Archive for Tolkien

The Book Booth: Halloween Edition

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Smiling Pumpkin image from Bustle

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: Halloween Edition

Today is the day. All the ghosts and goblins and witches will invade our neighborhoods, demanding candy and other goodies. The full moon has just passed, adding to the overall eerie night. Be careful opening that door! You don't know what creepiness might await you...and just what is that rapping noise coming from the attic?

Still haven't carved that pumpkin? No worries. The folks at Bustle have you covered with these spooky literary ideas.
Literary Pumpkins

For those of you planning to attend a Halloween party tonight and you're stuck for a costume idea, check out these suggestions that are also from Bustle.
Literary Halloween Costumes

Of course you could go to a Halloween party dressed as one of the GOP candidates, any of which could scare you nearly to death. Clown makeup would be a must. Perhaps not so over the top as Pennywise in the novel It. But you certainly would induce coulrophobia among the other guests. In any event, politicians have always been on the receiving end of many an insult. Here is some of the best insults by authors for their political foes.
Writers Insult Politicians

And if visiting haunted homes is your idea of a great vacation, there are plenty of literary ones to choose from, including Shirley Jackson's and H.P. Lovecraft's. One hope Cthulu doesn't answer the door.
Literary Haunted Houses

Although it would be very cool to visit Middle Earth, one really cannot in the physical sense. But if one could, it sure would be handy to have a map annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth Map

So you woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across your head, made your way downstairs and had a cup, looked up and noticed you were late...and made the bus in seconds flat...But you forgot your book! No worries! The French have solved that pesky problem. HT to good friend Caleb for the link.
Get Your Short Stories Here!

The Library of America does beautiful reprints from the best in American literature. Christopher Carduff was hand-picked by John Updike to edit Updike's works. Here Carduff chooses the top ten from the authors works for Publishers Weekly. Oddly, he did not mention Couples, which was something of a breakout novel for Updike. But he did pick my favorite, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.
The 10 Best John Updike Books

It is something quite remarkable and good that we currently have a President who loves to read and read fiction. Here is the interview (part 2) that President Obama had with novelist Marilynne Robinson.
Marilynne Robinson Interviews President Obama On His Reading

We note the passing of the much admired novelist Paul West, who has struggled with health issues for some time now. I very much liked his The Very Rich Hours of Count Von Stauffenberg, his richly imagined narrative of the man who attempted to assassinate Hitler. The New York Times has the obituary here.
Paul West Has Left Us at 85

Finally, some book decorating inspirtation. Buzzfeed recently featured these beautiful rooms which prove Virginia Woolf's dictum that books do furnish a room. Enjoy.
How Books Complete Rooms

Have a happy, safe and very spooky Halloween! And by all means let us know what books have given you the chills on these autumn nights.

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The Book Booth: Boxing Day Edition

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Image: Awesome Stories

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: Boxing Day Edition

Yes, I know Boxing Day was Friday. But I see no reason not to make a long weekend out of it. Here's hoping everyone had a joyous holiday and are now ready to take on the new year ahead.

Some of you may still be in the Christmas spirit. If so, you could check out the Guardian's top ten Christmases in literature. I was happy to see Joyce's The Dead included. Others were new to me, but that is one of the nice things about lists.
Guardian

Last week I closed the post with the haunting images of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Christmas Present departs from Scrooge. Clive Irving of The Daily Beast give the novella a proper context for both Dickens time and ours in a illuminating rumination.
How Dickens and Scrooge Saved Christmas

At least one Scrooge like policy has been overturned recently. Last year England and Wales stopped prisoners from receiving parcels of books. The BBC reports that the ban has been overturned. Good news, indeed.
Books in UK prisons.

For those of us keeping score, here is a recent study of book buying trends and demographics. None of this too surprising, except maybe in putting a number to how many purchases happen on the internets.
Online Book Sales

The end of the year continues to bring on the "Best of 2014" lists. But this one from James Woods at The New Yorker includes some titles that may have escaped the eye and are worth your time.
Best of 2014 You Might Have Missed

If you need more suggestions, NPR has some 250 books you can hear about, with niftty search bar and cover art for many of the discussed titles. And it has archives as well from years past.
NPR Book Lists

Chris Lane at the Houston Press has this amusing assessment from his time working in a chain bookstore. The pilfering of stock, alas, is a fact of life. In addition to the areas of books most lifted, I'd add certain kinds of writers. I know that at one point, one chain bookstore I know of, had to put all the Beat writers and Charles Bukowski behind the counter. And I can attest to some of the grosser things that happen. At one store I worked at we stocked the Sunday New York Times. This was before all the advances in technology and the paper wouldn't arrive to the store until Wednesday or Thursday of that week. We had the papers in a rack in front of the cash registers. Anyway, one evening a customer brought his purchases to be rung up and, unbeknowst to us, decided to "water" the paper. Sigh.
Behind the Scenes Working in a Chain Bookstore

Enjoy your weekend, and a Happy New Year to come. Give us some our top ten lists, too.

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The Book Booth: Happy Holidays Edition

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From Cedmagic.com

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: Happy Holidays Edition

The solstice is imminent, and Christmas Day is not far behind. I hope this finds one and all ready for the holidays, and that you may sit, relax and enjoy a warm beverage. And perhaps you can watch the falling, silent snow. Enjoy this video from The Guardian.  Snow

But if you haven't finished your shopping, our old friend, buddy, pal, chum and otherwise voracious reader, Bill Gates has some suggestions as he recently picked his favorite books for the year. H/T to Lucian for finding this story.  Bill Gates's Favorite Books

Then there are those problem people on your shopping list. What do you get Captain Ahab for Christmas anyway? The folks at Bustle have some ideas for gifts for fictional characters. (Though Richard III wasn't really fictional).
Gifts For Fictional Characters

Good news for fans of Judy Blume. The famed writer of books for young adults will publish a new novel, directed at adults, her first in 15 years, this next June. Flavorwire has the details.
Judy Blume Novel for Adults

But sad news for fans of Clifford the Big Red Dog, whose creator, Norman Bridwell, recently passed away at the age of 86.
Normal Bridwell

It seems that the Bard was not always the bees knees and certainly not during his lifetime. Apparently there was no Shakespearomania until long after his death. Salon has this interesting article on how Shakespeare became, well, Shakespeare.

And this is sweet. Neil Gaiman and Molly Oldfield reading A Christmas Carol for the New York Public Library.

It has become a tradition with me to close my holiday posts both here at The Political Carnival and back in the days when we wrote at Jesus' General, with this closing of the third "stave" as Charles Dickens called it, when the Spirit of Christmas Past takes his leave of Scrooge. It is haunting, sad and still all too relevant today.

"To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near."

The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment.

"Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, "but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?"

"It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it," was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. "Look here."

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

"Oh, Man, look here! Look, look, down here!" exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

"Spirit, are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more.

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end."

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.

"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

From A Christmas Carol

Both Seattle Tammy and I wish to send along our seasons greetings to our fine readers. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays everyone and good books for us all.

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The Book Booth: Happy Hanukkah Edition

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Image via Taste of Home

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 Festival of Lights begins on the evening of Tuesday the 16th and so we wish all of you celebrating a big Happy Hanukkah. Unfortunately, Governor Walker was unable to pass along his own special greeting here, as he's still boning up on Jewish customs and holidays.

For those of you still holiday shopping, and I'm guessing that is most of you, Maria Popov at Brainpickings found this new reissue of East of the Sun, West of the Moon with beautiful illustrations by Kay Nielsen.
East West

However, if you'd been intending to put in the winning bid on the fabled Joan Anderson Letter that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, don't be in a hurry. Both the estates of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady have made legal claims to the letter and it may not be auctioned at all.
Kerouac letter

Kerouac's novels were in the roman a clef genre, with the names changed to protect the innocent. But recently some authors have dispensed with the name change, and insert themselves right into the story. MentalFloss talks about the authors here.
Authors As Characters In Their Own Books

Truman Capote famously once called Jack Kerouac a typist, not a writer. I think time wasn't on Capote's side in his judgment. And then sometimes, in inventing the non-fiction novel, Truman sometimes bent the truth. But does it matter?

Laura Miller at Salon talks about In Cold Blood here.

First impressions are important, or so they tell me. The same is true with a book's first line, or first page. Publishers Weekly recently found several contemporary first pages that do suck the reader into the story immediately.
Those All Important First Lines

It's not surprising that David Foster Wallace was included in the above mentioned article. He is regarded as a modern master now. Adam Kirsch offers this appreciation at Salon.
David Foster Wallace

Another modern master is the poet (and baseball fan, having ghosted the Doc Ellis autobiography among other works) Donald Hall.

His book of poems Without You, written after the passing of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, is an astonishing work. At age 86, he is no longer writing poems, but he still works on essays.

NPR caught up with him in this recent interview.
Donald Hall

In the Who Knew? department, an early work of Raymond Chandler has recently been discovered. It was copyrighted soon before he joined the Canadian military in 1917, and, oddly, does not feature his most famous literary creation, Philip Marlowe. Instead, it is a libretto to an opera. Hmm.

Raymond Chandler's Opera Libretto

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. But it has never occurred to me that the Bear was somehow controversial. At least there is a town in Poland that thinks his sexuality is a bit too much. Or too little. Or something. H/T to my friend Caleb Bullen for sharing the link.

Winnie the Pooh Banned in Boston? No, in Poland.

Finally, the never-ending cycle of book to movie continues. The International Business Times recently covered some of the films you can expect to see next year, in AD 2015. And let us hope that the trend of dividing some adaptations into multiple films is laid to rest. I mean, really. Two movies of Mockingjay? Three of The Hobbit? Will the madness never end?
Books Adapted to Movies in 2015

Happy Hanukkah and good reading to you all. Be sure to let us know what great books you're absorbed in and have a great weekend.

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