An end of week recap
“The north wind roaring down in October is cruel and cold and reminds you again — as the sea has a way of doing — that nature does not care for man. And somehow that makes the red and yellow leaves and the blue, deceptive noons all the sweeter and more precious because living is so dangerous and so short and can be so bitter.”
– Elliott Merrick
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.
* 62 Reasons to Read *
Do you crave a collection of science fiction titles selected by Isaac Asimov? Would you love to pick up a Penelope Mortimer paperback? Maybe you have a hankering for a horror by Shirley Jackson. If so, you have the perfect reason to read these, or any other books published in the 962nd year of the 2ndmillennium, because the 1962 Club is about to swing wide its doors to the online reading community. From 16th to 22nd October, Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Simon Thomas of Stuck in a Book will once again welcome all to their biannual literary lovefest. There are titles galore from which to choose, penned by authors ranging from Joan Aiken and Rachel Carson to Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges – not to mention Anthony Burgess, Doris Lessing, John le Carré, Mercè Rodoreda, Ray Bradbury … Shall I continue? No. Instead I urge you to investigate for yourselves, since 1962 was rich in newly published page-turners – all ripe for rereading (or a first-time outing). I wish you much cerebral pleasure between the pages, but please remember to use the #1962Club hashtag when posting content relating to this 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 was difficult to pick only this one – which was published over the last week or so:
“We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? – a world without whales. It’s too terrible to imagine.” (Pierce Brosnan) – Madame Bibi Lophile’s contribution to AusReadingMonth is a captivating review of the late Shirley Barrett’s 2015 historical novel, Rush Oh!, which she describes as “loosely based on a famous New South Wales whaling family.” Ordinarily, she wouldn’t be in “the market for a novel about whaling,” but she made an exception for this story about Mary Davidson, a young woman who comes-of-age during the exceptionally harsh winter of 1908 when the abnormally bad weather results in reduced slaughter. In general, Madame B found the book “well-balanced” and felt it wore “its research lightly, evoking the setting beautifully.” Despite the ending leaving “a couple of storylines” open, it was “an original and engaging tale with a clear-voiced narrator.” Indeed, “it worked really well in terms of allowing Mary a life beyond the story without everything tied off neatly.”
I would also like to point you in the direction of Madame B’s second #AusReadingMonth post, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” (Margaret Atwood), in which she reviews Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock. A piece well worth reading.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting/x-ing (soon, perhaps, m-ing and bsky-ing) a few favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, there follows a selection of interesting snippets:
Literary Hub: 23 new books in paperback out this October! – Gabrielle Bellot suggests “some apt books newly released in paperback […] for this season of scares.”
TNR: With Jon Fosse’s Win, the Nobel Prize in Literature Is So Back – “The once wild-and-woolly literary award has entered its steady and serious era,” declares Alex Shephard.
Asymptote: George MacBeth reviews The Dead Girls’ Class Trip by Anna Seghers –The Dead Girls’ Class Trip, which has been translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo, contains a selection of Seghers’s best stories, written between 1925 and 1965.
Slate: The Man Who Invented Fantasy – For all “those wizards, ogres, and barely-clad elf queens in the bookstore [you] have Lester del Rey to thank,” says Dan Sinykin.
LA Times: In search of an erased African: An acclaimed French novel probes a literary scandal – Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s The Secret Memory of Men won French notoriety and acclaim for plumbing an African novelist’s erasure. It is now available in English.
The Asahi Shimbun: As China censors homegrown feminism, a feminist scholar from Japan is on its bestseller lists – 75-year-old Japanese feminist scholar, Chizuko Ueno, has become “an unlikely celebrity” in China with her books selling more than half a million copies in the first half of 2023.
The Orange County Register: 28 years ago, a book club began reading one novel. It’s finally reached the end – “Filmmaker Gerry Fialka has convened a book group to read James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, a book famously tough to grasp.”
The Guardian: Ian McEwan criticises hiring of ‘sensitivity readers’ looking for offensive material in manuscripts – “Booker-winning novelist describes the process of screening out things that might offend readers as ‘mass hysterias’ and ‘moral panics’ that ‘sweep through populations every now and then.’”
Orion: What the Ice Asks of Us – Emily Raboteau has a conversation about Antarctica with Elizabeth Rush, author of The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth.
The New York Times: The Moomins Live in Peace. Their Creator Tried to Do the Same. – Nina Siegal checks out a “new exhibition in Paris [that] explores how Tove Jansson imagined a kind world that reflected her values as a lesbian artist and ardent pacifist.
Words Without Borders: The Watchlist – Towards the end of each month, Tobias Carroll “shares a few recently released or forthcoming titles in translation that he’s especially excited about.” September’s selection included “books from Canada, Colombia, France, the Republic of the Congo, and Russia.”
BBC Wales: National Library of Wales is missing almost 1,200 items – According to Alun Jones, “about 1,200 items are missing at the National Library of Wales” – including Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and a poem by Cranogwen, the first woman to win a Welsh national poetry prize.
The Hindu: Review of Ritu Menon’s India on Their Minds: Writing like three-ply yarn – Sudipta Datta on the ways “the personal, political and literary intertwine in the works of Nayantara Sahgal and seven other women.”
The Tufts Daily: Q&A: Milkweed Editions CEO Daniel Slager on publishing environmental literature – “Slager discusses running the publishing company that released Braiding Sweetgrass (2013).”
The Japan Times: ‘The Japan Lights’ traces a journey of self-discovery in the wake of 3/11 – “Iain Maloney’s wise book [The Japan Lights: On the Trail of the Scot Who Lit Up Japan’s Coast] connects his travels in Japan to the pursuits of Richard Henry Brunton, a Scotsman who built lighthouses across the country,” writes Kris Kosaka.
EL PAÍS: An unpublished interview with Gabriel García Márquez: ‘Maybe the myths about me are more interesting than my life’ – “In collaboration with documentary filmmaker Jon Intxaustegi, EL PAÍS offers excerpts from a 1994 interview with the Colombian Nobel Prize winner in which he discusses music, the Caribbean, money, love, books and ideas.”
Publishers Weekly: Can Spotify Take Digital Audiobooks to the Next Level? – A new subscription-based audiobook service in the UK and Australia for Spotify premium subscribers, which will launch in the US this winter, will offer 15 hours per month of access to more than 150,000 titles.
The Walrus: Why Are So Many Authors Abandoning Speech Marks? – “Sally Rooney, Ian Williams, and Lauren Groff are just a few of the contemporary authors avoiding quotation marks for dialogue,” finds Maija Kappler.
McSweeney’s: Short Conversations with Poets: Cathy Park Hong – Jesse Nathan chats to the American poet, writer and professor Cathy Park Hong about her work.
Tor.com: 5 Fantasy Books Featuring Jewish Mythology – “Jewish mythology is as expansive as it is storied,” says Kalyn Josephson. Here she shares “three fantasy books featuring Jewish mythology […] and two upcoming releases.”
Chicago Review of Books: Double Vision and Self-Deception in “A Man of Two Faces” – Joe Stanek reviews Viet Thanh Nguyen’s new book, A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, a History, a Memorial.
Guardian Australia: ‘Ballsy’, ‘very funny’, ‘read in one sitting’: the best Australian books out in October – “Each month, Guardian Australia editors and critics pick the upcoming titles they have already devoured – or can’t wait to get their hands on.”
Latvian Literature: “Latvian Literature” Platform Presents a New Literature-Based Virtual Tour of Riga – “The ‘Latvian Literature’ platform has created a new virtual tour, offering an opportunity to visit Riga locations mentioned in various literary works by Latvian authors.”
CBC: Michael Fraser, Joseph Kakwinokanasum, Kasia Van Schaik among authors shortlisted for 2023 ReLit Awards – “The ReLit Awards honour the best Canadian books published by independent presses.”
The National: Celebrated Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa dies aged 59 – The Syrian writer and veteran government critic Khaled Khalifa died of cardiac arrest at his home in Damascus.
The New Yorker: Why Lydia Davis Loves Misunderstandings – “The writer’s painstaking attention to the smallest units of language scales up to momentous questions about how errors of communication shape human relations,” says Merve Emre.
Tehran Times: Bridging cultures: the art and impact of translation in Iran – Tehran Times spoke with three translators to gain their “collective insights […] on the challenges, successes, and evolving dynamics of translation in Iran.”
Mass Live: The Andover Bookstore is not only the oldest in Mass. — it’s the oldest in the US – Ryan Mancin is enchanted to discover that this old Massachusetts bookstore – once the home of a doctor – was established the same year Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin and Edgar Allan Poe were all born.
The Markaz Review: Edward Said: Writing in the Service of Life – “Academic and novelist Layla AlAmmar interrogates her life’s creative and scholarly achievements against the teachings of Edward Said.”
Liber Review: Haunted House – Anna Godbersen reviews Monica Brashears’ House of Cotton, a novel in which a young woman “takes a very strange job in a funeral parlour during a down-and-out period of poverty, loss, and sexual compulsion.”
Smithsonian Magazine: How America’s First Banned Book Survived and Became an Anti-Authoritarian Icon – “The Puritans outlawed Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan because it was critical of the society they were building in colonial New England,” finds Colleen Connolly.
The Moscow Times: Author Christopher Miller Bears Witness As ‘The War Came To Us’ – Leading journalist Christopher Miller’s new book The War Came to Us is a first-hand account of the war with Russia – reviewed here by Cameron Manley.
Harper’s Bazaar: Jessica Knoll’s New Novel Challenges a Serial Killer’s Legacy – “Bright Young Women takes inspiration from a well-known true crime story, but to decenter the perpetrator, Knoll refuses to even name him,” says Carl Kelsch.
Because of Them We Can: Philadelphia’s Oldest Black Bookstore From 1950S Officially Granted Historical Marker – Hakim’s Bookstore, the oldest Black-owned bookstore in the City, has been designated an historical monument.
Australian Book Review: Where to now? – Jeanine Leane shares her thoughts on Melissa Lucashenko’s seventh novel.
Capital & Main: Is Climate Change Transforming Literature and Poetry? – “Southern California writers have long used distant blazes to create atmosphere. Worsening fires have changed all that, finds Suzanne Lummis.”
Independent: Did Oscar Wilde set back the cause of gay rights? Author Tom Crewe on why the great playwright is no hero – “The author of award-winning alternative history novel The New Life tells Louis Chilton how Wilde’s trial set back a moment of optimism.”
Eater: The Best Food Books to Read This Fall – Amy McCarthy and Bettina Makalintal feel sure that with “these 11 works of food-focused fiction and nonfiction you won’t mind being cooped up inside as the temperatures drop.”
WFAE: CMS rescinds its ban on ‘Banned Books Week’ activities – Ann Doss Helms with the latest in the US’s culture wars. She reports: “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ban ‘Banned Books Week,’ then backtrack and leave it up to schools.”
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