3/29/14. AUTHOR PEGGY PAYNE IS GUEST BLOGGER ON APRIL 1
Author Peggy Payne has chosen to craft her novels around the intersection of spirituality and physical/emotional life. Or, as she explained in an interview here earlier this month, the subject chose her. The results include Revelation, Cobalt Blue, and Sister India, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Despite her novels’ success, Peggy says she has difficulty explaining their nature and an even bigger challenge categorizing them so readers know where to find them. She’s come up with possible, somewhat whimsical, solutions to the labeling dilemma, which she shares along with actual sources for books of “expanded realism” on a guest blog post here April 1.
On Late Last Night Books we’re always writing about books and authors, but what are people reading? I took my questionnaire to people I know and people I don’t know, asking: What are you reading late at night? Why? What do you do by day? The answers might surprise you.
3/20/14 INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM HASTINGS, FARLEY’S BOOKSHOP, NEW HOPE, PA
Last Thanksgiving I was in New Hope, PA and happened by Farley’s Bookshop, on Main Street, full of after-dinner shoppers. I was struck by the store, by its bustling prosperity and by the fact that I found one of my recent favorite books, Ron Cooper’sPurple Jesus, displayed there. I also saw displays arranged by small presses.
Q: Tell me about three or four of your favorite current novels from small presses. What percentage of your novel sales do small presses represent? Do you find small press novels any more or less reliable in quality than novels from mainstream presses? Do you find them any more or less to your taste?
Mystery as travel guide? That’s how I read Deadline: Istanbul, Peggy Hanson’s novel featuring a journalist named Elizabeth Darcy as amateur detective. Of course, Darcy carries Jane Austin with her wherever she goes.
Peggy spoke last week at a meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter meeting of Mystery Writers of America, an organization for mystery and crime writers. She wore an Egyptian dress in memory of Elizabeth Peters, pseudonym of mystery author Barbara Mertz, who died last year.
Confession: that little thumbnail photo of me up in the left-hand corner of my posts is over ten years old. It was taken right before my first book was published, although it never ventured much farther than my publisher’s website. I am famously photo-phobic. I didn’t even want to be in my own wedding pictures. But even I know that a ten-year-old picture is pushing the boundaries of both usefulness and credibility. Do I still look like that? Sure, if you squint or stand real far away.
3/10/14 INTERVIEW WITH PEGGY PAYNE, AUTHOR OF COBALT BLUE
Throughout her career as a novelist, Peggy Payne has explored aspects of spiritual and supernatural phenomena. Her first novel, Revelation, deals with a Christian minister who hears God speak to him out loud. Her second, Sister India, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, follows an American woman as she seeks sanctuary in Varanasi (Benares), India, destination of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage. Payne’s latest novel, Cobalt Blue, as I said in my review last month, describes the turbulent experience of kundalini rising. Cobalt Blue earned the rare distinction of having been the book of the month on a Playboy Radio Network program and in the top 100 spiritual books for Kindle.
3/7/14 – IS THERE STILL A ROLE FOR THE NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEW?
The world of the book review is getting mighty hard to navigate. With more and more publications tightening their belts, eliminating book supplements, and pink slipping reviewers, serious literary criticism (think James Wood in the New Yorker or Dwight Garner in The New York Times) has become a very rare commodity. At the same time, online book review sites of widely varying quality are proliferating, with new ones popping up every day.
Full disclosure: I love books about serial killers. So I was destined to love The Death Lottery, Gerald M. Weinberg’s new novel about a serial killer randomly terrorizing Manhattan and a team of math geniuses determined to find a method to the madness.
3/1/14 – GUEST BLOGGER BARBARA WESTWOOD DIEHL ON THE SHORT STORY’S ENDURING APPEAL
Yes, I complain about the volume of submissions. (502 in the last 22 days, and 256 of those are short stories.) I complain about the time away from my own writing. I complain about all the administrative tasks of running a literary journal—I won’t put you to sleep with that laundry list—but all those tasks have nothing to do with the intoxicating work of reading hundreds of short stories each submission period. Yes, all of them, not only the stories that we finally publish. I’m humbled , stunned really, to have all those stories entrusted to me.
2/28/14 – PREVIEW OF MARCH 1 GUEST BLOGGER BARBARA WESTWOOD DIEHL
When short-story writer Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature, she said it was a “wonderful thing” for the short story, which she hoped “would come to the fore.”
No one would agree more than Barbara Westwood Diehl, who, as managing editor of The Baltimore Review, reads more short stories in a month than most people read in a lifetime. Find out what that’s like–and how she explains the enduring allure of the short story–when her guest blog appears in this space tomorrow.
02/26/2014 THE GATES OF BABYLON BY MICHAEL WALLACE – A REVIEW
We know what we like and we like what we know. That simple logic is what draws readers to books that are part of a series. We like the consistency of knowing what we’ll get when we throw down our hard earned dollars for some reading entertainment. If we like the storyline and the characters in one book, we hope the author will be consistent and bring us the same great storytelling in the next and the next.
2/23/14 Linebaugh interviews author Bill Lambrecht
“I’m a black- hearted dog,” author Bill Lambrecht confesses in Big Muddy Blues. “The contempt American Indians feel towards me at the moment might even rival the store they reserve for the Army Corps of Engineers.” Lambrecht’s nonfiction is like this, telling a big story in personal terms, sweeping the reader with him on a journey of discovery.
2/20/14 STONING THE DEVIL, GARRY CRAIG POWELL, BOOK REVIEW AND INTERVIEW
Time and fortune happen to everyone. Before my other half, Todd, read Garry Craig Powell’s Stoning the Devil, I told Todd that when he finished I would want him to tell me if he could see any difference between Stoning the Devil and the novels on the New York Times notable books lists over the years. Because I can’t see any difference, in quality of writing or in the relevance and significance of topic.
I recently toured Ethiopia, a beautiful country rich in history and historical monuments, including rock-hewn churches dating from the 12th century–some still in use. Many of the church interiors I visited are painted with Biblical scenes and stories told in panels across the walls and ceilings. They all seem more vivid and accessible than the paintings, frescoes and stained glass that decorate European churches and cathedrals.
Cobalt Blueis a novel about sex, and then it’s not. If you’re looking for steamy sex scenes, you’ll find them here, but you’ll also find much more in the struggles of Andie Branson, a 38-year-old artist who is suddenly caught up in a puzzling chaos of inspiration and desire. Frustrated that her career is floundering (her most recent job includes the lowly work of napkin design), Andie’s interest in creating art is waning, so she’s surprised when an unexpected surge of pleasure grows into an urgent passion to paint. And so the journey begins.
2/4/14 WHAT DICKENS KNEW: THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER
Near the beginning of Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip, there is a delightful moment in which Mr. Watts tells his students that they will soon be meeting Mr. Charles Dickens of London, England. The students rarely see a white man in their isolated village in Papua New Guinea so they come back the next day with great expectations. Initially disappointed to learn the author has been dead for over a century, they quickly become enthralled as Mr. Watts starts reading Dickens’s last novel aloud.
My novel Permanent Makeup came out last month, as many of my friends and colleagues quickly discovered on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Their discovery, as much as I hate to admit it, may be even more novel than the novel.