In the Field

Friday Field Notes 041814


Ah, Easter weekend! I don’t know about you, but I’m frantically trying to get things done so I can focus on the good stuff–like catching up on my reading. After all, Diary of a Provincial Lady (E.M. Delafield), The Father Brown mystery series (G.K. Chesterton), and The Four Loves (C.S. Lewis) have waited quite long enough. As for you, I hope your holiday is bright and happy; may you even find time to sneak in a good book or two.

Until then, a few bookish bits . . .

First things first: the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners.

10 Terms you need to know to understand poetry.

E.L. Doctorow wins Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

The Guardian Books shares readers’ tales, specifically female characters admired by men.

Of course, British Reading Agency survey finds 63% of men rarely read.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf is all about the monsters.

Ginny Weasley (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) writes Quidditch match reports for Pottermore.

Finally, a look at the wonderfully wacky artwork of Kurt Vonnegut.


A partnership begins

Véra Evseevna Slonim met Vladimir Nabokov at her father’s publishing office, where she worked and he considered translating Dostoyevsky in English.

Their first date is bit murky. He insisted it was at a charity ball; she insisted it most certainly was not. Whatever the case, they married April 15, 1925.

In promising a lifetime of love, she became his lover and confident, his editor and translator, his greatest fan and fiercest protector.

While she destroyed letters she had written to her husband, she hid away her letters from him–which their son eventually found.

“How can I explain to you, my joy, my golden one, my heavenly happiness, just how much I am fully yours – with all of my memories, my poems, impulses and inner tremors?”

Of course, as so often happens, those words contained less passion and more banality as the years wore on. Perhaps, as photos might suggest, time has a way of lessening the need for flowery prose; perhaps, with a partnership built on a lifetime of love and respect, the poetry is in the living . . .






The library

Literary Maps

There I was,  minding my own business, when I happened upon The Literary Gift Co.

Lord, have mercy.

So many bookish delights, so little time.

For instance, take a look at this hand-lettered poster, highlighting 226 geographically connected authors from the U.S.A . . .


And for heaven’s sake, let us not forget those authors from Britain and Northern Ireland . . .

literary_mapOf course, my favorite is the map of children’s literature in Britain . . .

106962 Poster.indd

Perfect for the library, non?


Friday Field Notes 041114


Well, I suppose you heard the news: Archie Comics is going to kill off **SPOILER ALERT, IF EVER YOU’VE HEARD ONE** Archie. Personally, I’m hoping it’s a delayed April Fool’s joke, because really?! The fact he dies saving a friend does nothing to help matters.  Killing off a loveable comic book character who’s been around since 1941 is like killing off all that’s good and kind in the world.

But I digress.

So, a few bookish bits from the week . . .

12 poets offer their recommendations.

10 books have been shortlisted for the 2014 Dublin Literary Award.

6 books have been shortlisted for the 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. And now I want a mudslide.

5 bizarre scenes you wouldn’t expect in classic books. Truly, these are good–and bizarre.

Reviving the art of Turkish miniatures.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was recently released from  the hospital after an eight stay with pneumonia. Of course, the part that gets me is the fact that he’s suffering from dementia.

Favorite Tweet: @parisreview ““I had to learn enough about the texture of truth out there in order to have the confidence to make up lies.” Richard Price, quote from The Art of Fiction No. 144.


Tell me a story: Lisey’s Story

Lisey's Story

If anyone knows how to write about writers, it’s Stephen King.  King, who created the terrible and terrifying Jack Torrance in The Shining and Paul Sheldon in Misery . . .  

In Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story, Lisey’s writer-husband, Scott Landon, has been dead and buried for two years.  Lisey, little Lisey, solidly has stood by her famous husband through all the book tours and campus speeches, happy to be relegated to one of his millions of admirers, even though she is the only one who really knows him. Lisey, stoic and calm, has finally taken to clearing his studio of his boxes of papers, drafts, and books.  But the demons, both real and imaginary, that have haunted Scott during his life, have not died with him. Now they’re out for Lisey.

Let me stop there. King is known for his horror, but in my opinion this piece is stunning as King creates a monster you don’t ever really see. You sense its presence and its terror, but it never truly appears in its full form.

King admits Lisey’s Story is his favourite novel he’s written. Having read his other books, I can only guess at why this is. Maybe because it’s written from the other side of the writing desk.  There must be some dose of his wife in this book and her position as the right-hand of one of the most famous authors of our time.  Or maybe it’s because this book lives in the mind instead of in the “real world.”

If you want to read a book about an author’s mind at work–to experience some of the terror that must be deeply rooted in the mind of someone who can create something so wonderful, yet so horrific–study this one. Then ask yourself if those monsters don’t live in the heads of everyone, if they don’t peek out at us through reflections in windows, at dusk or in the deepest hours of the night.  When we do catch a glimpse of them, best cover those mirrors and write; write like the demons are after you themselves.