Monday Miscellany

This week’s links.

Did You Just Pay Too Much for That eBook?

If you own any kind of ereader (Kindle, Nook, iPad or other tablet, Kobo), you must read this article by Shannon Rupp. When she goes in search of a novel published in 1924, this is what she found:

So as a consumer on the hunt for Parade’s End I had the option of getting a free PDF copy via Project Gutenberg, a neatly packaged iBook via Vigo Classics, or the Random House Digital version of the novel, connected to the paperback tie-in with the mini-series.

PDFs don’t read smoothly on my iPod, so I passed on the freebie. Vigo packages the book for iGizmos for $2.99 and was easy to find in iTunes. Meanwhile, Random House Digital had two prices in iTunes — $8.99 or $13.99 — for exactly the same book Vigo sells, albeit with nicer covers. Over at it cost $15.92 to read the Random House version on a Kindle.

Really, you must read the rest of what she has to say.

Inverting ‘King Lear’ In ‘Goldberg Variations’

Cover: Goldberg Variations
Goldberg Variations

Susan Isaacs, whose latest novel, Goldberg Variations, features a female protagonist who owns a multimillion-dollar business, on whether her strong women characters are feminist role models:

“That’s too lofty, because then I’m taking myself out of the story, out of my imagination, and taking on a political aim. It’s not that I’m apolitical … In my youth, I was a freelance political speechwriter, which taught me a lot about writing fiction, I must add. But I don’t want to do that. I want to tell the story … I came out of an era of the early feminist novels where women went through a grand thrash against usually a lout of a husband, and they wound up having an affair as a way of breaking out. Well, this is fine, but then what? I was blessed, even growing up in the ’50s, with a father who, when I said, ‘I want to be an airline stewardess,’ he said, ‘Why not the pilot?’ … He was an amazing guy. But I always wanted women to want something for themselves beyond all the … womanly things.”

Secrets, lies & TV: Protagonists harbor character-defining secrets

Joanne Ostrow, television critic for the Denver Post, discusses the literary roots of TV characters with secrets:

No matter how Don Draper [of AMC’s hit TV series Mad Men] redesigns himself, we know he actually started life as Dick Whitman, son of a prostitute who died giving birth to him.

The secret gives the narrative an exquisite inner tension.

For as long as it stays secret.

Jonathan Evison on coming back from irredeemable loss

Cover: Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

In this short but moving essay, the author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving explains how writing the novel helped him heal from personal loss:

This book represents nothing less than an emotional catharsis for its author. I wrote this book because I needed to. Because my sister went on a road trip 39 years ago and never came back. And my family has yet to heal from this terrible fact. This novel is about the imperative of getting in that van, because you have no choice but to push yourself and drive on, and keep driving in the face of life’s terrible surprises. It’s about the people and the things you gather along that rough road back to humanity. And in the end, for me, “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” is the van in which I finally bring my sister home.

October is National Reading Group Month

On this site you’ll find the story behind National Reading Group Month, a calendar of nation-wide events, and resources and tips for enhancing book discussions. Whether you’re a reading group member, author, bookseller, librarian, or publishing industry professional, get involved in National Reading Group Month. Celebrate the joy of shared reading.

National Reading Group Month is an initiative of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). Founded in 1917, WNBA promotes literacy, a love of reading, and women’s roles in the community of the book.

The Adventures of the Real Tom Sawyer

In Smithsonian magazine Robert Graysmith tells the story behind one of Mark Twain’s best known characters:

Mark Twain prowled the rough-and-tumble streets of 1860s San Francisco with a hard-drinking, larger-than-life fireman

Fascinating Photographs of Famous Literary Characters in Real Life

After you look at the drawing of the real Tom Sawyer in Smithsonian, take a look at pictures of 10 other literary characters inspired by real people:

The inspiration for “My Antonia”
  1. Alice in Wonderland
  2. Peter Pan
  3. Dorian Gray
  4. Daisy Buchanan
  5. Sherlock Holmes
  6. Lolita and Humbert Humbert
  7. Winnie the Pooh
  8. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty
  9. Antonia Shimerdas
  10. Anne Shirley

Is this how you imagined them?

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