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Newsletter # 16
December 2001

Are your friends asking what you want for a holiday gift? Are you racking your brains for something to read on your winter vacation? Books-for-Readers readers and I have LOTS OF SUGGESTIONS!

First, for me, the dark-of-the-year time is when I curl up with Victorian Literature. It is familiar, yet far away and long ago and gives me that pleasantly smug feeling of knowing more than they did. This year, I'm reading Elizabeth Gaskell. She is probably most famous for her sympathetic biography of Charlotte Brontë, but I like her novel MARY BARTON (labor background), and I've just bought RUTH (unwed motherhood). Politically speaking, Gaskell's approach is pretty simple minded: Get All the Classes Together, and Love One Another Right Now. On the other hand, she was castigated throughout her writing life for unladylike sympathy and depiction of poverty and vice. So, even though Mary Barton faints and goes into a decline after avowing her love in public, she is still the one who takes moral and physical actions that save her big strong male lover.

Also, Gaskell's descriptions of the lives of the industrial poor of Manchester in the 1840's are full of carefully drawn distinctions. Some families have reasonably spacious and attractive houses and others are dying of typhus in crowded holes stinking with offal and seeping sewage. Furthermore, the solvent poor help the indigent poor rather than waiting around for charity, and the Chartist movement, if not approved by Mrs. Gaskell, is at least given voice.

Now, on to your suggestions: Naomi Freundlich writes, "I have been enjoying your newsletter and have even read a few of the suggestions. I agree with you about novels with political connotations being particularly interesting. I just finished reading PALACE WALK by Naguib Mahfouz, and found it startlingly pertinent to our recent interest in Islam and the Middle East. It is a drama about a family living a very traditional life in Egypt right after W.W.I, but it is also about the Egyptian rebellion against British occupiers and the growth of nationalism there. It took me a while to finish, but I am very happy I did."

Ardian Gill recommends Canadian writer Alistair MacLeod's ISLANDS (the Canadian Maritimes) and NO GREAT MISCHIEF.

Jo Kerr Hodara has a pile of books next to her bed and is just finishing THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN for a reading group discussion. She also suggests Kazuo Ishiguro's WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS, W.G. Sebald's THE IMMIGRANTS, and Saramago's BALTASAR AND BLIMUNDA.

Irene Tiersten has been reading Barbara Kingsolver: "I just read THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver. Although the country is different, the culture clash problem is all too familiar in today's so-called religious battle. Religion is not to blame; the people who do not understand that all religions are the same under different clothing, or those who do and use religion to create conflict and hatred, are the problem. The portraits of each character are rich and poignant. I also read [her] PRODIGAL SUMMER which illuminates ecological issues. Again, the human drama is powerfully drawn."

Allan Appel offers three more suggestions: "There's my old favorite Steinbeck, IN DUBIOUS BATTLE, about labor organizers. Obviously political but so passionate and real that the "line" feels to this reader anyway totally integrated into the lived experience. Then I just finished DEATH AND THE PENGUIN, by the Ukrainian Andre Kurkov. Fabulous story of a guy who is so poor and lives in a Soviet society so poor he finds solace in adopting a penguin deaccessioned from the zoo because the zoo can no longer feed all its animals. He names the penguin Misha and then he makes a mysterious friend, human, also named Misha, so that each time the human friend appears, he refers to him as Misha non-penguin. Charming and full of the political life of the times , and harsh and menacing it is, but it's a family (and penguin) story. The Russians, of course, cannot write a novel in the 20th century without it's being political. Oh yes, Horace McCoy's THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? is also a favorite, 1930s Depression story with brooding politics and dancing till you drop to survive."

"On the political novel front," says Shelley Ettinger, "I read 1918 by Alfred Doblin, which I thought was magnificent. It's the first book of his trilogy (I think the other two are KARL AND ROSA, and BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ) about the failed German revolution. Then there's 1916: A NOVEL OF THE IRISH REBELLION by Morgan Llywelyn. It's not magnificent, in fact some of it made me cringe, but I was glad I read it as a fictional introduction to that struggle. My favorite proletarian novel of the U.S. 1930s is JEWS WITHOUT MONEY by Mike Gold. I read LUISA DOMIC at your suggestion a couple months ago. Wasn't crazy about it. [Dennison] came at the Chile issue from a bit too oblique an angle for my taste. I just read the first volume of Proust. Part of my on-again off-again dead-white-men-I-never-bothered-with-before project. As with MOBY DICK last year, I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike Melville, though, this writing actually thrilled me. Some of it knocked my socks off. Amazing."

And finally, poet Madeline Tiger sends enough suggestions for a whole separate newsletter! In fact, I'm going to use a large chunk of what she wrote in the next issue, which will be a memoir-nonfiction issue. Madeline writes, "Everything is, of course, ‘political' in the larger sense. I've been listening to Jane Austen on tape and Evelyn Waugh's BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, which I never read; wow. Gorgeous as well as socio/analytical. And, by chance I chanced upon A TOWN LIKE ALICE [Nevil Shute]. There are so many others on the list; e.g., Anna Quindlen's novel about the abused/escaping wife (not so brilliantly written but very important, was it called BLACK AND BLUE? I forget, but the impact was STRONG.)"

Penguins, Steinbeck, Rosa Luxemberg, Thomas Mann, Proust and Evelyn Waugh. We'll all have nightmares about being attacked by marching hordes of books we promised to read.


PHYLLIS WILSON MOORE'S WEST VIRGINIA LIST For those of you who would like to learn more about the extensive literature of my home state West Virginia, send an email to Phyllis Wilson Moore at Scoutdil@aol.com (guess her favorite novel!), and ask her to put you on her list.





Newsletter # 17
January, 2002


I am putting this Newsletter together on a cold, dry First of January, 2002– a good time to be guided by the past through reading books of memoir and biography. I recently finished Arthur Kinoy's 1983 memoir RIGHTS ON TRIAL: THE ODYSSEY OF A PEOPLE'S LAWYER. It is a lawyer's book, not a writer's, but Mr. Kinoy has been a participant in many of the most important events of the American late twentieth century. He began as a labor lawyer and became what he calls "a people's lawyer." His causes have ranged from a last-ditch effort to save the lives of the Rosenbergs to inventing legal strategies for fighting for voting rights in Mississippi to the political defense of the Chicago Seven and the defense of all of our rights against attacks by Richard Nixon and his minions. In this moment when public conformity reigns supreme, it is a pleasure to read the story of one of our elders who has spent his life working to protect people with unpopular positions.

I also read NISA: THE LIFE AND WORDS OF A !KUNG WOMAN by the late Marjorie Shostak. This book lies somewhere between biography and anthropology. It is a beautiful collaboration between an African bush hunter-gatherer and a literarily inclined western woman. I love NISA for its insight into lives that are at once exotic and wonderfully imaginable. The story Nisa told and Marjorie Shostak respectfully transcribed and then read back to Nisa for her approval supports me in my continuing effort to learn how to live.

Madeline Tiger has been reading memoir, and she expresses a fear that "the whole landscape will be overrun with prose meanderings trying to find a shape and focus and calling themselves new-genre'd." Even so, she has enthusiastic recommendations, including "Alicia Ostriker's examination of the Old Testament overlaid with her own family history (and some poetry) called THE NAKEDNESS OF THE FATHERS : BIBLICAL VISIONS AND REVISIONS .... It's brilliant and of large, significant historic scope.

Then of course there's Toi Derricotte's landmark book THE BLACK NOTEBOOKS, concerning (her) life right around here, here & now, since the 70's, including a chapter on a writer's colony, a couple of chapters by her mother from her memoir work of Black childhood in a country town outside New Orleans. "There's a long list of new memoirs lately, of course; but just now I'm reading Robin Hirsch's LAST DANCE AT THE HOTEL KEMPINSKI, subtitled ‘Creating Life in the Shadow of History,' so your call for political titles absolutely converged with this book-lying-at-my-elbow.... it's a collection of short vignettes (that may have been written separately, as I know he's been reading things of this sort at his performances over many years) that all go together to make his memoir of growing up during WWII in London, son of German Jewish emigres from Berlin. Trouble from being German. Trouble from being Jewish. English stratifications of neighborhood, social life, public schools, university entrance... and memories of what happened to the family and the extended family over in Europe. Written in a light, often amusing style, but with serious undertones and an appropriate conveyance of the stress and anguish of living through those times. Robin....the owner/operator/emcee of the Cornelia Street Café, comes out of lit and theater background, has often performed; he showcases many writers (songwriters as well as fiction and poetry) at his café, and it's interesting to learn how one of our own contemporary heart-of-the-city, downtown, urbane urbanites gets at the question of fiction/history/ politics himself."

Madeline also likes the work of the much-praised Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat. "And she so young, doesn't she show the delicacy the honesty of how it is done!" Madeline also "recently read the memoir of Frank Rich about his childhood-- Washington, D.C. in the fifties and sixties, a cruel (but leftwing!) stepfather, a road into theater passions.... Michael Heller (the poet) published his memoir BLOOD ROOT last year; another tour de force, reaching back into Europe (Jewish fragments of family history) and immigration and struggling life here. Well, that's more historic than ‘political' I suppose... Mimi Schwartz, who teaches writing at Stockton, has a new marriage memoir coming just now [THOUGHTS FROM A QUEEN-SIZED BED], and a longer-viewed look at family history coming soon re-examining the scenes of war and deportation and social relationships in that time which many memories want to cover over."

Please let me know what you are reading and thinking about your reading here in the depths of winter. And don't forget, the solstice is over, so we have a little more light each day.


SORROWS AND JOYS Shelley Ettinger writes to remind us: "W.G. Sebald died in a car crash. Have you read any of his books? Amazing, sad, deep, funny, weird and politically progressive. I read THE RINGS OF SATURN last spring and adored it; last week I tried to take out his new one, AUSTERLITZ, from the NYU library but they only had it in German, so I bought THE EMIGRANTS to read over the holiday break. What a bummer. This guy did worthwhile work." Then, a few days later, Shelley emailed an announcement that her new story "My Second Family" was just published in an online literary journal called COELACANTH, which can be found at http://www.coelacanthmagazine.com.




Newsletter # 18
January 22, 2002


Snow on the ground here in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast– and lots of good books for curling up beside the fire (or the radiator!). First, I want to suggest a brand new novel by Joanna Torrey called HE GOES, SHE GOES. The book is tight and intense, about the death of a father and how a daughter reacts by plunging into ballroom dance classes. Dance becomes the stand-in for other relationships as the narrator, her sister, and their mother– wonderful, witty, unhappy characters– strive to get together to deal with the father's ashes. Equally interesting are the people at the dance studio. I admire a kind of intelligent, passionate sweatiness in this novel, and when it was over, I had the sensation that I'd been danced across the floor by a skillful and trustworthy partner.

A book that was suggested by several people last year was J.M. Coetzee's DISGRACE. My friend Suzanne McConnell recommended it first, saying, "It's uncomfortable, paralleling the deeply uncomfortable new roles of people and races in South Africa; sex, class, and race are its topics though never of course as 'topics' but totally through its characters, as well as aging, loss, tenderness, and the creative process, the latter beautifully beautifully done....." I've read the book now, too, and I want to join in recommending it. It touches on serious conditions and experiences and also tells a gripping story. Coetzee succeeds in doing exactly what he sets out to do: he explores a set of events at a particularly dangerous moment of history from a middle-aged white man's point of view. Black Africans and women are presented somewhat obliquely, as perhaps intrinsically mysterious. It is a moving and powerful book, and now I wish I could read the same story told from the other points of view.

A couple of months ago, Kasamu Salawu suggested that I read Cynthia Ozick's stunning short story "The Shawl." The story comes in a small volume (also called THE SHAWL) united with a second, longer story, "Rosa," which is about the aftermath of the first story. "The Shawl" takes place in a Nazi death camp and is at once dry, precise, dreamlike and as explosive as a blow to the stomach. "Rosa" is far more discursive and even humorous, set in Florida twenty-five or thirty years later. It is about how a woman who has been exposed to the extremity of the human condition lives on, perhaps twisted, but also exalted and lovable.

Another idea comes from Silas House: MOON WOMEN by Pamela Duncan. He describes it as "the story of three generations of women all living under one roof. Ruth Ann Moon is newly divorced when her 17 year-old daughter returns from a juvenile center pregnant and abandoned by her baby's father. At the same time, Ruth Ann's domineering mother, Marvelle, sinks into senile dementia and Ruth Ann takes her in as well. It's one of the most hilarious and heartbreaking novels I've ever read, and I think everyone would enjoy it very much. Duncan's prose is beautiful and once I finished it, I missed the Moon family so badly that I wanted to read it again (the sign of a really good book, I believe). This is a debut novel from Duncan, a resident of North Carolina (and a former student of Lee Smith), and Duncan really knows how to get under the skin of her characters. One of the best examinations of a Southern family that I have ever read."

And, by the way, we should all be watching for Silas's next novel due out from Algonquin in September.

In a very different vein, Suzanne Gluck-Sosis says she has been doing reading that centers on spiritual growth. She likes a series by Neale Donald Walsch called CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD, and COMMUNICATION WITH GOD. She says, "I love his concept of God and our role here on earth I could accept such a God. This may seem strange coming from an Ethical Culturist/ Unitarian-Universalist humanist being!" She is also reading Allegra Goodman and Tova Mirvis for a Jewish book discussion group. Says Suzanne, "Think I'm revisiting my roots to discover what kind of a Jew I am."

And finally, Kurt Johnson, the well-known authority on butterflies who wrote, with Steven L. Coates, NABOKOV'S BLUES: THE SCIENTIFIC ODYSSEY OF A LITERARY GENIUS (See Newsletter # 6), sends a stanza from poet James Wright's book THE BRANCH WILL NOT BREAK about "that place we all seek where we discover we are unbreakable (of course it is ‘what is within us' that is unbreakable-- part of the mystery)."


In a pine tree,
A few yards from my window sill
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.

I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.

                                     – James Wright




Newsletter # 19
February 15, 2002


I remember some years ago seeing an exhibit of paintings by women from 1550 to 1950 at the Brooklyn Museum. I was thrilled to discover that there had been serious women painters before the twentieth century. The artist who especially caught my attention was the seventeenth century Italian, Artemisia Gentileschi.

I am hardly the only person to be fascinated by her painting of a big muscular Judith beheading Holofernes with the help of her serving woman. Adding to the intrinsic excitement of the painting was the factoid that Holofernes was supposed to have been modeled on the man convicted of raping Gentileschi when she was seventeen. The transcripts for the rape trial are still extant, and the painter's life as well as her art have become popular material for art historians. I don't read a lot of art history, but I was intrigued by Gentileschi. When I ran across a book called Artemisia: A Novel by Alexandra Lapierre, I thought this was my chance to learn more without any effort. But– Avoid this book! Lapierre apparently did a lot of reading and research, and her novel is informative, but it is also really badly written. Lapierre seems to think that all you have to do to create fiction is to make up scenes of the heroine with her ample and mostly bare bosom heaving as she sighs for her lovers.

The good news is that one of the sources listed in Lapierre's bibliography is an infinitely better book. This book, the good one, is Artemisia Gentileschi by Mary D. Garrard (Princeton University Press). It isn't light, in tone or physical weight, but it is rich with beautiful images and plates that allow Gentileschi to speak for herself through her art. It also has a lot of black and white pictures that show her work in relation other artists of her time, and you learn, for example, that she was not the only Old Master who painted Judith beheading Holofernes. The book has appendices with transcripts of the rape trial (the artist– a teenager, remember!– had to undergo a torture of her hands to prove her honesty). I think this was the book I wanted to read all along, nonfiction, setting Artemisia in her time. It is not a bad jumping off point for learning something about seventeenth century European art in general. I bought the book online through one of the used and rare book stores, reasonably priced considering all the pictures.

Reading these two books set me to thinking about historical novels. I suppose to some extent, all fiction is historical in that it is about the past (even if it happens only last year), but I'm thinking more about novels set in times when the writer did not live. Pat Barker's World War I trilogy is an example, and I've just read José Saramago's Siege of Lisbon and Baltasar and Blimunda, about which I may say more in a later newsletter. Do you have a favorite historical novel to recommend? I'm looking for books that are reasonably dependable in their presentation of the past but also give the satisfaction of truly excellent fiction.


READING SUGGESTIONS In general, unless told otherwise, I feel free to publish people's responses to these Newsletters. For example, Carol Emshwriller writes: "I'm reading the greatest book. At least so far. SERVANTS OF THE MAP by Andrea Barrett. Just finished her story THEORIES OF RAIN. Best thing I've read in a long time and unique and odd, yet old fashioned and conventional at the same time. What I like best are her rhythms. I can't articulate what I mean. It isn't exactly rhythm. It's so soft and luminous.... I cried all through the end of that story and then thought I'd bring it to my private class, but I'd never be able to read it to them without breaking up."

Mario A. Petaccia suggests DELILAH AND OTHER STORIES, which he describes as "a heart-warming Easter story...a laugh a minute ride through everyday family traditions and religious dogma by four children who see a different way of celebrating the feast of the resurrection."

Shelley Ettinger has just read JOHN HENRY DAYS by Colson Whitehead. She says that it doesn't fit this newsletter's emphasis on overlooked books (but, honestly, Shelley, I'm open-minded— I'll read commercially successful books if they're good!) She says "Whitehead is getting plenty of praise and attention as a talented young writer--but in case you haven't read it I wanted to bring it to your attention because it's very good and because much of it is set in West Virginia. It's not as dazzling or innovative as his first novel, THE INTUITIONIST, but it's still impressive. Both books are about racism and U.S. society, approaching the theme from different angles. Thought-provoking, and beautifully written."

In a less enthusiastic vein, Phyllis Moore wrote to ask if I had seen a copy of Louisiana State University's recently published COMPANION TO SOUTHERN LITERATURE. She says, "The COMPANION is the third publication I've seen that, in my opinion, slights West Virginia in major ways throughout the volume. Norton published the other two: THE ANTHOLOGY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE; THE LITERATURE OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH."

Linda Schreiber sends a compliment to BOOKS FOR READERS and then suggests a particular catalogue as a source for reading ideas. "Neat idea. It's the same thing I like about [the book catalogue] Bas Bleu. Inherent in your reviews is an honesty and genuine liking of the books that promises, much better than chance, that enjoyment awaits."

Bas Bleu is a colorful catalogue with extensive, interesting descriptions of the books it sells. You can request a copy from them at 515 Means Street , NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 or by calling them toll free at 1-800-433-1155 or online at www.basbleu.com.

And finally, Ardian Gill comments on Kurt Johnson's choice of poetry in Newsletter #18: "Interesting that the author of a book on Nabokov's butterflies should also send a poem about a non-breaking tree branch. I finished the first draft of my novel in Patzcuaro, Mexico, where the monarch butterflies come to spend their winter in a nearby pine grove. Sometimes there are so many of these whisper-light creatures on a branch that it breaks." (Sadly, I read in the papers last week that there had been a freeze in Mexico with a huge death toll for the Monarchs who migrate.) If you missed the last newsletter, it included lines from James Wright's "Two Hangovers" that can be found in THE BRANCH WILL NOT BREAK (Wesleyan U. Press).





Newsletter # 20
March 11, 2002


This issue of the Books For Readers Newsletter is especially aimed at anyone who lives in the New York area or is coming to visit soon. The painter I mentioned in Newsletter #19 is part of a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ORAZIO AND ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI: FATHER AND DAUGHTER PAINTERS IN BAROQUE ITALY. The exhibit runs through May 12, 2002, and several people including Allan Appel and Win Thies alerted me to it. I've just gone, and, let me tell you, those Baroque painters really knew how to put drama on the canvas. The asp on Cleopatra's bosom! David finishing off Goliath! Judith finishing off Holofernes! Judith finishing off Holofernes again! The paintings are gloriously entertaining as they frankly display the artist's ability to paint gore as well as capture expression and tell a story. The red velvet behind Cleopatra and the crumpled sheets Holofernes is bleeding onto are worth the price of admission.

Ardian Gill praises the exhibit's catalog as "quite beautiful with many color prints and the trial testimony that you mentioned [Artemisia was raped when she was seventeen, and the crime was the subject of a long, well-documented trial]. It's published by the Met and Yale University." He also recommends the catalog of a 1991 show he saw in Florence called "Artemisia," published by Leonardo-DeLuca. And his cats are named Caravaggio and Artemisia.

Meanwhile, there are still books made strictly of words: Shelley Ettinger recommends Sarah Waters to us with passionate enthusiasm: TIPPING THE VELVET, AFFINITY, and the new one, FINGERSMITH.

I've just reread and want to recommend Jane Lazarre's memoir, BEYOND THE WHITENESS OF WHITENESS. This is about being the white mother of black sons. It is more generally about race and racism in America and about connecting across ethnic divides (does your family, for example, sit down at the dinner table and spear bites from the serving dishes before they're passed? Or do you wait till everyone is seated and only eat from your own plate? How do you react to dinner with the other kind of people?)

Also, in preparation for another go at my Appalachian Literature class (which didn't get enough students to run last year), I read Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s memoir of growing up black in West Virginia, COLORED PEOPLE. It's a lively, rich book, close in some ways to how I grew up, but in other ways sharply divergent.

Then, entirely for relaxation, I pulled one of Walter Mosley books off the shelf– GONE FISHIN' in which Easy Rawlings is a callow youth who has not yet learned to read. Mosley's mystery and crime novels are pot-boilers, but he is also a talented writer with an imagination full of people and situations I probably will never meet anywhere else. And by the way, Dear Reader, what are YOU reading?


POETRY SUGGESTION The online literary magazine BIGCITYLIT is publishing a lot of interesting work in many genres. Take a look at their featured March poet, Laura Sherwood Rudish at http://www.nycBIgCityLit.com/contents/Twelve12.html. "This moon reflected in my side view mirror is closer than it appears."






The largest unionized bookstore in America has a webstore at Powells Books. Some people prefer shopping online there to shopping at Amazon.com. An alternative way to reach Powell's site and support the union is via http://www.powellsunion.com. Prices are the same but 10% of your purchase will go to support the union benefit fund. For a discussion about Amazon and organized labor and small presses, see the comments of Jonathan Greene and others in Issues #97 and #98 .



If a book discussed in this newsletter has no source mentioned, don’t forget your public library and your local independent bookstore.
To buy books online, I often go first to Bookfinder or Alibris.   Bookfinder has a feature that tells you the book price WITH shipping and handling, so you can compare what you’re really going to have to pay.
A lot of people whose political instincts I respect prefer the unionized bricks-and-mortar bookstore Powells (see "About Amazon.com" above) that sells online at http://powellsbooks.com.  Another good source for used and out-of-print books is All Book Stores at http://www.allbookstores.com/ .
Take a look also at Paperback Book Swap, a low cost (postage only) way to get rid of your old books and get new ones by trading with other readers.

If you are using an electronic reader like Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, get free books at the Gutenberg Project-- most classics, and other things as well. Libraries now lend e-books too!




Please send responses and suggestions directly to Meredith Sue Willis at MeredithSueWillis@gmail.com. Unless you instruct otherwise, your responses may be edited for length and published in this newsletter.

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#146 Henry Adams AGAIN!
#145 Henry Adams, Darnell Arnoult, Jaimy Gordon, Charlotte Brontë
#144 Carter Seaton, NancyKay Shapiro, Lady Murasaki Shikibu
#143 Little America; Guns,Germs, and Steel; The Trial
#142 Blog Fiction, Leah by Seymour Epstein, Wolf Hall, etc.
#141 Dreama Frisk on Hilary Spurling's Pearl Buck in China; Anita Desai; Cormac McCarthy
#140 Valerie Nieman's Blood Clay, Dolly Withrow
#139 My Kindle, The Prime Minister, Blood Meridian
#138 Special on Publicity by Carter Seaton
#137 Michael Harris's The Chieu Hoi Saloon;The Professor and the Madman; Game of Thrones; James Alexander Thom's Follow The River
#136 James Boyle's The Creative Commons; Paola Corso, Joanne Greenberg, Monique Raphel High, Amos Oz
#135 Reviews by Carole Rosenthal, Jeffrey Sokolow, and Wanchee Wang.
#134 Daniel Deronda, books with material on black and white relations in West Virginia
#133 Susan Carpenter, Irene Nemirovsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kanafani, Joe Sacco
#132 Karen Armstrong's A History of God; JCO's The Falls; The Eustace Diamonds again.
#131 The Help; J. McHenry Jones, Reamy Jansen, Jamie O'Neill, Michael Chabon.
Lynda Schor, Ed Myers, Charles Bukowski, Terry Bisson, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism
#129 Baltasar and Blimunda; the Underground Railroad; Navasky's Naming Names, new and recommended small press and indie books.
#128 Jeffrey Sokolow on Histories and memoirs of the Civil Rights Movement
#127 Olive Kitteridge; Urban fiction; Shelley Ettinger on Joyce Carol Oates
#126 Jack Hussey's Ghosts of Walden, The Leopard , Roger's Version, The Reluctanct Fundamentalist
#125 Lee Maynard's The Pale Light of Sunset; Books on John Brown suggested by Jeffrey Sokolow
#124 Cloudsplitter, Founding Brothers, Obenzinger on Bradley's Harlem Vs. Columbia University
#123 MSW's summer reading round-up; Olive Schreiner; more The Book Thief; more on the state of editing
#122 Left-wing cowboy poetry; Jewish partisans during WW2; responses to "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#121 Jane Lazarre's latest; Irving Howe's Leon Trotsky; Gringolandia; "Hire a Book Doctor?"
#120 Dreama Frisk on The Book Thief; Mark Rudd; Thulani Davis's summer reading list
#119 Two Histories of the Jews; small press books for Summer
#118 Kasuo Ichiguro, Jeanette Winterson, The Carter Family!
#117 Cat Pleska on Ann Pancake; Phyllis Moore on Jayne Anne Phillips; and Dolly Withrow on publicity
#116 Ann Pancake, American Psycho, Marc Harshman on George Mackay Brown
#115 Adam Bede, Nietzsche, Johnny Sundstrom
#114 Judith Moffett, high fantasy, Jared Diamond, Lily Tuck
#113 Espionage--nonfiction and fiction: Orson Scott Card and homophobia
#112 Marc Kaminsky, Nel Noddings, Orson Scott Card, Ed Myers
#111 James Michener, Mary Lee Settle, Ardian Gill, BIll Higginson, Jeremy Osner, Carol Brodtick
#110  Nahid Rachlin, Marion Cuba on self-publishing; Thulani Davis, The Road, memoirs
#109 Books about the late nineteen-sixties: Busy Dying; Flying Close to the Sun; Looking Good; Trespassers
#108 The Animal Within; The Ground Under My Feet; King of Swords
#107 The Absentee; Gorky Park; Little Scarlet; Howl; Health Proxy
#106 Castle Rackrent; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; More on Drown; Blindness & more
#105 Everything is Miscellaneous, The Untouchable, Kettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher
#104 Responses to Shelley on Junot Diaz and more; More best books of 2007
#103 Guest Editor: Shelley Ettinger and her best books of 2007
#102 Saramago's BLINDNESS; more on NEVER LET ME GO; George Lies on Joe Gatski
#101 My Brilliant Career, The Scarlet Letter, John Banville, Never Let Me Go
#100 The Poisonwood Bible, Pamela Erens, More Harry P.
#99   Jonathan Greene on Amazon.com; Molly Gilman on Dogs of Babel
#98   Guest editor Pat Arnow; more on the Amazon.com debate
#97   Using Thomas Hardy; Why I Write; more
#96   Lucy Calkins, issue fiction for young adults
#95   Collapse, Harry Potter, Steve Geng
#94   Alice Robinson-Gilman, Maynard on Momaday
#93   Kristin Lavransdatter, House Made of Dawn, Leaving Atlanta
#92   Death of Ivan Ilych; Memoirs
#91   Richard Powers discussion
#90   William Zinsser, Memoir, Shakespeare
#89   William Styron, Ellen Willis, Dune, Germinal, and much more
#88   Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo
#87   Wings of the Dove, Forever After (9/11 Teachers)
#86   Leora Skolkin-Smith, American Pastoral, and more
#85   Wobblies, Winterson, West Virginia Encyclopedia
#84   Karen Armstrong, Geraldine Brooks, Peter Taylor
#83   3-Cornered World, Da Vinci Code
#82   The Eustace Diamonds, Strapless, Empire Falls
#81   Philip Roth's The Plot Against America , Paola Corso
#80   Joanne Greenberg, Ed Davis, more Murdoch; Special Discussion on Memoir--Frey and J.T. Leroy
#79   Adam Sexton, Iris Murdoch, Hemingway
#78   The Hills at Home; Tess of the D'Urbervilles; Jean Stafford
#77   On children's books--guest editor Carol Brodtrick
#76   Mary Lee Settle, Mary McCarthy
#75   The Makioka Sisters
#74    In Our Hearts We Were Giants
#73    Joyce Dyer
#72    Bill Robinson WWII story
#71    Eva Kollisch on G.W. Sebald
#70    On Reading
#69    Nella Larsen, Romola
#68    P.D. James
#67    The Medici
#66    Curious Incident,Temple Grandin
   Ingrid Hughes on Memoir
    Boyle, Worlds of Fiction
#63    The Namesame
#62    Honorary Consul; The Idiot
#61    Lauren's Line
#60    Prince of Providence
#59    The Mutual Friend, Red Water
#58    AkÉ,
Season of Delight
#57    Screaming with Cannibals

#56    Benita Eisler's Byron
#55    Addie, Hottentot Venus, Ake
#54    Scott Oglesby, Jane Rule
#53    Nafisi,Chesnutt, LeGuin
#52    Keith Maillard, Lee Maynard
#51    Gregory Michie, Carter Seaton
#50    Atonement, Victoria Woodhull biography
Richard Price, Phillip Pullman
#47    Mid- East Islamic World Reader
#46    Invitation to a Beheading
#45    The Princess of Cleves
#44    Shelley Ettinger: A Few Not-so-Great Books
#43    Woolf, The Terrorist Next Door
#42    John Sanford
#41    Isabelle Allende
#40    Ed Myers on John Williams
#39    Faulkner
#38    Steven Bloom No New Jokes
#37    James Webb's Fields of Fire
#36    Middlemarch
#35    Conrad, Furbee, Silas House
#34    Emshwiller
#33    Pullman, Daughter of the Elm
#32    More Lesbian lit; Nostromo
#31    Lesbian fiction
#30    Carol Shields, Colson Whitehead
#29    More William Styron
#28    William Styron
#27    Daniel Gioseffi
#26    Phyllis Moore
   On Libraries....
#24    Tales of the City
   Nonfiction, poetry, and fiction
#22    More on Why This Newsletter
#21    Salinger, Sarah Waters, Next of Kin
#20    Jane Lazarre
#19    Artemisia Gentileschi
#18    Ozick, Coetzee, Joanna Torrey
#17    Arthur Kinoy
#16    Mrs. Gaskell and lots of other suggestions
#15    George Dennison, Pat Barker, George Eliot
#14    Small Presses
#13    Gap Creek, Crum
#12    Reading after 9-11
#11    Political Novels
#10    Summer Reading ideas
#9      Shelley Ettinger picks
#8      Harriette Arnow's Hunter's Horn
#7      About this newsletter
#6      Maria Edgeworth
#5      Tales of Good and Evil; Moon Tiger
#4      Homer Hickam and The Chosen
#3      J.T. LeRoy and Tale of Genji
#2      Chick Lit
#1      About this newsletter
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