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A Nice Place In The Sun, is under construction-just for a little while... Thank you for your patience. We'll 'Cowboy Up' soon-
I would have expected that Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch has been selling just fine, but apparently there is a sales-effect from a 'big' prize such as the Pulitzer: as Publishers Weekly reports, Tartt's 'Goldfinch' Doubles Sales Following Pulitzer Win:
According to Nielsen BookScan, the book sold 15,079 copies last week, compared to 7,095 the week before the Pulitzer winAnd:
Publisher Little, Brown reported that total Goldfinch sales -- print and digital combined -- are nearing 1.5 million and that it has gone back to press for another 150,000 copies.Impressive.
3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri, the 2014 poetry winner, went from 11 copies to 81 copies (353 copies sold to date).Add a Comment
I had the pleasure of speaking about "Curating and Cultivating a Virtual Community of Writers" with the members of the Chester County Reading Association this afternoon. I talked about the ways blogging, microblogging, other digital technologies allow teacher-writers to interact with each other worldwide.Add a Comment
what does it taste like?Add a Comment
Cloudy Jewel isn’t on the shelf I thought it might be on, which means it’s in a box at my mom’s house, waiting to be moved to my apartment. So I continued my exploration of the work of Grace Livingston Hill with The Enchanted Barn. The Enchanted Barn is the story of a young secretary, Shirley Hollister, who needs to find a cheap home for her family for the summer, and ends up renting a stone barn.
First things first: at one point in this book, Shirley is reading From the Car Behind. I’m not trying to cast aspersions on The Enchanted Barn when I say that that was genuinely the most exciting moment for me.
Aside from that, and the two foilings of plots that showcase Shirley’s extreme competence late in the book, mostly The Enchanted Barn is about the Hollisters’ new landlord, Sidney Graham, giving them things and falling in love with Shirley. But the improvements he makes to the barn, with and without their knowledge, aren’t balm to my materialistic soul in the same way as, say, Aunt Crete’s boatload of department store clothes.
I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I’ve come up with some theories. Bear with me though, because I’m basically making this all up.
There are three acceptable ways for characters to heap material benefits on people in novels:
1. By dying. Ideally, the person who dies should be vastly wealthy and unknown (or almost unknown) to the beneficiary of their will, but it’s also acceptable for the heir to just not know how wealthy the dead person was (Mr. Bingle), or not to expect to be given the bulk of the fortune (The Year of Delight).
2. In arranged marriages. It’s great when a not entirely willing husband lavishes gifts on the heroine of a novel, but only if he isn’t in love with her yet, or doesn’t know he is. Fake engagements might also come under this heading (Patricia Brent, Spinster).
These options have a couple of things in common: first, the gifts can’t be construed as charity. And second, they can’t be intended to get anything from the main character; they have no strings attached, or are treated as a matter of course. And that’s why the giver of the gifts has to be either unequivocally not a love interest or already married, because if they’re wooing the heroine, or might somewhere down the line, the gifts could be construed as part of the wooing. And that kind of ruins it.
The things Sidney Graham does for Shirley and her family fail on both counts. Part of his interest in Shirley is his attraction to her, right from the beginning, which makes it really difficult to see him as disinterested. And then, while Hill makes a point of Shirley being very sensitive about accepting charity, but she can’t back that up. I mean, she can tell us that both Shirley and Sidney are young and kind of dumb, but that doesn’t make Sidney’s putting staircases and walls and chimneys and windows into the barn anything other than a gift to her.
It lessens the impact of the family living in a barn, too. I mean, they’ve got furniture and stairs and curtains and stuff, and, while it’s still largely a barn, there’s no camping out feel to it. It’s less the story of a family roughing it in a barn for the summer and more the story of a family moving from a cramped city apartment into a big house in the country.
It’s a fun story — I don’t want to suggest that I didn’t enjoy it. The baby’s baby talk was awful, but the next youngest kid’s slang made up for it. And while the living in a barn aspect and the being given nice things aspect weren’t satisfying, the bits where Shirley was extremely competent and earned everyone’s admiration really were. I just spend an excessive amount of time thinking about tropes, and about how fiction functions. It may be an attempt to justify my extremely lowbrow reading choices.
Kids love stories about pirates. Kids also love to laugh. What’s funnier than a pirate who gets seasick? Wouldn’t your child want to read a story like that? That is exactly what children’s author Fran Sivers and illustrator Leilani Coughlan have created in their book Pelican Bill. But they need our help. They’ve begun a KickStarter campaign in order to raise the necessary funds they need to bring Pelican Bill and his pirate crew to life in a children’s picture book. Please go to their KickStarter page, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1163027881/pelican-bill-a-sickeningly-good-yarn, watch the short video clip, read about the project (you can even read the entire rollicking, rhyming, jolly good story), and consider supporting their campaign. If you cannot help financially, at least spread the word about this really great cause. I’m sure Fran and Leilani will appreciate any assistance you can give.
Piketty-mania, and articles relating to his new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (see the Harvard University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) continue to appear at an astonishing rate.
At The New Republic Marc Tracy offers some hard numbers, in Piketty's 'Capital': A Hit That Was, Wasn't, Then Was Again How the French tome has rocked the tiny Harvard University Press. (I note that a Publishers Weekly piece from last year reports that Harvard University Press publishes about 180 new hardcovers annually, which surely is enough for them to be described as something more than ... 'tiny'.)
The numbers are pretty staggering -- it's: "already sold around 80,000 copies in less than two months, and is currently sold out" -- and: "of the current English-language sales figures, 14,000 come from the United Kingdom and Europe." (my copy came with a press release announcing a 15 April publication date, which they pushed up because of interest and demand -- adding to the logistical difficulties of meeting demand). They're printing another 80,000, and expect to follow that with 35,000 more.
Pretty neat; pretty impressive.
My Kindle counter said I was only 91% of the way through George R.R. Martin’s Feast for Crows so I was very surprised while waiting for my bus to arrive at the train station and take me home this afternoon to click the next page button and discover I had finished the book. What? Turns out the rest of the book is made up of appendices, a who’s who of characters, relationships and houses. Well that was unexpected. Good thing I have plenty of other books on my Kindle and I already knew what one to read next.
Feast for Crows is the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Is it bad of me to say I did not like it as much as the first three? Martin does a great job of continuing to develop characters and letting them change and grow or, in the case of some of them, dig their own graves. And the religious conflicts in the book between three different religions is really fascinating and well done. I also liked that most of the focus in this book is on female characters.
But the book ends in an arbitrary place with cliffhangers galore and no promise that they will be resolved in the next book. Because the next book focuses on the characters that were left out of this book. Martin found he was writing too much and so spilt what was the fourth book into two books, deciding to also split the stories of the characters. At the moment I don’t like that decision. I might change my mind after I read the fifth book. For now though it has left me with an unsatisfied feeling mixed with a little grumpiness.
Yes, I am watching the TV show of Game of Thrones that is currently airing. I started reading the series before the show began and had my own idea of what the characters looked like and all that. Now when I am reading I can’t remember my conception of them and instead have the TV characters’ images stuck in my head. Also, it is difficult to reconcile the way the book tells the story with how the show does. Some things stick closely to the book and others leave me gawping and muttering wtf? It’s always a risk one takes with books to screen.
I’ll be taking a break for a few months before I read A Dance with Dragons. And maybe by then Martin will have finished the sixth book and I can tie up the ends of all these dangling threads book four has left.
We're experimenting with an Environmental Book Club logo. It may be changing, so don't get attached.
It’s a given. If I’ve got outreach, the weather’s going to be bad. What’s your worst (or funniest) weather-related outreach story?
Wishing you all “May flowers” and a happy Friday!Add a Comment
|By Felice Arena. Published with permission.|
Question: How do you write romance in stories? I've been wanting to include it in some of my stories, but I always come up with something boring and silly.Add a Comment
A fun quick painting of an orangutan and a boy in in the jungle. And a parrot.
Painted in ArtRage, about 2.5 hours.Add a Comment
Tadeusz Różewicz, the last of the old guard of great Polish poets that included Zbigniew Herbert and Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska (and, before them, Czesław Miłosz), has passed away; see, for example, the Polskie Radio report, Poet Tadeusz Rozewicz dies, aged 92.
The only one of his works under review at the complete review is Mother Departs.
I usually try and create trailers for my books but what with our big move to California, I didn't get one together for OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES (Candlewick). That's why I was delighted when K.T. Horning of the University of Madison-Wisconsin's Cooperative Children's Book Center told me about this trailer created by Ali Khan, a brilliant, funny teen writer in the Madison Public Library's "Bubbler." I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did:
The birds of Hawaii, in their multitude of colors and forms, strut and alternate their strides with their heads held high. Bipeds that are confident. Secure. Fearless. Their flight plan involves plopping right down in your personal space, breathing your air and eyeing your food, waiting for you to leave so they can partake, but they always patiently wait their turn by eating the crumbs fallen at your feet. For days, I’ve been watching these birds and I can attest that they are completely undaunted by your presence here in their Hawaii. For you are a mere human, mortal–and you certainly cannot fly. The birds here are showy, pluming and preening their feathers in front of you, as if they are courting you with their Aloha Spirit. Californian birds, or the birds from my home state, are much more enigmatic, evasive, skittish and untouchable, sometimes like the people who live there–some of whom would snatch your bag of Doritos right out of your hands if you’d let them.
Next Wednesday, the animated duo of Jeff Twiller and Randy J. Johnson will host their own animated film screening in Brooklyn. It's a legit line-up of animated shorts, with perceptive cinematic commentary supplied inbetween the films by Twiller and Johnson. Thankfully, they happen to be animation experts.Add a Comment
In Dreamland, Randall explores the research that is investigating those dark hours that make up nearly a third of our lives. Taking readers from military battlefields to children 's bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn't as simple as it seems. Why did the results of one sleep study change the bookmakers odds for certain Monday Night Football games? Do women sleep differently than men? And if you happen to kill someone while you are sleepwalking, does that count as murder?Writing
This book is a tour of the often odd, sometimes disturbing, and always fascinating things that go on in the peculiar world of sleep. You ll never look at your pillow the same way again.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Saradindu Bandopadhyay's By the Tungabhadra.
Of course what I really want to cover are Bandopadhyay's Byomkesh Bakshi-stories, but I haven't come across any copies. (I snapped up By the Tungabhadra as soon as I saw it -- used, but still the most I've paid for a book in months.)