The Book Booth: April Showers Edition



Image: Flavorwire

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing.  It is written by @SeattleDan and SeattleTammy, operators of an on-line bookstore (which you can find here) , who have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: April Showers Edition

In my case the title for the week is ironic. We've been having superb weather, with sun and temperatures in the mid-sixties. That will all end at the beginning of the week when the rain returns and April showers will return, and, one hopes, provide us with the May flowers.

Spring brings out the poetical in us. Chaucer begins his Tales praising the rains of April. Wordsworth wrote of daffodils. (And April is National Poetry Month). Flavorwire found ten other poems that praise the new season, ranging from the Bard himself to a particularly nice poem by Claude McKay. Not included is The Waste Land, which is kind of a downer when it comes to Spring.
Poems to Greet the Spring

I mentioned last week that we are fast approaching the 400th anniversary of the passing of William Shakespeare and we shall be seeing much-related stories of that playwright in the coming month. It now seems that Pelican, long a publisher of the plays, has had their cover art, which had been very plain for decades, redesigned in minimalist fashion by young artist, Manuja Waldia. I'm not sure what to make of them, but it took a while to get used to the Milton Glaser jacket art used on the Signet covers back in the sixties.
New Cover Art for Old Shakespeare Plays

Harper Lee passed away a few short weeks ago. Twenty nine of her letters are now up for auction, sold in separate lots with opening bids beginning at $750. Many of the letters complain about the invasion of her privacy, while others are more chatty. It is a little surprising that they weren't already offered to some University collection, but in any event, these ones are for sale. The Telegraph has the story.
Harper Lee Letters Up For Sale

Alas, novelist and poet, Jim Harrison died last week at age 78. He was best known for his novella Legends of the Fall, which was famously filmed in 1994 and starred Brad Pitt. NPR remembers him here.
Jim Harrison Remembered by NPR

The poet Rich Smith has this appreciation of Harrison the poet here that he wrote for the Seattle alternative paper, The Stranger. Harrison had some of the qualities himself that make one a legend.
Ode to Jim Harrison, Poet

I have been a big fan of novelist Leslie Epstein for some time now. I first encountered his long short story, The Steinway Quartet, many years ago in a literary magazine and loved it. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting him one time at a book collection, and I told him how much I admired his novel Pandaemonium (which is told brilliantly in the voice of Peter Lorre and is all about Hollywood in the thirties and early forties). He thanked me and said I seemed to be the only one who did. Here he talks about the importance of writing and reading.
Leslie Epstein Talks About Writing and Reading

The short novel is a form not often used these days, but has a long-standing tradition in literature. Heart of Darkness and The Death of Ivan Ilych both come to mind. At Publishers Weekly, Cynan Jones, author of the short novel, The Dig, discusses the pleasures of reading the short novel.
The Case for Very Short Novels

A wonderful weekend to you all and please do let us know what books are pleasing you.


The Book Booth: Easter Edition



Image: The New Yorker

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing.  It is written by @SeattleDan and SeattleTammy, operators of an on-line bookstore (which you can find here) , who have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: Easter Edition

We are caucusing this Saturday morning in our state. We choose all our other political candidates by primary election. All except for presidential nominees. I'd much prefer a primary. Still, for whatever its faults, having a caucus does allow us to see our friends and neighbors. And pretty damn early in the morning.

With that in mind, there is a lot, far too much really, to take in this campaign season. So Jessica Tripler has these reading these political readings to help guide you. To which I can only add George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant, a still relevant guide to political framing.
Political Philosophical Readings

The military thinker Carl Von Clausewitz observed that war is the continuation of politics by other means. And Janine di Giovanni had these recommendations for great books of war reportage. In my humble opinion, Orwell's Homage to Catalonia is a must-read. In addition to John Reed's Ten Days that Shook the World, you might also want to look at his Revolutionary Mexico.
War Reportage from Orwell to Gellhorn

The English novelist Pat Barker has explored the genre of the war novel extensively and well. NPR featured a review of her book Noonday, which has recently been released.

For those of you who'd like some adventure in your weekend reading, the novelist Ian McGuire, author of the new novel, The North Water, about a whaling ship from Yorkshire and set in the 19th century, recommended these titles and it is hard to disagree with his choices. Naturally, he includes Moby Dick.
The 10 Best Adventure Novels

I had never heard of Mairtin O'Cadhain before I come across this New Yorker article, which explores both his career and writing. His novel Churchyard Clay, written in Irish Gaelic, has now two translations and the description of the book with its graveyard voices resonated with me as I'm in the midst of reading Spoon River Anthology.
Graveyard Voices in Churchyard Clay

We are approaching the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard of Avon. I expect we will be hearing a lot more about that in the next few weeks. The Daily Telegraph recently featured ten books whose titles derive from Big Bill himself, with some cool jacket art of those books to boot.
Titles by Shakespeare, Content by Others

JK Rowling has had rejection letters since publishing the Harry Potter books? Indeed! She recently shared those letters for the mystery The Cuckoo's Calling which she wrote under the name Robert Galbraith. And The Political Carnival's own Lucian Dixon highly recommends this series.
What's In A Name? The Difference Between Acceptance and Rejection in the World of Publishing. JK Rowling's Rejection Letters as 'Robert Galbraith'.

The National Book Critics Circle recently gave out its awards for 2015 and it was good to see Paul Beatty win for his novel The Sellout. Beatty has been around for a while now, and his White Boy's Shuffle is a fine novel.
National Book Critics Circle Award to Paul Beatty

It is spring and time to do some house cleaning. Maybe it is a function of aging, or maybe it's the time of year, but I have grown less and sentimental about possessing my books. Oh, sure, there are books I'll never give up, but the number of titles that particular category encompasses grows smaller and smaller every year. SeattleTammy and I donate a number of books to our local Friends of the Library. The folks at Bustle have some other ideas of what to do with those books you no longer want to keep.
What To Do When You Need The Space All Those Books Are Taking Up?

Happy Easter to all of you who are observing the day. And happy reading as well. Please do let us know what books you are currently obsessing over.


The Book Booth: It's Spring! Edition



Image: Bustle

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing.  It is written by @SeattleDan and SeattleTammy, operators of an on-line bookstore (which you can find here) , who have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: It's Spring! Edition

Though it seems like Spring has already arrived here, and then some, it officially arrives tomorrow, assuming you are reading this on Saturday. Daylight savings time has now taken effect, and I wont bore you with how it stole an hour of sleep from me. St. Patricks Day has been celebrated. The Rhodies are now in bloom, and soon the apple trees will as well, and the scents around our yard will be sweet.

The rains are gone for our little town for now and it has inspired me to want to pay more attention to my health, like riding my winter-neglected bicycle. And more reading! It's good for you, as Bustle reports here.
Reading is Good for You!

Ah, but what to read, what to read? There's no shortage of recommendations. Amy Parker, who has recently authored her own collection of interlinked short stories, Beasts and Children, ranked her favorite such collections. I was pleased to see, among the others, the now nearly forgotten Sylvia Townsend Warner as well as Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son.
But What to Read?

Then there are those stories where the narrator may not be telling the truth, or telling a version of the truth that doesn't necessarily coincide with reality. Catherine Kovach at Bustle listed twelve such yarns, including John Fowles' The Collector and Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange.
Truth or Consequences Reality?

As many of the rites of Spring involve, well, the fertility of the earth and ourselves. So some may want to visit, or revisit, that old Indian standby, The Kamasutra. The scholar Wendy Doniger has recently published a study of the 2000 year old text, Redeeming the Kamasutra, and explains here why it still matters to us today.

Have you been feeling a little odd, a bit disoriented, somewhat out of sorts lately? It could be that you are stuck in a Raymond Chandler novel. Carolyn Seuthe at The Toast offers up the symptoms and clues.
Are You Living in a Raymond Chandler Story? How to Tell.

So you want to be a writer, but not only a writer, but a best-selling author. Well, there are several ways to go about that, as Brent Underwood of the Observer describes here. Thanks to Lucian for the link.
It's Based on a Novel by a Man Named Lear...

It has been a number of years and films ago that Tim Burton has directed a good movie. His early films, including the first two Batman movies, were delicious and fun that showed a promising future for Burton, that, alas, he really hasn't lived up to. I'm hoping that will have changed with the release of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an adaptation of the Ransom Riggs 2011 novel, one that SeattleTammy enjoyed, in September this year. It looks like the right sensibility has met the right subject matter.
'Home for Peculiar Children' Trailer

With all the Spring showers ahead, and/or for those who need to do some gift shopping for a book-loving friend, check out these umbrella designs, which are pretty darn cool.
Gift Shopping for Bookworms

A great spring equinox to you all and please let us know what books are making you smile this weekend.


The Book Booth: The Waters of March Edition


Image: Rolling Stone

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing.  It is written by @SeattleDan and SeattleTammy, operators of an on-line bookstore (which you can find here) , who have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: The Waters of March Edition

We are getting the waters of March here in our town, with the pineapple express bringing us late winter rains. It's probably good that all northwesterners have webbed feet to help guide us along our soggy roads. And the Waters of March is one of the great tunes that the wonderful Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim has given us; you will see the youtube link at the bottom.

So I'm in a musical frame of mind and it just so happens, Rolling Stone recommends four new reads. I'm particularly intrigued by the new bio of Nina Simone, who's life was recently presented in documentary form by Netflix.
Nina Simone's Life/Rock Books

Great literature has lent itself to other art forms for centuries, including opera. But I had no idea that works like Grapes of Wrath, Lolita, and Moby Dick had made it to the stage.
Operatic Adaptions of Famous Novels

Elton John is no stranger to the musical stage. Beyond years and years of live performances, he also composed the score to The Lion King which has played on Broadway since the days of George M. Cohan.  Sir Elton is also a voracious reader and he does much of his book shopping at Book Soup in Hollywood.
Book Soup

Music legend and the "fifth" Beatle, George Martin passed away this past week at age 90. All Beatle fans know of his contributions to their songs. But the news of his passing led to panic among Game of Thrones fans who thought that George Martin had passed, prompting the author to deny rumors of his death.
George Martin Denies Being Dead (Game of Thrones)

Speaking of fanboys and fangals, it seems that President Obama is a big Peanuts fan and has written the preface to the last volume of 25 republished by Fantagraphics and due out soon.
President Obama Pays Tribute to Peanuts

As for myself, I am a huge, if not outsized, fan of Orson Welles. So it was a pleasure to read film critic Michael Wood's appreciation of the great American director, including some interesting thoughts on Welles' Chimes at Midnight, here in the New York Review of Books.
Michael Woods on Orson Welles

With the opening of relations with Cuba, Publishers Weekly has announced a petition campaign to end the book embargo against the island nation. About time, I'd say.
PW Says End the Book Embargo Against Cuba (Petition)

J.K. Rowling is keeping herself busy. She has just published the first part of a new series. Magic in North America, on the Pottermore site.
J.K. Rowling: 'Magic in North America'

Finally I note the passing of author Pat Conroy last week from cancer. He was a fine writer and The Prince of Tides is something of a masterpiece. If you haven't read his work before, give yourself the pleasure.
Pat Conroy

And as promised, The Waters of March as sung by its composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. Please enjoy and let us know what great books you've got going this weekend.
The Waters of March (on YouTube)