At the Guardian, they're running an interesting series of brief essays by writers about "the writers who inspired them." Though some of the writers veer off course to describe artists (Margaret Drabble, for example, chooses Van Gogh—and John Banville shares a story about his yellow Lab, Ben!), all are worth reading.
It got me thinking about who my literary hero would be. I'm not a writer myself (unless blogging counts!), but maybe in the "if I ever write a novel . . ." sense. Who is yours?
The 2010 Pulitzer Prizes were announced this afternoon in New York City, and many people (including your BookPage editors) were surprised by the results–specifically, the Fiction winner and finalists.
Paul Harding won for his debut novel Tinkers, which was published in January of 2009 by Bellevue Literary Press, a small, non-profit publisher that was founded in 2005. The Press is affiliated with New York University’s School of Medicine, and its mission is to "bring together medicine, science, and humanism through literature." Tinkers is about a man on his death bed who revisits his father, an "epileptic, itinerant peddler," through memory.
This news is huge because it's quite rare for a debut novelist to win the Pulitzer; the last time it happened was in 2000, when Jumpha Lahiri won for Interpreter of Maladies. One aspect of Harding's background is fairly typical; he attended the Iowa Writers Workshop. Before that, though, he was a drummer in a grunge/rock band called Cold Water Flat. Now, he teaches creative writing at Harvard's Extension School.
Harding has already already signed a contract to publish his next two books with Random House's The Dial Press. The next novel is called Enon and will be set in the same fictional town as Tinkers.
For more on this author, read an interview with Powell's Books, in which he talks about his inspiration for the novel. Also check out this interview with Bookslut for info on Harding's writing process and career as a musician.
Have any Book Case followers read Tinkers? What'd you think? I have just put in a request at the Nashville Public Library for their next available copy, so I'll report back as soon as I finish the book.
Fiction: Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)
Finalists: Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet (Soft Skull Press) and In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (W.W. Norton & Company)
History: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed (The Penguin Press)
Finalists: Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company) and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon S. Wood (Oxford University Press)
Biography: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles (Alfred A. Knopf)
Finalists: Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey (Alfred A. Knopf) and Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr. (Alfred A. Knopf)
Poetry: Versed by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press)
Finalists: Tryst by Angie Estes (Oberlin College Press) and Inseminating the Elephant by Lucia Perillo (Copper Canyon Press)
General Nonfiction: The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman (Doubleday)
Finalists: How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities by John Cassidy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and The Evolution of God by Robert Wright (Little, Brown and Company)
A few months ago I blogged about the new film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and now it seems that buzz surrounding Emily Brontë's classic has only grown.
In the fall, HarperCollins released a Twilight-themed version of the novel in Britain (because Wuthering Heights is Bella Swan's favorite book). Over the weekend, The Telegraph reported that sales of the re-branded book have quadrupled, from 8,551 to 34,023 a year in Britain.
If you're eager to read about Heathcliff and Cathy with a group—whether you've been inspired by Stephenie Meyer, you're revisiting the classic or it's always been on your TBR list—check out the Wuthering Heights Read-along on book blog Fizzy Thoughts.
I want to draw your attention to a note from The Pulitzer Prize website:
The 2010 Pulitzer Prizewinners and Nominated Finalists in all categories will be announced on April 12, 2010 at 3 p.m. Eastern daylight time. Finalists are not announced in advance. Winners' names, photos and bios will be posted on this Website at 3 p.m., along with all winning photographs and cartoons. Links to winning news stories will also be provided where available. The 2010 Prizes are awarded for work published, produced or premiered in 2009.
What book do you think should win the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction? Remember that it has to be a work of fiction published in 2009. According to the Pulitzer website, the prize will go to "distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life."
We all love libraries for different reasons—they give us complete access to thousands of books; a comfortable place to read and study; a place to gather with reading groups or friends. This week, we're celebrating all that is wonderful about libraries in National Library Week, which runs from April 11-17.
Besides winning the Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award for her fiction, Ann Patchett has also been honored with the Nashville Public Library Literary Award. We thought she would be a perfect person to comment on the value of libraries in our communities. Read on for her thoughts on supporting the library, broadening its appeal and why libraries are still relevant in a technological age.
In an age of rapid technological change in books and publishing, why are libraries still vital to their communities?
Well, in part because there are so many rapid technological changes. I certainly don’t understand what’s going on half the time and the library is the first place I’d turn to help me figure out the new landscape. But libraries are so much more than that, they’re also learning centers for the community. That can mean children’s story hour or a seniors’ book club. Not all of our intellectual needs can be met sitting at home in front of a computer screen.
Do you have a favorite library? Do you have a fond memory of spending time there?
I have a deep connection to the extremely grand downtown branch of the Nashville public library. I have a lot of friends there and frankly the building itself feels like a friend. I love the murals in the downtown library in Los Angeles and the dioramas in the Widener library at Harvard. The architecture and the energy in the Seattle library and the Salt Lake City library is nothing short of thrilling to me.
Do you have any suggestions for how people can support their local libraries?
Call me crazy but money is never a bad place to start. If you have a child who is a voracious reader and you’re checking out ten books a week, stop and think every now and then how lucky you are to have access to those book for free and make a donation to cover some of the cost. Times are tight for libraries and they need our help and our involvement.
Is there anything you think libraries can do to broaden their appeal?
I think the recession has already done wonders to broaden the appeal of libraries. More and more people are using their local libraries to fill out applications on line, to check out CDs, DVDs, and, yes, books, as a means of free entertainment. There are smart people there to help us when we can’t figure out how to use the computers, there are programs to take part in when we feel like being with other people. Libraries are always there for us. All we have to do is walk through the door.
If you were trapped in a library overnight, how would you spend your time?
Libraries are famous for comfortable couches, good lighting, and loads of books. I might finally start Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, or I might go and take out the rare books that are locked away in glass cases or I might go and see if anyone had checked out any of my books lately. I’d never have the nerve to do that if someone else was around.
If you had to come up with three “buzz words” for the library, what would they be?
Books, books, books, but then I’m old fashioned. I never get over the joy of walking into a building stuffed full of books.
Just in case you haven't heard: Tomorrow at 8am EST marks the beginning of this year's first 24-Hour Read-a-Thon. Check the official site for a list of participating bloggers, or to add your name to the list!
Unfortunately we won't be hosting a challenge this time around, but we're looking forward to checking out everyone's blogs to see how much reading they can get done in 24 hours. Anyone using the read-a-thon to check off a major item in your to-be-read stack? If I weren't setting out on a road trip tomorrow (alas, reading + driving=dangerous), I'd be participating in hopes of knocking out War & Peace.
What book blog posts have you enjoyed this week? Tell us in the comments.
April 15 is Support Teen Literature Day, and best-selling YA author Cynthia Leitich Smith highlights what you can do to help on her blog, Cynsations. On the 15th, booklovers and YA authors will leave books in public places for young people to discover, thanks to publishers who have donated $175,000 worth of books. Ten thousand books will go to to teens on Native reservations and tribal lands. Leitich Smith writes, "The donations are especially significant to many Native teens. 'In their lives, they really don’t have new books,' said Mary Nickless, the librarian at Ojo Encino Day School, one of 44 institutions that will benefit from Operation TBD." She also links to a wish list of 750 books that supporters can buy from Powells.
Leitich Smith, who is a tribal member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, has written several Native American-themed books, such as Rain is Not My Indian Name. Read BookPage reviews of her work here.
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli - Review
Posted by At Home with Books
Tatjana Soli's debut novel The Lotus Eaters has been everywhere lately—in BookPage, reviewer Sheri Bodoh called the Vietnam War story "stunningly powerful." Last week, Washington Post reviewer Masha Hamilton commented on the book's contemporary significance. In the NYT Book Review, Danielle Trussoni (author of Angelology) proclaimed that the novel is "splendid." And I loved blogger Alyce's review in "At Home with Books." She wrote, "How do you write a review of a book that has touched you in such a way that each time you think of it you see beauty and pain at the same time, side by side?" Have any Book Case readers had a chance to read this powerful novel?
How Green is My iPad?
Posted by The New York Times Op-Ed page
Okay, okay, The NYT is not a book blog. But at least I found out about this feature in a great roundup of links posted by blogger Jeremy at PhiloBiblos. Judging from the popularity of Lynn's iPad review, I thought readers would be interested in this article. The NYT provides a chart which compares the environmental impact of an iPad vs. a good old-fashioned book. The result? "The impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between." For another perspective, read this report from the Huffington Post, How Green Is Apple's Latest Gadget?, which claims that the "iPad fares pretty well, especially in comparison to other electronics."
We get some weird stuff at BookPage. Recent books about head lice come to mind. And DVDs. And plush toys. But I think today's delivery from "Fierce Fun Toys" might take the cake (sensitive readers: you might want to turn away): Norman PhartEphant! This children's book by Angela Larson is about an African elephant who is adopted by a U.S. zoo. The change in diet apparently throws him for a loop, and—you guessed it—flatulence ensues. Here's a line from the story:
With Alfrebit's great ears,
he must hear me fart. But,
if he misses the sound,
he can catch the stink.
What do you think. . . genius product development or crackpot idea?
Last night Oprah announced the debut of her new nighttime series, "Oprah's Next Chapter." The show will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in late 2011, and in it the Queen of Talk will travel around the world for her interviews.
A statement from the network said, "If she can dream it, she'll do it!"
Of course, in the book world there's been much speculation about whether she'll continue to promote books. A recent interview with the Wall Street Journal suggests she will:
Ms. Winfrey said she also may appear in other OWN shows including a possible book-club show. "My name's going to show up on that grid a lot," she said.