Archive for stephen king

The Book Booth: May Days Edition



Image: Mystery Writers of America:

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.

The Book Booth: May Days Edition

May has arrived and I'd like to say Happy belated May Day to you all. I've always thought we should make a bigger deal of the day here in the United States, but sometime ago, the Congress, in its wisdom, created Labor Day to be celebrated in September, so American workers wouldn't share the same day as the rest of the world. Because socialism, or something. Anyway.

This years Edgar Awards this week with no controversy to speak of. Stephen King was honored for Best Novel. The other winners and nominees can be found here.

Stephen King has created some very scary and mean villains in his career. Word and Film recently listed eight of the most evil, and for those of you who have read the books or seen the movie adaptations will be familiar with those characters listed. Randall Flagg would certainly top my list. Here are some of the others.
Literary Villains

One of our best mystery writers, well, one of our best writers period, recently weighed in on the future of reading over at the Wall Street Journal. Walter Mosley assures us that reading and books are going nowhere. Books will continue to be published. And people will read them.

I discussed the kerfuffle a couple of weeks ago surrounding the Hugo Awards. It seems Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing has collected some suggestions for improving the awards by adding some new categories that will make everyone happy!
New Hugo Awards Category Suggestions

And for you sci-fi fans who appreciate thoughtful writers, BoingBoing also had this interview with William Gibson at their site. William Gibson Interview

The Pen Award this year has instigated a controversy of its own. Their Freedom of Expression Award was given to the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and there are many writers none too happy about that.
Pen Freedom of Expression Award to Charlie Hebdo

We note the passing of M.H. Abrams at the venerable age of 102. Anyone who ever took and English Lit class that used the Norton Anthologies will remember him as the editor of those large tomes. He was also well known for his critical studies of Romanticism, including the Mirror and the Lamp. The New York Times had this obituary.  RIP M.H. Abrams

The Jane Austen revival seems to go on and on, unabated. Now she has been joined by Anthony Trollope, whose bicentennial birthday is this year. Adam Gopnick at the New Yorker offers this assessment and appreciation.  Anthony Trollope

Trollope didn't seem to have a problem in writing and publishing some very long novels. He was probably one of those authors who could claim to say what Buzzfeed recently suggested all writers would like to be able to say. Except for maybe the Oprah book club thing.
Things All Writers Wish They Could Say

Hello. My name is Dan. I am a book addict. (h/t to my friend Brian Payne for finding this).  Yes, Books Are An Addiction

Wishing you all a great weekend and a most happy May! Please let us know what books you're got stacked up and are enjoying.


The Book Booth: St. Valentines Day 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. @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.

The Book Booth: St. Valentines Day Edition

A Happy Valentines Day to all you lovers and sweethearts out there. May you all have a candy tray filled with messaged hearts!

For those of you without a loved one to share the day, perhaps if you were even more interesting than you already are, your love life would spark up. With that in mind, take a look at Emily Temple's list of books that will make you more attractive intellectually. Or maybe not. In any event, Flavorwire has the list here.

The fallout from the news that there is another Harper Lee novel, a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, continues. For a more detailed look at the controversy, The New York Times devoted a lengthy article. Mockingird Prequel/Sequel?

But yet more controversy! Who exactly owns the screen rights to the new novel? Well, my guess is Ms. Lee does. But that doesn't stop people in Hollywood from talking. The Los Angeles Times reports. Mockingbird / Watchman Screen Rights?

Still, really, the big media news story this past week was Jon Stewart's announcement that he would be leaving the Daily Show later this year. Surely, we will all miss the caustic humor of Jon Stewart. But who will miss him the most? Why book publicists, of course, says the Washington Post.
Jon Stewart Is Moving On

Americans are woefully ignorant of literature written outside the United States. That so many of us had never heard of Patrick Modiano until he won the Nobel Prize for literature last year is evidence of that. That used not to be true. I remember when South American writing was all the rage and lively discussions were to be had over many European writers. Why this has come to pass, I don't really know. Bill Morris at the Daily Beast tackles the question here.
European Writers / Foreign Fiction

Maybe we should all try to adopt the plan of English writer Ann Morgan, who tried to read a different book from a different country, all within one year. She described how she blogged her activities and turned those posts into a book for the BBC. H/To to Lucian for finding this one.
Read the World!

In the used book business, we get lots of folks looking for out-of-print tomes all the time. Some are very easy to find. Yet others are obscure and difficult to obtain without a lot of cost. has come up with its list of the most requested OP titles for the past year. Not a lot of surprises, but I was sort of stunned to see Stephen King titles in the list. Who lets King go out of print? Thanks to our friend Mark McKay for sending the link along.
Stephen King Out of Print? Say It Isn't So!

To become a good Antiquarian bookseller, it takes a good eye and a lot of knowledge about the history of books, including types of paper, printing processes, etc. Susan Halas knows a great deal more than I do and shared the information some time ago here. Another h/t to Lucian.
Things to Know If You're a Newcomer in the Book Biz

Over the years, Margaret Atwood's A Handmaids Tale has been a classic of dystopian literature. Surprisingly for me, at least, the current Freshman class at West Point was required to read the book. And, even more surprisingly, Ms. Atwood ventured to the Academy to discuss the work and take questions from the cadets. Laura Miller at Salon has the story here.
Margaret Atwood at West Point

Perhaps some sort of dystopia is not that far away. And in the wrong hands, technology just might become evil! What of a future where the book cover judges you? A scary thought that is on the verge of happening. As Kevin McCarthy shouted, They're here, they're here!
Dystopia is Already Here

A Happy Valentines Day for us all. And whether the current book you are reading is romantic or not, let us know what good books you have piled up.


The Book Booth: Ice Bucket 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.

It seems everyone is taking the Ice Bucket challenge and it is certainly for a worthy cause. Why even certain authors are participating... Ice Bucket Authors

An ice bucket may have been more appropriate for King's protagonist in The Shining, Jack Torrance. That novel and several other good ones are featured in Mark Watson's list of great novels with hotel settings. Not listed is Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel, published back in the late twenties. How soon they forget. Hotel Novels

The World Science Fiction Convention (Loncon3) was held last week and by all accounts, it was well attended and enjoyable. During the conference, the Hugo Awards were announced and you can view the winners here. SciFi Winners

Also announced at the Convention, and good new for fans of The Time Traveler's Wife, is that the author Audrey Niffenegger will be writing a sequel. The Bookseller has the news. Sequel

The Italian novelist Italo Calvino was known for his stories of whimsy and the fantastic, and very well worth reading today. Here he offered fourteen reasons why one should read the classics.

For the fantastic, look no further than Susan Hoerth's book sculptures! Here fairy tale characters jump out from their texts.  Book Sculptures

There are defenders of "the canon" who absolutely hate Harry Potter. Well, screw 'em. The novels will hold up, in my opinion, for a very long time and be enjoyed immensely for young adults (as well as old adults). And the influence of the series cannot be denied. Here is an analysis on how the books have affected the Millennials from the New Statesman, with a h/t to our friend Lucian. Harry Potter's Influence on the Real World

So you've written your novel and it has been published and lo, and behold, your publisher thinks so highly of the work that you are off on a book tour to help promote sales. Sounds like fun, doesnt' it? Novelist Lesley Kagan begs to differ.  Book Tour Stories

Here's another article by Laura Miller at Salon about the Amazon/Hachette contremps that continues unabated. This one is particularly good as it gives a good context for what is happening. Amazon & Hachette: Still Duking it Out

And you know me. Please patronize your local independent bookstore. Tom Roberge of New Directions publishers gives some very compelling reasons for doing so.  Why You Should Buy Your Books from your Local Independent Bookstore.

I hope your ice buckets are chilling some favorite drink of yours this weekend, and that is near where ever it is you happen to be reading. And do tell us what book that might be! Happy Weekend everyone.


Gun Control: Soak, Wash, Rinse, Reject -- And It Still Stinks


guns Asperger Syndrome

Every time there's a horrific mass shooting, and sometimes when there's a single random killing, there's a momentary blip on the heart meter over sane gun control laws. A voice or two calling out for reasonable gun regulation.

This past weekend's Isla Vista, California, massacre has once again brought out the cry for gun control. Despite a vast majority of the US population agreeing with this, Congress will continue its spin cycle and do nothing. The latest voice to attempt the seemingly impossible is Sen. Peter King (R-N.Y.)


Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) joined the charge of politicians calling for a review of gun control legislation on Sunday in the wake of a gunman's deadly rampage on the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara.

“This tragedy demonstrates once again the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill,” he said.

Boy, haven't we seen that so often before? But don't worry, you NRA enthusiasts and right-wing gun nuts, nothing is going to come of this. It's just another case of "soak, wash, rinse, repeat." Wishy-washy, wishy-washy.

Just asking, what is so hard and so wrong with a common sense law regarding guns? We do have some regulations, so it's not a totally foreign concept. We refuse sales of certain automatic weapons, we don't allow people to carry guns openly in many places and we don't let ex-felons purchase guns. Why not a simple bill which might weed out unstable or unqualified citizens from getting them. It would still protect citizen's 2nd Amendment rights. Call it a sanity clause -- but with a loose interpretation of sanity.

In this case, maybe a better word might be a responsibility clause. Anyone of legal age who wishes to get a gun to join the state militia (that's the 2nd Amendment) or even wants a gun for their own personal protection (a very loose interpretation of the 2nd Amendment), needs only to pass a proficiency test to show they know how to safely handle the gun or rifle. At the time of licensing, DGS (Department of Gun Safety) would also assess any overt signs of mental or emotional instability which would not prohibit the applicant from getting licensed. If and only if the inspector feels there is a problem the applicant will be directed to get a mental evaluation stamp from a certified health specialist before the license would be approved.

Now before you go thinking that's an abuse, let me confess that my younger brother has Asperger Syndrome. He was diagnosed years ago. He's the kindest, finest person you'd want to know. Yet, you would only need two minutes talking to him to know there's something a little off. He's still capable of living on his own, he worked for 25 years for the City of Los Angeles, and he's self-supporting. But truthfully he should not have a weapon of any kind.

This brings me to the Santa Barbara area tragedy. The shooter was reportedly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, so obviously I'm a bit familiar with it. Why was he sold weapons? That truth is, because there's no rule against it.

Despite that, with the dearth of meaningful  restrictions on who can buy a gun, this ill young man went twice to a gun store and plopped down money and bought weapons. That was it. And that's really the sum total of gun control in our nation.

We make people get and renew driver's licenses ever few years for the privilege to get behind the wheel of vehicles, classified as deadly weapons. So what's the harm in doing the same with guns? The only ones who should fear this regulation are those who shouldn't have guns in the first place.

Oh, just as a side argument for this sanity  or responsibility gun licensing-- my brother, when he was younger, decided he wanted to learn how to fly. He paid his money, took flying lessons and passed the flying test. But he was denied a license. Why? Simply because the certifying instructor noticed his slightly different behavior (the Asperger Syndrome) and reported it the the FAA. They interviewed my brother and had him meet with a licensed psychologist. It was determined that he was emotionally unqualified to deal with the stress of flying.

That was the right move. And this same logic and reason should be part of a congressional bill. Let's not stop gun sales. Let's stop gun sales to those who might be unqualified to handle the stress and responsibility. What I propose is not new, nor is it a fail-safe system. Some people will fall through the cracks. But it's sure going to make it safer for all of us.

Watch this distraught father of one victim from the recent shooting. He wants two things-- Congress to get off their asses to do something and he really wants equal rights for all of us -- the right for us to live even if it trumps some interpretation of our right to bear arms.