Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 188

December 16, 2016

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In This Issue of Books for Readers:

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family  by Annette Gordon-Reed
Believe What You Can by Marc Harshman
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
The King in the Stone by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Noir by Ken Champion

More Books to Read    

Phyllis Wilson Moore on American Jewry and the Civil War by Bertram Wallace Korn
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann



       Things to Read & Hear Online    

Announcements and News    

Irene Weinberger Books



Another word from our sponsors.....

Opportunities to study writing with Meredith Sue Willis:

January 2017
Seminar on Character goes live at S&H Publishing's Short and Helpful Online Writing Workshops. This is a video workshop that includes limited teacher feedback.

Spring 2017 Literature and Medicine reading and discussion course at NYU Mondays, February 27, 2017 through April 24, 2017, 2:20 to 4:00 PM. (LITR1-CE9006)

Spring 2017 Novel Writing, Wednesdays February 8, 2017 through April 26, 2017 at NYU (WRIT1-CE9357)



Books for Readers # 188



The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family Annette Gordon-Reed

This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is the story of the descendents of enslaved woman whose children were half siblings of Thomas Jefferson's wife, and then Jefferson himself had children with one of those siblings, after his wife's death. It is about the complexity of family relationships, the paternalism of Jefferson, and about how most of Jefferson's "people" were sold off because of his overwhelming debts after he died. It is a book that was possible because of the unusual recording of the doings of the Hemingses, unlike the vast majority of enslaved people. It is about how Sally Hemings (Jefferson's wife's half sister) and her older brother James were in Paris with Jefferson and might have left him there for freedom, but both in the end made deals with him. James eventually received his freedom, and Sally extracted a promise from Jefferson that if she became his bed mate and help meet, he would free any children they had.

She carried seven children for him, of whom four lived to adulthood. Two of these were never officially freed, but were light enough in color that the best chance for them was to be sent quietly into life a white people, completely out of touch with their families. Two others were granted freedom as black people. The book is also about Jefferson's ambivalence about slavery, his white family's closed doors on his relationship to Sally, and about the the vicious public attacks on Jefferson and Hemings from newspapers and others. Gordon-Reed speculates brilliantly about whether or not true affection and even love might or might not be possible between slave and enslaver. She writes powerfully and marshals her extensive sources with deceptive ease.

The saddest part of the history is Jefferson's financial ruin at the end of his life, and how few of the people who served him were given freedom. Some of the extended Hemings family managed to buy each other and live locally, but many others continued in slavery. The book offers a look at American chattel slavery that comes about as close to the lives of actual enslaved people as any documentation I've ever read, and of course, we have to remember that these were very special enslaved people: many if not most of them were half or more white (Jefferson's children were three quarters white), and most of them were blood relations of Jefferson's white children.

What a world that was. Not as likely to cause climate change disaster as ours, but equally disastrous for the individuals caught up in slavery.


Believe What You Can by Marc Harshman... a wide ranging, rich collection of his poetry, organized around several threads: first is nature (he grew up on a farm and lives in northern West Virginia): there are deer and doves like the ones who "with a thudding whinny, they spring, and lift, and fly." (p. 85), as well as a plethora of precise observations that he tosses off in quantity, with ease, and always hitting his target.

Nature poems blend seamlessly into farm life, including a powerful prose poem in which Uncle Elmer tenderly encounters his wife's corpse and then calls on the young narrator to sit with the body until the undertaker comes, while he, Elmer, goes back to making hay. This piece, "Aunt Helen" (p.75), is a story on the surface, but ends with one of Harshman's many interrogations of God.

The answers Harshman derives tend toward a Buddhist emphasis on this present moment, these things around us. One lovely poem called "Monastery" tells how the brothers dug vegetables and listened for God and without any effort God came and sang for them in a wren suit (80). That's a Christianity this world could really use.

But I think the series of poems that surprised me most were the war poems. There are a number of damaged returned soldiers, including one who may be Harshman's father or some other veteran of the allegedly good war-- a veteran whose son is a poet who uses the word "Fuck" in a poem (p. 50). This poem, like several others, creates a character and tells a story, and Harshman's ability to do this without weakening the rigor of the language is a wonder.

Finally, there are a number of poems of nightmare or perhaps horror like "Where No One Else Can Go," in which a little girl with "a fistful of white violets" is left inside "the screaming house." It's pretty searing, and somehow adds to the sense that not only are American veterans traumatized, but so are ordinary middle-Americans. (p. 35)

This collection shows Harshman, the poet laureate of West Virginia, at the height of his powers, reaching out, reaching in, without melodrama, without posing, but with passion and apprehension of the mysteries.




The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West

This late novel of Rebecca West is is long and sometimes a little meandering and a little too indulgent of its precocious English children and their eccentric parents, but it is definitely worth taking the time to settle in and read. Rebecca West isn't read as much today as perhaps she ought to be. She is often remembered as the lover of H.G. Wells and the mother (with Wells) of Anthony West. There were a lot of fireworks in both relationships.

In this novel, she remembers and fictionalizes her birth family at 50 years distance in time. The family are all artists and intellectuals; the brilliant, deeply selfish father has trouble keeping a job and gambles any money he gets on the stock exchange. The mother is an astonishing musician, disheveled, opinionated, and charming. She was a concert pianist who stopped to marry and is making pianists of the narrator Rose and her twin sister Mary.

The story begins when the girls are maybe seven or eight, at a good moment for the family when their father finally gets a job as a writer-editor for a suburban London paper. It runs roughly chronologically until the father leaves the family, when the girls are in their teens. Music is discussed at great length, and musicality is a high family value. One of the most difficult problems for Clare the mother and Rose and Mary is that the older sister insists on being a performing violinist when, the others are convinced, she can't play and doesn't understand music. The fourth child, the baby brother whom everyone likes best, is one of those boys who can do anything– juggle, play many instruments– but is also a genius with making people feel comfortable.

Gender is significant, too, as West, a self-declared feminist, looks at how extremely talented women fared in middle class British life in the early 1900's. The father, Piers, unapologetically sells beloved furniture without asking his wife, and Clare never complains, and is in fact conscience-struck on the rare occasions when she makes some choice, usually financial, that favors her children over her husband. He, meanwhile, writes a monograph on the future of the world that essentially predicts the fall of the Austrian Empire and the rise of Hitler. The dramatic heart of the novel is when the family gets involved in the murder of the father of a schoolmate of the girls, and Piers exhausts himself lobbying friends in Parliament to save the murderer– the dead man's own wife,

There is an occasional appearance of the paranormal, notably a battle with a poltergeist that brings Clare's best friend and her daughter into the family circle. Often things are told lightly, with an almost obtuse optimism, but it ends with a long, extraordinarily moving scene the day after Piers leaves when the remaining family members go to the botanic gardens and eat sandwiches in front of a special flower that blooms only briefly. It's hard to capture the tone of the scene, but it is, in spite of a slowness that is never heavy, and in spite of the poltergeist, a well structured narrative with many pleasure and a true re-creation of childhood and adolescence in a private world where art and kindness are the highest values.




The King in the Stone by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban's novel The King in the Stone is a romance- fantasy with very serious themes. It includes both time travel and travel to other worlds–I didn't read the previous book in the series, so I'm not absolutely clear on how these movements through time and space are effected, but Ferreiro-Esteban always keeps the present of her story sharply in focus, so there is no confusion.

Here, Andrea and her love Julián (who take turns with the point of view) come across as easy-to-identify-with young people in their late teens or early twenties. Andrea in particular seems very modern and has made a decision that she wants to stay in our contemporary world, where she believes she will have more freedom. Julián, who has been a warrior and a king, has more trouble with contemporary customs. For example, he sees Andrea in the room of a male friend, and promptly breaks off their engagement.

Mourning the loss of Julián's love (she believes), Andrea goes off on an archaeological dig to Spain. There are multiple misunderstandings between the lovers: repeatedly they find one another, recognize their love, are parted by circumstances or more misunderstandings (usually when they see the other with a potential lover). There is a kind of ritualistic movement in this, and you come to expect these waves and troughs that carry us through the story. The reader always trusts, though, that the couple will eventually be together.

What I liked best about this book, though, was the way it breaks from the simple love story with a family theme, and all the parts about Spanish history. Both Andrea and Julián are descendants of early rulers of Spain from the time of the original Arab conquest– long before the Spanish empire in the Americas and long before the reconquest by los reyes católicos, Isabella and Ferdinand. One driving plot element is the mystery of who is the early medieval king whose stone image they find on the mountains?

This is an energetic story with lots of momentum and deep emotions woven into the fabric.



Noir by Ken Champion

This is a small book with great depth. The main character, Vincent, is one of Champion's gripping working class men who have achieved a university education. He is at once highly perceptive and intelligent and angry at a world that doesn't allow him to integrate his class roots with his present world view. Vincent loves the architecture of London, the bricks and windows and skylines. He is also fascinated by the period of the second world war, and indeed he first sees Gail dressed in a period costume and begins to fall for her. Part of their love making is often acting out scenarios of various types in an attempt to grasp the mysteries of time and place.

Vincent is also a university level teacher of sociology, mostly to what he calls "mature" students, many of whom are African immigrant women. His goal with his students is to teach them to question-- not only to believe (many of them are religious by culture), and he is apparently very popular with them, although his insights into who they are, and his tendency to speak truth as he sees it in all situations, gets him sacked from his job.

He hates what we call in the States political correctness, and also hates people eating on trains and riding bicycles on the sidewalks. There is a crisis, after his affair with Gail falls apart, when he acts with petty but vicious violence on the perpetrators of such petty actions. He is a dark, clever, and quirky man, and one who bounces back from even his own excesses. Gail is in the end too conventional for him--she demands communication and talking, whereas he is an inveterate avoider and repressor.

The ending, as far as plot goes, is a surprise in the way real life is a surprise-- things happen, there are coincidences, their meaning is doubtful at best. Vincent goes on, teaching in a new place, living his life in his peculiar way.

It's an unusual book, tight and surprising. Even though the material of it is meals in restaurants and contemporary mores and corruptions of culture, there is a surprise on almost every page. Clothes, the island of Mersea, Cockney accents, striving immigrants-- you feel the life in it, and forgive poor Vincent, human that he is, for loving it all but only understanding in part.



Other Reviews (by MSW unless noted)


Phyllis Wilson Moore Reviews Bertram Wallace Korn's American Jewry and the Civil War: A West Virginia Passover

Unexpected West Virginia stories fascinate me. For example, I never thought of Jewish soldier fighting for the Union here in the wilds of West Virginia, or anywhere else, for that matter. But they did.

AMERICA JEWRY AND THE CIVIL WAR by Bertram Wallace Korn, contains the brief entry regarding a Jewish regiment, The 22nd Ohio Volunteers, wintering in mountainous Fayette, West Virginia.

As the 1862 Passover approached, J. A. Joel and twenty other Jewish soldiers requested permission to be relieved of duty for the several days required to observe Passover. Request granted, the men set out to locate the needed foods and symbols for the observation. They had Matzo sent from Cincinnati by rail; the sender, a fellow soldier on leave, included Passover prayer-books.

The men foraged for others: two kegs of cider would be uses as a symbol for wine; an entire lamb for the lamb-bone; several chickens and some eggs. They substituted a local bitter weed for the bitter herbs. For the haroseth (a combination of chopped apples, nuts and wine), a symbol for the brick-building in Egypt, the best they could do was to place an actual brick on the table.

In a thrown-together log hut, with conventional items and symbolic one, the twenty men set about solemnly observing the dictates of their faith. Joel, the leader, conducted the service and chanted in the language of Israel.

All went smoothly until time to eat the bitter herbs (usually horseradish). The local weed, perhaps jimson, proved to be fiery as Cayenne pepper, and for some, hallucinogenic. With burning mouths the men hastily drank up all the cider (not just the four cups permitted). The results were not humorous. Soon, one man thought he was Moses, another thought he was Aaron, and one imaged himself a Pharaoh. After a tussle, the three confused men were carried from the camp and those assembled continued with their prayers.

This is a Civil War story of the best kind. Joel, the organizer would later say, "…there is no occasion in my life that gives me more pleasure and satisfaction then when I remember the celebration of Passover of 1862."

I'm fairly sure this is an "only in West Virginia" tale for the ages.



Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is best known for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and apparently (according the 2014 review of Colorless Tsukuru by Patti Smith in the NYTimes, his masterpiece. Apparently his work is either fantastical and edgy, which Smith seemed to prefer, or a kind of minimalist work like this one. Murakami is said to be considered "unJapanese" by many Japanese, but to me, this had a sensibility that I associate with Japan: a kind of patience and deliberate insistence on savoring experience, which is part of the main character Tsukuru's personality, but also, I would suggest, also part of the culture, particularly the Buddhist-influenced part.

The high value put on a mixed-gender group of teen-age is a fascinating psychological study (consider Donna Tartt's Secret History and Tana French's The Likeness for other views of how such a tight group can be destructive as well as nurturing). Most of the book is about Tsukuru's search for why his friends rejected him. He has a near-psychopathic break down after the rejection and builds a lonely life around railroad stations (which he both loves and works on as a skilled engineer). Slowly he rebuilds his psyche and, stimulated by a new girlfriend, he intensifies his quest through Japan and Finland. Patti Smith points out, since several things are left unresolved, there could be a sequel. I didn't think so, but in any case, found this a refreshingly alien world to visit and experience.



Let the Great World by Spin Colum McCann

This is an excellent contemporary novel that includes many characters and events linked by and centered around the famous tightrope walk by Phillipe Petit between the World Trade Center Towers on August 7, 1974. McCann manages about eleven point of view characters, and each one is amazingly believable except maybe the suicidal prostitute, who is interesting and likable but feels more constructed and less natural that the others. He has two chapters following his fictionalized version of the tightrope walker; a very well done criminal court judge; two two Irishmen, some early computer geniuses in early Silicon Valley who hack into New York city pay phones to place bets on whether the tightrope walker will fall or not.

The book has some of the characteristics of a collection of short stories, but is in fact a real novel because each short piece adds to the total momentum, and each question laid out raises the ante: What is the judge going to do with the tightrope walker? What will happen to the dead prostitute's daughters? And all the questions are answered satisfactorily, strongly.




Phyllis Wilson Moore often recommends these two poems to people: "Bleeding" by May Swenson and "To A Certain Citizen" by Walt Whitman (when you get to that web page, you have to scroll down for the poem).

Phyllis says, "Swenson has a host of poems I consider special. If you get a chance, check out her 'South Bound on the Freeway;' 'The Centaur,' 'Pigeon Woman'"


Phyllis also writes that she had an idea idea looking for a writer:

"Historical novel anyone? Hint. A white slave owner of the Kawawha Valley set free about 60 of his slaves in 1849 (I think was the year) and sent them off with at least one lawyer and $15,000, plus tools,etc. [Look up Sampson Saunders]. I think it is easy to find facts about this using the net. We also need a novel about the bunker at the Greenbrier and the chaos likely to have happened when the big wheels tried to use it and leave the locals out to die."




Joan Newburger's story "A Bad Day in the Promised Land" just online at Persimmon Tree!

Belinda Anderson is one of "50 Writers from 50 States."

The latest from Barbara Crooker: check the poems added or updated to the "online poems" section of her website: New Online Poems.
Ed Davis on Bob Dylan
Hamilton Stone Editions #35 Fall 2016






Ingrid Blaufarb Hughes reading from her memoir Losing Aaron:


--December 12, 2016 at Cornelia Street with Michael Carmen


--December 16, 2016 at Enquiring Minds Books, 6 Church Street in New Paltz (7:00 PM)


--Monday, February 13, 2017   7:00 PM at McNally's in Manhattan with Meredith Sue Willis


Deborah Clearman's new book Concepción and the Baby Brokers is forthcoming from Rain Mountain Press in March 2017. Bestsellng author Julie Salamon says, "In these vivid and often heart-wrenching stories, Deborah Clearman illuminates Guatemalan culture at ground level, through characters whose struggles are palpable and moving. The collection couldn't be more timely, or necessary."

Rita Quillen's new book of poems: The Mad Farmer's Wife!
New book!: Short Takes II: Reviews and Opinions by Fred Russell.
Carolyn Millier's "Counting the Fish in the Sea," a non-fiction book for children, tells the true story of how researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) tackle what might seem an impossible task—counting the fish in the sea. Miller explains how a NEAMAP (Northeast Atlantic Monitoring and Assessment Program) trawl is conducted, and how scientists sort, count, and analyze the fish. Each page is accented with actual photographs depicting the exciting moments of a research cruise. Miller also developed a way for children to continue learning about sea life by creating an interactive blog following the adventures of 'Sandy the Flounder.' Kids are able to visit the site to ask questions they have about the book or marine life. (Reviewed by Erin Kelly, VIMS). Learn more .
Darren C. Demaree's collection "Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly" is just out from 8th House Publishing.



12-year-old Dorveday struggles to be a model Zalan—condescending to the robot servants, intolerant of anyone different, and obedient to the whims of the oppressive Ministry. Then the Ministry tries to take her pet robotic dog. She runs away—and lands in magical Oz!



Xtremus is a dystopian satire about the aftermath of a cataclysmic demise of technology that takes place in post-apocalyptic Southern California. Eco terrorists have unleashed a computer virus killing the ruling class whose power and life force were dependent on sophisticated brain implants through which they communicated and held sway. The story follows the quest of Condor, leader of a group of “hackers” who survived Cybergeddon because of the immunities they received, albeit without the firepower of the halcyon days of techno splendor. 
Penner Publishing is happy to announce the next novels by Monique Raphel High. (See our interview with Monique in issue, #185)

Don't forget The Courtship of Eva Eldrige by Diane Simmons--nonfiction about leaving the farm, women in war industry in the 1940-s, and serial bigamy! See review in Issue # 186.


Jim Minick was the honoree at Emory & Henry College's 35th annual Literary Festival on October 27 and 28, 2016.   Presenters included Darnell Arnoult, Charles Dodd White, Mark Powell, Rick Van Noy, Dana Wildsmith, Thorpe Moeckel, Kevin O'Donnell, Tom Hansell, Theresa Burriss, and Erica Abrams Locklear. The Emory & Henry Literary Festival began in 1982 with a program devoted to Sherwood Anderson, who spent the final 15 years of his life in nearby Smyth County, Virginia. Since that inaugural occasion, the festival has honored a living writer with strong ties to the Appalachian region who comes to campus for a reading, a public interview, and a series of presentations about her/his work. Building on this tradition, the festival also includes a contextual emphasis of importance to the featured author's work, bringing together scholars and writers on a specific topic.




Congratulations to Crystal Wilkinson who won the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence!




Now available from Irene Weinberger Books:













I have a lot of friends and colleagues who really despise Amazon. See the recent discussion in Issue # 184, as well as older comments from Jonathan Greene and others here.
The largest unionized bookstore in America has a webstore at Powells Books. Some people prefer shopping online there to shopping at An alternative way to reach Powell's site and support the union is via Prices are the same but 10% of your purchase will go to support the union benefit fund.


If a book discussed in this newsletter has no source mentioned, don’t forget that you may be able to borrow it from your public library as either a hard copy or a digital copy. You may also buy or order from your local independent bookstore. (To find a bricks-and-mortar store, click the "shop indie" logo left).
To buy books online, I often use Bookfinder or Alibris. Bookfinder gives the price with shipping and handling, so you can compare what you’re really going to have to pay.
Another source for used and out-of-print books is All Book Stores. Also consider Paperback Book Swap, a postage-only way to trade books with other readers.
Still another place to buy books: Ingrid Hughes suggests "a great place for used books which sometimes turn out to be never-opened hard cover books is Biblio. I've bought many books from them, often for $4 including shipping."

If you are using an electronic reader like Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, don't forget free books at the Gutenberg Project—mostly classics, and free, free, free! sells e-books for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.



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

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           Meredith Sue Willis, the producer of this occasional newsletter, is a writer and teacher and enthusiastic reader. Her books have been published by Charles Scribner's Sons, HarperCollins, Ohio University Press, Mercury House, West Virginia University Press, Monteymayor Press, Teachers & Writers Press, Hamilton Stone Editions, and others. She teaches at New York University's School of Professional Studies.



#188 Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban; The Hemingses of Monticello; Marc Harshman; Jews in the Civil War; Ken Champion; Rebecca West; Colum McCann
#187 Randi Ward, Burt Kimmelman, Llewellyn McKernan, Sir Walter Scott, Jonathan Lethem, Bill Luvaas, Phyllis Moore, Sarah Cordingley & more
#186 Diane Simmons, Walter Dean Myers, Johnny Sundstrom, Octavia Butler & more
#185 Monique Raphel High; Elizabeth Jane Howard; Phil Klay; Crystal Wilkinson
#184 More on Amazon; Laura Tillman; Anthony Trollope; Marily Yalom and the women of the French Revolution; Ernest Becker
#183 Hilton Obenzinger, Donna Meredith, Howard Sturgis, Tom Rob Smith, Daniel José Older, Elizabethe Vigée-Lebrun, Veronica Sicoe
#182 Troy E. Hill, Mitchell Jackson, Rita Sims Quillen, Marie Houzelle, Frederick Busch, more Dickens
Valerie Nieman, Yorker Keith, Eliot Parker, Ken Champion, F.R. Leavis, Charles Dickens
#180 Saul Bellow, Edwina Pendarvis, Matthew Neill Null, Judith Moffett, Theodore Dreiser, & more
#179 Larissa Shmailo, Eric Frizius, Jane Austen, Go Set a Watchman and more
#178 Ken Champion, Cat Pleska, William Demby's Beetlecreek, Ron Rash, Elizabeth Gaskell, and more.
#177 Jane Hicks, Daniel Levine, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Ken Chamption, Patricia Harman
#176 Robert Gipe, Justin Torres, Marilynne Robinson, Velma Wallis, Larry McMurty, Charlotte Brontë, Henry James, Fumiko Enchi, Shelley Ettinger
#175 Lists of what to read for the new year; MOUNTAIN MOTHER GOOSE: CHILD LORE OF WEST VIRGINIA; Peggy Backman
#174 Christian Sahner, John Michael Cummings, Denton Loving, Madame Bovary
#173 Stephanie Wellen Levine, S.C. Gwynne, Ed Davis's Psalms of Israel Jones, Quanah Parker, J.G. Farrell, Lubavitcher girls
#172 Pat Conroy, Donna Tartt, Alice Boatwright, Fumiko Enchi, Robin Hobb, Rex Stout
#171 Robert Graves, Marie Manilla, Johnny Sundstrom, Kirk Judd
#170 John Van Kirk, Carter Seaton,Neil Gaiman, Francine Prose, The Murder of Helen Jewett, Thaddeus Rutkowski
#169 Pearl Buck's The Exile and Fighting Angel; Larissa Shmailo; Liz Lewinson; Twelve Years a Slave, and more
#168 Catherine the Great, Alice Munro, Edith Poor, Mitch Levenberg, Vonnegut, Mellville, and more!
#167 Belinda Anderson; Anne Shelby; Sean O'Leary, Dragon tetralogy; Don Delillo's Underworld
#166 Eddy Pendarvis on Pearl S. Buck; Theresa Basile; Miguel A. Ortiz; Lynda Schor; poems by Janet Lewis; Sarah Fielding
#165 Janet Lewis, Melville, Tosltoy, Irwin Shaw!
#164 Ed Davis on Julie Moore's poems; Edith Wharton; Elaine Drennon Little's A Southern Place; Elmore Leonard
#163 Pamela Erens, Michael Harris, Marlen Bodden, Joydeep Roy-Battacharya, Lisa J. Parker, and more
#162 Lincoln, Joseph Kennedy, Etel Adnan, Laura Treacy Bentley, Ron Rash, Sophie's Choice, and more
#161 More Wilkie Collins; Duff Brenna's Murdering the Mom; Nora Olsen's Swans & Klons; Lady Audley's Secret
#160 Carolina De Robertis, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ross King's The Judgment of Paris
#159 Tom Jones. William Luvaas, Marc Harshman, The Good Earth, Lara Santoro, American Psycho
#158 Chinua Achebe's Man of the People; The Red and the Black; McCarthy's C.; Farm City; Victor Depta;Myra Shapiro
#157 Alice Boatwright, Reamy Jansen, Herta Muller, Knut Hamsun, What Maisie Knew; Wanchee Wang, Dolly Withrow.
#156 The Glass Madonna; A Revelation
#155 Buzz Bissinger; reader suggestions; Satchmo at the Waldorf
#154 Hannah Brown, Brad Abruzzi, Thomas Merton
#153 J.Anthony Lukas, Talmage Stanley's The Poco Fields, Devil Anse
#152 Marc Harshman guest editor; John Burroughs; Carol Hoenig
#151 Deborah Clearman, Steve Schrader, Paul Harding, Ken Follet, Saramago-- and more!
#150 Mitch Levenberg, Johnny Sundstrom, and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns.
#149 David Weinberger's Too Big to Know; The Shining; The Tiger's Wife.
#148 The Moonstone, Djibouti, Mark Perry on the Grimké family
#147 Jane Lazarre's new novel; Johnny Sundstrom; Emotional Medicine Rx; Walter Dean Myers, etc. 
#146 Henry Adams AGAIN!  Also,Fun Home: a Tragicomic
#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; 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; Underground Railroad; Navasky's Naming Names, 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; Molly Gilman on Dogs of Babel
#98   Guest editor Pat Arnow; more on the 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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