I’m off for a long Memorial Day Weekend; country, chickens, fresh air, books, books, books and some dvds for good measure. Then I have a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah and a visit with a sister-in-law. She also appreciates a good book and I suspect a major trip to a SLC bookstore. Plus there’s the greatest yarn, quilt and cross stitch stores in the country residing within close proximity of her house.
Young Bill Young will be taking care of the blog. Be kind, comment often, and I may be back if I don’t run off, change my name and take up residence in the western USA.
I mean how can you pass up something with the series title, Stud Club Trilogy, Book One.
You can either taste the romances through ebooks, paperbooks or taste the conversation with Sarah’s Lemonade; any way you want to hop into summer romance.
Young Bill Young here, stealing a piece of Kitty’s online real estate one more time.
I’m not a librarian, but I play one in real life for my friend Ralph. Ralph is in the third age of life, and he’s embarked on a mission to re-read many of his favorite books and authors. Since I work in a library, guess who gets to do some of his Interlibrary Loan requests?
During the past year, I’ve borrowed books by George V. Higgins, Henry Kuttner, Lewis Padgett (the co-author pseudonym for Kuttner and his wife C. L. Moore), and illustrator/author Karen Wehrstein to help him in his quest. Most recently, he’s been rereading British novelist and mystery writer Nicolas Freeling.
Freeling was a popular, award-winning writer best known for his Van der Valk series, which was adapted for British television. His Henri Castang mysteries were not as celebrated, even though some critics believed them superior to the Van der Valk works. Freeling enraged his fans when he killed off Van Der Valk in 1972′s A Long Silence. The outrage over the loss of their favorite crime detective proved too much for his fans in Sweden and France, and both countries stopped publishing him.
But enough about Freeling. This post is really about how hard it is to find some of his books. I’m working down the list of Freeling’s two detective series so Ralph can read them in order, and so far I’ve struck out on finding two of the Castang novels: A Dressing of Diamonds and The Night Lords. They’re simply not out there on WorldCat to borrow through Interlibrary Loan.
Now I know that there is limited space on library shelves, that books are weeded due to disuse or bad condition, and that some books can’t be replaced because they are out of print. And, yes, the public is fickle and ever-changing. What’s popular today may be tomorrow’s cast-off. Still, it’s disappointing to find the works of a such a celebrated author disappearing from our library shelves and from publishers’ print schedules. Even a visit to amazon.co.uk reveals that many of Freeling’s works can only be purchased in used condition since they’re officially out of print in England.
A library colleague tells me it used to be hard to find books by Oklahoma’s own Jim Thompson. There wasn’t much demand for his dark pulp fiction, and his books were out of print. When a new appreciation for him emerged, some of his works were adapted to the screen (notably The Grifters, and After Dark, My Sweet), and he became even more popular than he was during his lifetime.
“We talk about immortal literature, but the vast majority of books are as mortal as we are.”
I wonder… will future generations come up with “no results” when they search for a John Grisham novel on WorldCat? Will they ponder the work of a forgotten author named Dan Brown? Will children still be reading Captain Underpants?
All is vanity.
George Getschow, writer in residence of the nationally renowned Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine, Texas, is inviting nonfiction writers and anyone interested in narrative craft to the sixth annual conference, July 23-25, at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, five minutes from the DFW Airport.
The 2010 conference will explore a variety of storytelling genres. Speakers include some of America’s top narrative practitioners: Mary Karr, author of two New York Times bestselling memoirs; Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down; Bryan Burrough, author of Public Enemies and Barbarians at the Gate; David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z; Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, and Hellhound on his Trail; Gary Smith, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, whom Slate calls “the best magazine writer in America.” Other nationally acclaimed speakers include Amanda Bennett, Kevin Fedarko, Paula Butturini, Madalit del Barco, Hannah Allam and many more.
The Mayborn Conference has grown into the most respected and acclaimed narrative nonfiction conference in the country. Hampton Sides, editor-at-large of Outside Magazine and author of the current bestseller, Hellhound On His Trail, says: “It’s no accident that the Mayborn Conference has very quickly risen to preeminence among the nation’s literary conferences. Stacked with talent, smartly choreographed, and well-attended by enthusiastic confreres whose passion for non-fiction is palpable, the Mayborn offers a distinctive format no other conference can match.”
Gay Talese, the co-founder of New Journalism and a member of the Mayborns Advisory Board, says at the conference “I came to know an extraordinary gathering of writers, journalists, educators, students and readers devoted to the art and craft of literary nonfiction, a subject that has been my passion and my mission for a half century. The Mayborn…sponsors and promotes the discussion and application of nonfiction only on the highest standards.”
Here’s Columbia Journalism Review’s story of last year’s conference:
The conference includes a book manuscript and essay writing contest. Deadline for submissions is June 15. In the essay competition, your essay or article must be no more than 20 pages double spaced. In the book writing competition, you submit one complete chapter and a chapter-by-chapter narrative synopsis (no more than five pages) of the rest of the book. If your essay is selected by our panel of judges, you will enter one of five, 10 person workshops and spend all day Friday, July 23, getting your essay or article critiqued and evaluated by the workshop and the workshop leaders.
Our workshop leaders are all award-winning writers and authors. The top six articles and essays win $12,000 in cash prizes. The 10 best articles or essays, including the six cash award winners, will be published in a popular literary journal called Ten Spurs. To read some of the essays published in Ten Spurs most recent issue, go to www.themayborn.com.
If your manuscript is selected by our panel of judges, you would enter one of two, 10-person workshops, and spend all day Friday, July 23, getting your ms critiqued and evaluated by the workshop and the workshop leaders, both of whom are published authors. You will also receive a written critique from the workshop leader. The first-place manuscript winner receives a $3,000 cash prize.
Mayborn book award winners continue to win major book publishing contracts. Donna Johnson’s memoir about growing up evangelical, Holy Ghost Girl: Scenes from the Apocalypse, will be published by Gotham Books. And Susannah Charleson’s Scent of the Missing, released by Houghton Mifflin a few weeks ago, is destined to become a best-seller.
Conference fees are $295 for the general public. Educator fees are $270. Student fees are $225. The fees include fine dining. Conference seating is limited. To register, visit the conference site.
We’re heading for 90 plus days, so bring on those summer reads. I just finished a Julia Quinn romance, What Happens In London. The title is a perfect indicator of her writing style. The dialogue is improbable for 1800′s England but its funny and clever with a 2010 sensibility. Is Sir Harry Valentine a spy or a murderer? Olivia Bevelstoke has taken to spying on him as well. She has also caught the eye of Russian Prince Alexei Ivanovich Gomarovsky who may be a spy himself or at best a scoundrel. Take a spin through this engaging Historical Romance. It looks like Julia’s doing a live broadcast May 26th at 9 pm Okie time. Julia Quinn is my new favorite romance author (at least this week). What romance author are you reading?
So while we’re on the topic of Summer Reading, Nancy Pearl did a program at the Public Library Association meeting out in Seattle this March called Book Buzz. Here’s her recommendations, you can’t go wrong with this readaholic library lady.
So start getting your lists ready, temperatures are rising, days are long and television reruns stink.
WLT or as most people know it, World Literature Today, published by the University of Oklahoma, has just put out what I believe is it’s most readable and enjoyable issue yet. International Science Fiction. While the journal has always been scholarly it has sometimes lacked appeal. Over recent years it seems to be moving in the right direction, of course that’s IMHO. Anyway please try to pick up this latest issue, guest edited by Christopher McKitterick, including a feature article by him. And China Mieville ( I’m impressed) introducing Fiction by Reza Negarestani.
WLT is our reminder of a bigger world, not exclusive to American ideas and writings but consistently seeking a broader perspective. Step outside that door and look around, you’ll be amazed.
Nope, I’m not talking about pop music. Huffington Post has a slide show of the 12 most famous one hit literary wonders, including our very own Ralph Ellison. Take a gander and then talk amongst yourselves.
Carolyn Leonard has sent out a Writers reminder for May 2010. Have a peek to see all the writing news, events and workshops going on. Thanks Carolyn for keeping us updated.
I talked to Una Belle Townsend at the Oklahoma Library Association meeting . If you haven’t met Una Belle, then you missed meeting a fantastic person as well as a great children’s book author. She gave me a business card with a new Oklahoma authors website for Childrens Authors and Illustrators.
First entry are great pictures from the Oklahoma Center for the Book Awards, I hope they don’t mind my sharing these here. There’s biographical information, upcoming events, works by the different authors, a one stop shopping for Oklahoma Children’s Authors.
Young Bill Young here. Kitty’s been a bit under the weather, but she’s back. To help her catch-up (a sick day can be costly work wise!), I volunteered to helm the blog today.
To start off, you need to follow the link below to see the latest Webcomic Wednesday on Sadie’s extremely cool Extremely Graphic blog. Go check it out (add your comment, if you wish) and then meet me back here. K?
Are you back? Good!
What was *that* all about?! Is the Hi and Lois comic strip saying more people are using their libraries because the lousy economy is shuttering book stores? Or is it saying “free” library service is helping put bookstores out of business? (“Everything has a cost,” Lois tells her two tykes.) This comic seems so wrong in so many ways it’s hard to get my head around it. The comic may simply be a commentary on the current economic crisis, but if it is, it fails. Instead, it comes across as anti-library and anti-egalitarian.
More than anything, it makes me think about a conversation overhead at the Oklahoma State Capitol a few years ago. The gist of the conversation was that libraries hurt publishers and authors because fewer people buy books.
Libraries are bad for the economy? Bad for the book publishing business? Let’s look at a couple of facts:
• According to the 2009 Library and Book Trade Almanac (formerly Bowker’s Annual), public, academic, special and government libraries in the United States bought more than $400 million dollars worth of books during fiscal year 2007-2008. (And that figure doesn’t even include school libraries.) These libraries spent approximately $1.9 billion on all acquisitions, including magazine subscriptions, online resources, AV materials and other print resources. The truth is, libraries are a major customer for publishers and authors, and they remain champions of traditional print, even as they branch out to offer new formats and information technologies to citizens.
• Meanwhile, the Association of American Publishers estimates that U.S. publishers had net sales of $23.9 billion in 2009. Looking at it this way, it appears library sales are just a drop in the bucket. Sales to individuals and other types of institutions represent more than 98% of total book sales. (See how much fun you can have with statistics?)
And while we’re talking the economy, let’s not forget how often people use their library to hunt for jobs, fill-out online job applications, or to find information for their business or to start a new business.
More egregious is the idea that libraries are “free”, as the Hi and Lois comic strip suggests. Libraries are not free. They are paid for with tax dollars to provide a service for the common good. And this common good is best represented by this quote from James Madison:
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
Libraries are there to provide citizens this popular information when they can’t afford to buy a book or a newspaper subscription, or can’t afford home internet access. And they have librarians to help when they don’t know where to start looking for particular information. For all of this, libraries are among the most beloved of American institutions. And for all of this, we get a lame cartoon like this one.
In many ways, libraries are a radical institution to support a radial idea: namely that the common person can be in charge of his own destiny, that she can participate in government, and that the path toward this self-determination lies in access to information and knowledge. How many citizens would be left out of our participatory democracy if the open, non-judgmental, only-here-to-serve library was taken out of the equation? There would be a real cost to that scenario, and it’s a cost we simply cannot afford.
What I’m in desperate need of is more fiction, so reading The Devil’s Star was the perfect antidote. Jo Nesbo is Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin, except Norwegian. Harry Hole, the flawed detective main character is engaging, funny, clever, alcoholic, avenger of wrongs, bad at relationships, all the things you want from a detective hunting down a serial killer. He is also trying to figure out if his fellow police officer and the lead detective on the case is a thief and killer in his own right. The usual “who can you trust at work” scenario, except these co-workers carry guns. The book is Harry’s struggle with himself, his bosses, his conscience, his life decisions and played out against the background of a killer on the loose during a steamy hot summer in Oslo.
Minor characters carry their weight, Beate Lonn is reminiscent of NCIS’s Abby. Oystein Eikeland, holdout from the sixties, taxi driver, shadowy figure and loyal to Harry. The plot is fast paced, and just when you think the end is near, the action really picks up. I first heard about this book from Detectives Beyond Borders, thank goodness someone is out there picking up on foreign mystery writers. And the interview with Nesbo revealed his liking for Oklahoman, Jim Thompson. Always looking for the Oklahoma connection, I was fascinated that Norwegian Nesbo admired Thompson.
Nesbo is what your summer reading needs. My big question is why a book written in 2003, translated in 2005 takes the United States publishing houses five years to get to American readers? Particularly one so good. Thank you HarperCollins for getting it, but can you get it a little faster. So I’ve borrowed the first book in the series on Interlibrary Loan, Redbreast and can’t wait to sink into it.
Listen to Nesbo for yourself,