50 States of Literature: Heads in Hawaii | Columbia Spectator

50 States of Literature: Heads in Hawaii | Columbia Spectator

The Columbia Spectator heads to Hawaii with the novel Heads by Harry:

Lois-ann Yamanaka is exceptionally gifted at making the unusual and unsavory seem exotic and entrancing—taxidermy is “true art, not a painting or poem, inaccurate and prone to interpretation, but breathing life into flesh drawing breath.” She also renders the Hawaiian landscape as something beyond simply lush. Instead, it is a land full of diverse elements and peoples.

Author Phyllis Whitney Dies at Age 104

Prolific American author Phyllis A. Whitney has died in Virginia at the age of 104. Although she did not write her first book until she was nearly 40, she published more than 100 short stories, 73 works of fiction, many magazine articles, and three books about how to write fiction (including Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels, 1976, and Guide to Fiction Writing, 1982).

Whitney was born in Japan and spent much of her early life in China, where her father worked. After his death when she was 15, she and her mother lived in Berkeley, California, and then in San Antonio, Texas. She got married in 1925 and gave birth to her only child, a daughter, in 1934.

Whitney began her career as an author with short stories. She supplemented her income from her stories by working in the Chicago Public Library’s children’s room, where she learned about children’s reading preferences. Her first books were A Star for Ann, 1941, and A Window for Julie, 1943, both of which were novels aimed at career information for girls. She also worked as children’s book editor for the Chicago Sun and, later, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and taught a juvenile fiction writing course at New York University between 1947 and 1958.

Her third novel, Red Is for Murder, 1943, was a mystery. She continued to write mystery novels for both children and adults. She twice won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for the best children’s mystery story of the year.

In addition to her early life in Japan and China, Whitney traveled extensively. Locales such as the Philippines and Hawaii provided the setting for many of her novels.

Her last novel, Amethyst Dreams, was published in 1997. She was working on her autobiography at the time of her death.

Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers – New York Times

Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers – New York Times

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby continues to inspire urban youth, many of whom are immigrants, with its portrayal of the American dream. The book is still required reading in half the high schools in the U.S. It sells about half a million copies a year, mostly to high school and college students.

What accounts for the novel’s continuing popularity?

teachers at Boston Latin and other urban schools, say their students see in “Gatsby” glimmers of their own evolving identities and dreams. The students talk about the youthful characters — Gatsby; Daisy Buchanan, the married woman he loves; Tom, Daisy’s husband and a onetime Yale football star; and the narrator, Nick Carraway — as if they were classmates or celebrities.

50 States of Literatue: A Trip to Wild Alaska

50 States of Literatue: A Trip to Wild Alaska | Columbia Spectator

The Columbia Spectator is back, with its entry for Alaska,  The Man Who Swam With Beavers, a collection of short stories by Nancy Lord. “At the heart of the conservation debate, and with a population divided between Native Americans, recent locals, and businessmen, Alaska is a state at war with its elements—and this unique quality is what Lord’s stories capture best.”

Some Screenwriters Turn to Children’s Books

For some Hollywood screenwriters, an unlikely diversion: children’s books | csmonitor.com

Following an earlier report that some striking Hollywood screenwriters are using their off time to work on novels, here’s a follow-up: Some striking screenwriters for children’s shows are funneling their creative ideas into children’s books that will be published later this year.

But don’t think that a children’s book is something writers can just toss off in their spare time:

Writing for kids is tough, says Jerry Griswold, director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in San Diego, Calif. It took Maurice Sendak 8 years to draft the 300-word classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”