An end of week recap
“Women have waited millions of years growing separate as another species, with visions and priorities no man-words, no man-measurements can comprehend.”
– Kate Braverman
This is a 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.
* Dean Street Press December *
Over at Adventures in reading, running and working from home, Liz Dexter has Dean Street Press, the popular “indie publisher devoted to finding and republishing good fiction and non-fiction,” very much in her sights. Throughout December she intends to host a DSP event, which will involve “reading as many of [the publisher’s] outstanding titles as [possible]” – in her case focusing on “Furrowed Middlebrow reprints [and] an enticing e-book” – while encouraging others to take on the challenge in their own way. A “start-off post” will appear on her blog on the first day of the month in which she will invite others to share links to the titles they have read (in addition to posting her own reviews). For further information, please see Get Ready for Dean Street Press December! and be sure to use the #DeanStreetDecember hashtag when posting about the event on social media.
* 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 this one – which was published over the last week or so:
A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym – Jacqui of JacquiWine’s Journal thoroughly enjoys “returning to the comforting world of Barbara Pym” – a place that seems to her “both mildly absurd and oddly believable.” A Glass of Blessings, which was “first published in 1958,” is no different in this respect – indeed, it is “another lovely addition to this author’s body of work.” Narrated by Wilmet Forsyth, “a well-dressed, attractive woman in her early thirties, comfortably married to the dependable but rather dull [civil servant] Rodney,” she is nevertheless bored, and indulges in “a little mild flirtation” with “the brother of her closest friend.” Pym “is a keen observer of human nature” and “focuses on the characters and the interactions they have with one another.” The novel, which “is full of the gentle humour,” not to mention “an interesting subplot,” is both “witty and charming,” says Jacqui, who declares it “another delightful novel by the inimitable” English writer.
* 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:
TLS: Books of the Year 2022 – Regular TLS “contributors select their favourite books of 2022.”
The New Yorker: The Brilliance of Colette, a Novelist Who Prized the Body Over the Mind – “Two new translations of her Chéri novels deftly render her devastating portrait of beauty, seduction, and the ravages of time,” writes Michael LaPointe.
Electric Literature: Why Does Society Insist that Women Forgive Their Male Abusers? – Betsy Cornwell on writing her Jane Eyre-inspired revenge narrative Reader, I Murdered Him in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.
The Korea Herald: New online platform KLWave aims to lead literature’s Hallyu – The Literature Translation Institute of Korea has revealed the new online platform, the Korea Literature Wave (or KLWave), which is “an online platform linking the country’s literature and the global market.”
The Public Domain Review: Proust’s Pinks – “For vast stretches of À la recherche du temps perdu, there is scarcely a page unadorned by vibrant colour. To commemorate the centenary of Marcel Proust’s death, Christopher Prendergast celebrates his use of pink, how its tone shifts from innocence to themes of sexual need, before finally fading out to grey at the novel’s close.”
Asian Review of Books: New Book Announcement: “Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk” by Lu Xun, translated by Eileen J Cheng – “This captivating translation assembles two volumes by Lu Xun, the founder of modern Chinese literature and one of East Asia’s most important thinkers at the turn of the 20th century. Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk represent a pinnacle of achievement alongside Lu Xun’s famed short stories.”
LARB: Going Coastal: On Some Recent Books About the Ecology and History of Beaches – Daniela Blei explores the paradoxes constituted by ‘the beach’ – an allegedly natural place of leisure and fun since the Industrial Revolution, and now the site of our species’ myopia.
Vox: All of the 2022 National Book Award finalists, read and reviewed – “A look at this year’s best in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature.”
Hollywood Reporter: Sam Miller to Direct Ewan McGregor Starrer ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ for Paramount+, Showtime (Exclusive) – “The BAFTA Award winner, known for his work on the likes of ‘Surface,’ ‘I May Destroy You’ and ‘Luther,’ will also executive produce the series adaptation of the Amor Towles novel,” reports Georg Szalai.
Lit Hub: Writers Wrestle with Twitter: Do I Stay or Go (and Where?) – “Jess deCourcy Hinds wonders how long Literary Twitter will last on Elon Musk’s social network.”
The Washington Post: Why read old books? A case for the classic, the unusual, the neglected. – “Books of the past not only add to our understanding. They offer repose, renewal and perspective,” writes Michael Dirda. What’s more, he argues, they can also “be fun.”
Ploughshares: The Unfamiliar and the Strange – Ted Chiang demonstrates that balancing the familiar and the strange in science fiction is not simply a case of having new technologies alongside old but understanding what is familiar in sci-fi and how logic itself can serve as a kind of familiarity to guide the reader through novel ideas.
The University Times: A Degree in English Literature is a Sorry Match for my Love of Reading – “I had a completely different, idealistic picture of what it would look like to be an English major long before I actually became one, writes Abby Cleaver,” in this piece from May.
CBC: Imagining a parallel planet with 2 moons can give new perspectives on climate change, says author – Cecil Castellucci hopes the story she tells in Shifting Earth may also bring hope to a dire topic.”
Firstpost: Anuradha Ghosh’s biography of artist Jamini Roy probes the influence of Bengali folk art – “A new book on Jamini Roy (1887-1972) throws light on the influence of his rural upbringing on his art and raises questions about how the market shapes artistic output,” writes Chintan Girish Modi.
Lapham’s Quarterly: A Fresh Twist to a Knot – Daisy Hay, author of Dinner with Joseph Johnson: Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age, on “spending a year with Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.”
Esquire: How the First Star Wars Novel Almost Spoiled the First Star Wars Movie – “Six months before A New Hope hit theaters, the novelization was pronounced ‘a huge cliche.’ Reading it 46 years later, the book seems to come from an alternate universe,” says Ryan Britt.
Bookforum: Cold Comforts: A new biography of novelist Shirley Hazzard – Christine Smallwood reviews Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life – a newly published biography of the Australian-American novelist, short story writer and essayist by Brigitta Olubas.
CBS News: The 50 most banned books in America – “During the 2021-2022 school year, more than 1,600 books were banned from school libraries” in the USA. Jennifer Martin lists “the 50 most commonly banned books in America from the 2021-2022 school year.”
The Bookseller: Rundell takes Baillie Gifford crown for ‘sparkling’ Donne insight – Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell has been named winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2022.
The Rumpus: Survival and Hope: Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty – Nwokedi Kenechukwu finds You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty “organically makes the argument that friendships can be just as important and fulfilling as romantic relationships.”
The Critic: Murders for November – Jeremy Black with a selection of “[g]ripping plots and dodgy prose for the autumn months.”
Medievalists: New Medieval Books: From Swans to Saxons – “Five new books about the Middle Ages, telling you about the Norman Conquest and working in Catalonian cities.”
The Millions: Saying No Feels Great: The Millions Interviews Elissa Bassist – “Having read her feminist memoir, Hysterical, it’s easy to imagine Elissa Bassist, a la Arya Stark, sharpening her pen and reciting the names of all the men who’ve wronged her,” writes Evan Allgood.
JSTOR Daily: The Devonshire Manuscript – “The sixteenth-century handwritten collection of poetry and commentary offers a glimpse of intellectual life at the court of King Henry VIII.”
Independent: Jonathan Coe: ‘I would really rather not live in interesting times, thank you’ – “Britain’s foremost state-of-the-nation chronicler is back with another generation-spanning novel, Bournville. He talks to Nick Duerden about making a living as an author, why he doesn’t write from anger, and how the country ended up in chaos.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: Why it’s time to change the law and stop ignoring women’s rights – Jennifer Robinson and Keina Yoshida’s demand for action on violence against women leads TSMH’s wrap-up of new book reviews.
The New York Times: A Small-Town Librarian Spoke Against Censorship. Then the Dark Money Came for Her. – “Now she’s fighting back,” says Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
Variety: ‘Shuggie Bain,’ Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-Winning Novel, Set for A24, BBC Adaptation – “Shuggie Bain, the Booker Prize-winning debut novel from Douglas Stuart, is set to be adapted as a BBC drama by A24.”
Astra: The Dirt on Pig-Pen – “Pig-Pen was dirty — visibly so…” says Elif Batuman of the character from Peanuts. “That’s who and how he was. And yet — what was that dirtiness? Was it essential or incidental? How did it work?”
Lit Hub: A Plethora of Penises: How People Wrote About Sex in the Middle Ages – “Katherine Harvey on erotic expressions in Medieval literature.”
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