New Books This Week

pile of books

This was a good week for books. From top to bottom: Selected Poems of Sergei Yesenin, Voronezh Notebooks by Osip Mandelstam, First Love and Other Stories by Ivan Turgenev, Selected Poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky, The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts, Celadon by Ian Haight, Granta issue #144, Apex Magazine Issue 110, and Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse.

For links to these authors, books and publishers, please see their listings on my 2018 Reading List page.

Thanks to a small gift card from work, I was able to pick up the four Russian authors from Amazon.com. They are unusual-enough titles that I didn’t want to burden the local bookstores with hunting them down. The Watts and Roanhorse books I ordered from Books and Mortar here in Grand Rapids, and I have ongoing subscriptions to the two journals. I picked up Ian Haight’s book at a small signing in Lowell this past Monday. It was great to finally meet Ian, after publishing him in Issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review, back in early 2016.

Since I just finished reading At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell and Paternus by Dyrk Ashton, Trail of Lightning is currently at the top of the to-read pile, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Links and Notes for the Week of July 29, 2018

Some Recent Literary Aquisitions

A small bonus from work allowed me to pick up a few books which have been on my want list for some time. Yeah, I have eclectic reading tastes. From top to bottom, they are: New Kind of Rebellion, by Rachel Gleason; The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang; Ambiguity Machines by Vandana Singh; Afrofuturism by Ytasha L. Womack; New Poets of Native Nations, edited by Heid E. Erdrich; and The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland.

Links and Notes for the Week of July 15, 2018

Between work, vacation, and illness, and recovering from all three, I have missed a few weeks. I have also missed you-all! Welcome back.

* This is a great list of over 100 Russian writers, past and present, who are worthy of consideration.
* An excellent MetaFilter post from user Kliuless, offering a huge list of links concerning the concept of authority, narratives, cultural inertia who we allow to write the stories in which we live.
* Resisters of the Rust Belt
* Speaking of Metafilter, here is their latest post concerning the increasingly despotic and idiotic tenure of the fascist bootlick Donald Trump. Many worthy links and news sources in the comments.
* As a balm for living in this timeline, I’ve been listening to a lot of Ta-Nehisi Coates lectures and interviews lately. Here are a few of my favorites:
** The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) – Ta-Nehisi Coates on Afrofutures
** Futureface: Alex Wagner and Ta-Nehisi Coates discuss racial identity
** Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks at the Harvard “Universities and Slavery” conference
** Richard Rothstein, “The Color Of Law” (with Ta-Nehisi Coates)
** In Conversation With Ta-Nehisi Coates

Links and Notes for the Week of June 10, 2018

* The Calvert Journal is publishing Beyond the Game, a series of video vignettes exploring each of the cities in Russia which will be hosting the football during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
* TOR.com has posted nice big long lists of the major genre releases for June 2018:
** All the new Fantasy Books Coming Out in June 2018.
** All the new Science Fiction Books Coming Out in June 2018.
** All the new Genre-Bending Books Coming Out in June 2018.
* Metafilter has posted the latest catch-all thread for links and commentary concerning the presidency and administration of Donald Trump, whose daddy issues exceed even those of George W. Bush, which is an astounding accomplishment. Baby Hands and Daddy Issues would be the title of the most accurate possible biography of our current and perpetually emasculated president.

Books in Translation and the Publishers Thereof, Revisited

Several years ago I began collecting books from publishers who specialize in translations from other languages into English. This was prompted by two circumstances. First, a co-worker from bygone years, Chad Post, began working at Open Letter Books in Rochester, NY. Second, on a visit to the Grand Rapids Public Library I discovered Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni, published by And Other Stories.

My eyes having been opened, and knowing a thing or two about the publishing world, I began researching small presses and books in translation. This led to the discovery that some of the most successful publishers, with the most exciting titles and authors, offered subscriptions to their catalogs. What a wonderful way to discover new authors, support small businesses, and add quality and variety to a personal library!

As of the publishing date of this post, I have subscriptions to Open Letter Books, Restless Books, Deep Vellum, & Other Stories, and Two Lines Press.

I found a couple of pages which have comprehensive lists of publishers of works in translation – The American Literary Translators Association and PEN America. What follows is a subset (probably incomplete) of publishers from these two lists which offer subscriptions to their catalogs. Links go to subscription information.

Links and Notes for the Week of June 3, 2018

* A worthy list from BookRiot: 50 Must-Read Books with Gorgeous Writing. From this list I have read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Kite Runner, and White Oleander. Looks like my Mount Tsundoku will be growing soon.
* The Midwest Socialist has published an excellent 5-part (so far) primer on the basics of radical thought and history.
** Part 1 – Dialectical Materialism
** Part 2 – Alienation
** Part 3 – Class
** Part 4 – Value
** Part 5 – Praxis
* Goddammit so much. Anthony Bourdain has left the kitchen. Here is a good round-up of the best writing about Bourdain to be found on the web.

ConFusion 2018: Poetry in Novels

(These are my lightly edited notes for a panel I participated in at the ConFusion Fantasy and Science Fiction Convention in January of 2018)

THE PANEL: Poetry in Novels (21 January 2018, 10:00)

PANELISTS: Amal El-Mohtar, Clif Flynt, Jeff Pryor, John Winkelman, Mari Ness

DESCRIPTION: “Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass include lengthy poems, placing them in a long tradition of long-form fiction that incorporates poetry into the work. How does writing poems for prose fiction differ from writing poems that stand alone? What distinct techniques does it require? Where do poems within stories exist in the landscape of genre poetry today?”

PRE-PANEL NOTES

PANEL NOTES

  • Poetry can be time-shifted in relation to the story in which it appears
    • In situ, as a bard or skald composes a poem based on events as they are happening
    • Used to imply history/world-building for the setting. An epic poem is written between the time of the events which it recounts and the time in which it is read.
    • The poem itself can be placed in a specific place in history based on written style or language or word usage.
  • Poetry can be used for world-building, either experienced by the characters or as related by the narrator.

MY THOUGHTS

Boy, did I over-think this one–in part because I love poetry, and in part because Amal El-Mohtar was also on the panel and I wanted to bring my “A” game.

Links and Notes for the Week of February 11, 2018

* My partner and I have been spending our Sunday afternoons studying, writing and watching The Mind of a Chef, which is all kinds of distracting and wonderful and a purveyor of the worst kind of wanderlust. Anthony Bourdain is the executive producer and narrator of each episode. Like all of his shows, he makes even the most exotic and high-concept meals accessible (in concept, if not financially) to even the most casual non-foodie viewers.

* I spend a lot of time reading news of the literary world. To keep things organized, I use Feedly, which I picked up after Google shut down its Reader service. This is a partial list of the lit news resources I read: Book Riot, NPR Books, Brain Pickings, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, Locus Online, Publisher’s Lunch, The Millions, New York Review of Books, Tor.com, Words Without Borders, Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.

* Some words: suppose, oppose, impose, depose, compose, transpose

* Metafilter has posted a good catch-all thread discussing a recently published study from the Southern Poverty Law Center: The Alt-Right is Killing People. The post, and many of the comments, provide additional links to stories which add context and nuance to the points discussed. As always with Metafilter, the comments are worth reading.

* I’ve been following The Edge for oh, about fifteen years now. It looks like they may be closing up shop, as they just asked their last question: “What is the last question?” The link goes to the (hundreds of) answers.

* The squealing cowards who oppose gun control have the blood of 32 more people on their hands. The NRA is a terrorist organization and they pull the strings of their lickspittles in the GOP. The emasculated orange coward-in-chief has, of course, done what all Republicans do and is blaming the victims. For a continually up-to-date score of the Republican-sanctioned violence in this country, see the Gun Violence Archive.

* As of the date of publishing this post, I have 631 books catalogued in LibraryThing.

ConFusion 2018: Immigration and Refuge in Science Fiction

(These are my lightly edited notes for a panel I attended at the ConFusion Fantasy and Science Fiction Convention in January of 2018)

PANEL: Immigration and Refuge in Science Fiction (20 January 2018, 10:00)

DESCRIPTION: “Travel stories are classics in any genre, but in science fiction stories of travelling to a new home are often about colonization, or about intrepid explorers amongst the (primitive) aliens. Let’s talk about the science fiction stories that better reflect the experiences of immigrants and refugees in the real world.”

PANELISTS: Alexandra Manglis, Amal El-Mohtar, David Anthony Durham, John Chu

NOTES:

My thoughts:

There were many important ideas passed around in this panel, particularly in light of the racist, xenophobic, fascist policies of the current (c. 2018) U.S. president and his cabinet. One book which comes to mind which showed the POV of a refugee is What is the What, by Dave Eggers. Neither genre nor quite fiction, but a beautiful book all the same. As for fiction stories, well, I can’t think of any I have read. Not that they are not out there.