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Shane’s Lot: How a 1949 Gun-Toting Loner Still Rides Through American Literature

Writer Maria Hummel examines how Shane, the gunslinger introduced in Jack Schaefer’s 1949 novel Rider from Nowhere, has lived on in American popular culture.

Although Shane’s worldview is dated, the novel projects the timeless quest of innocence in our bloody world. Shane altered the Western landscape in my mind into an open plain where lives were writ large, and shattered and solved by violence. Canyons and buttes, and America’s past and future fused to the tragic, to the isolated figure of Shane, casting his long shadow.

Hummel ends the article with a list of 21st-century novels in which “Shane lives on.”

6 Books That’ll Hook You from Line One

Sarah Walsh compiles a list of “current books out there with writing so compelling, you’ll be hooked from their first lines.”

Related Post: 5 More Irresistible Introductions in Fiction

Literature in a Time of Conglomeration

Adam Fleming Petty discusses the new book Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed the Publishing Industry and American Literature by Dan Sinykin.

I don’t usually include reviews of individual books in Literary Links, but this is more of a “based on” article than a strict review. Dinykin’s book “tracks the progress of U.S. fiction from the postwar era to the present from the perspective of the colophon.” A colophon, Petty explains, is “the design or symbol publishers place on the spines of their books.

In other words, Sinykin’s book is about the history of publishing in the U.S. Petty writes that the book offers “unique insights” that “[make] it a real contribution to our understanding of recent American literary history.”

Conglomeration refers to “the present state of publishing, wherein independent publishers are absorbed by ever-larger media companies in an ascending spiral of consolidation.” Such conglomeration has pushed the publishing industry to commercialize its product, making artistic merit subordinate to sales.

5 Must-Read Masterpieces Jamie Ford Recommends

I want to read all five of the novels on this list. Recommendations from Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (which I loved) and The Many Daughters of Afong Moy (which is still on my TBR shelf). So many books, so little time . . .

Writers to Watch: 10 Promising Fiction Debuts, Spring 2024

And while we’re on book recommendations, here’s some news from Publishers Weekly about debut novels, one of my favorite categories of fiction reading,  coming out this spring.

The Bizarre Pleasures of the 1980s “Twilight Zone” Reboot

Keith Roysdon praises the original Twilight Zone, which ran for 156 episodes from 1959 to 1964, and explains why he thinks that the series’s first reboot, on CBS from 1985-1989, is the only one that comes close “to capturing the spirit and integrity of the original.” 

What surprised me about this article is that, as much as I loved the original series, I have no memory of watching the 1980s version.

Do You Have ‘Bookshelf Wealth’?

“A TikTok home-décor trend has irked some bibliophiles.”

On TikTok and other digital platforms, there has lately been much ado about people who own a great number of books and — this is critical — have managed to stage them in a pleasing manner.

Great Tips to Spend More Time Reading in 2024

Yes, it’s from Goodreads. No, you don’t have to sign up for the challenge to consider the reading tips.

Transcending the Mundane: On Fictional Characters in Search of Utopias

Tara Isabella Burton discusses “a rich tradition of novels and stories about ordinary human beings trying—whether through travel, religion, or political experiment—to transcend the seemingly mundane world they’re living in, and to seek enchantment outside their everyday lives.”

What is bibliotherapy—and how can you get started?

Madeline Anthony learned about bibliotherapy from two therapists in her writers group. She defines bibliotherapy as “a practice in which therapists recommend books for their clients as part of more traditional therapeutic treatment. These books can be of any genre, though often they are works of fiction or narrative memoir, and can touch on a range of issues, from grief and trauma to anxiety and substance abuse or relational issues.”

Anthony continues: “As any bookworm intuitively knows, the act of reading or listening to books can open doorways to imagined worlds, create new neural pathways, and show us situations we are deeply embroiled with from a new perspective, effectively guiding us through difficult but inevitable parts of life.”

After some research, she offers this list of 12 books commonly recommended in bibliotherapy. Because this article is from Audible, her recommendations are to audiobooks, but you are, of course, free to access them in whatever format you prefer.

American Nightmare Shows the Wild Truth Behind a So-Called Real Gone Girl Case

“When Denise Huskins was kidnapped and sexually assaulted, she hoped the police would find her attacker. Instead, they publicly announced that she’d made the whole thing up.”

I haven’t watched this three-episode Netflix series yet, but I plan to. It purports to deal with what happens when real life mimics fiction: Crime fiction may encourage us to make unwarranted assumptions about people.

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

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