Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Barnes & Noble in Trouble: 'You've Got Mail' Sequel?

It's the news alert that launched a thousand ideas for a "You've Got Mail" sequel, with Meg Ryan managing a ten-story branch of Fox's bookstore chain and Tom Hanks heading up an e-reader company that ruthlessly undercuts sales.

Barnes & Noble to Shutter Upper West Side Superstore in NYC: "

barnes-noble-logo1.jpgBarnes & Noble announced today that they will shutter the Upper West Side branch--a four-story, 15-year-old bookstore.

One can't imagine feeling sorry for a corporate behemoth, but as Simon points out, this is what happened to the music industry. The megastores pushed out the mom and pop record stores, and we were mad, but we still shopped for records, and then they started closing too and we were genuinely sad, despite the poetic justice.

I'm sad for this neighborhood, too--Lincoln Square had a somewhat artistic flavor with B+N and Tower Records. Now it's all high-end clothing and furniture retailers, and that quite frankly has no value to bookworms of the egalitarian variety.

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British "Humour" Mini-reviews

So as I mentioned briefly, on my honeymoon I delved into Wodehouse and Stella Gibbons for the first time. It was delightful to read two authors who actually caused me to laugh out loud repeatedly.

Bertie Wooster Sees It Through: For those who don't know, the Wooster and Jeeves novels are narrated by Bertie Wooster, a layabout, cocktail-loving member of the landed gentry, who gets into repeated scrapes and has to rely on the brilliance and rationality of his "man" Jeeves to extricate himself. Wodehouse pulls off a delightful feat by combining a stupid narrator with a brilliant narration. While the plot at times is slow--plots are really incidental to this series-- there was always another punchline to keep me reading. You have to like upper crusty British LOLs to like Wodehouse, but I know my audience does, egalitarian though we may be. I'm thrilled to have Wodehouse to return to when I next need a literary chuckle.

Cold Comfort Farm: This satire of the British "rural melodrama" (Bronte, Hardy, Lawrence, and a slew of popular novels in between) wasn't as funny a read initially but the laughs lingered longer. It's the tale of Flora Poste, a "tidy" young woman from London who decides to organize her batty, sinister-seeming relatives at Cold Comfort Farm in Howling, Sussex. They are a cliche-ridden bunch of eccentrics ripe for being tidied a la Flora's heroine Jane Austen. To describe their lives Gibbons brilliantly adds new words and phrases to the language to evoke their "dialect," from "mollocking" (fornication) to "scranleting" (some sort of ploughing) to the heavy flowering plant Sukebind, whose blooming seems to lead to the aforesaid mollocking. And of course the phrase "something nasty in the woodshed" repeated in the book by mad old Aunt Ada Doom until meaningless, has entered the vernacular. It's quite brilliant in retrospect, and we're currently halfway through the lovely, very true-to-the-book '95 adaptation with Eileen Atkins, Ian McKellen, EBC local god Rufus Sewell, and Kate Beckinsale.

1995 was quite the year for adaptations! And British writers are quite the set for sending up their own literary and social traditions, bless them.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Weigh in on #Franzenfreude

On Jonathan Franzen, the Times' Book Review, and Why Women's Fiction Gets Short Shrift:

"Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, “Freedom,” arrives this week with considerable fanfare... But the glowing reviews and attention the book garnered also provoked a little bit of anger. It began when bestselling author Jodi Picoult criticized The New York Times Book Review for its undue attention to the aforementioned group of writers to the exclusion of more mainstream, popular titles — many of them written by women.

(read the whole thing)

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reading List/Things I missed

A few things I've been catching up on:

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Sights and Reads in Northwestern France

Je reviens encore. Simon and I had a blast on our honeymoon hiking the jagged cliffs of Belle-ile and the wide, fort-dotted and shell-strewn beaches of St. Malo, with a bit of a bookending in the City of Love itself. We had a wonderful time, and got lots of reading done--four books each! I read my first "Wooster and Jeeves" novel, Cold Comfort Farm, and the first two Hunger Games books. You should have seen us two maniacs running through the Dublin airport, while our flight was boarding, searching for "Catching Fire."

It was a wonderful time, and in the interim I got some encouraging words from my advisor at VCFA. Unfortunately all of my angsty fictionista motivation evaporated in France, and now I'm pretty much dedicated to writing odes to cliff walks and crepes rather than the New York stories I'd started scribbling in July. I AM excited for "Mockingjay," though.

I trust all of my readers are well as the last heat-suffused weeks of summer drift towards the inviting golden-flecked shadows of September. I am doing most of my blogging on tumblr these days, so find me there if you're interested!

aguilles de port coton, belle-ile
cliffs, coves, Belle-Ile

ramparts and beach, st. malo
the walls of the "intra-muros" St. Malo

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