Monthly Archives: May 2012

Issue of May 27, 2012

With the Memorial Day weekend starting the “official” start of the summer season, the barbecues are now out of storage, the pools and mountain trails, and ocean waves are filled with happy vacationers, and that “easy summer living” is in the air.

The “what if’s” that fiction is often built around haunt biographers who must stick to facts. Carl Rollyson discloses alluring meetings that did take place between several of his subjects but which, to date, have never surfaced in any archived material left behind by those subjects. No letters, no diaries, not even mentions to friends. So what happened? In Only Connect, he can only speculate.

“I like to look at any two versions of the same text, side by side, and see how they differed and how that difference reflect technological history and cultural history and perceptions of how that particular tale should look,” says Gillian Polack as she explores her love of manuscripts, old books, and modern books in The Personality of Books.

When life becomes overwhelming our bodies and minds show it. Lauren Roberts found a solution for her own anxiety recently on her bookshelves where a book that had sat neglected for years suddenly found itself a source of healing: Learning to Live Again.

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Issue of May 20, 2012

Laugh at a crazy book. Learn about the sensitivity and trauma of translation. What could make corn taste a bit better than a short history of it? Learn a bit more about life through novels. We have it all, and more this week.

What’s it like to find yourself confronted by your own words translated into another language? Are they yours, and if not, can you claim them? Indefatigable book tourer Lev Raphael describes what happened to his memoir when it became a German book in “Found in Translation?”.

When an indefatigable collector of books finds a book she just has to have—manikin?—she, well, gets it. Elizabeth Creith begins with a word then moves into more than she could have possibly bargained for in The Hermaphroditic Horse.

Nicki Leone’s bedtime stories are probably not the bedtime stories of many. But perhaps they should be. An author who writes some of the finest stories that may be unusual but are also splendid as she shares in Bedtime Stories: The Little Books of César Aira.

With the Memorial Day weekend and holiday barbecues less than two weeks away, Lauren Roberts decided to re-visit a cornfield—not for fresh corn but for a story about corn in the form of a bookmark that essentially created the ears we eat today in A Hybrid Saga.

Katherine Hauswirth, in Creating Family, talks about  two books that, at least initially, seemed to have little in common except for the pregnant women they featured. Yet as she read through them she came to realize that they shared much more—overlapping lives, unexpected discoveries, ashes rising, home rediscovered.

Lauren Roberts hopes that all of BiblioBuffet’s readers have a wonderful week of books ahead in Best Wishes.

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Issue of May 13, 2012

In this week’s issue, we have some fabulous reading for you. Whatever your choices in reading matter, we hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, and we wish you the best for the new week.

Poet Amy Lowell finds new life with a complex new biography that “restores the life and work of one of the twentieth century’s most important poets.” Carl Rollyson explores her life and work through the author’s eyes including the poem that not only celebrates one of her great subjects but also claims rights as one of the great poems in the English language in Amy Lowell: Diva Poet.

Oscar Wilde. Just reading the name conjures up a vast array of images: plays, a book, essays, witticisms, homosexuality, jail, disgrace, and much more. When Gillian Polack was recently asked to write an introduction she decided that an preliminary trip through many of his works was in order—and that’s just what she gives us in Introducing Mr Wilde.

Mom and books have both played a large role in Lauren Roberts’ life, and she takes a brief stroll down memory lane, in Mom’s Love of Books and Me, to visit new feelings arising from those old memories that loom rather large during these times when she and her parents have reversed caregiving roles.

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When She’s Right, She’s Right

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a lovely woman named Megan who is connected with the upcoming Wisconsin Book Festival. (I love hearing from readers and new fans.)

Thanks so much for providing a comprehensive list of literary festivals around the US and around the world.  I would like to place a link to your lists on the Wisconsin Book Festival website but I noticed when I was setting up the international link that you have your International Festivals divided by alphabet into Africa-England, France-Wales.  The problem is that Africa is not a country, like England, France, or Wales, and you don’t list any of the other continents that way (Asia, for example, doesn’t get its own listing).  Thanks for hearing me out and thanks again for creating such a great resource.

I do know the difference between a continent and a country, but in setting up BiblioBuffet I made a few decisions that go against . . . would I call it common sense or accuracy? A bit of both, I guess. I made the decision to use this particular continent rather than the country because there were so few festivals. (I also made the decision to use “A” in “A Reading Life” (Nicki Leone’s column title) ahead of “BibliOpinions”—a technically incorrect editorial decision because I did not want a guest column to come ahead of a regular one on the home page—and I can live with it. It is not an error, but a deliberate choice that puts my reason for its choice ahead of Strunk & White’s. In this case.

So it also was with the decision to use “Africa.” However, Megan’s comments made me re-think that, and I decided she was right. Other countries had only one festival so why shouldn’t African countries get the same consideration? Well, now they have. Our International Book Festivals pages are divided into Australia-England and France-Zimbabwe.

I agree with Megan “that Africa and the countries in Africa are misrepresented and lumped together so often, I think it’s important to be careful about it.” And I hereby apologize to South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe. They now have their own listings.

In addition, I have updated most of the festival dates (a few even went back to 2009) to reflect the newest information. It took hours yesterday, and I am still not finished. I need to finish the dates, remove defunct festivals, add new ones, and then check every link to be sure it is still live. I hope to finish this afternoon.

If any of you know of a festival I am missing, please let me know. I would like this resource to be useful. And to that end I will be updating as I go. It’s tough because it takes a lot of time—but it’s worth it to know that it can be a reliable source of information for all book lovers. Thanks to Megan for caring. And I promise there will be no September 32 ever again. I still blush at the thought I never caught that.

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Issue of May 6, 2012

May flowers have arrived, at least in most places, and the days are warmer, perfect for outdoor reading (among other activities). Who doesn’t enjoy barbecues, swimming, biking or hiking, and lounging? The latter is particularly enjoyable when accompanied by a book, and this week we have some great suggestions for you.

Some of the best life lessons come from cats and books. But put the two together and there may not always been happiness. Lauren Roberts shares three lessons recently re-learned about the mix and also a new cookbook that will put spice into your meals in Notes to Self.

Laine Farley found an incongruous bookmark that was not so much interesting for itself, though it had oddly interesting elements, but for its publisher, a manufacturer of political and advertising buttons, lapel studs, and novelty items in the late 1800s, and especially for one of the founders in Now, Good Digestion Wait on Appetite, And Health on Both.

The definition and roots of success and failure are not always what they may seem. In her most recent readings, Katherine Hauswirth explored in depth the story behind one of the most popular songs and singers in twentieth-century America as well as the often unrecognized factors that are involved in both in The Makings of Success.

Growing up wanting to learn about everything and learning that there is a publisher who seems to publish just that was the beginning of Nicki Leone’s journey into the world of Penguin and a book that she terms a “general history in the grand scale model” in When I Wanted to Know Everything in the World.

Elizabeth Creith shares, in Who’s Sleeping Under Your Bed?, how delighted (and relieved) she was to realize the bogeyman wasn’t real—and didn’t, thankfully, have a place to hide either in her closet or under the bed, the former because she doesn’t have any, the latter because she has filled the latter space with boxes of books.

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