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Tuesday News: Nook Press hits the UK market, the future of...

Barnes & Noble to Launch Nook Press in the UK This Week – Barnes & Noble is using the Oxford Literary Festival to introduce its newest self-publishing platform to authors in the UK. Although the platform has been available in the US for almost a year now, self-published authors in the UK and the 30 other countries in which B&N sells books have not been able to access it. According to Nate Hoffelder, B&N has also reached out for beta testers in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium, although he does not anticipate that they will follow through on their request. Instead, Hoffelder anticipates that B&N will allow Microsoft to have the European digital book market.

Colin Eustace, general manager of Barnes & Noble, S.A.R.L said: “As Nook continues to grow in the UK we are proud to announce the upcoming launch of the Nook Press self-publishing platform and we invite authors and writers at the Oxford Literary Festival to speak to a representative for more information.” –The Digital Reader

Can the Great American Novel survive? – An interesting article for those of you who take the idea of the “Great American Novel” seriously, as Lawrence Buell does in his own book on the subject, The Dream of the Great American Novel. This was definite click bait for me after Teju Cole’s comments about the novel being “overrated.” Literary critic Elaine Showalter discusses Buell’s book, as well as the whole concept of the GAN, including the question of whether any fictional work can represent the whole of a nation (and, indeed, whether there is a central national culture to represent). Besides the fact that the way fiction is written and consumed in the US has drastically changed over the years (now so many novels are written and read each year), there is the question of whether anything like the GAN has ever really existed, or whether it’s a bit of a literary fantasy. It’s also interesting to see that one of the “templates” that Buell identifies for the GAN includes Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind.

He proposes four templates that have shaped the conception of American novels over the last 150 years. In the first group are novels which have achieved such fame that they have spawned a continuous “series of memorable imitations and reinventions.” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, for example, has been the source of four novels, four plays, three operas, two musicals, three films, and two dance creations, since 1985 alone. The second group he calls “up-from” novels, which tell the life story of a representative figure—almost always male—who seeks to rise from “obscurity to prominence.” This group includes F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (the shortest novel to be accorded GAN status), Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Philip Roth’s “American trilogy.” In the third group are the “romances of the divide,” about divisions between races, ethnicities, or regions, a category featuring Huckleberry Finn, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind (both published in 1936); and ending with Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which he credits with surpassing its precursors in the intensity of its portrayal of slavery. Template four produces the “impossible communities” of the meganovel, setting a diverse group of characters against the background of “epochdefining public events or crises.” Here we find Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, John Dos Passos’s USA, and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. –Prospect Magazine

Arundhati Roy, the Not-So-Reluctant Renegade – What a fascinating, provocative profile of Arundhati Roy, focused particularly on the way she has been unable to separate her fiction writing from her non-fiction writing. Roy’s own politics, which have evolved along with her writing, are ever-present in her artistic consciousness, and yet she is also very engaged and invested in the artistic process. Over the years, Roy has been used as and has become symbolic of different ideas, and of different national causes and perspectives, and yet there is a sense of independence in how she lives her life and how she approaches her work — all of it. An interesting piece, especially, when we think about how we do or don’t separate the author’s life and beliefs from his or her work.

“I was never interested in just being a professional writer where you wrote one book that did very well, you wrote another book, and so on,” Roy said, thinking of the ways in which “The God of Small Things” trapped her and freed her. “There’s a fear that I have, that because you’re famous, or because you’ve done something, everybody wants you to keep on doing the same thing, be the same person, freeze you in time.” Roy was talking of the point in her life when, tired of the images she saw of herself — the glamorous Indian icon turned glamorous Indian dissenter — she cut off her hair. But you could see how she might say the same of the position in which she now finds herself. –New York Times

#GirlsCan: Women Empowerment | COVERGIRL – Okay, I know this is Cover Girl, and that it’s advertising, and that they’re exploiting the self-empowerment message to promote the beauty message. Still, a good message, and one delivered in a way that could be pretty inspiring for young girls, especially.  –YouTube

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

6 Comments

  1. Emma
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 08:59:59

    Thank you for the profile of Roy! She’s one of my favorite novelists and essayists. It’s always terrific to see her get more attention.

  2. SAO
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 12:41:19

    Gone with the Wind wasn’t about race. Margaret Mitchell portrayed African-Americans as either good or bad and the good ones needed to be cared for and told what to do by whites.

  3. wikkidsexycool
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 14:27:06

    My response on “whether any fictional work can represent the whole of a nation” would be no. Novels can be a snapshot in time, but care also must be taken regarding crowning a book the GAN without noting if there’s propaganda in the pages.

    Gone With The Wind helped promote both literary and film stereotypes of black women that still exist until this very day. One example is Mammy, the advice giving, grumbling, sassy, overweight quick with a quip maid who plays off svelte Scarlett O’Hara, and was so beloved that this prototype influenced just about everything in American society afterwards regarding the imagery of African Americans, such as black women/maids in cooking ads, TV shows (from the “sassy” maids Beulah, to Louise on The Danny Thomas show, to Florence on The Jefferson’s) to even a recent bestseller The Help.

    I’d argue that it is very much about race, or how one race is portrayed versus another. The NAACP protested and got script changes regarding a certain slur the slaves were called in the book. The novel also advanced ideology that was popular at the time concerning care and treatment of blacks, that spilled over into the working conditions on the set (Mitchell wrote about slavery, but this was during segregation when blacks were still not thought of as equal to whites). Some of the problems regarding the novel being the source material for the film are mentioned in an article by The Grio, however there are other links on the web regarding GWTW (I’m not saying this is a definitive article):

    Link: http://thegrio.com/2009/12/15/gone-with-the-wind-shouldnt-be-romanticized/

  4. Robin/Janet
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 14:47:42

    @SAO: Going back to this, “In the third group are the “romances of the divide,” about divisions between races, ethnicities, or regions,” I’m thinking that GWTW would fit primarily under “regions” because of the novel’s focus on the U.S. Civil War and the divide between North and South.

  5. MrsJoseph
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 15:12:10

    @wikkidsexycool: There is nothing that I can add to this comment. Beautiful.

  6. SAO
    Mar 19, 2014 @ 02:14:16

    @Wikkid & Robin

    I’d argue that you can’t have a novel of the divide, or at least not a great novel, without showing the other side. But GWTW showed showed stereotypes of carpetbaggers without ever suggesting that maybe the Northerners found slavery to be a vile institution that no civilized nation would condone.

    Equally, the black characters were shown only from the white point of view. Take Prissy. When she’s Scarlett’s maid in Atlanta, and exasperating Scarlett, Prissy is 13. Her behavior is quite familiar to anyone who’s had a 13 year old daughter.

    But, we don’t see Prissy from any prism except as an unsatisfactory slave. We don’t see her as a 13 year old girl with hopes and dreams of her own. A girl who has no reason to do thankless tasks for spoiled and unappreciative Scarlett, other than a law that takes away Prissy’s right to her own time, that give Prissy no rights whatsoever.

    And we certainly don’t see what has to be the fundamental contradiction of the stereotype of slavery as, for the most part, not that bad with many benevolent slave owners’ reputations destroyed by a few bad apples — that slaves have zero motivation to work hard and not run away. With no carrot, motivating slaves relies on the stick and to keep people working hard for no reward for a lifetime, takes a mighty big stick.

    So, this is my problem with GWTW as a great American novel. It’s a great story (if you can stomach the racism) but a great novel? No. My bet is it’s on it’s way out and will one day, hopefully soon, be a dated relic that no one reads.

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