Don’t blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called “puffery.” As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, “Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews.” The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.
New this week: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue; The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis; The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler; I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit; and Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries (recently reincarnated as HBO's True Blood), talks with Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen Press and Bookstore for her interview series "The Criminal Calendar." See the first of six YouTube installments here. Harris, like her most famous heroine, offers a mix of canny intuition and folksy charm. Asked about the bisexuality of one very old vampire in "the Sookie-verse" she answers Peters, "I figure if you live that long, you might as well diversify. Wouldn't you get bored, you would think--you'd be willing to try anything if you live that long."
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks back on this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
You may have heard us mention Electric Literature's Recommended Reading project recently. It's a great new venture in which short stories are selected by other prominent writers -- and it's recently surpassed its fundraising goal. Now, they've even combined the project with one of their most beloved classics: Single Sentence Animation. Check out this little ditty to accompany Ben Marcus's "Watching Mysteries With My Mother" and, of course, check out their Kickstarter page.