Archive: Marie Arana

Russell Warren Howe

Russell Warren Howe died in his sleep last night in Washington, D.C. He was a marvelous character, an enormously respected journalist and an engaged presence in covering a number of literary fronts. In August, he wrote this illuminating essay for Book World about his friend Richard Wright....

By Ron Charles | December 17, 2008; 05:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

Nobel Pablum

When Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio was awarded the Nobel Prize this October for work remarkable -- as the Nobel committee described it -- for "poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy," few in America knew who he was. Born in France, but raised in Mauritius and Nigeria, he had made scant literary...

By Marie Arana | December 15, 2008; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (2)

Smart Gifts (Books, Naturally) for Friends of the Opposite Sex

Have you noticed how many books about Abraham Lincoln are being published this season? Of course, Lincoln is headed into a bicentennial (he was born on Feb. 12, 1809, an anniversary we'll mark three weeks or so after the presidential inauguration), and there are reasons right now to value his...

By Marie Arana | December 8, 2008; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (1)

Read Any Foreign Lit Lately?

I don't know about you, but I was really struck by the news last week that Harcourt/Houghton has decided to stop acquiring works until further notice. What does that mean? That this giant of quality publishing will not longer be sniffing out worthy manuscripts? That it will now ignore an...

By Marie Arana | December 1, 2008; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (2)

Prize Reflections

Tomorrow, I'm off to New York for a number of obligations, among them the deliberation of the National Book Awards. It's no secret. I'm on the nonfiction jury. Unlike the Pulitzer, the NBA divulges its jury members early on. The only surprise is that, as far as I know, not...

By Marie Arana | November 17, 2008; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (3)

5 Daunting Doorstoppers You've Just Gotta Have!

I know any lover of books will understand when I say that there are masterpieces you buy to read and masterpieces you buy to shelve. You intend to read that Don Quixote or War and Peace or Ulysses some day -- you believe that its presence on your bookshelf alone...

By Marie Arana | November 13, 2008; 07:01 AM ET | Comments (16)

Want to Learn About Politics? Power? The World? Read a Few Great Novels

Last Monday, Nov. 3, on the eve of the presidential elections, a panel of three writers gathered at Johns Hopkins's SAIS (School of Advanced International Studies) to discuss, of all things, the urgent importance of literature. They were Azar Nafisi, author of the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran; Joanne Leedom-Ackerman,...

By Marie Arana | November 10, 2008; 05:46 AM ET | Comments (2)

Google vs. You and Me

We've all heard about the Google settlement last week. To sum it up in one sentence: The huge corporate entity Google opted for the little guy. It had intended to digitalize every available book, whether or not the author and publisher wanted it. Their argument? They were doing it in...

By Marie Arana | November 3, 2008; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (2)

Hard Times Lit

Like anyone in publishing, I've been thinking: With Wall Street imploding, with global markets in meltdown, how can our tenuous book culture survive? Does anyone really care about so-and-so's recent masterwork? Will readers with shrinking wallets even bother to check the shelves? And so I was drawn to the 1929-1930...

By Marie Arana | October 27, 2008; 03:42 AM ET | Comments (6)

Washington Post Book Club: Friedman, Ehrenreich, Singletary on the Financial Crisis

Many months ago, before there was a scintilla of evidence that the global economy would take the nosedive that it did, we at Book World decided to invite Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat), Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and Michelle Singletary (Spend Well, Live Rich) to The Washington Post...

By Marie Arana | October 13, 2008; 07:45 AM ET | Comments (3)

Where's Mark Twain When We Need Him?

Monday has never been so hard. As we step into Nobel week, we Americans find ourselves scrambling to keep up in the most surprising areas. We knew that our economy, which used to be our ace, is in the tank. But the highest member of the Nobel Prize jury has...

By Marie Arana | October 6, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

On the Coattails of Sir Salman

There was something miraculous about the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. this past Saturday. Out on the Mall, that long grassy stretch between the U.S. Capitol and the monuments, we had expected torrential and unrelieved rain. The Weather Channel had told us so. The airports, we were also warned,...

By Marie Arana | September 29, 2008; 07:51 AM ET | Comments (2)

How Did Books Get Oprah-ed Before Oprah?

Oprah's choice of David Wroblewski's "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," announced just this past Friday, got me thinking about how mega-bestsellers used to be made before Oprah was Oprah. (Reality check: "Edgar Sawtelle" was already on most bestseller lists before Oprah turned her wand on it. Somehow, it's a lot...

By Marie Arana | September 22, 2008; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (5)

The Limits of Shyness

I've always wondered how difficult it must be to maintain a reclusive persona in the highly publicized world of book publishing. J.D. Salinger, now 89, has managed it pretty well. So has Thomas Pynchon. Cormac McCarthy held out for years -- his wife Annie DeLisle complained that they were living...

By Marie Arana | September 15, 2008; 07:18 AM ET | Comments (10)

Our 'Short Stack' Blog Goes Daily

On Monday, September 15, Book World will launch a daily version of its blog, Short Stack. All the editors of Book World will participate with daily entries about breaking news, author Q&A's, fascinating book history, and inside information about publishing trends. On Thursdays, we'll continue to release our classic Short...

By Marie Arana | September 12, 2008; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Five Very Good Books That Made Very Bad Movies

Maybe it was seeing "There Will Be Blood," a magnificent movie made from Upton Sinclair's hair-raising Oil!, that started me thinking about how some works of fiction make the leap to the screen gracefully, and others just fall flat on their cans. Annie Proulx's stirring short story "Brokeback Mountain," for...

By Christian Pelusi | September 11, 2008; 08:23 AM ET | Comments (37)

Five Great Books About Spies and the CIA

I have to confess: I'm fascinated by spy books, intelligence histories, CIA memoirs, KGB confessionals. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I grew up during the Cold War, when a firm line was drawn between good guys and bad. It wasn't always a clear line. Many of the good...

By Christian Pelusi | July 24, 2008; 06:25 AM ET | Comments (29)

Five Books That Tell More About Washington Than an Unsuspecting Reader Might Think

Rather than grouse about how Washington has never produced a classic tome that truly nails the city the way Tom Wolfe did New York or Dashiell Hammett did San Francisco, I set my mind on making up a list of books that reveal corners of Washington we otherwise might never...

By Christian Pelusi | May 15, 2008; 06:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

Five Who Spoke Truth to Power

I'm not sure what started me thinking about writers who had the moral courage to stand against the prevailing winds and say what was going wrong in their countries. Maybe it's our nervous time. Or the upcoming election. Or the fact that we had Chinua Achebe here at Book World...

By Christian Pelusi | April 10, 2008; 06:12 AM ET | Comments (11)

Five Life Stories That Changed My Life

"Your life changed five times?" a smart aleck said when I mentioned I'd be blogging on this subject. Call me a flibbertigibbet, but yes: Five times. Ten, if only space would allow! The truth is: Some see the world with fresh eyes through wild adventures. For me, the revelations always...

By Christian Pelusi | March 6, 2008; 07:18 AM ET | Comments (6)

Serious Novels for People Who'd Rather Be Reading Romance Fiction

So why do book review pages so often ignore romance fiction? Some of the best writing these days, according to Book World critics, is being done in genre novels: mysteries, SF and thrillers. Can the same be said for romance? Truth be told, I've been reading love stories since I...

By Christian Pelusi | January 17, 2008; 08:02 AM ET | Comments (86)

Great Sci Fi for People Who Think They Don't Like Sci Fi

Funny, how I used to love science fiction as a kid. But something happened at about age 15 -- maybe it was the demands of school, or maybe it was the fact that I came of age in the late '60s, when every day was so "out there" that life...

By Christian Pelusi | December 13, 2007; 11:16 AM ET | Comments (236)

For When You're Down in the Dumps and Life Has No Meaning

I asked three people -- a distinguished psychiatrist, a veteran English professor and a very young mother of two -- what book or books they would give a friend who was down and out and needed to be distracted. Or uplifted. Here's what they had to say. It's a marvelously...

By Christian Pelusi | November 8, 2007; 06:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

If Your Marriage Is on the Rocks

We kick off our blog with a short list of five books that might be tonics to marital troubles. If only because they'll make you feel better! Tell us what books you'd gently press on a friend. And feel free to weigh in on these. 1. Anna Karenina, by Leo...

By Christian Pelusi | October 5, 2007; 07:26 PM ET | Comments (21)

 

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