Posts Tagged ‘stuff’


A few interesting links.

January 10, 2012

So, I’ve just recovered from another bout of the Nero Wolfe Madness.  I’m reading a couple of things I hope to write about soon, but for now, here are some Redeeming Qualities-adjacent links.

Jess Nevins is doing a series on io9 in which he speculates about what science fiction and fantasy novels and stories might have won Hugos if the award had been established in 1885 rather than 1953. Nevins knows a lot about science fiction, he’s got an open mind, and I think he does a really amazing job of showing what the SFF writing/reading/publishing scene was like in the 1880s. I’m not much of a sci fi reader, so I really appreciate having a rundown of what’s good and what isn’t, and familiar names pop up on Nevins’ shortlists more often that I would have thought. The Victorian Hugos series is now up to 1889.

There’s a very cool article by Jennifer L. Brady at the online journal Common-Place that discusses letters sent to Susan Warner by fans of The Wide, Wide World. As someone with fond memories of reading the book, the article gave me warm and fuzzy feelings–as well as making some interesting suggestions  about the way people read sentimental novels and about 19th century fandom.  It’s called “Loving The Wide, Wide World.”

This is probably the meanest book review I’ve ever read, and while I understand that it might give an aspiring author nightmares, as a reviewer I find it to be a delight. The book is The Book of Kings, by James Thackera, and the reviewer is Philip Hensher.


In search of recommendations again

November 3, 2011

I’m about to go on vacation, and I’m not sure how much reading time I’m going to have, but there will be a couple of pretty long plane trips in there, so…anyone want to suggest things for me to put on my kindle?

ETA: Thanks for all the suggestions! See you in a little over a week!


Sylvia Contest Results

November 2, 2011

Okay, first of all: thanks to everyone who participated. There were not many of you, which obviously makes you all very special :) Special thanks to Skye for polling extra people, to the Cool Ballot Club (Tasha, Ted, Nell, HJ, Skye, and Lauren D., I think) for using the original coupon to submit their votes, and to Dylan for breaking a couple of ties at the very end.

Scoring the contest required putting together a list with the most popular artist for each numbered place. That looked like this:

Winner Ballot

As you can see, several artists ended up in multiple places, meaning one could get no more than eight places correct.  Read the rest of this entry ?


Last call for Sylvia Contest entries, guys

November 1, 2011

Sorry to keep bugging everyone, but:

Deadline tonight, 12am EDT, which is about four and a half hours from now.

You don’t even have to be interested–I’m interested enough for lots of people. Just vote!


Sylvia contest ending soon

October 28, 2011

Just a reminder that November first is the deadline for submitting an entry to the Sylvia contest. I’ve you haven’t entered, please do! It ought not to take more than, say, five minutes, and I would really appreciate it.

Thanks to those of you who have sent in entries already. If you sent in an entry and didn’t hear from me…hmmm. If you are Skye, Lauren S. or Lauren D., you have not heard from me because I’m being flaky. If you’re not and you haven’t received a reply to your entry, it’s because I didn’t get it.


Sylvia: a publicity stunt

September 6, 2011

Back in 1901, Small, Maynard & Co. published a truly terrible novel called Sylvia: the story of an American countess. It was witten by Evalyn Emerson. As far as I can tell, she never wrote anything else, and for we should all be grateful.

Anyway, Small, Maynard & Co., came up with a clever way to market the novel. They got a dozen well-known artists to draw portraits of Sylvia (apparently the most beautiful woman in the world) and asked readers to rank the protraits in order of beauty. The person whose guess came closest to the average would win. I’ve been unable to discover the results of the contest, but what I have found (it wasn’t difficult; they put it right in the front of the book) is the method used to tally the answers, and that means that I can recreate the contest. It won’t work if only a few people respond, and there’s a good chance that that’s what’s going to happen, but if this works, it will be really cool. And the more people that participate, the cooler it will be.

So: Please participate! Send your friends to participate! Link here from your blog, tumblr, twitter, etc.! The person whose ranking comes closest to the average will win a review by me of the book of their choice* Contest entries should contain all twelve artist names, ranked by beauty, and should be sent to You don’t have to use the coupon below for your answers, but if you do, I will be super impressed. Contest ends…well, let’s say November 1st. Read the rest of this entry ?


American Cloth

July 16, 2011

A thing I neglected to add to the end of my post on The Silver Dress:

I found myself wondering, as I read The Silver Dress, what “American cloth” might be. And apparently I wasn’t the only one, as you can see from this 1913 inquiry in The New York Times. But these days, we have the internet, so I was able to find an answer here, from an 1892 Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods.


Reviews at EP: The Clue

July 10, 2011

Several weeks ago, I followed up my reread of Vicky Van with my first ever reading of The Clue, Carolyn Wells’ first mystery novel. It’s possible that it’s also her best mystery novel, although I also kind of think it’s her worst ever use of Fleming Stone.


Unrelatedly, I’m so fond of recieving recommendations from readers that I’ve put up a page specifically for that purpose. You can find it here or in the sidebar.


Top 10 Underappreciated Children’s Books 2/3

May 17, 2011

Here’s part two. You may notice that the formatting is unbelieveably horrible. I tried to fix it, but I’ve given up now.

Part 1/3

Read the rest of this entry ?


Let’s do a poll.

May 2, 2011

I’ve got a couple of posts in the pipeline, and now I’m trying to figure out what I want to write about next. I’m hoping you guys can help me out.

I am also, as ever, open to other recommendations.


A letter from Mary Johnston

February 24, 2011

I know I keep spamming you guys with…things that aren’t book reviews, but I just keep coming across all this nifty stuff.

From Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill. “Mary Johnston, Suffragist.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 100.1 (1992): 99-118.


Random fun from The Bookman

February 24, 2011


Because we think she’s awesome.

October 13, 2010

So, I have no idea what happened with my last post.

I wrote a couple of paragraphs about The Social Secretary and saved them as a draft. Then I got distracted by The Bookman. There was a link I wanted to save, and I pasted it into the draft. And then, instead of saving it, I pressed publish.

I unpublished it pretty quickly, but it looks from the site stats like it might have stayed in the RSS feed? If you saw it, I apologize.

If you went to the URL in the post, you probably found a piece about how Carolyn Wells wanted a new word for light verse. Eh. But if you looked around a little more, you might have found the thing I didn’t want to lose track of. It was on the letters page.

A lady in Chicago, who signs her letter “F. E.,” asks a question and makes a remark. We shall consider each of these separately.

(i) Why are you always so respectful to Carolyn Wells?

Because we admire her so much.

I have omitted the remark.

From The Bookman, p. 170

Also, the full post on The Social Secretary is up now.


Cosmo Hamilton doesn’t know how closely we’ve observed him

October 7, 2010

From The Bookman.


Racism, xenophobia, etc.

September 28, 2010

Note: I’m not trying to criticize authors for views that were widely accepted at the time in which they were writing. Or, at least, not much. Mostly I’m trying to take a semi-critical view of my feelings on the subject.

I think I’ve talked about this here before, but I’m still not sure how to deal with racism and xenophobia when they show up in the books I talk about here. And they show up a lot.

Every time all the black characters are stupid, or the author talks about the whites of their eyes a lot, or Chinese people are conniving opium addicts, or the entire Italian population of New York lives for the opportunity to steal a white man’s job, it’s offensive. It’s never not going to be offensive. And if I’m already not really liking a book, an instance of blatant xenophobia will probably make me stop reading it.

But what about the books that have a lot going for them until the narrator takes a trip through his local Chinatown and shudders with disgust at the population?

You can’t judge an author writing in 1900 for their racism the same way you could if they were writing now. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they get a free pass, either. Read the rest of this entry ?