Children’s Chorus

From Voices from Chernobyl: Alyosha Belskiy, 9; Anya Bogush, 10; Natasha Dvoretskaya, 16; Lena Zhudro, 15; Yura Zhuk, 15; Olya Zvonak, 10; Snezhana Zinevich, 16; Ira Kudryacheva, 14; Ylya Kasko, 11; Vanya Kovarov, 12; Vadim Karsnosolnyshko, 9; Vasya Mikulich, 15; Anton Nashivankin, 14; Marat Tatartsev, 16; Yulia Taraskina, 15; Katya Shevchuk, 15; Boris Shkirmankov, 16. … Read more

Why We Can’t Sleep – Uncertain at a Certain Age

From The Wall Street Journal: The midlife crisis has long belonged to men. The revelation that life is finite is apparently so startling to 40- and 50-something males that many behave badly, often by trading in their wives and cars for flashier models with more curb appeal. But as Ada Calhoun writes in “Why We … Read more

Can diversity in children’s books tackle prejudice?

From CNN: Marley Dias says she was tired of reading books about “white boys and their dogs” in school. So at the age of 11, she launched the campaign #1000BlackGirlBooks to identify books featuring people of color as protagonists. Over the past three years, Dias has collected more than 11,000 books. She is in the process of donating all … Read more

10 Little-Known Children’s Books by Famous Writers

From The Literary Hub: This week, Duke University Press is reissuing James Baldwin’s children’s book, Little Man, Little Man. If you had no idea that James Baldwin ever wrote a children’s book, you’re not alone. In fact, quite a number of established literary writers have dabbled in kids lit. Most people know about the children’s books of … Read more

The Dummy That Ruined Your Childhood Is Back

To doublecheck the beginning of the following trailer, PG tried to locate a definitive number for how many RL Stine titles have been published but was unable to do so. A great many is his conclusion. From i09: Even though Jack Black’s R.L. Stine was made out to be the star of 2015’s Goosebumps film, the character … Read more

How celebrity deals are shutting children’s authors out of their own trade

From The Guardian: Another day, another celebrity announces they are to “pen” a children’s book. Already this week, Jamie Lee Curtis has announced a “selfie-themed” tome, Chelsea Clinton a picture book about inspirational women and the Black Eyed Peas a graphic novel featuring zombies. They join a slew of celebs cashing in on a burgeoning … Read more

Self-Cancel Culture

PG doesn’t usually include two items from the same source on the same day, but he’ll make an exception for this one. From The Wall Street Journal: Every day brings news of another “cancellation”—a celebrity’s tweet incites an online mob, an article written in 1987 gets a corporate executive fired. The latest trend is self-cancellation, … Read more

How to Rescue an Endangered Book and Find your Author Mojo

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris You’ve kinda/sorta finished your book/first draft/whachamacallit. In drastic cases, it could even be an outline that’s gone off the rails and landed in a ditch. But. Your original brilliant idea is drowning in a sea of ugly clutter. There are dust bunnies in the corners. An overflowing … Read more

Ken Follett Opens Brexit-Inspired Friendship Tour This Weekend

From Publishing Perspectives: Even as the impeachment inquiry in Washington revs to fever pitch with its battery of public hearings riling Capitol Hill and many of your American colleagues, the Brexit crisis in the UK has gone into a comparatively quiet phase ahead of the December 12 general election. Perhaps that’s the perfect moment for … Read more

The Competitive Book Sorters Who Spread Knowledge Around New York

From Atlas Obscura: The Lyngsoe Systems Compact Cross Belt Sorter hogs most of a drab, boxy basement under an unremarkable office building in Queens—238 feet of fast-flying conveyor belt, like a cross between a baggage carousel and a racetrack. The machine scans the barcodes on thousands of library books an hour, and shoves them quickly, efficiently … Read more

Jack Reacher Still Won’t Quit, 23 Books Later

From The Atlantic: You’re on a plane. You’re on a train. You’re wheeling through American space, and you’re feeling it: the hum of the void, the up-for-grabs-ness of it all. Out here there’s no protection. Good customer service, if you’re lucky, but no protection. Out here there is only the crackling feral mind: dominance, appetite, predation, pitiless … Read more

Pearson encouraged by ‘good first half’ but reports sales fall for PRH

From The Bookseller: Pearson has reinforced guidance that it expects to return to underlying profit growth in 2018 after posting underlying revenue growth of 2% and adjusted operating profit up 46% year-on-year for the first half of 2018. However it reported Penguin Random House – in which Pearson still has a 25% stake – saw sales fall in the first half owing to “softer … Read more

The Death of Max Jacob

From The Paris Review: In late December of 1943, Max Jacob went to Orléans and Montargis to buy Christmas gifts for the children of the village of Saint-Benoît. He stayed for five days as a guest in the house of one of his doctor friends in Montargis, where he enjoyed the warmth of a cheerful … Read more

Hellacious California!

From The Los Angeles Review of Books: NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN CRITIC Hinton Rowan Helper left a lasting impression on how Californian culture is still viewed to this day through one mordant comment: I will say, that I have seen purer liquors, better segars [cigars], finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and … Read more

Why Can’t Publishers Handle the Truth?

From Publishers Weekly: When Carmen recounted waking up to the prodding batons of U.S. border guards after fainting from exhaustion during her third attempt to enter the United States from Mexico via the Rio Grande River, I remained speechless. By 2012, I’d spent seven years and hundreds of hours interviewing women like Carmen who survived … Read more

What We Aren’t Seeing

From The Paris Review: How appropriate that a museum show devoted to the unicorn—a mythical animal whose name has come to mean something so rare and elusive that it might or might not exist—should have failed to materialize. “A Blessing of Unicorns” was slated to bring the fifteenth-century unicorn tapestries from the Musée de Cluny … Read more

Fiction Favorites of the Espionage Pros

From Writers in the Storm: Writing espionage is a balancing act between being authentic and being so accurate that we embarrass political leaders, get people killed, and/or end up with some angry FBI Special Agents on our doorstep. As a general rule, while the non-violent embarrassment of political leaders who are asking for it can … Read more

‘Twilight of the Gods’ Review: A Blood-Soaked Peace

From The Wall Street Journal: A tale-telling axiom holds that complex narratives—whether from a writer’s quill, the pulpit or a Hollywood storyboard—are best broken into threes. From Sophocles to Coppola, the trilogy has thrived as a means to carve an enormous meal into manageable courses. World War II, history’s most complex bloodbath, often seems to require such … Read more

The Vanishing Half Finds an Audience in Turbulent Times

From The Wall Street Journal: “The Vanishing Half,” a critically acclaimed novel about identity and race, is on track to become not just one of the bestselling books of the year, but a 352-page cultural phenomenon. Initial print sales of the book by Brit Bennett suggest it is becoming a blockbuster with staying power. More … Read more

The Churchill Complex

From The Wall Street Journal: The special relationship—or, as they write it in Britain, the Special Relationship—between the United States and the United Kingdom is one of those partnerships that everyone talks about but few understand. Ian Buruma’s stimulating and highly readable “The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special, From Winston and FDR to … Read more

The mother load

From The Guardian: Never in my life had I been so high. I’d just given a reading in Amsterdam after which the gracious hosts of the evening took me out for drinks. Three young women asked me questions about sex and love and desire as though I were an expert and it was nice but … Read more

Iron Empires

From The Wall Street Journal: The public image of the robber barons has always been a barometer of how America thinks about wealth. Were they financiers or swindlers? Builders or monopolists? In the Progressive Era, the muckraker Ida Tarbell cast John D. Rockefeller as a ruthless monopolist, and Matthew Josephson’s compelling but one-sided Depression-era tome, … Read more

Wordsworth at 250

From The Wall Street Journal: It’s time to celebrate the great Romantic poet William Wordsworth, born 250 years ago in a picturesque market town in northern England. One way to size up his achievement is to venture backward, beginning in the present day and drifting past the postmodernists, the modernists, the Edwardians, the Victorians, until we … Read more

The Allure of the Celebrity Outlaw

From The Wall Street Journal: Near the midpoint of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” director George Roy Hill’s 1969 buddy movie starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the outlaws barge into the office of a Wyoming sheriff. Anxious to evade the hard-charging posse tracking them after a pair of train robberies, the duo beseeches … Read more

7 Books About New York City’s Drastic Economic Divide

From Electric Lit: It’s been said many times already that the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the dramatic economic inequality in New York City—which of course ties into deeper systemic issues around race. But to pretend those inequalities haven’t been obvious before this time—to pretend they haven’t always been part of the city’s history—is a … Read more

8 Anti-Capitalist Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels

From Electric Lit: Karl Marx may be famous for his thorough, analytic attack on capitalism (see: all three volumes and the 1000-plus pages of Das Kapital), but let’s be real: it’s not the most exciting to read. What if, just as a thought experiment, our works that reimagined current structures of power also had robots? Speculative … Read more

The Lockdown Lessons of “Crime and Punishment”

From The New Yorker: At the end of “Crime and Punishment,” which was completed in 1866, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s hero, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, has a dream that so closely reflects the roilings of our own pandemic one almost shrinks from its power. Here’s part of it, in Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s rendering: He had dreamed that the … Read more

Shanghai’s Past, Hong Kong’s Future

From Public Books: Sometimes, when a city changes, residents are suddenly forced to ask themselves hard questions: Should we stay, or cut our losses and leave to start afresh somewhere else? Will this place still be enough like the community we love in a year or a decade to make it worth sticking it out? … Read more

Publishing Needs to Face Its Ableism Problem

From Publishers Weekly: “This is not a remote position. Candidates are expected to perform work on-site in our office,” is a line that I look for in every job posting before I decide whether or not to apply. I’m disabled; I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and I’m autistic, and working remotely is a reasonable accommodation that … Read more

Hermeneutics and the Framing of “Truth”

Introductory comment by PG: PG regards himself as reasonably intelligent and possessing a vocabulary that is larger than that of the average homo sapiens in the year 2020. That said, he did not recall knowing (PG is at the age where there is a very occasional gap between knowing something and recalling that he knows … Read more

Helping youngsters confront their fears in our lockdown era

From The LittleHampton Gazette: Samuel and the Monster has been self-published by Alexia Pinchbeck at £9.99. . . . . Alexia, aged 38, who lives in East Wittering, said: “Samuel and the Monster, a picture book for two to five-year-olds, is a short, simple story with brightly coloured, bold illustrations that overnight put a stop … Read more

Watchwomen

From The Los Angeles Review of Books: What if we remembered Jack Kirby not for Captain America or Galactus, but for the romance comics that he and Joe Simon produced during the late 1940s and early 1950s in their wildly successful titles Young Romance and Young Love? Kirby’s work in the genre, which he and Simon invented, are … Read more

Why Writers Are Prone to Depression

From Everyday Health: From “Sophie’s Choice” author William Styron to poet Sylvia Plath to J.K Rowling, the mastermind responsible for the Harry Potter series, the list of famous depressed writers — many of whom have documented it in their prose — is expansive. Though there are no firm statistics on how many writers experience depression, researcher Kay … Read more

Why Am I Reading Apocalyptic Novels Now?

From The New York Times: A man and his son trudge through the wasteland into which human civilization has devolved. Every night, they shiver together in hunger and cold and fear. If they encounter someone weaker than they are — an injured man, an abandoned child — they do not have the resources to help, … Read more

Quarantine Reads: Dhalgren

From The Paris Review: I started reading Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren, a prismatic, nightmarish work of speculative fiction, in New York City a couple weeks ago, when the coronavirus had just begun to spread into the West. Italy had fallen and the threat in the United States was imminent, but the real panic and anxiety still hadn’t … Read more

Red Herrings in Contemporary Crime Literature

From Crime Reads: When plotting a tale of suspense, any writer worth her salt understands the importance of distraction—intriguing details that lead the reader down a path of uncertainty, false clues intentionally planted to mislead, and of course the phenomenon of the unreliable narrator. This is why the red herring is a staple in mystery … Read more

Why Do Some Characters Live On Beyond The Book?

From Woman Writers, Women’s Books Why is it that some characters just don’t disappear?  The book is finished, the edits have been completed, the next work is in progress and yet… a particular character is still refusing to rest or retire or whatever it is that characters do when the writer has finished the book. … Read more

The Legend of Limberlost

From Smithsonian Magazine: My dear Girl:In the first place will you allow me to suggest that you forgethereafter to tack the “ess” on to “author”, because one who writesa book or poem is an author and literature has no sex.–Gene Stratton-Porter, letter to Miss Mabel Anderson, March 9, 1923 . . . . Yellow sprays … Read more

Love Ray and Daddy: The Toohey Family Letter Collection

From The National World War II Museum: When I read a collection of personal correspondence, I sometimes take for granted that I’m reading someone else’s mail. Maybe it’s because I know most of the people in those letters have passed on. Or maybe subconsciously, I tell myself that placing them into a shoebox for 75 … Read more

The biology of love

Perhaps an aid for character development. Or not. In any case, PG found this fascinating. From Aeon: An infant is born. The radiant mother holds the baby in her arms and immediately begins to scan the infant’s face, softly caressing the little fingers while uttering repetitive sing-song vocalisations, her face lighting up in an affectionate … Read more