Books & Fiction

Laurel Ann Bogen and the Healing Art of Poetry

Mark Bizzell

“Poems like this are called occasional poems and are difficult to write,” says acclaimed poet Laurel Ann Bogen, who also teaches poetry at UCLA.  “Of course, in this type of circumstance expectations are high and as a writer you are constrained by time and subject.” Writing inspiring and healing poetry is familiar to Bogen, who won the esteemed American Academy of Poets College Prize while attending the University of Southern California at only age 17 in the late 1960s.  

Author James Lasdun on the Perils of Being Stalked

Lee Polevoi

The story of how a former student turned Lasdun’s life upside-down and wreaked havoc on his marriage and career forms the backdrop for this new memoir, Give Me Everything You Have. By his own admission, Lasdun was slow to catch on to what was happening. At first he responded politely to Nasreen’s emails, only to get back increasingly bizarre messages (“You had no integrity with me” and “your kids have a future of being thought of as Nazi Germans”).  Still he hoped this was all just a bad misunderstanding.

How Electronic Publishing Democratized Authorship and Paved the Way for New Reading Habits

Gerry LaFemina

For Pietsch, and many others, the book is not going the way of the record. Shoppers could rarely listen to records before they bought them in a record store, but they can thumb through a book.  Still today book purchases are often impulse buys; therefore, people still buy traditional books. Some evidence seems to support this position.  A recent Publishers Weekly article notes that Diamond Book Distributors reported double digit gains in 2012.  Simon & Schuster reported a bump in sales in 2012.

As the Rest of Publishing Goes Digital, Coffee Table Books Remain a Print Staple

Gabriella Tutino

Nature-focused illustrated books were the status quo at the time, as Chanticleer Press continued to publish other series: Taylor’s Guides to Gardening and Mary McCarthy’s Stones of Florence. The 1960s had the Exhibit Format series, introduced by environmentalist and executive of the Sierra Club David R. Bower. Bower is credited with the idea of the “modern coffee table book,” as he wanted to create books that were similar to photography exhibits. 

Ian McEwan’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ Delves into the World of Spies and Anti-Communism

Lee Polevoi

As a storyteller, McEwan has few equals. From the novel’s opening lines—“My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) and almost forty years ago I was sent on a secret mission for the British Security Service”—he draws us into the dreary world of Cold War England, circa 1974,  time of internal social and political upheaval. The story purrs along like a well-oiled machine, as Serena falls in love with Tony Canning, a married professor and much older man. The affair ends badly, though not before Canning has set her on an eventful career path with MI5. 

‘Scottish Country House’ Depicts the History of Stately Homes With Stunning Visuals

Stephen Delissio

In Scottish Country House, Knox takes you on a wonderful journey through the history of 10 houses and castles that have survived centuries in the Scottish countryside. All of these homes are largely privately owned by the original families or as part of a Scottish Trust. Not only does Knox bring you on a delightful tour through these charming houses and castles, but he also revels in the history of Scottish architecture and interior design.

The Lost and Found Story Of James M. Cain’s Last Novel

Sandra Bertrand

Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of mystery novels published by Titan Books, spent almost nine years tracking down The Cocktail Waitress, the last novel of his favorite crime writer, and he’s passionate about it: “For fans of the genre, The Cocktail Waitress is the Holy Grail.  It’s like finding a lost manuscript by Hemingway or a lost score by Gershwin—that’s how big a deal this is,” he said in an interview with Highbrow Magazine.   Still, there were reservations.

Reading Aleksandar Hemon: Where Biography Meets Fiction

Kara Krauze

If you have encountered the Bosnian writer Aleksandar Hemon, citizen of Chicago since 1992, you know the pleasures and sustenance his work offers. And if this is your first introduction, then welcome. Hemon, who won a MacArthur Grant in 2004, has published four compelling books of fiction. His short stories and novel, inflected by personal experience, loss and memory, probe what it means to be deeply affected by war, and what's inexplicable accompanying it. In Hemon’s case: what it means to exist within the experience of war, yet remain outside.

How ‘Life of Pi’ Was Really Written: Paying Homage to Moacyr Scliar

Mary Jo McConahay

Martel ambiguously thanks Scliar in an author’s note for “the spark of life.” In an Internet essay, he said he got the idea for Pi from an “indifferent” review of Max and the Cats by John Updike in the New York Times. Updike never wrote a review of Max and the Cats, anywhere. Also, it is difficult to believe a reader could be “indifferent” to Max, whose multilayered story evokes a mix of emotions, where Pi might be characterized as a good one-note read.

Polar Explorers’ Glory and Ordeals Celebrated in Chris Turney’s ‘1912’

Lee Polevoi

1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica chronicles the polar expeditions that laid the groundwork for our present-day knowledge of this vast, ice-bound continent. In addition to reprising the famous “race to the pole” of explorers Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen, Turney describes lesser-known South Polar explorers who also braved mind-boggling conditions in pursuit of science and glory. 

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