Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint.NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers). If you’d like to submit an ebook to me for review or mention in this column, see my instructions here.
MAILING LIST: I just started a mailing list for my publishing company. Will mail out every 2 months and will include excerpts from my Robert’s Roundup columns and other random stuff. MASTADON: https://booktoot.club/@nagletx
Wow, spent 7 hours yesterday reorganizing my storage unit which stores 90% of my 3000 books. I’ve already culled what can be culled; I just needed to reorganize and realphabetize and rearrange everything for maximum accessibility. Alas, I still haven’t found the Octavio Paz title I have been searching for, but hopefully on Realphabetizing Day 2, this rare treasure will reappear…
REARRANGING BOOKS 2: It never can be said often enough, but it’s hard to grasp just how many wonderful books are out there. Even if you limit yourself to living writers and printed books, you are still dealing with a ton. Alas, I don’t have time to read for fun anymore; all my reading is WORK WORK WORK; Being aware of books and writers is supposed to be my business, yet despite a lifetime of effort, I am still struck by how much remains and the finitude of reading time left for me.
For a bibliophile there is NO GREATER AGONY than realizing that the book you bought earlier at a library book sale turns out to be something you had already bought a decade earlier. (it was a hardback version of Wallace Stegner‘s Collected Stories). I normally double-check any potential purchase against my librarything inventory, but in this case, that possibility never even occurred to me.
Indie Author Spotlight
Under the Radar
Blink and It’s Gone
Library Purchases/Printed books
I’ve always enjoyed the aesthetics of Octavio Paz, but now am reading some wonderful essays. The first two volumes are for sale for $2 as ebooks.
- On Poets and Others. Wonderful thoughtful criticism of aesthetic topics. Must-read is Paz’s essay on meeting Sartre; it’s sympathetic yet properly critical.
- Conjunctions and Disjunctions. Poetic analysis of dichotomies between sacred and profane, the prurient and divine.
- Double Flame: Love and Eroticism. (print-only). A long historical analysis of art, sex and literature starting with classical literature.
Also, I found a 600 page ebook poetry collection of Paz for $2 a year ago. Great deal).
All Souls by Javier Marias (Caught my eye with the blurb by my former teacher J.M. Coetzee).
Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography by Deborah Levy.
Thanks for calling attention to an author and novel I’d never heard of. And sure, good storytelling is more than CGI effects. But plain informal language does have a place onscreen and even on the page. For one thing, movies and TV shows are produced for a world audience where lingo and elevated language may not translate well. Second, informal language can render a story more accessible to readers. I always remember with fondness T.H. White’s Sword in the Stone, which mixed high language with vernacular. The main thing that bothers me about these movies is the long set pieces (usually battle scenes or chase scenes). Well-staged dialogue can be suspenseful and exciting too. Too often contemporary movies and TV shows try to create character complexity through cliched backstories (usually a crime or a death) or flashbacks. I wish movies could linger more on dialogue and arguments and confessions and repartee.
Literary Articles and Essays
POEM: BESTIARY FOR THE FINGERS OF MY RIGHT HAND (BY CHARLES SIMIC)
Thumb, loose tooth of a horse.
Rooster to his hens.
They have attached to my flesh
At the time of my birth.
It takes four to hold him down,
Bend him in half, until the bone
Begins to whimper.
Cut him off. He can take care
Of himself. Take root in the earth,
Or go hunting with wolves.
The second points the way.
True way. The path crosses the earth,
The moon and some stars.
Watch, he points further.
He points to himself.
The middle one has backache.
Stiff, still unaccustomed to this life:
An old man at birth. It’s about something
That he had and lost,
That he looks for within my hand,
The way a dog looks
With a sharp tooth.
The fourth is mystery.
Sometimes as my hand
Rests on the table
He jumps by himself
As though someone called his name.
After each bone, finger,
I come to him, troubled.
Something stirs in the fifth
Something perpetually at the point
Of birth. Weak and submissive,
His touch is gentle.
It weighs a tear.
It takes the mote out of the eye.
(WOW, this is crazy. Later that same day I seriously sprained my ring finger on my right -hand),
Capsule Book Reviews
Book Roar Review
Huge fan of BOOK PUBLIC podcast. Listened to a great episode of Peter Orner talking about reading and poetry. He was raving about an epic poem by Bernadette Mayer about a single actual day called “Midwinter Day.” I love hearing about overlooked works like this one.
Personville Press Deals
I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. Prices normally appear highest on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and BN, somewhat lower on Google Play Books and lower on the two DRM-free stores which are Smashwords and Payhip. Personville Press is committed to selling DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from Smashwords. The prices listed here are the non-discounted price on Amazon. Check the links to see if they are discounted at the moment (it happens often).
- Existential Smut 1: Youthful Indiscretions by Hapax Legomenon. These artsy erotica stories are published on one of Personville Press’s imprints (Ripe Mango Take Two Press). You can buy it on Payhip | Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Google
- My Heart For Hostage by Robert S. Hillyer. This tender love story between a young American lieutenant and a French girl in Paris after the first World War was published by poet (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Robert Hillyer in 1942. Out of print for several decades, this novel will be re-released for the first time as a low-cost ebook. A New York Times critic called it a “superbly written book, written perhaps as only a poet with and expert in the discipline of verse could write it.” Includes a critical essay by Robert Nagle. Free download from the publisher’s site, but also available at a nominal price from ebook stores: Payhip | Smashwords | Google Play | BN | Apple | Kobo | Amazon | Amazon UK. You can also read the whole thing online!
- Second Death of E.A. Poe and other Stories by Jack Matthews. $2.99. Did Edgar Allen Poe fake his death? That’s what a Baltimore doctor needs to figure out in the title tale for this 11th story collection. Payhip| Smashwords | Google Play |BN | Apple | Kobo | Amazon US | Amazon UK |
- Minor Sketches and Reveries by Alberto Balengo. ($2) Introspective tales involving animals, allegories and the melodrama of everyday life. Payhip | Amazon | Smashwords |Google | BN | Apple | Kobo.
- Interview with the Sphinx. By Jack Matthews. ($1.50). 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 which you can buy for $2 on payhip (mp3/m4a) but the script reads well too. The audio book is available from most audiobook streaming services like |Audible $6 | Apple $3 | Google Play $3 |
- A Worker’s Writebook by Jack Matthews . $2.25 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. $1.50 Philosophical Stories Taking place during the US Civil War.
- Abruptions: 3 Minute Stories to Awaken the Mind by Jack Matthews. Flash Fiction. $2.25
- 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.