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Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited, LE means that lending of this Kindle title is allowed, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint. NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers).
Last month’s column was very long because of the Smashwords sale. August will be much lighter. Actually that may give me extra time to actually read the books I blog about 🙂
Oops, I ended up buying some more print books (see below).
The craziest thing. Ever since my Kindle app updated to the latest version, I have noticed the books in my library disappearing for about 5 minutes. I will often need to kill and restart the process. It’s at the point of being annoying, but not so much that I’m going to try technical support (not yet anyway). It’s surreal going from having a library of several thousand ebooks to a library which shows absolutely no titles at all. Strangely, in this state, you can see collections easily — and it shows that all the titles are downloaded onto the device’s memory card. So there’s no problem with the external storage. This is happening regularly and almost predictably. The main solution is to stop the application and restart — problem solved.
Another issue raised by the above software bug is how important it is to assign a new ebook to a collection. That makes it easier to find invisible ebooks.
Indie Author Spotlight
Under the Radar
How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book (Second Edition): June 2021. Self-publishing in print, eBooks and audiobooks, children’s book marketing, translation and foreign rights Kindle Edition by Karen P. Inglis (author website). I know next to nothing about children’s books, and so in Aug 2021 I paid 6.99 for the second edition which just came out. It’s an excellent book which covers a lot of ground. The author is from UK, and UK/Europe has a different market than USA, but most of her tips still hold true.
Social Life of Books: Reading Together in the Eighteenth-Century Home by Abigail Williams. (Academic page) 2.99. A Yale U. Press about how people read to one another and used books for social purposes. Fascinating! Here’s a book excerpt.
Laughing Dolphins by Amber Polo. (KU,LE). (Author website) . “A rom-com story of lovers living parallel lives for twenty years….Tales of the City, without the sex and drugs.” (Here’s the author’s explanation of where she got the idea for the book).
Barrie Hill Reunion by Lisette Brody.
Layers: A Collection of Short Stories by Zusanne Belec.
Puppets of Prague by David Canford.
Lessons from my mother’s life by Tam May.
Blink and it’s Gone Sale
Conjunctions Radical Shadows issue (Recent translations of 19th century works). Edited by Bradford Morrow. I love it when Conjunctions is discounted to 1.99.
Hard Times: Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel. 1.99. Have a hard copy which is falling apart.
20th century: memoirs of a Hungarian Mathematician by Miklos Farkos. Free.
Editors on Editing: by Gerald Gross. Good essays about what editors were like in previous decades.
Had I known by Barbara Ehrenreich. (Latest essay collection). Ehrenreich is unstoppable! (one of my faves).
Creative Commons/Academic/Public Domain
Library Books/Printed Books
I can’t believe that I spent more money on print books, but I found several rare titles for under $5.
Conversation in a Train and Other Critical Writing by Frank Sargeson. Sargeson is a New Zealand author aren’t easily available here.
The Lesser Bohemians: A Novel by Eimear McBride. Detailed intimate look at a young Irish girl’s sex life. “McBride evokes brilliantly the distinctive pleasure of days spent in bed, moving imperceptibly between humour and passion, and between violent and tender desire. ” (Source)Here’s a 2021 interview with her (hey that’s last week!) I’m going to keep an eye out for her latest novel, Strange Hotel .
Taking Stock: A Larry McMurtry Casebook (Southwest Life and Letters). Edited by Clay Reynolds.
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christopher Wolff. Nice biography which I checked out of the library a year ago and started reading. He answered a key question I always had: how could Bach compose the brilliant and artistically perfect Mass in B Minor? The answer: This actually wasn’t an original composition, but he borrowed many melodies from previous choral pieces Bach composed; he stuck everything inside one mass. (So it’s like a Greatest Hits compilation).
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein. Cultural Criticism. Dickstein has written a lot about 20th American literature; I guess this is a good place to start.
Literary Articles and Essays
Wow, I didn’t realize that my “Conversation with a famous technical author” link no longer works. Here it is (please excuse the awful layout and look — it’s still readable though)
I spent several weeks working on a wiki article about Texas author Clay Reynolds. (Here’s the draft submission).
Capsule Book Review
Multimedia, Podcasts, etc.
I really enjoyed the 44 minute zoom call between southern authors Ron Rash and George Singelton. As I wrote on the youtube comment, Book Titles mentioned: From GEORGE: Lewis Nordan, Barry Hannah, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle, Lake Life by David James Poissant, Blue Marlin by Lee Smith, Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh. FROM RON: Hieroglyphics also (“dark and sad but true and wise”), Randall Keane (sp?!?), Chekhov. RON: “I can’t read Faulkner while I’m writing — he’s just like a magnet — he pulls you in” (George says that the author who does the same for him is Cormac McCarthy — although he admired the earlier editions). Earlier in the interview, they both praised Denis Johnson‘s TRAIN DREAMS novella. I love this fun talk… Big fan of both authors.
(I ended up buying a story collection by Lewis Nordan called Sugar among the Freaks : Selected Stories. I definitely plan to buy the Jill McCorkle book very soon. I already have one book by Poissant, but not the most recent title. I was an early fan of Denis Johnson (before it was fashionable). Indeed, purely on the basis of Denis Johnson’s stories, I applied to the Phd program at Michigan State in Kalamazoo. I got in and wanted to go, but the money wasn’t there, plus I had already gotten into Peace Corps by that time. But I often wonder why I passed on the opportunity to study with Mr. Johnson.
Personville Press Deals
I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. You can buy DRM-free copies of ebooks from Smashwords (and often at a substantial discount over the ebook’s price on Amazon). Alternatively, you can buy ebooks from Google, Amazon, BN, Apple and Kobo. Check them out! Starting at the end of August I’ll be starting a mailing list for people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.
- Minor Sketches and Reveries by Alberto Balengo. ($4) Introspective tales involving animals, allegories and the melodrama of everyday life. Amazon | Smashwords |Google | BN | Apple | Kobo.
- Interview with the Sphinx. By Jack Matthews. ($2.99). 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.
- A Worker’s Writebook by Jack Matthews . $1.75 Matthews distributed a photocopied version of this writing guide to his Ohio U. creative writing students over the decades.
- Soldier Boys: Tales of the Civil War by Jack Matthews. $3.00 Philosophical Stories Taking place during the US Civil War.
- Abruptions: 3 Minute Stories to Awaken the Mind by Jack Matthews. Flash Fiction. $1.50
- Hanger Stout, Awake (50th Anniversary Edition). by Jack Matthews. Coming of age novel. $3.00
- 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.