Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bring Attention to Neglected Books

Most books that win awards enjoy financial success as a result of the critical success of the prestigious awards they received. But for every needle in a haystack, there are also vast numbers of worthwhile books that remain “hay.” Can you think of a book that you have read, whether published recently or long ago, that deserves more critical or popular attention than it has received?

Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell is one of the often neglected books I think should be more prominent in the list of great books to read. Mrs. Bridge is novel set in the years after World War II. It testifies to the sapping ennui of an unexamined suburban life. India Bridge, the title character, has three children and a meticulous workaholic husband. She defends her dainty, untouched guest towels from son Douglas, who has the gall to dry his hands on one, and earnestly attempts to control her daughters with pronouncements such as "Now see here, young lady ... in the morning one doesn't wear earrings that dangle." Though her life is increasingly filled with leisure and plenty, she can't shuffle off vague feelings of dissatisfaction, confusion, and futility. Mr. Connell deftly crafts Mrs. Bridge’s world so much so one can feel the soul of an intelligent woman while she's slowly suffocated by suburban life.
Since the book was first released in 1959, Mr. Connell did not have the advantages authors today have with social media. My first and most obvious choice for garnering more attention for the book would be to create an online presence by setting up a blog and social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. Aside from those moves, I would suggest the following strategies to make Mrs. Bridge more widely read:
  • Link your book with current topics. The final episodes of the series Mad Men premier in April 2015. It would be a smart move to create blog posts linking the very popular series with the novel Mrs. Bridge. The protagonist — India Bridge — makes Mad Men's Betty Draper look liberated.
  • Connect with other authors. In 2009 author James Patterson discussed the influence the novel Mrs. Bridge had on his writing style. He did an interview with National Public Radio and spoke about how much he loved this narrative. It would make sense to connect with James Patterson perhaps inviting him to do a guest blog post on the book.
  • Tempt your readers with more. Insert sample chapters from the next book in a series at the end of your current book to pull your readers in. Since Evan S. Connell wrote a companion book, Mr. Bridge to Mrs. Bridge, it might prove useful to include a teaser chapter to the next book.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coziness for a Cold Day

My course in Contemporary Publishing has us choose a book to read and do research on for the entire course. We must choose an award winning novel, so I selected The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I spent some time this morning researching reviews on the narrative and stumbled across this picture:

Although I am not certain what he has to do with Donna Tartt's novel (the Internet works in mysterious ways), I am certain this picture of a handsome man reading in the snowy woods will warm you up on this cold February day. Bonus - he's bearded!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hot Dudes Reading

Bookworms nationwide swoon as an Instagram account called “Hot Dudes Reading” , launched earlier this month, celebrates men reading literature, textbooks and other print media on trains that run through neighborhoods known for their literary residents, like lower Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Each photo caption either gushes about every guy or imagines what could be going through his head.

For example:
 Dapper Dude Alert! Damn. Whatever prose he's reading cannot match the beauty of that full beard. He's like the hot English professor of my dreams, only with way better hair.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

I Don't Want You to Leave, Will You Hold My Hand?

#MusicMonday after the Grammy's choice for me was a difficult one, but I am going with Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" because I love this rendition with Mary J. Blige. They sound beautiful together. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Who First Made You Fall in Love With Literature?

The Today show on NBC has been featuring teaser clips of the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey this week. One of the clips that caught my eye is the fateful first meeting between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steel. 

 Ana, played by Dakota Johnson, opens the scene by telling Christian (Jamie Dornan),"Earlier you said that there are some people who know you well. Why do I get the feeling that that is not true?"
After a tense pause (and a dramatic locking of the eyes between the two, of course), the moment is interrupted by Christian's secretary announcing his next appointment.

"Cancel it, please. We're not finished here," Christian says, before turning the tables on Ana, and asking, "I would like to know more about you… you said you're an English major. Tell me, was it Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, or Thomas Hardy who first made you fall in love with literature?"
After Ana admits she's a Hardy fan (Christian had pegged her as an Austen girl), he offers her an internship… and the rest is BDSM history. You can watch the clip here: 

If Mr. Christian Grey were to pose that same question to me I wouldn't have chosen any of those authors. While I love Austen, Bronte, and Hardy,  I fell in love with the written word at a much younger age. In the third grade I picked up my first book by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods and found myself transported to the world of Ms. Wilder's childhood. I loved and still love the imagery found in those pages like this: 

Aunt Docia's dress was a sprigged print, dark blue, with sprigs of red flowers and green leaves thick upon it. The basque was buttoned down the front with black buttons which looked so exactly like juicy big blackberries that Laura wanted to taste them. Aunt Ruby's dress was wine-colored calico, covered all over with a feathery pattern in a lighter wine color. It buttoned with gold-colored buttons, and every button had a little castle and a tree carved in it.

Little House In The Big Woods: "I Play With A Pig Bladder Like It's A Balloon"

Aunt Docia's pretty white collar was fastened in front with a large round cameo pin, which had a lady's head on it. But Aunt Ruby pinned her collar with a red rose made of sealing wax. She had made it herself, on the head of a darning needle which had a broken eyes, so it couldn't be used as a needle anymore.

Today marks the 148th anniversary of the birth of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than to pull the copy of Little House in the Big Woods from the shelf in my living room and curl up with a cup of tea and a warm fire reliving the start of my love affair with literature.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Heart Without Love Is a Heart Without a Voice

I spent a semester not too long ago analyzing Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. The imagery he provides throughout his narrative is haunting. This one stays with me:

“At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.”

I have been looking forward to seeing the newest big screen adaption of this timeless story.

The trailer for the upcoming film “Madame Bovary” has been released! The adaptation of 1856 novel of the same name by Gustave Flaubert is set to open later this year. Mia Wasikowska plays the titular character Emma Bovary, who becomes bored with her life and marriage after seeing what high society has to offer. After publishing the novel, Flaubert was put on trial for the novels obscenity. Luckily, he was acquitted and the novel became a bestseller. What do you think of this film adaptation? Will you see it? 
The movie also stars Ezra Miller (Leon Dupuis) and Paul Giamatti (Monsieur Homais).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Music Monday: John The Revelator

Now that Christmas is behind us, and I think I might have finally stowed all the decorations away until next year, its time for some music to get me in the mood to write a bad boy.

When I think of bad boys, naturally Sons of Anarchy comes to mind and all the Men of Mayhem. So here's a tune featured in the show and by the Forest Rangers for your Monday Music Mayhem. Enjoy!