Book Reviews

PopMatters Interviews Librarian/Author, Scott Douglas

PopMatters has an interview and review of Scott Douglas and his memoir "Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian."

Posthumous Collection of Styron's Essays Has Roots in the Library

William Styron died at the end of 2006, but left behind a wonderful collection of essays, "Havanas in Camelot", reviewed here by The New York Times Michiko Kakutani.

Having enlisted at 17, but considered too much of a tenderfoot to send overseas, the United States Marine Corps introduced him “to the glories of the library.” He was sent first, instead, to a military-sponsored college program at Duke University, “which then, as now, possessed one of the great college libraries of America.” Possessed of “a prevision of himself as being among the fallen martyrs” in the Pacific theater, he began to read voraciously, regarding the books in the Duke library as “the rocks and boulders” he could cling to against his “onrushing sense of doom and mortality.”

Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing

Over At The NY Times Bob Harris says Out of laziness, haste or a misguided effort to sound “literary,” reviewers use some words with startling predictability. Each of these seven entries is a perfectly good word (well, maybe not eschew), but they crop up in book reviews with wearying regularity. poignant; compelling; intriguing; eschew; craft; muse; lyrical;


The Book Reviewers Revered

Here's The first instalment of "Reviewers revered over at" Blake Morrison, Ian Jack and others name their favourite book critics. James Wood topped the list; John Updike was left out ... To build the list They asked 24 well-established writers and editors--people who consume a lot of criticism--which critics they turn to, in any medium, covering any field.


Michael Dirda on the the Past & Future of Bookselling, eBay etc.

"Once I could have sold my books to any number of local used bookshops for a reasonable sum--now nobody much wants anything, aside from rarities--because everything is available online. I myself understand the attractiveness of being able to buy everything you want, but I don't like the whole outlook. It's like a billionaire buying a beautiful woman any time he wants one to sleep with--where's the romance, where's the excitement, the heartache, the attendant glories and sorrows of romance? Once it was exciting to go out 'booking'--and there were scores of places to go. But now, now. To make everything freely available makes everything seem that much less interesting and desirable. But I begin to rant."--Michael Dirda in a discussion held Wednesday at the Washington Post.

Of Book Reviews And Blogs

Over at The London Review Of Books Thomas Jones Takes A Look At Books and blogs. He says if they’re doing their jobs properly, are as different as two kinds of published text can be. For one thing, creating a book takes many months, not to say years, and the process requires the participation of a whole chain of people besides the writer: commissioning editors, copy-editors, typesetters, proofreaders, printers, distributors, booksellers etc. A blogger can have an unedited post up on the web and available to readers within minutes of the idea popping into his head.

It's Never Too Late to Read Walden

Tom Slayton, 66, a retired longtime editor of Vermont Life magazine, was a Thoreau buff for years, but admitted to never reading "Walden" cover to cover until three years ago.

Once he did, he was drawn to Walden Pond and soon afterward decided to visit the author's other haunts and make a book of it. Battling an arthritic hip and wearing out a pair of hiking boots, he traipsed all over New England in a three-year quest to find Thoreau, nature and a bit of himself. He's written Searching for Thoreau, (here reviewed in the Sauk Valley News) which pairs analysis of "Walden" and other lesser-known Thoreau works with step-by-step descriptions of visits to the places that inspired Thoreau.

The resulting 240-page paperback, illustrated by Slayton's 36-year-old son, Ethan - draws heavily on "Walden," "Cape Cod," "The Maine Woods" and Thoreau's journals, describing in lyrical detail the flora, fauna and sometimes-treacherous paths Thoreau walked more than 150 years ago and that Slayton followed.


Amazon's Top Reviewers and the fate of the literary amateur.

Slate Takes A Look at Amazon's "celebrity reviewers." As in any numbers game (tax returns, elections) opacity abets manipulation. Amazon's rankings establish a formal, public competition for power—or its online equivalent, recognition—wherein each competitor follows his own private sense of fair play. Or not.

Like celebrity bloggers and Wikipedia "Gnomes," then, the Top Amazon Reviewer heralds the arrival of a curious hybrid: part customer, part employee. This feels like a loss. But perhaps it means that in the coming age, every writer will be a salesman: up past dark, sifting through the data stream for evidence that somewhere, some honest soul is buying.

The latest book of the year shortlist can't disguise the prejudices that threaten literature

Mark Lawson Says The frightening consequence of these cultural changes is that serious fiction is now almost entirely dependent on judging panels. It is an awesome responsibility with which, literary history suggests, they may struggle - though women writers have less to fear than they did.

NPR's StoryCorps Profiled in New Book

The founder of NPR's StoryCorps, Dave Isay, has published a book, Listening is An Act of Love (Penguin Press). The StoryCorps project began in 2003 with a recording booth in New York's Grand Central Station and continues on with recollections of Americans young and old about people they've known and experiences they've shared; it's the largest oral history project in the U.S. today.

Columnist Joy Wallace Dickinson gives us her thoughts on the book in the Orlando Sentinel, and here's the website of the StoryCorps Project where you're invited to listen in.



Subscribe to Book Reviews