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Indie Bookseller Panel Tackles Free Expression

News items like this are becoming distressingly frequent. Publishers Weekly reports on a virtual discussion by regional independent bookselling associations.

Powell’s Books Survived Amazon. Can It Reinvent Itself After the Pandemic?

“As much as any city, Portland, Ore., has been through hell. Its landmark store, Powell’s Books, must finally build a viable online business while recapturing its downtown success.”

window labeled Powell's City of Books, Portland, OR, U.S.A.

Writer Peter S. Goodman for the New York Times considers the future of Powell’s Book Store, one of the treasures of Portland, OR, USA, after nearly two years of pandemic, frequent and violent protests, homelessness, and nearby wild fires:

Like the rest of Portland’s urban core — and like downtowns across the United States —Powell’s is contending with staggering uncertainty. How will brick-and-mortar stores fare in a time of continued fear over a deadly, airborne plague? What happens to city life when sidewalks are strewn with the rain-soaked belongings of people who can no longer afford rent?

Column: A moment to praise Graywolf Press, ‘Milkman’ publisher and an unsung hero in the books world

For the Chicago Tribune, writer John Warner praises Graywolf Press, a nonprofit publisher of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction located in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and its “living legend” director, Fiona McCrae. 

“There’s something important about a small publisher that plays such a big game that can provide a home for authors without commercial concerns being central to the operations.”

Ghostwriters Come Out of the Shadows

I’ve followed the business of freelance writing for 40 years now. Back when I started, ghost writers understood that they could not talk about the books they’d worked on, could not even put the titles on a resume. I’m glad to see this change.

The Ecological Prescience of Dune

Unlike most science fiction of its time, Dune isn’t about so much about technology as it is about ecology. Environmental science is the critical real-world underpinning of the Dune fictional universe (the Dune-iverse, if you will). In fact, some scholars have argued that Dune is one of the earliest examples of climate fiction, a story intimately concerned with exploring the relationships and interactions between organisms and their environment.

How to Audit Your Reading Life

Kelly Jensen asserts:

I regularly audit my reading life, taking stock in what’s working, what’s not, and trends which emerge annually. I’m able through this process to better ferret out what books are going to be up my alley from the piles around my home, as well as discover what new places I’d like to work toward taking my reading life.

As the end of the year approaches, bringing with it the usual urge to examine my reading for this year with a look forward to next year’s plan, I’m pondering the points Jensen makes here and how they can help me improve my own reading life.

People Like Her Didn’t Exist in French Novels. Until She Wrote One.

“Fatima Daas’s debut book explores the writer’s conflicted identities as a lesbian, Muslim woman with an immigrant background. In France, it was an unlikely literary hit.”

Julia Webster Ayuso discusses Fatima Daas’s novel The Last One, which “follows a young, lesbian Muslim woman in a tough Paris suburb who struggles to reconcile her conflicting identities.”

The book deals with several core themes of Life Stories in Literature: the search for identity, the right to tell one’s own story, the need to create and assert one’s own narrative.

Life Stories in Literature

Themes

identity

family

we are what we remember

inside vs. outside stories

imposters

hidden identities & secrets

trauma

creating/controlling one’s own narrative

cultural appropriation

alternate life options

alternative selves

turning points/life decisions

when/how lives intersect

multiple points of view

rewriting history

change your story, change your life

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