An end of week recap
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
– Bertrand Russell
It has become something of a tradition at Book Jotter to spookify the wind up nearest to Hallowe’en. Thus, with the festival only three days away, you may well find sinister doorways leading to frightful features secreted amongst the usual mix of literary links and general bookish blather – many with recommendations leading you to the perfect All Hallows’ read.
Should you be plotting dire deeds over the weekend, I wish you much gruesome gratification. In the meantime (albeit a day earlier than usual), I will, as ever, summarise books read, reviewed and currently on the TBR shelf. In addition to a variety of literary titbits, I will again 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.
* Broomsticks at the Ready *
A brief reminder that #WitchWeek2023 takes flight on 30th October, as reported in WUTW #341. To stay up to date with the latest supernatural shenanigans and demonic developments, you may wish to read Lizzie Ross’s Which week Witch Week? Next week! or cast an eye (of newt?) over Chris Lovegrove’s review of Katherine Rundell’s YA fantasy novel, Impossible Creatures, in his latest engaging post: The comfort of hope – “in anticipation,” he says, “of the Cryptozoo theme for this year’s Witch Week.”
* Not a Halloween Happening *
Book blogger Naomi MacKinnon of Consumed by Ink and author Sarah Emsley have once again combined their energies to host an L.M. Montgomery book challenge. The plan is to invite others to join them in reading two books by this much-loved Canadian author, namely: The Story Girl and The Golden Road. Known for her many novels, essays, short stories and poems (in particular, Anne of Green Gables), the works of Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874 – 1942) are estimated to have sold 50 million copies worldwide. During her lifetime, she was made an officer of both the Order of the British Empire and the Literary and Artistic Institute of France and was declared a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada. If you would like to participate next month, I suggest you peruse The Story Girl Readalong: #ReadingStoryGirl, where you will find oodles of information about the two novels – but please remember to include the #ReadingStoryGirl hashtag when discussing this event on social media.
* NonFicNov Eludes Fall *
In the nick of time, Liz Dexter, our Knightess in shining armour (along with her trusty bookband) came galloping over the TBR mountain to save Nonfiction November from the jaws of oblivion. Answering a call to action in WUTW #348, she valiantly stepped into the bookish breach, which means the esteemed annual event will continue as normal this year. Liz and the ladies invite you to look out for their weekly topic prompts, and join them in reading, reviewing and generally sharing your thoughts on a variety of non-fiction titles. For all the minutiae on taking part, please saddle-up and trot over to Nonfiction November is here! at Adventures in reading, running and working from home.
* Irresistible Items *
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting/x-ing (soon, perhaps tooting or 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:
The New Yorker: When a Novelist Carries On What Another Novelist Started – “Elizabeth Hand’s Haunting on the Hill is an authorized follow-up to a Shirley Jackson classic. But haunting someone else’s house comes with perils as well as perks,” cautions Kristen Roupenian.
The Guardian: ‘She exposed the fragility of so-called civilised life’: why Shirley Jackson’s horror speaks to our times – “With their visions of violence and misogyny in small-town America, the Haunting of Hill House author’s chilling tales are taking on a dark new resonance,” says Elizabeth Hand.
BBC Gloucestershire: Beatrix Potter trail opens in Gloucester city centre – Louis Inglis reports: “A trail celebrating the anniversary of the publication of The Tailor of Gloucester has opened in the city.”
Books Are Magic: Horror Reads: Modern vs Classic – “Horror is a genre that owes so much to its early writers and creators,” writes Jacs Rodriguez, so featured here are “some early originals (that you should read) and their modern counterparts (that you should DEFINITELY read).”
The Sydney Morning Herald: This piercing novel is a paean to living with chronic pain – Vanessa Francesca reviews Katherine Brabon’s new novel, Body Friend, which she describes as “a poetic reflection on living with pain.”
iNews: How two retired doctors hunted down Terry Pratchett’s lost stories – “In the 70s and 80s, Pratchett published short stories under a pseudonym while working as a local newspaper journalist,” says Ed Power. “Decades later, husband-and-wife superfans Jan and Pat Harkin went on a hunt to find them.”
Zyzzyva: Blood Will Out: ‘Not Forever, But for Now,’ By Chuck Palahniuk – Kian Braulik reviews Not Forever, But for Now, Chuck Palahniuk’s horror satire about a family of professional killers.
Ploughshares: Reading Palestine – Yardenne Greenspan is a writer and Hebrew translator who describes herself as “a liberal Jew from Israel currently living in the US.” She recently made a foray into contemporary Palestinian literature and talks here about reading Palestinian stories – in particular, A Rebel in Gaza by Asmaa al-Ghoul and Selim Nassib.
CrimeReads: The Devil Made Me Do It – Jennifer McMahon with “nine demon and possession novels to lose yourself in this Spooky Season.”
Noema: The Emptiness Of Literature Written For The Market – “To meet consumer demand for instant gratification, writers have increasingly adopted the neutered rhetoric of brand management,” argues Kenneth Dillon.
Quill & Quire: Living Nightmares: An insurgence of Indigenous horror rouses the haunting spectres of settler colonialism – Canadian journalist Michelle Cyca explores a recent “explosion of Indigenous literary talent,” – with particular reference to authors writing in the horror genre, which, she suggests, may be down to “generations of accumulated traumas, many of which are unfathomably chilling.”
The Moscow Times: Maxim Osipov’s Fifth Wave of Independent Russian Writing – Writer, editor and doctor Maxim Osipov left Russia and launched The Fifth Wave, a journal of Russian language writing. Cameron Manley chatted to him recently about “his life as an émigré, his new journal, and his broader fears and hopes for Russia’s future.”
LARB: Allegedly Rational: On Andrew Lipstein’s “The Vegan” – Tadhg Hoey reviews Andrew Lipstein’s The Vegan – a novel that challenges our notions of morality with an allegory of guilt, greed and a forgotten world of animals.
Tor.com: Backlist Bonanza: 5 Underrated Horror Books – Alex Brown hopes to get you “into the Halloween mood with some supernatural beasties, brutal murders, and teens spending entirely too much time around dead bodies.”
African Arguments: Has African climate fiction already shown us the future? – “From cities within sand-storms to biotech implants, African writers are imagining diverse climate futures.” Here Carl Death recommends five “climate-changed futures in novels and short stories.”
The National News: Why better stories and translations are needed for Saudi literature to thrive – Authors say it is “time to turn [the] page on stereotypes of dunes and veiled women that dominate books to better reflect [the] kingdom’s rich literary heritage,” reports Saeed Saeed.
EL PAÍS: New book explores how 19th century Gothic literature helped scientists identify the characteristics of a serial killer – “The authors of Frankenstein and Dracula challenged prevailing criminological theories and presaged the scientific study of psychopathy.”
N+1: Speaking in Tongues – “The artists of the Eighties acted fast. They had to: there would be no future otherwise. But in battling the retrograde Reaganite look of the System, they knew they were its bastards nonetheless.” Frank Guan on Don DeLillo.
Los Angeles Times: Black horror is having a big moment. So is its pioneer, Tananarive Due – “October is Black Speculative Fiction Month,” says Paula L. Woods, “but that doesn’t begin to explain why Tananarive Due is so busy.”
The Jakarta Post: ‘She Wanted to be a Beauty Queen’: George Quinn raises Javanese stories – Australian professor George Quinn translated an anthology of Javanese short stories to help introduce Javanese literature to a wider audience.
The Conversation: The book that haunts me – seven experts on the scariest thing they’ve ever read – Six academic experts reveal “the scariest book they’ve ever read” – ranging from “haunted houses to murderous beasts and villainous vampires.”
Current Affairs: Finding Los Angeles with Anthony Bourdain – “How Bourdain’s work reoriented one writer’s engagement with people and places around him.”
Book Riot: For the Love of Witches: Why Witch Fiction Isn’t Going Anywhere – “There is nothing that witch fiction can’t do,” according to Alex Luppens-Dale. Discover why from a woman who has “read hundreds of books, both fictional and not about witches.”
The Monthly: Robyn Davidson and the Impossible Book – Michael Williams sits down with Australian non-fiction writer Robyn Davidson, “famed author of Tracks (1980), to discuss fear, loneliness and how she completed her self-proclaimed ‘impossible memoir’ Unfinished Woman.”
The Japan Times: Japanese thrillers and crime mysteries to curl up with this fall – As the nights grow colder, Kris Kosaka suggests you pick up these recommended fictional crime books and “dive deep into [the genre’s] unique intersection of art and entertainment.”
The Paris Review: The Future of Ghosts – In this adapted excerpt from an essay featured in Night Side of the River: Ghost Stories, Jeanette Winterson questions whether there is a place for ghosts in the metaverse.
Publishers Weekly: Canadian Publishing 2023: Made in Canada – Canadian authors are fighting for market share amid slowing book sales, with those in the north of the country licking their wounds after a brutal wildfire season.
JSTOR: Bride of Frankenstein – “Drawn from the margins of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, the cinematic Bride of Frankenstein is never just one thing, and she never goes away.”
Longreads: Poets in the Machine – “Why does the literary world still hold online writing at arm’s length?” asks Megan Marz.
Frontline: Melded in Malaysia: Review of ‘My Mother Pattu’ by Saras Manickam – “Stories [in My Mother Pattu] explore the everyday experiences of the Indian diaspora in Malaysia and question our notions of belonging and otherness,” finds Usha Rao.
Town & Country: 25 Best Books About Witches for a Spooky Autumn Read – The witch “reigns supreme” at this time of year, says Emily Burack. Here, she suggests “25 of the best witch books to read” over Hallowe’en.
The Brooklyn Rail: W. Scott Poole’s Dark Carnivals: Modern Horror and the Origins of American Empire – Yvonne C. Garrett reviews Dark Carnivals, W. Scott Poole’s panoramic account of the filmmakers and writers who work in the horror genre.
The Pudding: What Does Happily Ever After Look Like – Jan Diehm looks at how romance novel covers have transformed over the last few decades, reflecting women’s changing place in society.
The Guardian: I Love Russia by Elena Kostyuchenko review – reportage at its best – “The Novaya Gazeta journalist offers brilliant, immersive bulletins from her homeland but doesn’t explain its return to totalitarian rule,” writes Luke Harding in his review of I Love Russia: Reporting from a Lost Country.
Radical Reads: 10 Novels That Shaped Lionel Shriver – The American author and journalist who lives in the UK, “has been using speculative fiction to plumb social and political issues since she began novel-writing in the late ‘80s.” Here are 10 novels that she says, “have most influenced her life and work.”
Asian Review of Books: “Mater 2-10” by Hwang Sok-yong – Mater 2-10 is a “sprawling, multigenerational epic,” which “tells the story of a working-class Korean family and details their struggles against the tides of the 20th century,” writes Patrick McShane in this piece about Hwang Sok-yong’s International Booker–nominated historical novel.
Buzz: PIG BOY: a YA take on the Mabinogi imbued with magic, folklore and fun – A short piece from Hari Berrow on Michael Harvey’s [Pig Boy a] retelling of “Culhwch and Olwen – the longest tale in the Mabinogi and one of the earliest Arthurian legends.”
XinhuaNet: China Focus: WorldCon ushers in more opportunities for Chengdu as “sci-fi incubator” – “Sci-fi aficionados attending the opening ceremony of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) […] were treated to an exhilarating two-minute ‘space journey,’ to the accompaniment of haunting female vocals.”
Counter Craft: Underpinning Your Horror in the Uncanny – Lincoln Michel offers “tips on evoking the eerie in fiction.”
BBC News: David Shrigley: Artist pulps 6,000 copies of The Da Vinci Code and turns them into 1984 – Colin Paterson reports: “The Turner Prize-nominated artist David Shrigley has pulped 6,000 copies of Dan Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code and republished them as George Orwell’s novel 1984.”
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