So Many Things To Do, Like Perusing the 9 October 2011 NYTBR

It is a gorgeous Monday.  There are so many things self needs to do before she can settle down for the serious business of the day:

First, she has to return her old HTC Droid to Verizon, for she complained so much about it that they mailed her a brand new one, last week.  And because self was having a hard time transferring over all her settings, she procrastinated and procrastinated —  that is, until yesterday, when she was the recipient of a thoughtful txt message from Verizon Powers-That-Be, that informed her that unless she returned her defective phone today, they would charge her $500 for the new phone they had sent her.  YIIIKES!  People, don’t you know that self only gets paid at the most $50 per story?  Where is your compassion?

She has to clean up after The Ancient One, who is incontinent.  Self thinks it was brilliant of hubby to find a job just when Bella the Beagle decided to lose control of her bowel functions.  Every morning, he rouses self to say:  “There’s a mess of crap in the kitchen.  I’m late for work.  Gotta go!”  Sometimes self wants to pretend that the crap is really a pile of sweet-smelling lavender, so she can hum like Mary Poppins as she goes about the cleaning …

And then there’s the small of matter of polishing off the bag of Dandy shrimp-flavored chips which self opened a half-hour ago.

Having gotten all of that out of the way, self can then begin to post in earnest about the NYTBR of 9 October 2011, which she has just fished out from the very very back of the “pile of stuff” that she calls her pile of un-opened/un-answered mail.  Everything’s late, even the bills.  However, as there is no money in her account, and hubby is not inclined to add any more, as he says she is a “spendthrift” ($30 a week for groceries is being a spendthrift?), it actually works out better for self to procrastinate.

Once again, self digresses.  Deepest apologies, dear blog readers!

This issue of the NY Times Book Review is a very interesting one.  For starters, there’s a Letter to the Editor that maligns Roger Ebert’s looks, before he suffered his regrettable disfiguring jaw cancer.  The letter is by John Simon, who writes for The New York Times, and who maintains that Ebert’s looks, “even at their height,” were —  and then he finishes up, rather coyly, with “it would be ungentlemanly to comment.”

There is also a review (by Alan Riding), of the latest book on the Jonestown Massacre, Julia Scheeres’ A Thousand Lives:  the Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown.  Scheeres, Riding points out, “is well placed to write” about Jonestown because, “as rebellious teenagers, she and her adopted African-American brother were sent to a self-described therapeutic Christian boarding school for troubled youth in the Caribbean.”

There is also a book about an ugly episode in American history, the de-segregation of Little Rock Central High School.  In the photograph that accompanies the review (by Amy Finnerty), a demure African American girl in a white dress and shades tries to maintain her dignity while a white girl, face twisted in anger, taunts her.  What’s weird about this picture is, there’s a blonde woman who is partially out of the frame, who is looking at the African American girl and smiling.  Self cannot tell whether that is a smile of derision, or a smile of “You go, girl!” or a smile of I’m-just-smiling-because-there-are-photographers-present-and-I’m-told-I-look-prettier-when-I-smile. The book is an interview with the two women at the center of this drama:  African American Elizabeth Eckford, and the woman taunting her, Hazel Bryan.  It’s called Elizabeth and Hazel:  Two Women of Little Rock.

There is a book about a serial killer who preyed on Jews in the dying days of World War II (What, you mean to say, aside from being almost exterminated by the Holocaust, there were still Jews who were off-ed by a serial killer?  Apparently so).  The man operated by offering his Jewish clients a means to escape France.  And indeed his means of escape was to stick them in a vat of lime, and secrete their worldly goods in various safe houses around Paris.  All this was possible because, in 1944, the Jews of Paris were desperate, and no one was paying attention.  The book, Death in the City of Light:  The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, was written by David King.

There is also a very interesting novel, by David Bergen, which is about what happens to a newspaper columnist who uses his own family as fodder for a regular column (For one thing, he describes his daughter’s boyfriend as “rabbit-like, soft and pale with a curious nose that twitched”).  Then, his own son is killed in Afghanistan.  Brilliant!  The review was written by Polly Morrice.  The novel is The Matter With Morris.

Finally, there is a new book by Jerome Groopman, whose writing self admires, but since she hasn’t gotten around yet to finishing his 2007 bestseller, How Doctors Think, she will content herself with finishing that earlier book.

Stay tuned.

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards

Because self had never heard of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards until she had to write, yesterday, “IMPAC Dublin Award Winner Javier Marias . . . ” in her post on Publishers Weekly deal announcements, she decided to go snooping on the web for more information, and she soon found the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award site.  Notwithstanding the fact that she adores the choice of Edward P. Jones in 2005 for The Known World, self is quite astonished that she had to go all the way back to 2000 to find an award granted to a woman author:

List of IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Winners

2011:   Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann  (This book beat out Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, Yiyun Li’s The Vagrants, David Malouf’s Ransom, Joyce Carol Oates’ Little Bird of Heaven, Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn, and William Trevor’s Love and Summer, among others)

2010:   The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker, translated from the original Dutch by David Colmer (This one beat out Zoe Heller’s The Believers and Marilynne Robinson’s Home, among others)

2009:   Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas (This one beat out Junot Diaz’s The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Mohsin Amid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and David Leavitt’s The Indian Clerk, among others)

2008:   DeNiro’s Game by Rawi Hage (This one beat out Yasmina Khadra’s The Attack)

2007:   Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (This one beat out Julian Barnes’ Arthur and George, Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way, J. M. Coetzee’s Slow Man, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Extremely Close and Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, among others)

2006:   The Master by Colm Tøibin (This one beat out Chris Abani’s GraceLand and Yasmina Khadra’s The Swallows of Kabul)

2005:   The Known World by Edward P. Jones (This one beat out Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire and Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, among others)

2004:   This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun (This book beat out Paul Auster’s The Book of Illusions, Sandra Cisneros’ Caramelo, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, and Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters, among others)

2003:   My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk (This book beat out Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, among others)

2002:   Atomised (also published as The Elementary Particles) by Michael Houellebecq

2001:   No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

2000:   Wide Open by Nicola Barker

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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