A Legend Has Passed: Terry Pratchett (and other bookish news)

Terry Pratchett (April 1948 - March 2015)
Terry Pratchett (April 1948 – March 2015)

Terry Pratchett is an author I’ve often heard of but never got around to reading. His books are always recommended but for some unknown reason, I’ve never placed them on my TBR list until a few months ago. Though I’m unfamiliar with his work, I was still shocked when I read he had died.

Pratchett, a British author of comic fantasy novels, died on Thursday, March 12. He was 66. Along with his zany stories such as the Discworld series, which is set on a disc-shaped world that is balanced on the backs of four elephants that stand on a giant turtle’s shell, Pratchett is also noted for his satire, which is compassionate rather than biting. In 2008, it was revealed to the public that Pratchett suffered from a rare form of Alzheimer’s. Due to his diagnosis, Pratchett advocated for assisted suicide and began the formal process for it in 2011. His publisher claims that his death was not due to suicide.

May his soul rest in peace.

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Book News: Harper Lee’s new novel to Madame Bovary new trailer

Lots of interesting bookish news was released last week. Here’s a round up:

Harper Lee’s new novel

Early last week it was announced that Harper Lee, author of the classic best seller, To Kill a Mockingbird, will release a sequel, Go Set a Watchman. The new novel is slated to be published on July 14 in both the U.S. and the U.K., but it’s already a best seller on Amazon.

The novel features an adult Scout who returns to Maycomb from New York City to visit her father, Atticus. There, she is “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.” Apparently the novel was thought lost until it was discovered by Tonja Carter, Lee’s lawyer and friend, in 2014.

According to Lee, she completed the novel in the mid-1950s but set it aside since her editor was more interested in the flashbacks of Scout’s childhood. Her editor convinced her to write a novel from the point of view of young Scout, which became To Kill a Mockingbird.

Despite the suspicions surrounding this announcement (here’s another on Jezebel), I do look forward to reading it. The suspicions, though, make me think back to the controversy surrounding the release of Harper Lee’s biography last year.

Continue reading “Book News: Harper Lee’s new novel to Madame Bovary new trailer”

Book News: Film Adaptation of Stephen King’s “It”

I am excited to learn that Stephen King’s horror novel It will be adapted for film. The plan is to split the book into two movies. Cary Fukunaga, an American film director known for the True Detective series, will direct the first movie. The producer for the film is Dan Lin.

It is a story of a group of kids who are terrorized by a wise-cracking, demon-possessed clown. I am glad that someone decided to take on this project. The 1990 miniseries based on It was scary when I was a kid but watching it now, I find it laughable. I know the planned project will be much better but I hope they do it justice. I have yet to read the novel but I’ll get to it before this film is ready for theaters.

Vulture has more on the announcement.

Jamaica Kincaid wins American Book Award

I am happy for Jamaica Kincaid. I must admit, I first read her book Lucy in high school only because her first name is Jamaica and I thought that was where she’s from. Silly me. Kincaid is actually Antiguan. It took a while to work up and interest in Lucy but it was an okay read. I think this honor is well deserved. Congrats, Jamaica Kincaid!

Repeating Islands

Jamaica Kincaid

Author Jamaica Kincaid and film critic Armond White are among the winners of the 35th annual American Book Awards, which celebrate multiculturalism and free expression, the Associated Press reports.

The Before Columbus Foundation announced Tuesday that Kincaid was cited for the novel “See Now Then.” White received an “Anti-Censorship Award” because of his being “unfairly removed” from the New York Film Critics Circle. In January, he was expelled after allegedly heckling “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen at the group’s annual awards banquet. White, known for his contrarian views, has called the allegations a “barrage of lies.”

Other winners include Andrew Bacevich’s nonfiction “Breach of Trust” and Alex Espinoza’s novel “The Five Acts of Diego Leon.” The awards will be presented Oct. 26 in San Francisco.

The Before Columbus Foundation is a nonprofit founded by author-playwright Ishmael Reed.

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A Legend Has Passed: Maya Angelou

I was surprised when I heard of Maya Angelou‘s passing and a bit shaken as well. Maya Angelou, one of the coolest writers ever died on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Earlier that day, I was reading a passage on Angelou in Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey while commuting to work. After reading, I reflected on what I knew of Angelou’s life and thought to myself, “She sure lived a long and eventful life.” So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived at work and learned that she passed.

I was introduced to Angelou by my mother’s bookshelf. She had a copy of Angelou’s I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings and I attempted to read it when I was younger since the adults spoke of it so much. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I was able to finish it. In high school, I was introduced to Angelou’s poems and she quickly became one of my favorite poets (I don’t have many). I love the rhythm of her poems and I enjoy reading them aloud, listening to my voice ride the poem’s flow.

My favorite poems by her are “Phenomenal Woman” and “Million Man March”. “Phenomenal Woman” is a poem brimming with confidence. Whenever I read it, I unconsciously straighten my back and thrust my way into the world, confident in my femininity. “Million Man March” is a powerful one. It reminds us of our dark history and reading it aloud, I can almost hear the slaves’ dragging feet and the pull of chains. It nudges us, the Black race, to keep pushing forward, no matter what may be thrown at us. It, too, gives me confidence.

I admire Angelou. She will be sorely missed. My fondest memory of her was when she spontaneously broke out into a rap on Arsenio Hall‘s show. I’ve included a clip of it above. Moments such as these, and, more importantly, her activism, are what endear Maya Angelou to many of varied backgrounds.

May her soul now rest in peace.

A Legend Has Passed: Gabriel García Márquez

The prolific author Gabriel García Márquez.
The prolific author Gabriel García Márquez.

Who can write a novel sans dialogue but so engaging it keeps you up at night? Who can weave a story so loopy that it spins you in dizzying circles? Who can create a place so mystic that you never doubt its reality? Who?

Gabriel García Márquez.

Gabriel García Márquez, one of the greatest writers of all time and one of the reigning champs on the top of my bookshelf where all favorite authors reside, has passed. He died Thursday, April 17, in Mexico City. He was 87.

And the book—One Hundred Years of Solitude, the first book I’ve read by García Márquez. I am amazed by García Márquez’s talent and his clarity in his observation of humanity. This novel depicts the progress of civilization. It is one of the greatest novels I have ever read and it has left a deep impression on me. One Hundred Years of Solitude was my introduction to a profound artist and I am saddened to learn that he is gone.

May his soul now rest in peace.

 

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

I have always heard mention of García Márquez and his books are always recommended to me. At first I shied away from them thinking, as I always do, that since he is a literary novelist and most of his books are considered classics, his prose would be cumbersome and his plots a drag. One would think my mind would stop thinking this by now. I was pleasantly surprised, when I finally buckled down to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, that I enjoyed it and could hardly bear to tear my eyes away from the book to do other things. The story would haunt me throughout the day while I worked. I constantly wondered how the story would progress, how would it end, would I get confused by the cast of characters all bearing similar names? It was torture to be away from the book for too long.

I plucked One Hundred Years of Solitude off my bookshelf after reading a passage in Wonderbook (by Jeff VanderMeer) that states One Hundred Years of Solitude is a story written without dialogue. I found that amazing and wanted to experience such a story. I wondered if such a novel would be dreadfully boring. After all, many times dialogue is used to speed the story along or simply to give the reader a break from stacks of paragraphs or to showcase other facets of the characters. Like in Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series where the characters often interject certain aphorisms and similes in their conversations that reveal who they are and where they’re from. For example, Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat, is from Tear and is the daughter of a fisherman so she often uses aphorisms and similes that include boats, nets, and fish.

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A Legend Has Passed: Amiri Baraka

On Thursday, January 9, Amiri Baraka died in Newark, N.J. He was 79. Amiri Baraka was one of the greats in African American literature. He was a writer—poet and dramatist. He was a voice of the Black Arts movement. A voice who spoke out against the injustices done to his people and imbued his works with his anger towards Black suffering and oppression. Like those who choose to speak the truth or speak truthfully about their experiences and observations, he was tagged as controversial. Sometimes he was penalized for his thoughts. But such actions did not deter him from continuing to reveal the truth and present reality.

I was first introduced to Baraka in college when I took an English seminar course that focused on African American literature. We studied a few of his work including the popular play, Dutchman, and poems such as “A Poem for Black Hearts”, “SOS”, and “In Memory of Radio”. My favorite was “Black Art”. I’ll admit, I’m not a great fan of poetry but I appreciate Baraka’s work because his passion is readily apparent. His poems stir you and change you while you read. By its end, your thoughts will be leaping wildly, trying to keep up with the storm of emotions thrown at you. I have included above a video of Baraka reading his poem, “Someone Blew Up America”. It’s one of those poems that expose truths, rile people to action or leave them unsettled, and cause an artist to be labeled controversial.

Amiri Baraka. May his soul now rest in peace.

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A Legend Has Passed: Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe and the cover of his book, Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe and the cover of his book, Things Fall Apart

I was so shocked to hear that Chinua Achebe died that I failed to believe it at first. It’s not until I read an article on the New York Times’ website that I began to believe that it might be true. Chinua Achebe, a renowned Nigerian author, died on Thursday, March 21, in Boston. He was 82-years-old.

Achebe was my introduction to African literature. I can still remember the time when I stumbled upon his book, Things Fall Apart. I was in college (seems like decades ago) and was helping a friend pack his things for storage since he was going home for the summer. He pulled out a box full of books and naturally, I gravitated towards it. I was astounded to find novels in the box since I knew my friend hated reading. I randomly picked up Achebe’s book and read the synopsis on the back. Intrigued, I decided to read it. I was captivated by the story and finished it in a day. I decided to hold onto the book (which my friend did not miss) so that I could return to it again. It now sits on my shelf, gathering dust, and now that my mind has strayed to it, I’m considering to re-read it soon.

It’s sad that Chinua Achebe has passed but may his soul rest in peace.

Stirring words from Chinua Achebe:

“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am—and what I need—is something I have to find out myself.”

“People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.”

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll!!

Shout out to Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I am in awe of his imagination because Wonderland is an incredible place. Though I enjoyed his stories, my favorite work of Lewis Carroll’s is his poem “Jabberwocky,” which is in Through the Looking-Glass. I just love the kookiness in Carroll’s work. Below is the first two stanzas of “Jabberwocky”.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

“Jabberwocky” is the poem of the day on  PoemHunter.com. Read the rest here.

The Cheshire Cat. Isn't he creepily adorable?
The Cheshire Cat. Isn’t he creepily adorable?

Fabricated Quotes in Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine”

Well this sucks.

I just read an article on The New York Times’ website that states Jonah Lehrer fabricated quotes in his book Imagine. Yes, this is old news (the article was posted on July 30th) but I am just going through my emails. I do not find this surprising, though, since Lehrer was previously accused of recycling material from his blog posts into his New Yorker articles. That, however, is minor compared this: fabricating quotes. What is going on with this dude?

Now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is recalling all print copies of Imagine. Smh. This news is disappointing. I enjoyed reading Imagine and trusted what was stated. Now I wonder how much of the book’s content was fabricated. Was it just the Bob Dylan quotes?

The article also states that Lehrer has resigned from The New Yorker. How unfortunate. I was looking forward to reading his articles there. Obviously, the book’s topic had too much influence on him. Maybe he should of used less imagination when writing Imagine.