Archive for January, 2009

Remembering John Updike

Friday, January 30th, 2009

This week’s Scout Report has a good round-up of items about the death–and life–of John Updike:

John Updike, Critic and Author, Dies At Age 76

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author John Updike Dies at Age 76 [Real Player]

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99942825

Remembering Updike

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/remembering-upd/

For better or worse, John Updike produced a nearly endless stream of work

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-mew-updike-appreciate28-2009jan28,0,6965396.story

John Updike: This I Believe [Real Player]

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99919409

Invisible Cathedral: A Walk Through the New Modern

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/11/15/041115crat_atlarge

Updike Desert Comix

http://harvardlampoon.com/?q=node/266

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/hub_fans_bid_kid_adieu_article.shtml

This Tuesday, John Updike, chronicler of the American condition in the mid and late twentieth century passed away in Danvers, Massachusetts. Throughout his six decades of writing, Updike found time to write about the world of suburban existence (and ennui), colonial Africa, a Jewish writer in Eastern Europe, and a group of women living in a small New England Town in The Witches of Eastwick, and its 2008 follow-up volume, The Widows of Eastwick. Updike was always the polymath, and during his student days at Harvard University, he found time to write and draw cartoons for the Harvard Lampoon. He continued his diverse pursuits throughout his life, as he wrote a great deal of literary criticism for publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times. In an interview, Updike remarked that his primary subject was “Protestant, small-town middle class.” Literary organizations and institutions responded positively to his various narratives, as he was the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, and three National Book Critics’ Circle awards during his lifetime. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news story from National Public Radio this Wednesday, which reports on Updike’s passing. The second link leads to a lovely selection of Updike remembrances offered by fellow literary travelers Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Theroux, Richard Ford, and others. Moving on, the third link leads to a reflection on Updike’s work and legacy by David L. Ulin, which appeared in this Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times. The fourth link will whisk users away Updike’s personal essay from 2005 offered as part of the “This I Believe” series. The fifth link leads to Updike’s assessment of the new Museum of Modern Art, which appeared in the November 15, 2004 edition of The New Yorker. The sixth link will take interested parties to one of the “comix” he created for the Harvard Lampoon during his stay in Cambridge. Finally, the last link leads to one of Updike’s most beloved pieces of writing (particularly for baseball fans), “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”. It’s a piece that describes the world of Ted Williams as he prepares for his last game with the Boston Red Sox, and it’s one that’s worth rereading, even if it might be the twentieth time. [KMG]

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2009. http://scout.wisc.edu/

An Appraisal – Updike Made the Mundane Into a Saga

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

An Appraisal – Updike Made the Mundane Into a Saga – NYTimes.com:

Endowed with an art student’s pictorial imagination, a journalist’s sociological eye and a poet’s gift for metaphor, John Updike — who died on Tuesday at 76 — was arguably this country’s one true all-around man of letters, moving fluently from fiction to criticism, from light verse to short stories to the long-distance form of the novel: a literary decathlete in our age of electronic distraction and willful specialization, Victorian in his industriousness and almost blogger-like in his determination to turn every scrap of knowledge and experience into words.

More on this American author, who died earlier today.

John Updike, Author, Dies at 76

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

John Updike, Author, Dies at 76 – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com:

NEW YORK (AP) — John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday at age 76.

Updike, a resident of Beverly Farms, Mass., died of lung cancer, according to a statement from his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.

A literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists, the tall, hawk-nosed Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir ”Self-Consciousness” and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams. He was prolific, even compulsive, releasing more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. Updike won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for ”Rabbit Is Rich” and ”Rabbit at Rest,” and two National Book Awards.

Quotation of the Day

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life; they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our byoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p. 237

Robinson, Bolaño Among 2008 NBCC Award Finalists

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Robinson, Bolaño Among 2008 NBCC Award Finalists – 1/24/2009 9:13:00 PM – Publishers Weekly:

A list of finalists for the National Book Critics Circle annual awards in the categories of fiction, poetry, criticism, biography, autobiography, and nonfiction

Library use jumps in Seattle area; economy likely reason

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Local News | Library use jumps in Seattle area; economy likely reason | Seattle Times Newspaper:

A library card has become a hot property in the Seattle region — area public libraries are experiencing a surge in circulation. While busy libraries in one of the nation’s most literate cities are nothing new, some librarians credit (or blame) the recession for a dramatic upswing in business.

In a kind of follow-up to a previous post, this article describes a dramatic increase in library use in the Seattle area.

Librarian Nancy Pearl Dips Below The Reading Radar : NPR

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Librarian Nancy Pearl Dips Below The Reading Radar : NPR:

Although we all can turn to reviews, advertisements or the best-seller lists for some suggestions, many books remain unreviewed and overlooked. I always especially like to look for books that have fallen beneath the reading radar, or books that I think more people ought to know about, because they’re just too good to overlook. Here are some of my recent favorites.

If your TBR pile has dwindled, Seattle’s famous librarian has some suggestions.

In difficult economic times, libraries become even more popular with the general public

Friday, January 9th, 2009

In difficult economic times, libraries become even more popular with the general public

Books fly off shelves as library use soars

http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090108/NEWS0107/901080426/1001/NEWS01&nav_category=NEWS01

The Santa Barbara Independent Libraries Busy in Faltering Economy

http://www.independent.com/news/2009/jan/08/libraries-busy-faltering-economy/

The Public Library Renaissance

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/the-public-library-renaissance/

Judge orders libraries to stay open

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/20090106_Judge_orders_libraries_to_stay_open.html

Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/

Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Wiki

http://booklust.wetpaint.com/

In economically challenging times, many people choose to omit certain luxuries, including pedicures, new (or used) cars, and other items. Retailers are also now reporting that consumers are also buying fewer books, CD’s, and DVD’s. Are people just not listening to music, turning on the television, or reading? That’s definitely not the case, as the nations’ libraries are reporting record numbers in terms of new library card applications and the sheer circulation numbers of their various holdings. A column in the Boston Globe reported that the checkouts of such items are up 15 percent in Modesto, 17 percent at the Newark Public Library, and that the Boise Public Library also reported a 61 percent increase in new library cards. Many people also rely on public libraries to perform job searches online, hold community meetings and forums, and as a place to spend a few hours away from inclement weather. Despite the recent uptick in public library use, there are a few ominous signs on the horizon. Many cities have been forced to cut library operating hours due to severe budget shortfalls, and Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia, even proposed closing 11 branches of the city’s public library system. A recent ruling by a judge kept those branches open, but many of the challenges remain in Philadelphia and in hundreds of public library systems across the United States. [KMG]

The first link will take users to an article from this Thursday’s Bend (OR) Bulletin that talks a bit about the increased library use at the Bend Public Library. The next link leads to a like-minded piece from the Santa Barbara Independent, which discusses the importance of their local libraries within their community. The third link whisks users away to a recent post from the “Freakonomics” weblog at the New York Times. The post talks a bit about the previously mentioned Boston Globe article and also offers link to other relevant sites on libraries. Moving on, the fourth link leads to a piece from this Tuesday’s Philadelphia Inquirer about the recent ruling that requires Philadelphia to keep all of its libraries open. Those persons with an interest in the history of public libraries in the United States will enjoy the fifth link, as it contains information about the famed Carnegie libraries, paid for via the fortune of industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Finally, the last link leads to a site created by noted Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. Here visitors can create their own book wiki, trade information on favorite books with other bibliophiles, and so on. [KMG]

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2009. http://scout.wisc.edu/

Hollywood rarely did Donald Westlake justice

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Hollywood rarely did Donald Westlake justice – Los Angeles Times:

Roughly two dozen films emerged from Westlake’s novels or involved screenplay work by the man himself. But only two — 1967′s ‘Point Blank,’ based on the first novel he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark, and Westlake’s adaptation of Jim Thompson’s ‘The Grifters’ (1990) — are clear standouts. Both films, oddly, were done by British directors (John Boorman and Stephen Frears, respectively) well out of the Hollywood mainstream.

‘When you read the books, your superficial sense of them is that they’re totally movie-ready,’ said Terrence Rafferty, a veteran film critic who’s written for the New Yorker and GQ. But adaptations of Westlake’s work, he said, range mostly from not very good to the ‘train wreck’ that is 2001′s ‘What’s the Worst That Can Happen?’ and the ‘absolutely dreadful’ case of 1974′s ‘Bank Shot.’

In its entirety, this article is a good tribute to Donald E. Westlake, who died at age 75 on New Year’s Eve. I miss him already.

‘Conversations With God’ Author Accused of Plagiarism

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

‘Conversations With God’ Author Accused of Plagiarism – ArtsBeat Blog – NYTimes.com:

Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling series ‘Conversations with God,’ recently posted a personal Christmas essay on the spiritual Web site Beliefnet.com that was nearly identical to a 10-year-old article originally published by a little-known writer in a spiritual magazine. He now says he made a mistake in believing the story was something that had actually happened to him.

Oh dear. People who do this are always sorry–when they get caught. I stand firmly with Candy Chand, the woman whose work was lifted:

“I have strong issue with anyone who would appear to plagiarize my work and pretend it is his own,” said Ms. Chand. “That takes away from the truth of the material, it takes away from the miracle that occurred, because people begin to question what they can believe anymore. As a professional writer, when someone appears to plagiarize, they damage the industry, they damage other writer’s credibility and they hurt the reader because they never know what to believe anymore.”

And the fact that the man who got caught doing this is supposedly a man of God–well, I stand with Candy Chand on that point, too:

She added that it was ironic that Mr. Walsch in particular had been the one to appropriate her writing. “Has the man who writes best selling books about his ‘Conversations with God’ also heard God’s commandments?” she asked. “’Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not lie, and thou shalt not covet another author’s property?’”