Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Anthologies (1-10 of 11)

On the Books Apr. 21: Kindle lending, remembering Tim Hetherington, Tina Fey's booksigning techniques, and more

Amazon announced yesterday that it will offer library lending capabilities for the Kindle, but is there a catch? Key details remain fuzzy, or pixilated: When will libraries roll out the program, and how long will the lending period be? Also, not all books may be available as part of the program.

Intrepid photojournalist and Restrepo co-director Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya yesterday, had published a book in 2009 called Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold. According to the publisher, the book “entwines documentary photography, oral testimony, and memoir to map the dynamics of power, tragedy and triumph in Liberia’s recent history. It depicts a past of rebel camps, rainforest destruction, Charles Taylor’s trial as a war criminal, and other happenings contrasted with the hope for the future.”

Funnylady Tina Fey has to keep herself entertained while on her Bossypants promotional tour, so she’s been mixing it up while signing book after book. As she mentioned on Tuesday night’s Conan, she sometimes signs entirely different names (like Ina Garten) in fans’ books and at least once has inscribed, “Help, I’m stuck in a Korean Tina Fey autograph factory!” Maybe by the time her book tour is over, she really will have those man arms.

Do you know what’s truly dead? Spouting off little soundbytes about how books and traditional publishing are dead. Check out these common 21st century nuggets on non-wisdom that really should be put to rest.

The Long Island mansion believed to have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald in writing The Great Gatsby was demolished earlier this week, but not before writer Christine Lee Zilka snapped some final photos of the home that had been standing since 1902.

Two anthologies have been marketing classic poetry to children along gender lines. Are some poems for boys and others for girls?

'Admission' and 'It's Not You, It's Me: The Poetry of Break-Up': Two terrific books from Jerry Williams

As we arrive at the final week of National Poetry Month, I recommend that you immediately grab a copy of Jerry Williams’ Admission, as funny and tough and thrilling a collection of poems as I’ve read in some time. In this volume, Williams specializes in poems that dare you to believe they’re autobiographical or confessional, and which can quickly become both intricate and artfully exaggerated. The opening poem, “Unadorned,” is a vehement list of the things he’s done “for you,” whoever “you” is. Here’s a chunk of it:

I let a dog in the park lick my face for you.

I pretended not to know the murder rate in Denmark for you.

I’ve tried to stay ugly for you […]

I worked in a cardboard box factory for you.

I gave up skin for you.

Whenever love metastasized, I ran over it with my lawnmower for you.

I wrote “Stairway to Heaven” for you.

I did the whole Reverend Dimmesdale thing for you…

Williams writes poems about HBO and The Tonight Show; he has a poem called “Imaginary Family Vacation” that made me wince and wonder whether Williams had rooted around in the back of my skull for memories.

Williams is also the editor of a fine new anthology, It’s Not You, It’s Me: The Poetry of Break-Up. It’s a collection featuring terrific poets such as Mark Halliday, Tony Hoagland, and Ai (a fine poet who died just last month). It’s Not You, It’s Me is divided into three themed sections “One Foot Out The Door,” “In The Middle Of The Storm,” and “The Aftermath.” This may be an anthology for anyone who’s been broken-hearted, but it’s not an anthology for anyone who’s faint-hearted: Treacly, romantic, winsome little poems are entirely absent Williams’ from conception of the messiness of breaking up with someone.

In his superb introduction, Williams says bluntly, “I have endured four major break-ups in my life. Each one nearly killed me.”

You think he’s kidding… and then he goes on to describe each one. Williams is as good a prose writer as he is a poet. Get hold of this guy’s stuff and read it.

Exclusive: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announces new 'Best American' guest editors

I’ve always loved Houghton Mifflin’s “Best American” anthologies and find myself dipping in and out of most of them during the course of the year — especially Best American Short Stories, which is flavored differently each year, thanks to the varied guest editors. Here, below, is Houghton’s lineup for 2010. I loved that they tapped Bill Buford (Heat) to edit Best American Travel Writing, and I’m pretty excited about Richard Russo and Lee Child, too.

The Best American Short Stories 2010: Richard Russo

The Best American Essays 2010: Christopher Hitchens

The Best American Comics: Neil Gaiman

The Best American Nonrequired Reading: Dave Eggers (guest introducer: David Sedaris)

The Best American Science and Nature Writing: Freeman Dyson

The Best American Mystery Stories: Lee Child

The Best American Travel Writing: Bill Buford

The Best American Sports Writing 2010: Peter Gammons

The Best American Noir of the Century: Otto Penzler and James Ellroy (this title, a hardcover, won’t be a part of the annual series — it’s a stand-alone)

How about it, Shelf Lifers? which one will you be most interested in?

Reading in the waiting room: It's not just old magazines anymore

Ever find yourself seated in the fluorescent purgatory of a doctor’s waiting room, wishing that you could find something to pass the time, but there are only three identical copies of Yacht Aficionado and a medical equipment catalog? If you’re lucky, there is a decade-old issue of this illustrious magazine with Stone Cold Steve Austin on the cover, but don’t hold your breath.

One possible stab at a solution comes from CavanKerry Press, which has put together The Waiting Room Reader, a collection of poetry meant to be somewhat more inspiring and enjoyable than those pamphlets on the dangers of childhood obesity. Last year, 5,000 copies of the book were sent to 200 waiting rooms in 28 hospitals for free as a sort of test run. Successful feedback has now led to a second printing that is being sold to doctors’ lobbies across the country. “Our goal was to provide reading material that people would actually want to read,” says Joan Cusack Handler, the collection’s editor. “The waiting room can be a worrying place, so it’s nice to have something other than a few golf magazines. Honestly, I can’t believe no one ever thought of it before.”

It’s an interesting prospect, even if you’re not big on poetry. I, for one, would be glad for a little more variety while waiting, and literature doesn’t go out of date like magazines do. Novels would probably run a little too long (although, at some appointments, I’m not too sure), but what about short story collections? Nothing like a bit of Alice Munro or John Cheever to prepare you for your GP’s prodding fingers. What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Would you like to see something different in the waiting room the next time you’re there? Or are you happy reading up on the latest news about the 2004 election?

Tell us your six-word memoirs!

By now, you’ve probably heard of Smith Magazine‘s six-word memoirs. After all, last year, the magazine released a best-selling compilation – Not Quite What I Was Planning — that included pieces from readers and famous folks alike.

But if you aren’t familiar with the concept, here’s a little debrief: The six-word memoir is said to be rooted in a bet between Ernest Hemingway and a friend — supposedly, the author claimed he could write a short story in just six words. (He won with “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”)

After drafting folks like Amy Sedaris and Chuck Klosterman for its first book, Smith Magazine has recruited a new crop of celebs and unknowns for a new collection of six-word memoirs, It All Changed in an Instant (on stands now). Which celebrities? The book includes pensive memoirs by the likes of Molly Ringwald (“Acting is not all I am”) and clever pieces by the likes of James Frey (“So would you believe me anyway?”). (The L.A. Times books blog even asks of those latter six words: “James Frey’s best work?”) Sarah Silverman, Art Spiegelman, Margaret Cho, and others also penned pieces for the books.

Now, what we want to know is, what would your six-word memoir be? I feel like mine would go something like this: “What is life without the DVR?”

Your turn, ShelfLifers!

The classics get tweeted in 'Twitterature'

Tolstoy was a great novelist, but he wasn’t known for concision. That’s probably the reason why he didn’t use Twitter. Well, one of the reasons, at least.

Luckily for us, the compilers of the new book Twitterature have helped to condense into 140 characters what would have taken the Russian author 140 pages to describe. Each classic is squeezed into 20 tweets or fewer. For example, from Anna Karenina (SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t had a chance to catch the nail-biting finale):

“Alright, twenty rubles says that I can toss my bag in the air, run across the tracks, and catch it before the train arriv–”

William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Thomas Pynchon, and even Dan Brown get the Twitter treatment in the book, to widely varying humorous effect. I like the premise of the whole thing, even if it’s sometimes a bit overcooked. Plus, the tweets actually cover the plot pretty well, so I can even imagine using this as a sort of jokey CliffsNotes. Here are a few more choice examples:

“SATAN HAS THREE HEADS, AND THEY ARE TOTALLY EATING PEOPLE” Dante’s The Inferno

“S—. ‘C-Section’ is not ‘of woman born’? What kind of king dies on a g–d— technicality?” Shakespeare’s Macbeth

“Robert Downey Jr. playing me in a film? Totally cool. Perfect.” A.C. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes

What do you think? Are Twitter and classic lit like chocolate and peanut butter, two great things that go great together? Or is it more like chocolate and anchovy paste?

'Bloom County The Complete Collection': Totally '80s humor - and a penguin, too!

43932843I can’t really overemphasize the role Berke Breathed’s Pulitzer-winning ’80s comic strip Bloom County played in my life. Its prepubescent hero, Milo Bloom, was a budding journalist of dubious ethics. He had a best friend named Binkley who was fond of wearing tutus (much to the chagrin of his football-loving dad). And they palled around with an endearing penguin named Opus. The fact that I turned out to be a gay, penguin-fancying journalist with an offbeat sense of humor? It ain’t pure coincidence.

So imagine my delight to reacquaint myself with the origins of Breathed’s pre-Opus opus, the first of a planned five-volume compendium of the strip’s nearly nine-year, Pulitzer-winning run. Bloom County The Complete Collection, Volume One includes several pages of The Academia Waltz, the strip that Breathed drew for the student newspaper at the University of Texas, Austin in 1978-79. It was very much a Doonesbury homage, as I suspect most college comics were in those days — though it did introduce an early version of both the preppie cad Steve Dallas and the wheelchaired Vietnam vet Cutter John, who would become regulars in Bloom County. READ FULL STORY

Attention, Sarah Palin bashers: Lookalike book 'Going Rouge' is coming!

Sarah-Palin-books_lWe know that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can hunt, and even field-dress a moose, but how will she take to poachers on her book sales? Start-up publisher OR Books has announced plans to publish Going Rouge: Sarah Palin An American Nightmare, a collection of essays about the maverick Republican with a title — and cover design — remarkably similar to Palin’s upcoming memoir. What’s more, OR’s paperback tome will be released on Nov. 17, the same day that Palin’s own Going Rogue: An American Life hits shelves — and one day after Palin’s just-announced, first-ever appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show. (A shout-out to Ron Hogan at GalleyCat for the tip.)

Going Rouge is compiled by Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, two top editors of the left-leaning weekly The Nation, and includes essays by Nation regulars like Katrina vanden Heuvel, Naomi Klein, and Katha Pollitt. It’s the first release from OR Books, a fledgling outfit founded earlier this year by publishing veterans John Oakes and Colin Robinson that “embraces progressive change in politics, culture and the way we do business,” according to its website.

I realize that this anti-Palin book is a paperback and probably won’t be stocked anywhere near Palin’s hardcover memoir in bookstores, but do these jackets look too similar to be, well, fully kosher? At the very least, might some hockey-mom-loving conservatives be confused enough to pick up the wrong book? You betcha!

cover-promoUPDATE: It seems that OR Books isn’t unique in its attempt to capitalize on Sarah Palin’s upcoming memoir, Going Rogue — nor in rearranging the letters of the title for its own effort. Cartoonist Julie Sigwart and political satirist Micheal Stinson are self-publishing Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book, a 48-page paperback that will be released Nov. 17 (the same day as the G.O.P. firebrand’s autobiography as well as OR Books’ anti-Palin essay collection, also titled Going Rouge). The sample pages on the book’s promotional website fall clearly into the realm of political satire, including a coloring page with lipsticks and pigs (naturally) and a caricature of Palin in fishing overalls and possible “fishing gear”: a gun, a saw, an ax, and a bomb.

'A New Literary History of America': As big and good as the country itself

A-New-Literary-History-of-America_l

The huge, welcoming, exciting, just-published volume A New Literary History of America is a book with which to spend entire days and the rest of your life. It’s a collection of over 200 original short essays that range, as the editors, Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors write in their introduction, “from the first appearance of ‘America’ on a map to Jimi Hendrix’s rewrite of the national anthem,” from the founding of the nation up through Hurricane Katrina and the election of Barack Obama.

There are essays here on the Salem witch trials and on Tarzan; on the founding of the Hudson River School of painting and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous; on The Book of Mormon and The Catcher In The Rye. The essays are written by well-known names (Jonathan Letham, Sarah Vowell, Richard Schickel, Gish Jen) and less famous but no less revelatory writers (I direct you immediately to Stephen Burt’s essays on poetry and to Dave Hickey’s acute “The Song in Country Music”). Where else are you going to read Camille Paglia on Tennessee Williams, Mary Gaitskill on Norman Mailer, and Walter Mosley on the hardboiled detective novel? Don’t you want to do that right now?

Much as he did as a writer in his discography for the 1979 anthology Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island — choosing and elaborating upon key recordings in a way that cohered as a history of rock music — so, as an editor here, Marcus has placed in chronological order other writers’ interpretations of key moments in American history, and ended up with a surprisingly complete yet completely surprising view of our nation’s progress. And its mistakes, its sins, its grand follies; its most fervent dreams, and its most livid realities.

Talk about an all-American value: You could read this 1,000-plus-page book forever and never use up its revelations and its pleasures.

'The Best American Poetry 2009': Sonnets, vomit, and 'Mad Men'

Best-American-Poetry_l

Every year, the annual Best American Poetry anthology arrives like the gift that keeps on giving. It contains a generous selection of poetry published over the past year — this time around, 75 poems from more than 56 print and internet outlets — as selected by a guest editor.

That editor (in this case, David Wagoner; in previous years, everyone from John Ashbery to Rita Dove) provides an essay that explains the reasoning that went behind his or her selections. The series editor, poet David Lehman, also always adds his valuable two cents, usually dilating upon the state of poetry in the culture. In The Best American Poetry 2009, Lehman discusses the use of poetry in the previous season of Mad Men (did you know Don Draper’s reading habits caused an upsurge in sales for the poetry of Frank O’Hara?).

But Lehman’s particular theme this year is the state of poetry criticism, and he doesn’t hold back: “Poetry criticism at its worst today,” Lehman asserts, “is mean in spirit and spiteful in intent,” and he goes on from there to apply an especially vigorous flogging to the critic William Logan, who is sort of the Louis C.K. of poetry criticism, and who has written, for example, that reading the work of C.K. Williams is “like watching a dog eat its own vomit.”

Non-vomitous poems selected this year for The Best American Poetry 2009 include Denise Duhamel’s suspenseful “How Will It End,” in which the author and her husband come upon a lifeguard and his girlfriend arguing, find that they cannot pull themselves away from the tense scene — and poet-and-husband end up in an argument themselves. There’s also Terrance Hayes’ salute to the late R&B singer Luther Vandross, “A House Is Not A Home,” which concludes with the poet expressing his own desire to:

“… record the rumors and raucous rhythms/of my people, our jangled history, the slander/in our sugar, the ardor in our anger, a subcategory/of which probably includes the sound particular to one/returning to his feet after a friend has knocked him down.”

Finally, The Best American Poetry 2009, like its predecessors, is a handy guidebook to making it in poetry today.  The long “Contributor’s Notes and Comments” provides not only a quick bio of each poet but also a statement from each writer about how he or she came to write the poem included. These entries range from the enlightening to the insufferably pretentious, but they’re never less than entertaining.

There’s also a list of every print or online magazine where these poems were published containing the name of the journal’s poetry editor and address.

Just in case you want to submit your own poetry some place, and risk the future wrath — or praise — of some ornery, or generous, poetry critic.

As I said, you get the current world of poetry in one slim volume.

Do you read much poetry? Does the idea of an annual collection like this appeal to you?

Latest Videos in Books

Advertisement

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP