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September 25, 2014

Too Graphic? 2014 Banned Books Week Celebrates Challenged Comics

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Burnside, Miller and Williams up for Forward Best Collection

John Burnside, Kei Miller and Hugo Williams are among the poets shortlisted for the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection.

The three 2014 Forward Poetry Prizes celebrating the best of the year’s poetry, awarding the best collection, best first collection and best single poem.

Shortlisted for the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection are Colette Bryce for The Whole & Rain-domed Universe (Picador Poetry); John Burnside for All One Breath (Cape Poetry); Louise Glück for Faithful and Virtuous Night (Carcanet); Kei Miller for The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way to Zion (Carcanet); and Hugo Williams for I Knew the Bride (Faber & Faber).

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April 9, 2014

Paddington Bear returns in new book

Filed under: Children's books — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:49 am

Michael Bond will publish Love From Paddington 56 years after releasing his first story about the little brown bear

Michael Bond will publish Love From Paddington 56 years after releasing his first story about the little brown bear

Michael Bond, the 88-year-old creator of Paddington, has written a new book about the bear from Darkest Peru

By Anita Singh.

Paddington Bear is returning in a new book after the 88-year-old author Michael Bond decided to give him another outing.

Love From Paddington takes the form of a series of letters from the little brown bear to his Aunt Lucy in Darkest Peru.

“It isn’t generally known, but bears are very good at writing letters,” Bond said.

The book will be published by HarperCollins in November, shortly before the Paddington Bear film arrives in cinemas.

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March 14, 2014

The 42 Best Lines from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series.


 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

By Jeff O’Neal.

In his best-known work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams explained the supreme utility of the towel in intergalactic travel:

“…it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

Adams’ artistic sensibility is both specific and elusive. He can go from distraught to delighted in the space of a modifier. He combines Gary Larson’s irony, Bill Watterson’s wistful idealism, Oscar Wilde’s keen social observation, and Dorothy Parker’s mischievousness. But set in space. In short, he is a genre all to himself.

So, to remind fans of his great gifts and to introduce newcomers to his unmistakable voice, here are the 42 best lines from his Hitchhiker series, in no particular order:

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March 10, 2014

Zimbabwe: Diaspora Influence On Zim Literature.


We Need New Names - Noviolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names – Noviolet Bulawayo

The experience of being “restless” with terrible economic and socio-political conditions has not only been the driving force for ordinary Zimbabweans to keep moving, it has also been shaping an incredible creative force displayed in Brian Chikwava’s debut, Harare North, Christopher Mlalazi’s Many Rivers and more recently NoViolet Bulawayo’s book that straddles between home and exile.

This creative energy sets off from Zimbabwe to America, Britain and South Africa and moulds itself in the literature produced and adds a new dimension to the general literary culture of post-2000 Zimbabwe — the so-called Third Chimurenga period. It is estimated millions have left Zimbabwe and writers are tapping into these experiences.


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February 25, 2014

Is Amish Fiction the Antidote to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

THE HALLOWED ONES_cover image copy 2By Sonja Sharp.

“After the end of the Outside world, the Plain folk survived.” That’s the appropriately unadorned opening line of The Hallowed Ones, a novel that may well be the first true crossover book from the most popular genre you’ve never heard of: Amish fiction.

The bizarre and best-selling world of Amish fiction fills shelves in Walmarts across the country and boasts titles like The Women of Lancaster County and A Plain and Simple Heart, their emblazoned with blushing, black-clad blonds. Most Amish books—thousands of them, so many that Library Journal now counts them as their own category—are romances written by evangelicals.

But a new Amish novel, The Hallowed Ones, and its gore-drenched sequel, The Outside, are different. Laura Bickle’s gripping series is Amish apocalypse fiction. The Undead of Lancaster County versus Bonnet the Vampire Slayer.

I stumbled upon The Hallowed Ones in the “popular” section of my local library’s e-lending service and borrowed it for a laugh. Amish vector-vampires, hehe, I thought. But the joke was on me; I had nightmares for days.

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February 21, 2014

William Burroughs – the original Junkie

JunkieOn the centenary of William Burroughs’ birth, Will Self on why he was the perfect incarnation of late 20th‑century western angst – self-deluded and narcissistic yet perceptive about the sickness of the world.
By Will Self
Entitled Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict and authored pseudonymously by “William Lee” (Burroughs’ mother’s maiden name – he didn’t look too far for a nom de plume), the Ace original retailed for 35 cents, and as a “Double Book” was bound back-to-back with Narcotic Agent by Maurice Helbrant. The two-books-in-one format was not uncommon in 1950s America, but besides the obvious similarity in subject matter, AA Wyn, Burroughs’ publisher, felt that he had to balance such an unapologetic account of drug addiction with an abridgement of the memoirs of a Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent, which originally appeared in 1941.

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January 27, 2014

Reading Books Is Fundamental

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:23 am
Charles M. Blow

Charles M. Blow

The first thing I can remember buying for myself, aside from candy, of course, was not a toy. It was a book.

It was a religious picture book about Job from the Bible, bought at Kmart.

It was on one of the rare occasions when my mother had enough money to give my brothers and me each a few dollars so that we could buy whatever we wanted.

We all made a beeline for the toy aisle, but that path led through the section of greeting cards and books. As I raced past the children’s books, they stopped me. Books to me were things most special. Magical. Ideas eternalized.

Books were the things my brothers brought home from school before I was old enough to attend, the things that engrossed them late into the night as they did their homework. They were the things my mother brought home from her evening classes, which she attended after work, to earn her degree and teaching certificate.

Books, to me, were powerful and transformational.

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December 6, 2013

Steve McCurry: gorgeous photographs of people reading around the world.




By Gabriela Badica

Photojournalist Steve McCurry is best known for shooting one of the most famous photographs ever taken -– 1985′s “Afghan Girl,” an image of a young girl with sea green eyes staring defiantly into the camera. But war and those affected by it are not his only subjects. “Like most photographers, I’m fascinated by people in everyday situations,” he says. “The work I do is mostly wandering and observing human nature and human activity, working and playing and leisure time. As you’re walking around the streets of China, India, New York, whererver -– it is fun to photograph people simply doing things.”

One of his ongoing projects is compiling a collection of photos of people reading, entitled “Fusion: The Synergy of Energy and Words” (Part I and Part II). The idea to shoot photos of people reading was itself prompted by his relationship with legendary Hungarian photographer André Kertész, who was also fascinated with images of people reading.

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November 19, 2013

He who laughs last

CalvinBy Darrel Bristow-Bovey

One of the more agreeable aspects of ageing is that your list of heroes changes. When I was 16 top of the list was Jim Morrison. Now it’s Bill Watterson.

Watterson published the first Calvin and Hobbes exactly 28 years ago, on November 18 1985. Newspaper comic strips have always been a mysterious medium to me. Surely no one after 1936 has ever actually laughed at one: they’re just a place to rest your eyes a moment before it’s back to the grind of news and schmucks with opinions.

The Wizard of Id is about as funny as dropping a bottle on your bare foot; Andy Capp makes me cry a little inside; and I genuinely can’t fathom how anyone can get up each day and draw another Dagwood column without developing the funless kind of drug problem.

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