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Book Blog - Likely Stories, by Keir Graff - Booklist Online

Likely Stories

A Booklist Blog
Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

Archive for November, 2008

Tue, November 18th, 2008
My goodness, are good reviews bad?
Posted by: Keir Graff

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Joe Queenan takes the unusual position that his own book, My Goodness: A Cynic’s Short-Lived Search for Sainthood, was overpraised (“Enough with the Sweet Talk“). This brings us to the least-discussed subject in the world of belles-lettres: book reviews that any author worth his salt knows are […]


Mon, November 17th, 2008
A Fraction of A Fraction of the Whole
Posted by: Keir Graff

To avoid unintended merriment at my expense, I’ll keep this short: Cynthia Crossen thinks A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz, is too long (“A Book in Need of a Good Editor,” The Wall Street Journal): But the blurbers and reviewers were so enthusiastic — Mr. Toltz was compared to Mark Twain, John Irving, Martin Amis, […]


Fri, November 14th, 2008
One ‘Funny’ Prize and Two Serious Ones
Posted by: Courtney Jones

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize winners were announced last night. Congrats to Ursala Jones (The Witch’s Children Go To School) and Andy Stanton (Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear). The prize is split up into two categories: books for children ages six and younger, and books for children ages seven to fourteen. Each winner receives £2,500. […]


Fri, November 14th, 2008
The Writer of The Dragon Tattoo
Posted by: Keir Graff

Maybe I’m just a soft-hearted guy who’s more interested in books and movies than in news about how much money books and movies earn, but NPR’s segment yesterday (“The Making of a Posthumous Best-Seller“) about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left me cold. The focus of the piece wasn’t so much about the book or its author as […]


Wed, November 12th, 2008
But what about narrative nonfiction?
Posted by: Keir Graff

Fiction fans who get red in the face when people tell them, “I only read nonfiction–I like to learn things,” have found unlikely allies: a team of researchers from Manchester University and the London School of Economics. In a report titled “The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge,” the authors […]


Wed, November 12th, 2008
Boyden Wins The Giller
Posted by: Courtney Jones

After what his fans considered to be a snub of his first novel (Three Day Road), Joseph Boyden won The Scotiabank Giller Prize last night. The trophy and a $50,000 Canadian cash prize for his second novel, Through Black Spruce, more than make up for any hurt feelings. Boyden is not the only winner. The other four runners up […]


Tue, November 11th, 2008
Dear Mr. President-Elect
Posted by: Keir Graff

Write a letter to the President-Elect, become a published author–well, maybe. Skyhorse is publishing Letters to President Obama in spring 2009, and they want you to write one. Poor guy, he hasn’t even taken office yet and already everyone’s telling him what to do. But better you tell him what to do than some other […]


Tue, November 11th, 2008
Nam Le Wins the Dylan Thomas
Posted by: Courtney Jones

Mr. Le will take home the $92,000 prize for his short story collection, The Boat.  Drawing from his personal history helped wow the judges: The chair of the Dylan Thomas Prize judging panel, Peter Florence, said Le’s work “demonstrated a rare brilliance that is breathtaking both in the scope of its subject matter and the […]


Mon, November 10th, 2008
“You took this book out in 1971.”
Posted by: Keir Graff

Between a monumental morning meeting and a looming deadline for REaD ALERT, I’ve hardly had a moment to read or write about book news. But I did find time to watch a clip forwarded by Valerie Hawkins, the American Library Association’s own library reference specialist. Seinfeld’s OK, but Philip Baker Hall is terrific. For some […]


Fri, November 7th, 2008
Quickly: Boiled Hippos, Crichton the Noodge, Obama the Poet, Six-Word Memoirs
Posted by: Keir Graff

In The Telegraph (“The young generation“), John Walsh offers the story behind the finally-published collaboration between Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. You can read my review, but I’m inclined to agree with Walsh that it’s more “a fascinating snapshot from a lost era” than a lost literary masterpiece. You […]





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