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Literary Links

The Book That Unleashed American Grief

“John Gunther’s Death Be Not Proud defied a nation’s reluctance to describe personal loss.”

Deborah Cohen discusses Death Be Not Proud, published in 1949, John Gunther’s account of the his son’s death at age 17 from a brain tumor. The publisher, Harper & Brothers, feared at the time that the public would not be interested in a book on such a topic. However, the book is the only work by Gunther that has remained continuously in print.

Today we are familiar with books about grief. But Cohen attributes the success of Gunther’s book to:

the anti-fascism of the ’30s and widespread revulsion at the dehumanizing horrors of World War II. The predominance of the genre today—which we think about as a celebration of “I”—had its beginnings in an attempt to heal the collective “we.”

Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Memoir

In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Samuel L. Jackson Plays the Role of a Lifetime (in More Ways Than One)

I haven’t watched the Apple TV+ series or read the book on which it’s based, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley, but this article has piqued my interest in both:

all day long, he [the main character, played by Samuel L. Jackson] is transported via mysterious flashbacks from his life—memories that haunt him but have been separated from context. He hallucinates ghosts—a childhood guardian, his deceased wife—who warn him about things that don’t make much sense. He is presented to us, immediately, as a man clinging to the story of his life.

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Television, Older Adults in Literature, Literature & Psychology

Fantasy author’s surprise new book series sets Kickstarter record

CNN reports on the success of “Brandon Sanderson, the prolific fantasy author,” whose Kickstarter project for funding to publish a series of books “set the record for the most money raised in 24 hours, notching $15.4 million — more than double the previous record, according to the platform [Kickstarter].”

But . . . See the following story.

Categories: Publishing, Writing

How Angry Should Other Writers Be About Brandon Sanderson’s $22 Million Kickstarter?

Laura Miller writes: “the announcement today [March 4, 2022] that fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of four books had surpassed $20.8 million to become the platform’s most richly funded project to date presents an unusual challenge for critics of how publishing values books.”

Categories: Publishing, Writing

One Book to Rule Them All: The Enduring Popularity of The Lord of the Rings

Adam M. Wakeling writes about “Amazon’s forthcoming TV series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” He describes the series as “a kind of prequel—set in a time before the events depicted in” the Peter Jackson film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Wakeling writes that the upcoming series “will not be solely based on the book [The Lord of the Rings] itself but will draw on material in various Tolkien appendices, lesser-known works and unpublished—even unfinished—manuscripts.”

Categories: Literary History, Film, Television

#RepresentationMatters: Disability and Crime Fiction

“[C]haracters from the physical disability spectrum are rarely depicted as competent and witty crime fighters.”

Crime fiction writer Meredith Doench says that, while “[q]ueer representation in crime fiction has grown substantially since I was a teen, particularly in the last ten years. . . Diverse characters from the physical disability spectrum are rarely depicted as competent and witty crime fighters.”

She takes steps to correct this problem in her recent crime novel Whereabouts Unknown (March 2022, Bold Strokes Books), which presents “two main characters who are on the disability spectrum.”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Publishing, Writing

Rare Thoughts on Writing From Cormac McCarthy in This Unlikely Interview

Author Cormac McCarthy is notorious for his unwillingness to discuss publicly either his life or his writing. In this article Murray Carpenter interviews David Sudak, a teacher in a public high school in the suburbs around Tucson, Arizona, about two of his students who managed to get an email response from McCarthy for their AP language class in 2014. 

Read the transcript of the discussion here to learn why McCarthy uses so few punctuation marks and who is his imagined reader.

Categories: Writing

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

1 thought on “Literary Links”

  1. That was an interesting article on Brandon Sanderson and his $22 million-dollar Kickstarter campaign. I’d never heard of him until I saw people mention him on Twitter.

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