Saturday, October 31, 2009
Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (read this one when I was a teenager; hid it from the parents)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
The Hungry Moon by Ramsey Campbell
The Between by Tananarive Due
Darklands by Dennis Etchison
Raven by Charles L Grant
Dead in the Water by Nancy Holder
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (read this in grad school; loved it; wrote a paper on it)
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
Turn of the Screw by Henry James (one of my favorite ghost stories, much better than Portrait of a Lady. Sorry Portrait fans)
The Ghost Stories of M.R. James
Dr. Adder by K.W. Jeter
The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka (weird but not scary)
Pet Semetary by Stephen King
The Shining by Stephen King
The Stand by Stephen King
Skin by Kathe Koja
Dark Dance by Tanith Lee
Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Songs of a Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti
Lovers Living, Lovers Dead by Richard Lortz
The Dunwich Horror and Others by H.P. Lovecraft
At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen
Tales of Horror and the Supernatural by Arthur Machen
Sineater by Elizabeth Massie
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (saw the movie; does that count?--Have read Mary Shelley's The Last Man; same premise but no vampirey beings)
Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (I teach this novel in Honors Symposium)
Book of the Dead edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector
Ghoul by Michael Slade
Vampire Junction by S.P. Somtow
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (who hasn't read it?)
Dracula by Bram Stoker (a book I need to re-read)
Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon
Phantom by Thomas Tessier
Sacrifice by Andrew Vachss
Grab one from the list and go scare yourself! (That sounded kind of rude, didn't it?)
Friday, October 30, 2009
Until a few years ago, many faithful Christians saw popular culture the way the Dutch presumably see the ocean--as a vast force to be kept at bay by any means necessary. That began to change with Tom Beaudoin's Virtual Faith, a heady mix of cultural analysis and theology. Fuller Theological Seminary alumni Detweiler and Taylor are the latest authors to call fellow Christians to take their thumbs out of the dike. Detweiler, producer of the City of the Angels Film Festival, and Taylor, a sound engineer with a roster of top clients, follow (ir)reverently in Beaudoin's wake, exploring the signs of a God-haunted generation in everything from Chris Ofili's dung-smattered Madonna to Jesus' appearance in South Park. Their book is ambitious in scope and smartly structured. Detweiler and Taylor begin with chapters on advertising and the role of celebrities, topics that other Christian commentators have generally ignored, and they are consistently alert to the commercial forces that drive pop culture's production and consumption. They are also witty, readable and passionate about both pop culture and their evangelical faith. But their cultural analysis borrows heavily from previous writers, and their claim to be discovering a "theology" of pop culture may surprise readers who expect a book from the Baker Academic imprint to engage its sources, whether Tom Beaudoin or Ned Flanders, with more critical rigor.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Continuing the cell phone theme . . .
In the 11/2/09 edition of Newsweek, columnist Julia Baird reminds us that, in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, the devil brags that "We will make the whole universe a noise . . . We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end." She explains that Christian scholars in medieval times believed that Satan did not want people to have time alone with God or their fellowman in which they could be "fully alert and listening."
Baird mentions a book by Sara Maitland, a British author who traveled through deserts and hills and spent 40 days in an isolated house in the remote Scottish Highlands in an attempt to discover what silence truly is. Maitland "believes the mobile phone is a 'major breakthrough for the powers of hell.'" In her work, A Book of Silence, Maitland says, "I am convinced that as a whole society we are losing something precious in our increasingly silence-avoiding culture, and that somehow, whatever this silence might be, it needs holding, nourishing, and unpacking."
Baird reveals that Maitland's book made her "realize what a profound longing many of us have for silence, how hard it is to find, and how easily we forget how much we need it." Baird concludes, "I know, [this article] sounds like the lament of the Luddite. But if generations of mystics and seekers have insisted that there's something that connects silence with the sublime, you have to wonder what we are distracting ourselves from--and who we could be if, every now and then, we paused."
I do believe humans have a longing for silence. I know I do. I love to be in a silent house. I can stay home all day, doing chores, reading, whatever, without ever turning on the TV or the radio, but I rarely get to spend a day like this. Many people turn on the TV as soon as they get up, but continuous electronic background chatter shreds my nerves. It's been a long time ago now, but I remember one of the most moving HU chapels I've ever experienced was devoted to silence. No one said a word while messages on the screen in front of us challenged our dependence on electronic noise and busyness and encouraged us to spend more time "being still and knowing."
I'm not against electronic gadgets. I've got a lot of them--laptop, BlackBerry, ipod, etc. I use them and I like having them. At the same time, I often feel as if they are more in charge of my time than I am. I read the other day of a communications professor who challenged her students to go on a technology fast for one weekend--from Friday at the end of class until classes resumed Monday morning. Her students were aghast. They really didn't think it was possible.
I think Maitland's book may have to be added to my must-read list.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I don't usually post about politics. Not that I don't care, and not that I don't have opinions. I'm an English professor, not a political scientist, and to be honest, sometimes I just don't feel qualified to add my voice to the (sometimes confusing and often overwhelming, at least to me) debate.
[ . . . ] Because torture can coerce truth, break a human being's dignity, treat him as an expendable means rather than as a fragile end, it has a terrible power to corrupt. Torture is the ultimate expression of the absolute power of one individual over another; it destroys the souls of those who torture just as surely as it eviscerates the dignity of those who are its victims."
Monday, October 26, 2009
Which author(s) do you like enough to have read all his or her works? Are there any authors that you've enjoyed one or two of their books so much that you plan to read their whole body of work?
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
VIA OVERNIGHT MAIL AND E-MAIL
October 22, 2009
The Honorable Christine Varney
Assistant Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 3109
Washington, DC 20530
Molly Boast, Esquire
Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Matters
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 3210
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Ms. Varney and Ms. Boast,
We are writing on behalf of the American Booksellers Association, a 109-year-old trade organization representing the nation's locally owned, independent booksellers. A core part of our mission is devoted to making books as widely available to American consumers as possible. We ask that the Department of Justice investigate practices by Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Target that we believe constitute illegal predatory pricing that is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers. We are requesting a meeting with you to discuss this urgent issue at your earliest possible opportunity.
As reported in the consumer and trade press this past week, Amazon.com, WalMart.com, and Target.com have engaged in a price war in the pre-sale of new hardcover bestsellers, including books from John Grisham, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Sarah Palin, and James Patterson. These books typically retail for between $25 and $35. As of writing of this letter, all three competitors are selling these and other titles for between $8.98 and $9.00.
Publishers sell these books to retailers at 45% - 50% off the suggested list price. For example, a $35 book, such as Mr. King's Under the Dome, costs a retailer $17.50 or more. News reports suggest that publishers are not offering special terms to these big box retailers, and that the retailers are, in fact, taking orders for these books at prices far below cost. (In the case of Mr. King's book, these retailers are losing as much as $8.50 on each unit sold.) We believe that Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Target are using these predatory pricing practices to attempt to win control of the market for hardcover bestsellers.
It's important to note that the book industry is unlike other retail sectors. Clothing, jewelry, appliances, and other commercial goods are typically sold at a net price, leaving the seller free to determine the retail price and the margin these products will earn. Because publishers print list prices indelibly on jacket covers, and because books are sold at a discount off that retail price, there is a ceiling on the amount of margin a book retailer can earn.
The suggested list price set by the publisher reflects manufacturing costs -- acquisition, editing, marketing, printing, binding, shipping, etc. -- which vary significantly from book to book. By selling each of these titles below the cost these retailers pay to the publishers, and at the same price as each other, and at the same price as all other titles in these pricing schemes, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Target are devaluing the very concept of the book. Authors and publishers, and ultimately consumers, stand to lose a great deal if this practice continues and/or grows.
What's so troubling in the current situation is that none of the companies involved are engaged primarily in the sale of books. They're using our most important products -- mega bestsellers, which, ironically, are the most expensive books for publishers to bring to market -- as a loss leader to attract customers to buy other, more profitable merchandise. The entire book industry is in danger of becoming collateral damage in this war.
It's also important to note that this episode was precipitated by below-cost pricing of digital editions of new hardcover books by Amazon.com, many of those titles retailing for $9.99, and released simultaneously with the much higher-priced print editions. We believe the loss-leader pricing of digital content also bears scrutiny.
While on the surface it may seem that these lower prices will encourage more reading and a greater sharing of ideas in the culture, the reality is quite the opposite. Consider this quote from Mr. Grisham's agent, David Gernert, that appeared in the New York Times:
"If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over. If you can buy Stephen King's new novel or John Grisham's 'Ford County' for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer's attention away from emerging writers."
For our members -- locally owned, independent bookstores -- the effect will be devastating. There is simply no way for ABA members to compete. The net result will be the closing of many independent bookstores, and a concentration of power in the book industry in very few hands. Bill Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, an ABA member, was also quoted in the New York Times:
"You have a choke point where millions of writers are trying to reach millions of readers. But if it all has to go through a narrow funnel where there are only four or five buyers deciding what's going to get published, the business is in trouble."
We would find these practices questionable were they taking place in the market for widgets. That they are taking place in the market for books is catastrophic. If left unchecked, these predatory pricing policies will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to maintain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public, and will allow the few remaining mega booksellers to raise prices to consumers unchecked.
We urge that the DOJ investigate and request an opportunity to come to Washington to discuss this at your earliest convenience.
ABA Board of Directors:
Michael Tucker, President (Books Inc.--San Francisco, CA)
Becky Anderson, Vice President (Anderson's Bookshops--Naperville, IL)
Steve Bercu (BookPeople--Austin, TX)
Betsy Burton (The King's English Bookshop--Salt Lake City, UT)
Tom Campbell (The Regulator Bookshop--Durham, NC)
Dan Chartrand (Water Street Bookstore--Exeter, NH)
Cathy Langer (Tattered Cover Book Store--Denver, CO)
Beth Puffer (Bank Street Bookstore--New York, NY)
Ken White (SFSU Bookstore--San Francisco, CA)
|CC:||Oren Teicher, CEO, American Booksellers Association|
Len Vlahos, COO, American Booksellers Association
Owen M. Kendler, Esquire, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice
Friday, October 23, 2009
I love classes like that.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"NEW YORK — A price war has broken out in the book world.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Thursday that its online site, walmart.com, would charge just $10, with free shipping, for such upcoming hardcover releases as Sarah Palin's Going Rogue and John Grisham's Ford County, a cut of 60 percent or more from the regular cost.
Amazon.com, the leading online book seller, has responded, also slashing its price to $10 for Going Rogue, Ford County, Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes and other leading pre-orders."
[ . . . ]
"In a new program called 'America's Reading List,' Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart also will offer 50 percent off or more on 200 current best-sellers, including Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and Kathryn Stockett's The Help.
Thursday's price cuts come at a time when Seattle-based Amazon and other sellers have been charging just $9.99 for ebooks, a price that publishers worry is unrealistically low. The reductions also make it increasingly hard for independent sellers, who can't afford such large discounts, to compete for the most popular books."
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"During the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three young women, members of a conservative, pious Catholic family, who had become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime, were ambushed and assassinated as they drove back from visiting their jailed husbands. Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as las mariposas (the butterflies), from their underground code names.
Herself a native of the Dominican Republic, Alvarez ( How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents ) has fictionalized their story in a narrative that starts slowly but builds to a gripping intensity. Each of the girls--Patria, Minerva and Maria Terese (Mate) Mirabal--speaks in her own voice, beginning in their girlhood in the 1940s; their surviving sister, Dede, frames the narrative with her own tale of suffering and dedication to their memory. To differentiate their personalities and the ways they came to acquire revolutionary fervor, Alvarez takes the risk of describing their early lives in leisurely detail, somewhat slowing the narrative momentum. In particular, the giddy, childish diary entries of Mate, the youngest, may seem irritatingly mundane at first, but in time Mate's heroism becomes the most moving of all, as the sisters endure the arrests of their husbands, their own imprisonment and the inexorable progress of Trujillo's revenge. Alvarez captures the terrorized atmosphere of a police state, in which people live under the sword of terrible fear and atrocities cannot be acknowledged. As the sisters' energetic fervor turns to anguish, Alvarez conveys their courage and their desperation, and the full import of their tragedy."
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all?
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?
I'm so bad, I even wish I still had all my Little Golden Books. That's pitiful, isn't it?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Alfred A. Knopf)
Marcel Theroux, Far North (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt)
Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton University Press)
T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf)
Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)
Young People’s Literature
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
From Little Rock to Philadelphia and back, four different flights in all, plus the airport waiting time, these are the only books I saw being read:
Two people were reading Dan Brown's Lost Symbol (both women), one older woman was reading Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook, a twenty-something woman was reading Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, one man was reading Mitch Albom's latest book, Have a Little Faith, an older man was reading a Louis L'Amour novel, and one twenty-something guy was reading Dostoyevsky (I couldn't see the title). I think he gets the prize.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I tried a time or two to just turn around and look at her, hoping she'd take it as a gentle hint. Nope. Never noticed. Just kept that storyline going.
Next flight, I'm taking ear plugs.
Monday, October 12, 2009
A God or a Bench by Anne Betty Weinshenker
All Dogs Have ADHD by Kathy Hoopmann
Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy L Cheney
Christian Texts for Aztecs by Jaime Lara
Curbside Consultation of the Colon by Brooks D Cash
F**k It by John C Parkin
Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings by Kuzhali Manickavel
Living with Dormice by Sue Eden
Malformed Frogs by Michael J Lannoo
Sketches of Hull Authors by Reginald Walter Corlass
Strip and Knit with Style by Mark Hordyszynski
Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring by Lietai Yang
The 2007-2012 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Philip M Parker
The Emotional Life of Contemporary Public Memorials by Erika Doss
The Industrial Vagina by Sheila Jeffreys
The Large Sieve and its Applications by Emmanuel Kowalski
The Price of Everything by Russell Roberts
Toilets That Make Compost by Peter Morgan
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
I'm presenting this afternoon at 4:30. If you happen to be in Philadelphia, stop by.
Here's the proposal for my presentation:
Beauty is a concept extensively explored during the Age of Reason. Shaftesbury, Hogarth, Burke, Reynolds, and others debated and discussed beauty throughout the century, and although their deliberations are diverse, many of their definitions are highly gendered and prescriptive of accepted social behavior. Beauty was often associated with the good, the pure, the noble, and the virtuous. Physical appearance, for women especially, became a form of competition in their rush to the marriage mart, a fact certainly explored by Austen in her novels.
But physical appearance does not only shape the relationships of unrelated women within a community, all vying for the most eligible young man. It also has a function within Austen’s families. This paper will explore the role of siblings’ physical appearance and how it shapes both the individual and intra-familial relationships. How do physical comparisons among siblings affect personality development and individual behavior? Do these identity struggles lead to growth or despair? Does appearance foster competition among siblings, or solidarity? Does the way children look affect how they are perceived or treated by their parents? By extended family? Does physical beauty or the lack thereof affect male siblings as well as female ones? If so, in what ways?
Bernard J. Paris, in his work Character and Conflict in Jane Austen’s Novels, calls Austen “a serious interpreter of life, and a creator of brilliant mimetic characterizations,” an author who struggles “to combine comic actions with realistic characterizations and serious moral concerns” (13-14). This claim is nowhere more true than in her exploration of physical appearance and its role in family dynamics.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
According to the JASNA website, we'll have plenty to do besides listen to papers about Jane:
Philadelphia, though a major metropolitan city, is composed of small neighborhoods that make for a warm, welcoming town.
It is the perfect city for "very good walkers," as founder William Penn laid out the streets in a most rational manner – naming streets that form square blocks using numbers and the names of trees. It is possible, but difficult, to become lost while walking in our fair city.
What, then, shall you do in Philadelphia? Museums, shops, theaters, and restaurants will tempt you to spend time here before, and even after the JASNA conference. If, like Lady Catherine, your natural taste in music is unrivaled, attend a performance of The Opera Company of Philadelphia, The Academy of Vocal Arts, or the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra.
Philadelphia is home to many museums, large and small. Marianne Dashwood, who possesses the most artistic sensibilities, would certainly visit The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, The Rosenbach, and The Library Company of Philadelphia.
Perhaps you see harmony and repose in Nature as does Fanny Price. Then set aside time to see The Franklin Institute Science Museum or the Academy of Natural Sciences.
Jane Austen herself, student of history that she was, would tour The National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross's House, Elfreth's Alley, Independence Hall, or The Independence Seaport Museum, all within walking distance of the hotel.
Gourmand General Tilney would be well-satisfied with the city's restaurants: Le Bec-Fin, Buddakan, Alma de Cuba, Moshulu, Fork, and the city's newest, Parc.
In pursuit of satin and lace, Augusta Elton would shop at The Bourse and the many stores on Walnut Street; she would almost certainly pay a visit to Jewelers' Row.
What connects Philadelphia to Jane Austen besides the 2009 AGM? Emma was published here in 1816; the first North American city where an Austen novel was published during the author's lifetime.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Besides excellent plenary speakers and creative breakout sessions, Elizabeth Garvie, who played Elizabeth Bennett in the 1980 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice will be there for opening night. Louise West, educational manager of the museum at Chawton Cottage will speak. The 11th Hour Theater Company will present Austentatious. Period experts will instruct, harpists will perform, and there'll be a Regency Ball on Saturday night. They don't get to hear me til Friday. I'll tell you what my presentation's about then.
What fun we will have talking about Jane Austen's brothers and sisters! Did you know that each novel contains at least three sibling pairs? Have you wondered why the Ward sisters of Mansfield Park are so different from one another? Is it their nature, or have circumstances alone created the differences among them? Is the plot in Sense and Sensibility influenced more by the disregard that John Dashwood shows his sisters or by the devotion between Elinor and Marianne, struggling with their new circumstances? Which has been more influential on Emma Woodhouse: Isabella's absence or her presence? Why is Elizabeth Bennet so very different from her sisters? How can five young women with one set of parents range so completely across the personality spectrum? Why is Anne the only thoughtful sister of the Elliot women, when other Persuasion sibling pairs—Harriet and Louisa Musgrove and Frederick Wentworth and Mrs. Croft, e.g.—are so considerate of one another? Oh, what a Henry is Mr. Tilney! He is the perfect brother—isn't he? Will we settle any of these questions after spirited and lively discussion? Perhaps not, but we will have a splendid time trying to answer these and raising many more questions about Austen's brothers and sisters in the novels and how her own sibling relationships inspired and influenced those she created.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
"Nobel laureate Morrison creates another richly told tale that grapples with her ongoing, central concerns: women's lives and the African American experience. Morrison has created a long list of characters for this story that takes place in the all-black town of Ruby, Oklahoma, population 360, which was founded by freed slaves. In what could be seen as an attempt to create some of the same mysticism that was present in many of her previous works, Morrison alludes to Ruby's founding citizens, now ghosts, and only minimally focuses on the present generations that have let the founding principles of Ruby's forebears deteriorate. Paradise is an examination of the title itself and deliberately builds into a plot that is unexpected and explosive. This is Morrison's first novel since her 1993 Jazz, and it is well worth the wait."
Monday, October 5, 2009
According to this article, most Britons have lied about reading books they haven't actually read. Would you? Why? Which one(s)?
I haven't actually lied about reading a book, unless you count "the sin of omission"--simply keeping my mouth shut and hoping nobody realizes I haven't read something. Earlier, I wrote a post about The Shame of not having read a book that everybody else seems to have read. You can check it out if you want.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Fall Literary Festival
Readings by Students, Faculty, and Guests
Thursday, October 1, 7:00 p.m. in Cone Chapel