Right Reading

concept to publication

Month: January 2011

Following in the Footsteps of Nature

In my forthcoming book about the year 1616 I take that year as my anchor or home but move forward and back in time in telling its stories. The illustration above is from Atalanta Fugiens, 1618, by Michael Maier. Maier, along with Robert Fludd, was instrumental in promoting Rosicrucianism in England, which in turn laid the groundwork for the Freemason movement. The core Rosicrucian texts were all published in German in the second decade of the seventeenth century; the last of the three, a remarkable novelistic romance called Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz was published in 1616. Like Maier’s book, it is heavily influenced by alchemy.

Frances Yates, in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, writes:

This is somewhat reminiscent of the preface dedicated by Giordano Bruno to Rudolph II when in Prague in 1588, reiterating his favourite theme, that one must study the vestiges or footprints left by Nature, avoiding the strife of religious sects and turning to Nature who is crying out everywhere to be heard.

Pantone Chip Cookies

Kim Neill at kimcreativestar.com tells you how to bake them.

The 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists

The NBCC has announced their 2010 award finalists. I used to be a member of this group but there are too many older books I need to read to spend all my time trying to keep current with the new ones. So I don’t know much about a lot of these books. If you’ve read some, please share your thoughts.

An unusual feature of the NBCC awards is a category for “criticism.” This probably comes about because of the difficulty of comparing nonfiction titles, since nonfiction is such a huge, unruly category. They also have a “biography” category for the same reason.

Dalkey Archive was given a lifetime achievement award.

I think the biggest surprise on this list probably is the omission of Rebecca Skloot’s  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Or maybe it’s that there are still enough book critics around to form a society. Following is the full list.

Fiction

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
To the End of the Land by David Grossman
Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Nonfiction

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne
Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Autobiography

Half a Life by Darin Strauss
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Crossing Mandelbaum Gate by Kai Bird
The Autobiography of an Execution by David Dow
Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens
Hiroshima in the AM by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Biography

How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham: A Biography by Selina Hastings
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History by Yunte Huang
The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers
Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends by Tom Segev

Poetry

One With Others by C.D. Wright
Nox by Anne Carson
The Eternal City by Kathleen Graber
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes
The Best of It by Kay Ryan

Criticism

The Possessed by Elif Batuman
The Professor and Other Writings by Terry Castle
Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West by Clare Cavanagh
The Cruel Radience by Susan Linfield
Vanishing Point by Ander Monson

“I am an advocate of finding new and better ways to accomplish common tasks”

groucho marx book blurb

This ad, which to me sounds more like some kind of stunt than a typical scam, has been removed from Craigslist. Certainly it’s not a “new and better way” of getting blurbs. Blurbing is already largely corrupt, and it’s not at all difficult to get jacket blurbs without going to all this trouble.

Book Reviewer: $150 – $1500 (Telecommute)
Prepublication book reviews needed for literary novel.

I am an Author and Professor of English in Austin, Texas. I also own a small publishing company. I am currently seeking prepublication reviews for a novel set for publication at the end of next month (February 2011). If your review is favorable, I would like to include a blurb from it on the back cover of the novel.

I am an advocate of finding new and better ways to accomplish common tasks. The old way of seeking prepublication reviews is to send galley proofs (Advance Reading Copies – ARC) out into the abyss of the mainstream media to compete in the mailboxes of those organizations with the one thousand other books they received that day. To me, that sounds like the definition of insanity.

If you are a book critic, an author, a university professor, a member of the media, a blogger, a review writer, a representative of an independent bookstore, or anyone with high literary credentials, I will pay you between $150 and $1500 for your review. Those with higher credentials will receive a higher stipend.

Of course, your review should be honest. Just because this is a paid review does not mean that you have to review the novel favorably; however, I certainly hope that you like the book. If your review is negative, I will not be using any portion of it on the back cover of my novel, on my website, or anywhere else.

Although I will not reveal the name of the novel or the synopsis in this ad, I will tell you that it is literary fiction in the vein of Lolita, Blood Meridian, and Steppenwolf. The novel challenges organized religion and is left-leaning, but the overall message of the novel is one of peace, tolerance, and unity. The novel has been described as Less Than Zero meets Dead Poet’s Society.

I would expect you to read the novel and write a thoughtful evaluative review that is somewhere between 500 and 1500 words long. The review should not be merely summative. It should evaluate the novel, pointing out its strengths in the areas of style, theme, narrative, characterization, etc. It should also compare the novel and writing to other major writers and novels. Remember, this is a pre-publication review, so I am looking for blurbs to include on the back cover of the novel accompanied by your name and organization. Keep in mind that you must be authorized to use your organization’s name. I will also use your review and organization name on my website, in promotional materials, and I will ask you to post your review on Amazon.com.

If you feel you are a qualified reviewer and you are favorable to the type of novel outlined above, please respond to this ad with a list of your credentials. If I feel your credentials are adequate, I will contact you with the full details of the novel, and we can negotiate a stipend amount and a timetable for completion.

Although I will have to verify your credentials, the entire process will be confidential. No one will know that you were paid for your freelance review.

Another unmemorable post

It’s unmemorable because it’s set in Georgia. Or at least that doesn’t help, according to Eightface, who cites a study that purports to show that students remember material better when it is set in something like Comic Sans Italic or Haettenschweiler than in some unassuming face. The idea, apparently, is to slow down reading speed. Of course, if you want to slow down reading

there R other wa
ys to accompli
sh the sam
e thing.

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