Archive for fall

Lauren Mayer: It's Been a Lousy Summer

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Lauren Mayer is a singer/songwriter/pianist who writes comedy songs about everything from Supreme Court decisions to the Kardashians. She proudly supports leftist causes including equal pay, reproductive choice, fair minimum wage, addressing climate change, and marriage equality.
Note: Lauren's CD is now available!! Hear clips or purchase CD/downloads at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/laurenmayer8. It is also on iTunes and will soon be on Amazon!

From YouTube

We've had so much bad news lately, we're relieved to start September!

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The Book Booth: Thanksgiving Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

I know the holiday is still a few days off, but you wont see another post from me for another week when all the hoopla is over and we are all still digesting food. So a great holiday, all!

Giving thanks this past week were the winners of the National Book Awards. In something of a surprise, James McBride won for his novel Good Lord Bird, a story narrated by an escaped slave. Not so surprising was that Thomas Pynchon was a no-show.

We can only hope that the Awards don't go to the winners heads. As Lindesay Irvine at the Guardian explains, success can be the kiss of death for some authors.

With Thanksgiving coming up, you know there will be plenty of football to watch on the TV machine. It has been said that as a rule of thumb, when it comes to writing about sports, the smaller the ball, the better the writing. Jason Diamond at Flavorwire shows this isn't necessarily true (though there is one baseball book) with his recommendations for sports books that even non-fans would enjoy.

With it being the 150 year anniversary of the American Civil War, I've been watching (again, because I keep forgetting who wins), the Ken Burns documentary that aired some years ago. Of course one of the most charismatic of the commenters on that show was the late Shelby Foote. So it was something of a surprise to learn that he was a huge Marcel Proust fan. And now that it has been 100 years since Proust self-published Swann's Way, William Carter at Speakeasy wonders how well the book has held up. (And makes me wonder what people will be still reading 100 years from now.)

Making the rounds of book signings and reading has been space flyer Chris Hadfield, who recently published An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. Paddy passed along this fine post and book trailer from BoingBoing. And in case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, here is a good interview of Hadfield from Bob Edwards Weekend show.

The folks at the Oxford English Dictionary recently announced their new word of the year. It turns out that Selfie (I had to go look it up) beat out such other fine neologisms as "schmeat" and "twerk".

Years ago, when I worked for what was then a major chain store, books were tagged with both the price as well as number that indicated to us clerks what section of the store to stock these books. We had to be careful, though, as sometimes there would be slip-ups. For instance, Philip Roth had published a book entitled The Breast, and the tag helpfully noted it should be stocked in the Health section. And I guess these slip-ups continue at other stores. This one was bound to upset some people.

(From Seatle Tammy- P.S. to the Costco Bible story. This guy says he had posted it as snark, and it went viral on him. I think it's interesting that preachers aren't allowed a sense of humor in modern America.)

I don't use Twitter nearly as much as I should. But, then again, I'm not a famous literary personage. So here are some first tweets by the famous of the writing arts.

This past week saw the passing of the writer and Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing at age 94. HuffPo had this remembrance and video about her.

It is wonderful thing to be able to discover a forgotten writer or book, as I did recently with John Williams and his beautiful novel Stoner. Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly has the same feeling about the obscure but wonderful writer, Barry Hannah.

Finally, 2013 also marks the centennial of the birth of Albert Camus. The Guardian took the opportunity to offer this quiz on how existential you are. I guess I'm not as much as I thought I'd be.

A Happy Holiday for our readers, who I hope will be able to enjoy a long weekend of food and books. And let us know what tome you're paging through!

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The Book Booth: Visual Arts Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

Somehow I ended up with many links this week that featured books in graphic form, one way or another. So prepare to be dazzled graphically. At least I hope you are.

First, the folks at Visual.ly prepared a graphic of the most read books in the world. The titles probably wont surprise you. Well, Twilight Saga surprised me somewhat. But I'm pleased that 50 Shades of Gray isn't included.

I mentioned Classics Illustrated last week, but only discovered (thanks to my friend Nakaima Oh) this week that Julian Peters illustrates famous poems. Here is his take on The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and it is very good. Take a look, dare to eat a peach and wear the bottoms of your trousers rolled.

NPR featured a new book by graphic artist Joe Sacco, The Great War, which tells the story of the battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles ever fought. The text folds out to a length of 24 feet, so be sure you have some room.

Medieval book copiers often would use old, washed out paper to do their handiwork. Now some European scholars have been able to use Science, and see just what texts got copied over and the results are stunning. Thanks to SeattleTammy for finding this one.

Other arts inspire the writer as well. Jason Diamond at Flavorwire examines seven books that have an architectural bent.

Then, again, books inspire others in the arts. This coming week marks the unveiling of the new Harry Potter stamps from the United States Postal Service. USA Today has the story.

I wouldn't want to leave out animators. Here is a cool representation of novelist Stephen Millhauser's Home Run.

Paddy found some very small bookstores, while perusing Boingboing. First off, a very small and well-lighted place in San Francisco. Then there is this one in Helsinki which reminds me of SeattleTammy's nightstand.

As does this one in Paris.

Finally, for all you Dr. Who nerds out there, and you know who you are, Tom Hawking of Flavorwire has this history of the good doctor...as pictured on the Bayeux Tapestry! Enjoy.

A good weekend for us all! And let us know what you're reading to pass the time away.

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The Book Booth: Veterans Day Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

Monday we salute those folk who have defended our country in battle and I hope you will take a moment to reflect on their deeds. And hope there will be a day when no one will have to serve in battle to preserve our freedoms.

In the meantime, Amazon has proffered a peace offering to Indie Bookstores. The Gray Lady had the story here. And it met, by and large, with great hilarity from booksellers. Melville House has collected many responses and they are amusing to go through. I'd say don't plan to go to your local independent bookstore and expect to see Amazon product on the shelf.

Considering it is a three-day weekend for many of us, do make plans to visit that local Indie. Buzzfeed has the many reasons why you'll be glad you did.

While you're out shopping and stimulating your local economy, check for these cool bookcases. This is via Paddy, who really, really wants this. So be a pal, buy it and send it to her.

However, this guy doesn't need your assistance in procuring a bookcase. He who may or may not ever pay taxes has enough money to get his own.

I have a couple of items this week in the Books as Art Department. First, it seems that in Birmingham, England, old books are not tossed away. They are transformed into things of beauty.

And if that were not enough,MentalFloss has these beautiful sculpture made, of course, from books.

I am not recommending that, while on your weekend travels, you drop into your local tattoo parlor. But if you insist on decorating your body, you might want to consider some of these designs from literature.

I grew up reading comic books. I preferred DC superhero comics as Marvel Comics hadn't really taken off when I was at that age. But I also devoured the Classics Illustrated editions as well, most of which actually followed the plot lines of the novels that were adapted. So I welcome the emergence of the graphic novel. ABEBooks has a fine list (and a mini-review of Maus) of fifty graphic books.

One of our finest American novelists is Robert Stone. I highly recommend his novels, Dog Soldiers and A Flag for Sunrise. Or almost anything he's written. So it is exciting to learn he has a new novel being published this month, Death of a Black-Haired Girl. Publishers Weekly has this interview with him here.

Finally, now that 60 Minutes has recanted its story about Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi!!! and with the celebration this past week of Guy Fawkes Day in Merrie Olde England, I leave you with this quiz from the Guardian on conspiracies in literature. I only got five right, so I'm going to have to read or re-read some of these books.

Have a fine weekend and let us know what is atop your stack of books.

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The Book Booth: All Souls Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

I'm guessing most of you survived this week's Zombie Apocalypse and have not become one of the walking dead. I do have it on the best authority that most zombies cannot read. In any event, I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween.

But before we leave our celebration of the scary, Jason Diamond at Flavorwire had this list of the best of Satan in literature. I might have added Mr. Scratch from Stephen Vincent Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster, but it is a pretty good list.

The intonation of voice can bring out so much in the telling, or in this case, the re-telling of a story. Benjamin Price gives a particularly spooky of reading of Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon here.

Last week saw the passing of Lou Reed, of the best of song lyricists, and who wrote much like a novelist. Author Neal Gaiman remembers Lou and his influence in the Guardian.

Many writers and would-be writers have suffered receiving the rejection letter. More than once. Buzzfeed selected 20 such authors who initially had trouble getting published.

Rejection is hard to take though. Sometimes a beer takes the edge of failure off. Or, as Benjamin Franklin told us, it is proof that God loves us. Emily Temple found some good literary quote about the beverage.

If beer is not to your taste, perhaps you can find inspiration in reading about genius in a biography. One of the best is Richard Ellman's James Joyce. Or Doris Kearns Godwin's Team of Rivals. Biographies help us not only to know someone else, but they help us to define ourselves as well. Salon discusses here why we turn to them again and again.

For those of you interested in book collecting, ABEBooks has this short video primer and list of books that are useful in that hobby here. And a corrective to the notion that all old books have great value because of their age.

And as you enter this obsession, you will surely need these items to compliment your beautiful books.

Most book lists are idiosyncratic and unique. MentalFloss had this list of books that you should read right this minute and I'll be damned if I can find a theme to them at all.

Publishers Weekly released this week its selections for the best 100 books of this year. "But, SeattleDan," I hear you say, "how can they choose the best books now when we still have two full months to go in the calendar year?" Well, it's because, by and large, most publishing companies release very few books in November and December. Which makes sense as a book does not have much shelf life if it is getting pubished two weeks before the holidays.

Have a most pleasant weekend and please let us know what book you are currently devouring.

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The Book Booth: Halloween Edition

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Happy Halloween Books

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

Halloween is now upon us. The time of year we indulge our children and ourselves bite-sized portions of candy. I'm currently re-watching some of the old Universal picture monster movies, which either informed my youth or warped it, depending on your point of view. But for all their flaws and silliness, there is some great movie watching there.

If you have children of trick or treat age, and you're still at a loss as to what to dress them as, Buzzfeed had some great ideas for costumes from children's literature that may inspire you.

Of course our most famous living horror novelist remains Stephen King. His output is shelves long and most anything he writes ends up adapted to the silver screen. The Guardian has a short quiz on some of those films here.

Many years ago the novelist Mary McCarthy (at least I think it was her; I can't find a link, but remember reading it in the New York Review of Books) wrote an essay on the origin of Frankenstein having to do with the still-born delivery of Mary Shelly's baby. We can't be sure where the idea came from, but there is a good appreciation of that most famous of horror novels at Publishers Weekly.

That most terrifying of novels for bibliophiles, Fahrenheit 451, has had a jacket re-design for those so -inclined as to burn after reading. H/T to Paddy.

Again from Buzzfeed comes this compendium of famous author last words, though their works remain to haunt us.

One of the great treats from my days in elementary school, aside from summer vacation, was the visits from the Bookmobile. Imagine a whole trailer full of books, moving from one place to another. Here are some vintage photographs of a time now passed of the traveling library.

This map of state's most famous books made the rounds on the internet tubes this week, but in case you missed it, enjoy. Of course my state, Washington is best known for the famous vampires that live up the road from me, and help drive the economy there in Forks.

Although she announced her retirement earlier in the year, and known to be in ill-health, Alastair MacDonald speculates that Nobel Laureate Alice Munro may still have a few stories left in her.

One of the good consequences of Ms.Munro's winning the Nobel Prize seems to be a resurgence of interest in the short story. Carolyn Cooke at Publishers Weekly had this interesting list of her favorite short story collections. I would add almost any edition of Anton Chekov and Raymond Carver stories.

Lest we forget the ars poetica, Billy Collins has a new collection of poetry available, Aimless Love. Austen Rosenfeld examines why Billy remains America's most popular poet at the Daily Beast.

I am a slow reader. I make no apologies for that. I am currently engaged in reading John Dos Passos' trilogy USA and though I can now see the finishing line, it has taken me a while to get through it. The book I read before taking on this long work, was, by contrast, the much shorter Stoner, a novel written by John Williams and published some time ago. I had wanted to write something about that wonderful and haunting book, but I think this essay by Tim Kreider at the New Yorker say much of what I'd like to think I'd have said

A Happy Halloween to you all and be sure to let us know what you're reading and excited about. I'll leave you to Mr. Collins reading one of his most famous poems, the name of which escapes me.

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The Book Booth: More Prizes Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

We are still in the midst of Book Award Season. And the National Book Association recently announced the short lists for the nominated books. (This announcement was done on Morning Joe of all places. For some reason, I find that highly amusing). The list is here, and there are some fine books nominated. The Award ceremony is November 20th, so stay tuned and don't touch that dial.

But we do have a winner in the esteemed Man-Booker Prize. Elizabeth Catton became the youngest winner and only the second Kiwi to win the prize with her 800 page plus novel, The Luminaries. The author won over some other fine authors, including Colm Toibin and Jhumpa Lahiri, who is also short-listed for the National Book Award. The Luminaries was just released this past week in the U.S. and there may be a waiting list at your local bookstore or library.

It seems that this year's Nobel Laureate, Alice Munro, will not be able to attend the ceremony in Stockholm this year, due to poor health.
Let's hope she recovers soon.

Speaking of authors who have won the Nobel Prize, HuffPo had these somewhat idiosyncratic choices for winners you may or may not have read.

Qwiklit recently featured some "rare" photos of famous authors, a couple of whom won the Nobel. It is fun to see some of these writers when they were in their prime.

Not pictured is an important European writer from the beginning of the 20th Century, Karl Kraus. You may have not heard of him. I only know his work from having read Wittgenstein's Vienna some years ago, which gives a history of the Austrian intellectual milieu. He is fascinating, and American author Jonathan Franzen explains why.

Also published this past week is a new biography of Norman Mailer by J. Michael Lennon. I know Mailer's public personae was, well, odd. He could come off, and often did, as a huge jerk. But there is no doubting his power as writer. Lennon recommends these ten books as his best.

I've mentioned before how much SeattleTammy and I love our local library. It was built in the Prairie Style and it is a very pleasant building to browse the stacks. (Currently Tammy has checked out Claire Conner's Wrapped in the Flag, the story of the author's upbringing in the John Birch Society, and is liking the book very much. You can look at the author's webpage here. If you are ever in Seattle, please check out the main branch downtown, and is simply gorgeous.

Paddy found this link to the beautiful library in Berlin, via BoingBoing. And the Daily Mail had these stunning photos taken from a new book on world libraries by Dr. James Campbell.

If your weekend plans include watching a DVD, you may want to check out this list from Buzzfeed of 25 movies you may or may not have known were based on books.

Or if you'd rather snuggle in with a good mystery, author Thomas H. Cook had these suggestions at Publishers Weekly. And I concur with the choices of A Simple Plan, The Quiet American and True Confessions,all excellent reads.

We are all familiar with literary opening lines. Call Me Ishmael. They were the best of times, they were the worst of times. A screaming comes across the sky. But how well do you know closing lines? Oxford Dictionaries has this quiz for you. I got 8 of the ten, and I have to admit a couple were pure guesses.

Hoping everyone has a fine weekend! And be sure to tell us what is topping your reading list!

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