View Previous Roundup and Next Roundup
I’m changing the format and frequency of Robert’s Roundup. Basically I’ll post roundups every 2-3 weeks, make posts longer and most of the time combine Amazon deals and Smashwords deals in the same post. I’m posting this Friday, but will add stuff over the next three days or so. Note: Smashwords’ Seasonal Sale will go live March 3 — so I’ll do a big SW roundup on the day or two after.
Blue Moon Deals
Robert Bolano’s 2666. (1.99 on Amazon AND Google Play Books). I’m pretty amazed that this modern classic is at this price.
Under the Radar
Various novels by Dennis Ruane. Many have been discounted to free. The common thread through these 4 novels seems to be modern men who retreat from professional obligations to retreat into nature. All sound fascinating!
Christopher Walker is a UK author teaching English in Poland. He has published several promising literary works which are a bargain on Amazon. Sara the Writer (stories), The Amnesiac and other Stories, Hit the Bottom and Escape (Novel set in Ghana) and Stars too can die of Sadness. I’ve also greatly enjoyed the First 49, a collection of travel essays about the countries he has visited. That last work is free while the others are 99 cents, making it an incredible bargain.
Trouble Found Me: 11 Tales of Life. by Christopher Sewell.
Becoming Carlotta: Biographical Novel by Brenda Murphy.
Dick Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife by E.E. King.
Chris Angelis: Dreamflakes and Soulcrumbs.
These Islands Here: Short Stories of the South Pacific by Brownyn Elsmore. Elsmore is a New Zealand author who has written in many genres: plays, short fiction, nonfiction (mainly about Maori culture). (Here’s her book page and her blog. Amazingly, on the same site she runs Flaxflower, a group book review blog about Kiwi authors.
Tiny Shoes Dancer (99 cents) by Audrey Kalman (website) is a fine short story collection by a fine California author. A few months ago at another sale I bought a novel about a mother being held at gunpoint by her son, What Remains Unsaid. Her website describes her fiction as “fiction with a dark edge” and that sounds about right.
Fat Lady’s Low Sad Song by Brian Kaufman (99 cents). I took a chance on this baseball novel written by a former comedian/restaurateur/rodeo rider. It’s about two down-on-their luck baseball players (one female, one male). Lots of good reviews, and a great first chapter. 2018 Kirkus Best book
Blink and it’s gone sales
Bomb: The Author Interviews 1.99 Thirty years of interviews that offer “a window into the minds and the writing processes of some of the world’s best practitioners of poetry and prose”
Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction by Mary Ellen Hannibal. Bargain price of 1.20.
Sexual Intelligence by Marty Klein. 1.99. This is available on Unlimited This is a book of psychology. Klein has written other non-discounted books about porn, conservatism, sexual politics…
Short History of Decay by E.M. Cioran. I had never heard of this Romanian philosopher, but this is his famous work, Susan Sontag loves him and his ebooks are being discounted.
Deals on stuff published by Amazon.com
Generally these remain 99 cents or 1.99 until the end of the month.
- Make Art Making Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens. Very thoughtful discussion about art, business and life. The first chapter referenced another book, Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde which is very famous and widely acclaimed. I found a copy about a year ago at a library sale, and this ebook inspired me to read Gift first. (Could she be his daughter?) Stevens studied semiotics at Brown and her author bio page lists lots of literary credits (including a longish piece, Weekend at Kermie’s — which I assume is in the ebook).
- College Unbound: Future of Higher Education and what it means for Students by Jeffrey Selingo. Thoughtpiece about how the university is changing, and what students need to do about it.
- Some Fine Day by Kat Ross. Exciting futuristic tale about what happens when a member of an underground society gets to the flooded surface. Definitely YA fiction, but I’m ready to read the whole thing!
- Wall Between by Jesper Bugge Kold (from Danish). Mystery story about a man who delves into the death of his E. German grandfather. Kold has another title Winter Men (2.99) which is about how two brothers act during WW2 and how they deal with the guilt after.
- Midair by Kodi Scheer. This YA book about teenage girls going to Paris doesn’t sound ambitious, but I’ve read several of Scheer’s stories in her previous collection, Incendiary Girls (which I thought were terrific). So this is a safe bet. Here’s an interview about MidAir and another interview with Scheer about that first collection.
- Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane. I usually am immune to YA novels with amnesia and plane crashes as plot elements, but the first two chapters aroused my interested and was fun too. Still haven’t decided whether to buy her other 99 cent YA novel Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. (compassionate look at summer camp with disturbed teens). A lot of older readers say good things about it!
I found two ebooks by Amazon imprints definitely worth checking out. Slightly more expensive, but on Kindle Unlimited (which I’ll be canceling in the next 3 days).
- One Match by J.Y. Chung. 2.99 This started out as an eerie sci fi thing about online dating and then transmogrified into a long exploration of high tech, professional life, getting older, etc. I wish I bought it when it was still 99 cents, but I’ll probably finish it before my KU expires. UPDATE: Wow, I have a change in heart about this one. It seems like a conventional yuppie romance book. Don’t recommend.
- Everyone Knows You go Home by Natalia Sylvester. 1.99 story by a Latin American author about a dead father who mysteriously appears at a woman’s wedding. Magic realism, funny, I’m going to get to this eventually (I bought another title by Sylvester before). PS, she has a Texas connection?
- Without a Country by Ayse Kulin. 1.99 Kulin writes sprawling Turkish tales that seem like sagas/family histories. One of her ebooks was in the World freebie bundle that Amazon did last summer, but Kulin has several other titles out as well. The first chapter is about a a woman who is about to leave her country out of fear of being arrested.
Creative Commons/Free/Academic/Public Domain titles
Life on a Mediaeval Barony: Picture of a Typical Feudal Community in the 13th Century by William Stearns Davis (1922).
2 free film history titles from Univ of California Luminosa Press. Always free from the Luminos website, but the first title is also free on Amazon Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America by Giorgio Bertellini. Hokum! Early Sound slapstick Short and Depression-Era Mass Culture by Rob King.
Various works by Cornelia Amiri: Back to the One I love, (0.99). I met this prolific multigenre author at a local author event. She has written tons, most priced at 99 cents. This one is time travel romance (?) while she’s written fantasy adventure about selkies (Scottish mythical beast that changes from seal to human form). Her most recent novel is an YA fantasy romance also costing 99 cents.
To Squeeze a Prairie Dog by Scott Semegran. Regular 2.99, discounted today to 99 cents. (won’t last). I have an ad for this book on the sidebar to buy on Smashwords…. I’ve read the first chapter. A strong work…
Where Gossamer Wings Fly Free by J. Ariel Aguayo. Young Texas poet.
Hold Autumn in Your Hand by George Sessions Perry. (Texas classic novel which won National Book Award. Not on ebook!)
Titles from Smashwords & other places
Nick Stokes recently published a FREE maze story called You Choose. (alas, without hyperlinks; it’s adapted from a printed version). Also: An Affair Here’s his website. Apparently Stokes is a playwright who releases a lot of things under creative commons license. His fiction has an experimental/metafiction bent. Here’s an interview: Part 1, Part 2.
Paul Samael is In the future this will not be Necessary. Also, 99 cents on Amazon. “A thought-provoking novel about a technology-obsessed cult and the disillusioned narrator’s obsession with the cult leader’s wife. “Fluent [and] witty”, “Well written and teeming with interesting ideas”… Samael has reviewed lots of titles on his blog — including a number on Smashwords. (go to the bottom of the page). I look forward to reading his reviews and discovering all the titles that Samael already did.
Author/editor Alan Good recently published War on Xmas and Derelict Volume 1( both are Pay what you want). On his malarkybooks website he has published a lot of essays about literary and humor topics. (I enjoyed the publishing manifesto “Fuck Oblivion” and his updated dictionary in great Ambrose Bierce style. He also runs the Derelict website which is a ” magazine of fiction and poetry that has been republished after the original publishers disappeared.” Well worth browsing through repeatedly.
Interesting Reviews Everywhere
Author Christopher Walker (whose fiction titles are listed above) wrote a nice review of a post-WW2 Polish author named Slawomir Mrozek.
To put a novel down before the end, then, is simply to acknowledge that for me its shape, its aesthetic quality, is in the weave of the plot and, with the best novels, in the meshing of the writing style with that weave. Style and plot, overall vision and local detail, fascinate together, in a perfect tangle. Once the structure has been set up and the narrative ball is rolling, the need for an end is just an unfortunate burden, an embarrassment, a deplorable closure of so much possibility. Sometimes I have experienced the fifty pages of suspense that so many writers feel condemned to close with as a stretch of psychological torture, obliging me to think of life as a machine for manufacturing pathos and tragedy, since the only endings we half-way believe in, of course, are the unhappy ones.New York Review of Books, 2012
I have one book by Parks (Adultery and Other Diversions –not an ebook), but Parks has a lot of ebooks available (fiction and nonfiction). He’s done a lot of Italian translations by very important people. I’ll be watching out and reporting on sales. Here’s a very wonderful LARB interview. My library has a few of his fiction titles, and Novel: A Survival Skill is a highly regarded book of literary criticism.
Alan Good reviews A Life on Paper: Stories (6.15 ebook)by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud. “Châteaureynaud’s stories are disorienting, bizarre, mythical. The stories don’t end with epiphanies or a tidy wrapping-up. Some of the endings are abrupt, even unsatisfying; they feel more like a beginning. So what?”
Poems for a Winter Afternoon by Patrick Meighan.
Where Gossamer Wings Fly Free by J. Ariel Aguayo. Young Texas poet.
Miscellaneous (Used Books. Library Titles, Book-related Articles)
Can’t remember if I already posted so, but Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli is a very fine book about logical thinking. Also highly recommended are Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard Nisbet and Skeptics Guide to the Universe by Bob Novella et others. Words cannot express my anger at missing the 1 day 2.99 ebook sale, although I now realize that my library owns 5 hard copies. Dobelli is an easy read. Nisbet is pretty intense, and I expect Skeptics Guide to be almost as intense. UPDATE: I started the Novella book. Accessible book on logical thinking.
One of my fave authors from childhood was Norton Juster (author of Phantom Tollbooth). Here’s some Youtube interviews he gave about books and reading. A few years ago they released a beautiful Annotated Phantom Tollbooth which gives the book the respectful attention it deserves. (I bought it for next to nothing; now it costs $15!).
Random Library Checkouts. Generally whenever I visit a library, I will make it a point to browse through the stacks and pick one random book that struck my fancy. The library has many works from abroad and in translation. Before I had to return it, I was getting into This is Memorial Device by David Keenan, a great novel about the punk music scene in Scotland in the 1980s. Had to return it, but I’ll definitely be checking out again! (ebook is 8.99 ugh!). Am rechecking out for the gazillionth time Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick — a great fat book from NYROB.
Literature And The Latin Middle Ages: European literature and the Latin Middle Ages by Ernst Robert Curtius; Willard R. Trask; Colin Burrow . Harold Bloom recommended this as one of the alltime best books of literary criticism. I requested it on Interlibrary Loan and then skimmed it, but it’s clearly an interesting and penetrating book. I’ll find me a copy!
The paradox of Ukrainian Lviv : a borderland city between Stalinists, Nazis, and nationalists by Tarik Amar. It’s an outrageously priced academic book from Cornell U., but overall a fine overview of Lviv before during and after WW2. (Thousands of Jews died there, and Polish were expelled at several different times, both during and after Nazi control). I visited this beautiful city often and gave a lecture there at one of the universities. I didn’t realize that Stanislaw Lem grew up there and was later expelled after World War 2 during one of the Polish purges. The academic book was sometimes dry but thorough and about what you’d expect. It’s hard for Americans to imagine the turbulence of this city, and how it was both a melting pot and a dangerously balkanized city.
Review Copies Received
Literary Trends Spotted
Lately I’ve noticed that multi-volume omnibus editions are selling very well. (The first that I truly got excited about was Nearly Complete Works of Donald Harington ). Here’s what’s going on here. Amazon is setting a price floor at 2.99 for indie authors, and because offering ebooks under 2.99 on Amazon severely reduces royalties, people are getting around the system by offering bigger ebooks! It’s easier to persuade people to buy a 3 volume omnibus edition at 3.99 than trying to sell individual titles for 2.99 or $1. This is sort of a good thing; on the other hand, readers and publishers are again falling into the “Bigger is Better” trap. Eventually these gigantic ebooks will take up too much memory or impair device performance, but ultimately the source of the problem is Amazon’s price floor. For the time being, the 3-5$ price range for omnibus editions is worth watching very closely. Many amazing deals are to be had.
(VIDEO 16 min) Mark Beyer talks about the meaning and value of art with respect to his novel WHAT BEAUTY ebook
Norton Juster gave some Youtube interviews he gave about books and reading.
I have several audio interviews I made with authors which I’ll be publishing here soon!
Personville Press Giveaways and Deals
I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. You can buy these titles at the main ebook stores (Amazon, Kobo, BN, Apple, etc.), but I regularly run promotions on Smashwords, so the same titles usually sell on Smashwords for half the price that you see them on Amazon. Pay attention to any 100% coupon codes which I occasionally list below — they can be redeemed only a small number of times, so first come, first serve. Smashwords only sells epub versions of these titles, but you can easily convert them to Amazon’s mobi format by using Kindle Previewer or Calibre.
- Interview with the Sphinx. By Jack Matthews. (FREE until 3/16/2019, no coupon code required) Hyperintellectual Tom Stoppard-like play which reads like a novel about a strange interview with the ancient Sphinx character. Freud and Florence Nightingale show up too. I loved this play and even produced an audio version of it (3.99 on cdbabyand itunes), but the script reads well too.
- Soldier Boys: Tales of the Civil War by Jack Matthews. $1.50 Philosophical Stories Taking place during the US Civil War. (FREE coupon — use code: KD45Y. maximum: 2 uses).
- Abruptions: 3 Minute Stories to Awaken the Mind by Jack Matthews. Flash Fiction. $1.30 (FREE coupon — use code: LQ42XK. maximum: 2 uses).
- Hanger Stout, Awake (50th Anniversary Edition). by Jack Matthews. Coming of age novel. $1.50
- Three Times Time Story Sampler by Jack Matthews (Always Free!) US Amazon customers can sometimes get it for free, but to make things easier, you can down these files directly without having to register: Epub, Mobi.
I first published this on Friday, but I have about a dozen other things to include. The deals never stop coming!