When I was coming of age the women's movement had already been in full swing for almost two decades. I was reading Germane Greer The Female Eunich and watching 2001: A Space Odysseyy. The pill was widely available and abortion could be safely obtained so there was relative control over one's reproductive freedom. Once you were married and pregnant however, the work/stay at home dilemma was still a mine field. I look at my daughter's generation today who feel that a good education and job are a given, and all the typical milestones of marriage and babies are being deferred a decade later than in my generation, or they're not sought after or expected at all. It's not a shock to simply remain single and devoted to a career, or announce you are LGBT.
So to be told that Gloria Steinem, the icon for the women's movement, has just turned 81 sends a small lightening bolt through one's skin. And her interview on NPR radio with broadcast journalist Terry Gross of "Fresh Air" shows us how much more outward thinking within countries around the world, that women's issues, their rights and concerns have become. Gloria's list starts with domestic violence in North America against women being number one; the most dangerous place is in a woman's own home perpetrated by a man known to her. Then there is FGM (female genital mutilation) and female infanticide. Child brides risk of death from sex and childbirth under these extreme forms of patriarchy. And last, the widespread use of violence and rape against women in conflict zones. Women need to stand together around the globe, and that is just what Gloria Steinem has been doing.
Steinem's latest book, My Life on the Road (published Oct 26th, 2015) and a New York Times Bestseller • "GS—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change."
The CBC is one of Canada's best cross-country resources for promoting Canadian talent. In 1979 they began to offer literary prizes in the categories of short fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction for, get this, as yet unpublished works. Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winters and Camilla Gibb. Here is the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize longlist of authors (30 of them) competing for the 2015 as announced on August 31. The shortlist of 5 will be unveiled on September 14, (same link as above) and the winner will be announced on September 21, 2015.
The winning author will receive $6,000, have their story published in enRoute magazine and they will attend a 10-day writing residency at The Banff Centre for the Arts. The 4 runners-up will receive $1,000 each from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Out of the 30 on the longlist, here is our pick for the shortlist, and also who we predict will win:
A Girl, Waiting, by Marusya Bociurkiw is an author, filmmaker and professor based in Toronto. She has written five books, including the novel The Children of Mary, and the award-winning Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl, which was also shortlisted for the prestigious Lambda and Kobzar awards. She is associate professor of media theory at Ryerson University, and director of The Studio for Media Activism and Critical Thought. She has made ten films; the latest, This Is Gay Propaganda, is a documentary about LGBT people and the war in Ukraine. (Winner)
Who can resist a quiz? Bibliophiles will be keen to see how well you do answering this geographical literary quiz posted on Matador, a fantastic travel website. Book titles and author names are provided and the question is not what country the author derives from, rather it asks which country the book title's narrative is set. We've replicated the list with links to purchase each book in case you missed an answer and want to fill in your reading void:
Each year much of the book world convenes in London for the annual London Book Fair. LBF is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content. This year was the largest in its 42 year history with over 25,000 people in attendance from 114 countries. Who are they and what do they do? Visitors include anyone involved with the creation, distribution, sale or treatment of content: book sellers and book buyers, small to large publishers, acquisition editors, book designers, translators, authors, agents, talent scouts, editors and digital authorities.
This year held no clear single news-maker, but two debut novels were rumoured to sell for seven-figure deals: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and DeSales Harrison's The Waters & the Wild. The first is an epic set in 18th century Ghana and the second is a literary thriller. It seems the most photographed personality was Austrian singer and drag-queen artist Conchita-Wurst, who gained celebrity after winning a Eurovision song contest and recently launched her book in Berlin. (Holding a copy)
Independent and self-published topical sessions were extremely popular, seeing a rise from previous years. People are also interested in e-book distribution systems and traditional publishers are looking at ways out of the "no" culture they've created with prospects who are flogging to independent methods of pub and distribution. There's talk on how to adapt to market needs with services that aid prospective writers with better experiences on the road to some form of published product.
Amazon remains the behemoth in the room with their self-publishing arm and subscription service. And last, library lending of e-books remains prickly with many authors complaining that the system lacks standardization and is difficult to find.
Saturday, March 28th Whistler Reads "Community Series" begins with the hot button topic Financial Literacy. Come learn lessons from the trenches of three dynamic business women at this afternoon clinic taking place in the Whistler Public Library 12-2pm $25 pp (community room) includes take-aways.Tickets Here There is a wine reception you'll be welcome to join at the Nita Lake Lodge 5-7pm as well.
Dragon Den winner Natasha Strim who along with her husband Norm founded Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reductions. The accolades just keep coming, named BC Business of the Year, and Product of the Year by the Canadian Consumer Industry, Natasha will describe how they've built the company and her experiences taking a brand from local to North America wide. (see Dragon's Den video below)
Ashleigh McIvor-Demerit is Whistler's GOLD MEDAL Olympian in Ski Cross and she's transitioned her elite athlete status into a successful career in broadcasting, media and modelling! Not all athletes make that switch successfully. Find out what it takes to channel that athletic drive and commitment into the next stage of life. (see clips of Asheigh's commercial below)
Last week I was fortunate to have an expert speaker address our standing-room-only audience on the topic of ISIS: Leadership in the Middle East. Weeks following the shocking Hebdo killings in Paris at the hands of radical islamists, our guests were united in the quest to come to terms with the brutality behind the movement that has emerged since the Arab Spring and the protracted civil war in Syria with Western contingents and Middle East countries confusing and shifting alliances. How does the world stop this radicalization, what are the forces behind it, is there hope for a solution?
Graham Fuller is a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA. He followed that career by serving as a senior political scientist at RAND - the California think tank for another decade, and he stands currently as adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University. Having lived in the Middle East (and other related world posts) for two decades his fluency in Arabic, Russian, Turkish and Chinese have together afforded Graham deep insight into...
Business Insider posted a great article on the realities of personal reputations as viewed through our digital foot print. From our LinkedIn profile to our Facebook page to our Instagram posts and our Tweets, all that information is readily available to the public and for the most part it's information we've shared for the purpose of getting our identity and thoughts out there.
But what happens when information about you is circulated beyond your control? Something that attacks or slanders; is distasteful, un-accurate or perhaps downright mean? Celebs have to deal with leaked nude photos-real and fake. CEO's have to pay the consequences of a public outcry from off-hand comments, (Lulu Lemon founder's stepping down as CEO over a remark made about who should wear or not wear his spandex clothing line), all the way down to a bad review about your book posted on Amazon that negatively affects sales.
There are some mighty interesting books on the Royal Society's longlist for Best Science book of 2014. Nonfiction readers with a bent for science topics will want to nab a few titles for summer reading pleasure and for great conversation over drinks on the patio with friends and colleagues. My top 3 choices out of the dozen books selected by the panel (from the 160 titles submitted this year) are as follows:
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson (Princeton University Press, 2013); Available as audio download / e-reader / hardcover.
Publisher's synopsis Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the 20th century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius..
In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him
Each summer I retreat from the city to our farm property where there are various projects on the go. A rather large farmhouse garden is always a source of much joy and physical effort: tilling the spring soil; testing for pH, nitrogen and phosphorus; adding amendments like alfalfa mulch and compost, spraying the fruit trees with lime sulphur oil, building the seed rows and laying out the drip hose and sprinkler irrigation.
I bring our laying hens along and collect the boarding rooster from a friend who owns a nursery in a part of the city where zoning laws allows his early morning revelry. This year I took a two-day intensive course on beekeeping and purchased then assembled two hive kits that we populated with starter nukes. Nukes are boxes containing four hive frames, a mated queen bee, some workers, drones and laid comb with brood.
We also embarked on a hops adventure in tangent with the thriving craft beer industry here in BC. I ordered several hundred hop rhizomes and potted them into 2- litre nursery pots in prelude to establishing a hops yard inside our hay field. Hops grow to over 20 feet and the structure to support them is quite an undertaking.
That said, it is very gratifying to come inside after a day of outdoor physical labour and take a hot bath, change into some loose summer clothes and enjoy a tasty beverage in the twilight of the day. I keep a journal with observations like when the swallows arrive, what we're planting and how it is thriving or suffering, the weather patterns, when the birds fledge and the date the elk pass through on their fall migration.
On World Press Freedom Day, May 3rd, we urge you to consider the plight of journalists, bloggers and whistle-blowers around the globe; to follow the chain of information and action inherent in your area; to uphold the standards of your media and your government. This includes ensuring free access to information and to the promotion and safeguard of systems in place to disseminate information: traditional press and media, the Internet and social media. The subtle actions by corporations or government to throttle bandwidth, charge unfair fees, restrict licenses and block access to entry of competition are also issues of importance, and any policies that interfere with public access. We need to add our voice to the protest in parts of the world where access, voice or rights are being compromised or are banned either politically or systemically.
The United Nations declaration of Human Rights issued on December 10th, 1948 after WWII inscribed 30 articles. Article 19 deals with expression. It states:
The Craft Beer Market has taken over in British Columbia, fast on the heels of other "beer regions" south of the border in Washington and Oregon. The current count as listed on the BC Beer website is 76 different breweries. Craft Beer Crawls to local Tap Houses is another popular weekend pastime, where you can taste flights of brews from local makers as well as the imported brands. Ten such purveyors have been rated by VanCityBuzz. Restaurants like The August Jack on 4th Avenue self-define as dedicated experts in beer cuisine. Menus feature sophisticated pairings with suggested beer accompaniments: try their Read Island Mussels with a Paprika Rosé Sauce garnished with Basil & Crème Fraiche. Suggested Pairing: Deschutes River Ale.
Folks used to have to wait until October for the German-themed Octoberfest. Now there's a Vancouver festival of beer that takes place in the summer (when beer drinking is at its peak, not counting Canucks games or the Super Bowl). Check out VCBW, Vancouver Craft Beer Week and join in the celebration of our trendy beer culture.
As a farm-owner with acreage in the Interior of BC, we've been
If you're like me you've got a diverse range of interests, desires and obligations all battling for your attention. Add to that distracting factors that reduce productivity. January is a great time to look at ways to improve productivity and adopt new work-flow patterns that ensure you reach your goal, complete your tasks and have time for personal growth and loved ones. Here are the 3 things you may need to improve upon: staying focused, prioritizing, and keeping on schedule.
FOCUS: Throw out multitasking. We all think we can do five things at once, but studies show we make mistakes, compromise the quality of our work or fail to complete things when multitasking. The technology explosion promised to keep us up-to-date on information, but many of us experience information overload and fight constant interruptions that vye for our attention. The result? Our ability to focus is impeded. The answer? Get back to basics. When you pick up a book - do nothing else! When you write - don't stop the flow to check emails or browse the web. When you're in a meeting - don't answer phone calls or respond to text messages (a dying courtesy!) When you take time to walk the proverbial dog - enjoy the break for what it is and resist the urge to Instagram. "Live in the moment," as the saying goes, and feel your powers of concentration and your ability to focus return. What's the side benefit? Relief. Awareness. Release from the compulsive need to be completely connected and caught-up and a return of focus :) In 2014 use one device at a time and do one task at a time.
No one is ever disappointed with a gift book over the holidays. Whether it's an art book you know they'll cherish, a biography of a fascinating person, a fiction title by the hot new writer or a topical piece in the genre of science, economics or finance. I happen to collect cookbooks. My mother-in-law is an armchair travelor. Books are both an expression of the giver's taste and the recipient's interests. Take a look through these and send gift-wrapped via Amazon (who knows, maybe it'll arrive by drone!)
National Geographic: Around the World in 125 Years<: A Taschen book is always exquisite. This is a must-have photography book. Three volumes of the best photos from the iconic travel magazine, and edited by Ruel Golden former editor of the British Journal of Photography and executive editor at Photo District News. He has edited on titles including both New York, and London, Portrait of a City, Her Majesty, and Harry Benson. The Beatles.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: (Little, Brown $20) Quite possibly my favourite fiction title of this year. The story is about a boy who loses his mother in a terrorist bombing of New York's Metropolitan Art Gallery. In a state of shock he inexplicably walks out of the smoking building unseen with the titular painting by the master Dutch artist. The rest of the book follows him in a coming of age story to Las Vegas, New York, Amsterdam and back, hiding, losing and attempting to recover the coveted piece that is ironically stolen from him. The reader is taken on a journey of the underbelly of the stolen art trade and through an unrequited love story where the meaning of art and love and lust are uncovered.
She's Canada's most famous recluse-writer. A revered 82 year-old Canadian who has been living and writing primarily about small town Ontario for over 45 years in her specialty genre, the short story, with 14 books to her credit. That's a new book every 3 to 4 years. She has won Canada's highest accolades for writing among her international awards: the Governor General award three times, the Scotia-Giller Prize twice, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Man Booker for lifetime achievement. The full list appears on her wiki listing. Brad Martin, the President and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada said,
“It’s the crowning achievement. As a Canadian, we should all be proud of her. I think she’s the best short story writer in the world. This just confirms it.”
What does this mean for Canada? Canadians have won 23 Nobel Prizes in the various categories since the titular Swedish award first began in 1901. The majority are held in the field of Chemistry followed by Physics and Medicine. In the mid to late nineties Canada saw a sweep of prizes in the field of Economics. As for the category of Literature, Alice Munro is technically the first all-Canadian to win, since Saul Bellow, who won in 1976, is listed as a dual citizen of Canada-USA having moved from Lachine Quebec to Chicago at age six.
"Brendan Jay Sullivan was an up-and-coming New York City DJ when he met Stefani Germanotta, then a struggling artist, in 2006. She was a go-go dancer who sewed her own outfits but had bigger ambitions—she wanted nothing less than to take over the music world. In this intimate portrait of the budding star who would soon catapult to fame and fortune, the author describes afternoons sitting with Gaga on the floor of her bare Lower East Side apartment, drinking wine from pint glasses and plotting out the pop stardom that awaited her."
Reminiscent of the artistic primordial goo before them (Patty Smith, Factory Girl, Madonna's early New York stories) witness this generation's creative musical talent emerge. Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives (Harper Collins 2013) is the memoir of the moment. A fascinating look into the life and friendship of Gwen Stefani and Brendan Jay Sullivan. “We’d go out every night, eight nights a week, if we could. She would match me for drinks toe-to-toe,” said Sullivan. "People loved her as a dancer. When she was up dancing on stage [people] were like, 'Who's that?'"
But my take on this story is something Brendan is doing quietly reflective of his humanitarian side. You can find the provocative GoGo dancer images elsewhere. Take a look at this video Brendan produced about a friend he made on the streets of New York when he and she were two people trying to get a leg up in the world. This video shows you BJS at the heart. (click to view)
Each summer my reading interests turn to books encapsulating aspects of nature since I pack up my urban life and relocate to our farm in the boonies for the months of May through September. I've got three books on my just read list that might interest you.
Ever wonder about the sentient capacity of plants? Plunked down in the middle of a few hundred acres of field growing a mix of alfalfa and dry land grasses, with the added close observational experience of tending a farmhouse garden, I think a lot about plants in the summer. (In the city my plant experience consists of a few low-maintenance orchid houseplants and an overgrown shade garden that fails to stimulate my juices.) But when you till the soil, handle clods of dirt in your hands, sew from seed, watch the primary aplets form and the tendrils of peas twine around poles; essentially doing all the things necessary to coax life in plants "from scratch" - you tend to get rather contemplative and philosophic about the relationship, indeed, the biology we share with plants. You begin asking questions like: "How do plants know up from down; when to open their flowers and close them at night and in the day with coming rain; who is touching their stamens and pistols in a friendly way, or burrowing into their stem and munching on their leaves that triggers an exudation of pheromones to warn a sister plant down the row to produce its own repellant toxin?"
More than just fodder for food, plants seem to behave as though they're aware of more than we give them credit for. No surprise that great minds
The Alcuin Society is Canada's book design award granting body. The volunteer nonprofit has 321 members who share an interest in the art of printing, book design and publishing. The annual design competition takes place in the spring. They received 236 books this year in various categories from 9 provinces and 112 publishers. Winners are displayed at the AGM as well as 22 more venues across the country.
This Year's AGM was held May 22nd at the UBC Golf Club featured Canada's formative publisher Scott McIntyre as keynote speaker. Scott is a raconteur and savant from the publishing industry and one of the most interesting personalities because of his direct and honest nature. In a talk titled, "Learning to Type" he described his "seductution into the world of paper and type" commencing with his induction as the yearbook editor at his highschool, Lord Bing Secondary followed by the same post at UBC's yearbook team. Upon graduating from UBC he moved to Toronto to start work at McLeland & Stewart. "It was like being in the eye of a huricaine - it might seem calm - but all around you is chaos". Those were the days when
Are leaders born or can they be nurtured? When I think of the qualities that signify leadership I look at a person's principles, charisma, problem solving capabilities, perceptiveness, decisiveness and their determination to complete tasks or solve problems when others falter. That requires taking responsibility and speaking your mind irregardless of whether your opinion is going to be "popular". Sometimes leaders are born when they do a particular "good" - like the little girl who stands up against bullying in her school and goes on to create an intra-school movement of awareness and action. It's recognizing a need and stepping-up. Next you need to be a good communicator or at least one in which your passion shines through so that people with the necessary skills and energy to help you fullfil the goal decide to come on board. Some say being a good delegator is key to not burning out. Creative or innovative thinking is a great quality, and intelligence comes in all forms.
Some say that "social intelligence" or "emotional intelligence" is the best quality of all. That latter term was first coined in the late 60s and became the title of a book by Daniel Goleman in 1995. A decade later Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ has been released. And it's worth taking a look at the book that popularly coined the phrase and has become a standard marker of leadership today.
Literary Excursions is a niche-market travel entity. Our tagline is "Let us take you to the places where iconic authors have lived and immortalized through their writing."
The idea sprang out of years of reading great fiction, researching the authors' backgrounds for the purpose of either writing about them in feature articles or leading discussions at book events. Eventually you come to understand that the only way you can truly understand how "place" has shaped their writing, is to go to the source. The final incentive was a desire to connect book group people back to the needs of our libraries via my foundation work.
LE has come up with a list of authors and destination trips: Austen in Hampshire, England; Hemingway in Cuba (Paris, Pamplona or Kilimanjaro), Joyce and Beckett in Dublin, and of course Steinbeck in Monterey and Salinas. We incorporate aspects of local history, culture, cuisine and wines into the mix via expert guides, lectures, tours and tastings. Since we're a pretty active group, there's always an opportunity to walk, cycle, kayak or par-take in some form of physical activity to break up the laughing, talking, eating (drinking) and touring!
Back by popular demand is our trip to "Steinbeck Country" - Monterey and Salinas, California departing Vancouver on June 15th and returning on the 18th. It costs just $1575 per person (based on double occupancy) for an inclusive package of: airfare, hotel, coach transfers, breakfasts, a guided tour of Monterey and Salinas, a fabulous Monterey Wine tasting and more. Single rates provided upon request. This is a perfect "girl's get-away-weekend" or an opportunity for book groups to incorporate into the annual activity calendar. Call HSK Travel, our partners to book. +1 (604) 921-0012 and ask for Yasmin. Then join our Facebook Page.
Some of my favourite British novelists I first discovered via Granta Magazine's"Best of Young British Novelists" award, which only comes around once every decade. To qualify you must be under 40 years of age, and a British citizen with at least one published work published in 2012. The diversity of immigrants to the UK has ensured that stories embody characters and setting from all over the world. It's wonderful to see the publishing industry keeping pace with the outward-looking reader population interests.
The first Granta Awards occurred in 1983 followed by 1993, 2003 and now 2013. This means that 30 years of talented writers have gone on to prove Granta percent in their picks, showing remarkable careers bearing distinguished literary voices. Salman Rushdie, Martin Amos, David Hollinghurst, Zadie Smith, David Mitchell to name a few. The top 20 for 2013 were announced on BBC tonight April 15th and due to the time change - we've got the list for you below. Browse the list and then grab your copy of Granta 123: The Best of Young British Novelists 4, which includes a new story from each writer on the 2013 list. Granta 123 will be available to purchase from all good booksellers from 16 April in the UK and 23 April in the North America. Throughout 2013, the British Council and Granta are collaborating on an international showcase of
Michelle Orange is a Canadian writer, essayist and film critic from Toronto currently living in Brookline. This indicates she is connected with a lot of other cool people I associate with that neighbourhood in the literary slash culture world (a list too extensive to begin). Her latest book, This Is Running for Your Life: Essays (Farrer, Straus & Giroux), was reviewed by Booklist who says, “restores one’s hope for the future of intelligent life on earth.” She was recently named by Flavorwire as an Up-and-Coming New York Culture Maker to Watch. I place her picture beside the book cover, because the book cover is so unappealing, but we still want you to buy the book. Someone at FSG needs to fire that book designer. I can think of a dozen more appealing cover designs.
The blurb about her book from her own website writes:
In Running for Your Life, Michelle Orange takes us from Beirut to Hawaii to her grandmother’s retirement home in Canada in her quest to understand how people behave in a world increasingly mediated—for better and for worse—by images and interactivity. Orange’s essays range from the critical to the journalistic to the deeply personal; she seamlessly combines stories from her own life with incisive analysis as she explores everything from the intimacies we develop with celebrities and movie characters to the troubled creation of the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
With the insight of a young Joan Didion and the empathy of a John Jeremiah Sullivan, Orange dives into popular culture and the status quo and emerges with a persuasive and provocative book about how we live now. Her singular voice will resonate for years to come.
When you research a new author, you customarily read as much as you can find that has been written by them and about them. You take into consideration who published their works. You slum around looking for pictures, any YouTube videos you can find that allow you to judge the visual aspect of their lives. Then of course you scrutinize their website. www.michelleorange.com says a lot. The spare white design, just a stick figure and an orange with casual font headings linking to all her blog posts, film reviews, articles, essays and books. The list of published works reside at the calibre and editorial edge:The New York Times, McSweenies (in the early '00s) et al. Her Twitter account has a quirky set of Vimeo videos that includes a creative interview of 3 sets of friends for a book review on a book about Friendhship. There's a weird excerpt of a ridiculous out-take featuring Ben Affleck on a television set snuggling up to a coy, ridiculous girl on his lap—odd-but-interesting.
I subscribe to several grammar RSS feeds and blogs. I feel a daily tidbit one way to keep abreast of improvements in my own writing and comprehension of the English language. One of these is Richard Norquist's posts on Ask.com under Grammar and Composition category. He begins...
"Let me give you Dr. Don's Rule for Distinguished Writing. It's in the voice. You get a call from a friend, you know right away who it is. One paragraph, you know the voice.
(Donald Newlove, First Paragraphs: Inspired Openings for Writers and Readers. St. Martin's Press, 1992)
What is a writer's voice? It's a familiar metaphor, of course, perhaps an oxymoron as well. But does voice refer to an aspect of writing that's waiting to be discovered, or is it a distinctive method that must be crafted and cultivated over time? Is it a synonym for style, tone, persona, or diction--or is voice something altogether different from any of these qualities?
While many authors, like Dr. Don, insist that voice is an essential element of effective writing, few agree on just what that element is or even how to recognize it.
To spur your thinking on the nature of voice in writing, we've gathered these ten observations (some contradictory, others complementary) from professional writers and teachers of writing.
Like a singer's, a writer's voice is an elusive thing, the sum of everything that goes into his or her style of expression. A distinctive vocabulary might contribute to it. So might a preference for particular sentence forms or syntax. Or voice might emerge from even more subtle dimensions of writing. Unique angles of approach to subjects, maybe. Or a characteristic pace or degree of formality.
Ultimately, voice is the writer's personal style coming through in the writing. It's as complex and varied as human personality itself."
I've just returned from a trip to Helsinki Finland where the temperatures dipped to -30 degrees Celsius from the balmy -10 on arrival. When most people escape to the tropics for a winter holiday, 60.1708° N, 24.9375° E is a latitude quite apart. But this nordic destination has manifold opportunities for the sophisticated traveler.
Sunrise began around 9am with tinges of pink appearing on the horizon of the frozen Baltic Sea viewed from my hotel room, the delightful HAVEN, located on the waterfront of the city's old town. It wasn't fully "light out" until 10am, but what a glorious day it was. Despite the frigid temperatures, everyone goes about their business unperturbed—suffice it to say there's a generous amount of fur and down.
Super ferries roll into port carrying 2-3,000 passengers from Stockholm and other parts of the archipelago. Locals recommend you book the highest level accommodation (from sea level) as the noise of ice-crushing during the voyage can become vexing.
Dusk starts at 3pm when the color of the sky turns a striking cobalt blue that contrasted with the golden lights of the city make photography effortless. It's no surprise that representative art from the area factors in starry night skies, expanses of snow, frozen lakes and boreal forest.
Helsinki was the Design Capital of the world in 2012. Names like Alvaro Saarinen (the architect responsible for the St. Louis Gateway Arch) Marimekko with their bright patterned textiles and dishes are worn by child and mother alike. I particularly love the boiled wool pieces and the laplander wooden cups. Glass work is big. Go to Uudenmaankatu and Iso Roobertinkatu, the arteries that feed the heart of Helsinki’s ultra-cool Design District.
As cities go, Helsinki is a stunner for architecture and cuisine. Starting with a span of period architecture from Byzantine ornate to Contemporary minimalist with a generous splash of Art Nouveau thrown in. The superb cuisine uses fresh local ingredients from the land—reindeer grazed on grass and lichen served with anti-oxident rich wild berry accents, and from the sea—hyper fresh Baltic seafood 'cooked' to perfection at 38 degrees with dill or juniper flavourings, and the smallest, most perfectly crisp, round, whole wheat breakfast bun with a doughy centre (can you tell carbs are off my usual diet?)
As the year draws to a close we book people are bombarded with lists from various sources extolling the Best Books of 2012. We've picked several from a line-up of excellent sources: The New Yorker, The Financial Times, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Granta, The Guardian, The Walrus, Salon, Esquire and so on. There is something for everyone on your holiday list. Purchase in book stores, order pre-wrapped and direct delivery from online vendors, or perhaps digitally load books onto a new iPad or e-reader? [click on each header for direct link to review source]
The New Yorker:
The New Yorker chose to do submissions from book review contributors resulting in an interesting variety.
Shake Off, by Mischa Hiller is powerhouse author and essayist Malcolm Gladwell's top choice. He says, "I picked it up entirely by accident. I’d never heard of Hiller before, and the book absolutely blew me away. The only thriller this year that even came close was Chris Pavone’s, The Expats but Hiller’s novel has the benefit of mining every trope of the thriller genre while being absolutely original at the same time. I will read anything by Hiller from now on."
Teju Cole writes, "The new novel I liked best this year was Katie Kitamura’s Gone To The Forest. This is a story of how the submerged violence among “civilized” men requires little excuse to surface. Startling, written in clean, understated prose, the better to frighten.
The Financial Times: Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, (Random House, Business), by Chris Anderson - the former editor of Wired Magazine, is a book I've recently ordered. "Anderson brings evangelical zeal to the story of how ever-cheaper 3D printing is shaking up the world of manufacturing. He weaves his own attempts to build working models and whole businesses with themes familiar from his previous books The Long Tail and Free, which extolled the virtues of cheap digital distribution and open-sourcing."
Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis, (Vintage). "Davis retells the story of George Mallory’s doomed bid to conquer Everest – and uses it to examine the mentality of a generation scarred by the first world war and the decline of empire. Winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize and described as 'magnificent' by the FT."
The Huffington Post came up with a feature looking at the political persuasion of a list of famous authors based on their books. I include the list of authors with an "R", "D" or "L" for Libertarian: Aldous Huxley, D; Virginia Woolf, D; Langston Hughes, L; Ayn Rand, R; Jane Austen, D; C.S. Lewis, R; Alan Ginsberg, L; Upton Sinclair, D; and F. Scott Fitzgerald, D. You can easily predict which bias they'd take but I thought it would be interesting to apply a similar exercise to Canadian politics, which due to the fact we've got 4 national parties (19 officially registered ones!) makes the job a bit trickier. See what you think. I've limited the choices to: Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green on the basis that the rest of the parties do not have support in all jurisdictions.
Margaret Atwood: her writing spans genres and she defies categorization having won Science Fiction awards (she prefers Speculative Fiction) and feminist fiction (she prefers "writing in the feminist genre"). She has railed against the Harper government over cuts to the arts and the national arts institutes like the CBC and essays against the Free Trade Agreement. Influenced early by her father, a forest entomologist, her rural upbringing (did not attend school full time until gr8) may have helped to set her on the path of greenie. She and her writer-husband are staunch supporters of GPC.
Robertson Davies: son of a newspaperman and Liberal Senator, Davies had a wonderful education and in addition to writing 30 books (The Deptford Trilogy is about a newspaper family) purchased several newspaper outlets. He taught literature at Trinity College, was a playwrite and lover of theatre and Jungian philosophy. A close friend of John Kenneth Galbraith. Stephen Heuser's eulogy of Davies categorized him as a "Libertine Rascal". I can't place him in a party. I'd say he was a Humanist who voted Liberal.
Margaret Lawrence: this Manitoba writer lived with her civil engineer husband in Somaliland and Ghana when it was colonially run. She had two children in Africa. Her early writing reflects her life there in reaction to colonial rule. Her later novels, The Diviners and Stone Angel have characters who span the changing roles, attitudes and opportunities of women in Canada. An advocate for world peace, human rights and Canadian aboriginal rights, she would have voted for the party who best served those values.
Will Fergusan: Humorist and novelist Why I Hat Canadians, Beautry Tips from Moose Jaw among other titles won him Canada's prizes for humor. His recent novel won him the Giller Prize. Born in rural Alberta 800 miles north of Edmonton then time in Regina then Saskatoon, he eventually moved to Japan to teach English where he met and married his wife Terumi. An anti-royalist in his politics who curiously wore his clan kilt to pick up his Giller Prize, I would definitely say the gent swings toward middle-left.
The people setting up in Toronto for the Giller Prize awards tonight will be treated to a stiff competition between the 5 nominees who hope to take home $50,000 in prize money and a significant boost to their book sales and literary fame. The fnalists are:
Humorurist Will Ferguson is nominated for his dark thriller 419.
The 2012 Governor General award winner, Kim Thuy is nominated for her autobiographical novel, Ru (translated from French by Sheila Fischman).
U.S.-based Montrealer Alix Ohlin is nominated for Inside, a modern story about four interconnected characters.
Montreal's Nancy Richler for her mid-century set novel The Imposter Bride.
Halifax-raised, St. John's-based journalist and author Russell Wangersky is nominated for his short story collection Whirl Away.
Publishers Weekly is a magazine, website, marketing arm and professional networking entity for the American publishing sector. Anyone in "the business" regardless of nationality reads it. I recently came upon this article by Robert Atwan (Oct 12, 2012) where in he whittles down to 10 the top essays since 1950. Note that he says "essays" not "essayists" and that he excludes "all the great examples of New Journalism—Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and many others" and that his list is exclusively American writers. The essays he has selected exhibit deep personal exploration and reflection, and the writers include: I provide the link here so you can follow the hyperlinks to each writer's full essay.
The article of course, got me thinking about who I would pick for Canada's list of great essays? Send me your suggestions and I will compile a list for our readers. Where did you find the piece(s)? Where do Canadians go for home-grown excellence in writing: The Walrus, Descant, The Malahat Review, Exile: The Literary Quarterly, Guist... here's a full list to pique your interest, as well as this canlit.ca/links site. Take a browse and tell me what you think paulas @ bookbuffet.com
Here is the ManBooker Shortlist. Just 6 books to rock your world, literally speaking.
Bring Up the Bodies (A John MacRae Book)
by Hilary Mantel
Would the sequel live up to expectations? Actually, yes. Hilary Mantel's talent for rich detail and sensuous atmosphere is still apparent, and Bring Up the Bodies is, in some ways, much more gripping and riveting than her prize-winning earlier book, Wolf Hall.
Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy
Man Booker Prize Shortlisted 2012 As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe's wife allow her to remain?
If you want to do point of sale transactions for your business or non-profit - look no further than Square.com. This is an electronic payment service popular among entrepreneurs. It works the same as the device you use at the table when paying at a restaurant, but you don't have to rent their device anymore. The SQUARE attaches to your iphone. They are shipping out for free in the USA, or you can purchase online or at any Apple store.
The original creator was Jack Dorsey who in 2009 listened to his friend, James McKelvey complain that he was unable to complete a sale for his glass faucets and fittings because he could not accept a credit card. Dorsey built a prototype and the name is apparently due to both the shape of the device and the common phrase when making a transaction, "Are we square?"
A list of angel investors is on Wikipedia page where it also describes its business model: Square charges 2.75% on every credit card transaction. There is no monthly fee or set-up cost.
Random House offers a series of interviews with their stable of authors that asks the same basic questions about their writing process. Here now is:
JOYDEEP ROY-BHATTACHARYA was born in Jamshedpur, India, and educated in politics and philosophy at Calcutta University and the University of Pennsylvania. His novels, The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh, have been published in 11 languages in 16 countries. His newest novel is The Watch.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Following a nightlong battle, a young Pashtun woman appears before the gates of an isolated American military base in Afghanistan and asks for the return of her brother’s body – the novel relates what follows.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Ten weeks for the first draft; and then a year’s worth of revisions.
3. Where is your favourite place to write?
My desk at home, surrounded by my library.
4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Usually they select themselves. My characters have unusual autonomy.
5.How many drafts do you go through?
More than I care to remember, quite frankly.
I am taking a weeklong intensive sculpture course from Ian Rhodes at Emily Carr University this week. The group of 12 are into the fourth of five jam-packed days. At this point we've become familiar with several ways to: blow yourself up, set yourself on fire and and get a serious sunburn. It's like your mother in your head saying "Stop! You'll poke your eye out!" when running with scissors. Once you get over the drama of the potential for harm, you can then begin to feel familiar, and for some, reasonably facile at welding with acetylene torches, plasma cutters and MIG (metal inert gas) machines.
Like any art class I've ever taken, it never ceases to amaze me the diversity of backgrounds and creative thought people bring as adult learners. There is none of the self-concsious intimidations of youth. People have lived lives; have years of work experience; traveled and formed opinions on art, philosophy and they come at things with a sense of purpose. For some it's an escape. For others it's the chance to transfer designs and skills from another medium: the architect from Iran, the woodmaker from Gabriola Island, the commercial designer escaping his laptop.
The class is divided between what I'd call representative artists and modernists, and then again by those who prefer delicate work and those who make use of the big shop machines: the benders, cutters, grinders and band saws. One guy is refashioning heavy gauge rusted used construction pipe into a shiny, new Bauhausian bike rack. He also made an incredibly functional BBQ from scrap. Big material equals big machinery that makes big noise, so there is a correlation between noise and scale. Others have squirreled themselves away in a corner of the shop and work independently measuring, sketching, scheming and assembling.
Have you ever wanted to travel to the places where your favorite authors lived, wrote and immortalized? Have you wanted to experience the culture, taste the food, drink the wines and learn about the history of the places infused in your mind from those novels? Why not throw in a few lectures by academics and experts in the company of friends? Literary Excursions launches our first trip... to Steinbeck Country, Salinas and Monterey California this fall. As a trustee of the Vancouver Public Library Foundation concerned with bringing people together in the spirit of celebrating authors we hope to inspire people to discover and support their local libraries. Join LE founders, Paula Shackleton and Yasmin Ker (and a host of other fun people) Sept 28-Oct 1, 2012. Booking deadline is June 10th. Spaces are limited. Contact our booking personnel at HSK Travel Specialists: + 1 604 921-0012 extension 2.
John Steinbeck is one of America's iconic authors. Winner of numerous literary prizes including the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in 1963 for his body of work that includes: Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, Tortilla Flats, The Pearl, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Red Pony among others. His books have left an indelible mark on our view of the Depression years and family sagas of good and evil. The film adaptations by luminary Directors and Producers: John Ford, Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchock, Darryl Zanuck, with actors James Dean, Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Jayne Mansfield, Spencer Tracy and more add to the legacy. His friendship with mentor and Marine Biologist Ed Ricketts is well represented in The Log of the Sea of Cortez. John was married three times and had two sons, Tom and John, by his second wife. He was an inveterate drinker and smoker. He died at the age of 66 of a heart attack. His ashes are interred in the family grave in the Salinas cemetery.
The TD National Reading Summit III gathered in Vancouver May 2-4 to refine, discuss, brainstorm and generally formulate a strategy, building upon the last two summits, that gets people reading across the country. Reading for pleasure, reading for information, reading for inspiration. We want Canada's cultural identity to be one of hockey AND reading, ok, maybe in reverse order. Just how this story plays out TBC'd! In the meanwhile, check out the organization, think about why you love reading and how to instill the passion of reading for all. Patsy Aldana, founder of Groundwood Books and Rick Wilks, founder of Annick Press are both founding members of the National Reading Campaign steering committee. Patsy is also President of the International Board on Schools for Young People (IBBY) and Canada's representative to the American Publishers Group, among other accolades. Thursday we heard from Canadian singer, songwriter Steven Page of Bare Naked Ladies and Max Wyman, writer, cultural commentator and former Director for the Canada Arts Council (2002-2006) who also led the Canadian delegation to the UNESCO World Conference on Arts and Education in Portugal (2006). Max has been
My PW bulletin arrived with a great debate on the blowback after America's Pulitzer Prize committee decided NOT to award any of the short-listed nominated books. Response to the decision has been interesting. Anne Patchett wrote a scathing piece that appeared in the NYT and felt that readers are the ones missing out, in addition to the finalists who deserved losing to someone. Is it an indictment of the quality of fiction, a faulty committee process or a justified stance? Despite a jury’s selection of three titles beloved by many—David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, and Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!—the award selection committee (a separate body) declined to pick a winner. Read details of the PW report and let us know your thoughts on our blog.
Bouvier had grown up under a family myth of having descended from French royalty, complete with the habit of speaking only French at mealtimes; although the royalty bubble soon burst, Jackie--who was still pronouncing her own name in the French fashion--found a rich intellectual world in France, as well as a sense of elegance and presence that would come to define her personal social, professional and sartorial style. Sontag went to France during graduate school at age 24, leaving behind a husband and young son. Her French was poor, but her social life in the city was rich, and what it taught her about human sexuality and her own passions informed her work from her dissertation until her death. Davis, like Bouvier an undergraduate studying abroad, spoke French fluently but found herself navigating alien racial terrain as the only black student in her study abroad program, which took place as bombings tore apart her
For the past while I've been making weekly trips to the luxury food market in my neighborhood to purchase a one liter jug of freshly made beet, carrot, apple, ginger juice; right after yoga at Sempraviva. The garnet red color of the juice alone is a visual boost. Full of anti-oxidants and vitamins you can feel the energy stores rising with each gulp. I decided to take the plunge and bought a Breville juicer-blender combo so I can make my own concoctions, and I can't be more satisfied. True, it's a pricey countertop appliance, but it's also
Unless you speak and read foreign languages, translated books offer you insights into other cultures like nothing else. They're right up there with foreign films with subtitles. While film gives the viewer the advantage of spoken word with nuances of behavior (acting), books have the writerly trump card through inner monologue, description, style and phrasing. I try to read at least one new translated work for every 5 or 10 English language books. There is a host of titles to choose from out of the BTBA finalist list just announced in the LA Times book section. This young award started in 2007. It recognizes both the original author and the translator with $5,000 each. The BTBA winners will be announced during the PEN World Voices Festival, which takes place April 30-May 6 in New York. Without further adieu (drum roll please...)
The longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards
"Leeches" by David Albahari, translated from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursać (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
"My Two Worlds" by Sergio Chejfec, translated from the Spanish by Margaret B. Carson (Open Letter) [....23 more titles]
I've always been a fan of Graham Greene. He was a journalist turned novelist, an avid traveler who wrote about external and internal forms of conflict; during war or occupation; in matters of the heart; spiritual conflict. He appeals to the philosopher and psychologist in all of us. Pico Iyer's new book, The Man Within My Head (Random House, Feb 2012) is about his own close identification with Graham Greene life and work. This book make you see the deep connections we each have for the writers we admire.
You may know Pico Iyer through his prodigious 100 yearly articles appearing in Time, NYRB, Harper's, National Geographic, Financial Times and other fine publications. They demonstrate his shared breadth of interest in Green-esque topics—indeed Mr. Iyer wrote the introductions for Greene's Collected Stories, as well the introductions for authors: Michael Ondaatje, Somerset Maugham, Peter Matthiessen (Snow Leopard) and others. His own books deal with faith, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and travel: Sun after Dark: Flights into the Foreign, The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, & the Search for Home, Imagining Canada: An Outsider's Hope for a Global Future, The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto for starters. Of his current book Random House writes,
In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene’s obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s trail from
It might seem ironic that the man considered one of this generation's best, if not most controversial, essayists and speakers, prone to a prodigious often vitriolic verbal attack on his topic or target d'moment (Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger, the royal family—God) has died of complications of esophageal cancer. It's as though the words and the cigarettes conspired against him. He was a great friend of other great literary personalities and minds: Ian McEwan, Martin Amos, Salman Rushdie, and I watched him with great interest on all the Charlie Rose interviews. He could recite in entirety several of his favorite books and also his favorite plays by Shakespeare. A prolific writer he contributed articles to: The New Statesman, the London Evening Standard, London’s Daily Express, Harper’s, The Spectator, and The Times Literary Supplement, among others. He was an editor and writer at Vanity Fair and wrote for Slate, The Atlantic among others. His books include The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Verso, 2001), Letters to a Young Contrarian (Basic, 2001), God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve, 2007), Hitch-22: A Memoir (Twelve, 2010), and Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens (Twelve, 2011), a collection of his later essays. He took pains to assure people he had not changed his views on religion after being diagnosed with cancer. The world shall miss his brilliant mind, "slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell" to use a quote from William Grimes of The New York Times eulogy in today's paper.
The lists are coming out fast and furious these days and I always enjoy finding new books as recommended by sage review teams and of course noted authors. Check out the Guardian's list recommendations from heavy-hitters: Julian Barnes, John Banville, Tariq Ali, Chimamanda Adichie, AS Byatt, William Boyd et al - all my favorites. Then there is the annual lists from:
PD James has a bio to knock your socks off: The author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. She lives in London and Oxford. —Random House
With her love of Jane Austen (she re-reads the entire canon every year) she has devised a mystery picking up 6 years after the marriage of Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Knightly. Sound intriguing? Check out the interview (below) with the author and purchase copies of Death Comes to Pemberley(Random House 2010) for each JA fan on your holiday gift list.
For the past three weeks, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have been nominating their favourite memoirs, biographies and literary non-fiction reads for Canada Reads: True Stories. The response has been overwhelming! Thousands of entries poured in from nook and cranny, with readers nominating everything from CanLit classics like The Last Spike by Pierre Berton to new names in non-fiction like One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid. Browse the list and cast your vote.
In Alphabetic Order
Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat Baltimore's Mansion by Wayne Johnston The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown Burmese Lessons by Karen Connelly Burning Down the House by Russell Wangersky The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin Down to This by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall The Film Club by David Gilmour Gabrielle Roy written by Francois Ricard, translated by Patricia Claxton The Game by Ken Dryden The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant Jane Austen by Carol Shields The Last Spike by Pierre Berton Louis Riel by Chester Brown The Love Queen of Malabar by Merrily Weisbord Mordecai by Charles Foran The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
We all expected it, but the news still came as a shock. Steve Jobs dead at 56. He was a genius, a visionary and an aesthetic rebel. Like the products he produced and the industries he affected. He made tech cool. As the accolades pour in for him I reflect on the impact he's made in my life and the lives of my family. We bought the first MacIntosh in 1984. (In fact we only recently gave it to a computer recycling depot after storing it for over 20 years.) My husband used it in medical school and upgraded religiously as newer models came along. We've always been a Mac family and so when my son entered into the gaming world and preferred to program with a PC we took it personally. (Don't worry, he's got lotsa Mac stuff now.) There has always been a Mac/PC schism in the world of geeks which is reflective of Steve Jobs own rebel attitude in business - he twice organized a coup of his company board and regularly addled executives. But his persistence paid off. PC users loved their key commands and code, while Mac users loved our intuitive operating system and attention to design elements. We've always bragged about the "plug and play" facility of Mac products and scorned the "blue screen of death" that our PC friends endured regularly. Start an Apple product and begin work instantly. Start a PC product and you have to take a coffee break before it's ready to use. That was the old LOL.
Learning opportunities abound on the web. We've talked about iTunes University's list of ivy league podcast lectures from Stanford, Berkeley et al, to award winning math educator KahnAcademy.com with 2,400 videos teaching everything from basic algebra to GMAT exam tutorials to multidisciplinary applied math in areas like astronomy, computer science or economics, (and even up-to-date stuff like videos of The Geithner Plan to Solve the Banking Crisis.) Want to learn a new language? Watch a series of You Tube videos in the language of choice. The difference between all those experiences and Saylor.org is that the Saylor Foundation offers the entire college experience in a choice 13 areas of study (Art History, Biology, Business Administration, Computer Science... ) that includes the complete course curriculum, online access to all suggested class reading material through the creative commons license, a full set of video lectures to follow along, all the course assignments you would normally get at a brick and mortar school, and of course, final exams. The clincher is IT'S ALL FREE. The Foundation is indebted to founder Michael Saylor and his dedicated full and part time staff, academic consultants and network content providers. I logged onto the site and picked the English Literature degree for example. LIke any college degree you have required core courses in the 100-300 level and a selection of elective choices in the 400 level. I picked the 200 level course: Cultural and Literary Expression in the 18th and 19th Century and got the course purpose, learning outcomes, course overview with a breakdown of concepts from the origins of the term "enlightenment" to the rise of the early novel and so on, all in palatable bite size pieces similar to what you'd learn in a typical classroom experience. In order to take the exam you must be logged into your Saylor Foundation School account. Check it out! There's no excuse not to get Back To School in your spare time.
The Help by Karen Stock Stockett is one of those books that you see on the NYT Bestsellers list for over 100 weeks, is translated into 5 languages and sells 5 million copies (so far), gets adapted into a summer film feature blockbuster with rumors of Academy Award nominations that you go to see with your entire book club and have to push past all the other women in the audience seated with their book club. When you hear The Help is the author's break out novel and that it was turned down by 60 literary agents before finally being picked up by the apparently clairvoyant Susan Ramer you want to cheer. My 20-year-strong book group (who've carried on without me through thick and thin) picked this book for our summer read and I have to say that the plot originally did not move me: set in the 60s during the civil rights movement it exposes the bigotry, cruelty and injustices of the White Southern society toward the one-generation-removed-from-slavery African American residents who work for them as domestics and laborers. I felt I "knew" that part of history and that we'd covered "that topic" before in books like Life of Bees or The Color Purple. However, as with all bestsellers, there's more to it than just plot. We fall in love with the characters, we see raw truths in their behavior and we are reminded to be scrupulous in our own relationships and to respect the past.
The story is set in Jackson Mississippi and narrated by three voices: Abileen Clark who has spent her life raising 14 white babies with tender love and respect despite the tragic mistreatment of her only son; Minny Jackson, the chocolate pie (with that secret ingredient) baking Black housekeeper that talks back to her bosses and lands a job on the outside of town working for the good but troubled white outcast of the ladies circle. Lastly there is Eugena "Skeeter" Phelan, a headstrong young White woman who champions "the help" by teasing out their stories (with considerable risk to them, given the period) in the intension of exposing the injustices she sees in her town and her effort to break into the publishing world. She hooks her editor with the line, "These women raise white children; we love them and they love us. But they can't even use the toilets in our houses." Most poignant is the reciprocated affections between the Black nannies and the white children they raise, contrasted with the surly vindictive all-powerful Whiter matrons, a metaphor for race relations of the times.
Pick up the book in paper, digital or audio version and grab your bf's to catch the movie in theatre before summer's end. (Trailer)
I used to live in Boston on Beacon Hill and one of my favorite things to do was to cross the Charles River and head over to the Harvard University campus where the Harvard Book Store is located. Its rival was "The Coop". Recently the employees of THBS were asked to come up with a list of 100 of their all-time favorite books. The lists were compared and compiled into one master list - probably using some complex mathematical formula borrowed from MIT for weighting and placement. Here is the list. See how many you've read, want to re-read, or are planning to read for the first time and add them to your summer reading list. If you've got a digital reader it's easy to load-up and keep them on your virtual bookshelf. We've placed the list into groups of 10 so you can tally each set and keep track of your percentages:
The title of this feature should read "The Art of Aging Well". Nobody can say the gal hasn't gained in popularity over the years with the sale (to an individual) of an unfinished manuscript titled, "The Watsons" dating from 1804 at Sotheby's auction this past week, making it the only original JA manuscript or portion-there-of NOT in the hands of a public institution. Makes you wonder what the chap who bought it is going to do with it? Watsons is the story of four sisters who are the family of a widowed clergyman. The work was apparently passed on in the estate to Jane's sister Cassandra, then to her niece Caroline Mary Craven Austen (1805-1880), the younger daughter of their eldest brother James. It was in Caroline’s possession when first published in 1871 by her brother James Edward Austen-Leigh. It passed to Caroline Austen’s nephew, William Austen-Leigh, and he presented the first six leaves (a quire of two leaves and a quire of four leaves) to a charity sale in aid of the Red Cross Society at Christie, Manson, and Woods’s on 26 April 1915. Lot 1520, it sold for £65 to Lady Wernher.
The author Margaret Drabble describes the work as "a tantalising, delightful and highly accomplished fragment, which must surely have proved the equal of her other six novels had she finished it". Jane Austen died at the age of 41 in 1817. You can get the complete set of her works for only $15.15 plus shipping Complete Novels Of Jane Austen or purchase a Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi 6'' Wireless Reading Device (Graphite) and download the digital version. And then take advantage of the 99cent offer for the entire digital library of Jane Austen titles here.
Become a member of the Jane Austen North American Society (or stop in to see what kind of trouble they routinely get into... http://www.jasna.org.) I shall now invent a poolside cocktail to celebrate!
-1 part GIN, British label please
-1 part Absynthe, because it's old and previously forbidden
-dash of rose water, the essence of a proper country garden
-angostura bitters, for all the spilt tears in Jane's novels
-guava juice, to give it the perfect shade of pink-coral
Put all ingredients into a martini shaker over ice and strain into a fine crystal glass, which lends the appropriate drama for the occasion. Cheers Jane Austen book lovers!
Summer for me means visiting the art galleries of the city I am traveling. The Tate Modern has an excellent exhibit of Modernist-Surrealist painter and sculptor Joan Miró (thru Sept 11, 2011) that affords a brilliant look at the artist's life, his work and the history that shaped both. It is the first major retrospective in 50 years in London. I especially enjoyed the short film with Miró's grandson giving a tour of his grandfather's two studios where you can see everything in its place. I had the pleasure of viewing the show with a Greek friend who claims she is going to make a large canvas version [in turquoise] of one of the paintings in Miró's blue series for display on the living room wall of her modern style home in Athens. "That's a lovely idea," I said. "Just call it your 'Turquoise Homage de Miro'. An original is beyond we mere mortals and a poster version is better suited to a university dorm wall."
We discussed the challenge of making a large canvas a single color; do you use wide brushes or a roller? We see from close inspection of the work that he used a combination dry brush technique at the finish. It may look like child's play, but if you try it you'll see the difficulty.
If you can't make it to the exhibit in London (or the Miró Museum in Barcelona), the next best thing is to purchase a copy of Miro (Taschen 25th Anniversary) and check out the excellent review in the The Guardian while you're waiting delivery of this book as an addition to your art book collection. More about Miró and the Surrealist movement.
I wish I had taken a photo of the timeline on the wall. If anyone does so, please send me a copy. paulas (at) bookbuffet.com —Thanks!
We've all met people who just can't seem to get along socially - be that an awkwardness in the workplace, inappropriate behavior in public or social settings or people who have given up interacting and become loners. A new book by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke titled, Social Thinking At Work: Why Should I Care? (North River Press, June 2011) is out that helps to explain how we develop social skills and why they're so important to personal and professional success. Turns out the term was coined by the author(s) over a decade ago and in the ensuing space of time they've gone on to become thought leaders on the topic, giving lectures and winning awards. Their work starts with youth and carries on up to teens and adults.
" Social thinking is a term for social cognition. Social thinking is required prior to the development of social skills. Successful social thinkers consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions of others (this is often called perspective-taking - considering the perspectives of others). This is for most of us an intuitive process. We can determine the meanings behind the messages communicated by others and how to respond to them within milliseconds to three seconds! Social thinking occurs everywhere, when we talk, share space, walk down the street, even when we read a novel and relate to our pets. It is an intelligence that integrates information across home, work and community settings - something we usually take for granted!"
You don't need to have Aspberger's Syndrome or autism to be interested in this book. It turns out, social behavior has a spectrum: some of us are better at this than others. Sounds like a useful resource to leave laying around the office coffee room, if not suggested reading in workplace orientations. Check out their website and join their Facebook page.
Rhetoric has gotten a bad name lately as people associate it with politicians who are full of bluster and hot air. But the term has a much more honorable history. Broadly and rightly understood, rhetoric is the art of using words to persuade or otherwise affect an audience; for most of Western history it was viewed as a central feature of a liberal education.
Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric, published on 18 February 2011, is a return to that tradition, and is the perfect antidote to the linguistic vacuity of our age. Here, the reader exasperated by the current state of the language will find page after page of refreshment - an enjoyable and reassuring exhibition of what the English language can do at its best. Wit and great writing, presented lucidly and entertainingly, will restore hope to those driven to despair by texting and twittering.
Have you ever wondered about the best way to use erotema or litotes? Hypophora and prolepsis? Let Farnsworth show you with examples from the Anglo-American
greats - from Churchill and Lincoln, Dickens, Shakespeare,Thoreau, Shaw, Chesterton, Melville and others. These effective speakers and writers used patterns that arrange words according to principles that are elements of beauty and power - repetition and variety, suspense and relief, concealment and surprise. These examples both entertain and provide a blueprint for anyone who aspires to write and speak effectively.
Not only educational but delightful. - David Mamet
Every writer should have this book. - Erin McKean, editor Verbatim
Ward Farnsworth is Professor Law, Nancy Barton Scholar, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Boston University School of Law. He attended Wesleyan University and the University of Chicago Law School. Farnsworth has written scholarly articles on a wide range of legal topics, and is the author The Legal Analyst (2007), a guide to analytical tools for thinking about the law. He has written a treatise on chess that is available on the internet. He lives in Boston with his wife and family. More information can be found at www.wardfarnsworth.com
Fans of The Paris Review are rewarded each quarter with a new edition of works selected by the editors that introduce us to unknown and established authors alike. They also give out annual awards and prizes to writers at both ends of the spectrum: The Plimpton Prize (honors The Paris Review's longtime editor, George Plimpton, who presided over the magazine for fifty years, until his death in September 2003) is awarded to the best piece of fiction by a newcomer to appear in The Paris Review that year. The Hadada is awarded annually to a distinguished member of the literary community who has demonstrated a strong and unique commitment to literature. Past Hadada statues (a bronze replica of the Paris Review's iconic bird) have been given to John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Barney Rosset, and William Styron. Last year went to Philip Roth. Drum roll please... This year it goes to James Salter.
James Salter is an American novelist and screenwriter born in NYC June 10th, 1925. That makes him 86 years old with a lifetime of literary contributions drawn from his formative years, twelve of which were spent serving as a fighter pilot in the Korean theatre on 100 missions flying the F-86 Sabre in the renowned Mig-fighting unit. He used his Korean experience for his first novel, The Hunters (1956), which was made into a film starring Robert Mitchum in 1958 and re-published under the title Cassada. His 1961 novel The Arm of Flesh drew on his experiences flying with the 36th Fighter-Day Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, between 1954 and 1957.
His writerly style was influenced by Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Andre Guide and Thomas Wolfe.
"Widely regarded as one of the most artistic writers of modern American fiction, Salter himself is critical of his own work, having said that only his 1967 novel A Sport and a Pastime comes close to living up to his standards. Set in post-war France, Sport And A Pastime is a piece of erotica involving an American student and a young French girl, told as flashbacks in the present tense by an unnamed narrator who barely knows the student and who himself yearns for the girl, and who freely admits that most of his narration is fantasy." —Wikipedia
His introduction to Hollywood was for a production featuring the young actor, Robert Redford in "Downhill Racer" about a competive ski racer. Here is a excellent link dedicated to that 1969 film production with video clips of both the film and an older Redford talking about its making. My friends and colleagues in Whistler involved in skiing and filmmaking and film festival organization will be interested in the lessons here-in.
Marshall McLuen's catch phrase "the medium is the message" coined in 1964 has never been truer for the folks at Electric Literature Company in New York who have just launched their new Broadcaster App. Key to McLuhan's argument is the idea that technology has no per se moral bent—it is a tool that profoundly shapes an individual's and, by extension, a society's self-conception and realization. How does this relate to Broadcaster App? Using your iPhone you can download free storytelling using social media and an interactive map. Access 6,000 stories (and counting) it uses your geo locator to pinpoint a story near you. There's also an upload feature if you feel the need to contribute.
No iPhone? No problem. All the stories are also available on the website. Here are some stories we think you and Electric Literature readers might enjoy:
A daughter talks about her mother’s long love affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jennifer Egan reads from A Visit from the Goon Squad, and one man shares his deep thoughts on Shakespeare.
For a blast from the past, you could listen to the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler from your iPhone while strolling through the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
When discussing books and examining literature we sometimes run into literary devices whose name and definition have escaped us since college and university days. Recognizing them and discussing their use elevates your discussions. Here is a test to refresh your memory.
Match these literary terms with the definitions below. 10/10: Head of the class; 8/10 Still teacher's pet; 6/10 Some review required; 4 or less: Purchase one of the reference books below.
A. An imitation of the work of another for the purpose of ridicule that is sometimes humorous.
B. A brief reference to a person, event, or place -- real or fictitious, or to a work of art. May be drawn from history, geography, literature or religion.
C. The comparison of two unlike things using the verb "to be" and not like or as.
D. A literary device used to make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting or changing the subject of attack.
E. A form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. In other words it's when a story has two (or more) meanings: a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Sophisticated readers looking for something different from the typical fare offered on the bestseller lists and by the domestic pub houses will be excited to get their hands on 3 new translations of foreign classics not available in English before now, coming courtesy of The New York Review of Books, Classics. These Dutch, Polish and German authors introduced the genres of the confessional novel, 19th century realism and ironic modernity. All three novels are available at an incredibly low price of ten bucks and are great editions to your foreign classic library with their delicious cover art. (Yes, some of us still DO collect books and commit space in our house to display them. You can also do that old-fashioned thing with a pocket book - loan it to a friend. Quaint idea, no?)
A Posthumous Confession by Marcellus Emants is translated from Dutch. This novel is a powerful and unsettling psychological study of the relationship between hatred and desire. Translated by Nobel prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee, the novel that "won a permanent place for [Emants] in the history of Dutch literature" is now available after being out of print for many years.
Termeer, Emants's narrator and antihero, is a deeply frustrated, emotionally stunted man who finds himself continually reminded of his own worthless mediocrity. Due to a dark and condemning upbringing and his own sense of self-loathing, Termeer can only seem to live up to the low expectations of his family and community—until, that is, he successfully woos a beautiful and gifted woman. Their marriage, however, leads only to further distress, and Termeer soon decides that only in murder can he find ultimate satisfaction. Reminiscent of Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, Termeer's chilling narrative will have every reader pondering the delicate nature of self.
"Since the time of Rousseau we have seen the growth of the genre of the confessional novel, of which A Posthumous Confession is a singularly pure example. Termeer, claiming to be unable to keep his dreadful secret, records his confession and leaves it behind as a monument to himself, thereby turning a worthless life into art."
These two quotes on their twitter page piqued my interest: "What we find words for is already dead in our heart." —Nietzsche. "Every kiss a heart-quake," —Lord Byron, Don Juan.
A book with the perfect blend of art and science about the very organ that makes us tick physically, emotionally and metaphorically. Written by two brothers, one a cardiologist, the other a novelist, The Sublime Engine encompasses science, religion, literature and the arts. The heart has been the symbol of humanity from the time of the Egyptians and ancient Greece through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, right up to the modern era.
“No matter how much you think you know about the heart, you will be enlightened and entertained by this fascinating book. From its image as a religious icon and the seat of thoughts and feelings, we are led through the great discoveries of its function, its diseases, and its cures, including the most up-to-date therapies and promising clinical research.”—William Parmley, M.D., former Chief of Cardiology, UCSF, past president of the American College of Cardiology.
Our heart beats an average of 3 billion times during an 80-year lifespan. We speak, feel and react with our hearts; heartaches are the viceral response to sorrow. We know and feel excitement and desire when our heart quickens and sometimes skips a beat, or when we blush - that physiologic response dilating vessels in our face and body.
As a writer and history buff I love all the literary references. But in my former life (yes ppl, there was life before BookBuffet) I worked in the Massachusetts General Hospital's critical care cardiac unit. I've saved lives, administered CPR, seen open chests with beating hearts and witnessed death. The Sublime Engine's attention to cardiac physiology and up-to-date medical knowledge on heart disease and how to maintain a healthy heart make this a truly unique tribute to this vital topic!
Better Book Titles is a blog for book snobs and avid readers seeking personal titillation (or the opportunity to poke fun with other book snobs.) You'll know you qualify when you browse Better Book Titles because you'll have 5 people in mind to send this link. That includes trade people like book reviewers, most book editors but certainly not all, and librarians who do more than shuffle the stacks. I would safely guess you also qualify if: you've been in a book club for over 5 years; you majored in lit, philosophy or even the law; you were unpopular or pudgy in school or didn't play extracurricular sports; you take a long daily commute; you work a boring job with little supervision... You get the drift.
You don't necessarily have to have a photographic memory of all the books you've ever read - it just means that you're not going to roll around on the floor as quickly as the rest of us. The top book cover is an excellent bad joke-current read example. This compelling true story was adapted into an Academy Award nominated film and it's a simple play on titles... Hemingway would approve since he was both an adventurist and a man of, er definitive action.
Books with those delicious Penguin-style art covers that scream C L A S S I C (equals Publishers lucrative backlist, forever) beg a sarcastic replacement title referencing the fustian nature of the writer or the novel, and demonstrate the smug fact that you actually read the book and "got it" (or supremely couldn't care because you were not a Lit Major.)
If you want to throw in a cover to make a dig at the amorphous "bestseller audience", then delight in this Stieg Larsson cover improvement. Better Book Titles is the brainchild of Dan Wilbur (yes, that really is his name) who claims it is a blog, "for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences." He cuts through "all the cryptic crap, and give[s] you the meat of the story in one condensed image... [so] you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!"
A new Better Book Title is posted every weekday. Every Friday a reader's submission will be posted. Redesign and titles by Dan Wilbur unless credited otherwise. Why not add his Twitter posts to your feed?
Freshly back from the holidays I am delighted to see the publishers' offerings this January 2011. The interesting thing is prices for various print and digital versions of books at different outlets. It's mayhem out there! Do you download from iTunes to your iPad, or from Amazon to your Kindle, or from either to your Kindle App on your iPhone, what is KoBo all about? [This topic begs an upcoming feature... ] From Random House Canada I'm keen on the affordable $22 (softcover and eBook version) of Tom Rachman's Giller Prize nominated fiction title, The Imperfectionists: A Novel published by Anchor Canada. The Kindle version has been out since April and it's only $5. Reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review by Christopher Buckley who writes, "This first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born [but raised in Vancouver] journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven't answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young… could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching." The publisher continues "Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it - and themselves - afloat."
Each December I listen to a recording of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas spoken by the great man himself. I love the scratchy quality and his booming voice with its lovely accent. Out of interest, an American writer has won a £30,000 literary award for her collection of 21st Century poetry. Elyse Fenton has been awarded the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, set up to honour the Welsh poet and encourage writing among the young. Ms Fenton's collection Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center New Poetry) is the first book of poetry to have won.
A Google search of Dylan Thomas turned up 2,640,000 results in 21 seconds, which proves how much the world loves the cadence of the spoken wordsmiths. Here for your enjoyment are the first two stanzas of "Child's Christmas":
One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in 2009 a €750 million fund to digitize the French national patrimony. The National Library of the Netherlands plans to digitize every book, newspaper or periodical they've produced in less than a decade going all the way back to 1470. Australia, Norway, Finland and Japan are following suit. What is the status in North America? And what happens when the books are still under copyright and providing someone an income?
Of the 30 million books in the American Library of Congress, 2 million have been digitally scanned by Google. It is estimated that it costs about 10 cents a page depending upon the quality required. Some people are proposing the creation of a Digital Public Library of American (DPLA)—a digital library composed of virtually all the books in our greatest research libraries available free of charge to the entire citizenry, in fact, to everyone in the world.
Robert Darnton of The New York Review of Books writes: "To dismiss this goal as naive or utopian would be to ignore digital projects that have proven their worth and feasibility throughout the last twenty years. All major research libraries have digitized parts of their collections. Since 1995 the Digital Library Federation has worked to combine their catalogues or “metadata” into a general network.
At long last Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest in her home country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) where she has been cloistered for 15 out the past 20 years. The first thing out of her courageous mouth was her pledge to continue to strive for democracy in her country through "a peaceful revolution" between her people and the ruling military regime. Watching the video of her first interview with BBC Correspondent John Simpson was reminiscent of Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island after his long incarceration. The march of world progress, technology and the things people in the free world take for granted, appear new and strange to Aung. She talked on a cellular phone for the first time, and didn't much like it. For a woman of 65 she looks youthful, almost preserved in time since with beautiful skin and a serenely optimistic outlook. The ruling military power recently conducted its first election in 20 years. It has not been sanctioned by UN officials.
Each year Publishers Weekly, the trade publication directed toward people in the publishing industry, puts out its Top 100 Books list comprising several genres. Take a look for yourself to see which ones you know and which ones you might want to know. It's a great way to begin making selections for your gift list this upcoming holiday season. Here are two of BookBuffet's own lists: the ones we've read and conquer, and the ones we're aching to dig into:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot (Crown)
Medical history is grippingly told through the life of one African-American woman and her family, which begins at the "colored" ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s. Skloot, who hit the road in her beatup old car to relentlessly follow this story, explores issues of race, poverty, the ethics of medical research and its sometimes tragic, unintended consequences.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
Michael Lewis (Norton)
Lewis has written the briskest and brightest analysis of the crash of 2008. Other books might provide a more exhaustive account of what went wrong, but Lewis's character-driven narrative reveals the how and why with peerless clarity and panache. When will they ever learn?
Our Kind of Traitor: A Novel
John le Carré (Viking)
Those who have found post-cold war le Carré too cerebral will welcome this Russian mafia spy thriller involving an English couple on holiday in the Caribbean.
Postumous publishing of a well known author's works is a debatable predicament. Do you heed the author's dying wishes to burn his final unpublished manuscripts, or do you allow the world a chance to peek? Is publishing motivated by material gain on the part of the family member and the publisher, or are they generously allowing readers, writers and academics the opportunity to scrutinize the work for posterity?
That debate raged for three decades while Demitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir Nabokov finally wrestled his demons and agreed to publish. And we are now coming up on the anniversary of that decision. If you missed the news before, here is a recap.
It was November 10, 2009 when Playboy magazine published the serialization of Nabokov's final, unfinished work, The Original of Laura. Playboy had a long relationship with Nabokov, previously published a portion of his 1969 work Ada and ran an interview with the author before his death in 1977. On November 17, Knopf released the book version of The Original of Laura.
Before Nabokov's death in 1977, he instructed his wife to burn the unfinished first draft—handwritten on 138 index cards—of what would be his final novel. As sole executor of his literary rights, she could not, and instead placed the manuscript in a Swiss vault. Nabokov's son, Dmitri, was given sole literary executor rights at his mother's death, and indecision over whether to publish it wracked his life for over three decades.
Hailed as last year's literary highlight, the Guardian wrote: "this very unfinished work reads largely like an outline, full of seeming notes-to-self, references to source material, sentence fragments, commentary and brief flashes of spectacular prose. It would be a mistake for readers to come to this expecting anything resembling a novel, though the few actual scenes here are unmistakably Nabokovian, with cutting wordplay, piercing description and uneasy-making situations—a character named Hubert H. Hubert molesting a girl, a decaying old man's strained attempt at perfunctory sex with his younger wife.
The story appears to be about a woman named Flora...
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Robert J Wiersema. Robert J Wiersema is the author of Before I Wake: A Novel (Reading Group Gold), a national bestseller and Globe and Mail Best Book of 2006, and the novella The World More Full of Weeping, which was shortlisted for the Prix Aurora in 2010. A respected critic and reviewer, he lives in Victoria with his wife, Cori Dusmann, and their son, Xander. His new novel is Bedtime Story.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Bedtime Story is about fathers and sons, good and evil, and the power of a book to swallow you whole. 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
I actually try not to think about that... Start to finish, once I got going? A year. Almost to the day. The key part of that answer, though, is “once I got going” -- there was a lot of... pre-writing and not writing and writing other stuff that went on before I found my way into Bedtime Story.. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I’m pretty partial to the deck six port coffee bar on a transatlantic cruise (which is where the book was finished), but generally speaking, The Treasury gets the job done. (The Treasury is the writing space I rent, a basement suite just down the street from the house. The Treasury is a little more polite than The Man Cave, which some have taken to calling it...) 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Badly. And with great anguish. And then I get help. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
With the use of computers, that question is a bit tricky to answer. It really depends on the section of the book, the scene. Some bits come out all right in the first draft, and only need a bit of tweaking. Others I end up hitting 8, 10, 12 times. The opening of Bedtime Story took a good two dozen runs at it before I was remotely satisfied, before I found my way in.
A journalist friend called to set up an interview to discuss what I do. It reminded me of a speech I wrote that was intended for an audience at the opening of our town library and it has to do with the joy of reading and the place that book groups hold within that realm. In re-reading it, I decided to post it here and share it with all of you. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
"Joyce Carol Oates has said that she believes art to be the highest expression of human spirit and I have to agree. Literature in particular, enhances our perceptions and deepens our understanding of life. I treasure the solace of literature, its capacity to illuminate what is unique about an individual and what is universally human.
Stories transcend barriers --- of place, generation, class, race, faith and create gateways to understanding humankind’s endless response to life’s challenges, joys and conundrums.
Literature describes more exquisitely than any other art form what it feels like to be alive, how minds shift through memories, emotions, thoughts, and sensations. It entices us into contemplating diverse traditions and divergent viewpoints. It awakens empathy and fosters a sense of connection with others.
I am forever falling in love with books.
If reading is the most solitary of pursuits – what is the value and purpose and motivating factor of book groups?
Firstly, they create a forum to discuss the ideas and feelings and concepts brought out through literature.
Secondly, it provides a monthly goal that is not just for ourselves, but provides value to each member – our insights, experiences and perspectives are so individual that in discussing literature there is no one right answer when interpreting a book. We all bring something to the table.
Thirdly, it forces us outside our particular reading tastes and habits. Some of the most astounding books I’ve read were titles I was not particularly interested in or would have picked up on my own volition.
Fourthly, it elevates our level of examination of literature, our appreciation of writers and their craft and provides a reference point to which our own anecdotes and life experiences can be weighed."
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Samuel Sykes. At 25, Sam Sykes is one of the youngest authors to arrive on the Sci-fi scene with his novel Tome of the Undergates: The Aeons' Gate: Book One. Stop for a moment and think about what you were doing at 25. It probably wasn't conjuring up alternate worlds and characters in 450 pages to rival your chosen genre's top writers. Reviewer Alice Wybrew at www.totalscifionline.com gives "Tome" 9 out of 10, "With imaginative characters, a well-paced narrative and enough maiming, decapitation and evisceration to make '300' look tame, Sykes’s debut proves a bloody good read." Wow. Couldn't have said it better ourselves.
QUESTIONS: 1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
“I love you, I hate myself, that man is on fire, we’re all going to die.” 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Tome of the Undergates was something I started when I was 17 and thought all books revolved around morally unassailable heroes stopping generic forms of villainy. There was a lot of talk of “dark masters” and “righteous indignation” in those days. Eventually, after two iterations, two years of doing nothing and four years of college, I finished it when I was 24 and sold it when I was 25. It took awhile, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I suppose if I had a greater need for attention, I would write in a coffee shop or wine bar somewhere. But seeing as I’m very easily distracted, I lock myself in a small room with my laptop and hunch over a keyboard, mouth agape and tongue lolling as I strive to hold onto any creative thought before I start thinking about looking up bear attack videos.
By now you have heard the news about this year's winner for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Peruvian born Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world. He has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays and is currently teaching at Princeton University. The Swedish Academy's Peter Englund said Llosa is "a divinely gifted story-teller," whose writing touches the reader. Let us explore this 74-year-old author and review his body of work, which has been described as "a cartography of structures of power" with "trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat," by the Academy. Vargas Llosa's good friend (admittedly, it's a complicated friendship) and 1982 Nobel Laureate, the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez tweeted upon hearing the news: "Cuentas iguales" "Now we're even". (Losa wrote his doctoral thesis on the writing of Marquez.) It has been 18 years since a Spanish language author has been selected. In the previous six years, the academy awarded the 10 million kronor (£938,000) prize to five Europeans and one Turk. This drew criticism that the prize was becoming too Euro-centric and too left wing. Wikipedia writes: "Vargas Llosa rose to fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero (La ciudad y los perros, literally The City and the Dogs, 1963/1966), The Green House (La casa verde, 1965/1968), and the monumental Conversation in the Cathedral (Conversación en la catedral, 1969/1975). He writes prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973/1978) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977/1982), have been adapted as feature films. For a complete list of available books click here.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says parody is "a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule". It is delicious when it's done well, and can be scathing without drawing litigation. Everyone remembers National Lampoon and now we have The Onion. Almost all successful comedians use it. Jon Stewart is a master at parodying the news anchor and the news. He does it so well that statistics show most young people prefer to watch him rather than the real thing. Parody is entertaining. It makes us laugh. You have to have a sense of wit, irony and of course "get" that the piece is being satiric in the first place. I think that most kids of this generation think in parody all the time. Cervantes got it when he wrote Don Quixote mocking the knights errant novels of his time. So well that his own work has outlasted the genre. A close relative of the parody is the "pastiche" in which writers take the example of a previous work and incorporate elements into it for their own usually not to make fun but more as an homage. James Joyce's Ulysses was a hats off to Homer's Odyssey. The first film parodies I recall were Mel Brooks creations, "Blazing Saddles" and "Spaceballs". Then of course there was the "Naked Gun" and "Airplane" series of movies that parodied the Police Squad movies and disaster flicks. Who could forget the TPS reports of "Office Space", also made into a television series? Monty Python's "The Holy Grail" et al have been beacons in the genre. All bow down in prostration.
So what does it take to make a parody and are there any consequences (other than being completely misunderstood and possibly sued?) Ha ha, you laugh, nervously. You'd LOVE to write a parody of... you know, that person, that family saga scenario, that community debacle, that political insanity. Here is an article in The Guardian by Craig Brown who writes literary parodies and some of his key points: "Every child is a born parodist. The more accurate a parody is, the more it's likely to be confused with the real thing. To appreciate parody, you must be capable of holding two contradictory ideas in your head simultaneously. Parody represents a collaboration, however unwilling, between the parodist and his victim." And last but not least, of course there is The Oxford Book of Parodies to keep us all up to date. Those good Oxford people. What would we do without them?
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. (It is interesting to compare and contrast the full list to date at bottom.) Get exposed to authors that otherwise would not have come onto your radar. It's rather like shopping for a new tie or addition to your wardrobe, and never deviating from certain colors, patterns or styles. Jump out of your comfort zone. Today's author is Allegra Goodman. I first became intrigued by this author upon reading her biography on her website. All the reviewer accolades from admittedly reliable sources like The New York Times, said things that rang of hyperbole; "the next Jane Austen." So it is her real life that interested me when I began to scratch the surface... Daughter of a successful set of academic parents who I imagine never had boring dinner table conversation, (dad: philosophy prof, mom: women's studies prof). Mostly grew up in Hawaii (also cool, but in a hot-way). Uprooted to Nashville, Tennessee (Hello! Nashville?) when her parents took positions at Vanderbuilt University.Published her first story at age 17, and from there climbed her own ivory tower as an undergrad at Harvard. I don't think her answers to this series gives us as good a picture of her as it could. But see what you think. Her latest novel is The Cookbook Collector, and I think RH describe it well: "...a novel about getting and spending... the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living." Hmmm, sounds like the modern (wo)man. BTW - the Austen comparison is about sisters: Sense & Sensibility has them, Cookbook Collector's got 'em too. (Don't be turned off by the elaborate cover or the staging of her publicity photo, which to me seem a little precious. Jane Austen was a passionate observer who captured her time.)
You laugh and say, "Hah! What are they going to think of to celebrate next?" But the standards for everyday punctuation among the masses has eroded further than you think. It is reaching catastrophic proportions. I am in a state of apoplexy every other day, and I am not even a hardcore grammarian. It isn't just our email-ease, SMS semaphore or rampant use of smiley faces (to hedge against ambiguous rhetoric) that has replaced the proper use and understanding of punctuation. Indeed, for a while the prevailing thinking in education was that creative writing was being stifled by fussy teachers who insisted upon that nasty triad: correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. The red ink marks on papers disappeared and little star stickers were replaced, "Good job," they said. Students were told just to write, and worry about details later. Now look where it has got us. However, there is hope in site. Enclosed is a list of websites you can browse, bookmark and refer to - even take a quiz to test your knowledge or play games. We've included a short list of books you should keep beside your laptop, or better yet, beside your bed at night. Can you think of anything better for insomnia? And here are some of the most common errors we see in everyday writing. Happy Punctuation Day! Oh, here is the chap who started it all.
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Richard Harvell. This is Richard's first novel titled, The Bells, and it's certain to become a Random House blockbuster this fall. Consider the elements: rich lush prose, intriguing characters like bell ringers and castratas, aluring settings like 17th century European opera houses, and an elegant theme - the redemptive power of music and love. Ladies will like this part - it was inspired by his wife while he was sitting in their kitchen listening to her sing, with her fine clear voice, an aria by Gluck that is based on a story about Orpheus and Eurydice. He asked her about the story and was immediately struck that this plot would form the basis of his novel. Since they live in Basel Switzerland he was already immersed in the region. "Bells" takes readers on a passionate musical journey through Europe ending in Vienna in 1762. Along with the publisher's introduction came a link to his You Tube video - a luscious tempting clip. Richard Harvell was born in New Hampshire, USA, and studied English literature at Dartmouth College. As BookBuffet had the very good fortune to hear Richard give a reading in Vancouver - we will follow-up shortly with a few audio excerpts in a separate feature. Stay tuned! In the meantime listen to Andreas Scholl sing Che Faro Senza Euridice
QUESTIONS: 1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Boy with preternatural hearing has his life ruined by a priest, an abbot, a choirmaster, and a doctor, and then redeemed by two gay monks, a dwarf, music, and true love. 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Nine months until I said, “It’s finished.” Three years until others agreed with me. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
Wherever my kids don’t bother me. These days in the attic. 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
For the most part I look for names in historical records, for authenticity. However, I had some fun with the last names in The Bells, but you have to speak German to get that. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
With The Bells, sixteen plus lots and lots of fiddling.
People seem to think that you have to enter into the fray of writing early. You might be surprised to see a line-up of some people who wrote their first novels after their 40th birthday (and well beyond). Take a look at these familiar book titles and celebrate the authors who wrote them, as compiled in a slide show by Huffington Post.com correspondent Randy Susan Meyers:"41 Over 40: Authors Debuting Over Age 40" (Sept.11.2010) Annie Proulx published Postcards at age 57. Alex Haley published Roots when he was 55. Raymond Chandler debuted The Big Sleep at 59. Edward P. Jones' first book Lost in the City came out when he was 41. Henry Miller published Tropic of Cancer when he was 40. James Michener published Tales of the South Pacific when he was 40-? and went on to publish 40 more books. Julia Glass published Three Junes in her 40s. Holly LeCraw wrote The Swimming Pool when she was 43. Paul Hardy won the Pulitzer Prize with his first published book Tinkers when he was 42. Sue Monk Kid debuted The Secret Life of Bees at 54. George Eliot published Adam Bede: (now in its 150th Anniversary Edition published by Signet Classics) when she was 50. Richard Adams debuted Watership Down when he was 52. Katherine Anne Porter published her only novel Ship of Fools when she was 72. Norman McLean wrote A River Runs Through It when he was 74.
So what's stopping you? Check out these Writer Workshops and get started on your first novel.
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is David Mitchell. David Mitchell is the acclaimed author of the novels Black Swan Green, which was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by Time; Cloud Atlas, which was a Man Booker Prize finalist; Number9Dream, which was short-listed for the Man Booker as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and Ghostwritten, awarded the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best book by a writer under thirty-five and short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. His latest novel is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel published by Sceptre in the UK and RandomHouse in NorthAmerica. He lives in Ireland.
QUESTIONS: 1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Honest Dutch clerk in a walled island of thieves meets a Japanese midwife at the end of the eighteenth century, and dominoes go toppling. 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Four years. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My hut in my back garden. 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
By stumbling across them, storing them on a special page in my notebook, and retrieving them when the right vacancy arises. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
'Going through' drafts in the sense of polishing is indistinguishable from 'writing'. Countless, then.
J. K. Rowling is 45, the exact age that her mother died of complications due to Multiple schlerosis (MS), a debilitating neuro-degenerative disease that strikes between 2 and 150 per 100,000 population depending on your genetic background. Research shows that people of Scottish descent have the highest incidence of this disease, so it is fitting that the money is going to the University of Edinburgh, Rowling's home town, and will be named "The Anne Rowling Centre for MS Research". Significant donations like this, with the celebrity power behind it, is a medical researcher's prayer answered. It takes away the burdon of tedious and time-consuming annual grant applications for dwindling government funding sources, and most importantly, it brings the disease and disease sufferers to the forefront of public awareness. J.K. Rowling became a billionaire off the royalties of her now famous children's Harry Potter book series, and she is at the point of giving back to society some of that bounty. "I cannot think of anything more important, or of more lasting value, than to help the university attract world-class minds in the field on neuroregeneration, to build on its long and illustrious history of medical research and, ultimately, to seek a cure for a very Scottish disease," Rowling said. There are around 100,000 MS carriers in Britain, and Scotland has one of the highest rates in the world. The new center will also look into other degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntingdon's disease, which like MS are neurogenic, progressive and incurable.
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Camilla Gibb. Camilla Gibb is the author of four novels: Mouthing the words, Petty Details of So-and-So Life, Sweetness in the Belly and the forthcoming The Beauty of Humanity Movement—as well as numerous short stories, articles and reviews.
She was the winner of the Trillium Book Award in 2006, a Scotiabank Giller Prize short list nominee in 2005, winner of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000 and the recipient of the CBC Canadian Literary Award for short fiction in 2001. Her books have been published in 18 countries and translated into 14 languages and she was named by the jury of the prestigious Orange Prize as one of 21 writers to watch in the new century.
QUESTIONS: 1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
It’s a story about the intersection of the lives of three very different people in Vietnam and how those relationships allow them each to reconcile themselves with aspects of the turbulent past 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Two years. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
At the kitchen table on a sunny day. 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I choose ordinary names appropriate to the culture or context. Extraordinary names draw too much attention to themselves and disrupt the reading. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
Countless. Maybe 25?
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Alissa York. Alissa York has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband, writer/filmmaker Clive Holden. York's award-winning short fiction has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, and in the collection, Any Given Power, published in 1999. Her first novel, Mercy, published in 2003, was a Canadian bestseller. Dutch, French and US editions have appeared since. York's second novel, Effigy, was published in April 2007, short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. International rights to the book have sold in Holland, Italy, France and the US. Her new novel, Fauna, is on sale on July 27, 2010.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
FAUNA tells the story of the love between a female federal wildlife officer and the owner of a wrecking yard that doubles as a sanctuary for injured urban fauna and other lost souls. 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Two and a half years. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My desk -- in fact, it's the only place. 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes I come upon promising names during the research process -- Edal was like that. Darius and Lily, on the other hand, arrived from the ether already named. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
Around a dozen -- the later the draft, the finer the adjustments.
At the end of a long day here on the farm (in the Interior of BC) it's great to sit on the porch surveying "the back 40" when the intense heat of the day has passed and the long shadow of our cottonwood next to the house provides a cool respite. Here I sit sipping a glass of crisp white wine while skipping through a copy of John Schreiner's The Wineries of British Columbia (Whitecap, 2009). John has been studying the subject for 30 years and this is the 3rd edition. He's mastered the art of giving just enough information to satisfy your curiosity and tempt your palate. Believe it or not there are 457 wineries in BC now, up from 14 in 1988. They're all listed in alphabetical order with the bottle label and engaging stories about each of the vintners, their properties, their methods and their successes. I go immediately to some of my favorites and see a common thread between us: people passionate about wines, not afraid to tackle the science and chemistry of its art, and determined to produce bottles that any family would be proud to serve company and any restaurant would be happy to place on their wine list alongside other worldly fare. Most often wineries are started, taken-over or completely re-vamped by people from entirely different backgrounds to the industry. Blasted Church was started by two couples who were brokerage accountants. Cedar Creek was started by a geologist and his wife. Burrowing Owl was started by a civil engineer with a business degree, and Quails' Gate was started by a distant relative of ours, the Stewart family, now the largest producer of Pinot Noir in Canada. If you want to learn the stories behind the wines you're drinking, take a mental tour through BC's award-winning and up-and-comers. Better yet, purchase a copy and head east on Highway 3 to the Okanagan where you can sample wines and visit winemakers on our own terroir. Slip in a copy of John Schreiner's Okanagan Wine Tour Guide on the dash for good measure! Now, where was I? Oh yes. I'm looking at the future terraced vineyard on our south slope. The east to west oriented valley will ensure long hours of sunlight and the rocky soil will concentrate the flavours in the grapes. Bring on the investors!
Whistler writers Dee Raffo and Karen McLeod are the winners of the Children's Short Fiction Contest sponsored by Whistler Reads during our 29th author event this past July. The submissions were reviewed by Canadian author Matthew Hooton who came to speak to the village-wide book group, and who agreed to vet the submissions. Both stories are featured here. The exercise was designed to stimulate thinking about the challenges of writing from this "site line", as Matthew describes it, "...where you are actually lower to the ground and view the world from a whole different angle." Dee and Karen enjoyed the process and said Matt was a sensitive editor and mentor who gave excellent advice on their writing. Here now are: "Running with Horses" by Dee Raffo, and "Mrs. Ryan's House" by Karen McLeod.
RUNNING WITH HORSES
By Dee Raffo
Her mother had been the one driving. It was icy and the bend was sharp, the paramedic said it would have been quick. The tree branch had punctured right through the windshield and struck her in the throat. Johnny was another story. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt, which was unusual, and was thrown about thirty metres before his small body had come to a stop. He suffered head injuries that caused him to die two days later, never opening his eyes again. In his five year old hand was a yellow tractor. Michelle thought this may have been the reason he wasn’t wearing his belt. She had gone over it time and time again, frame by frame as if it was a movie. Johnny taking off his belt to get his favourite toy, her mother taking her eyes off the road to make sure he put the seatbelt back on. Gone. In one morning, when there had been so many, they were gone. (continued... )
The judges for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction today, Tuesday 27 July, announced the longlist for the prize. It is the leading literary award in the English speaking world. A total of 138 books, 14 of which were called in by the judges, were considered for the Man Booker Dozen longlist of 13 books. The chair of judges, Andrew Motion, commented:"Here are thirteen exceptional novels - books we have chosen for their intrinsic quality, without reference to the past work of their authors. Wide-ranging in their geography and their concern, they tell powerful stories which make the familiar strange and cover an enormous range of history and feeling. We feel confident that they will provoke and entertain." A glance over the list you will see some familiar authors who've won literary prizes, or nominations for the Man Booker in previous years. I'm always a little disappointed there aren't more fresh names in literary contests, however it is always a pleasure to read an author you know and can compare the progression of their work. Order one or three from the list and take your chances picking the winner. This will be announced on Tuesday 12 October at a dinner at London's Guildhall and will be broadcast on the BBC Ten O'Clock News. The prize is worth £50,000 and brings the author increased sales and worldwide recognition. The list is:
"One of the most anticipated new books around the Farrar, Straus & Giroux offices (and out in the Real World, I daresay) is Jeffrey Eugenides' follow-up to Middlesex. That 2003 novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize and was later selected for Oprah's Book Club, has sold over 2,000,000 copies and is on many readers' lists of their favorite contemporary novels." writes Jonathan Galassi, president of FSG. Jonathan caught up (virtually) with Jeff in his studio in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is rounding the turn on his new novel.—Work In Progress Blog
Galassi: Please tell us everything you can about your new book, starting with the title.
Eugenides: I hate to begin by withholding information, but I'd rather not divulge the title of the new book at the moment. I remember when my wife was pregnant and we were trying out different names for the baby. Anytime we told someone a prospective name, they would find something wrong with it. It rhymed with something not-nice. It was just begging to be deformed into a schoolyard epithet. The result was that we never named our child and refer to her now only by her SS#. So I'm not going to make that mistake again and tell you the title of my book.
Looking for a source of good literary reviews? The place to go is a trusted literary magazine, but last time we checked there are hundreds. For the ultimate web resource go to New Pages website. Here are a few of our favorites and others that piqued our interest.
1. African American Review
African American Review promotes a lively exchange among writers and scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences who hold diverse perspectives on African American literature and culture.
Depending on your age and your taste in music, you may not recognize this author's name, but you will likely recognize her band, The Go-Go's. This 80's punk rock band came out of Los Angeles California and was the first all-girl band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. The members originally consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), Margot Olaverra (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). Their first album Beauty and the Beat went double platinum and since its release the Go-Go's have sold over 7 million records. I still remember the cover art of their 1982 album Vacation which featured 5 lovely ladies in white frilly hats, pink tops and white skorts waterskiing parallel in a single line. It was retro-bitching. In addition to their success, they had a reputation for hard partying on the A-list circuit. Belinda Carlisle has had the most successful solo career of the group. She's also just released her memoir titled, Lips Unsealed published by Crown, a division of Random House (June 1, 2010), which is getting great reviews from Kirkus and others for (in addition to the heady girl-power celebrity stuff) its unguarded honesty surrounding her drug and alcohol issues, her battle with weight loss, low self esteem and abusive relationships. Below is an excerpt from her book. Check it out along with the You Tube videos of the girls performing and some of their album cover art. It's the perfect summer read while you listen to their music on your iPod.
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Justin Cronin. Born and raised in New England, Justin Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Awards for his fiction include the Stephen Crane Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is a professor of English at Rice University and lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas. His newest novel, The Passage, is published by Doubleday Canada.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Girl saves world. 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Forty-seven years, but most of it in the last three. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
Rome is nice. But usually I write in my office over the garage. I used to write IN the garage.. 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Like my children's names, they seem to come from above. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
Three at least. In the second draft, I add. In the third, I cut. Often I have to do this more than once. 6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be? Currently, Joseph O'Neill's NETHERLAND 7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
I think Russell Crowe would make a great Agent Wolgast.
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Holly LeCraw. Holly lives outside of Boston with her husband, who is a journalist, and three kids. Her short fiction and book reviews have appeared in a range of publications, including the
Edge City Review and the Boston Book Review. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Though a newcomer as a novelist, she grew up in the book industry. For more information on her newest novel, The Swimming Pool, please visit her website www.hollylecraw.com
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
It’s the story of a young man and an older woman who are mourning the same person--his father, who was her lover--and who, to their great surprise, begin an affair of their own, leading to crises and revelations they never could have imagined. 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
I tried not to keep track. Three or four years. 3. Where is your favorite place to write?
Alone on Cape Cod. 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
They just come to me and I use them as placeholders, because at the beginning I am always in a hurry; later I go back to change them and they’ve affixed themselves to the characters like barnacles, and I can’t think of anything better. 5. How many drafts do you go through?
One draft flows into the other, so I’m not sure. They aren’t discrete manuscripts. Four? Five? Twenty? I did do an edit/polish for both my agent, before we submitted, and then my editor. 6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Too many to choose from--but on the other hand, I can’t imagine writing any books but my own. 7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Hmmm...maybe Robert Pattinson for Jed, and Juliette Binoche for Marcella. We could make her French. [8-20 cont'd]
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom.
Today we feature Joan Thomas. Joan Thomas's debut novel, Reading by Lightning, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean) in 2009, was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, was shortlisted for three Manitoba Book Awards, is the 2009 Manitoba Reads pick and on the shortlist for the Amazon Best First Book Award. Her short stories and creative non-fiction have been published in journals and magazines across the country, and she is the writing and publishing program consultant for the Manitoba Arts Council. Her newest novel is Curiosity from McClelland & Stewart.
Questions 1. How would you summarize Curiosity in one sentence?
Forty years before Darwin, a 19th century gentleman and a fossil-collecting working-class woman meet each other, and their way of thinking about the world changes.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
I read for about a year and then I wrote for three.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I wrote part of this book in a desk in the bedroom, part in the basement facing a cement wall, the rest in my current light-filled office. Really, I don’t care, as long as it’s quiet. I’m not a Starbucks kind of writer.
4. How many drafts do you go through?
With word processors, it’s impossible to say. I’m always tinkering with what’s there, adding layers. But if you consider it a separate draft every time you say, “Okay, this is done,” print it off, and give it to someone to read—maybe 8. It’s amazing how often you finish a book! [4-10 continued]
The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom.
QUESTIONS: 1. How long did it take you to write this book?
The idea came to me in the form of a single image -- that of a bottle cork -- about 7 years ago, but the actual writing took three years.
2. How many drafts do you go through?
Each novel is different. For this one, I must have done about 5 drafts. Maybe more.
3. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
A FINE BALANCE by Rohinton Mistry.
4. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask?
If I had a chance to meet someone from the past, it wouldn't be a writer; it would be the prophet of the Zoroastrians, Zarathushtra. But he did compose sacred hyms, so one can call him a poet.
5. Did you always want to be a writer?
Not at all. I didn't want to be anything. Ambition seemed like a lot of work.
6. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Johnny Depp. (But I don't have a part for him in it.)
Whenever I travel, I use Kiwi Collection to book the hotels. They always know the coolest places to stay within my budget, and offer upgrades and perks that my usual travel agent (or attempts at self-booking online) cannot. The big news is that Kiwi Collection just completed an extensive revamp of their website - check it out. Whether you are taking a business trip, planning an annual vacation, or just grabbing a quick get-a-way, this site goes beyond information - it inspires.
Started by Swedish entrepreneur Philippe Kjellgren(pronounced Shellgrenn), Kiwi Collection has a team of people around the world who find and approve new properties by staying in the rooms, exploring the environs and meeting personally with each owner/manager to establish a professional relationship. (Sounds like a dream job, right? Ya, I thought so too. ) Approval and listing with KC is maintained as long as the service equals their exacting standards. Whether you prefer well-known international brands, that funky boutique gem, a luxury camp or a classic Inn experience, you can be sure that Kiwi Collection's personal relationship with the owner/operator will ensure you are welcomed like a friend of the family or an honored guest.
I had a 5-city junket over about as many days recently, and was somewhat dreading the pace. I was so relieved to hand the address of my hotel to my driver at each stop and discover the hotel location was minutes from my business meeting, it was close to the local sites with great restaurants and potential night-vibe, and I was greeted with a huge smile upon check-in, fitted with a view-room or similar upgrade, and provided excellent personalized service.
The "20 Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom.
Today we feature Yann Martel, whose newest novel, which you can purchase here is Beatrice & Virgil is published by Knopf Canada (left) or the US cover version (right). Martel is the award-winning author of four previous books, including the recent What Is Stephen Harper Reading?. Yann Martel is one of Canada’s most interesting and surprising writers. Born in Spain in 1963, Yann grew up in various places as the son of diplomats. He won the Journey Prize for the title story in The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. His runaway bestseller, Life of Pi was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. It was the winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction as well as the Man Booker Prize. Yann lives with writer Alice Kuipers and their son in Saskatoon.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Writer meets taxidermist meets Holocaust.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
With interruptions, nine years.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
No favourite place. I just need a chair, a table, my computer and a little peace and quiet.
Yes, I know this is about to rock your world... BBC reports that "the rules of word game Scrabble are being changed for the first time in its history to allow the use of proper nouns, games company Mattel has said. Place names, people's names and company names or brands will now count. Mattel, which brings out a new version of the game containing amended rules in July, hopes the change will encourage younger people to play. Until now a few proper nouns had been allowed which were determined by a word list based on the Collins dictionary. In Scrabble, players try to gain the highest points by making words with individual letter tiles on a grid board. Each letter tile has a points value between one and 10, based on the letter's frequency in standard English. Various coloured squares on the board can double or triple a player's points. My question is, does this mean that we are so bereft of a sizable vocabulary that we have to dumb-down our games?
A spokeswoman for the company said the use of proper nouns would "add a new dimension" to Scrabble and "introduce an element of popular culture into the game". She said: "This is one of a number of twists and challenges included that we believe existing fans will enjoy and will also enable younger fans and families to get involved." However, Mattel said it would not be doing away with the old rules altogether. It will continue to sell a board with the original rules.
Scrabble was invented in 1938 by American-born architect Alfred Butts. He later sold the rights and it was trademarked in 1948."
The "20 Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast. Today we feature Joy Fielding. Joy Fielding is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Charley's Web, Heartstopper, Mad River Road, See Jane Run and other acclaimed novels. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida. For more information on her newest novel, The Wild Zone, please visit her website www.joyfielding.com
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
"The Wild Zone": Three men make a bet as to which of them can be the first to seduce a mysterious young woman, with unforseen, and deadly, consequences.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
It took approximately one year - from the time I first got the idea till it was completed - to write. About 4 to 6 months of actual writing. This is true of all my books.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My favourite place to write is in my office, which is a room in my downtown condominium. The room is beautiful, the view spectacular. (4-20 continued)
Michael Lewis's new book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine chronicles the 2008 financial collapse through the investors who realized what was happening to the U.S. economy — while it was happening — and then made a fortune by betting against the markets. If you compare The Big Short to his first book Liar's Poker, you could say that Liar's Poker was the bond market bomb that destroyed the Wall Street investment firm Saloman Brothers, while The Big Short, using Stanley Kubric's Strangelove reference, explodes the sub-prime nuclear device that sent up a mushroom cloud over our economy and toxic spores around the world. Several of Michael's books have been made into feature films. "Blind Side," the football flick just won Sandra Bullock an Academy Award, (Purchase DVD) and Brad Pitt is currently in production with Michael's baseball story Money Ball. But make that strike two: Pitt swings his bat for a second time, having just bought the rights to adapt The Big Short along with his buddies at Paramount. Why are Michael Lewis's books such hot properties? He writes smart, perceptive stories that capture the personalities behind the phenomenon, and he does it with clarity, heart and humor. I highly recommend you take the next 40 minutes and listen to Terry Gross at NPR interview Michael Lewis. His cast of real characters include a former neurosurgery resident with Asberger's Syndrome who starts a hedge fund, quits medicine and makes a fortune betting against the system. Then there is Ledley and Mai, two guys in their early 30s who also start their own hedge fund starting with ~ $100,000 and quickly turn it into $15 million by betting on financial events that are extremely unlikely to occur — and therefore didn't cost much to bet against. "This is a story of human perception - people see what they want to see," says Lewis. Read an excerpt of The Big Short, Chapter One inside...
The "20 Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast. Today we feature Andrew Kaufman. Check back for upcoming authors: Joy Fielding, Drew Hayden Taylor, and John Boyne.
ANDREW KAUFMAN's critically acclaimed first book, All My Friends Are Superheroes, was a cult hit and has been translated into six languages. Kaufman is also an accomplished screenwriter and has completed a Director's Residency at the Canadian Film Centre. He lives in Toronto with his wife and their two children. His newest novel is The Waterproof Bible.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
A woman who projects her emotions, a man who meets a woman claiming to be God, and a mermaid driving a stolen Honda Civic are forced to ask themselves which is more important – faith or fact.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
It was a little under seven years. Or, more concretely, when I started I was single and renting a one-bedroom apartment and now I'm married with two kids and a mortgage.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
Beside the stereo.
Each year the Whistler Writers Group offers a Writer in Residence Program for the full month of September. Twenty successful applicants who have submitted a writing sample and paid the modest $250 fee have the opportunity to attend both the group sessions and four one-on-one mentoring sessions with an established writer. The guest author gets to stay at Station House, a converted building that is owned and operated by the Resort Municipality, which is located in an idyllic, quiet location on the opposite side of Alta Lake across from the Whistler village, the ski hills and the hubbub of busy tourist activities. The fee does not include accommodation, but that's the fun part. Whistler has everything from five-star hotels like the Four Seasons to quaint Bavarian style B&B's, or if you are really on a budget, perhaps you can score one of the 101 rooms at the new 2010 Olympic Athlete Village Youth Hostel? Distractions from your homework include world class golf (3 courses in as many miles), hiking (take the new Peak 2 Peak tram and cover two mountains in one day), mountain biking (boasting the world's largest network of trails and the world's largest non profit rider's association to take you there), and then there's the village patio dining and bistro experiences and plenty of shopping. You'd better pack a whack of outdoor gear in addition to your laptop and that sharp pencil! The Whistler writers group, called Vicious Circle was launched in 2001 by Stella Harvey. It has a core of committed members who help with the organizing and creative spirit. They meet regularly throughout the year to critique each other's writing - so they can't be all that vicious. Check out their just-released video of the writer in residence program posted on the group website. www.viciouscircle.ca It's the work of Rebecca Wood Barrett and Duane Hepditch. Past writer in residence authors include: 2009 Wayne Grady and Merylin Simons; 2008 Jane Dorsey; 2007 Paulette Bourgeois. The 2010 author has not yet been announced, but counting from March to September gives you six months to work on your writing, and polish a short piece consisting of 20 double spaced pages for the submission deadline. Then plan to drop everything and come hang-out in Whistler this September. Contact Stella Harvey: firstname.lastname@example.org. PHOTO: Alta Lake Rope Swing
Jim Crace is the author of, among other books, Being Dead a novel about a middle-aged couple who sneak away for a beach picnic and spontaneous tryst among the sand dunes, who are subsequently accosted and bludgeoned (sounds gory and off-putting but it's fascinating). The reader experiences the victims' agonal death in a rather David Lynch, "Twin Peaks" hyper-real perspective from inside one of the victim's brains while the bodies become an entomology lesson in the art of decay. Coincidentally, I'd just read Being Dead when I attended a reading by Michael Cunningham at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. Cunningham admitted that he'd just read Being Dead and loved Jim Crace. I'm not calling to order a meeting of the Jim Crace admiration society, rather I am calling to your attention to the fact that a decade, yes a DECADE people, has elapsed since Jim Crace began writing his deliciously satirical literary review column for The Guardian entitled "Digested Read." It is an absolute scream. As Crace says, "The primary goal is to entertain – something the book itself has often failed to do – but it's also intended as a (semi) serious critique, for much of the fun is derived from clunky plot devices that don't work, pretentious stylistic tics, risible dialogue and an absence of big ideas. Literary criticism does not have to be dull to be serious." It's based on the premise that many books are reviewed glowingly and inadequately by people who either (gasp) haven't read the book, or worse, didn't really "get it." Jim pokes fun at the books and writers he has "digested" and regurgitates a delightful masticated blurb that will have you ruminating like a bovine on E. So celebrate a decade of critique with me by plowing through Crace's column and see how it effects your views on some of the books you've likely read and authors you likely admire. Crace says, "Satire when it's accurate isn't cruel." I for one will never look at Martin Amos or his books the same again.
BookBuffet partners with Random House Canada to offer you a writerly glimpse into the lives of authors. First up, is Beth Powning. Check back for upcoming authors: Joy Fielding, Drew Hayden Taylor, and John Boyne.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence? The Sea Captain's Wife takes the reader around the world on a square-rigged sailing ship in the 1860's with a young woman and her captain husband; beneath the dramatic and fast-paced events of the adventure are the small, painful, and subtle moments that constitute a marriage.
2. How long did it take you to write this book? Three years.
3. Where is your favorite place to write? In my studio, which is a big room over the kitchen in our 1870's farmhouse. The room has tiny, low doors that even I have to duck to go through. There’s a skylight and narrow east-facing windows overlooking my vegetable gardens, forests and pastures. Questions 4-10... Continued below.
The Golden Globes are always a pre-curser to the Academy Awards (The Oscars) and this year awards went to some actors whose careers have well deserved recognition in the past and who receive it now, as well as the expected sweep of AVATAR. Kudos to James Cameron who once again breaks box office records by making over $1 Billion USD in the fastest time from opening date. (If you're interested in the animation, get this excellent book, The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure) BookBuffet was particularly pleased to see Vieneese actor, Christopher Waltz win Best Supporting Actor for "Inglorious Bastards", and also Mo'Nique, Best Supporting Actor in "Precious". Check out the list of winners and nominated to see which films and their adapted books you want to start plowing through before Oscars March 7th, as you may have heard that the Academy of Motion Pictures announced back in June '09 that the Best Picture award will list 10 not 5 movies in the running. In the 30's and 40's The Academy used to feature 8-10 nominees, so this is not a completely new concept. One assumes it's a bid to increase theatre attendance across the spectrum of films before the award ceremony, and I have to agree, when an average of 400 films are released each year it seems reasonable to allow 10 to shine in the annual spotlight. Read on for the Golden Globe list of nominees and winners with links to books, trailers and trivia.
She was the secretary of a spice company doing business in the office where Anne Frank, her sister, parents and two others stowed away in the attic in Amsterdam. She brought food and clothing to the family, as well as books and newspapers. The hide-aways were discovered late 1944 (the informer has never been uncovered) and Anne was taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany where she died of typhus March 1945, just two weeks before the American liberation of the facility. Anne's diary was found by Miep Gies. She kept it and gave the diary to Anne's father Otto, the only survivor. He then published his daughter's diary in 1947. It has since been translated into 65 languages and read by millions of children and adults. The Diary of Anne Frank Miep worked to promote the diary and to ensure that its legitimacy was not destroyed by Holocost-deniers who alleged it was a forgery. Until her 99th birthday when she suffered a small stroke - she continued to answer hundreds of letters from the public.
At the ripe young age of 45 John Wood was a Microsoft director in charge of business development for greater China. He had a grueling schedule. One year he decided to take a break and do a trek in Nepal. That trip changed his life. Appalled by the lack of education opportunities, where children were being sold by their parents into bonded labor in neighboring countries instead of growing up in their own communities getting an education, he began bringing books back to Nepal. Hauling them to remote mountain locations by yak, by donkey, by whatever means he could, he was able to provide the people living there with no schools or libraries a chance to learn to read. He formed a charity called Books for Nepal. It's a similar story told in the popular title, Three Cups of Tea, but in this case John Wood has transformed his vision into a multi-country organization called ROOM TO READ that operates in 8 countries with an astounding record: ROOM TO READ has built more than 750 schools, established 7,000 libraries containing five million books, and funded nearly 7,000 long-term scholarships for girls. They publish books in the language of the countries they operate in - often authored and illustrated by local people using local stories told within the culture, that have often never been published before. This is a meaningful enterprise with a stunning track record. BookBuffet has become a corporate sponsor and we invite you to invite your book group to "adopt a student" for one year. It only costs $250 to provide all the books, uniforms, and tuition for one student to attend a Room to Read school for one year. We are challenging 50 of our book group members to join. Help transform the lives of others, and take inpride your own book group's impact on literacy around the globe.
Buy any of these technology gifts for people on your holiday shopping list and feel the ho-ho-ho; it's one-stop shopping for you and techno-bliss for them. We at BookBuffet either have or want to own one of each. Last year we bought the digital camera for our kids, our sibs and the G-parents, and smiles abounded from ear to ear. This year we're updating everyone with a new iphone and arming them with a Kindle. Canada has just gained access to the Kindle; the USA tested all the first generation models and the rest of us get to reap the benefits. What is there not to like about the Kindle? It makes sense environmentally and you can't beat it for convenience; transport hundreds of books with you, download new digital versions in minutes over 3G at a fraction of the regular book price. The killer item on this list is the tiny (fits in the palm of my hand) digital projector. It attaches to your iPod or iPhone and projects a 4 foot wide image on any white surface. Add a set of portable speakers and your next mobile presentation will impress even the board. Order all of these items in bulk from BookBuffet using the handy direct links. Tell them to giftwrap, write a custom note card, capitalize on the free delivery, et voila - Holiday Shopping completed. Now you can enjoy the parties, actually plan to ski or hit the beach before the Xmas rush, and relax throughout December. Peace, good will and happy holidays from all of us at BookBuffet!
Warning: gratuitous naked hockey player photo explained later; do NOT let your imaginations run to Bruno-like movie segments. Oh those book-wormy Canucks... Even in winter, or perhaps because of the long winters, there is a new literary related news item every week. What am I talking about? Let's take them sequentially. First, the November prizes: the Scotia Bank Giller Prize and its competitor the Governor General (aka the GG) award ceremonies. In Canada it does not suffice to wait-n-see who wins either of these awards. If you are worth your salty Canadian back bacon you are expected to have read several titles on both short lists and have an opinion on each. Phew! Then on December first, the Globe and Mail newspaper comes out with its Globe 100, staff picks for the best books of 2009, a list that features both national writers and an excellent sampling of the best books from the two other culture connections, the USA and the UK. You barely scrape through the list, reading the short summaries provided on each and circling titles targeted as gifts for holiday shopping, when the CBC Canada Reads group announces the list of 5 novelists and 5 celebrity defenders who will compete in media debates to win the public's vote for the top spot as the 2010 Canada Reads title - meant to be read by all Canadians. It's pure gladiator stuff. I liken the pairing of authors with celebs to a hockey team that has their buff defenseman shouldering opponents into the boards when they skate close to the team's goal scoring forward. Someone once complained to me that men in Canada are turning into hermaphroditic frogs (capable only of asexual reproduction) because of the strong feminist culture, and I had to counter with a hockey reference: "Where else do men willingly give up their front teeth for a sport and have the courage to wear a hairstyle known as the mullet?" Now refocus your attention from, ahem hockey, to books. Here is BookBuffet's hot pick list gleaned from all-of-the-above book lists (and a few more) in 6 easy categories for your holiday shopping pleasure. "A book is a gift you can open again and again." –Garrison Keillor
In 2004 the employees of the Jonquiere Walmart store located 470 kilometers (290 miles) north of Montreal successfully organized and joined the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW. Walmart famously does not allow its employees to unionize. Like other locations before this in the US, Walmart closed the store the minute union activity was initiated. In 2005 the workers sued Walmart and won their case on the grounds that closing the store violated their freedom of association rights guaranteed by Canada’s constitution. They were the first store North America-wide that had successfully won their case against the mega retailer. But Walmart fought back with a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, who in examining the case overturned the ruling 6-3, saying that Walmart proved its reasons for closing the store were valid. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce sided with Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, arguing that businesses ought to retain the freedom to make operating decisions. President Ken Georgetti of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLL) says this effectively hamstrings 100 workers at more than 300 stores across Canada. One can imagine Walmart in his crosshairs today, and it will be interesting to see what happens elsewhere in Canada. I first became aware of the pros and cons of the Walmart giant in a book Nelson Lichtenstien wrote titled, The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works-and How It's Transforming the American Economy that detailed the employee practices as well as the no-inventory policy which forces suppliers into just in time deadlines to meet Walmart's high-volume, low profit customer expectations. If you want to understand how founder Sam Walton's store became the largest retailer chain in America, and how his Christian-values successor, Soderquist made it onto the top Fortune 500 companies with revenues in excess of $200 billion, then read The Wal-Mart Way: The Inside Story of the Success of the World's Largest Company (240 pgs, 2nd edition, Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2005) -Photo Credit: MindyourMind.ca
Whether you are a whiz at math or not, there remains a universal fascination with how applied math principals help us understand the world around us. I've just discovered of a cool new website where you can get an answer to any math or physics question you want. Despite today's access to unlimited resources on the web, nothing beats this conversation style site that makes you feel like you've reconnected to that brilliant prof you had in your 20s and can only now appreciate in your 40s. Check out askamathmatician.com Questions range from trivial to philosophic: How can we prove that 2+2 always equals 4? What is the best way to understand relativity theory? Why is it so counter intuitive? Is teleportation possible? What is monotony? What is the connection between quantum physics and consciousness? Why does math work so well at modeling the world around us? In answer to the last question, one of the things that resounded with me was that mathematics "was primarily created for practical purposes... addition is used to count possessions, multiplication for trade, and geometry to measure plots of land (or some similar purposes). Mathematicians and scientists use math to model the world by constructing mathematical objects that capture important properties of physical things. Hence, it isn’t as though math just happens to work well for analyzing the world we live in, rather, it was specifically designed for that purpose. e.g. if I have two objects in one group and I combine them with three objects in another group, then my new group has five objects, which is mimicked by 2+3=5." I used this website as a jumping off point to discover other cool sites and books. Check out these math tatoos, how to books on overcoming your math phobia, learn about the Berkeley math circles that are inspiring our youth to gain a fascination with math, and other books with insights into some of the brilliant math minds of the century.
The popularity of the short story genre has waxed and waned but it seems to be on a comeback. I had my suspicions about why this might be true but decided to read up on the matter while preparing for a public discussion of Alice Munro's new short story collection, "Too Much Happiness." It emerges that more novelists are turning to the short story to express themselves. There's even a new business venture coming out of NYC called Electric Literature that has people like Michael Cunningham, author of "The Hours" at the helm promoting short stories through eco-friendly electronic transmission modes. Learn about the roots of short story, how it evolved to the present form, exactly what that is, and which prominent authors use it with an example by each that you can click to purchase. Why is it popular now you ask? From the writer's perspective a novel that consists of between 100,000-250,000 words can take between 3-5 years of your life to complete. Now consider the modern reader's short attention span: (I am forever hearing from JQ Public about the lack of time to read.) We get our news in sound bites, do our social networking in 140 character tweets or through terse Facebook posts, and even text our voice messages via cell phone in preference to direct P2P conversations. The short story's time has come! We can download them onto our iphones and entertain ourselves with a complete one-sitting story during the nanosecond of free time left to us day or night. (photo credit: LA Times Blog)
Better than the Oscars, this week is when my favorite literary prizes are awarded. First the Mann Booker (reported here), and now the Nobel Prize for Literature. This year's Nobel goes to a rather obscure German-Romanian writer, Herta Mueller. Born in Romania in 1952 the author fled her country due to the persecution and oppression she experienced after her first novel was published, under heavy censorship by the Communist government. A non-censored version was smuggled to West Germany where it received acclaim. Her writing centers on the injustices and politics of (old Communist) Romania with a strong prose style that is "lively, poetic, and corrosive". Mueller takes home a prize of $1.4million - a sum difficult to snort at. One imagines it offers economic freedom to writers enabling them to continue their craft - so with the Wrigleys gum advertisement in mind - that's two freedoms in one. What does this say about the Nobel Prize jury, who have been criticized for judging a writer's politics as much as their prose? Nobel wrote in his will that the prize should go to a person with "a lofty and sound idealism". It is the 20th Anniversary of the fall of Communism. Previous winners have been notable for their focus on revealing the injustices within their country and within their society. Herta is only the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She is in good company along with Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and another German language writer, Austrian Elfriede Jelinek. The Nobel Prize has been awarded since 1901, 101 times; it was not awarded in 7 years when the funds were instead applied to the trust.
Hilary Mantel is tonight, Tuesday 6 October, named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for Wolf Hall: A Novel, (Fourth Estate, 650 Pg) It is the story of Thomas Cromwell, a man who rose from humble beginnings as a blacksmith's son to become the 1st Earl of Essex and the chief advisor, fixer, and administrator to King Henry VIII during his reign, 1532-1540.
Says Mantel when asked what she likes about the Tudor period, "It has sex, melodrama, betrayal, seduction and violent death - what more could you want?" In interviews Hilary has said that it took her 5 years to write the book. She does not claim to be a historian, but she does careful research into the man and the times and this time she decided to choose an intimate point of view for the story, one that has captivated both her readers and the jury. Says Mantel, "I don't write historic fiction, rather I write contemporary fiction about people in history." Says a blogger, "It's a study of a politician: flawed, and prepared to do things which are questionable, even immoral, to get the result he wants. At the same time his humanity is an important part of the picture, and that's why we see him so much with his family. She even manages to make that old monster Henry VIII understandable, if not sympathetic." Learn more about the author, download excerpts to your phone and access links to author readings from the shortlist.
A recent article from the BBC News reported that the South African 800m world champion runner, Caster Semenya has tested positive to male genetics. This not only leaves her stigmatized with the ambiguous sex label, she could be banned from competition with women. In the face of this exposure, she withdrew from a scheduled race today. Media has sided on the outrage of a disclosure that should carry rights to the patient-doctor confidentiality agreement. The knowledge brings unimaginable psychological repercussions for Caster, because she has been raised female her entire life. While this very public medical debate takes place within the media and the IAAF, it reminds me of a collection of writers who tackled the topic by giving their characters intersex qualities and describing a scenario about its effect in their lives. Not only is it fascinating to learn what science currently understands, it is interesting to see how society handled sexual identity as reflected in literature at various periods of history. Learn about the four “types of sex” that current experts use to classify us, and discover (please help us add to the list) the novels, plays and poems that deal with intersex.
With so many options available, BookBuffet asks the question, "Where do you buy your reading material these days?" Our site has a Browse Books icon at the top R corner of our home page banner that is linked to Amazon.com, .ca, and .uk. for purchases. I ask this question because I just finished speaking with two friends who told me they use Amazon exclusively to purchase "thousands of dollars worth of books and DVD's each year," and I responded, "OMG, why not buy them through BookBuffet?" They answered, "Oh, you mean I can do that and you'll get, like, a commission or something?" "YES!" was my whole hearty reply. "It's not much but every little bit helps!" I went on to explain, "The reason we use Amazon is because they've got the biggest selection of books when we did our online retailer comparison. AND the best digital support and user features that compliment our work in directing readers to good books. The more you buy, the more we benefit. When you purchase a few books at a time, the shipping is FREE. Beats driving to the local store where you may discover they do not carry what you came for, and you'll have to place an order and return a second time. As well, when you shop Amazon you can shop -the world- in the markets where books first become available. I just bought
We've all done it. Downloaded an in theatres only movie from the net before the Oscars; nabbed a file from one of the Napster-type music sites; used a picture off of Flikr for our own web article. But now that there are so many sites offering easy, cheap pay options for copyrighted material, this should be happening less and less - right?! What happens when you take a famous image and photoshop it into something new, or parody someone on your blog? Get the latest on this issue when the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in partnership with the UBC School of Journalism and Tyee Magazine host renowned copyright and internet law expert Dr. Michael Geist. The talk is in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia's "Wise Hall" on October 1, 2009. Dr. Geist is Canada's leading technology law expert and the guru of the Canadian movement to prevent copyright restrictions from infringing on key free speech principles including parody, artistic use, fair use, and device transferability.
A national innovator in using Web 2.0 tools like blogs and Facebook for campaigns for law reform and policy change, Dr. Geist's advocacy, in partnership with Cory Doctorow, resulted in more than 30,000 people joining a Facebook group opposing proposed Canadian copyright law changes and ended in the tabling of the proposed changes by then Industry Minister Jim Prentice.
The time of the lecture and Dr. Geist's topic will be announced by the BCCLA. Check out their website www.bccla.org for details! Here is the run down on Bill C-61, the proposed changes to Canada's copyright law.
There is perhaps no other person more renowned for the development of the electric guitar and advances to sound recording in the twentieth century than inventor and jazz musician, Les Paul. He died from complications of pneumonia today, surrounded by family and friends in White Plains Hospital, New York. Remarkably as late as last year, Les Paul age 93, played two sets every Monday night at a club in NYC. He was the inventor of mulit-track recording and the hard body electric guitar. The latter was first in commercial production by the Fender Guitar Company in a model called the Stratocaster. The following year, 1950 Fender's competitor the Gibson Guitar Company brought Les Paul on board to create their own solid body electric guitar bearing his name. Ironically, they had earlier turned him down when he first presented his design, named "the log" made with a 4 x 4 solid piece of wood, a bridge and strings mounted on top — back in 1941. A little know fact is that a near fatal car accident shattered Les Paul's left arm and elbow such that doctors said they could only repair it to a fixed position, and asked what he preferred. He told them to fix it in a 90 degree angle, and this disability is said to have contributed to the early design elements of the Les Paul guitar. Today the Gibson Les Paul is the widest used electric guitar in the industry. Paul McCartney used a "cherry burst left handed" Les Paul, Neil Young favoured his "Old Black" as did other guitar legends: Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. An award winning musician, Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford recorded dozens of pop hits that went gold. Tunes like, "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," "Nola" and "Lover." In February 2006 at the age of 90 he won two grammies for his album, American Made World Played and his wonderful comment was, "I feel like an old building with a new flag pole on it." Join us in listening to and learning about Mr. Les Paul. Following is list of book and CD recommendations. Watch this YouTube video of Les ripping it up.
We are considering keeping bees at the farm. It’s a passion I was first exposed to through literature: The Secret Life of Bees and Bee Season, with advice from the experienced beekeeper a few miles down the road. We’re currently planting a small orchard above our existing vegetable patch, and I envision a field of lavender (like the one pictured here) next to produce lavender scented honey. Bee keeping isn’t just a country thing – they’re keeping bees on the tops of skyscrapers in Manhattan, and even producing a variety of honey from them sold on Bleeker Street!
&lMaybe it's because I'm here at the farm and looking into windmill technology to harness this ample daily resource so I can pump water into our fields—because this TED story, the one that's creating such a buzz, has also caught my attention. TEDGlobal 2009 is meeting in Oxford in the UK right now. You can get all the updates on their Twitter page. The speaker who has blown everyone away (literally speaking) is William Kamkwamba from Malawai. Back at TEDGlobal 2007, he was a shy young man who'd built his family a windmill from scrap in order pump water from the ground to save his family from starvation. His story captured the world's attention. Today he walked onstage with confidence to tell his story from that point to this. It's all captured in his book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope Join me, as I compare the topic of his book with my own research, on our own farm, into wind technology here in North America. It's an interesting study in contrast and comparison.
Photo: William Kamkwamba at TEDGlobal 2009, Session 7: "Radical development," July 23, 2009, in Oxford, UK. Credit: TED / James Duncan Davidson
OK, you've figured out I'm at the farm and so all of my metaphors today are going to reflect that. I am curious to know what escapes you have planned for the summer? Do you make a ritual foray up to the cottage on the lake? Do you take a driving tour of the local wineries in your region? Do you hop the big pond and immerse in the cultural offerings of Europe? Or, like me, do you turn off the Internet, your cell phone and all forms of communication and just hang out? My days at the farm are jam-packed. It's up with the birds at 4:30 am (yee gad) and after morning coffee, 3 hours of weeding the farmhouse garden patch, peeling a few logs for the bedsteads we're building for guests, I'm painting the new purple martin birdhouse to convince the swallows to relocate out from under the eves, take a drive in the tractor over the front 80... and of course, when the day heats up and my outside hammock under the cottonwood calls, I relax with a good book and perhaps a tall G&T. Isn't this what the lazy days of summer are all about? It's our chance to put away obligatory professional reading matter and the newspapers that draw us into world events, and instead allow ourselves to be transported to a fictional world, followed of course with the nonfiction title we've been saving for unfettered nights. Here's what's stacked in the shade next to my hammock...
"Is there no end to Twittermania? Last week we saw the social networking tool Twitter deployed on the streets of Tehran. This week, moving seamlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous, it is being used to aid the digestion of the world's greatest literature." So writes Guardian correspondent Ed Pikington in New York. BookBuffet is delighted that our favorite (professional) social networking site is putting its technology to good use.
"Fans of the classics will either be delighted or appalled to learn that the New York-branch of Penguin books has commissioned a new volume that will put great works through the Twitter mangle. The volume has a working title that will make the nerve ends of purists jangle: Twitterature."
In it, the authors will squish the jewels of world literature - they mention Dante, Shakespeare, Stendhal, Joyce and JK Rowling - into 20 tweets or less - that is 20 sentences each with fewer than 140 characters.
The book is the brainchild of two 19-year-old first-year students at the University of Chicago who claim to be starting a cultural revolution from their college dormitory. Bashing their heads together one evening in their university digs, Emmett Rensin and Alex Aciman asked themselves what defined the grandest ventures of their generation, and best expressed the souls of 21st century Americans?
Pretentious, maybe. Precocious, certainly. The answer they came up with was double-headed. They identified high literature as a crucial pillar for any generation.
It is becoming increasingly hard to convince young women that feminism is relevant today. What short memories we have. Only 2 generations ago, women couldn’t vote (for women of color and native women, that right came much later) and had few rights even within the home , expected to “cater to [their] husband’s personal comfort,” “never complain” and “know [their] place.” (See Goodhousekeeping, May 19955) Our mothers’ generation was the first to “have it all” meaning they were “allowed” to have careers and families, but I’m sure any one of them will tell you being a “supermom” wasn’t a walk in the park, nor were they perceived or paid as equals for the most part. It was only a few weeks ago, after all, that Barack Obama signed the Equal Pay bill. That means that 4 months ago it was legally OK to pay a woman less based solely on her gender.
We still get called—and worse, call each other—sluts and whores. We still think certain women deserve respect, and others (prostitutes, transgender women) do not. Shockingly, 1 in 7 think it’s acceptable to hit a woman if she is “nagging or constantly annoying,” and is responsible for inviting sexual harassment if wearing provocative clothing. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5875108.ece A disturbing majority of teenage girls thought pop-singer Rhianna must have “made [boyfriend Chris Brown] really mad” for him to have beat her unconscious. Clearly, we have a ways to go.
I came upon an amazing sculpture by contemporary Spanish artist, Alicia Martin who uses books as the raw material for her works. If you love books as much as we do, you will delight in her installations. The curator at Galleria Galica who represents the artist says, "Symbols of culture, of memory and of communication, the books in her works end up being at times restless, at others ironic, poetic or even aggressive, but always intent on forcing us to think about certain central issues of contemporary life: the instability of knowledge, the fragility of memory and the need for it, the information Babel of the mass media, the difficult relationship between cultures. No longer shut away in libraries or reduced to a furnishing accessory, the books/work of this artist turn into a shapeless incumbent concretion that tenaciously clings to the walls of the gallery and seems to elude the laws of gravity.
Never repetitive, the works of Alicia Martín manage to turn books into animated objects, full of symbolisms that act as powerful but ungraspable echoes." The sculpture pictured here required 5,000 books. Watch the YouTube video as the location is stunning and the books seem to come alive as pages rustle in the breeze, and almost speak to the circling observers.—Cordoba, Spain
Canadian short-story specialist, Alice Munro has today won the biannuel Man Booker International Prize, worth £60,000. It is awarded once every two years to a living author for a body of work that has contributed to an achievement in fiction on the world stage. This is only the third time the award has been named. Ismail Kadaré won in 2005 and Chinua Achebe won in 2007. Munro's next collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness, (Douglas Gibson, McClelland & Stewart) will be published in October 2009. The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2009 is: Jane Smiley, writer; Amit Chaudhuri, writer, academic and musician; and writer, film script writer and essayist, Andrey Kurkov. The panel made the following comment on the winner: "Alice Munro is mostly known as a short story writer and yet she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels. To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before." Wikipedia says, "Munro's work is often compared with the great short story writers. For example, the American writer Cynthia Ozick called Munro 'our Chekhov.' In Munro stories, as in Chekov's, plot is secondary and 'little happens.' As with Chekov, Garan Holcombe notes: 'All is based on the epiphanic moment, the sudden enlightenment, the concise, subtle, revelatory detail.' Munro's work deals with "love and work, and the failings of both. She shares Chekov’s obsession with time and our much-lamented inability to delay or prevent its relentless movement forward."
BREAKING WORLD NEWS… The promised US presidential pooch has been picked, US media reports say. The soon-to-be "First Puppy" is a six-month-old black and white Portuguese water dog that Mr. Obama's daughters have named Bo, The Washington Post reports. Churchill had Rufus, the Queen of England has her corgis, now America has Bo.
Why are we so in love with our dogs? What do we find so fascinating about something that slobbers, eats us out of house and home and requires us to pick up after it? And what encourages us to write about them?
Ever since my boyfriend and I got our puppy, our lives have not been the same. Before getting our little pup we borrowed books out of the library, watched training DVD’s, browsed You Tube videos and, of course, had the Dog Whisperer playing incessantly. We would discuss with each other the commands we were going to use, the techniques we would implement and we nearly blew a month's wages at Pet Smart. Now she's a fully fledged member of the family, if a bit of a hairy addition, and I can’t imagine my life without her. Like most dog owners I have a few stories to tell ranging from the funny to the cringe worthy. Most of the time whilst recounting these tales the audience either nods in agreement or cries with laughter. I recently reviewed a book called Queen of the Road
by Doreen Orion (Broadway, 2008), which is the real life story of a couple traveling the states of America with their two cats and dog in tow, which also reminded me of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.
"A dog, particularly an exotic like Charley, is a bond between strangers. Many conversations en route began with 'What degree of dog is that?'" Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (Penguin: 2002).
In both accounts the dog plays a huge role in story, they are the companion, the friend, and often an ice-breaker in the most awkward situations.
Isn't it nice that the USA has a President who openly admits to reading? And isn't it nice that his choice of books matters to the reading public. That is the conclusion that the publisher of Vintage/Anchor Books announced Monday when they tallied—the Obama effect—on a book they released last June as compared to sales this Thursday May 7th. There has been double-digit increase in sales since Obama revealed he was reading Joseph O'Neill's novel, Netherland (a highly praised novel about cricket, marriage and living in a post 9/11 world.) It all came about in a New York Times interview (article is free when you register) written by David Leonhardt, who spent 50 minutes in a one-on-one conversation with Obama. The whole article is worth reading because it encapsulates Obama's daily agenda since taking office, and it is both candid and intimate. When the president disclosed how much he was enjoying the book, sales hit the roof.
Learn more about the plot, the author (a dashing barrister-cricket player) and the celebrity effect on book sales historically. Then click to purchase this book as you'll be seeing the cover frequently in hands of your fellow commuters on the buses, subways and airplanes. It is sure to be a popular book group pick, and the topic of discussion around the office water cooler. Below is a synopsis of the book, a copy of the transcript posted on Amazon with the author and a bit of biographical background—your primer for many conversations to come! Hurry, the first printing was only 70,000 copies.
The London Book Fair takes place each spring for three glorious days offering over 100 seminars and events for over 3,000 industry professionals. It is the global marketplace for rights negotiations and the sale and distribution of content across print, TV, film and digital channels. The LBF closed today to reports of moderate attendance, compared with years past, due to the recession and publishing house cutbacks, but the people who came, did so "with a mind to doing business" was the conclusion. Checking out the big book deals in London this year, one of the biggest involved the Swedish thriller, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler - a pseudonym, according to rumours at Earls Court, for Henning Mankell. The title, which has yet to sell in the US, was at the center of a heated auction in the UK involving some of the country's leading crime publishers. Also, the British literary agency David Godwin Associates Ltd. has sold Tiger Hills, a novel by Sarita Mandanna, to Penguin India for the largest advance the house has ever paid for a debut. Sophie Hoult of DGA did not give an exact amount but said the deal was for seven figures. Hoult called Tiger Hills “a sweeping popular novel set in India between 1878 and the second World War” and classified it as “an Indian Thorn Birds crossed with Gone with the Wind.” Mandanna is a banker in New York. HarperCollins signed Prince Charles for two books, the first about stewardship. The Free Press and Holt both ink debut authors to six-figure deals. Umberto Eco flew to London specifically to present the sixth annual LBF Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing to his old friend Drenka Willen, senior editor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Just over half of publishers surveyed at the London Book Fair have put plans in place to sell books in any digital form. The British are at least three years behind Americans in adapting e-books; and American readers are much more interested in romance, while more British readers skew toward literary fiction.
Good grammar, just like good writing, is a lifelong pursuit. You can never give up! I continue to challenge myself with the intricacies of grammar and style, not merely for my own sake, (I confess to being a very late bloomer at this topic) but more particularly as the last-resort editor of this website with a responsibility for checking our contributors' writing. For reference sources I have three different books on grammar and style and two dictionaries. I often take one or another of these with me to bed—egad, I can't believe I just admitted that. But a reference book sitting on the shelf or at your bedside is of no use when most of your writing is done on your laptop or at your office computer. Hence, you can imagine my excitement in striking the motherload with the discovery of an excellent online grammar site that I now keep bookmarked at the #1 spot on my browser tool bar, (ahem, the aforementioned G spot). It's not Grammar Girl, the mainstream site for lightweight questions. It's not the pay site of The Chicago Manuel of Style, as I'm too cheap to pay when I own the book. It is a non-profit foundation out of Hartford Connecticut with a FREE site called, Guide to Grammar and Writing. More...
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the story of a family from the Dominican Republic living in Brooklyn. It is a story about immigration and immigrants, integration and alienation, family and dictatorships—and how one thing doesn’t necessarily preclude the other.
Oscar is a dorky, obese virgin obsessed with science fiction and fantasy books. He has a difficult time making friends and an impossible time getting girlfriends. In fact most of his life in the US is a string of embarrassments and disappointments, and his life is more or less insignificant.
"Our hero was not one of those Dominican cats everybody's always going on about—he wasn't no home-run hitter or a fly bachatero, not a playboy with a million hots on his jock. And except for one period early in his life, dude never had much luck with the females (how very un-Dominican of him)."
His sister Lola is fiery and rebellious, much like her apparently maligned mother Hypatia was, we learn later, in her youth. Lola marries Oscar’s one-time college roommate Yunior, the books most frequent narrator, and the story is told through his and each of the other 4 characters’ eyes variously throughout the novel. Because it’s usually Yunior, the Dominican college frat boy/jock telling the story, the language is a patois of east coast hip-hop inspired 20-something slang and Dominican expressions—you might want to have a Spanish-English dictionary handy, because asking the Spanish guy next to you on the plane what “galletazo” means resulted in a lot of blushing and awkward laughter (“bitchslap”) for this reader.
"Awaken to darkness on this place we call Earth,
One vampire's bite brings another one's birth.
A vampire wakes with blood thirsty needs
On the warm rich sensation he feels when he feeds.
He stalks in the night like a disastrous beast,
And what once was alive will soon be deceased.
So when the last bit of sunlight disappears from the sky,
You better watch out unless you want to die."
What is our obsession with Vampires all about? They have been lurking in the depths of our human history for thousands of years, their popularity never diminishing; a myth that is perpetuated and reinvented throughout time with astonishing resilience. Is it the promise of eternal life that draws us in, or the sexy undertones of a stranger coming into your bedroom in the middle of the night…
A lovely essay in The Guardian (April 4 2009) caught my eye today, it was written by a person I did not previously know. The story is titled "The Missing Piece" and it is about how various people overcome their “black dogs,” (which could have been a direct Churchill quote, but whom she doesn’t reference). She does comment on various famous writers (Tennyson, Wharton, Henry James) who experienced periods of melancholia, and the methods they used to fight it: writing, walking. What I love about the piece is that she draws in personal anecdotes from her own family—her mother and other people’s mothers factor in there as ways not to handle melancholia, aging and the like. Read the piece and see what you think. The fact that I could think of at least 6 people to send the article to who are dealing with life issues and might take heart from an article that touches upon how not to give in, signifies to me that this is an important and inevitable part of the life process, and that from time to time we all need to be reminded that great people as well as the unwashed masses go through it. photo credit: National Portrait Gallery
Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades I pass Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Hummer. Well, he wasn’t the California governor at that specific point in time. He was just a movie celebrity slash retired body builder and husband to broadcaster Maria Shriver, on his way home from the studio. My kids were in the car and as we passed “the Terminator” casually smoking a stogy while driving in the slow lane, the site was just too much for them. Squiggling in their seat belts trying to attract his attention from the back of the car, Arnold sees that I am attempting to negotiate traffic and deal with their minor commotion. For one brief moment his eyes lock with mine across the lanes as I pull alongside him, and he breaks into his characteristic wide, broken-tooth grin and nods to me. Then he gives my kids "the terminator good-bye wave” the one that his character makes while sinking into the molten goo at the end of the titular movie, and my kids go wild and cheer and wave. I accelerate ahead into traffic. Read on to see where this leads to The Tesla and the current state-of-the-art in electric motor cars.
OK, I'll admit it. I have been boycotting Elizabeth Gilbert. You remember her. She’s the author whose book all your girlfriends were reading and raving about two years ago. Yes raving. Like Oprah's book picks, I was highly skeptical and quite frankly annoyed. I mean, she charged over $10,000 plus first class travel expenses to come speak to a community not far from where I live, and the topic wasn’t something really very earth-shattering. Side bar: the highest paid writer-speakers are presidential biographers. Apparantly they can command $25,000 USD per talk, which is more than most authors make in royalties for the entire print-run of their book. But back to Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Viking 2006). I surmised that her book too easily became a popular (make that run-away) success, and was defacto best suited to the masses. The jacket blurb described a woman in pre-midlife crisis moaning about her ex-husband, traipsing around and gorging herself in Italy (Diane Lane already did that in “Under the Tuscan Sun”) and then channelling the divine in some remote cliché location, where again, the Beatles have been-there done-that, then she magically falls storybook-style in-love before the conclusion. Does that breath "fluff" to you? People were saying, “It’s so easy to read, and it incorporates travel with history and spiritualism. Oh, and it’s funny too.”
Michael Tamblyn, CEO of BookNet Canada, describes 6 projects/changes/initiatives that could make things better for publishers, readers, and others with an interest in the future of the book. Watch the Video BookNet is the non-profit dedicated to innovation in the book industry supply chain. The talk was given at BNC's annual technology conference, which was attended by 225 industry people in Toronto. Overall the message from the conference was: use mobile devices to disseminate news and content; seek new distribution chains such as www.shortcovers.com to distributes e-books on a fast track (not currently possible via traditional publisher streams); support the bloggers and freelance journalists [we second that]; add Web 2.0 capabilities such as hyperlinks in text to the e-books to make them more than just an electronic version of a traditional print book. For a list of video casts from the conference access the TWITTER stream from BookNet Canada and look for the series of video cast presentations upcoming on YOUTUBE and then check out their new website www.biblioshare.org.
American International Group (AIG), the faltering insurance giant, paid out $165 million in bonuses from their government bail-out check. Obama was quick to respond. (Watch the video) and the attorney general Andrew M. Cuomo of New York says that because AIG has received federal bailout money, it has to consider what is best for taxpayers. He will subpeona evidence and use every measure within his power to stop the payments. AIG says its hands are tied. They say that they are contractually obligated to pay the bonuses to their executives, including those who are part of the AIG division where the company’s crisis originated.
A recent post on BookFinder.com talked about their sure-fire "Stimulous Package." I clicked the link and instead of finding advice on finance or the economy, I found a selection of books on... coffee! When it comes to book-selling clever marketing still rules the day. With editor Scott Laming's permission we've posted that list of books, but I also want to share what I've discovered about the site. BookFinder.com is a blog about reading, buying and selling books. They claim to offer prices that are between 50 and 81% off list price at most stores and online venues. You can sell books to them as well, which is very handy for students wanting to off load textbooks. If you're looking to please a coffee-loving friend with a gift, one or more of these books along with a pound of organic locally roasted coffee beans, perhaps a set of those cute expresso cups and saucers and you're definitely going high-test. Throw one of those new fangled latte machines and you may never need your discount card clipped at the local java hut again! Just place her number on speed-dial.
So are we! So as an experiment in social networking using the Facebook site, I posted an invite to my "friends list", an agreed distinguished but paultry list of 110 (gloat, all you people with over 400 friends) and to my surprise 67 of them joined the eponymous BookBuffet FB group. Of those, over 20 posted a note about what they're currently reading. It's a fascinating list both in its variety, and in what your friends have say about their on-the-go book(s). Lots of ideas!! Check it out. Regardless of whether you're a FB member, go to FB homepage and type "Bookbuffet" in the search field and our group will come up. Join and we'll post new results again here in a few weeks.
I've seen "collective novels" before, but this time uber-crime writer James Patterson will be kicking things off. Patterson will write the first and last chapters of AirBorne, a 30-chapter thriller that will be released one chapter at a time beginning next month. For all the chapters in between Borders and Random House held a contest to find 28 writers who could each create a fast-paced and thrilling chapter in less than 750 words. The contest closed just last month, and the judges are in the process of selecting the winners, each of whom will receive a copy of the finished book; one lucky author will also get a one-on-one master class by phone with Patterson himself. Once completed, AirBorne will be released one chapter at a time beginning on 20 March. Readers will be able to download each chapter electronically, but the final book will be published in print only for participants in the competition. Read on, as BookBuffet explores Patterson's career and his community works, as well as the ways he's using new media to market it all.
If you’re like me, you have whittled the morning rituals down such as to maximize sleep, allowing the absolute bare minimum time to shower, dress, and travel to work. If one step goes wrong; a late bus, an incognito set of keys, the entire operation is derailed and I am late. Thus the mornings are a time of great stress and panic. You can imagine, then, how delighted I was when I discovered the good people at Firefox have made an application for people like me, who can’t waste precious time by typing tedious URLs to read the morning news.
Enter “Morning Coffee,” the app that allows you to click a steaming cup of Joe icon (and hopefully I have the same in my hand at this point as well) and get all your usual websites pre-loaded into tabs in one window. For example, I usually read the NYTimes, BBC News, the Economist, the New Yorker and of course Bookbuffet every morning, so with the click of a button they are all there, awaiting my somnambular perusal. You can even customize your Morning Coffee by day, so if you like the Tuesday Science section of the Times, on Tuesdays your Morning Coffee will go directly to that page.
Enjoy! Morning people need not imbibe.
Perhaps a little less glamorous than a theft in the art world, book thievery hit the headlines this week in the U.K. with some rather stunningly expensive and intriguing robberies.
On average the BBC reports that shoplifters make off with around $750m worth of books a year, small change to these professionals. “Jacques is one of a handful of highly intelligent, well-educated criminals who operate in the somewhat murky world of international antiquarian book traders, collectors and curators. They successfully plunder priceless tomes, manuscripts and ancient maps, while the players in this closed world - the national and international libraries, the dealers and the victims themselves - largely remain silent about what is going on.” Photo:King George III's library collection encased in its glass temperature-controlled column at the center of the British Library, St Pancras
On February 22nd at 5 pm Pacific Time and 8 pm Eastern Time, the 81st Oscar Awards Ceremony will go off at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by the unlikely, Hugh Jackmon. Get a list of the nominees and download the voting ballot, then catch up on some of the history, hype and trivia with us here at BookBuffet. Of course our special interest (aside from the gowns and hairdo's) are the awards for screenwriting. There are two categories: Best Original and Best Adapted. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has been organizing the annual event since 1929.
Snow. When you live in a mountain community you see a variety of it. The temperatures that precipitation falls at along with the atmospheric conditions conspire to produce magical landscapes, or like this year in the Pacific Northwest, dangerous avalanche conditions. The natural progression from just living and playing in the snow is to explore the subject from the artistic and the scientist's perspective. Caltech physicist, Kenneth Libbrecht has published several books with images of snowflakes captured by a special photo-microscope that are exquisite. He says, "The most symmetrical crystals are usually found during light snowfalls, with little wind when the weather is especially cold." Libbrecht follows upon the tradition of scientific study of ice crystals that runs back to Johannes Kepler and includes René Descartes, Robert Hooke, the Vermont farmer Wilson Bentley (who recorded 5,000 different snowflakes) and the Japanese snow scientist Ukichiro Nakaya. Lastly, there are some works of literature whose main character is snow. Join us on the subject of snow.
Reads has announced its five picks for the countdown to the finalist. People are encouraged to plow through these books and make their vote for this year's Canada Reads selection. The five books are: The Book of Negroes, The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant, Mercy Among the Children, and The Outlander. We've listed a summary of the books and author bios with links to purchase and to vote. See which titles interest you, purchase and share your copy and your opinions with friends. Debate airs Mar 2-6.
In Lawrence Hill’s gripping historical novel, an unforgettable heroine recounts a life story that spans more than 50 years and three continents. As Aminata Diallo moves from slavery to freedom, she fights to keep her dignity and find a place she can call home. Defended by: Avi Lewis
You've popped the cork on the champagne to ring in the New Year, but does your 2009 resolution list include reading books and community interest? Last year we reported the alarming reading statistics from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with a view to alerting people to this negative trend. This year I want to focus on you, the BookBuffet user, who admittedly is already an avid or at least a regular reader, to broaden your reading appetites and engage publicly in the literary arts. Ask yourself, "Do I challenge my reading palette or do I stick to similar books by similar authors?" "Do I include a provocative book on politics, history, economics or science?" "Do I reach into the list of classic literature for the best writing so I can compare all the modern novels I read with authors whose works have stood the test of time?" And finally ask yourself, "What do I do that positively effects the reading habits of others: my family , my friends, my colleagues?" Take the test below and see where you stand.
This is the list of authors and books that won awards in 2008. I find that reading these titles (or other works by these authors) helps to mark time in a way that connects me to the literary Gestalt of countries around the world. See if any appeal to you.
With the holiday season upon us, and interest turning toward some easy cultural distractions why not treat yourself to one of these stunning movies at the local theatre? Go to the late matinee when there won't be a line up and tickets are a few bucks cheaper so you can splurge on a nice bottle of wine with your take-out on the way home. Here are my picks for some thought-provoking discussions over said take-out dinner.
Having trouble getting into the spirit of Christmas, or the more politically correct holiday spirit? Then get yee down to the nearest reading of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol and feel the "bah humbug" rattle right out of you. Ours happened at the local library with a bevy of readers lined up in their Sunday best to recite one of each of the five staves in their turn with all the flourish and sentiment they could muster. Interspersed were the voices of the children's choir singing carols and the crowd invited to join alternating songs using our best tenor voices held warbly-up to the too-high register of the children. Rather like church without the pews, we instead silently offered up our intentions to the snow god to bless our mountains so we could all get on with business-as-usual skiing and boarding in the winter wonderland. (This is Whistler, after all.) But more than anything, it is the comfort of the familiar words from the Dickens classic that thawed my icy exterior. Below are some of my favorite lines from the story, and a link to the full text online. Why not gather your family beside the fireplace amidst yuletide cheer and glogg, and do a reading together? (Full Text Online) Learn about BookBuffet's upcoming collaboration with WGBH Boston who is producing four Dickens productions for Masterpiece [Theatre] starting Feb 2009.
Each year I look forward to seeing which titles make it onto the NYT Top 100 List of Books in 2008. As a book reviewer I enjoy comparing notes on the books that passed my desk courtesy of the marketing departments of the publishers, and look forward to discovering the books we missed. It's interesting to tally which publishers have the strongest showing because it indicates to me the strength of their editorial departments. Publishers Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Knopf factor frequently this year. Check out these titles from the larger alphabetized 100 list. Any book club worth its salt would want to read them. There's something of interest everyone; supernatural call girls, paralyzed dissidents, Aussi surf noir characters, and whole insect colonies. —photo:The Times Skyscraper
Each weekend Luis Soriano gathers his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto and loads them with books that he takes to villages in nearby towns in Columbia. “I started out with 70 books, and now I have a collection of more than 4,800,” says Mr. Soriano, 36, a primary school teacher who lives in a small house here with his wife and three children, with books piled to the ceilings.His project has won acclaim from the nation’s literacy specialists and is the subject of a new documentary by a Colombian filmmaker, Carlos Rendón Zipaguata. This kind act has made Luis the best-known resident of La Gloria, a town that was the inspiration for the setting of the epic novel of Luis's more famous countryman Gabriel García Márquez, author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”
It's been said that every person has at least one novel in them. Here is your chance to find out. Whether you're an individual wanting to test the waters, or an educator bringing your whole class to the pool, for the month of November, you just have to log on to http://ywp.nanowrimo.org and follow directions. Don't let the name of this organization fool you; it's for adults as well as youth. The Young Writers Program of National Novel Writing Month is a fun, "seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing." Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write your novel by midnight, November 30. The philosophy is not to get hung-up on style or grammar. It's volume, baby, volume that counts. (Studies show that when you stop freaking about the former, you end up in a writing groove to which the all the other details can be fixed post-op.) The word-count goal for our adult program is 50,000 words. (That's 1600 wrd/day) The Young Writers Program allows participants who are 17 and younger to participate too. Set reasonable, yet challenging, word-count goals. What matters at NaNoWriMo is output. BookBuffet would like to take our class to the pool. On November 1st, email us here with your intent to participate. Nov 30th email us with a copy of the final manuscript that you submit to NANO. Our editorial team will tally the results from participants and offer our own recognition. Details on how to participate follow.
To any writer the Nobel Prize for Literature is the ultimate award of the year because it recognizes the merit of not just one book or novel, but the work of a lifetime; the author's literary legacy brought to the attention of the world and placed among distinguished peers of past and present. This year the prestigious award goes to Frenchman, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Jean-Marie has over 40 published works, 12 of which are translated to English. He is considered by some as one of France's greatest living writers and essayists. Here in North America we have a small Boston publisher to thank for his works. David Godine specializes in beautifully made books and hand selected literary properties and translations.Thank you David. (Read about DGB in next month's featured publisher.) The Swedish Academy praised Le Clézio as an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy.” Discover the 2008 Nobel Prize winner, and read excerpts from some of his books.
Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road (Vintage) was first published in 1961. It rocked people’s worlds then, but drifted off the radar screen until now. December 26th it will be rediscovered by modern audiences through the release of the feature film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett, directed by Sam Mendes and written by Justin Haythe. It is the story of a young married couple, April and Frank Wheeler who live in the eponymous suburb that is a bedroom community of New York set in the '50s. Revolutionary Road is being compared in its film version to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and significant Oscar buzz surrounds the lead actors. Take the opportunity to discover Yates now.
I know I am not the first person to wonder why the sticker prices quoted on the back of books are still significantly higher for Canadians than Americans when it has been a full year since the US and CND dollar achieved parity. "So why don't books cost the same in Canada as the US?" Consider the list price on Alan Greenspan's The Age of Turbulence is $35 U.S. and $42 Canadian. Suggested retail prices for James Patterson's You've Been Warned are $27.99 and $32.50. I took a look at the history of the two currencies and what the Association for Canadian Publishers (ACP) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) had to say. Read this and weigh-in with your thoughts. If you are a publisher, share your experience.
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is the prize-winning bestseller you have by now certainly heard of if not read. It has been the book of the month for many book clubs including both of mine, and before reading it I must say I was surprised at its popularity. A book about building schools in the Middle East is hardly the sort of terrorist expose we’ve seen hogging airport bookshelves since 9/11. It is a much simpler, yet far less reductionist story of a mountain climber cum philanthropist who made a sustainable impact in a part of the world known for its remote inaccessibility, both geographically and some would say ideologically. "Tea" succeeds in providing access to what is, of course, a universally human desire to improve the lives of our children.
David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1,000 plus page 1996 novel Infinite Jest was found dead in his Los Angeles home on Friday night, according to police. He was 46. Sadly, this ends his long battle with depression, in which his father says, "Everything had been tried." Michiko Kakutani, chief book critic of The New York Times wrote in 2006. “He can do sad, funny, silly, heartbreaking and absurd with equal ease; he can even do them all at once.” David has been called one of America's most important young authors and is often compared to Thomas Pynchon. Of course the best way to know an author is through their books, but if you haven't taken the opportunity yet, there are ample places to read and "meet" him. My most illuminating moment of Wallace was in his television interview with Charlie Rose, taped in March of 1997. His brilliance and vulnerability, his modesty and honesty were all mixed up in a somewhat defiant, verbosity that bordered on pressure of speech in places where his thoughts were coming faster than he could form the words. Here is a small tribute to David Foster Wallace with some links for further reading and viewing.
The Man Booker 2008 Shortlist was announced today. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the most important literary prize in the English speaking world. Winners of the prize become household names. This year there are two debut novelists and a broad geographical representation of authors from India, England, Australia and Ireland. The works are being touted as "intensely readable, page turning stories." For the first time extracts are available for download onto mobiles - that's just in time for my new iPhone! LIsten to: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and five more. Details inside.
Marguerite Dorn and Carol O'Day are the founders of a new website and consulting business that addresses the work-life and work-family balance that women face. Check out www.thenewhavingitall.com. It's the age-old modern dilemna: stay home to be with your children or leave them to keep a job? There are likely as many variations to this spectrum as there are women with families. Everyone's circumstances are different. Some things are within your control, many things are not. How do we, as a society, rate on the scorecard of motherhood? Join us at BookBuffet as we explore the business concept that two former power-house professional women are carving out for themselves to help make a difference for the rest of us, while they maintain balance in their own lives.
Reading, researching and interviewing an author whose book comes across my desk for review at BookBuffet is a fun process. It's fascinating to be able to speak intimately with authors about: the source of their inspiration and characters, their methods of writing, the values they attach to their work, and who their mentors are. When it's time to say goodbye, you really feel as though you've gained some insight into an interesting life. So when we hear back from writers about their latest book, film or television projects, we love to share the updates with you. Here are (in alphabetic order): Zoe Archer, Joseph Boyden, Kit Bakke, Julian Fellows, Margaret MacMillan, Kem Nunn, Susan Orlean, Jonathan Safran Foer, Tracy Quan and Michela Wrong. Find out about their latest novels, tv pilots, babies, academic appointments, and life in general. We've been sent review copies of some of their new books and will give you a quick run-down.
Each summer in London's Hyde Park the Serpentine Gallery asks a different modern architect to design and build a temporary structure for public display. This year it happens to be Canadian-born uber-architect, Frank Gehry. This is his first built structure in the UK. Known for his dramatic fluid titanium sheet metal skins on the amorphous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain, and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Frank has this year designed a pavilion of glass and wood that could easily be adapted to a garden space connecting buildings on your property. Find out more about his inspiration for the project and browse through a collection of architecture books and films on the master. (photo credit, Paula Shackleton)
Haruki Murakami has a wonderful article in the "Life and Letters" section of The New Yorker magazine (June 9 &16, 2008) that reveals the Japanese novelist's inner workings and how he became both a runner and a writer. It's not surprising that discipline, with a capital D is at the root of both, providing fascinating biographical insights into the author's life, his motivations and his writing. If you're a runner, a wannabe writer, or simply a lover of Murakami's books: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) Kafka on the Shore (2005) and After Dark (2007) to name three titles for starters... read on.
Rose Tremain has twice been a Booker Prize judge and this year she wins the prestigious Orange Prize for her tenth novel, The Road Home: A Novel (Chatto and Windus 2007) The story is about an Eastern Eurpean migrant worker who travels to London for employment that can support his family. He discovers London is awash with money, celebrity and complacency. The contrast underscores the new East-West economic dichotomy that exists between disparate EU countries resulting in the flow of population to Western urban centers who must then grapple with a cultural divide.
Poetry, that exacting science of words, art, expression and sometimes distance, has spoken to me through the voice of Galway Kinnell. Well, actually through the audio excerpt at the Paris Review. To be bitten by poetry you need to have it read to you. To have the author read it, is a delight most exquisite. Treat yourself to 07:55 minutes of escapism today: A cigarette break for the imagination. Then click on the link to purchase your own copy and get to know more of Kinnell's words. A New Selected Poems published by Mariner Books (2008).
One of my favorite authors is Jumpha Lahiri because she writes about people I relate to who have experienced things I could not. Her latest book is a collection of short stories and critics are hailing it as her masterpiece. She writes about family and generational interactions, about immigrants and aspects of cultural identity and assimilation from her Bengali perspective. She writes about human emotions in exquisite variety - all of it rendered in delicious prose. With mentors in Hawthorne and Hardy, how could she go wrong? Pick up a copy of Unaccustomed Earth (Knopf April, 2008) and take it to the cottage, the beach or read it in installments at the leafy park near your work place on extended lunch breaks.
Last year the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) of the United Arab Emirates launched “Kalima,” a project to translate books into Arabic; its stated aim was to translate 100 works. Late last month, the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, upped the ante: His eponymous foundation launched a similar project, albeit one that aims to translate 365 books in its first year – or, in other words, one per day.
Since I don't have television, it's difficult to keep up with daytime shows like Oprah. But I happened to be traveling and turned on the hotel tube to see Barbara Walters' appearance on Oprah — talk about female power! Surprisingly, it sounds like Barbara has written an interesting book, which she titled, Audition: A Memoir because she's been doing just that her whole life. I picked up a copy and thumbed through it and here what is in store for all you BW fans. Auditions is published by Knopf May 6th,2008.
You may not have realized that the website you visit frequently for concise biographical information on world authors is coming from an obscure Finnish library near the Russian border! Meet Petri Liukkonen, Director of The Kuusankoski Library, Finland.
With the news of world-wide protests over China's behavior in Tibet, and the resulting disruptions of the Olympic torch ceremonies for the Summer Games in Beijing, it seems appropriate that this year's PEN Freedom to Write Award go to imprisoned Chinese writer Yang Tongyan who is serving a 12-year prison term for posting anti-government articles on the Internet. What role does the PEN society perform and why should we care?
The winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday, April 7, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The awards honor books in five categories — fiction, poetry, history, biography, and general nonfiction – though the judges may decline to give an award in any of them. The Pulitzer site, www.pulitzer.org, has all the results. A special citation was awarded to Bob Dylan for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power. Click on quick links to purchase.
Put your FACE to a BOOK! It's a Whistler Public Library and WR-BookBuffet joint program. To celebrate the opening of the grand new Whistler Public Library, BookBuffet-Whistler Reads will be filming locals, resort visitors, World Cup and Olympic athletes as part of a video presentation putting your FACE to a BOOK. There is a child, teen, adult and athlete category. Everyone is welcome. Just pick a book and tell us, in about two minutes, what you loved about it. The video-book reviews will be compiled into a short feature film that will be previewed at the Whistler Library Opening Gala festivities April 12th-17th and available online here. Find out how you can participate below.
It is interesting to consider which books and authors are most popular with lending libraries versus the bestseller lists and literary fiction. James Patterson has just made the top spot, reports the Guardian, having tallied over 1.5 million copies of his books lent in the past year. He is the third author to have earned the distinction since they began keeping such records in 1982. J.K. Rowling and Ian McEwan only made it to 107 and 252 respectively on the library lending list, whereas their novels, Harry Potter and Atonement made it to 1 and 13 respectively on bestseller lists for the year. What does this say about borrowers? Check out the top 10 borrowed books list and see for yourself.
While browsing through the stacks at a favorite independent bookstore, I came upon a copy of Fifth Business, a Canadian classic by Robertson Davies, the first novel of his acclaimed Deptford Trilogy. I cannot resist a Penguin paperback—the combination of superior cover art and binding make them a pleasure to hold, read and collect. If you've not yet discovered Canada's prominent novelist, playwright, critic, and journalist, then pick up a copy of Fifth Business as it is his most autobiographical work of fiction. It tells the story of three characters—Dunstan Ramsey, Boy Staunton, and Paul Dempster, whose life paths are haunted by a single boyhood event. Davies' prose is reflective of his academic study of mythology and archetypes, his career as a repertory actor and theater advocate. He was one of the founders of the Ontario Stratford Shakespearean Festival, North America's leading classical theater.
Facebook, the social network site, invites members to invent applications for its users. The most popular of these is an online game called "Scrabulous" which is based on the Mattel-Hasbro board game Scrabble. The software was developed by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, who are based in Kolkata, India. Lawyers for the board game say the online version infringes their client's copyright and must be removed.
According to the Scrabulous website it has 594,924 daily active users - about a quarter of the total that have signed up to play it - meaning that at any one time in the day there are half a million people worldwide playing the game online. Users admit to having never played the board version, but after becoming hooked on Scrabulous...
If one of your New Year's resolutions is to start a book group -- you're in good company. But it's important to lay the ground rules early and get into good habits. Here are some of the ways you can -- avoid the pitfalls.
My 2008 New Year's Resolution is to take the National Endowment for the Arts "To Read or Not to Read" report seriously and take action. The NEA produces the most comprehensive and reliable survey on reading there is. It draws from consistent, widespread sources that produce measurable conclusions: Only one in four Americans read a book last year. "Despite improved reading abilities in elementary school . . . all progress appears to halt in teenage years at age thirteen. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans, and they read less well. Even college graduates' regular habit of reading has declined. These declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications." What can we do? Read this and find out.
In our household every member receives a book for the holidays. When the busy social schedule calms down and before we have to return to work or school, it's nice to read a hand-picked book. Check out our highly personalized gift list, and make your shopping easy with one trip to the bookstore or order online, (make that "express, wrapped and labeled with free shipping") and save yourself the hassle of parking, shopping, and schlepping.
A poet from the age of fifteen, Xiaolu Guo first came to London in 2002 as an experienced novelist and filmmaker from mainland China. Her observations led to her third book, the first in English, a remarkable mix of eastern and western ideals with a clever, funny, often profound and engaging writing style. Titled A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers: A Novel (Published by Nan A. Talese, September 4, 2007), The novel explores a subject that many people can relate to, the acquisition of a new language. This book was nominated for the 2007 Orange Prize for fiction. Read the review then listen to the interview, and view clips from her filmography. Xiaolu Guo is a talent we will see and hear more.
The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson (Doubleday, 2007) is a one-hundred-and-nineteen-page gem coming out in paperback that you can read in one sitting. Be prepared to be taken on a roller coaster of emotion. It is the story of a couple, one of whom has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and told will not live past one month. It is a story of love, of courage, and of loss. It is a story you will read and pass on to friends, because we all admire this kind of love; we all fear this kind of devastation and find ourselves compelled to look into their abyss. The End of the Alphabet has just been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for First Novel. Congratulations Charles!!
The folks at Bluerectangle.com have a great idea -- one I've been working towards myself -- video book reviews you can watch in about a minute or two delivered by (what appears to be) regular folks. It's a great concept for those of us attempting to look past the hype of a book by mainstream publishing marketers and get a peer review of a new book. It's like taking the Amazon visitor reviews one step further. With Blurectangle.com you get to see the reviewer and determine their sincerity and honest opinion. Click on title for more details.
Help us with our goal to break the top 100,000 websites. Today we're at 115,886 which is up there with www.health.com (117,423) and www.readinggroupguides.com (168,348). Did you know there are over 140 million domains registered world wide. That places Bookbuffet.com in the top 8.27%. How can you help? (a) Browse our latest features and click on the social networking links at the bottom of each to post it to Digg, Facebook or your own blog or favorite social networking sites. (b) Subscribe to our RSS feeds and get the latest book news, author interviews, member generated reviews and timely editorials. Our podcasts are a great way to discover new authors. (c) Register your book group. Easy as A B C - Click, Share, Join, Subscribe. Prizes to the lucky members who join on day 100,000! Stay tuned.
Will libraries holding book stacks become a thing of the past? Amazon's Jeff Bezos plans to announce his new electronic book-reader device called The Kindle on Monday in New York City at the W Hotel's swanky Union Square location. The Kindle will cost $399 but the W Hotel has a corporate alliance with Amazon that will allow guests to check out devices like a library book, with downloaded books coming straight off Amazon's website. Marketing research by the company followed iPhone's launch strategy that used celebrity endorsement. Rumors have it the year-long awaited e-readers will come with a pre-loaded bestseller. Watch for the announcement Monday. For a re-cap on the battle between Google and Amazon technology click feature title.
American novelist, playwright, journalist, screenwriter and film director Norman Mailer died on this day of renal failure following lung surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award once, he was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from The National Book Foundation in 2005. His break-out novel in 1948, The Naked and the Dead, published when he was just twenty-five, describes the face of war from his military experience when drafted into the US army serving in WWII Philippines theatre. It is on the Top 100 Novels List. Mailer and co-founder Dan Wolf started The Village Voice in Greenwich Village in 1955. Mailer was married six times and is survived by four children and one adopted son. For a list of his other creative works and links to noted obituaries, click feature title.
Madonna is the most famous female pop artist of our time; singer-songwriter, dancer, record and film producer, actress, and a fashion icon. She has won multiple Grammy and Golden Globe awards and is known for her controversial music videos, stage performances, and use of political, sexual, and religious themes in her work. Discover the woman behind the mystery. Journalist Lucy O'Brien's groundbreaking biography, Madonna: Like an Icon (HarperCollins, Nov 2007) gets at the heart of Madonna's chameleonlike existence. Extensively researched and perceptively written, it explores the complex personality and legendary drive that made her "the world's most successful female musican" (Guinness Book of World Records). A great book to discuss with your group over equally provocative wines picked for you by our partners at www.womenwine.com
The Financial Times last week unveiled the results of an online poll of readers to find the best business book of all time, and the winner, by a wide margin, was The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith's influential economic treatise published in 1776.
What makes us women? Whistler Reads fifteenth reading selection November 1st at the Durlacher Hof was a resounding success as members new and old (with tourist visitors attending from Mexico and Switzerland) had a one-hour conversation with the author, Dr. Louann M. Brizendine, via speaker phone. Available as podcast shortly As a neurobiology undergrad at Berkeley in the '70s, Louann asked the question, "Why is there no research study results of female animal behavior and brain physiology?" Since that time, researchers like Louann have, along with advances in non-invasive MRI and PET scanners, learned a wealth of information encapsulated in Dr. Brizendine's book, The Female Brain. Written in an easy to read, "Ahhah!" format that weaves what Publisher's Weekly calls "a trove of information and stunning facts" and that Huffington exclaims is "bloody brilliant ... answers questions that have plagued me for years, as well as ones I hadn't even formulated yet."
The iPhone is a multimedia and Internet-enabled quad-band GSM EDGE-supported mobile phone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. Its single-touch screen technology is so easy to use, they've sold more than 1.4 million iPhones since the release date on June 29th. To stop people from buying phones and reselling them, Apple announced last Thursday that it will limit sales to two per person (down from five) and you can no longer pay cash - they want to track credit cards and checks. What's so great about the iPhone? It's a virtual office enabling you to multi-task with a single finger. Take a look at what this amazing piece of technology can do, then read on to discover some of the perks and quirks of how people are using the phone.
Ms. Lessing, who turned 88 on October 22, never finished high school and largely educated herself through her voracious reading. She was born to British parents in Persia (now Iran), was raised in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and now lives in London. She has written dozens of books of fiction, as well as plays, non-fiction, and an autobiography. She is the 11th woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature. Here is the latest coverage of the announcement with links to books.
When Canadian Joseph Boyden came on the literary scene he wowed readers with his powerful historical fiction set during WWI about brotherhood, native identity, and the raw face of war. To meet and speak with Joseph is a pleasure. He's handsome, and has a quick smile and a generous personality. His self-effacing modesty makes him accessible to people despite his success and obvious talent. Please join me in listening to Joseph talk about his life, his writing, and his upcoming new novel, which will follow on the success of Three Day Road.
With the harvest and Thanksgiving on everyone's mind, BookBuffet invites you to take a look at Barbara Kingsolver's nonfiction treatise Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for this month's Wine & Book pick. It's about eating local, eating seasonal, supporting small farms, and saving the planet from extinction through your everyday purchasing choices of food that is not trucked, flown or shipped using fossil fuels to your market. Don't miss the opportunity to drink a lovely local wine along with this book when you meet to discuss it with your group. Women & Wine have lots of ideas on wine makers whose products are organic, too. Learn about wine as you read the wonderful titles selected especially for this group.
It's Film Festival season in Canada again, which means right after Toronto, comes Vancouver and then Whistler. With so many excellent novels adapted to film we are going to list some of our favorites and introduce a "Books to Film" night on alternate months. Grab your book group members for a feature film in your neighborhood and meet for coffee to compare the book with the film. We'll provide details to spice up your discussion, but obviously everyone reads and views things from their individual perspective. Bring your expertise and share it liberally -- with the popcorn.
Let's eat, John. (OR) Let's eat John. The first is a request to John about a meal. The second is suggesting that John become the meal. "A misplaced comma can be a big deal!" says Jeff Rubin, the founder of National Punctuation Day®. What a brilliant idea. If you despised all that grammar stuff in school, now is your chance to brush up on punctuation. While your spell check program can hide one bad habit, it only takes a few memorized rules to keep you out of punctuation purgatory. A properly punctuated document can mean the difference between getting your point across, or losing your audience (or client, or job) altogether. Take this one day to celebrate the comma, apply the period, learn when to use a semicolon or a colon, and ensure you know where to put the apostrophe or how use a dash. An ellipsis -- what's that? Check out this website dedicated to punctuation, and purchase a copy of one of these excellent resource books for yourself or someone in need.
The Whistler Writers and Readers Festival takes place September 14-16th. This year event organizer Stella Harvey and her Vicious Circle team invited Whistler Reads to take part. Sign up for a class. Don't miss our readers and writers mixer, Saturday Sept 15th 8-10 pm at Millennium Place. This evening is arranged and moderated by Whistler Reads founder, Paula Shackleton. It's Book Club Night when you get to chat with author Jen Sookfong Lee about her wonderful novel that is set in Vancouver's Chinatown, The End of East (Knopf, Canada). Thanks to our sponsors who are providing door prizes. WR now boasts ~200 members. Everyone is welcome. "Whether you live, work or play in Whistler -- read what Whistler is reading." Join the WR Shanghai Tang After-Party, 10-12 pm at Ric's Mix Lounge located nearby. Tickets and how to join WR below.
As a book group moderator in a ski-resort town, I like to say, "You already exercise your body, come exercise your mind!" in my bid to get people to join our village book group. But studies show aerobic exercise actually doubles blood flow to the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis (new brain cell growth, new memory). It works for everyone: from aging brains to children, and everyone in between. Exercise in combination with social stimulation is even better, they say. That old adage "the body feeds the mind" turns out to be true. Here are three excellent books on fitness for three age groups. Motivation for everyone. Click the title for the full article describing the science and some cool products to use while working out.
They have been negotiating for decades, but just this week Canada, Quebec, and Nunavik came to an "agreement in principle" between the three sides, with a formal signing ceremony to follow within weeks. What does it mean for residents north of the 55th parallel in Quebec consisting of one-third of the land mass? Residents -- regardless of ethnicity -- will be given an opportunity to vote for their own government. A Nunavik Assembly of five members will act as the cabinet and elect a speaker. Each member will be responsible for one governmental department, such as health, education, and local and regional affairs. This treaty is different from BC's Nisga'a Treaty, which is based on ethnicity. Learn more about the treaty, the region, and the people with links to literature from the region.
Now in its thirty-ninth year, the Man Booker aims to reward the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and even publishers; last year's winner Kiran Desai has traveled the world since winning in 2006. The 2007 longlist of thirteen books -- the Man Booker's 'Baker's Dozen' -- was chosen from 110 entries; 92 were submitted for the prize and 18 were called in by the judges. Browse the list (below), click on book titles to purchase; challenge yourself to read as many as you can. Each book is a gem crafted this year by authors from around the world. See list below... -photo credit ManBooker
For the first time the rarest and most exquisite examples of the sacred texts of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths are on display together at the British Library: Torahs, Bibles and Qur’ans. If you are in London this summer it is worth a visit. If not, browse the BL's interactive online exhibit for a look at what these texts have meant to "people of the book" all around the world for centuries. It includes videos with discussions by historians and religious experts, a chance to "flip through" the books that are on display, and more. In these troubled times, it behooves us to understand the similarities between world religions. Here is a taste of my visit...
The Saxon word for pebble is chesil. Ian McEwan's brilliant new novelette, On Chesil Beach: A Novel is this month's Wine & Book Group pick. Set in 1962, it begins on the wedding night of a young virgin couple, Edward and Florence. After meeting and falling in love at a London college, they anticipate their vows as the entry into 'real adult' life; however, naiveté brings disappointment. The story is a touching examination of relationships, love, sex, the era, and how, despite best intentions, people somehow manage to get it wrong. McEwan asks, "Can the entire course of a life can be changed –- by a gesture not made or a word not spoken?" Despite differences in sexual politics today, readers will resonate with these two characters. Chesil Beach is an excellent choice for the last month of the summer. So pack your beach bag and slip in a delicious wine selected by our partners at Women and Wine. McEwan calls this a movie-length book that will take about three hours to complete -- just right for a lazy afternoon picnic!
TORONTO (Reuters) - An Italian writer decided to put his mobile phone to good use during his daily commute to and from work -- by writing a book. Robert Bernocco, an IT professional, took advantage of his travel time by writing a 384-page science fiction novel, Compagni di Viaggio (Fellow Travelers), on his Nokia using the phone's T9 typing system.
Is it the pitter-Potter of little feet I hear? In case you are like me, the only person left on the planet who has not managed to run out on Day One to purchase a copy of the latest and last Harry Potter books published by Bloomsbury, here is an excellent round-up on BBC of all the books in the series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J.K. Rowling is richer than her Queen from the royalties earned from book sales and associated film and merchandizing revenues. Click on feature title for excerpts and links to purchase.
When Sir Ernest Shackleton was looking for men to join his expedition to the South Pole in 1914 at the outbreak of WWI, the advertisement is supposed to have gone like this: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success." My initial thoughts wandered to that when I was asked to travel for a book commission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the spring of 2006. Just eight weeks shy of the first democratic election in forty years, Global Watch was reporting rebel bands still roaming the eastern countryside, preying on civilians after the civil war that brought rape, starvation and genocide to 4 million people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of malaria and a host of curable and incurable endemic diseases. What follows is an account of my trip and the fruit of my travels, a 217 page photographic coffee-table book with accompanying essays on - the history, land and people of the richest undeveloped copper region in the world - Katanga: Land of Copper (Marquand Books, Dec 2006) Take a look at this snap shot of a country on the brink of change with renewed optimism for peace and prosperity. There is no Lonely Planet guide to the Congo as yet, but there soon will be!
Your job as a participant of a book group discussion is not to understand. It’s a search, a seeking. A close-reading and discussion of a novel or short story does not require conclusions. Some writers write against easy answers, and endeavor to explore the ambiguities and paradoxes of life in their fiction.
The RAND Institute is the original socio-political and scientific think tank. Everyone who read A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar, or saw the movie based on the book, is familiar with the story of the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician, John Nash. Nash worked at RAND, the scientific think tank established in 1946.
An acronym for "research and development," RAND is a non-profit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. Much of this research is available to the general public through the institute's publications.
Residents in Whistler, BC are being treated to a visit by Graham Fuller - CIA and RAND Corporation Expert Sunday July 22 Spruce Grove Field House Public Talk and Forum at 4:30 Friends of the Forum BBQ at 6 pm. This event is being hosted by The Whistler Forum for Dialogue. Don't miss it, and come prepared with some light pre-reading material. (Click title for details)
Michael Moore's latest documentary "Sicko" deals with the healthcare debate in America. BookBuffet's Political Books Contributer, Loree Fayhe brought this excellent movie review by Isaiah J. Poole to our attention. It was posted on the affiliate website of the Institute for America's Future. Whether you agree with Moore's political bent or not, the film stirs the political pot and it will be interesting to see how the public responds and the pundits react. As Poole says, "Go see "Sicko" this week, and since members of Congress are in their states and districts, invite them to accompany you—especially if they think that the nation's medical care ills can be solved by Bush's little tax cut pills.
July is the month that promises long summer days and time to escape into a delicious novel set in far-away lands. This month’s Wine & Book Pick take us to Beijing, China, where Nicole Mones (bestselling author of Lost in Translation) brings us an enticing story of friendship, love and, cuisine The Last Chinese Chef (HoughtonMifflin, 2007)
The 2007 CBC Literary Awards competition is now open! The deadline for submissions is November 1st, 2007. The Awards are Canada's only literary competition celebrating original, unpublished works in both official languages. There are three categories: short story, poetry, and creative nonfiction, with cash prizes totaling $60,000, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts, publication in Air Canada's enRoute magazine and visibility for the winners and their winning entries offered by CBC.
To find out how to enter, visit their website at http://www.cbc.ca/literaryawards, email them at email@example.com or call toll-free at 1-877-888-6788.
Stress is an endemic fact of life for people juggling career, family and personal needs. How do you recognize the signs, and how do you restructure your priorities to reduce stress and return to balance? Monica Magnetti is the author of, Outsmart Stress and Being in the Present Moment: How to Create the Blueprint of your Life, she is and the founder of Luna Coaching. BookBuffet spoke with Monica about this social phenomenon and the ways her life coaching practice has helped clients. Listen to the podcast of this interview, and read along with the transcript. Then click to Monica's site for an appointment or book purchase.
The Authors Guild is the nation's largest and oldest society of published authors and the leading writers' advocate for fair compensation, effective copyright protection, and free expression. They have just been sent a check for $537,000 from the Dutch Lending Libraries for royalties on US books lent out. The practice is not done in North America - but it is in 19 countries in the EU. Read on to see how it works.
I am a big fan of the NewYorker magazine and many of their staff writers. Everyone who knows Malcolm Gladwell is familiar with his groundbreaking books, Blink and The Tipping Point. Gladwell (and others) made some fascinating presentations at their first "Conference 2012: Letters from the Near Future," on subjects ranging from the nature of genius, to morality, to gaming, to intellectual property. Don't miss these excellent podcasts. Some favorites below.
One of the world's top literary prizes has been won by the twenty-nine year-old Nigerian novelist for her book set in the 1960's Biafran civil war. Meet Chimamanda Ngozi Adichel and her winning novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (Knopf, 2006)
For June's Wine & Book Group pick we couldn't resist the novel that bumped The Da Vinci Code off of its number one spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List. The Birth House: A Novel (William Morrow 2006) by Ami McKay is a story about midwifery, with all its controversy and struggles, set in the 1900s in a small town in Nova Scotia with the story-telling tradition of Annie Proulx.
As a person who leads book groups, meets and interviews new authors and reviews books, I frequently get asked the question, "How do books make it in the literary fiction market?" Rachel Donadio's article "Promotional Intelligence," in the May 21, 2006 edition of NYT reveals the window is smaller than a space shuttle trying to land in hurricane season—new authors have two weeks to make it.
As a member of the torchered, ahem privileged people who call themselves "bi-coastal," I get to hangout in New York regularly. It is the publishing capital of America and my job requires that I meet with industry people. With Book Expo America taking over the city next month, there will not be a single hotel vacancy. I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things I like to do there.
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen is an imaginative story set during the American depression involving an orphan boy named Jacob and the tribe of circus performers and animals that become his world. Alternating between Jacob's early life and his final years in a nursing home, the story is sure to intrigue and stimulate interesting discussions. For wines we've picked labels with elephants! Join the Wine & Book Group and meet more hearty food, story and wine lovers!
The Path Gallery, owned by Brit Germann was the perfect location for this month's Whistler Reads (the village book group) discussion of Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. This critically and popularly acclaimed novel is set in both Ontario and the trenches of WWI France where Canadians distinguished themselves in the courageous battle of Vimy Ridge. Three Day Road powerfully evokes this history from a Canadian Native perspective in the same way that Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five has etched in our minds the bombing of Dresden WWII. Horrifying and beautiful, it will resonate with the group for a very long time. Take a look at the discussion of this novel, which is certainly destined to become a Canadian classic.
What do you do if you happen to live in a small town with only one theatre that only screens one box-office blockbuster every one to two weeks? If you’re the red-headed dynamo Shauna Hardy Mishaw, you get your buns in gear and turn that paucity of celluloid vacuity into The Whistler Film Festival—Western Canada’s fastest growing cultural phenomenon, screening 80+ films (including top North American directors), $40,000 in prizes and commissions, and the country’s most innovative programming through the Filmmakers Forum. All that and more in just five short years! Learn more about this vital regional addition to the world film festival circuit in this interview with the WFF Co-Founder and Executive Dirctor.
Several films are coming to theatres starting this month that have been adapted from books you have either read or been planning to read. Check out these trailers and see how the screenwriters, directors and actors make artistic alchemy of the book on (or that should be on) your shelf. The Namesake: A Novel (Mar 9th), No Country for Old Men (Aug 2nd), Atonement: A Novel(Sept 6th), The Kite Runner(Nov 2nd)Time Travelor's Wife (starts shooting in Aug)
Playright, essayist, novelist and literary icon, Kurt Vonnegut died in Manhattan on April 12th of brain injuries sustained after several falls in the previous few weeks. He is survived by his wife Jill Krementz, his six adopted children and one biologic son. Vonnegut's "dark comic talent and urgent moral vision" produced novels like Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradleand God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. In all, he wrote fourteen novels ranging on metaphysical themes, the banalities of our consumer culture, the destruction of the environment, and creative science fiction worlds that all contained his own brand of philosophy and jokes. (click on title for full feature)
For our March Wine & Book Group book selection we have a wonderful story by Chinese-American author Lisa See. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel (Random House Trade 2006), Lisa's third novel, is both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle. Her books deal with the cultural divide between her two nascent cultures. To purchase wines suggested by our partners at Women & Wine, click link for more details. Author details and more inside...
The American Book Sellers Association is comprised of independent bookstore owners across America. Each month their internet arm, Book Sense tallies book sales in various categories to let consumers know what has been popular. Here are the books we shoppers purchased most in all categories in 2007.
Celebrated British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time (originally published in 1988 with 10 million copies sold) plans to celebrate his 65th birthday by taking a zero gravity flight and then a trip into space courtesy of Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic. The lifelong wheelchair-ridden scientist is famous for educating the masses on the origins of the universe, gravity, black holes, time travel and quantum mechanics.
The Whistler Reads village book group met March 7th at 7pm at Millennium Place to discuss Margaret MacMillan's award winning, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (Random House) Three community members (City Councillors and the former Mayor of Whistler) brought history to life with a fun MadLib of the world leaders from the conference; (see pictures) the audience watched them argue and debate the terms of the peace and participated with their own comments and questions. Margaret MacMillan "addressed" the WR group via an earlier podcast interview with WR Director, Paula Shackleton. Fabulous Alsace regional wine was provided by Dundarave Wine Cellar with tasting notes and given out as door prizes. Thanks to Telus, for their support of WR literacy arts in our community.
Marketing, marketing, marketing. Authors either get it, or they struggle with out-dated, inefficient marketing plans. Lisa Unger, NYTimes bestselling author of Beautiful Lies: A Novel and Sliver of Truth: A Novel gets it! Her personal website has all the latest bells and whistles of a one-woman techno-band—great design, great audio excerpts, cool use of Flash® , interactive feedback ops, and reading group extras. Check it out!
Seattle author, Kit Bakke has had an interesting life. In the '60s she was a member of the Underground Weatherman, an activist group who protested the Vietnam war. This interested the FBI enough to compile a 100 page file on her. Today this mother of two with two post graduate degrees and a book publication speaks to us about another reformer, the one featured in her first novel,Miss Alcott's E-mail: Yours for Reforms of All Kinds(David Godine Books 2006) Intrigued? Click on the link to our podcast in this article and listen along.
While researching a book project this summer at the British Library I came upon a concise little primer on linguistics, Introducing Linguistics (Introducing... S.) in the souvenir shop. If you have ever wondered about the science of language and the various disciplines that study it, this little gem will suffice.
Wondering how to make this year's Oscar house party even more fun and entertaining? Why not serve the wines matched to each of the Best Picture nominations. Here's what the gals at W&W have picked. Click on title for the full article with movie round-up and wine tasting notes.
Residents of the Pacific Northwest have many opportunities to cross into the rich cultural firmament of our indigenous peoples from their own perspective of the immigrant mosaic. The Talking Stick Festival (Feb. 5-11) in Vancouver, BC brings together established and emmerging Aboriginal artists from across Canada in expressions of theatre, storytelling, writing, music, dance and visual arts. I attended a reading by the captivating and acclaimed author, Joseph Boyden Three Day Road (Penguin, Canada) at the First Nations House of Learning at UBC on Feb 7th, and came away with a greater appreciation of the proud and steady strides of this nation's founding culture.
If you are a fan of photography you will no doubt be familiar with the work of Annie Leibovitz. Brandished on the covers of so many Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines her fold-out spreads of celebrities characterize a style. We look forward to "the movie star issue" "the music issue," the industry has become synonymous with her work. In her current exhibit at the Brookline Museum the lens is turned around—on Annie, her loves, family and friends. A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005 (Random House, Oct 2006) 472 pages.
For February's Wine & Book Group we return to Australia with the fifth novel of two-time Booker Prize-nominated Tim Winton, and his post-WWII Australian saga Cloudstreet (Schribner, reprint 2002). Purchase the book online and read the tasting notes of the fabulous regional wines our partners at Women & Wine have picked to match this title. Sip, discuss, enjoy! This is our 14th session. Register for the group, and join in the online discussions.
"Many people describe Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Letter from Birmingham Jail', and the civil rights movement as the defining moment in their lives and the generation since has been shaped from it."
After putting her book club on hold for a year subsequent to her debacle with James Frey, Oprah has reconvened and she's sticking with the autobiography genre and Sidney Poitier's (Yes, the actor) The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography published by Harper San Francisco 2000.
For at least this generation women have been hearing that smart men are not attracted to smart women. I happen to think the opposite is true --- and here is a book by Dr. Christine B. Whelan Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women(Simon & Schuster, Oct 2006) Even if marriage isn't your goal, (Is there a book Even Smarter Women Don't Wed--just kidding?!) click on our header for details of the ABC News article discussing this topic & take their quiz.
Gotta love these names... Hal Wakes incoming Artistic Director for the Vancouver International Writers Festival has asked us to post this notice about a cool event they're presenting -- an evening of competitive wordplay that brings together Vancouver's finest. Host Billieh Nickerson, authors Caroline Adderson, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Kevin Chong, Steven Galloway and more! Click on header for details
The life of doctors and the medical profession has been a source of fascination to the general public for years as witnessed by the success of television series from "ER" and "House," going back to "Marcus Welby" and "Ben Casey." Doctors and nurses do consult on the sets to ensure authenticity, and sometimes they cross-over careers to become professional writers. Vincent Lam's first novel, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Anchor Canada 2006) won Canada's most prestigious literary award -- the Giller Prize for this first work. It gives the raw and honest perspective of medical students and young physicians struggling with the demands of the profession in the Canadian healthcare system. Click on the title for the full article. This is Whistler Reads "January" book discussion: Spruce Grove Field House 7pm Jan 24th. WR partners with the Whistler Public Library
As popular as national hockey the Canada Reads book debate has become a national (literary) sport that pits a select panel in a series of broadcasts to promote the book title that they feel the whole country should read. Host Bill Richardson, veteran CBC broadcaster, print columnist and author of about a dozen books brings his wry wit and honed moderating skills to the sessions with the objective of involving the whole country in voting (and reading) not one, but perhaps several of the five books announced on the shortlist. It's a brilliant tactic to get Canada reading! Here are this year's books and the panelists who picked them. The debates run from February 28th to March 2nd and are broadcast 11:30 am and 7:30 pm EST. See how many books you can plow through, and don't forget to cast your vote.
January is a great month to review your resolutions. If one of them is "read more books" or "taste more wine" then this is the group for you! Join our Wine & Book Group, meet other people, and use the author, book and wine information to meet those ny's resolutions. This month we feature Joseph Kanon's compelling thriller that has been adapted to film starring Cate Blanchett and George Clooney and directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Ah yes, the holidays are upon us. After your last-minute shopping, why not take in one of these films with family or friends? Our four "B" movies -- er, not that kind of movie -- all start with the letter B: Babel, Bobby, Borat, and Bond. (Technically the new Bond movie is Casino Royal) Purchase the book suggestions that follow each movie for excellent post-view reading.
It's always interesting to see which authors the books editor for the NY Times will pick for their annual Top 10. Here is the list, which has a selection of fiction, nonfiction and short stories by authors that include Gary Shteyngart, Claire Messud, Richard Ford, Marisha Pessl and more. Click on our article's title for complete list, or the hyperlink above to get to the NYT. (log in required for full NYT articles)
The folks at Women & Wine have made the book selection this month -- they had a burning urge to match wines to Elizabeth Kostova's popular historical novel about vampires -- but better than Rice, with plenty of suspense, romance and intrigue, The Historian (Little, Brown & Co) 2005. Read about the author, the plot, and the wines you can purchase and enjoy at your next meeting. And don't forget to join our Wine & Book Group!
Award winning Montana author and documentary filmmaker, Swain Wolfe joins BookBuffet host Paula Shackleton in speaking about his fourth book, The Boy Who Invented Skiing: A Memoir (St. Martins Press, June 2006) Listen to this podcast by clicking on the link, and follow along with the transcript. Swain's lilting, intentioned speech describes a world of experience growing up in the West during hard times, and points to the basis of his lyric prose and the complex characterizations in his novels. This book is an excellent gift for the men on your holiday shopping list.
When Stephen King rated Kate Atkinson's new novel, One Good Turn (Little, Brown and Company, Oct 2006) "the best mystery of the decade," I just had to bite. What a perfect book for stormy, rainy November and for our Wine & Book Group. Kate is best known for her Whitbread award-winning novel Behind the Museum. One Good Turn is a sequel which takes now ex-private eye Jackson Brodie, also wealthy, retired and bored, mooching around Edinburgh festivals. Buy the book, join the group, and see what our partners at Women & Wine have in store for you to taste along with this delicious mystery.
Each year Canadians look forward to the announcement of the short list for their two important literary awards -- the Governor General Award (fondly referred to in Canada as The GG's) and the Scotia Bank Giller Prize. Here are the authors and books that made it on 2006's list AND THE WINNERS AS AN UPDATE.
click title for article Apple's hugely successful personal audio device has just had its fifth birthday. This little gizmo revolutionized the music and talking book world by taking Apple's superior technology, design and marketing to bring us a device that weighed 6.5 ounces, could hold 5 GB of music, connected to our computer -- if you were a MAC user (PC's available the following year) and essentially became part of the urban wardrobe. Where are we now?
I met George Plimpton in front of his Paris Review booth at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival back in 2002. A gentle giant, he blended a career of acting (Good Will Hunting) and literary arts as one of three founding members of The Paris Review. He died at the age of 73 in 2003. AbeBooks spoke with the new editor, Philip Gourevitch, and here is what he had to say about one of the world's most respected literary magazines.
This Istanbul-born writer is described by Margaret Atwood as having put Turkey "on the map" of world literature. Now that distinction is confirmed since he has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel is usually awarded to a writer for their body of work (not just one novel) whose focus challenges their country's social or political practices, or brings attention to uncomfortable truths. Learn more about Pamuk in this article. (click title to expand)
Sue Miller, Lost in the Forest examines love, sensuality, and betrayal in idyllic Napa Valley wine country. A perfect setting for our September Wine and Book Group where we select a popular book each month and our partners at Women&Wine.com match delicious wines.
You live in Whistler or own recreation property. You've just learned of our village wide book group and want to participate. You found a book mark or viewed a poster talking about WHISTLER READS during your vacation and want to stay in touch with the community and people. You're a BookBuffet member and have never been to Whistler but are intrigued by our group and the books we choose.
All good reasons to Join WHISTLER READS!! Here's how.
For August we mind-travel to Mexico where Luis Alberto Urrea captures the landscape and soul of his native country through the voice of his young protagonist, Teresita, who has been gifted with the power to heal. The Hummingbird's Daughter, (Little, Brown 2006) won Urrea the Kiriyama Prize for fiction in 2006. The prize is awarded to voices from the Pacific Rim.
Just in time for summer, Lauren Weisberger's bitchy New York fashion novel has been released as a feature film produced by Wendy Finerman (Forrest Gump) and the new movie tie-in copy of her first novel is now available. It's the perfect beach read AND the perfect choice for our Wine & Book Club! Click on the book to link to purchase and join us. Find out more...
Can anyone imagine a hit music single without its corresponding hit music video? Well, think what's in store, er...avail online for you in the book world now that VidLit, a company established by ten year film veteran Liz Dubelman, has changed the face of book marketing with her irreverent flash animated "trailers" for books. Case in point—VidLit's fun piece created for THE FUTURIST: A Novel by James P. Othmer.
Small independent publishing houses are a great place to shop for books that have been hand crafted from the selection processs through the editing, design and printing process. The one thing they lack is a big budget to market to you -- hense we at BookBuffet strive to bring you some of the gems available just a click away! Take a look at these three titles from Other Press: O My Darling by Amity Gaige, And the Word Was by Bruce Baumann and Hosack's Folly by Gillen D'Arcy Wood.
Many of you have been asking about my trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The purpose for the trip was to gather photos and essay material for a coffee table-style book on Katanga, the southern-most province of the DRC. Here are a few thoughts and accompanying photos. The photographer on the project was Roger Moore.
Escape the dog days of summer by catching a new Indi Film in one of the many Film Festivals going on around the globe. Variety has the best list of these we have found. No matter where you live or plan to travel, there's sure to be a festival nearby. Check out the ones we've profiled -- some you may never have heard of before.
Male sexuality has been getting a lot of attention lately, so where does popular culture stand on female sexuality these days? Once upon a time, Anne Carson was an obscure academic with a small cult following. Eros the Bittersweet, the quirky academic treatise that marked her debut, was published by Princeton University Press in 1986.
When you live in a mountain community where our livlihood depends on the weather, people are especially sensitized to the issue of global warming. In the wake of Vice President Al Gore's 2000 election defeat, he dropped the campaign trail for an environmental crusade in an effort to halt the progress of global warming by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it. [Meanwhile President Bush instituted a law against gay marriage—go figure.] If you don't see the movie, pick up the book, send copies to your friends with gas-guzzling cars, and make an effort yourself in at least one way - every week.
The Wine and Book Group pick for June combines literary biography with a travel, cultural, and historic perspective. Why not let Christopher Ondaatje (yes, Michael's brother) take you to Sri Lanka where his own roots derive, to read about another relative of a famous writer, Leonard Woolf, husband of Virgina. Woolf in Ceyon (HarperCollins 2006) It is emerging that Leonard is one of the literary giants of the twentieth century.
The golden spruce was a three hundred year-old living monument and arboreal miracle. In 1997 it was tragically cut down by an eco-terrorist, whose identity it emerged was a handsome, increasingly disturbed professional forester by the name of Grant Hadwin. The tree was revered by the Haida First Nations, and had become a destination the world over for people fascinated by its unique, golden beauty. This is the story of a man, a tree, a culture and a primary economy of the Pacific Northwest. This book is a must read for anyone interested in BC.
Whistler Reads hosts Governor General winner for literature, John Vaillant for a public discussion forum and reading of his new book, The Golden Spruce (Knopf, Canada) This video was uploaded after the event for those of you who missed it. As you will see, John is a delightful man, as thoughtful and well-spoken as his writing is sensitive and evocative.
Come meet John Vaillant. June 7th at 7pm hosted in a beautiful Whistler view home. Advance Ticket Purchase Required. Buy this book online or at Armchair Books in Whistler Village where Whistler Reads members receive 10% off. Join WR today [click on "Register" select "New member of existing group" type Whistler Reads in the Group name box] and be a part of Whistler's reading community - whether near or far!
Each May our book group selects a food themed book or a cookbook for our June dinner meeting before breaking for two months over the summer. With everyone's busy schedules we've relegated the cooking to the wonderful culinary experts at Barbara Joe's Cookbook store, who host us in the shop amidst book stacks and their custom demonstration kitchen. Check-out bookstore owner, Barbara's pick list.
May's book selection introduces us to Australia's author-equivalent of Barbara Kingsolver—Carrie Tiffany is a former park ranger and agricultural journalist who combines her two passions in this stunning debut novel set in the '30s in the Australian countryside. Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living (Scribner May 2006) has just been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and we can't wait to introduce you to this author and her country's fabulous wines when you join Bookbuffet's Wine & Book Club Come and learn about wines as you read, courtesy of our partners at www.womenwine.com!
At the beginning of this year, Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review sent a letter to a few hundred writers, editors, publishers, critics, editors, and others in the literary fold asking them to name "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years."
Readers who have a copy of Kaavya Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life may want to hold on to it, as the book is now a collector's item. In a statement issued from Little Brown,the publisher finally said that it will not be releasing a revised edition of the book. And Viswanathan's second book in the two-title deal she signed with LB is dead too.—By Rachel Deahl, Reprinted from PW Daily Archives
Philip Roth has been awarded the $20,000 PEN/Nabokov award for "a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, represents achievement in a variety of literary genres and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship." Mr. Roth will receive his award May 22 at New York’s Lincoln Center.
Lynn Coady chronicles the plight of English majors everywhere through the eyes of nineteen-year-old aspiring poet Lawerence Campbell. As poetry month draws to a close, Mean Boy eases the transition with quirky, entertaining account of the poetic community.
How much does the title of a book contribute to its success? Authors and their book editors agree, it's the toughest part of the job. Computer science researcher, Dr. Atai Winkler at LuLu.com plugged in all the bestselling hard cover fiction titles off the New York Times bestseller list from the last 50 years and here is what he discovered:
Growing up with Dyslexia and ADHD, Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea learned to become an expert at reading people. He used these skills, 'learning opportunities' as he calls them, to build a $2 billion dollar empire.
Poetry is a dying art. At least for most people. Flame me with e-mails if I'm wrong, but it just seems to me that no one takes the time to write it, read it, much less memorize it and recite it. Of course this is preposterous!
Michela Wrong spent six years as a correspondent covering events in Africa for Reuters, the BBC, and The Financial Times prior to writing her book, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz. Printed by Harper Perennial and on its second edition, it is a history of the Congo and President Mobutu’s 32-year reign. It has been heralded by The Economist as a book that is destined to become a classic. She spoke with us from her home in London.
Sue Monk Kidd is the chosen author for April's Wine and Book Group where we select a popular book group read and match delicious wines. The Mermaid Chair(Penguin Non-Classics March 2006) is Sue's follow-up novel to her bestselling first fiction, The Secret Life of Bees. The Mermaid Chair won the Quills Award 2005. Sue celebrates the feminine erotic in this transcendent story about a daughter who, upon returning home to help her mother, becomes sexually involved with a Benedictine monk. Filled with Sue's delicious use of metaphor, and mixing desire with the forbidden—you won't want to miss out.
Dan Brown's bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code has gone down in history as one of the most popular novels. Translated into 40 languages with over 40 million copies sold and garnering the author an annual income of $76 million dollars. But another book combining a plot to threaten the foundations of the church with stolen artifacts and Templars is out. The Parchment (Lindisfarne Books) by Gerald T. McLaughlin. Lovers of The DaVinci Code should take a look.
Bookbuffet recently had the pleasure of speaking with Margaret Atwood. Ms. Atwood is one of today’s most important writers. She has established herself as a prolific poet, novelist, literary critic, proto-feminist, and political activist. She is hailed as one of Canada’s most eminent writers and has been honored throughout her career both nationally and internationally. Atwood, through her perfuse writings, critiques, and activism has ultimately contributed to the growth of women’s writing and to the established legitimacy of Canadian literature.
Eighty years after his death in 1924, Kafka remains one of the most intriguing figures in the history of world literature. Reiner Stach has worked ten years to create the first of three volumes that will become the definitive biography, an essential reference, of Franz Kafka. Kafka: The Decisive Years, (Harcourt 2006)
Book groups who have been meeting for a few years will all have read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Vintage) when it first became available in January 1999. But for those of you who are just starting out, this book remains forefront in our minds with the stunning adaptation to film that garnered Oscar awards for Best Art Direction, and Best Costume. Our partners at Women and Wine have matched delicious wines to sip and taste at your next book group meeting.
Romance novel sales last year were an astounding 1.4 billion dollars. Statistics show romance readers are predominantly middle class, educated and married. BookBuffet was intrigued to speak with a talented new writer, Ami Silber whois an Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate who writes romance under the pseudonym Zoe Archer. Listen to the interview and discussion on the genre, her literary roots and of course her new book Lady X's Cowboy (Dorchester)
Biographer Hilary Spurling has won the prestigious 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year award for the second part of her masterful biography of Matisse, Matisse the Master(Hamish Hamilton), a work which took her 15 years to complete. The announcement was made last night at a star studded awards ceremony held at The Brewery in Central London.
Canadian writer, poet, activist and social commentator, Joy Kogawa has become a voice for displaced persons. Her first novel, Obasan tells the story of her childhood relocation from home to an internment camp, circa WWII. Rated as one of the important books of this generation, it has now been adapted into an opera called "Naomi's Road" that is generating interest, along with a movement to secure her childhood home as a monument and writer's retreat.
Would you take a five week expedition across primitive roads through 10 African countries by motorbike? A team with three intrepid riders have done just that.
The Lundin for Africa Foundation is committed to raising resources and support to improve the quality of life in Africa through grass roots projects involving orphanages, fresh water and sustainable community intiatives. Over $1.3M has come in so far.
For all of my adult reading life, I have been learning about South African politics and race relations through Nadine Gordimer's novels. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, she has been called the moral voice of her nation. Her latest novel, Get A Life (Farrar, Straus and Girioux) is our pick for this month's Book & Wine Club, where our partners at www.WomenWine.com match equally complex and evocative wines. Don't miss this opportunity to experience South Africa as it breathes and tastes today.
Many of you have asked what other book groups are reading. We queried the database for the latest entry on random book group archives and here is your answer. Please drop us a few lines about your group with a picture so we can share.
When the public is told a lie in the case of journalism, (Stephen Glass, former Associate Editor at The New Republic) it erodes our sense of trust in the media. When politicians lie, it can bring down a government; Watergate and now the Adscam for Canada's Liberal Government led by Prime Minister Paul Martin. But let's consider the implications of that little prefix, "non," as in fiction, as in A Million Little Pieces.
Experience España this month as BookBuffet and our partners at Women & Winehttp://www.WomenWine.com have selected the runaway European bestselling novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind Penguin (Non-Classics) for the January 'book and wine club' with three delicious wines at various price points, carefully researched and selected for you and your group. Read, taste, discuss and enjoy! January is a good month to join our group, order the book, and pick up some fabulous deals on wine (by the bottle or case) guaranteed to transport you on mental and sensual journey.
BookBuffet would like to learn more about you and your book group so that we can review books, write feature articles and engage authors that interest you—and offer tools that help your group. Take a moment to answer these questions, copy & paste into an email to us, and we'll enter you in a monthly draw to win review copies of books courtesy of Random House.
Interested in having your voice heard? Write a book review on the BB BLOG and you could become a regular BookBuffet reviewer!
Variety is a to-the-trade publication that keeps entertainment industry types up on all the latest news, deals and gossip. Here is what they have to say about the screenwriters up for potential Oscar recognition this March 5th 2006. Click on book images to purchase.
New York City in December at the height of the holiday season is a feast for the senses; the vibrancy, the crowded streets, the ornately decorated windows, and the unlimited gift choices make you want to say halleluiah to capitalism. BookBuffet traveled to NYC to book browse the epicenter of publishing and consumerism; here are a few of our finds.
Each year BookBuffet's editors and staff put their respective "best picks" together over a range of reading interests for your shopping convenience. This year we divide the list into personality types: adventurers, history-buffs, naturalists, art-lovers, domestic divas, and so on. Order all your books giftwrapped, receive free shipping, and the only chore left will be the joy of giving!
This month Women&Wine and BookBuffet bring you a wonderful literary and enophilic match -- Jane Austen and passionate reds -- just in time for the busy holiday season. Something to think about and drink about; are we really that much different from Jane's crowd?
Rashi's Daughters (Banot Press 2005) is a new novel of historical fiction by Maggie Anton chronicling the lives and loves of Rashi's three daughters, Joheved, Miriam, and Rachel. The author took time to answer questions from Lisa Silverman, BookBuffet's Jewish Literature Editor, who is herself a book group leader, and Director of the Sinai Temple, Blumanthal Library in Los Angeles.
Maybe you’ve passed that section on the way to “Literature.” You might even linger there for a moment, lured by the colorful, sometimes salacious, covers, and struggle with the temptation to pick up one of the books, skim the first pages. But you don’t want to stay long—there’s serious literature waiting for you, and it might damage your bookstore cred to be spotted in the Romance section of your local B&N.
The 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize was awarded to David Bergen for his novel The Time In Between(McLelland and Sterwart) a luminious story alternately told by Charles Boatman and his daughter Ava, about their separate journies to Vietnam from the Pacific Northwest; one to come to terms with post war hauntings from military experience; the other to reconsile the shadow cast over her upbringing by her father's past.
Fall is the perfect time to realign your fitness and diet regime into a contemplative mind-body balance. Los Angeles author, yoga instructor and dharma teacher Arthur Jeon, is coming to Whistler, BC to lead a Yoga-Dharma Retreat. Sponsored by Solarice Wellness Centre + Spa, Lululemon Athletica, Le Chamois Hotel, BookBuffet and Random House Canada. November 18-20 More details...
Damian McNicholl's first novel, A Son Called Gabriel (CDS Books) is a poignant story of a young boys' ambiguous sexual awakening in the backdrop of Northern Ireland's turbulent civil rights struggle of the '60s and '70s. It is a must-readfor: every parent about to raise teenagers; every educator, councilor or psychologist; every minister or priest—indeed anyone seeking to be reminded of the importance of individualism.
The New York City Opera is staging Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's wonderful childhood novel, The Little Princeat the New York Theatre, 20 Lincoln Center for eight performances only November 12th-Nov 20th. This is one of my favorite all-time children's stories adapted by Rachel Portman, (The Cider House Rules, Emma.) It is sure to please. Learn more about the talent behind this event.
the massively successful search engine that has become a household name and appears in dictionaries as both a verb and a noun, has been pushing the buttons of publishers and writers in their quest to digitize everything in print libraries. It’s an interesting dilemma and one that readers, who are the ultimate consumers and beneficiaries, are watching with close attention. Does Google have the right to digitize all the books and journal in libraries?
Not to be discouraged by the blue-rinse and scarf-set of women populating the Vancouver Chan Centre, I sip a glass of wine and browse the Vancouver Writers Festival brochure in the lobby before taking my seat in anticipation of meeting Canada's doyenne writer, Margaret Atwood. Vancouver has arrived with a line-up of front-list authors that any self-respecting festival would be proud of.
Irish-born writer John Banville was named winner of the 37th Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Sea published by Picador. He takes home £50,000. If you read only one prize-winner this fall -- let it be Banville.
Susan Orlean is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her style of journalism is among some of the best prose written in the country today by a new breed of journalists. Author of five books, three of which are compilations of her collected articles, her book, The Orchid Thief (Ballantine Books 2000) about an environmental controversy in the protected swamps of Florida inspired the film Adaptation. BookBuffet caught up with this intrepid travelor, dog lover, and new mother to talk about her writing.
When Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize in 1981 for Midnight's Children he was additionally awarded the James Tait Black Prize as the best Booker Prize winner over all the first 25 years. His latest novel, Shalimar the Clown: A Novel (Sept. Random House) is a powerful parable about the willing and unwilling subversion of multiculturalism, with perspectives on the greater issue of extremism and zealotism. Learn more about this important literary figure in BookBuffet's author spotlight.
The Toronto International Film Festival has become one of the premiere events for filmmakers the world over to introduce their work. In fact it has become the unofficial launchpad for the Oscars. There are 335 films from 53 countries. Of those 109 are world premiers and 67 directorial debuts. Sept 8-17th
Zadie Smith's first novel White Teeth (Penguin) set critics on the edge of their seats. Now that she has reached the ripe age of thirty she is once again back on track and solidly claiming her place in the literary firmament with her third work, On Beauty: A Novel.(Penguin) This work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families, with a plot that explicitly parallels Howards End. (E.M. Forrester is a favorite)
Literary fans across the board are going to have enjoyable movie going experiences this season—with these ABC's adapted for film. Austen, Balchin and Capote. Get the book, see the movie, and discuss at one of your next book groups.
I am seated mid-sanctuary in a pew of the packed St. Andrews-Wesley Cathedral in Vancouver, awaiting the arrival of John Irving. The vaulted room, with its stained glass windows and carved stone-relief, is a-buzz with the conversations of people waiting to see this American Literary Icon, and to hear him speak about his most autobiographical novel to date, Until I Find You (Random House 2005).
Hankering for a taste of Lone Star literature? Jamie Engle is a book reviewer and freelance writer living in north Texas. Bookbuffet asked her to round-up important authors from her state. She recommends the following: Katherine Anne Porter, O. Henry, John Graves, James Michener, Larry McMurtry, Joe R. Lansdale, and Jane Roberts Woods. Sample them inside with this...
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver was voted the all-time reading group favorite, according to a poll organised by the Penguin/Orange Reading Group Prize in association with Ottaker's. Here is the rest of the top 20 list—see all your book group favorites. If you find you've missed reading any book on this list—include it on this year's reading agenda!
"Reed Business Information (RBI) and the NBC Universal Television Stations have joined forces to launch The Quill Awards, a new US book award that honors excellence in book publishing," and BookBuffet is on theNominating Board.
If traveling to the UK this summer you must stop in at the British Library to see the comprehensive exhibit of one of the world's most beloved children's story tellers, Hans Christian Andersen. Born in Denmark in 1805 into poverty, he died in 1875 a wealthy man. This exhibit celebrates the bi-centenary of his birth. Preview the British Library's website and read about his life, his career, the people and influences that shaped his books.
Remember when female authors had to use a male pseudonym just to get published? Remember when all those "guy" titles dominated the NYT bestsellers lists back in the 60s? Well all that has changed as Chris Hastings, correspondent for the Telegraph in the UK reports—the girls are on top.
What do smaller pub houses offer that the conglomerates can't? A passion and philosophy about books that is as varied and interesting as their owners. BookBuffet scouted out these fascinating people at the BEA in New York and asked for book recommendations from ten of the most interesting indi publishing houses. We start our series here with Other Press.
Calling All Authors. BookBuffet has been doing author interviews since we launched this company. But the advantages of today's technology is that we can now offer readers great listening opportunities to our author interviews. RSS Feed and Podcasting, the audio corolary of simple syndication is now taking our interviews to millions of listeners via various podcasting aggregators in addition to our own website, where you can listen to mp3 files in each article. List of BookBuffet Author Interviews
If you are in a lively book group who enjoys reading non-fiction, history, biography and discussing current events, you may be selected as one of four groups by C-SPAN2's Book TV for filming and airing this fall. Spread the word to your book group friends to sign-up with www.BookBuffet.com as we prepare to select groups from our membership at the invitation of Book TV for this exciting opportunity!
Jack El-Hai, prize winning medical journalist and author of The Lobotomist (Wiley 2005) spoke with BookBuffet about the life and times of Dr.Walter J. Freeman—the man who helped pioneer and promote lobotomy as a revolutionary form of psychosurgery in the treatment of patients with schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses. What went wrong? Why did this procedure become synonymus with the kind of repugnance and abuse we ascribe to it today? What can people, the medical community and healthcare policymakers learn from the unique life and career of Walter Freeman? Listen to the interview about The Lobotomist, and find out.
Picking the right book for a particular group is a wonderful challenge. The first consideration is to determine the group's reading goals. Subject matter is of course important, but there are other considerations such as the author's style, the complexity of the book's structure, language and more.
Before breaking for July and August each summer our book group picks a cook book, divies up recipes, and meets for a sumptuous meal, great wine and conversation. For the past three years running we have left all the work up to the good people at Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks—a cook book store slash demonstration kitchen that hosts events with food prepared by one of the shop's exquisite chefs. They instruct and serve dishes from our chosen book. This year's pick was Tarte Tatin and the menu was...
What's this? A new book that expresses something we've known all along; women are not the ones being abandoned by their husbands in marriages, but rather 66% of divorces are initiated by wives. It appears that the younger, blonder temptress is not to blame for it all. "This is refreshing news," quotes Atlantic Monthly reviewer Cristina Nehring in her review of Diane Shader Smith's book. Why do women leave?
BookExpo America is the largest annual event attended by book industry professionals from across the US and the world. This year's affair was in the Big Apple with attendance rivaling long established European Book Expos in Frankfurt and London. BEA is where booksellers, retailers, rights professionals, international publishing executives, librarians, educators, and anyone else involved in the exciting world of books meet. What goes on?
Publisher's Weekly just announced that, "Amazon appears close to opening a new online store to sell digital downloads of spoken-word audio, a move the would put the company in competition with industry leader Audible." Why is this of interest to book groups?
No need to acquire a nautical wardrobe, get sea sick, master the bow line, or risk life and limb on the ocean blue. These authors write so captivatingly your mental travels will suffice. So grab a bottle of Bed Head Sea Mist hair spray (for that just-got-out-of-the-surf look) and tuck one of these books into your beach bag this summer for your own literary voyage.
As summer approaches, book groups are considering which meaty tombe—or long read they will tackle. Some groups even opt to read an author's entire bibliography of works. Others are happy with a selection from the classics or a new biography—books that take an extended time to plow thru. Here are a couple of ideas.
Tracy Quan first entered onto my radar screen while I was researching Jared Diamond (Pulitzer Prize winner for, Guns, Germs and Steel) and his new book, Collapse. There in the middle of an uber-geek website, between cognitive linguistics and intense scientific, technological and cultural conjecture was the short, alluring biography of author Tracy Quan. Her first novel Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, (Three River Press, 2003) has been translated into more than six languages. Her personal essays and other writings have looked at adultery, identity politics, AIDS, virginity, prostitution, technology, and numerous topics from a unique perspective. These have appeared in South China Morning Post, The Asian Review of Books, The Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), San Francisco Chronicle, Men's Health.
Tracy is a former sex-trade worker of ten years who crossed over into writing with her popular Sex series under the Health category of David Talbot's then ground-breaking website, Salon.com. That series grew to 55 episodes (still archived on salon) introducing Tracy's protagonist Nancy Chan, "Manhattan Call Girl of the Millennium".
Is it a comic book, is it a film? Robert Rodriquez expertly directs this film noir adaptation of Frank Miller's dazzling black, white and color manga—graphic novel series, Sin City. Think Dick Tracy meets Pulp Fiction.
Sharon Boorstin author of Cookin' for Love: A Novel with Recipes; iUniverse (2005) is a pleasure to speak with for three reasons: she is a self-made woman grounded in the values of food, family and friendship, (not necessarily in that order) who writes humorously about issues germane to women in their 40’s and 50’s, and has accomplished her goals by embracing technology in a creative way that you will enjoy reading about.
If you're looking for a book you, your husband, boyfriend or co-worker might like, look no further than Malcolm Gladwell. The wunderkind writer for NewYorker magazine is influencing all the hip-intellectuals with his first two books... (photo by Brooke Williams)
Creative risk is an exhilarating experience both from the creator’s and audience point of view. Organizer Michel Beaudry experienced both sides in the recent Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival event as organizer and presenter of Words and Stories. BookBuffet attended the event, a collective tribute by five varied artists whose riffs on a mountain theme delivered unique perspectives and performances. Read about TWSSF and then check the spoken word events in your neighborhood, a refreshing way to connect to words.
Each year I relish the announcement of the shortlist for the Orange Prize. I've read almost all of the previous winners and can tell you that they have each of them been excellent. Check-out the list announced today.
Canada’s Sponsorship Scandal, alternatively known as AdScam or Canadagate, has been fascinating to watch from a citizen’s rights and media perspective. It is making history in Canada because Bloggers, and those who frequent their sites, have been the driving force accessing and disseminating information traditional print media has not been able to convey. Find out more about the justice system in Canada, ownership of the media, and the best books on ethics.
Every moderator or book group leader hears a call to action when the first comment out of a group member is, "I didn't like this book." Rachel Jacobsohn has been leading groups for over 30 years. Here are her thoughts on this crucial topic, in our ongoing BookBuffet series of book group leader tips.
BlacksandBooks.com is a new literary website launched Feb. 1, 2005 that offers news on African American authors, publishers and booksellers—one of the leading growth opportunity markets. Founder Ken Smikle said, "We have long recongnized the need for more trade information about African-Americans' rising profile in book publishing - not just as authors, but as publishing professionals, booksellers, agents and consumers."
I’ll admit I’ve always been guilty of ignoring the maxim and picking up books whose creative trade paper covers intrigue me. My theory is: creative on the outside, creative on the inside. In the case of anything published by McSweeny’s, the theory holds true.
Many of you have asked what other book groups are reading. We queried the database for the latest entry on random book group archives and here is your answer. Please drop us a few lines about your group with a picture so we can share.
Do you use Netscape? Internet Explorer? Safari? Mozilla? Firefox? Each browser has its own idiosyncrasies and you should know which ones are safe! All browsers are not created equal! And worse, some are dang dangerous.
My former room-mate at the Stanford University Pulishing Course is a charming, intelligent young woman from Beirut. She attended graduate school at NYU and spent her youth in Paris during her country's civil war years in the 80's. Happy to be home in a thriving Beirut once more, we have been corresponding back and forth. I want to share her e-mail and first hand account with you surrounding recent events in her country.
Book group members are avid readers and often help their community libraries and schools by donating the books they've read. Perhaps your group is like mine and has been considering taking part in a philanthropic initiative to promote literacy? www.reachoutandread.org may be just the right organization for you.
Chinese New year is celebrated on the first day of the first moon of the lunar calendar, Feb. 9th, and lasts fifteen days. Celebrate by reading these outstanding Chinese authors whose work has won literary acclaim and spans stories set during the Cultural Revolution, Tianamen Square uprising and even a modern Chinese verson of The Bell Jar.
It is Paris 1854 and Ella Lynch, a broke and beautiful courtesan, decides to take-up with the dashing and wealthy Francisco Solano—the future dictator of Paraguay—and move to his isolated country to become his mistress. Taking with her a servant, her possessions and a horse called Mathilde, she reports the news in letters back to Paris of her experiences in an exotic new world of isolation and adventure, power and wealth, fraught with harrowing challenges of war, disease, and her own spiral into her husband's cruel ambition.
Check-out the latest addition to BookBuffet's LINKS & RESOURCES. We have just added The California Literary Review to the list of Book Review resources. The CLR was founded just one year ago by Paul Comstock, and already its collection of reviews, interviews, and essays offer great reading and book suggestions for book groups. Two essays attracted me...
I read Don Quixote for the second time before interviewing [the latest most supreme translation by] Edith Grossman. As well, our whole family listened to the audio tape on a trip down the West coast from Vancouver to L.A., and I can tell you my teenage boys were in a trance the whole way. If you haven't read it, now is your chance. "Falkner read it every year, former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez peruses it daily.." Read more of this excellent Guardinan article Jan 13th, 2005
I enjoy getting the Economist City Guides in my email box and wanted to pass along a terrific book browsing tip for Paris. On the Left Bank, between the Quai d'Orsay and the Íle de la Cité are antiquarian booksellers or bouquinistes—second hand book stores; what could be more romantic than walking along the Seine, reading French existentialists at an outdoor café while sipping hot thé, or better yet, a snifter of warm Congnac.
What are the literary highlights of the next six months? The Guardian team of reviewers picks the best books, beginning with fiction and covering history, science, politics, philosophy, film and poetry
Kathryn Hughes, Martin Kettle, Josh Lacey, Steven Poole, Robert Potts and Tim Radford Saturday January 1, 2005 The Guardian
Ann-Marie MacDonald's second novel, The Way the Crow Flies tops bestseller charts in the paperback edition in her home country. It portrays the Canadian Cold War perspective as experienced by the McCarthy family, who live in a small Ontario border town on an RCAF military base.
Susan Sontag, one of America's most influential intellectuals, author of 17 books translated into 32 languages and internationally renowned for her passionate activism in the cause of human rights, died today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
Occassionally, just looking at or hearing a writer's name doesn't tell you whether they're a "he or she". According to a team of computer scientists, however, there are plenty of clues in the writing style.
Here's our highly subjective list of the best books for gift-giving this holiday season. Don't forget to sign yourself and your literary friends up for a BookBuffet Membership. (Click on book titles for quick link to purchase.)
Just a few hours ago the winner was announced at the televised gala in Toronto for Canada's prestigious Giller Prizewith $25,000 awarded to Alice Munro age 73, for her latest short story collection, Runaway, Knopf (October 2004)
With fall upon us and the holidays just around the corner, you may be pining for adventure. Whatever reasons keeping you from that end need not stop you from reading really good yarns of other people's adventures. From 20,000 mile motorbike enduros to excellent anthologies of important adventure writing this past century, come explore with us...
Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Doubleday (March, 2003) has become a worldwide, bestselling phenomenon. With more than 8 million copies in print—and still going strong, BookBuffet considers its popularity and what this means to book groups.
To celebrate Powell's tenth anniversary, thousands of participants sent in their essay telling their "most memorable reading experience in the last ten years", to compete for the prize of a $1,000 spending spree on books. Read the compelling winning entry by a grade 11 inner city school teacher...
Elfriede Jelinek, 57, is the tenth woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 103 years, which causes her "more despair than peace"; she is quoted from her home in Vienna. This reaction is in keeping with the author's reputation as a challenging and unique voice whose work characterizes women in post-war Europe.
This "Moderator Tip” continues where the first ended—creating a ritual to honorably initiate your discussion. Please email any comments or criticism, and suggestions for future columns. If you are a moderator, volunteer or professional, everyone at BookBuffet.com would benefit from your response.
October 2, 2004, marks the centenary of one of the twentieth century’s most important literary figures: Graham Greene. In volume three, Norman Sherry brings this magisterial biography—twenty-seven years in the making—to a close. Catch up on all things Greene...
Check the BookBuffet Events Calendar for the many Book Festivals listed in Canada and the US. These events are wonderful opportunities to meet authors, promote literacy and make connections—perhaps sign up for a writing course in your area!
The Viennese will tell you the best time to visit is in summer or at Christmas, but arriving in balmy September after the departure of crowds affords enjoyment of the outdoor café life, and is a wonderful way to meet locals and discuss books.
Fiction and non-fiction used to carry relatively equal weight with book sellers, publishers and the compilers of bestseller lists. Until recently, fiction was the more dashing, glamorous side but non-fiction has started to produce stars which publishing companies are wanting to promote from their backlist.
This month promises interesting big screen viewing adapted from books by: William Makepeace Thackery's Vanity Fair; Andre Dubus's We Don't Live Here Anymore; The Motorcycle Diaries of Che Guevarra, and the art house triumph, Maria Full of Grace by Joshua Marsten. .
The annual Australian Booksellers Association met in Canberra this week to honor the country's best books, best book sellers, best publishers among other categories. Two books tied for Book of the Year:
Sheila Hayman is a force to be reckoned with. In typical British selfdepricating fashion, she describes herself as "the daughter of a German pure mathematician and a Yorkshire Quaker, who grew up awkwardly with stick-out ears and an appreciation for upper Mozart while [her] friends were still listening to the Monkeys”.
Julia Child passed away in her sleep early today, in her Montecito assisted living center located just one hour north of Los Angeles on the California coast. Credited with bringing French culinary technique and style to the average home-maker via her popular first cook books, she went on to host "Bon Appetit" on television and her distinctive warbling voice made her a favored icon of the culinary world.
If you are not inclined to air guitar while listening to your favorite rock riff, and playing in a Rock & Roll band was never your secret fantasy, then you must certainly go out and buy Jake Slichter's new book because you are missing-out on an interesting perspective of life.
It has always been my contention that book groups epitomize a contradiction in terms. Reading is a, if not the, most isolated activity. A book group weds that isolated activity with animated social discourse. One activity enriches the other; some say they are linked inextricably. Once we read a book that moves us, we want to find someone with whom we can discuss it. A book group fulfills that paradigm.
The Stanford Professional Publishing Course is an intensive nine-day program for mid-career professionals in book and magazine publishing, taught by luminaries in the U.S. publishing industry. Paula Shackleton, founder of BookBuffet attended the 2004 course held in July.
Anyone who has played Monopoly knows the winning strategy is to own Park Avenue and Board Walk, load them up with hotels, and cleanout every player who inevitably lands there. Valerie Ann Leff wants to clean readers out with her debut novel Better Homes and Husbands, (St. Martin’s Press 2004) a funny, insightful and compassionate book about the people who live and work at the glamorous Park Avenue address.
In this technological age, statistics show reading is down. What individual and societal effect does this fact imply? Why should we care? Beyond all we are taught in school, the morals we learn from family while growing up—only reading, Edmundson argues, can shape our thoughts, opinions, actions as adults.
Radio stations not only interview authors and keep audio files on their websites, but you can also view Spoken Word events. Check out these two superlative Public Radio Stations: BookWorm & Talking Volumes.
Summer blockbusters are difficult to negotiate when you are a literary junky looking for interesting film adaptations. But here are a few flicks coming down the pike this summer that will interest you.
Centennial celebrations of James Joyce and his sprawling masterpiece Ulysses continue around the world all summer. Not near any of the happenings? We interviewed documentary filmmaker Fritzi Horstman on her work titled, Joyce to the World. Get inspired...
The National Endowment for the Arts presents Shakespeare in American Communities, the largest tour of Shakespeare in American history. Shakespeare in American Communities will bring professional Shakespeare productions and related educational activities to more than 100 small and mid-sized communities in all 50 states.
What does a "Meat-eating, poker-playing, cigar-smoking, skirt-chasing, Ivy League graduate-come-screenwriter and yoga instructor have to do with it?" asks screenwriter and best friend Helena Kriel at the Santa Monica book launch of this author. Meet Arthur Jeon, in this month's author interview, discussing his new book, City Dharma: Keeping Your Cool in the Chaos, Random House (2004) his first in a two-book contract. Love and the Dharma is his next book.
May is InternationalTranslation Month and we caught up with Edith Grossman to talk about her latest work of translation, Don Quixoteby Miquel Cervantes, (Harper Collins 2004) NEW! Listen to the podcast interview.
The British have invaded, again; this time with Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Gotham Books (2004) A best-seller on the other side of the drink, we shall soon see if Americans can be similarly titilated, motivated, or collectively annoyed enough to pick up a copy and join in the fun.
Kudos to Susan Annett, of the Santa Monica Public Library in her latest staging of the Citywide Reads program highlighting the centenary tribute to Christopher Isherwood, author of The Berlin Stories. If you did not know of or have not yet taken advantage of this unique community literary opportunity, now is your chance. This month is a doozie. If you are not in the area, follow along online.
"Many people describe Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' and the civil rights movement as the defining moment in their lives and the generation since has been shaped from it...
"Online retailer Amazon.com will begin complying with changes in the state's sales tax law beginning April 1, company officials told legislators Tuesday. [So says] Rich Prem, the company's head tax official..."
BookBuffet's Books to Film feature for February is devoted to the Oscar list. Great films often derive from great books and successful screenplay adaptations. Have your read any of the original books these nominated films are based on? Chances are the ones you've read will affect your own voting at home when they announce "..and the winner goes to...!"
Whistler, British Columbiais a full-season destination resort offering unparalleled skiing and snowboarding in the winter—and opportunities for aprés reading. BookBuffet's Paula Shackleton spent her holiday doing both.
BookBuffet interviews Sara Lewis, author of The Best of Good, is a story of Tom Good, a talented musician struggling with depression and losing his grip on life, who upon discovering that a decade old romance produced a son he never knew existed, becomes motivated to transform himself into a person his son will want to love. Sara writes like a female Nick Hornby.