricia Highsmith, Donna Tartt and Dennis Lehane.”
Qantara.de: Women searching and yearning for home – “In his debut novel, Flügel in der Ferne (Wings in the Distance), award-winning French author Jadd Hilal gives voice to four women from four different generations who tell the stories of their uprooted lives in Europe and the Middle East.”
Wales Arts Review: How Welsh Writers Can Help Redefine Wales – “Gary Raymond lays out an impassioned call to arms for Welsh writers to play a central part in mainstream debates about the top issues of the day.”
The Washington Post: How do you organize your books? 9 authors share their favorite shelves. – Nora Krug presents the ‘shelfies’ of Elin Hilderbrand, Diana Gabaldon, Garrett Graff, Vanessa Riley, Emma Straub, Hernan Diaz, Jennifer Weiner, Chris Bohjalian and Christopher Buckley.
The New York Review: Out of His Element – “In [Audubon at Sea,] a new selection of John James Audubon’s oceangoing writings, [Jenny Uglow senses] his obsessive quest to draw every bird he saw, even though he disliked being on the water.”
The Age: Whatever happened to the giants of poetry, and where are they today? – Jane Sullivan thinks Poetry Month (1st-31st August) offers the ideal opportunity for Australian readers to discover the joy of poetry.
The Indian Express: SAGE Publishing is set to shut its book publishing division in India – “In a letter to its employees, the company said it would continue its journal publishing and import and sale of global titles,” reports Paromita Chakrabarti.
Forbes: Penguin Random House’s CMO On The Future Of Publishing – Amy Shoenthal speaks to Penguin Random House’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sanyu Dillonand, about the state of the industry, “driving inclusiveness in publishing” and “finding creative new ways to connect with readers.”
The Baffler: Beyond the Frame – Rhian Sasseen on the “forward-thinking sci-fi” of Japanese novelist and actor Izumi Suzuki.
NPR: A librarian collects all the things left in books — from love letters to old photos – Librarian Sharon McKellar collects items left behind in books returned to Oakland Public Library.
Labor Notes: Recent Books of Note for Labor Activists – A selection of US titles that may be of interest to Labour activists.
Slate: How One Middle-Aged Novelist Single-Handedly Invented the Look of the Classic Sex Scene – British romantic novelist and screenwriter “Elinor Glyn said: Velvet. Rose petals. Candles. Hollywood listened.”
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 is an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.
Categories: Winding Up the Week