Talking About Books . . .

You have probably heard that Amazon and Hachette Books (one of the five major book publishers in the U.S.) are in a dispute that has many authors and book companies upset.  In many cases Amazon is putting the purchase of books on hold for weeks at a time.  The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article that explains in 13 steps what is going on.  Point 10 begins with a question about why Amazon is doing this to Hachette.  The answer: “In the Apple e-book case brought by the Department of Justice, publishers were accused of colluding over e-book prices; all settled. The judge’s final order in the case, issued in 2013, laid out a schedule for the various publishers involved to renegotiate e-book prices with retailers, Apple and Amazon both.  Hachette is up first.”  Will we have the same mess when Amazon negotiates with the other four big book publishers or will the other four be subdued by the retail giant?  This might be a good time to visit your local bookstores.

The article above states that few authors are willing to publicly say (for fear of reprisal) what they will say privately about their anger toward Amazon, but Stephen Colbert had no such inhibitions.  Some may find this piece a bit crude, but I think it shows the depth of his anger toward Amazon.

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Immigrant Voices

The Great Books Foundation, which I’ve written about in the past, has just come out with a new reader called Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories that features short stories by 18 immigrants to the U.S.  The writers include Junot Díaz, Daniel Alarcón, Emma Ruby-Sachs, and Yiyun Li.  The stories “highlight the complex relationships of immigrants in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century with their families, friends, new surroundings, and home countries.”  The Foundation’s books are always thought provoking, and can be enjoyed in a Great Books club setting or when read just for the fun of it.  You can find more information about the book here.  While you’re there, look at the other books that are available.

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Black Dahlia

Steve Hodel, a retired police detective, thinks he may have solved the grisly 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short who was known as “The Black Dahlia.”  Hodel has determined that the murderer was probably his father.  He began to suspect his father while going through the deceased doctor’s belongings.  He found two photographs of a woman who closely resembled Short, and then used a cadaver dog to search for human remains in a home they occupied at the time of the murder.  The dog seems to have found something.  A recent article in USA Today and an article from last year in The Daily Mail discuss Hodel’s beliefs.  Be aware that both articles are disturbing.

The Badge

You might also be interested in a post I did about a crime book written by actor Jack Webb (Sgt. Joe Friday on both radio and TV), and the story in his book that became the basis for one of James Ellroy’s best known novels.

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Letters of Note

“I have the joy of being able to tell you that, though deaf and blind, I spent a glorious hour last night listening over the radio to Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony.’ ”  That’s how Helen Keller began a letter of appreciation she wrote to the New York Symphony Orchestra in 1924.  How did she hear Beethoven’s symphony?  You can find out at the website Letters of Note which is hosted by Shaun Usher.  You will find many other interesting letters there as well.  Usher has also written a book of the same name that can be previewed here.

Also, The New Yorker has an excellent piece about Usher and his fascination with letters.

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According to The Telegraph the short story is becoming increasingly popular.  For instance Lydia Davis, Alice Munro and George Saunders have all won awards for their short stories recently.  The article includes a list of the five best short story writers you might not have heard of.

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Leslie Jamison

The website io9 has a list of unsung science fiction authors that everyone should read, and the Huffington Post has lists of 9 detective novels for people who don’t read detective novels as well as a list of 9 contemporary authors you should be reading.

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