Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 56

Good day to you all, and welcome back for yet another issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, with this being our 56th outing to date! Today, we will start things off by taking a look at the Nantucket Book Festival, and how far it has come in recent years. Following that, we will dive into more somber territory with an homage to Iain Banks, written by Ian Rankin. Finally, we will lighten the mood a bit and finish things off with a discussion as to why poetry is necessary in our lives.

From Zero to Hero

When it began only a few years ago, the Nantucket Book Festival had many people doubt whether or not it could turn into a success story. Well, only three years after it began, the festival has become one of the most renowned of its kind, and though it may not feel like a long time, many interesting events have transpired since its inception, ones worth remembering.
A literary success story
The Nantucket Book Festival, cofounded by island bookstore owner Wendy Hudson, has come a long way in three years. This year’s gathering, which starts Friday, boasts a star-studded roster of about three dozen authors appearing at the private Westmoor Club, the historic Nantucket Atheneum, and elsewhere.

For the little ones, there’s a pirate story hour aboard the Belle. The cultured set can opt for a $100-a-person lunch with John F. Mariani, author of “How Italian Food Conquered the World” (Macmillan). Those who prefer a meditative state can attend a free yoga class and talk by Sara DiVello, author of “Where in the OM Am I? One Woman’s Journey from the Corporate World to the Yoga Mat” (Worcester Square).

Interestingly, this year’s festival features only three Nantucket residents, all year-rounders: Elin Hilderbrand, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Nancy Thayer. Many of Hilderbrand’s and Thayer’s novels take place on Nantucket. Hilderbrand’s “The Matchmaker” (Little, Brown) was published June 10. Thayer’s “Nantucket Sisters” (Ballantine) is being released on Tuesday.

Philbrick’s big break came with “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex’’ (Viking), his account of the sinking of a Nantucket ship that won the 2000 National Book Award. Ron Howard is directing a film version.
Read full article: The Boston Globe - A literary success story

“Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” earned Peter Brown the Boston Globe-Horn Book award for best picture book.

The Loss of a Friend

Because of the importance authors hold in our lives it is often easy to forget that they too are mortals and subject to the same ultimate fate as quite literally everyone else. And so it is with bittersweet melancholy that Ian Rankin commemorates the death of his dear friend, Iain Banks, a man who by all accounts made this world a better place.
My hero: Iain Banks by Ian Rankin
My fellow writer and occasional drinking companion Iain Menzies Banks died on 9 June 2013. When his cancer was diagnosed in the February of that year he emailed friends to share the news. The email was typical Iain – not at all downbeat or maudlin; almost jaunty, in fact.

He made sure that by the time word got out to the public at large, he and his partner Adele were outside the UK and away from the media glare, leaving some of us to meet at our spiritual home – the Abbotsford bar on Edinburgh's Rose Street – to shake our heads and mutter the usual well-meant cliches. Iain wouldn't have wanted to hear any of it, and when he eventually did join us for what turned out to be a last session together, we spoke mostly of other things, though he did joke about his jaundiced colouring, comparing himself to Grandpa Simpson.

The Iain of the Abbotsford is the one I'll remember, arching back his head to let loose a guffaw at some joke or comment, then running with the idea, his nostrils flaring at the scent of a story. There was always a childlike gleam in his eye, as if he relished the intricacies of the world while still seeking to make sense of them, and this is reflected in the variety and imaginative brio of his written work.
Read full article: The Guardian - My hero: Iain Banks by Ian Rankin

Iain Banks in Edinburgh, 2007. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

The Unsung Importance of Poetry

It is difficult to know whether it has always been like this, or how long it's been like this for, but it seems that the world is straying from its poetic ways with increasing regularity in favor of the dull prose. It seems that all too many out there forget the tremendous importance poetry holds in our lives, and how much it can improve them if simply given a chance.
Poetry: Who Needs It?
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — WE live in the age of grace and the age of futility, the age of speed and the age of dullness. The way we live now is not poetic. We live prose, we breathe prose, and we drink, alas, prose. There is prose that does us no great harm, and that may even, in small doses, prove medicinal, the way snake oil cured everything by curing nothing. But to live continually in the natter of ill-written and ill-spoken prose is to become deaf to what language can do.

The dirty secret of poetry is that it is loved by some, loathed by many, and bought by almost no one. (Is this the silent majority? Well, once the “silent majority” meant the dead.) We now have a poetry month, and a poet laureate — the latest, Charles Wright, announced just last week — and poetry plastered in buses and subway cars like advertising placards. If the subway line won’t run it, the poet can always tweet it, so long as it’s only 20 words or so. We have all these ways of throwing poetry at the crowd, but the crowd is not composed of people who particularly want to read poetry — or who, having read a little poetry, are likely to buy the latest edition of “Paradise Lost.”

This is not a disaster. Most people are also unlikely to attend the ballet, or an evening with a chamber-music quartet, or the latest exhibition of Georges de La Tour. Poetry has long been a major art with a minor audience. Poets have always found it hard to make a living — at poetry, that is. The exceptions who discovered that a few sonnets could be turned into a bankroll might have made just as much money betting on the South Sea Bubble.
Read full article: The New York Times - Poetry: Who Needs It?

Welcome to the line which marks the last paragraph of this week's Gliding Over the World of Literature issue. Though things may sometimes derail into tragedy with authors leaving us too soon, it is good to be reminded of why literature holds such an important place in our lives, and that its roots will always give new life in one way or another. Until we see each other next time, and happy readings until then!

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