Archive for literature

The Book Booth: New Starts Edition


Image: Mental Floss

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 here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

We have survived yet another New Years Eve here in our little town. There were surprisingly few fireworks shot off at midnight this year; that is was below freezing outside may have had something to do with it. But there were enough pyrotechnics that the animals were not happy.

We may have begun a new year, but the winter remains, and will so for the next couple of months. The good news is that the sun has started to move north again (ok, the earth's axis is tilting to the north again), and the hope of new spring can give solace to our souls. But the winter remains an inspiration to some writers as the Guardian show us with its list of the ten memorable literary works featuring the chilly days and nights.
Winters in Literature

Other writers take the chill off by imbibing spirits that warm the body. And perhaps give some inspiration as well. Flavorwire has these photos showing us some authors enjoying a drink. Or two.
Authors and Booze

A good snack can take the edge off the alcohol. Some cheese and crackers at the desk can help the writer to ponder the next bon mot. MentalFloss shared recently some snacks authors in the past have enjoyed.
Authors and their Snacks

One could enjoy a good snack,a glass of wine and be inspired while reading some of the finest works around. BuzzFeed gives us what they consider to be the 51 most beautiful sentences in literature. And they're pretty darn good.
Beautiful Sentences

As we begin the year, we need to know what is hip and what is not. So when it comes to overused words and phrases, the folks at Lake Superior State University has compiled the words to avoided for the coming year. Ah, "skill set", we hardly knew ye.
Words Which Are Already Hackneyed

I used to read literary magazines frequently. But for whatever reason, I grew out of the habit. So it is good to be reassured that they're still around and being read, as Juan Vidal at NPR tells us.
Literary Magazines

When I first began working in the book biz lo these many years ago, Mass-Market paperbacks were still disdained by "bookpeople" and you could still find bookshops that would not stock them. I didn't quite ever get that attitude inasmuch as I devoured them while growing up. Louis Menand at the New Yorker offered up this fine meditation on the "pulps" and their impact on the world of books.
Pulps Remembered

Of course there was a lot of crap published by mass-market houses (and there still is), but not much was crappier than the works of Ayn Rand. So it was nice to see that Dick Cavett refused to have her on his show, not because of her writings themselves, but for the demands she made in order for her to make her appearance.
No Ayn for Dick Cavett

Finally, SeattleTammy found this photo slideshow. It's pretty amusing, but probably not safe for work. So save it for the home computer. #NSFW
Reading Weird Books in Public

Happy New Year!

May 2015 send many a good book your way. And tell us what you're loving in the world of printed matter.


The Book Booth: The Nobel Prize Goes to Who? Edition



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 here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

Well the Nobel Committee has selected this year's winner and Haruni Murakami will have to wait for another year. The French writer Patrick Modiano took the honors, and as the WaPo points out, he is little known outside of France. And, I have to admit, I had not heard of him before the announcement was made. Patrick Modiano.

For the curious among you who'd like to know more about Modiano, Alexandra Schwartz at the New Yorker provides some context and assessment.  More on Modiano.

On the other hand, Jonathon Sturgeon at Flavorwire is completely baffled at this choice by the Swedish judges.
Even more on Modiano.

In other prize news, the venerable Kirkus Review, which has been around since 1933, will now be giving out awards for outstanding books and writers. The first ceremony will be held in Austin on October 23rd. NPR has the story.

In the film adaptation department, Shortlist magazine recently recommended nine films based on books that you may not be aware of. I was happy to see Ridley Scott's The Duelists, a negelcted film with a great performance by Harvey Keitel.  Films Based on Unknown Books.

I'm a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson's films, and I am also a fan of Thomas Pynchon's novels. It seems Anderson has directed Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice, due in theaters in December with a very interesting cast. This is the first work of Pynchon's that I know of to get a film treatment and I look forward to seeing it. Rope of Silicon reports on the critical reaction after a showing at the New York Film Festival.  Review of Inherent Vice

For fans of the TED talks, BookRiot has listed its literary favorites here. And it is always fun to see Billy Collins.
Literary TED Talks.

We know about book to film adaptation. How about book to song adaptation? If you've never heard Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, go listen to it now! And what is Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe but a Fauklner story set to music? The folks at Shortlist recently listed 25 songs that reference books.

Emily Temple at Flavorwire had a good article on the favorite books of fifty iconic celebrities.

Finally have you ever idly doodled or simply wanted to see if you still had some ink in your pen? Medieval copyists did, too. io9 has the story.  World's Oldest Book Doodles.

A good weekend for us all, and tell us what books you are currently devouring!


Seeing John Steinbeck’s Monterey



The service is no longer available so we have removed that code from The Political Carnival.

Here is the original post on Tales Told from the Road


Imagine: Ignorance In Idaho Has A Happy Ending



In 2007, author Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. That's high praise indeed. Yet this semi-autobigraphical novel describing growing up on a Spokane Indian Reservation while attending an all-white secondary school, has ridden into some difficulty recently in Meridian, Idaho.

A few weeks ago, the school board voted 2-1 to ban the book because it contained sexually charged material and mocked the Christian religion. It's not particularly clear which was more offensive to the school board, the "steam" of the material or the "passion" of the Christ. But none the less, banned it became.

Literature might have been knocked to the mat, but it wasn't out for the count.

The Raw Story:

Following the ban, two Washington women held a crowd-sourced fundraiser to purchase copies of the book to distribute to the 350 students who had signed the petition protesting the board’s move. Working with a Boise bookstore, the women were able to purchase enough copies for all of the students with the publisher donating an additional 350 copies to be given away at a later date.

And give them away they did. It was in a public park this past weekend. Well, until a concerned citizen called the police. They came to see what was going on. It seems Junior Mountain View High school student Brady Kissel was distributing free copies of the novel to students who had signed a petition protesting the board’s recent decision.

Fortunately for the young people of Meridian Idaho, and the rather enlightened understanding of the police in that community, "peace" was kept and sanity restored.

The police spoke to student Brady Kissel and determined no harm was being done. The books were distributed. Literature triumphed over close-minded ignorance. And sanity returned to the sleepy community where education won out. Let's hear it for the police in Meridian Idaho.