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Book News Roundup: Bruce Springsteen's book tour is coming to Seattle

  • Bruce Springsteen is doing a reading tour for his new memoir, and he'll be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company on October 1st. Expect a madhouse. Tickets are here.

  • Wordstock, Portland's annual literary festival, has announced their 2016 lineup, which will take place on November 5th. Highlights include Seattle authors like Maria Semple, Lindy West, and Sherman Alexie, along with national authors like Colson Whitehead, Yaa Gyasi, and Nicholson Baker.

  • I interviewed director Jeff Feuerzeig onstage at SIFF this summer about his new documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story. One of the questions I asked had to do with the many phone calls in the documentary: Laura Albert, who pretended to be an author named JT LeRoy for years, recorded all her phone calls, seemingly without the other callers' permission. Many of those recordings are in the film. I didn't record the onstage interview so I don't have Feuerzeig's response handy, but he stood by his film and his treatment of the recordings. This New York Times story indicates that others are unhappy with the very existence of the tapes:

For some people who reviewed transcripts from “Author” provided by The New York Times, the revelation years after the fact that Ms. Albert had been covertly recording phone calls was yet another deception in a trail of mendacity that extended to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when JT LeRoy published “Sarah,” a novel about a 12-year-old truck-stop prostitute, and “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” linked short stories about an abused boy.

Book News Roundup: Featuring Patton Oswalt, Hillary Clinton, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and a whole lot of writing opportunities

Book News Roundup: The latest children's book controversy is a doozy

  • Thinking about moving to Tacoma to save on rent? Wondering if you should wear the polka dots or the stripes? Curious about whether you'll be alone for the rest of your life? If you have a question you'd like to have answered on stage at Bumbershoot, you should tweet it at Hugo House with the hashtag "#Oracle". Your question might be addressed by Garth Stein, Ijeoma Oluo, or Kristiana Kahakauwila; they will be divining responses from their published writings.
Part of what is disturbing about the reception of the book is the unexplored idea of the mother’s brief attempt to seat the slave laborers at the kitchen table as a great act of bravery and resistance, a sufficient antidote to the evil which is not even alluded to in the rest of the story.
  • Seth Grahame Smith, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is being sued by his publisher for breach of contract because he reportedly turned in a remixed public-domain work and they expected an all-new work.

  • This bomb-throwing story at comics news and commentary site The Outhousers is certainly a little aggro, but it makes a good point: it's very weird that the comic book industry entirely relies on pre-orders. No other industry builds their entire business model on the idea that customers pre-order their products, sight unseen. Books can live and die before readers even get to check out the first issue. There must be a better way to run the industry, right?

Book News Roundup: How to talk to a woman reading a book

Book News Roundup: Looking for work?

  • Looking for a book-related job? Seattle-based publishing industry news organization Shelf Awareness is hiring a full-time publishing assistant "responsible for email newsletter ad trafficking with our book industry advertisers; direct work with the newsletter CMS; physically managing new book galley receiving, handling and shipping to book reviewers; managing other administrative tasks as assigned." They also promise unlimited free books.

  • Looking for an arts-related paid internship? The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture is hiring "a junior or senior college intern to assist the Communications and Outreach team in all aspects of managing the Office's events and communications, including preparation and dissemination of print and online marketing materials, pre-event planning and logistics, day-of-event onsite work and planning."

  • It's too late to attend the event discussed in this South Seattle Emerald profile, but you should still read about Seattle poet Natasha Marin's Reparations project.

  • If you like the maps in the front pages of fantasy novels or role playing games, this fantasy map generator will provide hours of entertainment.

  • This tweet from Books to Prisoners just won't get out of my head. Please support Books to Prisoners whenever you can; they do excellent work, and as you can see from this photo, they have to jump through some ridiculous hoops every day.

Book News Roundup: G. Willow Wilson reads from her new novel, Roxane Gay to write a Marvel Comic

  • San Diego Comic Con is happening right now, and most of the stories coming out of the convention could just as easily be press releases. But when you get that many creative people in one space at one time, interesting things will happen. For instance, Seattle author G. Willow Wilson gave the first public reading from her upcoming second novel, The Bird King. Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool writes:
Wilson treated her audience to a reading of the first chapter of The Bird King. The first chapter follows the young concubine Fatima as she slips out of her harem quarters to visit her friend Hassan. Fatima has become obsessed with an outdated map, and longs to see the world outside of the palace walls. Willow takes great care in describing her world, inviting her captive audience into the detailed and vibrant world she has created. The Bird King has no set release date.

Book News Roundup: David Sedaris, Lesley Hazleton, Tatiana Gill, and more

  • I'm already getting excited to introduce David Sedaris when he reads at Benaroya Hall on Wednesday, November 16th. (Here's last year's introduction.) If you're at all interested in attending this reading, you should know that tickets are on sale now, and they usually sell out very early. I attend a lot of readings, and I can tell you that Sedaris is the best reader I've ever seen. He also sticks around and signs everyone's books before and after the reading, taking the time to have a personal conversation with everyone in line. I hope to see you in November.

  • Video of Lesley Hazleton's TED Talk about soul isn't available online yet, but this account of her recent talk certainly has us intrigued — especially the bit where she describes fundamentalists:

“It’s not that they have no soul, it’s that something in them seems to have shriveled. They’ve hunkered down and built a wall inside themselves. afraid of the unknown. They live walled off from the world.”
  • Seattle cartoonist Tatiana Gill just published an autobiographical comic titled "My Body Positive Journey" to her website. It's all about the long journey of coming to peace with yourself. I reviewed a few of Gill's autobiographical comics back in November; if you like this comic, you should consider buying one of her published works.

  • What common thread unites Man Booker Prize winners? You can filter out the winners using this interactive infographic, but the answer, unfortunately, is "they're men writing books about men."

  • I often use the New York Times Book Review as an example of the kind of stodgy, establishment-friendly book reviews that we don't try to write at the Seattle Review of Books. So it's only fair that I share a NYTBR piece that absolutely knocks it out of the park: Jennifer Senior's review of serial plagiarist Jonah Lehrer's A Book About Love is that rarest of reviews: the generous takedown. You get the sense in reading the review that Senior gives Lehrer multiple opportunities to prove himself, but he disappoints her at every opportunity. Senior's review is intelligent, dramatic, funny, and never cruel for cruelty's sake. It's the best review I've read at the Times in years. You should read it.

  • The intense-sounding Computational Story Laboratory has pulled apart and analyzed novels and identified the "Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling." This is intrinsically interesting stuff, although one can picture Hollywood immediately turning it into a shitty formula for screenwriting, the way the work of Joseph Campbell has been twisted into a bad story factory. Anyway, those six arcs are:

A steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by [story-mapper and novelist Kurt] Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.

Book News Roundup: Where will Amazon open their next bookstore?

What does pull her away from her books and laptop are the boats. Like the 205-foot Lady Lola “superyacht” she started following online. Oh, and the Fremont Avenue brawl for which she called 911. And the much-appreciated cellphone call she gets from the bridge operator every time the bridge is raised (a safety check to make sure she’s not on — or under — the bridge, since her tower affords access to its underbelly.)
  • Seattle author Matt Ruff has had a good idea: if you have any questions about his amazing new book Lovecraft Country, he's putting together a Frequently Asked Questions page on his site. Feel free to ask him anything, from book-club-friendly questions to specific plot points. It strikes us that very book should have a FAQ page.

  • The New York Post — ugh, sorry for the link — reports that Amazon is planning to open its first east coast Amazon Books brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan.

  • A reminder: please don't read Jonah Lehrer's new book. The fact that he's publicly failed so many times and yet is still being published by major presses is a serious indictment of the publishing industry.

  • I very much liked Ben Winters' Last Policeman Trilogy, about a detective on an Earth that's facing down an apocalyptic asteroid strike. I haven't read his new book, Underground Airlines, but the below tweet from BuzzFeed's Saeed Jones accurately dismantles the publishing industry's breathless coverage of the book. Don't just operate under the assumption that an idea is new, or else you'll look like an uncultured ass, or a racist ass, or a racist uncultured ass:

Book News Roundup: Diversity and white supremacy in literature

  • Samantha Pak at the Seattle Globalist has written a great report on diversity in Seattle's bookstore scene. It's a must-read.

  • Seattle cartoonist Seth Goodkind discovered that someone plagiarized his artwork in order to win a contest put on by a music festival. When confronted, the artist apologized, but Goodkind wrote a wonderful letter explaining why plagiarism and contests for "exposure" harm artists. It's publicly posted on his Facebook wall and it's worth your time to read the whole thing. A taste:

Try asking several car dealerships if they will let you drive their vehicles around for a couple of weeks, and, if you like one, you might pay them for the mileage, and in the meantime, it’ll be “great exposure.” Considered this way, spec-work is simply a way of taking an artists work for little or nothing. In essence, theft.

Book News Roundup: Octavia Butler predicts Donald Trump, bookstore sales climb almost 10 percent in April

In the book, despite being down in the polls, Jarret is elected and his supporters feel empowered to declare martial law, enslaving people who are not Christian Americans. Jarret starts an ill-fated war with Canada, and is not ultimately re-elected.

Book News Roundup: Neal Stephenson is going to the movies

I was told today that the principal felt the book and my presentation about the writing process behind it would generate many questions that they would not be able to adequately answer and discuss. I called and asked the school to reconsider because I desperately didn’t want to disappoint all those kids. I explained how the topic was handled in a sensitive, age appropriate way.
  • Holger Schott Syme is critiquing a book of Shakespeare scholarship, one tweet at a time. He's now in the midst of a tweetstorm that encompasses more than 500 tweets.

  • A bunch of fantasy authors played a role playing game together. They all played goblins.

  • Some assholes stole a bunch of books intended for prisoners in Austin.

  • Why do people insist on using Netflix terms to describe books? First, everyone was crazy about "The Netflix of Books," which turned out to be a dumb idea because libraries already exist. Now the Wired headline "You May Soon Binge Books Just Like You Binge Netflix" is making my eyelid twitch. We already binge books. It's called reading. And when we read a novel, we're already absorbing the equivalent of a TV season or two. Watching movies is one thing, reading books is another. I understand that it's helpful to use metaphors to explain concepts to people, but these Netflix-to-books false equivalencies are particularly clumsy.

Book News Roundup: Sherman Alexie's six favorite books about identity

  • If you'd like to be an exhibitor in this year's Short Run Comix & Arts festival, you should fill out this form sometime between now and July 15th.

  • Yesterday, Artist Trust announced the recipients of their 2016 Fellowships. Fourteen artists received $7,500. According to Artist Trust, the winners were "selected for their artistic excellence, professional accomplishments, and continuing dedication to their discipline." Here's a list of all the literary winners, who deserve your congratulations:

Bill Carty (Seattle)

Miles Caudesch (Pullman)

Ramon Isao (Seattle)

Robert Lashley (Bellingham)

Michelle Peñaloza (Seattle)

Jekeva Phillips (Seattle)

Nance Van Winckel (Liberty Lake)

  • Sherman Alexie published a list of his six favorite books about identity at The Week. The books, which include Seattle author Sonya Lea, should absolutely be added to your very long list of books to check out the next time you're at the book store. You can also hear a great interview with Alexie about his new kids' book on KUOW's site.

  • As part of their big 40th (!!) anniversary celebration, Fantagraphics announced that they're publishing their own institutional biography, and it sounds incredible.

The highlight of the anniversary celebrations will be the long awaited release of We Told You So: Comics As Art, an irreverent, 600-page oral history of Fantagraphics edited by Tom Spurgeon with Michael Dean, as told through interviews with virtually every key player in the company’s history – as well as a few of its adversaries – and copiously illustrated with hundreds of photos, comics, drawings, and rare ephemera from the Fantagraphics vaults.

Book News Roundup: Nominate an author you love for the 2016 Mayor's Arts Awards

  • The awesome organizers of comics and art show Short Run made a special announcement about their upcoming fall show: Special guests at the show this year will include Vanessa Davis and Trevor Alixopulos. Davis's comic Make Me a Woman was published by Drawn & Quarterly, and Alixopulos is an up-and-comer who will be in the newest volume of the Kramer's Ergot anthology. In case you've missed it, Short Run also revealed the identity of this year's Dash grant recipient, a program that provides funds to an artist to make a new comic in time for the show; this year's Dash winner is a new-to-Seattle cartoonist named Brendan Kiefer. The Short Run Festival will happen at Fisher Pavilion in Seattle Center this year on Saturday, November 6th. Save the date.

  • Now is the time to nominate the Seattle-area "artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members" that you love for the 2016 Mayor's Arts Awards. Get your nominations in by May 31st.

  • It's always award season somewhere: Lots of women won at the Nebula Awards last week, and a pair of Japanese literary prizewinners have been announced, including an 80-year-old literary critic who won a prize for up-and-coming authors. Also, yesterday the O Henry Prizewinning short stories were announced. Congratulations to everyone.

  • Marley Dias, the 11-year-old who invented the #1000BlackGirlBooks movement, guest-starred on this week's episode of the BuzzFeed podcast Another Round, which included a roundtable on beloved children's books. If you are in need of something heartwarming after another dismal week of Trumpery, this is the most life-affirming thing I've heard in a very long time.

  • Jeff Bezos has confirmed that more Amazon Books brick-and-mortar stores are on the way. If you haven't read it, here's my experience at the first Amazon Books store.

  • Yes, and Jonathan Franzen went on Jeopardy! this week and he didn't win and he didn't embarrass himself. It's pretty sketchy that one of the categories on his show was "Birds," given that Franzen is maybe the most famous birder in the United States right now and he was representing a bird-preservation nonprofit on the show. Sure, it was all for charity, but it's still a hell of a coincidence, isn't it?

  • In Austrailia, a civil servant published a book and was arrested for it, but according to Melville House's MobyLives blog, "nobody seems quite sure why" he was arrested. Fascinating.

  • There is no good goddamned reason to publish a young adult version of the Da Vinci Code. If a teenager wants to read the Da Vinci Code, they should just read the Da Vinci Code. It's not a particularly challenging book on any level, from reading comprehension to content. There's nothing wrong with reading a trashy thriller, but the unnecessary repackaging of trashy thrillers to appeal to different demographics is getting tiresome.

Book News Roundup: A conversation about disability and the arts is happening this afternoon

  • Sorry for the late notice, but today at 4:30 pm, Seattle author Nicola Griffith will join Riva Lehrer to discus disabilities in arts and culture. Griffith is a SRoB favorite, and disabilities and the arts are not discussed very often in this town. So if you're free this afternoon, you should head up to the Odegaard Undergraduate Library for this event.

  • This morning, the editors of The Toast announced that the site will be ending on July 1st.

NICOLE: You have a WHOLE OTHER JOB and a book in progress, I think you’ll stay busy. Oh, let me state for the record that we do not do NOT want anyone to start a Save The Toast campaign of any kind, even though it would be so obviously lovely and kind of you! We are done.

MALLORY: No Kickstarters, please. If you start one I promise I will waste every single penny sent my way on expensive single-serving cakes and various perfumed unguents designed to enhance my beauty.

Book News Roundup: A new reading series, a contest for young writers, and the end of Bookslut

  • Save the date: the Seward Park branch of Third Place Books will be having its grand opening party on May 21st and May 22nd. This is super-exciting! It's not every day (or even every year) you get to celebrate the grand opening of a new Seattle bookstore. You can (and should) confirm that you'll be there on the Facebook invite for the weekend.

  • Save the date, part 2: on June 2nd, you'll get a sneak preview of a new reading series hosted and curated by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. Contagious Exchanges: Queer Writers in Conversation is self-described as "a monthly series featuring two dynamic writers bridging genre, style, sensibility, and all the markers of identity in queer lives." The official launch will be in October, but the June outing at the Hugo House will be a sort of "pilot episode" for the series, featuring poets Tara Hardy and Anastacia Tolbert.

  • Seattle poet and novelist Karen Finneyfrock just launched something called the "Seattle Youth Novelist Project," in which a Seattle writer aged 13-19 will earn a mentorship from Finneyfrock and a spot in a reading this October. If you know any young writers, you should let them know about this. Deadline for submissions is May 30th.

  • Where to begin with this stupid New York Times story on men's book clubs? Look, I just don't think this kind of thing should be celebrated: "'We do not read so-called chick lit,' he said. 'The main character cannot be a woman.'" There is nothing newsworthy in men who read only books by men. That's still the status fucking quo. A bunch of men who choose to ignore the experiences and perspectives of 50 percent of the population is, unfortunately, absolutely normal. When you run a media outlet, one of the most important decisions you make is to whom you pass the microphone. These men's book clubs did not deserve the microphone because there is nothing interesting about them. The only good thing to come from this story is the Twitter hashtag #ManlyBookClubNames:

  • A lot of writers are getting upset about this (very good) interview with Bookslut founder Jessa Crispin. Many Facebook posts have been written refuting Crispin's claim that everyone in modern American literature is "super-cheerful because they’re trying to sell you something, and I find it really repulsive. There seems to be less and less underground. And what it’s replaced by is this very professional, shiny, happy plastic version of literature." Frankly, it seems weird to get upset over Crispin's opinion. If your view of American literature differs from hers, that's great. Go revel in the book world you see, and share its joys with others! But if your vision of American literature is somehow threatened by Crispin's negative opinion, to the point where you have to write an angry screed about it, maybe she's got a point?

  • Speaking of Bookslut, the final issue of the online book review site features a good interview with Seattle writer Eli Sanders about his book While the City Slept. (We interviewed Sanders about his book a while back.)

  • Every month, the University of Chicago gives away a free e-book. This month's free e-book is a very short collection titled Ebert's Bests, featuring an autobiographical essay by the late, great Roger Ebert about how he came to be a film critic. Go download the book now.

  • One day, publishers will finally figure out a way to bundle an e-book edition with the purchase of a physical book. (It's really not that hard; comics publishers do this all the time.) Until that glorious day, Harvard Book Store is teaming with an app called Shelfie to offer e-books for sale with certain physical books at a low cost. It's not good enough, but it is at least a single step in the right direction.

Book News Roundup: Welcome to Seattle, Simon Hanselmann!

Her poetry shifts the focus back on Darfur. What sets Mahmoud apart, according to Renee, is a “global lens. Slam can be very U.S.-centric.” Mahmoud tries to start conversations. Some of her talking points are anecdotal — she has returned to Sudan a number of times, the longest visit for six months — and some of her stories have been drawn from refugee family members. Still other insights stem from her academic work: She’s double majoring in anthropology and molecular biology and is currently studying the trauma experienced by Darfuri refugee women in the diaspora. Her hope is to combine raising awareness through performance with a concrete plan to rebuild infrastructure in Darfur.

Book News Roundup: Squids, Young Animal, and the Anti-Trillin Poetry Squad

  • Here's a fun writing contest, from Sierra Nelson's Facebook page:
CEPHALOPOD WRITING CONTEST! (Deadline April 17th): In conjunction with a special cephalopod-inspired photography exhibition by Jen Strongin up now in the Hugo House gallery through the end of April, the Cephalopod Appreciation Society is having its first-ever writing contest. Write a piece inspired by one or more of the images on display in the gallery for a chance to present your writing at this year’s Cephalopod Appreciation Society meeting on April 29th at Hugo House. (Plus prizes!) Contest Guidelines: Open to poetry, short prose, comics, and hybrid forms. Submit 1-3 pieces (no more than 8 pages max) to as one Word or PDF file. Be sure to include your name, contact info, and title of your piece(s) in the email, but do not include your name on the submission itself. Winners selected from a Youth Category (up to 18 years old, indicate “YOUTH” with your submission email) and General Submission Category. -- Please share widely!
  • This wonderful appreciation of the library card as an object unfortunately has a click-baity headline — "Is the Library Card Dying?" — but it links to some beautiful online library card collections, and so it's worth your time.

  • Last night at Emerald City Comicon, DC Comics announced that My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way will be overseeing a mature-readers imprint called Young Animal for the company. Titles include Doom Patrol, Shade the Changing Girl, and — this is maybe the best title in the history of comicsCave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye.

  • Here's a headline that says it all: "Adult colouring book craze prompts global pencil shortage."

  • Calvin Trillin's obnoxious, poorly written, and racially insensitive poem in the New Yorker was a bad situation and a black eye for the New Yorker's much-vaunted editing process, but it has given rise to some very good response poetry. Fatimah Asghar dedicates her poem "To the White Men Who Fear Everything," to "you who reminded me no sidewalk or park/would ever be mine." Craig Santos Perez wonders, "Have they run out of franchises yet?/If they haven’t, our health has reason to fret." Franny Choi asks "Have They Run Out of White Poets Yet?" ("But then Ezra looked toward the East/to spice up his post-War can of meat...") Talya Zax responds, "Oh Trillin, our food-focused, sharply-phrased poet,/You’ve bungled, you’ve mis-hit, we’re sure that you know it." And Eddie Huang tweeted his response poem:

Book News Roundup: How do you say "longlist" in Urdu?

  • Shelf Awareness reports that local book distributor Partners/West is closing. The Renton office will stop delivering books on April 1st. This is a huge bummer; it means that local bookstores in need of rush titles will have to rely on Ingram, the largest book distributor in the country. Though most bookstores try to order direct from publishers whenever possible because the discounts are better, distributors are the best way for bookstores to get books in a hurry. Booksellers turn to distributors when a book breaks big on NPR, for instance, or when a customer needs a special order. As an indie bookstore customer this news probably won't affect you directly, but it does mean that local bookstores have one less option for getting books, which could create larger problems down the line. As comic book stores have learned, having one major distributor for your product can be problematic.

  • Looking for a good new translated book to read? The Best Translated Book Award 2016 longlist for fiction has been announced. At 25 books long, it's a bit excessive, but there's something to be said for having a nice long shopping list at the ready for the next time you go book shopping.

  • Eight thousand library jobs in the United Kingdom have disappeared over the last six years, reports the BBC. This is terrible news for British library-goers, but speaking selfishly, it's a relief to read that this isn't America for once.

  • The Comics Journal published a long interview with Underworld artist Kaz, by Seattle cartoonist Peter Bagge. My favorite bit?

Yes, back in the day we were just called weird. Nerds were into science and such. I never thought of myself as a nerd. Geek makes more sense. My friend Jim Ryan called us Lowlife Scum.

Book News Roundup: The NRA's fairy tales are just as awful as you'd expect

Even if our poorest schools had broadband and ample devices, believing that free e-books are the key to ending our literacy crisis is dangerously misguided. Technology is repeatedly touted as a cure for the United States’ educational woes, promising everything from banishing boredom to widespread reform. Interactive whiteboards were the hope a few years ago, and Google Earth was supposed to make our children masters of geography. There is more technology in our classrooms and homes than ever, but too often these expensive technologies yield few gains in learning or gains not commensurate with cost.

Book News Roundup: Bookslut publisher comes to town

We've already told you that Jessa Crispin is shutting down her book review and news site, Bookslut, after 14 years. This is very sad. The good news is that Crispin reads in Seattle tomorrow night from her new book, The Creative Tarot. She'll be reading at University Book Store at 7 pm, and it's free. And meanwhile, over at the Rumpus, you should read this interview with Crispin that, while recorded before the announcement of Bookslut's closure, certainly seems to offer some foreshadowing to the fact that Crispin is ready to move on:

Rumpus: Do you dislike American literature?

Crispin: Oh my god, so much, right now? Are you fucking kidding me? I haven’t read a novel that’s come out of America that I thought had any value whatsoever since Kathryn Davis’s Duplex, which was two years ago, and there had been a drought before that as well. I think American literature is in a tedious place, horrible place. I can’t even engage with it.

  • Seattle poetry statisticians the Vis-a-Vis Society have published some of their most recent work on their website. Recent projects include a race between ending phrases and a spaghetti western.

  • Zainab Akhtar, founder of the popular comics criticism blog Comics & Cola, announced that she's shutting down the blog because the culture has become too "toxic."