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EdgarAPoe

John Pendleton Kennedy: Edgar Allan Poe’s literary guardian angel

John Pendleton Kennedy is a man who lived in the 1830s in Baltimore, and chances are, you have never heard of him. That’s okay, but without Kennedy, who acted as a lifeline — a literary guardian angel, if you will — you might never have heard of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe lived a scant 40 […]

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WilkieCollins

The Guardian’s August reading group: ‘the very finest detective story ever written’ 

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins — tagged by no less than Dorothy L. Sayers as the “very finest detective story ever written” — is the August selection for The Guardian’s reading group. The Moonstone is the first of the great English detective novels. The Guardian’s Sam Jordison, moderator of the reading group, says: It’s 150 years […]

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WilliamJuliaWallace

Who killed Julia Wallace? The classic locked-door mystery

When Wiliam Herbert Wallace returned to his Liverpool home from work one January night in 1931, he found his wife Julia dead on the floor of the parlor, her head caved in by a heavy object and her blood spread across the room. Deanna Cioppa, a writer and editor and fan of true-crime stories, has all […]

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Amazon a substitute for public libraries? Not on your life

Perhaps you saw this article (which has been taken down): An economics professor wrote on Forbes this past weekend that public libraries should be replaced by Amazon. The sheer idiocy of the idea is obvious, but it gave Amanda Oliver, a librarian, an opportunity to outline succinctly some of the services that Amazon never could, or […]

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VinceVawter-1

Route 66, Buried Truths, Copyboy; the saga of two failures continues, newsletter, July 27, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,251) on July 27, 2018   The summer is fully upon us here in East Tennessee — heat, humidity, and tomatoes. We always plant far more tomato plants than we need, and we are always surprised, with a bit of mock-horror thrown in, at how […]

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Copyboy, Vince Vawter’s new novel, set to launch August 1

My good friend Vince Vawter is about to launch a new novel, Copyboy. Launch date is August 1, 2018. Vince is the author of the much-acclaimed Paperboy, a 2014 Newberry Honor winner. Paperboy is about a kid, Victor, growing up in Memphis in the 1950s. Victor must deal with a disability and confront the world […]

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Writing a book? Forget the keyboard; find the audio recorder

Let’s see: It’s hardback > paperback, >ebook > audiobook. That’s the natural sequence of things, right? Maybe, maybe not. A growing number of authors are rejecting this sequence and going straight to the . . . audiobook. That’s what this recent article in the New York Times says. It uses non-fiction author Michael Lewis as an example. […]

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Good journalism saves lives

Good journalism saves lives. In this Age of Hyperbole, that’s no exaggeration. A couple of weeks ago in the newsletter, I mentioned John Carreyrou, investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and the book he has written title Bad Blood. The book tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes. the wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her […]

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An offer you can’t refuse: The Guardian’s top 10 books about gangsters

If you’re like me, you’re a bit of a sucker for “top 10” or “10 best” lists — especially when it comes to books about topics that interest me. So here’s a good one. Crime novelist Ron Reynolds has written an intelligent and entertaining piece for The Guardian on his top 10 books about gangsters. […]

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JohnCarreyrou

American Fire and Bad Blood: two excellent pieces of journalism

Good journalism is hard to do — I have said this many times — and when I find some, I tend to pay some attention. A couple of examples of excellent long-form journalism that I have come across lately are American Fire by Monica Hesse and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. American Fire: Love, Arson […]

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ThomasDixon

Thomas Dixon: a writer on the wrong side of history

Sometimes a successful writer, both in his life and in his writing, gets it all wrong. Such was the case with Thomas Dixon. Dixon was born in 1864 in North Carolina and grew up during the Reconstruction era as an unreconstructed Southerner. He attended Wake Forest and later Johns Hopkins, where he befriended a young […]

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CharlotteBronte

Rebecca West, Churchill, an artistic challenge, and harvesting honey: newsletter, June 22, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,263) on June 8, 2018 Our lives these days seem to go in lots of different directions at once. Some folks are bothered by that, saying it doesn’t allow them to focus and concentrate. In my life, however, I find it interesting and exciting. Last […]

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MrChurchill

Churchill: the man who loved to write

We know him as a great statesman, the man who led the fight against Nazi Germany, the one who provided the lion of Great Britain its roar (as he once put it). He gave voice to the grit and determination of the British Empire when it went through its darkest hour. But Winston Churchill, being […]

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JRRTolkien

Tolkien exhibit looks into a vast imagination

In 1930 J.R.R. Tolkien, a veteran of the trenches in World War I and by then a professor at Oxford University, was marking student papers when he noticed that one of the exam books had a blank page at the end. On that page he wrote: “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” […]

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David Douglas Duncan, the photographer every photojournalist aspired to be

If you were a news photographer in the 20th century, you probably wanted to be like David Douglas Duncan — courageous, fearless, adventurous, and constantly seeing what others don’t see. Duncan died this past week at the age of 102. His legacy of photography — particularly combat photography — is unmatched. Here’s part of what […]

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WilsonasSherlock-2

The president and the detective novel – a continuing love story

The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Coming to your physical and digital bookstore in June. Watch for it. Pre-order from Amazon if you like. This won’t be the first time that a president has ventured into the mystery/detective/thriller genre, as Clay Fehrman points out in an interesting and enlightening article in […]

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Dostoyevsky and the current ‘true-crime’ craze 

Interest in true-crime and the justice system is not a new thing. It dates back to Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was a victim of the judiciary system of his time. That’s the view of Jennifer Wilson, who has an interesting article in the New York Times: Dostoyevsky was obsessed with the judiciary. He spent […]

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LouisaMayAlcott

Louisa May Alcott, journalist

Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic of American literature Little Women, was for a brief time in her life Louisa May Alcott, journalist. Despite the picture presented in her famous novel, Alcott’s childhood and formative years were anything but idyllic. Her family was always on the edge of poverty, and her father, Bronson Alcott, […]

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Farewell, Philip Roth; Mencken on the language; how we got Sherlock, and more: newsletter, May 25, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,081) on May 25, 2018   Thanks to all who wrote or commented on Facebook about the dulcimer that I made and showed off in last week’s newsletter. I am going to start on another one before long. Sadly, for the second week in a […]

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Do people really write this stuff?

My current reading includes a biography of the Apostle Paul by N.T. Wright, a retired Anglican bishop, a biblical historian, and one of the most prolific scholars of the Bible today. I was reading through some of the Amazon reviews of the book, which generally gets high praise from those who have bought it, and […]

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