An end of week recap
“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.”
– Anthony Trollope (born 24th April 1815)
Next Friday, I will be setting off with my partner and friends for a short break in Sorrento – a southern Italian town in the Bay of Naples, reposing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Consequently, there will be an opportunity for you to have a brief wind down between wind ups, which I’m sure will be an immense relief. I can’t promise a return to routine on Saturday 29th April, but that is my intention. However, if time is tight and I fail to make the deadline, WUTW will be with you once again on the 6th of May.
As ever, 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.
* When Next? *
In this year, Richard Booth opened a second-hand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath separated, and Joe Orton was jailed for defacing library books. It just so happens this is also the moment in literary history chosen by Karen Langley and Simon Thomas for their next joint reading jamboree. Having “decided to go for one of the decades […] not [so frequently] visited,” they opted for the 962nd year of the 2nd millennium, which shall henceforth be known as the 1962 Club. Thus, from 16th to 22nd October 2023, participants will be encouraged to read, discuss and write about books first released into the world during this twelve-month period. The briefest glance at Wikipedia reveals an extensive assortment of poets and writers producing fresh works at this time. For instance, there is Doris Lessing, Isaac Asimov, Agatha Christie (naturally), V. S. Naipaul, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, J. G. Ballard, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Penelope Mortimer, Vladimir Nabokov and Joan Aiken – and those a mere handful thrown in to whet appetites. To find out more about this and the previous Club gathering, please head over to Kaggsy’s Rounding up the #1940Club – plus where will we go next???? to tickle your book buds.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting (soon, perhaps, Mastodonning) my favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a selection of interesting snippets:
Electric Literature: 7 Novels Overgrown with Plants – “Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Weeds, recommends books where botany is part of the plot device.”
Literary Hub: Do Writers Fetishize Their Tools Too Much… Or Not Enough? – “Tobias Carroll on why we love our notebooks (and our pens).”
The Booker Prizes: Generation TF: who is really reading translated fiction in the UK – “Data compiled for the Booker Prize Foundation shows that readers of translated fiction in the UK are significantly younger than fiction readers generally – and that’s not all…”
The Moscow Times: ‘Disbelief’ Opens a Treasure Trove of Russophone Anti-War Poetry to Readers – Artyom Kamardin on Julia Nemirovskaya’s Kopilka (‘piggybank’) archive containing Russophone protest poems from around the world.
Air Mail: Le Sirenuse’s Siren Call – “Seventy years after John Steinbeck visited the spectacular Amalfi Coast hotel, Le Sirenuse maintains its literary roots in the form of a springtime writers’ retreat,” finds Harrison Vail.
History Extra: Murder and mayhem in Georgian Britain: the scandalous work of Johnson’s General History – “In 1734, an extraordinary book recounted – even celebrated – the lives of highwaymen, pirates and murderers. Sam Willis explores what this compendium reveals about attitudes to crime in the 18th century.”
Asymptote: Alex Lanz reviews Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu – “For all its escapist pleasures, fiction fastens its readers to the world; its promises are always empty. ‘True’ writing must furnish a true escape,” says Alex Lanz in his review of Solenoid – a highly acclaimed novel, “translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter.”
Open Country Mag: After 12 Years, Teju Cole Returns to Fiction with Tremor – Tremor “is the second novel and ninth book by the great [Brooklyn-dwelling Nigerian] writer” – which is described by Random House as “a startling work of realism and invention.”
Ploughshares: The Way to Freedom in Jacqueline Crooks’s Fire Rush – Jacqueline Crooks’s novel, Fire Rush, “is a journey from underworlds to natural worlds, from the present to the past, and from secrets to finding one’s voice,” writes Summer Koester.
The Irish Times: Dingle of the midlands? Why Granard has designs on becoming Ireland’s first book town – “Granard Booktown Festival is the first step to putting the Co Longford town on the map,” finds John Connell.
LA Times: Resurrecting a mammoth — and a family — in Ramona Ausubel’s wild and woolly new novel – Meredith Maran discovers Ramona Ausubel’s third novel, The Last Animal, follows a scientist and her children on a globetrotting quest to resurrect a mammoth and save the world.
BBC Culture: 12 of the best books of the year so far 2023 – “From an era-spanning epic to a tale of the super-rich, here are BBC Culture’s picks of the best fiction of 2023 so far.”
Literary Hub: How Spiritualism Influenced a Divisive But Brilliant Australian Novelist – “Cameron Hurst on contacting the spirit of Henry Handel Richardson.”
The New York Times: ‘The Tale of Genji’ Is More Than 1,000 Years Old. What Explains Its Lasting Appeal? Murasaki Shikibu’s “book is often described as the world’s first novel and a touchstone of Japanese literature. But some of its themes, including its take on gender and power, have echoed over centuries,” writes Motoko Rich.
Today: ‘Gone Girl’ author Gillian Flynn wants to ‘open the door’ to more ‘off kilter’ books – “Flynn said she never thought Gone Girl would be a bestseller. Now, she’s publishing similarly ‘big-voiced, unique’ books under her own imprint.”
NPR: Scholastic wanted to license her children’s book — if she cut a part about ‘racism’ – Maggie Tokuda-Hall was thrilled when the publishing powerhouse approached her to feature her book about a love story set in an internment camp during WWII. Then she read what the deal would involve.
The Millions: The Haunted Writing Life of John Polidori – Generally associated with the Romantic movement, Polidori is simultaneously unknown but influential, a failure but also a progenitor of an enduring literary trope: the vampire.
Jewish Review of Books: Bookstore or Beis Medresh – Aaron Tugendhaft on how he learned to stop worrying and love to browse.
Observer Arts: Guggenheim Fellow Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s Journey from Self-Doubt to Woman of Light – Kali Fajardo-Anstine tells Cat Woods: “It was extremely hard on me when Woman of Light wasn’t reviewed by major newspapers… It took months for me to accept that’s not why I write. I write for my ancestors, myself and my community.”
Atlas Obscura: 8 Surprising Stories to Celebrate World Book Day – For World Book Day, April White digs into the archives to discover the “pleasures of reading about reading.”
Publishing Perspectives: At London Book Fair: The International Booker Prize 2023 Shortlist – “The International Booker Prize shortlist again this year is announced at London Book Fair: ‘Questioning the narrative.’”
Vintage: Where to start reading Xiaolu Guo – Sarah Shaffi’s guide to the “essential books” of Xiaolu Guo, a Chinese-born British novelist, filmmaker, poet and essayist whom she describes as “one of the most exciting voices writing in Britain today.”
The Globe and Mail: Why the Baby-Sitters Club books are still bestsellers, three decades after their first release – Sarah Laing explores the reasons why The Baby-Sitters Club series, written by American novelist Ann M. Martin and published by Scholastic between 1986 and 2000, still resonates with young readers.
The Conversation: Enraged, tragic and hopeful: Alexis Wright’s new novel Praiseworthy explores Aboriginal sovereignty in the shadow of the Anthropocene – Praiseworthy, says Jane Gleeson-White, is “Alexis Wright’s most formidable act of imaginative synthesis yet” – not to mention her “most enraged, tragic and hopeful novel […], with a magnificently upbeat denouement.”
The Asian Age: One young Indian maps changing nation, finds hope amid violence – “The book is a grim reminder of what happens when one remains silent — the toll it exacts on both the silencer and the silence,” writes Malati Mathur in her review of Santanu Bhattacharya’s One Small Voice.
Caught by the River: Archipelago 2:2 – “Sue Brooks delights in the latest issue of Clutag Press’s occasional magazine, Archipelago.”
Publishers Weekly: Bookshop.org to Sell E-books, Publish First Print Title – “Online bookseller Bookshop.org will begin selling e-books by the end of the year. It will also publish its first book, Our Strangers by Lydia Davis, in October,” reports Ed Nawotka.
Phys.org: Punctuation in literature of major languages is intriguingly mathematical – The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences has produced a fascinating paper on universal versus system-specific features of punctuation usage patterns in major Western languages: Chaos, Solitons & Fractals.
OUPblog: Why read Proust in 2023? – “The world is literally on fire; authoritarianism threatens multiple countries; racism and xenophobia are rampant; women’s and LGBTQ rights are under threat—why on earth would anyone spend time reading a 3,000-page novel by a man who’s been dead (exactly) a hundred years?” asks Joshua Landy.
Ebony: 10 Black-Owned Bookstores Across America To Visit and Support – A selection of popular Black owned bookstores in various parts of the USA.
Penguin: Uplifting Earth Day books to inspire hope about the planet’s future – “From tree-filled fiction to true stories of resilience and optimistic calls to action, these reads are a gentle antidote to eco-anxiety.”
Hindustan Times: Zeina Abirached, graphic novelist – “Humour saved us during terrible times” – “The French-Lebanese artist, who is the author of Le Piano Oriental, attempts to tell stories about war-torn Beirut’s fading history.”
Georgia Straight: Exculpatory Lilies lands British Columbia’s Susan Musgrave on the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist – “British Columbia icon Susan Musgrave is one of the five poets shortlisted for the 2023 edition of the Griffin Poetry Prize,” says Mike Usinger.
BBC Leicester: Leicester author’s book inspired by loss of husband – “An author has described how the death of her husband, two weeks after their marriage, inspired her to write [The Archaeology of Loss,] a book about loss.”
Lapham’s Quarterly: Happy Endings – Correspondence tips from Lewis Carroll to “a friend feeling lonesome and irritated after a move in 1885.”
NZHerald: Don Winslow: Best-selling author of City of Dreams on retiring from fiction writing for political activism – American author Don Winslow “talks with Greg Fleming about leaving crime fiction on a high note.”
Time: Salman Rushdie Is Recovering, Reflecting, and Writing About the Attack on His Life – Salman Rushdie tells Karl Vick: “I intend to reclaim my life as fully as I can, but slowly does it,” as he prepares to pen his “account of the attack that nearly killed him last summer.”
Japan Today: Int’l scholars reflect on Kenzaburo Oe’s legacy a month after death – “One month after his death, scholars in different parts of the world are reflecting on acclaimed author Kenzaburo Oe,” reports Rosi Byard-Jones.
The New York Times Style Magazine: Legends & Heirs – “Women at the top of their creative fields on a younger artist who inspires them” – including Bernadine Evaristo, Rita Dove, Jeannette Winterson, Joy Harjo, Margaret Atwood, Sigrid Nunez, Mona Awad, Raven Leilani, Layli Long Soldier and others.
Literary Hub: “But Where’s Its Anus?” On How We Imagine Alien Lifeforms – “Jaime Green considers our anthropomorphic biases” when it comes to alien lifeforms.
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
Buon viaggio to you both for your upcoming soggiorno! And do say Hwyl fawr! to King Arthur who may still be sleeping under Etna, as one medieval account claims! And thanks for this, another international literary pick’n’mix for me to sample. 🙂
Thank you, Chris! Or should I say ‘mille grazie’? I don’t think we’ll make it to Sicily – but if I shout very loudly from the top of Vesuvius, perhaps King Arthur will hear. 😉
Hah, my mind went straight from Vesuvius to Etna – hopefully any shout you do will follow the same route! Grazie mille 🙂
Have a great trip! I enjoyed the article about imagining aliens and the one about punctuation being mathematical (which I sent to my math prof friend, as we’ve had a lot of conversations over the years about how much teaching writing is like teaching math).
Thank you, Jeanne. I’m so glad you found those links of interest. 😊👍
Sorrento must be heavenly at this time of year – have a wonderful time!
Thank you, Marina! 😀
BTW, I love your gorgeous black puss cat. She’s a delightful little thing. Please keep sharing your pics – they make my day. 😺🐾🐈
Wow, a bumper selection this week, Paula! And thank you for mentioning the 1962 Club – another very good year, I think. Have a marvellous trip! 😀
Thanks Kaggsy! It’s a pleasure. Congratulations on another successful club outing (1940).😊
Have a wonderful trip! I am buying something especially for the 1962 Club – oops!
Thank you, Liz! Hope you find lots of lovely books from ’62. 😊
Have a wonderful trip Paula!
Solzhenitsyn is certainly on my list for 1962 and so many other tempting choices to pick the rest from.
A book about resurrecting a mammoth, that does sound worth exploring, as does the volume on the price one pays by staying silent. And Polidori and his vampire I do need to get to at some point. Thank you for the lovely links as always 🙂🐶🐱
Thank you so much, Mallika – for both your good wishes and your comments about WUTW. 😺🐈🐾🐶
Have a fabulous holiday Paula! 😎🏔 So much to explore here, I’ll enjoy doing so this week!
Thank you, Julé. I’m really looking forward to getting away. 🧳😀
Enjoy your time away! It sounds lovely. The Moscow Times article about ‘Disbelief’ – wow. What a book cover – and good to have three of the poems to read. Gives some hope that these voices are being heard too. On a completely different slant I am looking forward to reading about international punctuation. Dutch punctuation often operates in ways that mean the opposite of the English conventions and all plural’s use the apostrophe of the greengrocer!
Many thanks, Maria. I wish I had your gift for learning languages. I’m hopeless! 😶
Thank you for another great collection of links, Paula. I hope you have a wonderful time in Sorrento, a place I’ve long wanted to visit.
Thank you, Anne. 😊 I went to Sorrento many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, so I’m really excited at the prospect of visiting Pompeii again in light of all the latest discoveries. 😃🧳
Amazing content. The plants link alone is a treasure trove!
Thank you for reading, Lisa. 😊👍