Meredith Sue Willis's

Books for Readers # 187

October 10, 2016

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Hamilton Stone Editions #35 Fall 2016 is ready to read!
Top-shelf Poetry! Knock 'em dead fiction! Powerful nonfiction!

 

Above, left to right, top to bottom: Burt Kimmelman, Sir Walter Scott, Llewellyn McKernan, Randi Ward

 

In This Issue of Books for Readers:

The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott

Beneath the Coyote Hills by Bill Luvaas

 

Whipstitches by Randi Ward

 

Gettng Ready to Travel by Llewellyn McKernan

Abandoned Angel by Burt Kimmelman
How to Season a Turkey with Bear Grease-- Phyllis Moore Reviews an Old Novel
First novel in the Virals Young Adult Series -- Reviewed by Sarah Cordingley

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

 

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall
Yorker Keith on Hiring a Book Marketing Company

More Books to Read       Readers' Suggestions

John Birch Blog      Things to Read & Hear Online    
Announcements and News     Irene Weinberger Books
 

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Books for Readers # 187

 

First, let me invite you to dip into the latest issue of The Hamilton Stone Review #35 , which has just gone live online. It has excellent poetry chosen by Roger Mitchell, the regular poetry editor, from poets like Lana Bella, Robert Beveridge, Gareth Culshaw, Salvatore Difalco,Alejandro Escudé, Alice Friman, Louis Gallo, Howie Good, Gail Hanlon, Dave Harrity, Heikki Huotari, Clinton Inman, Clara B. Jones, Richard Jones, Megan Kellerman, Anna Ivey, Michael Lauchlan, Sean Lynch, W. P. Osborn, Simon Perchik, John Repp, Judith Skillman, J. R. Solonche, Andrew Spiess, D. E. Steward, Allison Thorpe, and Mark Young.

The fiction, edited by Shelley Ettinger, includes an absolutely knock-out story by Andria Nacina Cole as well as wonderful pieces by Tim Fredrick, Gimbiya Kettering, and John Warren Lewis.

I had the privilege of choosing nonfiction for this issue, and it includes the heart-breaking opening of Ingrid Blaufarb Hughes' memoir Losing Aaron (see below), as well as an incident from the life of the late Jane Kinzler, a piece on midwifery by Nechama Sammet Moring, CPM, MA, and a moving one on loss and loving by Dolly Withrow.

Please read, and let me know what you think.

 

In recent recent months. I've been trying to read at a poem a day (or more),  because I like poetry and had some college training in reading it, but also because I generally find it slows me down emotionally and hones my sensitivity to language. This last seems especially important to me, given my return to an interest in story and plot-driven fiction.

I've been reading Elmore Leonard again, and I tried out one of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta murder mysteries (which didn't impress me-- too many characters seemed to have been set up in earlier books, so maybe I'll try an early one). I've gone almost to the end of what's available of Donna Leon's Commisario Brunetti novels, which are really about the city of Venice and about corruption in high places and the slow creeping of cynicism as we age.

And, of course, there is always Victorian literature.

This issue I'll review some new books, three of poetry, but begin with some comments on a Walter Scott novel, The Heart of Midlothian.

 

 

The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott

Just a few words about this novel that, along with other books by Scott, was an inspiration to young Charles Dickens and probably all the great Victorians. It is delightfully unselfconscious in its storytelling.  The heroine, Jeanie Deans, isn't even a proto-feminist, but she is a powerhouse just the same. She insists on standing by her principles and refusing to lie on the witness stand-- even though it condemns someone she loves. Then she walks from Edinburgh to London in an effort to save the condemned. She's a wonderful character, and a good example of a Dead White European Male managing to create a fine woman character by keeping a respectful distance and reporting her actions and speech, including some formal thought-speech. The omniscient story-telling form works with him on this.

The plot, of course, is old-fashioned and dependent on coincidences, but nobody seemed to complain in the early nineteenth century. The Scots dialect is often impenetrable, and there are gallingly prolix explanations of the factions of eighteenth century Scotch Presbyterianism.

But Scott does fantastic action scenes. Out of long passages of allegedly humorous dialect dialogue and back story (which he has no qualms about making a full pause to insert), really striking scenes suddenly take shape before us: the court room or a mob scene or a sword fight. His action writing is admirably y unadorned and realistic: there is a mostly offstage skirmish toward the end that is fast, shocking, and brutally random (and thus totally believable) as to who lives and who dies. Once guns fire and swords clash, anyone could end up dead.

Interestingly, one rather tedious character, who had seemed to be in the book only for comic relief, proves to be a trained and practical killer, calm and efficient.   In fact, Scott's characters are not caricatures, although some of their speeches are. He has no problem making fun of his lower orders, and he clearly prefers his well-spoken upper class swells like the Duke of Argyle, but everyone has some rounding, and he seems genuinely fondly of the people who walk through his imagination.

 

 

Beneath the Coyote Hills by Bill Luvaas

Beneath the Coyote Hills is a just-published novel about a homeless, epileptic man who in his early life was beaten down by life with a drunk father, a high achieving brother, and a depressed mother who almost never makes it out of her nightgown. The main character, Tommy, marries, studies, has a number of good chances, gets a "prestigious Wallace Stegner Fellowship" for an MFA at Stanford and drops out when people criticize his novel.

The best parts of the book are in the present of the story, where Tommy lives as a squatter in an olive grove, sharing in some abandoned house stripping with someone called Felony Fred. Living nearby are various skinheads, survivalists, and evangelical Christian motorcycle gangsters. These characters as well as Tommy himself and his hallucinations of Lizard and and Pop are simultaneously affectionate and hard-edged.

Tommy also has a novel-within the novel about a character who is Tommy's opposite, a figure with some of his brother's multiple talents and penchant for success. This is fun to read as something between wish fulfillment and vengeance on the rich and powerful. About two thirds in, though, the book we are reading becomes increasingly meta as Tommy's novel and the world of the novel we think we're reading begin to mix. Then Luvaas adds another layer in which the wife of Tommy's main character turns out to have written a best selling novel about Tommy's life. Discussions arise about who is allowed to make changes in people's lives, and Tommy ends up burning his novel, but the holocaust of his layers of story becomes a real wildfire.

There is a semi-happy ending, and I'm sure the case can be made that all the meta stuff is in Tommy's mind as much as the lizard man is, although I would have been happy without the literary pyrotechnics. By the end, Tommy has exorcized his father and taken several good and even heroic actions.

 

 

 

 

Whipstitches by Randi Ward

This beautifully produced book of tight, intense poems has ostensible themes of animals and plants and weather in a rural place. A handful of the poems have a bit of wisdom (a poem called "Tadpole" says in whole, "When you're stuck/in a rut,/everything depends on the weather"); a few wear their emotion on their sleeve, like "Grandma," in which "What's left of her" paces a sagging porch wearing one sock. There is a lot of wit and a modicum of humor as in "Daddy Longlegs" where the poet asks the arachnid to stop pointing. There are references to other poems with strong images and lots of white space (the standing water in Ward's "Wheelbarrow," unlike in Willam Carlos Williams', however, breeds mosquitoes.)

But what really stuns and holds me about these small explosions is the worlds they suggest funneling down into the spare utterances. Many of these implied worlds and histories of experience are frightening, bleak and violent. These represent probably the largest group of poems. "Bath" has only fourteen words, but the penultimate one is "bruise," and the woman in the poem soaks in a way to "make/a blind mirror cry." Such poems hint at realms of suffering behind the crystalline words on the page: "Lights Out" seems to be a child in danger at bedtime. And, to quote one poem completely, the speaker in "Gate" has a profound ambivalence about home that outshines dozens of overblown memoirs of family dysfunction, abuse, and mental illness:

Oh merciful
gate, break
these legs
for me
so I don't
have to walk
home.

This kind of writing shames us all for our sloppy purple prose and prosy poetry.

 

 

 

Getting Ready to Travel Llewellyn McKernan

This new chapbook by veteran poet Llewellyn McKernan is full of striped angels and rhyming patterns that we associate with children. Everything, though. that seems bouncy and chipper is undermined just a little, moved just a hair off plumb.

There is a consciousness of the rhyming, of both its ancient power, its childishness, and its way of pulling us along. Consider the beginning of # 4:

In puddles where all the dirt's been banished,
trees step backward until they vanish.

What is that about? It has an assertive freshness that is not young but is inescapably new. Some passages are dream visions, some are like what people see when they got to a new place or taste a new food. McKernan is not, of course, young or innocent or ingenuous. One of my favorite sections is a mystery that starts with the narrator walking by a country church and ends with "Big Sister Wrong/ with blood on her sleeve /is mother to the child we call Mystery." Is this an interpretation of religious symbols? An embodiment of the strange messages dreams bring us?

Also favorites of mine are the sections with strange characters: #20 has an angel "A sweet young zebra-striped/thing" that once had scales. #17 is about an old lady whose shoe sprouts "duck" tape and has a refrain, "She once had a daughter/She once had a son."

 

    She walks with stiff hips, she stumbles a little.

   Her life is quite plain, her life is a riddle.

  What's left in her booth is a glass of tea

 where the ice becomes what it used to be.

What more to be written on this small sheet

  Life isn't short,

    Life isn't sweet.

 

McKernan's chapbook is not an essay in verse and not a series of language jewels: it's an experience, and I recommend you'll take it.

 

 

 

Abandoned Angel Burt Kimmelman

This is Burt Kimmelman's ninth book of poems, and he has a long list of praise from people like Hugh Seidman, Robert Creeley, Alfred Kazin, Jerome Rothenberg, Michael Heller, Harvey Shapiro, and Madeline Tiger. I only looked at the names on the back of the book after I had read for a while and sort of popped back repeatedly in surprise and pleasure. Where have these poems been all my life?

Clearly, the poets know about Kimmelman.

The book is divided into Weather and Cities, but the individual poems, whether about a misty morning in Maplewood, New Jersey or the throbbing life of a New York City street, are pellucid and full of wonder. One of the things I especially enjoyed was how Kimmelman found words for things I have seen but unable to articulate– often transformations and transitions, such as "dark becoming green" at the end of a poem called "Dawn." Of course, the power of those simple words requires the rest of the poem for its real effect, but the change from color to dark or dark to color has always struck me as important perceptually.

. Or again, in "Quarrel of Gulls," the birds scatter after eating: "lifting apart from each other, wings out." That "lifting apart" just nails it. It reminds you of one reason we need our poets, or at least a poet like Burt Kimmelman: words that capture the psychological thrill of what we experience.

In "Regatta on Lake Union, Late July," five short lines do this for light and wind, and a poem called "Taking Off from Orly Airport" manages to recreate one a when what we see blends with who and what we are..

Most of the poems are imagistic and only a few are very long. Two or three somewhat obliquely with history, especially the Holocaust. The poet looks closely at photographs or makes a visit to Auschwitz .  There is no melodrama, just what we can see, experience, put into words, which is far from nothing.

Kimmelman's work is, in the end, poems of perception that make no apologies for the limits of language. We are our language far more deeply that we admit, and Kimmelman makes a virtue and adventure of this.

 

 

 

MORE BOOKS

 

PHYLLIS MOORE ON "How to Season a Turkey with Bear Grease"

Here are my comments as well as a recipe from the novel Young Kate (or, New Hope or, The Rescue): A Tale of the Great Kanawha, attributed to a John Lewis and published in 1855 by Bunce and Brothers Publishers, NY. -- Phyllis Moore

 

Lewis knew the region around the Greenbrier Resort and Hawk's Nest well. There is a Kate's Mountain in the area, and an area called The Loop. In the novel he refers to the mountain, the loop, Hawk's Nest, the slaves at the Greenbrier Resort, the gentry.

One hunter, Ben Bramble, sells venison, hides, and moonshine to the Resort. He scorns the gentry visiting there and claims, "They eat their niggers." This is his way of pointing out enslaved persons are sold to finance the summers the gentry families spent in the cool of the mountains around White Sulphur Springs.

The novel was first named Young Kate, for the loyal dog in the story. It was also published as New Hope, the name of the home of the main family in the story, and as The Rescue (Young Kate helps rescue the mistress). Henry J. Thomas published the same story (a shorter version) and called it The Allens: A Tale of the Great Kanawha Valley.

The turkey recipe described in the novel is one of the rather humorous sections. I laugh every time I read the exact time it took for alcohol-drinking young men to cook the bird. The men are traveling and must kill game for their meals. Early in the day they shoot a 20 # turkey. They are spending the night at a way-station and contribute the turkey as their share of a communal meal consisting of turkey, bear, dried venison, ham, and corn bread. Before they cook, they drink heartily from a jug of the "rall critter" (rye whiskey).

The narrator of the novel describes the cooking scene in great detail. (p 76-77): "After the turkey was prepared in the usual way for roasting, a long, sharp, narrow knife was passed around the thigh bone and up to the hip joint, separating the flesh from the bone; the bone was then extracted. In the same manner, the wing bones were taken out. An incision was then made from the inside of the body, and the breast bone was taken out and those articulated to it, passing on to the back below the neck….Flitches of fat bacon, peppered, salted, and rolled in flour, were inserted into the legs and wings; and the internal cavity was filled with a compound of cold, light bread, crumbled fine, and kneaded up with bear's fat, salt, and pepper. All the apertures were closed, a string tied around the neck close to the body, and the turkey was then suspended by the legs by a cord before the bank of clear coals that filled the whole fireplace. A short-handled frying-pan was placed beneath to receive the drippings.

"The lean, fresh bear's meat was cut into steaks, and the fat pieces into similar steaks; these later were salted and peppered, and a wooden skewer or spit, three feet long, was thrust through the middle part of a lean steak, and then of a fat piece, alternately, till the stick was full. This was also hung up before the fire perpendicular, but it was occasionally taken down, slightly dredged with flour, held horizontally over the coals, and again suspended over the skillet which caught the gravy. The bear meat and bread were not put to the fire till the turkey had been revolving before it for one hour and thirty-seven minutes. They were all brought in brown and smoking hot. The gravies were placed on the table in two tin pans."

It sounds delicious!

 

Sarah Cordingley Reviews the first book of the VIRALS series

Science fiction meets young adult in this exciting first installment of the Virals series. Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist and crime author, teams up with her son, Brendan, to craft her YA debut novel.

Tory Brennan, grandniece of the world-famous forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, has her world uprooted when her mother falls victim to a drunk driver and Tory is sent to live with a father she didn't know she had on an island most don't know exist.

But island life is far from mundane, especially once Tory discovers the place her father works – Loggerhead, an island even more remote than the one she calls home. But its unique qualities make up for its location – free-ranging troops of monkeys, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, and an off-the-books wolf pack call the island home, alongside the LIRI research compound. But when she and her friends discover the body of a young woman buried on Loggerhead, they uncover a decades-old unsolved murder, and in trying to crack the cold case, they stumble across something far more dangerous. In a little used LIRI lab, they find an imprisoned, sickly wolfdog pup – the missing member of Loggerhead's pack.

They break the dog out without considering the reasons it was locked in a lab, concerned only for its life. Within a week, the wolfdog is healthy again, but the teens have fallen victim to an experimental strain of parvovirus – one contagious to humans. They survive the virus's attack, but far more than surface damage has been done to their bodies. With the murderer still at large and their very DNA in rebellion, Tory and her friends have got a dangerous mission ahead and a target on their backs. But they might not be powerless anymore.

 

 

 

 

Dissident Gardens Jonathan Lethem Reviewed by MSW

With two excellent point-of-view characters, Rose Zimmer and Cicero Lookins, and a solid ending, Lethem does more right than wrong in this book. Those two characters, anyhow, are written in language that matches the story line in form and tone. Cicero, the child of Rose's lover, movingly but unsentimentally tells of Rose's last months in a nursing home. There is a real relationship between the old woman and the man who grew from the sour boy she educated in so many ways.

I'm not as fond of some of the other point-of-view characters, especially Rose's daughter Miriam and Miriam's husband, a sort of Clancy brother Irish folk singer who wants to be Bob Dylan. A lot of the Village-in-the-sixties material feels too carefully constructed. And sometimes Lethem uses his swirls and whorls and surges of language for nothing more than to get one character to make a simple point about another one. It's a waste of words. Nor do I really believe his version of Miriam's last hours in a jungle guerrilla encampment. Imagining something extreme is part of what a novelist does, but the fact that we do it and have the right to do it doesn't mean we always do it well.

On the other hand, the Rose sections have a splendid Yiddish-inflected English, and Rose's little grandson Sergius, the child of the romantic-revolutionary hippies, is excellent. Sergius as an adult, however, is less successful, although his character gives us eyes for the strong ending.

It's a mixed bag: when it was good it was very very good, and when it was bad, I was counting pages to the end.

 

 

 

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago reviewed by MSW

I borrowed this as a digital library loan when the book I was looking for wasn't available, and I'm so glad I did. How did I miss reading it sooner? It's a memoir of growing up in Puerto Rico and New York City, that back-and-forth life trying to make a living that was at its height in the nineteen sixties and seventies.

Esmeralda's mother is the most amazing character: seven kids before she is thirty, 11 children total. She is smart, ambitious, hard working, and still likes to look her best. The narrator's childhood material is rich and delightful, and there is a sharp, brief section at the end in Brooklyn when Esmeralda talks herself into the High School of Performing Arts.

 

 

 

 

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall Reviewed by MSW

I actually laid aside this biography as I approached the end because I didn't want to read what I already knew: that Margaret Fuller died with her husband and little son, their ship run around off Fire Island in a storm in 1850 when she had just turned 40.   It's an amazing and horrible incident: ten or twelve hours of this foundered ship, 300 yards from shore, and a couple of hundred people, scavengers by trade, watching--people with no interest in saving the crew or 6 passengers, only in picking up their trunks and feathered hats when they drifted in.

But that was a random death. The rest of her life is instructive and fascinating and the opposite of random as she struggled to make a place for herself that satisfied her education and ambition. I knew she was part of the Transcendentalist circle, but new to me was that she was a foreign correspondent for Horace Greeley's newspaper in Italy during The Garibaldi-Mazzini 1848 republic of Rome-- a revolution, in the end destroyed by troops from France's so-called second republic, plus Austria. She was writing dispatches back to Horace Greeley's newspaper, pregnant, keeping it secret, no one quite sure when and if she married her Giovanni Ossoli. Then trying to make sure a hired wet nurse fed her baby, dodging cannon balls, looking for her solider husband.

There was a brouhaha back in the states when all this came out--how could the quintessential American woman intellectual marry someone beneath her: unintellectual, a soldier. The problem was basic sexism and probably classism too (although Ossoli was some kind of minor nobility or at least related to such). How many men have married women who satisfied their need for care and comfort? And apparently Ossoli was loving and sweet-tempered.

Fuller was the first of her kind in the United States, a path breaker for women in so many ways, especially her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century. This excellent biography was published in 2010, and won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Well deserved!

 

 

 

READERS' SUGGESTIONS

Belinda Anderson writes to say, "Regarding Walter Dean Myers (See review of his Monster in Issue #186 ), thanks to Phyllis Moore, I recently discovered NOW IS YOUR TIME! THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. I recommend it."

 

For Writers Considering Hiring a Book Marketing Company

Yorker Keith writes that he has used a company called BookBuzz that impresses him with the power of social media. He questions, though, if it is " a different story whether or not these blogs turn into robust book sales, [but] at least this approach propagates book promotion to the Internet world, which means the entire world."

He says that the book marketing company charged $399.00 for promoting his book: "What they did for my novel "Remembrance of Blue Roses" is excellent." (See information here) . He says that "BookBlizz arranged a single day book blitz on August 31, after which bloggers hosted my book using this link.....If you are a Twitter member, please search for "Remembrance of Blue Roses" on your twitter account, then a series of blogs appear (try to click both "Top" and "Live" tabs on the top). This is quite amazing. BookBuzz seems to know how to use Social Networking for the book promotion.

"I can highly recommend BookBuzz.net to your newsletter subscribers, who may be seeking an effective yet inexpensive way to promote their book."

 

READ AND LISTEN ONLINE

Don't forget John Birch's continuing blogspot collection of essays. The current one is about culture clashes between Americans and the British during the Second World War.

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS, GOOD NEWS, CONTESTS, REMINDERS, AND MORE.

 
Rita Quillen's new book of poems: The Mad Farmer's Wife now available!
Latest updates on Barbara Crooker's website: New Online Poems!
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 .
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.

 

 

 

 

COMING SOON FROM IRENE WEINBERGER BOOKS:

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Also from IRENE WEINBERGER BOOKS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A NOTE ABOUT AMAZON.COM
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 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.

WHERE TO FIND BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS NEWSLETTER

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!
Kobobooks.com sells e-books for independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.

 

RESPONSES TO THIS NEWSLETTER

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.
 

BACK ISSUES click here.

 

LICENSE

Creative Commons License Books for Readers Newsletter by Meredith Sue Willis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.meredithsuewillis.com. Some individual contributors may have other licenses.
 

 

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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.

 

BACK ISSUES:

#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
#181
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.
#130
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 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
#65
   Ingrid Hughes on Memoir
#64
    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
#49    
Caucasia
#48    
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
#25
   On Libraries....
#24    Tales of the City
#23
   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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