I always cite 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as my favourite book and Alistair Macleod as my favourite author. To have lost both authors in such a short span of time is heartbreaking even though it’s been years since either put out a new work. What I loved about both was that neither ever misplaced a word. The sentences were tight, the quality of the storytelling was epic and their magnitude as authors was greater than great.
I never met Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I did spend 2 months in his country of birth and the culture of that part of South America was heavily infused in his writing. Reading Marquez was a way to venture back to that place and to basically feel like a time traveller.
My favourite copy of 100 Years of Solitude is in shabby condition, thanks to an ill-fated lending of said copy to my now husband. I should note that he bought me a lovely collector’s edition as an apology, but I held on to my original version and still prefer it.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Love in the Time of Cholera are two other favourites. And there are countless scenes that will stick with me forever, in particular the clouds of yellow butterflies.
His first short story collection, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, is a slim volume that packs a hefty punch. Each story is a masterpiece. Before I was properly introduced to Alistair Macleod’s writing in a Canadian literature class in university, I was familiar with the cadence of his voice from listening to some of the stories read on CBC radio. Every time I read Macleod’s writing, I can hear his voice. It’s a wonderful experience.
When he published No Great Mischief in 1999 I had the pleasure of meeting him at BookExpo in Toronto. I had two girlfriends who were working at McClelland & Stewart at the time and one had the task of typing up pages and pages of text from Macleod’s handwritten, yellow foolscap. When he won the $10,000 Trillium Book Award, he chuckled that the kids could get another topping on their pizza now. I have my signed copies of Lost Salt Gift of Blood, No Great Mischief and Remembrance.
Macleod and his economy of words will always be my barometer for good writing. Be brief, be brilliant, be gone. I suppose it’s fitting that the last time I saw Alistair Macleod was at the Vancouver International Writers Festival and he read from his short story “Remembrance.”
Officer of the Order of Canada and multiple award winner, Alistair Macleod will be greatly missed.
Mark Medley @itsmarkmedley has compiled the 25 most anticipated Canadian books of 2014 along with the best reads of 2013. Of course I want to read all of them, but there are a few on that list that immediately stand out. Also, I’m looking forward to what 49thShelf.com calls out as the top reads since they often has a handle on the smaller presses as well.
1. Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue (HarperCollins Canada/April) I didn’t read Room but this topic is intriguing: 3 former circus performers in 19th-century San Francisco.
2. The Confabulist, by Steven Galloway (Knopf Canada/April) I have loved all of Galloway’s novels, in particular Finnie Walsh and The Cellist of Sarajevo. This novel is about the life and death of the legendary magician Harry Houdini.
3. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, by Heather O’Neill (HarperCollins Canada/May) I enjoyed O’Neill’s Canada Reads-winning debut Lullabies for Little Criminals. It was dark. Not sure if this one is as dark but it’s about the twin children of a famous Québécois folksinger.
4. Walt, by Russell Wangersky (House of Anansi Press/September) Anansi always publishes very clever, quirky fiction and I’m really looking forward to this one about a grocery store cleaner who believes the police are trying to frame him for his wife’s disappearance. And as Medley says, “Oh, I forgot to mention his peculiar quirk: He collects discarded shopping lists people leave around the store.” Love it.
5. The Doomsday Man, by Ian Weir (Goose Lane Editions/September) Weir’s debut, Daniel O’Thunder was a pretty fun read. I’ve been participating with Ian in the Vancouver Sun Book Club and having heard about the novel first hand, I can’t wait to read his exploration of early surgeons and amputations. Seriously.
6. Into the Blizzard, by Michael Winter (Doubleday Canada/November) Winter is a crazy guy and I enjoyed The Big Why and All This Happened. I haven’t read Minister Without Portfolio so I’ll have to add that to my list as well. This book explores the history of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
More to come once I see what 49thShelf is touting!
A report published in this month’s edition of Libri: International Journal of Libraries and Information Services ties Vancouver and Montreal for the top spot, while Chicago, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Toronto rounded out the top five.
Love this cover. Reminds me of The Flame Alphabet, which is his previous book. I loved the writing but couldn’t get into the story (too dark for me as a new sleep-deprived mom, it was about children’s voices killing their parents) so I’m looking forward to reading these short stories instead.
Considered one of the most innovative and vital writers of his generation, Ben Marcus’s new collection showcases 15 tales of modern anxieties and peculiarities.
Ben Marcus is the author of three books of fiction: The Age of Wire and String, Notable American Women, and The Flame Alphabet, and he is the editor of The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, Granta, Electric Literature, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and Conjunctions. He has received the Berlin Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, three Pushcart Prizes, and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME. And, I’d read whatever Lev tells me to read. I’ve bolded the ones I have read below. I guess this is my new “to-read” list.
The Adventures of Augie March
All the King’s Men
An American Tragedy Animal Farm
Appointment in Samarra Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
At Swim-Two-Birds Atonement
The Berlin Stories The Big Sleep
The Blind Assassin
Blood Meridian Brideshead Revisited
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
C - D
Call It Sleep Catch-22
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange
The Confessions of Nat Turner
The Corrections The Crying of Lot 49
A Dance to the Music of Time
The Day of the Locust
Death Comes for the Archbishop
A Death in the Family
The Death of the Heart
F - G
Falconer The French Lieutenant’s Woman
The Golden Notebook
Go Tell it on the Mountain Gone With the Wind
The Grapes of Wrath
Gravity’s Rainbow The Great Gatsby
H - I
A Handful of Dust
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter
The Heart of the Matter
A House for Mr. Biswas I, Claudius
L - N
Light in August The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Rings
The Man Who Loved Children Midnight’s Children
Never Let Me Go 1984
O - R
On the Road
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Painted Bird
A Passage to India
Play It As It Lays
The Power and the Glory
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
S - T
The Sheltering Sky
The Sot-Weed Factor
The Sound and the Fury The Sportswriter
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
The Sun Also Rises
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Things Fall Apart To Kill a Mockingbird
To the Lighthouse Tropic of Cancer
U - W
Under the Net
Under the Volcano
Wide Sargasso Sea
There are a couple of letters there that need attention.
Why are book lovers obsessed with bookshelves? Maybe because our imaginations are so vivid that we just like to look at books and spaces for reading those books and are magically transported to other worlds upon viewing interesting shelves. Maybe. Just maybe. http://bookshelfporn.com/tagged/favorites/
Francis Bacon once remarked “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Today’s StumbleUpon advent find is this article on How to Read a Book, which looks at the four levels of reading Mortimer Adler wrote about:
My StumbleUpon advent calendar stumbled upon my cold that laid me up in bed for the last few days. Alors, here we go with an archive photo of a travelling library. This photo reminds me of a similar one in Todd Babiak’s Edmonton Public Library Centennial book.
Third Generation Bookseller BLACK BOND BOOKS Celebrates 50 Years! (CNW Group/Black Bond Books)
Oh hooray for Black Bond Books! Canada’s largest independent bookselling group—based in BC—is celebrating their Golden Anniversary this October. Black Bond Books was founded in Brandon, Manitoba in 1963, by Madeline Neill, now retired. She moved to BC in 1972, and with the help of her children, Cathy, Vicky and Michael, the company grew to 10 locations over the years. A true, family business, Madeline’s daughter Cathy Jesson is President, granddaughter, and third generation bookseller Caitlin Jesson manages the Vancouver location, and Mel Jesson, business partner, keeps the financials in order. (Source: Press Release)
Very excited for my friends Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White who have just launched their new publishing venture, Page Two.
Page Two is a new form of agency for non-fiction authors needing help navigating the full range of publishing options from traditional publishing routes to self-publishing and digital publishing. Jesse and Trena are publishing veterans with a ton of experience and high-level of detail so there’s no doubt in my mind that their clients will be in good hands.
Author and publisher services:
• Writing coaching and editorial support
• Career strategizing that considers the full range of publishing options, including self-publishing
• Traditional author representation to the book trade
• Sourcing printers, POD, and distribution services
• Sourcing skilled freelancers to work on your project
• Managing or expanding corporate publications programs
• Transitioning print content to digital
• Cross-format content licensing, including contract drafting and review
• Strategic planning and business development
• Editorial and acquisitions strategy
I remember my Raincoast “slush pile” days. Sitting in the back room with inch-thick manuscript submissions and reading (or rather weeding) through boxes of submissions. Now the glut of paper is finally ending with the ease of reading facilitated by tablets. Thank you iPad.
[Press Release excerpt] Beginning this Canada Day, Goose Lane Editions will accept fiction submissions only in electronic form and solely via electronic submission.
In early 2012, Goose Lane equipped its acquisition editors with new tablet computers for reviewing manuscripts. Now, halfway through 2013 and after almost 60 years of accepting manuscripts exclusively in paper, the company will begin the overall transition to full electronic submissions.
“Aside from the ecological benefits of doing away with mountains of print manuscripts,” Goose Lane’s publisher Susanne Alexander says, “this change will allow for a more rapid response to submissions and queries and will result in substantial savings for prospective authors.”
The electronic process for fiction submissions will soon be followed by poetry and non-fiction submissions, which are currently accepted only in paper form, which I suspect is the preference of the editor. The release did say that the publishing house expects these two genres to transition to the electronic submission process.
In 2010 filmmakers Faythe Levine, coauthor of Handmade Nation, and Sam Macon began documenting the dedicated practitioners of hand-painted signs, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. Sign Painters, the first anecdotal history of the craft, features stories and photographs of more than 25 sign painters working in cities throughout the United States.
A hilarious text exchange yesterday morning led me to these thoughts:
John Green is hilarious. I didn’t know that.
One of my Pub355 students introduced me to his videos (and I should have watched them immediately).
Craig Ferguson is still hilarious (always knew that, loved his show, haven’t watched it for awhile, thought his novel was darkly funny).
I’m now addicted to John Green videos.
I’m ready to read The Fault in Our Stars (cancer story, couldn’t read that last year due to a family illness).
Here’s how it all went down.
SDS: Do you know John Green?
Me: I know Joslin Green (Boxcar designer).
SDS: John Green. He’s big on the internets. There’s a video clip where he goes on about being a big Harry Potter fan and going to conferences.
Wait. What? I’m a big Harry Potter fan and go to conferences. Who are we talking about?
(Search “John Green” and autocomplete brings up “John Green Books”)
Me: Oh, John Green, author. I thought we were talking about someone I know personally. I know author John Green of The Fault in Our Stars. Harry Potter fan though?
SDS: Yes, the interview on Craig Ferguson is about his book. He goes to Harry Potter conferences.
I go to Harry Potter conferences. Who are we talking about?
(Search “John Green Craig Ferguson”)
Yes, yes. Same guy. Ok, the puzzle pieces of this text thread are coming together. John Green. Author. Interview on Craig Ferguson.
Watch 11 minute video (actually it’s not that long because the last 4-5 min are some other show promo). OMG funny, worth watching. I didn’t know how personable John Green is.
Discovery: Yes John Green is a Harry Potter fan and goes to conferences because his brother plays Wrock. (That’s Wizard Rock for those of you not in the Potterverse). I personally like the Mudblood’s “Be My Witch Tonight,” which I first heard at Portus 2008.
Who, then, is his brother?
(Search “John Green Brother”)
Hank Green. Thank you Wikipedia.
Ah! This is the guy behind “Accio Deathly Hallows”, which was super popular because it went viral before the last Harry Potter book was released. I know this (without knowing or connecting the details). Hilarious! This is a fun internet-browsing adventure.
(How are you liking the inner workings of my sleep-depraved, new mom brain? Fascinated, I’m sure. Thankfully this blog is called So Misguided.)
Next thought: That song launched Hank and John’s Vlogbrothers YouTube channel into the stratosphere, which is what my student Calvin was telling me in September. I clearly should prioritize reading/watching links sent to me, not just by students but by James, Boris and friends who diligently keep me up to date. Mea culpa.
John Green video—Mar 19, 2013—offers a great commentary on advertising and where marketers are going wrong when they think about social media and advertising. (See this is valuable, work-related research now.)
Plus, the video was filmed in advance of the Craig Ferguson interview so the neurosis of this video is a perfect complement to (my state of mine, ur, I mean) the actual interview itself.
I’m now addicted to John Green and most certainly want to read The Fault in Our Stars, which I wanted to read before anyway.
3. The Value and Distraction of Author Platform Building
I’ll make a bold statement right here that I don’t think I’ve made before.
If you’re a totally new, unpublished writer who is focused on fiction, memoir, poetry, or any type of narrative-driven work, forget you ever heard the word platform. I think it’s causing more damage than good. It’s causing writers to do things that they dislike (even hate), and that are unnatural for them at an early stage of their careers. They’re confused, for good reason, and platform building grows into a raging distraction from the work at hand—the writing.
Therefore, build your platform by writing and publishing in outlets that are a good fit for you, lead to professional growth, and build your network. The other pieces will start to fall into place. It might take longer, but who cares if you’re feeling productive and enjoying yourself? Go be a writer and take a chance on the writing. Writing and publishing good work always supports the growth of your platform—and I’m willing to bet more valuable platform building will get done that way, especially for narrative-driven writers.
Exception to the rule: Nonfiction/non-narrative authors and entrepreneurial authors who are self-publishing. Sorry, but you should probably focus on platform as much as the writing.
I 100% agree. And when publishers are talking to authors about building a platform, they are looking for a John Green.
But you know what? Green is a total outlier. See above activities with Hank Green. Then look further back than Vlogbrothers. Vlogbrothers was predated by the Brotherhood 2.0 Project.
John Green and his brother Hank ran a video blog project called Brotherhood 2.0. The original project ran from January 1 to December 31, 2007, with the premise that the brothers would cease all text-based (‘textual’) communication for the year and instead converse by video blogs, made available to the public via YouTube (where they are known as the ‘vlogbrothers’) and on their Brotherhood 2.0 website. Thanks again Wikipedia
Dear authors: a platform is often years in the making. Be realistic about the time you have available if you want to build an audience faster than that.
Dear publishers: See above point for authors.
And now I’m off to feed Finlay. Another day. Another 8 feedings. Another 8x to get lost in the ramblings of my own brain. Thanks for following the thread of this one.