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Novelist Russell Banks has died at 82

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From The New York Times: Russell Banks, Novelist Steeped in the Working Class, Dies at 82.

Russell Banks, whose vivid portrayals of working-class Americans grappling with issues of poverty, race and class placed him among the first ranks of contemporary novelists, died on Sunday at his home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He was 82.

His literary agent, Ellen Levine, said the cause was cancer.

The prolific author of 21 works of fiction and nonfiction, Mr. Banks brought his own blue-collar background to bear in his writing, delving into the psychological pressure of life in economically depressed towns in the Northeast, their stark reality often shadowed by the majestic Adirondacks of northern New York State.

“In Banks’s world, geography is a kind of grim destiny,” Jennifer Schuessler wrote in The New York Review of Books in 2008.

Two of his novels, “Continental Drift” (1985) and “Cloudsplitter” (1998), were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Read full post on The New York Times

The rise of celebrity book clubs

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From The Guardian: Legally bookish… Reese Witherspoon and the boom in celebrity book clubs.

Every novel I’ve ever read as part of a book club has involved a sprint to the finish. My latest group is no different, except for the possibility – at least as I understand it – of being publicly shamed by Reese Witherspoon. Which is why I am speed-reading the new novel by Celeste Ng, an hour before I am due to discuss it with my fellow members of Reese’s Book Club.

Already I am mentally drafting my apology to our host. “Sorry, Reese. It’s just been a really busy month” – not least because of all the celebrity book clubs. Today, more than 25 years since Oprah Winfrey launched hers, everyone is leading their own community of readers, from the Queen Consort to rapper Noname, from former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck to singer Amerie, from ex-vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar to late-night host Jimmy Fallon.

This does not mean hosting monthly sessions at their mansions, putting on a spread and leading a debate about themes. From the talkshow-discussion-and-book-jacket-sticker-endorsement format pioneered by Winfrey (and, in the UK, Richard and Judy), today’s celebrity book clubs are conducted via social media.

Read full post on The Guardian

From creating new notebooks to creating notes in your favorite book, there’s a lot to learn about Amazon’s new Kindle Scribe.

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From ZDnet: Kindle Scribe tips: 9 ways to get the most out of Amazon’s digital notebook.

Amazon’s newest Kindle is unlike any Kindle before it. First of all, its 10.2-inch e-ink display is giant. Second, it now comes with a pen that you can use on the Scribe’s display to take notes, draw or highlight text.

Amazon currently sells two different versions of the Scribe, one that comes with the basic pen, and another that comes with a premium pen. There are also varying levels of storage, going from 16GB to 32GB to 64GB. The basic pen doesn’t have any extra features — put the tip to the screen and write. However, the premium pen has a shortcut button for quick actions like triggering the pen’s highlighter mode along with a dedicated eraser on the opposite end of the pen.

The Scribe offers a completely new way of using a Kindle, and I’m here to show you how to get the most out of the Kindle’s new note-taking features. Below you’ll find nine tips and tricks to help do just that.

In order to take notes, create a calendar, planner or task list, you’ll need to create a notebook. You can have as many notebooks as you want, as long as your device has the storage for them.

To create a new notebook, wake up your Kindle and then tap on the Notebook icon that has a plus sign to the right of the search bar.

Read full post on ZDNet

A look at the growing trend of mindfulness books for children

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From The Guardian: Mindfulness books for children are a runaway publishing trend.

Mindfulness books for children as young as two are the latest runaway publishing trend, the industry has said, with children themselves calling for more titles to help them make sense of their emotions.

Publishers including Magic Cat Publishing are reporting that sales of books for children under 10 years old that address emotions and mental health issues are up almost 40% year on year since 2021.

These titles now account for a quarter of Magic Cat’s publishing list, said Kate Manning, its marketing and publicity director. The success has encouraged the publisher to expand the genre: it will shortly announce a new list of titles for children over 10 years old.

“It’s very much a conscious decision in response to various recent reports on how Covid, climate change and now the cost of living have affected children directly and one that has developed over time to become the core of our publishing,” she said.

Read full post on The Guardian

TS Eliot’s hidden love letters reveal intense, heartbreaking affair

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From The Atlantic: Before she died, Emily Hale donated love letters she had received from the author while his wife was ill. Now public, the writings reveal his quiet duplicity.

“The question is not does love exist / But when she leaves, where she goes.” What’s that—something from Four Quartets? Actually it’s “Secrets,” by Van Halen. But how elegantly it expresses the problem. What happens to the love gone cold? All that madness, transport, froth, projection, communion—where does it go? With the source extinguished, do its beams still travel, like light from a snuffed-out star? Or does it dissipate entirely into unreality?

For a long time, T. S. Eliot was in love—chastely, unconsummatedly—with a woman who was not his wife, a woman named Emily Hale. Then, overnight as it seemed, he wasn’t. For 17 years, she in America and he in England, they had been maintaining an intense, and intensely sublimated, attachment. They wrote hundreds of letters. They saw each other infrequently, and behaved, when they did, with appalling propriety. And then, in 1947, it was over: “A mutual affection that he and I have had for each other,” she wrote to a friend, with typical restraint, after a visit from Eliot, “has come to a strange impasse.”

With hindsight (and the glibness of posterity) perhaps not so strange. Eliot’s first wife, the erratic Vivienne, had just died in a mental hospital at the age of 58. Their marriage had made him so miserable that he wrote The Waste Land, and he hadn’t seen her since 1935, but they never divorced—his brand of ascetic Anglicanism would not permit it. And with the shock of Vivienne’s death, the peculiar constellation of yearnings and prohibitions that had sustained his love for Emily Hale was dissolved. Thanatos took down Eros. Just like that. Ten years later, when Hale learned that Eliot had remarried, she broke down. “She went into the Massachusetts General Hospital,” writes Lyndall Gordon in T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life, “complaining of dizziness, and was investigated for a brain tumour, but the doctors found nothing.”

Read full post on The Atlantic

‘America’s Next Great Author’ Competition Films Pilot

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From Publishers Weekly: Seventy-five emerging authors from across the nation turned out to tape the pilot episode for reality competition show America’s Next Great Author, hosted by Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander.

Seventy-five emerging authors from around the country gathered on October 30 and 31 in Newark, N.J., to tape the pilot for a reality show called America’s Next Great Author. The brainchild of Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry (authors and co-founders of the longstanding pitch contest Pitchapalooza), along with Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander and NaNoWriMo founder and executive director Grant Faulkner, the event included workshops, critiques, and a pitch performance by the prospective authors. Alexander’s aim for the project was to provide opportunities for authors from diverse backgrounds “who aren’t normally given a seat at the table in mainstream publishing” and introduce readers to unique voices.

The producers began putting out calls for pitches in September, requesting that authors submit a 75-second video pitching their stories (novels, both YA and adult, and memoirs were eligible), along with 10 pages of the manuscript, a book blurb, and an author bio. Eckstut and Sterry made “a personal promise” to review every submission; they were impressed with the hundreds of submissions, which came from 49 states and Washington, D.C. Eckstut said they included “something for every section of the bookstore,” including YA rom-coms, thrillers, sci-fi, and a surprising number of “cli-fi” (climate fiction) stories. Sterry provided feedback for all of the semi-finalists and offered a personal consultation to help authors improve their pitches.

Read full post on Publishers Weekly

Harlequin Renames HQN Romance Imprint as Canary Street Press

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From Shelf Awareness: HQN Books Relaunches as Canary Street Press

HarperCollins’s Harlequin Trade Publishing is relaunching and renaming its main romance imprint, HQN Books, as Canary Street Press. The change reflects in part the company’s goal of publishing “a greater variety of modern, commercial love stories.”

While remaining a romance imprint, Canary Street Press will publish more “inclusive stories that represent everyone’s happy ever after.” Canary Street Press will appear in trade paperback, hardcover and mass market formats.

Canary Street Press editorial director Susan Swinwood said, “The Canary Street Press name was inspired by the Canary District, an historic area in downtown Toronto that has undergone a renewal, and is an example of a modern, revitalized community with a rich heritage. Canary Street Press is expanding our editorial direction to celebrate romance for every reader looking to see themselves in a HEA.”

Harlequin Trade Publishing executive v-p and publisher Loriana Sacilotto commented: “Canary Street Press will be a destination imprint for romance of all kinds as we add new and fresh voices to our existing author list and continue our focus to bring new readers to the genre.”

Read full post on shelf-awareness.com