Last Week's Links

Literary Links

Opinion  Have we forgotten what a public library is for?

The executive directors of the Michigan Library Association and Michigan ACLU reflected on the recent vote to defund a public library outside of Grand Rapids over its display of LGBTQ books. 

Categories: Censorship, Libraries

The Ultimate Guide to Wondrous Independent Bookstores

Shortly after opting out of the assigned topic, bookstores, for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I came across this article from Atlas Obscura:

Our favorite bookstores aren’t just a bibliophile’s dream, but many are also architectural wonders, or home to amazing proprietors, or specialized in a delightful way. Some are palaces to reading, others are more like amazing, book-lined closets.

Use this interactive map to locate “delightful independent bookstores all over the world.”

Category: Bookstores

Early Cormac McCarthy Interviews Rediscovered

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has done vanishingly few interviews during the course of his career. In these early ones, some newly uncovered, he is less guarded.”

Between 1968 and 1980, he gave at least 10 interviews to small local papers in Lexington, Kentucky, and east Tennessee, a region where he lived and had friends. He described his literary influences, his approach to writing, his reading habits and even the house he and his then-wife rebuilt by hand out of an old dairy barn.

Category: Author News

 On Proprioception, the Sixth Sense of Storytelling

Writer Daniel Torday defines proprioception, a sixth sense, as “our sense of where our physical body is in proximity to the spacial world around us.” He also discusses a seventh sense: “enteroception, our sense of what’s happening inside us, physically, in our guts.” 

Here he examines how important these two senses can be to writers and readers by explaining how they work in several works of literature, including Ulysses by James Joyce and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.

Categories: Reading, Writing

The British Socialist Who Rewrote the World for Children

“How E. Nesbit used her grief, her politics, and her imagination to make a new kind of book for kids.”

Jessica Winter, an editor at The New Yorker, presents the life of English writer Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), in anticipation of the reissue of two of her works this fall:

Both books, like much of Nesbit’s work, are episodic and sometimes picaresque, shrugging off the moralizing that was native to young people’s literature of the time, in favor of privileging a child’s logic and point of view. Both show glimmers of the Socialist beliefs that guided much of Nesbit’s adult life. And, most crucially, both books are constructed from a blueprint that is also a kind of reënactment of the author’s own childhood: an idyll torn up at its roots by the exigencies of illness, loss, and grief.

Categories: Author News, Literary Criticism, Literary History

The Books We Read Too Late—And That You Should Read Now

From The Atlantic:

one of the great, bittersweet pleasures of life is finishing a title and thinking about how it might have affected you—if only you’d found it sooner. From our vantage in the present, we can’t truly know if, or how, a single piece of literature would have changed things for us. But we can appreciate its power, and we can recommend it to others. Below are seven novels our staffers wish they’d read when they were younger.

Categories: Book Recommendations, Reading

Beyond Metafiction: A Reading List of Labyrinthine Realities

Author and critic Alyssa Quinn loves a good story within a story. “However, my most cherished books are often those that take this time-honored technique, then train it to do backflips. Rather than simply nesting a story within a story, these books create labyrinthine layers of narrative, in which each level of reality feeds back Möbius strip–like into the others. It becomes impossible to distinguish the ‘nested narrative’ from the ‘main narrative.’” Such books “reside in indeterminacy” by making it “impossible to say which of the book’s layered realities is the ‘truest.’”

Categories: How Fiction Works, Reading

Fooled You: On Donna Tartt’s Genre Fiction

Richard Joseph asks:

where is Donna Tartt in our collective account of contemporary literature? Tartt has been a fixture in the English-speaking literary world for the past 30 years, her career spanning from the 1992 cult classic The Secret History to her 2013 bestseller The Goldfinch. Her books are immensely and enduringly popular — The Secret History, now 30 years old, is at the center of the currently thriving online subculture of “dark academia.” And yet she is almost never counted as a major author in the vein of, say, Philip Roth or Don DeLillo.

Joseph argues that Donna Tartt doesn’t receive the recognition that she should because her works are seen as genre fiction, in the most pejorative sense of that term. But, he argues, her work warrants more respect that it gets.

What I want from a novel is for the author, and all his hard-won sophistication, to disappear: I want the world and its characters to take over, to forget what time it is, to lose track of everything except the book I’m holding. That, I think, is the central enchantment of great literature, and for my money, Tartt casts that spell as well as Dickens.

Categories: Fiction, Literary Criticism, Reading

Where Is All the Book Data?

After the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020, Melanie Walsh went looking for book sales data to determine “what books people were turning to in the early days of the pandemic for comfort, distraction, hope, guidance.” She discovered that most such data “is proprietary and purposefully locked away. What I learned was that the single most influential data in the publishing industry—which, every day, determines book contracts and authors’ lives—is basically inaccessible to anyone beyond the industry. And I learned that this is a big problem.”

Category: Publishing

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

3 thoughts on “Literary Links”

  1. I still can’t get over how that town in Michigan defunded its public library over a display of LGBTQ books. The whole point of a public library is ACCESS–to as wide a range as possible of experiences, ideas, and perspectives, i.e., books! This movement toward mind-control is a very scary development in this country.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      You’ll get no disagreement from me, Liz! Yes, this whole movement is very scary. I don’t understand why more people who support the right to read don’t show up at local school board meetings to fight it.

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