Thursday, January 31, 2008

Audible and Kindle news

Thought you'd be interested to see the two articles about Amazon:

The acquisition of Audible is breaking news though a surprise to few. The profitability of Amazon, partly due to the Kindle, isn't either, I suppose. However, as many have wondered, does the next generation Kindle have an audio player so customers can download both electronic text AND audio?

Too, Audible has had an exclusive deal w/ I-Tunes so now it's easier to download an audiobook right to your I-phone or through Amazon's mp3 service. Technologies are merging, lines are blurring. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The changing face of book publishing

I'm dying to write about the trip to Winter Institute in Louisville and will as soon as I have more time but it was really a marvelous thing to be a small part of. More later and with photos, too.

Until I find time, I thought I'd pass on this article from the New York Times that has people scratching their heads and giving them pause: seems people
in Japan are writing novels on their cell phones(!) and some of those are becoming traditional bestsellers. How bizarre, how bizarre, as the song goes.

Would you want to read a novel on your cell?
I can't imagine this is the way the next Hemingway will be discovered but it shows how new technologies are being embraced and applied. Scary but I doubt it's going to go away any time soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Some new fiction news

On Friday, I'm going to Louisville to attend a conference sponsored by the American Booksellers Association. The programs offered are intriguing (even for a jaded old bastard like me) and I will get the chance to see friends from the world of bookselling and publishing I usually only get to see once a year at Book Expo America. (I also heard there will be a bar. Hmmm.)

Almost 75 authors will be trotted out by their respective publishers and advance copies of their new or upcoming books will be placed in the hands of booksellers from all over the country in the hope the booksellers will read them, love them, sigh longingly, hold them to their collective breasts and spread the word to their customers. It will be interesting to see which books will rise above the rest and I'll certainly let you know what I hear.

In that same spirit, here is an article from Publishers Weekly spotlighting some new fiction titles that will hit the stores in the coming months:

Monday, January 21, 2008

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

My short story club (insert dork joke here) read the title tale, which I loved, so I grabbed a copy of the book and was not disappointed. As I read it, I found that I had read two other stories (Haunting Olivia and Accident Brief, Occurrence # 00/422) in the New Yorker already. This collection is peopled with strange, wild, earthy characters, much like the Everglades, where all but one of the stories are set, and reminds me of Lewis Nordan's swampy but sweet Mississippi tales. The narrators are young, kids or teens, and have the sense of being aliens, of otherness, and struggling to understand the world and people around them (I know--isn't every book?). This is beautifully realized in the title story. 15 little girls have been brought to St. Lucy's with the aim of being taught to function as humans and deprogramming them of their baser, canine instincts. There is mastery in Russell's storytelling and her descriptions, absolutely hilarious one minute (so many chewed shoes) and wrenchingly sad the next, mirror the feral glee of being wolf-girls and the somber transformation of becoming acceptable young ladies. Loneliness and sadness permeate these stories accompanied by an occasional glimpse of redemption that is often just out of reach. Throughout the collection the characters struggle with the uncertainty that if they find what they're looking for (or what they think they're looking for or what they're told to look for), what will they do with it? Will it really change anything or will it change everything.

Russell was 24 when this was published a couple of years ago. Savor this and wait for more.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some great reads

Here are the nominees for the National Critics Book Circle awards:

There are always some worthy reads among their selections and these nominations usually lead to other awards and more awareness of these books. Check it out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Maynard & Jennica by Rudolph Delson

What an odd little birdie, this one. Two very odd people come together in an unlikely way and the result is a sweet but strange love story. Maynard is a man out of time; he dresses like a dandy from the 30's, straw boater and all, with very esoteric tastes and a background as a failed pianist and failed film maker (he reminds me of who Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close's Oskar Schell from might grow up to become if Oskar weren't so cool). Jennica is obsessed with getting to the next part of her life while determinedly overlooking her life in the present. The story is told by about 30 different people: Maynard & Jennica, obviously, but also friends, colleagues, subway thugs, even a macaw. It's charming but I think it also verges on being a bit precious, esp. as we get to the post-9/11 point where the story meanders and finishes. There are a number of admirable things to be said for M & J, but it also gets dangerously close to a "gosh, aren't I clever"-ness that stopped me short of really enjoying it. I think Delson's got the goods and I hope this admirable debut is a sign of even better work to come.

Awake In The Dark by Shira Nayman

I was kind of torn by this collection of three short stories and a novella (do they even call them that anymore?) about the children of Holocaust survivors. It's written well enough and she definitely can paint a picture with a dark brush but it's the 'gotcha' moments in the stories that Nayman relies on that turned me off. While the back cover copy likened these elements to being reminiscent of O. Henry, I felt like they were more like Twilight Zone episodes that didn't get made because the 'gotcha' was so weak or obvious or simply didn't 'getcha' sufficiently and that really took away from what were potentially strong stories. Anyone else read this? Did I miss something?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A taste of upcoming posts

Here are a couple of books I finished but am still getting my thoughts together about...stay tuned

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Greetings to you, the readers of this blog, few and far-flung that you are. I hope whatever you chose to celebrate was fulfilling and was like a tonic to you.

I'm behind on some posts though I assure you they will go up soon. Until then, here's a link worth a look:

It's always interesting to see who ranks and why. I was sorry to see Cincy drop just out of the top ten. We are so lame at so many other things (football, baseball, urban development, race relations, etc.)
, it was a lovely surprise these past few years to be so high on a list like this.

If any of you remember me chastising my sister for not having read The Kite Runner, all is well. She read it and enjoyed it, as I knew she would. However, she did write to tell me that she had some trouble at the beginning because she's "uncomfortable with oppression". Yes and I always tend to root for the fascists whenever possible. They usually have a better fashion sense than those pesky underdogs.