Monday Miscellany

For Your Holiday Gift-Giving

book treeNow that the winter holiday gift-giving season has officially arrived, here are a couple of items to keep in mind:

Holidaze, Book Riot’s Pinterest Board

100 books for holiday gift-giving, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Media Elite: The Best Literary Cameos Ever Committed to Film

Though an author’s film cameo is often a lights-on, fully-clothed activity, that doesn’t make it any less sexy, ego-gratifying or even illicit than many of the other perks that go along with presiding over a pop culture empire. The gods of the literary world have long held a special mystique for Hollywood as the Platonic form storyteller; and the movie industry has kissed the ring in the only way it knows how — by pointing a camera at them.

author collage


On Our Location: New e-book affirms the crucial relationship of story and setting

Gina K. Hackett, a writer for The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, reports on a fascinating new piece of eliterature: an iPhone/iPad app that uses GPS to allow readers to access a fictional narrative, then contribute to the story. The app reinforces the interaction between story and setting.

Unfortunately, those of us who don’t live in Massachusetts seem to be left out of this new experience unless we’re willing to travel.

A Brief History of the Literary Sea Monster

Author Robert Pobi:

When I sat down to write Mannheim Rex, I had a rich literary history to visit. Forget the things that go bump in the night; here comes a list of sea monsters that could swallow you whole.

Or tear you to pieces.

Take a look at his 10 examples, which range from the great fish in The Adventures of Pinocchio to the shark in Peter Benchley’s Jaws.

One for the Road

Well, whaddya know, Marilyn Stasio, mystery reviewer for The New York Times, has discovered the beauty of audiobooks. I’ve been a big fan of audiobooks for years, and during those years I discovered that mysteries are particularly good for listening to, especially on long drives. One time on a road trip from St. Louis to Florida my husband, teenaged daughter, and I pulled into a gas station for a pit stop but stayed in the car until we had reached the end of an action scene in Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger.

Anyway, read why Stasio recommends the following audiobooks:

  • Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
  • Creole Belle by James Lee Burke
  • The Cocktail Waitress by James M. Cain
  • Gun Games by Faye Kellerman
  • Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
  • Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Speaking Volumes

Also in The New York Times, William Grimes addresses both the pros and the cons of audiobooks:

In reality, the book-length recitation turns out to be a very tricky medium. A good reader can lift a mediocre book above its station. A bad reader can ruin a masterpiece. And there are all kinds of variation in between: A so-so book rich with incident and characters can delight, while a good book can be good in the wrong ways, with sumptuous, tightly written sentences that make it almost impossible to stick with, especially for listeners who are driving, or making dinner — which is to say, most of the intended audience.

Read what he has to say about these recent audio renditions:

  • Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
  • This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
  • Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
  • The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


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