Monthly Archives: October 2011

Issue of October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween, everyone! We hope you enjoy the holiday, but please keep yourselves, your children, and your pets safe this holiday season.

The story behind the stories of science fiction and fantasy are what Gillian Polack explores in her interview with two well-known SFF authors who “have set the science fictional world rocking with their hard-edged writing” in Keeping It Real.

Two memoirs from two writers who both included significant amounts of sportswriting among their experiences captured Pete Croatto’s imagination this week. Though only one, in his opinion, soars both nevertheless provide insights into the writer’s world beyond his published words in The Sportswriters Speak.

Though an unfortunate amount of fiction has entered memoirs, biography tends to stand on “facts, testimony, documents, and so on.” Can good fiction sufficiently inform on a real person so that a biographer can learn something new from a novelist “who turns his hand to a well-worn and fairly well documented story?” Carl Rollyson asks himself this question in Biographical Fictions.

Halloween is a great excuse to pull out some classic fiction that deals in the fanciful, the horror, and the imagination. So Lauren Roberts tackled her bookshelves and came up with two nights’ worth of reading (and listening) that should provide some spine-tingling chills in Spooks and Goblins on the Page.

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Issue of October 23, 2011

In this week’s issue, we have some fabulous reading recommendations for you along with a tour of one of history’s most fascinating women. We hope you enjoy it all.

A collection of Ozarks-based short stories “filled with an aching beauty” uses violence in “the kinds of us-versus-them conflicts that can make people do criminal things” in Outside of the Law. According to Nicki Leone, the stories are so beautiful she’s almost afraid to pick up any more fiction because it’s sure to disappoint.

Two novels that focus on the relationships between sibling or sibling-like friendships captured Katherine Hauswirth’s attention this week as she explores the sometimes difficult bond and memories that can engendered rifts, disgust, severances and, in some and perhaps many cases, common ground in Familiarity and Contempt.

Long before Martha Stewart, there was Isabella Beeton. This famous nineteenth-century British woman promoted household arts, particularly cooking, to an almost celebrity-like stature and even now, nearly 150 years after her death, cookbooks in her name continue to be issued. Lauren Roberts explores the history of the woman, the book, and the fame in The Cookery Queen.

This week marks the first of four in which Lauren Roberts is going to take a slight break from the personal section of her editor’s letter. The rest of the letter will be there, but until the annual Literary Gift Guide begins on Thanksgiving weekend it will only be filled with good wishes for great reading. See why in Change is the Only Constant in Life.

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Issue of October 16, 2011

We have books, lots of books. Some in lists, some individually, some by cover. But they are all great, and we look forward to sharing them with you.

Even the most experienced reviewers can have a run of bad luck. When that happens, says Pete Croatto, the only thing to do is go back to “batting practice”—which he does here with three short, but effective reviews that show his reviewer’s swing is still sharp in Batting Practice.

Behind a favorite line of T.S. Eliot’s, “All shall be well, and/All manner of thing shall be well,” is the voice of the strange and compelling English religious mystic Dame Julian of Norwich—a woman who defied the usual roles for her time. At least that is what Lev Raphael thinks, as he reviews a new biography of Dame Julian in Medieval Enigma.

What are ten things you love about books? What books best illustrate those ten things? Gillian Polack has her own list (which she cheerfully admits could have been “a hundred, or a thousand.”) In fact, she cheats, because her booklist at the end of Lists of Ten—Again has a lot more than ten books on it!

The recent recorded conversations of Jacqueline Kennedy and the historian Arthur Scheslinger during the Kennedy White House years has Carl Rollyson ruminating in A Breed Like No Other on how vital it is, when doing biography, to have the right person asking the questions.

When a box of books was left on her doorstep last week, Lauren Roberts found gold. And silver. A new series of specially-designed books from Penguin Classics, elegantly designed in soft metallic colors, is out. And worth buying, she says, in The Companionship of Art and Writing.

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Issue of November 9, 2011

We apologize for missing last week’s issue. (And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Nicki Leone, who was able to post our “issue delayed” notice.) As she stated, a computer death and the six days of issues surrounding it, put a real kink in our work. Happily, we have made up for it this week with a set of wonderful columns for you, ones you are going to love.

Nicki Leone has found one of the most beautiful books of 2011 in a translated novel by a former Nobel Prize winner that offers a wonderful story enhanced by “the journey . . . beautiful [and] golden” in Searching for the Golden.

Deep thinking is the focus of Katherine Hauswirth’s column this week, and two books that she talks about take very different paths there via authors who both take their readers along with them to “point out things without while causing us to look further within” in  Wandering with the Wonderers.

Guest columnist Elizabeth Creith joins us with It’s a Conspiracy, a drily humorous essay about whether there need be wasted shelf space because books are different heights, or if it is better to have more books that leads you to need more bookshelf space.

Celebrating melodic bookmarks is guest columnist Beryl Kenyon de Pascual, who in Musical Silhouettes shares some of her collection that celebrate classical music. Issued in both sets and singles, the bookmarks often use silhouettes to also honor the composers who range from Bach to Vivaldi.

What kind of books helped Lauren Roberts through a recent disaster with her computer? To her surprise, she found that the books she was able to read during this stressful time differed greatly from those that have helped her through a personal tragedy years before, a situation she ponders in Reading Choices.

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Technical Difficulties!

Owing to some technical difficulties involving a recalcitrant computer and an uncooperative operating system, BiblioBuffet will be delaying the publication of this week’s issue until next week. That is great new for you, because now you have time to go back to the site and read the columns you didn’t get to last time around: Gillian Polack’s Two Books, Pete Croatto’s interview with the always interesting if controversial Paul Shirley, The Hard Thing is the Right Thing, Carl Rollyson’s meditation on Dana Andrews and Hollywood, What’s in a Title.

We’ll see you next week with more great writing worth reading, and reading worth writing about!

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