Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Reaching up just to touch the bottom: Crumbs

Mon, 24 Feb 2014

Today, Glasgow publisher Freight Books brings out the new English-language edition of Miha Mazzini’s Crumbs.

Titled The Cartier Project when the novel was first published in English translation a decade ago, it’s the darkly comic story of an ambitious young writer stuck in a dismal factory town and his attempts to stay one step ahead of hopelessness and corruption by relying on charisma and status symbols. Among his crowd of hard-drinking friends, he manages the illusion with varying degrees of success. Mostly, he devotes his time to sexual conquests, in real life and on the pages of his pseudonymous erotic fiction.

Although Crumbs is set in a deteriorating Yugoslavia in the years before Slovenia obtained its independence, the story resonates with publisher Adrian Searle, who sees it as “an utterly unique commentary on the pathology of self-determination.” He believes the book will have immediate relevance for readers in Scotland, as the country anticipates a 2014 referendum on its independence from the UK.

CRUMBS by Miha MazziniBBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth interviewed the book’s author, Miha Mazzini, for her broadcast the Culture Studio, which also covers music. You can listen online to a free podcast of the program, in which Mazzini looks back on and attempts to explain the popularity his bestselling novel has enjoyed. The starting point for the 15-minute segment in which Forsyth and Mazzini discuss Crumbs is 1:03:00.

Freight also produced a 10-minute video of the author describing the organically punk style of his novel and the need for satire during a period when society is falling apart and materialism becomes everyone’s driving motivation.

Which litmags are you reading for entertainment?

Fri, 24 Jan 2014

If you’re a creative writer, literary magazines might interest you for reasons that differ from the motives of a person who reads them simply for pleasure and entertainment. I look at litmags from several angles and pay attention to the new as often as the long established.

three magazines
Rarely do new literary publications launch with instant, magnetic reader appeal. A new clothing retailer, restaurant, or movie is expected to focus marketing and advertising efforts to attract business. Even churches advertise in order to bring in new congregation members. Literary magazines seem relegated to a category of enterprises, such as law offices, physicians’ practices, and nannies, that are expected to do thriving business on word of mouth alone.

three magazines
I’m curious. Do you subscribe to or regularly read, either in print or online, a literary publication that you enjoy a lot? How did you first encounter it? Please elaborate in the comments, if you will. I’d love to know some other readers’ perspectives.

The well-established litmags pictured above:
SmokeLong Quarterly
Poetry Northwest
Gulf Coast
Natural Bridge

The books that have stayed with me

Mon, 9 Dec 2013

This is my response to Robert Gray’s status update on Facebook today. I’ve hijacked it. This blog feeds automatically to my Facebook profile and Google+, so my list will wander back where it belongs and elsewhere.
red and gold gift
Feel free to comment here, or follow the meme’s instructions and post your list on Facebook, or do both!

Then, get to know Shelf Awareness, if you aren’t already a subscriber. It’s free. Gray is an editor and columnist for the book trade publication. You’ll appreciate his considerate, intelligent, reliable, and always lovely commentary.

In your status line, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard—they don’t have to be “right” or “great” works, just ones that have touched you. Tag 10 friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. I am sure I have forgotten hundreds that I will regret once I post this and tomorrow’s list might differ from today’s, but here goes:

The Vagabond by Colette

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage by Pete Dexter

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

Night by Elie Wiesel

Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine

Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

This is my list today and not listed in order, just listed.

To see Robert Gray’s own list of titles, go to his Facebook profile.

This meme is much nicer, I think, than the “best of” lists and promotional campaigns, which I see every day, especially at this time of year. I confess that I always pay closer attention to Gray’s Facebook posts than to the same pieces published elsewhere. It’s a natural tendency. What do you make of that?

Photo courtesy of Davide Guglielmo

Find a bookstore

Fri, 22 Nov 2013

This list was burgeoning in my blogroll, so I promoted it to a post. When you travel, it’s a handy reference, so bookmark it on your smartphone. You know you’ll want something new to read on the road.


6 Exceptional Shopping Experiences for the Bookworm
8 Beautiful Bookstores in Residential Spaces
8 Bookstores in Barns
18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit At Least Once
Adorable Book Dealers of the World
Beautiful & Bizarre Bookstores of the World
The Best Places for Bookstore Browsing
Directory of Rare & Antiquarian Booksellers
Literary Tourist
Rare and Antiquarian Book Vendors
Six Cool Bookstores
Weird and Wonderful Bookshops of the World
The world’s most inspiring bookstores


Australia’s best independent bookshops


Best Bookstores to Visit in Canada


Bookshops in Berlin
Bookstore Guide – an amateur guide to book shopping throughout Europe


The 50 Best bookshops
50 best specialist bookshops in the UK
Book & Kitchen Ltd. (London)
The London Bookshop Map
One Book on the Shelf (London)
The Verdicts | The Matilda Project (London)


7 Bookstores We Love in America’s Most Literate City (Washington, DC)
The 10 Best Bookstores In NYC
10 Bookstores in 10 Literary Cities That You Don’t Want to Miss
African-American bookstores
America’s Best Bookstores
Bookstore Maps
Comic Shop Locator Service
Find Any Book Imaginable at These Fifteen Indie Bookstores (NYC)
Indie Store Finder
New bookstores in NYC 2013: The best independent additions
Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day
What Do NYC Bookstores Have that London’s Lack?

Recognition for Miha Mazzini’s novella The German Lottery

Mon, 11 Nov 2013

Good news comes from the lovely little publisher CB editions in London:

Miha Mazzini’s The German Lottery is on the IMPAC Dublin longlist, announced today. It’s translated from the Slovenian. It’s one of those books that flies under the radar of the reviewing machinery…

THE GERMAN LOTTERY by Miha MazziniThere are 152 nominees for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the winner of which will be announced in 2014. Dublin City Public Libraries manages the award process. This is the second time Mazzini’s fiction has been nominated for the prize.

Last week, Miha Mazzini and Marko Plahuta were invited participants in the Memefest workshop, Food Democracy, at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia.

All the best writers are eager to learn

Wed, 12 Jun 2013

I have this bias. I believe that the best writers are people who love to learn, who are open to experimentation, who fight to understand and improve. A writer who claims to know it all, who is certain and inflexible, also is pompous and boring on the page.

Although people naturally separate into camps that become echo chambers, the web still enables the alternatives: bridges and connections, exposure to otherness, new ways to learn.

A few good online learning locations for writers:

Charles E. May’s blog – Reading the Short Story

Goodreads’ group – Middle East/North African Lit

Joel Friedlander’s blog – The Book Designer

Lucy V. Hay’s writing craft tips – Bang2write


Care to share where you go online to learn more about the art, craft, and business of creative writing?

Part 2 of 3: Trends in traditional book publishing

Sun, 19 May 2013

“What changes do you see coming in traditional publishing business models and contracts?”

Here’s Part 2 of the answer I gave to the Sisters in Crime of Upstate SC writers’ group earlier this month.


There are increasing numbers of ebook-first imprints, designed to reduce publishers’ up-front investment in new, unproven novelists. Get used to this concept, because minimizing risk is a prudent business strategy.


Quite a few new imprints dedicated to crime fiction, including crime novels in translation, have been launched over the past few years, as a result of the success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.

Have you noticed that dark, horrifying, and brutal seem to be selling well these days? Vendettas appeal to readers, who might be growing accustomed to unconventional protagonists who are more renegade than heroic.


Go to Part 1 of 3: Trends in traditional book publishing

Go to Part 3 of 3: Trends in traditional book publishing

European Literature Night 2013: Miha Mazzini among authors to appear at the British Library

Thu, 9 May 2013

European Literature Night 15 May 2013
On Wednesday, May 15, 2013, BBC arts journalist Rosie Goldsmith will host European Literature Night at the British Library Conference Centre, located at 96 Euston Road in London.

Two esteemed publishers who also happen to be gifted writers, Meike Ziervogel of Peirene Press and Charles Boyle of CB editions, will be present with two of their authors, Birgit Vanderbeke and Miha Mazzini. Accompanied by half a dozen additional award-winning authors from across Europe, the audience will embark on a literary journey spanning the region, from Spain to the Netherlands to Turkey, with entertaining stops along the way.

Page 2 of European Literature Night 13 May 2013
Rosie Goldsmith invites the public to “enjoy an evening of readings where the personal and the political sit side by side, shift places and remind us all of the joy and pain of being alive.”

Page 1 European Literature Night 15 May 2013
Tickets for European Literature Night 2013 can be reserved through the online box office.

Sponsors include European Union National Institutes for Culture – London, the European Commission Representation in the UK, and the Czech Centre London. European Literature Night is produced by Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions with the participation of Foyles bookstore.

Download program brochure (PDF)
Video of the entire program

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