|Ralph Berrier, Jr.|
Henning Mankell had the makings of a snappy crime thriller on his hands if he had only stuck with this basic plot and characters. Even the long flashback dealing with San, a Chinaman kidnapped to work on America’s transcontinental railroad was interesting (and directly pertained to the plot), although, for the most part, very dryly narrated. By the time Mankell got back to present day Sweden, I was beginning to get a little hazy on some of the murder details and the Swedish characters. I managed to get myself back on track only to find that Mankell had a long, boring harangue in store for his readers. The author managed to move the side plot along eventually, but along the way he had one of his main characters read segments of political speeches that in real time were said to last four or five hours. As I listened to Mankell defend the likes of Chairman Mao and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, I began to understand how the character’s captive audience must have felt.
Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, according to the New York Times, is not afraid to give his work away because he thinks that will help him to sell more books in the long run. Coelho is best known for his international bestseller The Alchemist with over 65 million copies sold to-date. One might think that success at that level would make Coelho reluctant to let free copies of his latest book change hands; one would be wrong.
Years ago he upended conventional wisdom in the book business by pirating his own work, making it available online in countries where it was not easily found, using the argument that ideas should be disseminated free. More recently he has proved that authors can successfully build their audiences by reaching out to readers directly through social media. He ignites conversations about his work by discussing it with his fans while he is writing.
Mr. Coelho continues to give his work away free by linking to Web sites that have posted his books, asking only that if readers like the book, they buy a copy, “so we can tell to the industry that sharing contents is not life threatening to the book business,” as he wrote in one post.
Coelho is a twitter magician of sorts, with some 2.4 million followers (and, as he points out, that’s more followers than Madonna can claim). I am not a follower (yet) of Coelho’s but he sounds fascinating. Read the NYTimes article here, and you will learn facts like these: the man’s first book took him 40 years to complete, but the last one was written in 3 weeks following his 4 years of research.
Now, I’m off to become a Coelho follower…
From what I’ve posted here on the last three Saturdays, I’m sure it’s become obvious that I’m a big fan of pulp fiction cover art. I want to highlight a cover this week that I think will help to explain my infatuation.
First is the actual book cover for a 1953 book by Jane Manning called Reefer Girl:
The book is described as “The frank, biting story of a young girl of the slums, and how she was caught in the toils of evil.” Its cover is based on an “oil on board” painting by Rudy Nappi.
Next, I want you to click on the image shown below to experience a true work of art, Nappi’s original painting:
See why these covers can be so intriguing?
Changes are found at numbers 5 (Doc) and 8 (Wherever You Go).
Fiction: (Top 10 of 66 considered)
1. Nemesis – Philip Roth (novel)
2. Saturday – Ian McEwan (novel)
3. Rhino Ranch – Larry McMurtry (series novel)
4. The Glass Rainbow – James Lee Burke (Dave Robicheaux series)
5. Doc – Mary Doria Russell (novel)
6. Love at Absolute Zero – Christopher Meeks (novel)
7. That Old Cape Magic – Richard Russo (novel)
8. Wherever You Go – Joan Leegant (novel)
9. Hustle – Jason Skipper (novel)
10.Among the Wonderful – Stacy Carlsen – (novel)
Similarly, changes to the nonfiction list are found at numbers 1 (If Trouble Don’t Kill Me) and 8 (He Stopped Loving Her Today).
Non-Fiction: (Top 10 of 28 considered)
1. If Trouble Don’t Kill Me – Ralph Berrier, Jr. (biography)
2. Wolf: The Lives of Jack London – James L. Haley (biography)
3. Hitch 22: A Memoir – Christopher Hitchens (memoir)
4. Bittersweet Season – Jane Gross (on caring for aging parents)
5. Tiny Terror – William Todd Schultz (psychobiography of Truman Capote)
6. Chinaberry Sidewalks – Rodney Crowell (memoir)
7. We Were Not Orphans – Sherry Matthews (memoirs from life in a Texas home for neglected children)
8. He Stopped Loving Her Today – Jack Isenhour – (music memoir)
9. What It Is Like to Go to War – Karl Marlantes (memoir)
10. Lincoln’s Men – William C. Davis (Civil War History)
With just a bit over three months remaining in 2011, the lists are starting to firm up – but that anything can still happen can be clearly seen from the addition this time around of a new number one book in nonfiction.
Happy Birthdays to authors Stephen King and H.G. Wells who share September 21 as the date of their births. I think it’s kind of a cool coincidence that these two guys were born on the same day of the year.
Wells was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, England, and died on August 13, 1946.
King, who turns 64 today, was born in 1947 in Portland, Maine – just a bit more than one year after Wells’s passing.
Whether King will ever be held in the same esteem as Wells is debatable, but I do think their work (other than King’s pure “horror” output) has a good deal in common, and I get a kick out of the fact they were born on the same day – some 81 years apart.
Photographer Thomas Allen does some remarkable things by combining old books, cutouts, a camera, and a whole lot of talent. Allen has such a remarkable eye that his creations are used as dust jackets and covers for new books, completing the cycle.
I don’t begin to understand how all of this is accomplished and Allen’s website doesn’t really make clear how he pulls it all together. But you have to see it, to believe it.
This is my favorite of the images I’ve seen. In fact, I like this original art even better than the book jacket into which it was later transformed.
Click on the image to see a much larger version.
I’m in a mood to crunch a few numbers today, and I’m always fascinated by statistics, so I thought I would take a look at where my blog traffic originates.
What surprised me, in addition to a couple of the countries that show up on the list, is that only ten countries provide 99.5% of my hits (according to Google Stats). These statistics only go back about two years, but I think they are representative of the future.
1. USA – 70%
2. United Kingdom – 7%
3. Canada – 6.5%
4. Australia – 4%
5. Germany – 3.5%
6. Denmark – 3%
7. South Korea – 2%
8. France – 1.5%
9. The Netherlands – 1%
10. India – 1%
All Others – 0.5%
I get a kick out of getting a substantial number of hits from foreign countries – and, when writing a post for Book Chase, I do try to keep in mind that I will have readers from around the world. I don’t do that in a sense of trying to be “politically correct,” but I have to admit that knowing this helps me consider my words a little more carefully. I don’t necessarily worry about offending foreign readers, as such; it is more a case of not wanting to offend them accidentally through a poor choice of words or by using a misleading tone of voice.
|Philip Roth / Nathan Zuckerman|
|Photo by Reddit User Jessers25|
I think we all agree about how sad it is to see one of the world’s major bookstore chains bite the dust – especially when one remembers that Barnes and Noble is not doing all that well either. Sure, the book-selling business model has changed, e-books are negatively impacting physical bookstores, and blah, blah, blah. It’s all becoming old news, just part of the economic bad news that has all of us numb these days.
But let’s not forget the thousands of people out of work as a result of Borders failure to adjust quickly enough to the changing marketplace. They are hurting – especially since they are looking for work in an economy that can’t get the unemployment rate below 9% no matter how much tax money is squandered by the Feds trying to “create” jobs.
Take a look here at: “Help Ex-Borders Employees.” If you have some job leads to share, this is the place to do it. Let’s act like the book community we want to believe we are.
Postcards from Namis the third book in Uyen Nicole Duong’s “Fall of South Vietnam” trilogy, so I suspect that I would have been more emotionally invested in this book’s characters had I first read the earlier books in the trilogy. But even without that background material, I have to say that this little 89-page novella makes for a powerful reading experience.
|Uyen Nicole Duong
Pseudonym of Duong Nhu Nguyen
Postcards from Namis a blunt, eyes-wide-open look at what it was like for first generation South Vietnamese refugees and their children to begin life in the country that had failed to stop the communist invaders from North Vietnam. The families of former army officers, politicians, government workers, businessmen, and others tied to the U.S. effort, reorganized themselves into new communities in the U.S. from which they drew financial and moral support. All well and good, but not everyone arrived with a clear conscious about the past. Some lived in fear that, if the whole truth about them were discovered, they would have to face the wrath of others seeking personal revenge for old wrongs.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)
Because attending the first Houston Texans game of the 2011 NFL season is pretty much an all-day affair (leave home at ten for the noon start, with a return around six), I want to take a few minutes early this Sunday morning to highlight another effective book trailer that’s just been posted to YouTube.
These days I am as fascinated by book marketing as I used to be about the traditional relationship between authors, agents, and publishers. That whole business is rapidly changing – and has already reached the point where authors are having to figure out new ways to bring attention to their work. Publishers seem to be largely passing the buck back to the authors themselves to get the job done. That can be a good thing for those with the drive and talent to market themselves, but a very traumatic thing for authors used to doing it the old way. It certainly opens the book publishing doors wider than ever before.
I read and reviewed Steplings last July, so I am judging the effectiveness and veracity of this trailer through those eyes.
This is how you do it.
|Photo from Vintagellu’s Photostream on Flickr|
Few people probably realize that celebrated science fiction writer Robert Silverberg wrote several novels for publisher Bedside as Mark Ryan. Streets of Sin, the cover art shown here, was published in 1959 for sale in news stands across America. Silverberg was ultimately named a Grandmaster by the Science Fiction Writers of America, so he is rightfully remembered best for his work in that genre. (I don’t think Mark Ryan won any awards – but he put food on Silverberg’s table for a few years.)
Mark Ryan had some help from at least four others in putting a little cash in Mr. Silverberg’s pockets because Silverberg also wrote in this style under the names: Don Elliott, Loren Beauchamp, David Challon, and Gordon Mitchell. The books were published by Bediside, Nightstand, and Bedstand (names so similar that I’m guessing they might really all have been the same company).
I have not attempted to count the books that Silverberg wrote under these names, but there appears to be at least a couple of dozen of them, probably a good many more. By the way, a copy of Streets of Sin in excellent condition could be had five years ago for about $60.
|Michael Stern Hart|
Michael S. Hart, the man credited with having invented the e-book (in 1971), but probably best known as the founder of the wonderful Project Gutenberg, is dead at age 64. Mr. Hart was found dead at his home on September 6 after having suffered an apparent heart attack.
Mr. Hart cobbled together a living with the money he earned as an adjunct professor and with grants and donations to Project Gutenberg. But he led a life of near poverty, Kahle said, and “basically lived off of cans of beans.”Kahle and other friends recalled that Mr. Hart’s house in Urbana was stacked, floor to eye-height, with pillars of books.The man who spent a lifetime digitizing literature lived amidst the hard copies, which he often sent home with visitors. It was one more way for him to share his books.
I, of course, knew nothing of Mr. Hart or his personal life until I read the Washington Post obituary I’ve linked to this post. But…I will always remember how excited I was when I first discovered Project Gutenberg, and how I downloaded books directly to floppy discs so that I could carry them with me when I traveled on extended business trips. The man was a true pioneer – and I only wish I had bothered to tell him that while he was with us.