Robert’s Roundup #42 (Sept-Oct 2023)

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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:

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.

I’ve been falling behind on this column. I barely got started on #41 and skipped August. But in fact I have been very busy on the literary front and have a backlog of ebooks to blog about. First, I wish to announce that a new story collection by Jack Matthews Boxes of Time will be ready by January 2024. This is his 11th story collection and consists of stories published between 1965 and 1980; they feature characters who are troubled or unsure of themselves trying to deal with life’s usual disappointments. Stylistically these stories are polished and carefully written, but they deal with messy emotions, troubled families and damaged personalities. The characters may not be as educated or self-assured as the people in Second Death of E.A. Poe (2021) or Crazy Women (1985), but they still manage to figure out interesting things about themselves and the people around them. Stories from this period focus especially on the emotional stresses that separate parents from their children. Matthews picked “Boxes of Time” as the title for this collection because each story reveals the drama of worlds long since gone but whose dreams and fears and anxieties still resonate today.

Indie Author Spotlight


Under the Radar

Flash Gardens, and Other Short Fiction: (Volume 1 and 2) by Louis Gallo. (Faculty page). Prolific author and poet whom no one seems to have noticed.

Guilty Pleasures by Kitty Thomas. Erotic thriller trash.

The Questions That Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom by Jane Smiley. Literary and personal essays about books.

Asking Anna and the Hook by Jake Seliger. Cerebral love story by an incredible young blogger who is blogging a storm while suffering from a life threatening cancer. (This is a case of truth almost being more interesting than fiction). I reviewed The Hook (see below).

The Pisces: A Novel by Melissa Broder.

Annie Dillard Reader.

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony. This book has been talked about in many places. Would like to actually read it.

Tackling the Team by Marco Vassi. Erotic fiction by a writer I’ve studied at great length. This is one of his minor works, but I’m glad I finally I added it to my collection.

Best of Philip K. Dick. Discounted story collection. Incredible that Dick’s story collections should be so expensive and hard to collect.

Library Purchases/Printed books

My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Sequel to the award-winning Ishmael novel about the philosophical talking lake. Probably a little didactic, but worth a read.

Ballet of Comedians: A Novel based on the life of Moliere by Peter Arnott. Obscure biopic novel of Moliere from the 1970s.

Bonney’s Place by Leon Hale. Personal essays by Texas columnist Leon Hale.

Place to Come to by Robert Penn Warren.

Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine. Controversial book by psychologist advocating more sexual education for young people.

Realm of Hungry Spirits by Lorraine Lopez. Modern story of a young women seeking Enlightenment. PEN Faulkner award finalist. Other Books. Video Interview (start at 19:30). Just listened to it. Reads an excerpt from this novel, and it’s delightful.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. (Novella).

This Thing we call Sex by David Steinberg. (Bio, Essays about sex and the erotic self. Highly recommended. (Other books).

Our Story Begins (New and selected stories) by Tobias Wolff.

Pisan Cantos by Ezra Pound. This controversial author won a major poetry award.

Best of Ogden Nash. Great anthology.

Collected Stories of John McGahren. Irish author.

Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages by Katie Roiphe. Fascinating story of British marriages in the early 20th century.

Collected Stories by Shirley Hazzard. I still have not read Transit of Venus.

Tomas Riviera: Complete Works. Migrant fiction published by Texas’ Arte Publico Press. Contains poetry, literary essays and a novel.

Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman.

Naked Lunch: Restored Text by William Burroughs. Determined to read this wild erotic work.

House of Glass by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Already read this from the Buru Quartet in the 1990s. This Indonesian author writes about Indonesian society and politics. Reminds me of Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy.

Creative Commons/Freebies


Literary Articles and Essays




Capsule Book Reviews

The Hook by Jake Seliger is an exploration of the love life and career of high school English teacher Scott Sole. Told in a series of short chapters which change from character to character — including a girlfriend who was a former student. Scott takes his job very seriously and is passionate about teaching, yet his private life becomes a topic of interest, especially because of his free-spirited ruminations on his blog and he becomes caught in a false accusation by a student. Reminiscient of Tom Perotta’s Election (both in terms of narrative structure and subject matter), this novel is both realistically told and probably an accurate representation of the unrealistic demands made upon teachers. Under this hypercritical (and hypocritical) eye, it’s hard for single adults (and particularly men) to survive. The novel is a scathing indictment of public morality, but also an interesting look at single life from the man’s perspective.

Multimedia/Podcasts, Etc

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 SmashwordsThe 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).






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