…in the VQR Young Reviewers Contest. Our own Emily Colette Wilkinson was awarded the prize for her review of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale. We’ll post a link if and when VQR puts the review online. Congrats Emily!
Today we’re unveiling an exciting new feature at The Millions. Over the last seven-plus years, we have written about thousands of books. Knowing that people like to dig through the archives to read about the books we’ve covered, we’ve tried to create ways to make that easier, but until now our efforts had proven unwieldy to use and to manage.
So, in an effort to solve this problem once and for all, we’ve spent several months putting together a new section that we are proud to show off today: The Millions Books and Reviews.
That main page is an exercise in serendipity. Hit refresh and ten new random books will appear that have been mentioned on the site at some point in our history. Click on any one of those covers and learn more — or hit refresh again.
If you are looking for something more specific, browse by author using the alphabetical navigation at the top of the page. From those pages you’ll be able to click through to any book and view The Millions’ coverage of that book.
You may notice that in some cases we have more than one listing for a book — this is because over the years we may have linked to more than one edition of the book (paperback and hardcover, most commonly).
We hope you find this new feature useful. Before I let you go check it out, I just wanted to thank our many readers who have supported the site. This support has allowed us to continue to innovate with features like this new section and hopefully provide a great experience for readers looking for book coverage online.
Please see our updated itineraryOne of the supreme pleasures of reading is the way adventures begun on the page – or on the screen – take on a life of their own. Since posting our revised and expanded “Walking Tour of New York’s Independent Bookstores” last week, we’ve been overwhelmed by great feedback. Now, the siren call of an afternoon of leisurely urban hiking having proven too enticing to resist, we’ve decided to make our hypothetical tour a reality. This May, we’re going to convene the First Annual Millions Walking Tour of New York’s Independent Book Stores. Notwithstanding the tough environment facing indies, we’ll get a chance to celebrate some of New York’s best, to explore what keeps them vital – and to hang out with fellow readers.The details:Time and date: Saturday, May 2nd, 11am (rain date Sunday May 3rd, 11am).Itinerary:While our online tour features 11 stops, for our first attempt in person, we’ve decided to shorten it to a more manageable six stops (and an approximate total distance of 4.5 miles).At 11am, we’ll meet at Three Lives (154 West 10th Street at Waverly Place)From there we’ll venture to Housing Works Used Book Cafe (126 Crosby St. between Prince and Houston), where we’ll try to snag some sort of coffee and snack special for those who like to nosh while they browse.Then it’s around the corner to McNally Jackson (52 Prince St. between Mulberry and Lafayette).Then a few blocks to Bluestockings (172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington)The next leg, taking us over the bridge to Brooklyn and to BookCourt (163 Court St. between Pacific and Dean) will be by far the longest (about 3 miles).And we’ll wrap things up at Freebird Books & Goods (123 Columbia St. between Kane & Degraw), which will host a little backyard party with beer and refreshments.With about a half hour at each stop, we anticipate that the whole tour will take three or four hours. We hope that you will join us. Anyone can just show up and come along, but if you RSVP to [email protected], we’ll be able to alert you if we need to postpone due to weather. The whole thing is going to be informal – no tour bus, no red umbrella – and if you want to try to catch up with us partway through, you are welcome to, but the only way to be sure to be with the group is to show up at Three Lives at 11am.Garth and Max will be leading the jaunt and we’ll likely be joined by one or two other Millions regulars. Please join us! If all goes well, perhaps we’ll reassemble in 2010 for another tour, focusing on the uptown venues we’ll be neglecting this time around.
Though it passed unremarked (I was on vacation), Monday was the five-year anniversary of The Millions. This blog started as something quite inconsequential. At the outset of The Millions, I would have put the chances of me sticking with it through the end of 2003, let alone for five years, at somewhere south of 5%. Making it this far is pretty astonishing.Those of you who have been with us for a long time know that I soon settled on books as a topic, discovered other people who had blogs about books, and eventually was joined here by some incredible writers (and readers).I used to use these annual occasions to expound upon the state of literary discourse online. In years past, there seemed to be quite a bit of excitement as individuals – talented enthusiasts and seasoned pros alike – staked out some online territory and sent their musings about things literary into the electronic ether. When the world, both readers and the mainstream press, began to take notice, it was thrilling. Certainly, we had some notable moments this past year: we talked Harry Potter, The Millions landed on NPR, and our Year in Reading set the bar high for year-end roundups (and that’s just to name a few. Check out the Notable Posts on the sidebar for more.)Nonetheless, there isn’t as much to say about the state of litblogs anymore. As I’ve noted in the past, they really have become assimillated, if not into the mainstream of traditional book reviewing culture, then undoubtedly into the massive miasma of personal publishing all over the web, where anyone can find their favorite nook and where no one will any longer bat an eye at hundreds of cross-pollinated blogs discussing books and whatever else.For this reason, I wasn’t all that surprised to hear that the Litblog Co-op folded recently (Dan Green made the announcement). It was an idea of an earlier period (only three years ago, but things move fast these days), when there were a few independent bloggers writing about literary matters with each, to varying degrees, commanding a small but measurable and loyal audience. Pool our resources, the idea went, and we can make an impact. It started off well and garnered a good deal of press, but it was doomed from the beginning in many ways. It wasn’t built to scale as the community grew, and there was no way for the hundreds of new bloggers and thousands of new readers to take meaningful part in the experiment. Combine that with the inherent challenges of managing a leaderless, decentralized group and it’s a testament to the people involved that it lasted as long as it did.I bowed out from the LBC early last year, facing too many constraints on my time and needing to cut back. Still, the end of that experiment prompts me to take stock of The Millions. Though some folks in the bookish corner of the blogosphere shy away from it, and others criticize their colleagues’ ad placement but stop the presses for flashy pledge drives, I am unashamedly proud of The Millions for marching onwards towards being a legitimate literature and arts publication. In a time when many are fearful of the diminishing commercial viability of literature and the arts, it is heartening to see that The Millions has grown from a hobby into a business, albeit one that is still nascent and that is, because of the small sums involved, still very much a labor of love. While I harbor no delusions that The Millions will become a heavyweight of the blog world, the opportunity is there to keep making it better, and I find that exciting.Before I wrap this ramble up, I want to thank our readers. We very much enjoy writing for you, and we value your intelligence, curiosity, and feedback. Thanks for another great year at The Millions.(And thanks to Mrs. Millions for creating the nifty “5” graphic above as a birthday gift for The Millions.)Birthdays Past: An Historic Day; The Millions Turns Two; Thanks for Three Years from The Millions, Four Years of The Millions.
I’m teaching another eight-week Short Fiction Workshop, which will begin March 12, 2009. This course differs from previous ones in that, aside from our examinations of published short fiction, we will also be reading nonfiction writing about writing (so far I’ve got Annie Dillard, Italo Calvino and Lewis Hyde on the list – with possible inclusion of Lynda Barry, Rick Bass, and Gary Lutz). These won’t be how-to discussions, but, rather, meditations on, among other things, what writing is like, both when it’s going well and when it’s going poorly (Dillard), and what it means to be an artist in this contemporary world (Hyde). I’m curious where discussions of these texts will take us. What you might suggest for this kind of syllabus?Here’s the official course description and my nifty bio.If you’re interested in the class, email me at [email protected]And…check out the new website!Short Fiction Workshop Spring 20098 Thursdays, 03/12/2009 to 05/07/2009 (no class 04/02/2009) 7:30-9:30 pm$340 for new students; $310 for returning studentsEnrollment limit: 8 StudentsFor the first four weeks of this eight week course, we will do in-class writing exercises and discuss published short fiction from a craft perspective. We will also read and discuss essays about writing and the writing life by such authors as Annie Dillard, Italo Calvino, and Lewis Hyde. For the final four weeks of the course we will workshop student work in a serious environment meant to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story manuscript.For more information, go here.About the Instructor:Edan Lepucki has an M.F.A from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has been published in Meridian, the Los Angeles Times, CutBank, Narrative Magazine, Avery, and the Los Angeles Review. She has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Oberlin College, the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, and for Vroman’s Bookstore’s Education Program. She is currently at work on a novel.