Tag: Novel

Baseball and Bootleggers in the Roaring Twenties

 

It is 1927. Prohibition is on and the stock market crash is in the future. Joe Rath is a catcher for the National League Baltimore Beacons.

“Pickoff,” a novel by GP Hutchinson, opens with Joe heading off for the ballpark to join the team for a road trip to Chicago.

Joe is a family man, with a young son and a wife he dearly loves. His wife, Mena loves Joe, but is less thrilled with his peripatetic career. She believes being married means being with your family, not haring off on long road trips. She wants him to quit.

The Life of a Free Black in the Early 19th Century

 

James Woodman, a free black, lives in Washington DC. It is 1814. His father, a black veteran of the American Revolution used the land grant he received for his service to establish a farm in the Pennsylvania frontier, near Gettysburg. James struck out on his own, opening a livery stable in the nation’s new capital.

Journey: The Story of an American Family, a novel by Gary V. Brill, tells of James Woodman and his family over four decades of the early nineteenth century.

Woodman has always been free. As the book opens, he is a man of property. Many neighbors, white and black, respect him for his industry and his judgment. He is a member of the local militia.

A Novel About the Author of ‘The Prince’

 

Niccolò Machiavelli is best known for his work “The Prince,” written in 1513. Today he is associated with political deceit and deviousness. To be Machiavellian is to behave unscrupulously. The actual man was quite different than his modern reputation. He was a staunch believer in republican government, and was viewed as an honest diplomatic broker.

“The Diplomat of Florence: A Novel of Machiavelli and the Borgias,” by Anthony Robert Wildman is a fictional biography of Machiavelli’s life. It covers the period from the 1498 end of the Medici rule in Florence until its restoration fifteen years later. This was the era of the Florentine Republic, Savonarola, and the Italian Renaissance.

The novel shows Machiavelli’s development from a minor bureaucrat in home-town Florence’s diplomatic establishment to one of the Republic of Florence’s most senior and respected diplomats. You watch his battles with his bureaucratic rivals, his progression to the head of his household, and his marriage.

Two Sisters Finally Get Adulting

 

Jen Nilsson has it all, a great condo in California, a fast-track job in a Silicon Valley start-up, and a seemingly limitless future. Life is good and bound to get better. Then her sister Katie, ten years younger, and just out of college, calls and asks if she can move in with her big sister. Katie can no longer stand living with their parents.

“If You Can Get It,” a novel by Brendan Hodge opens with this. Jen wants to say no, but Katie is not calling from their parents’ home near Chicago. She is right outside Jen’s California condo. Jobless Katie lacks the money to drive home. Jen is stuck. She has to say yes.

The two sisters prove separated by more than just a ten year age difference. Jen is a quintessential Gen-Xer, focused, and deliberate. She has an MBA and a fast-track career.  Katie is an archetypical Millennial, impulsive, and spontaneous. Her degree is in comparative religion, preparing her for a job at Starbucks. Jen is an extrovert. Katie is an introvert.

A Story from the Armenian Massacre

 

The Homilary of Moush is an illuminated manuscript dating from the early twelfth century. It is the largest surviving Armenian religious manuscript. A massive work, it weighs over 60 pounds (28 kg). It survived destruction during the Armenian genocide.

“Silent Angel,” by Antonia Arslan is a fictionalized account of its preservation, recounting how it was found after the destruction of its long-time home in the Sourp Arakelots Vank (Holy Apostles Monastery) in Moush and spirited to safety

The novella opens in 1915. The Turkish army, retreating before the Russians, is passing through the Valley of Moush in eastern Anatolia. It is largely inhabited by Christian Armenians, anathema to the Muslim Turks.

‘Three Good Leads’ Captures the Essence of Houston, Galveston During Spanish Flu Epidemic

 

It’s September 1918. Donald Brown is a photographer in Houston. His close friend Clara Barnes is a nursing student at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. “Three Good Leads,” by Richard Cunningham, is their story, which unfolds as World War I is approaching its climax and the Spanish influenza is sweeping the world — and the Texas Gulf Coast.

Orphaned by the 1900 Storm, Donald was adopted by a white family living in Freedman’s Town in Houston’s Fourth Ward. He picked up photography and become a freelance photographer, selling photographs to local newspapers.

In ‘Three Good Leads,” Donald has made a name for himself through photographs he took to accompany a series on the effects of the influenza plague sweeping through Houston written by reporter and mentor Clifford Murray.

Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘The Reunion’ proves to be a delight for all readers By […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review Joe Pickett returns in fast-paced mystery By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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There may be as many ways to write a novel as there are novels. Some are entered into carefully by the author, with a tightly-interlocking plot or set of sub-plots developed before the first word of the text is written. In others, the author has nothing more than a vague notion or an opening line […]

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Interviewer: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is A.N. Other-Look, welcoming you to another fascinating episode of Is That My Book? Tonight, we have a special treat for you. Breaking her decades-long silence on the subject, Ms L.M. Montgomery is with us tonight to share her thoughts about the most recent adaptation of her book, Anne […]

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OK, I’m playing fast and loose with Group Writing’s November “Novel” theme. It’s my birthday and I can be ornery (or cry) if I want to. Tell you what: this aging experience does daily enhance a “novel” perspective of life. I remember oldsters shaking their fingers at us when we were kids as they admonished […]

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When did you, as young adult, realize that the modifier “young” was no longer applicable? For me and some of my former fraternity brothers it was when we noticed that we were no longer as hot to get the newest gadget, see the newest movie, catch the newest band as we had been in college. […]

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Oh, Brave New World! The Novel World of Big Data.

 

Last week @claire posed the question “What does Facebook know about us?” It is a worthy question, and one not easily answered. Facebook certainly can automatically glean a number of facts about us, but as her post demonstrates, that does not translate necessarily well into knowing us. Why else would she constantly receive ads for products in which she clearly has no interest? Ours is a brave new world of massive data gathering and data mining, where our personal profiles, in any form, are traded much as one would once have traded baseball cards. Yet for all its ubiquitous reach, this is still new, it is still novel, and it is still buggy, as I will relate below.

I have some direct experience as a customer of Google’s Ad Words program, though this experience is now somewhat dated. Six years ago I enrolled my company as a buyer of Google advertising. The program is fairly simple:

  • Assign a monthly budget cap.
  • Pick or spell out the search terms where you want your listings to come up first.
  • Pick or spell out the search terms where you want your banner ads to appear in the search sidebar.
  • Bid on how much you want to pay per click.
  • Create your ads, and link them to the appropriate landing pages.

After some automated vetting by Google, your ads are (hopefully) approved, and, depending on your bidding levels, will appear accordingly. Others who have bid higher than you will have their ads appear more often, and in more prominence than yours. You are not billed per ad displayed, but by click-through. I ran with the program for 18 months, and it never paid for itself.

Member Post

 

National novel writing month, and I’ve finally decided to try and get one hammered out.  I’ve got several thousand words written, but that’s nowhere near what I should have done by this point.  I’ve had a lot of practice with not writing novels.  Back in high school, I’d planned out a series of three books.  […]

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Novels and Reality: Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote

 

As far as genres go, the novel is a relatively young one. Poetry and drama stretch back to antiquity and beyond, but what is widely considered to be the first novel didn’t arrive on the scene until the Renaissance was starting to draw to its close. This is Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’ monumental work in both the Spanish and English literary traditions.

Published around the same time that Shakespeare was writing his last plays in England, its importance is not due merely to chronology. You’ll find no shortage of praise for the novel or insight about Cervantes’ influence as the grandfather of the modern novel. Milan Kundera stated, “The novelist need answer to no one but Cervantes,” and Lionel Trilling mused, “It can be said that all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote.” One of these many themes is the nature of the relationship between fiction and reality, the limits between their likeness, and how we relate to the fiction we read. The novel is, at its core, a story about stories.

Don Quixote, né Alonso Quixano, is a character who wants to make himself into a character. So enamored of tales of noble knights and honor and quests, he decides to take this fiction and translate into the realm of his reality. Where the translation is rough, he bends and reinterprets the world around him to fit the preset narrative of the books in his library. Though a man nearing 50 in a Spain where knights and quests are relics of a distant past, he declares himself a knight-errant, Don Quixote of La Mancha, and leaves his home in search of quests and adventure. We the readers are in on the joke. Like other characters in the novel, we see reality for what it is. Dulcinea del Toboso, the Guinevere to Don Quixote’s Lancelot, is just a Spanish country girl. Rocinante the noble steed is nothing more than an exhausted nag. Our knight-errant’s shining armor is just an old, rusty suit he found in his house.