Monthly Archives: August 2011

Kick the Kindle’s …

… Ads.

On a recent flight from Los Angeles to Portland (home of Powell’s, one of the coolest bookstores ever!), I found myself engaged in a delightful discussion about the t- (for traditional) vs e-book with the guy next to me.

My seatmate’s wife had given him a Kindle, which is great for all the traveling he does, but like me, he misses seeing, smelling, coveting a “real” book. We mourned the loss of an era, wondering if the traditional book will go the way of cassettes, vhs tapes, or God forbid, the 8-track. The conversation led to a critique of the current commercials and advertising: the geeky old PC geezer trying to keep up with the cute young MAC girl; the cute young girl on her way to a brick-and-mortar bookstore waylaid by a hip young man with a Kindle. No elaborate sets, no fancy props; just the facts, ma’am.

So why not, we thought, fight fire with fire? What if traditional publishers (or the many, many smaller, indie pubs) create their own ads? A couple of cool twenty-somethings on a long flight, one enjoying a book while the other’s iPad loses battery power. Fans lined up to have Stephen King sign their … Kindle. Walking through a hip Soho loft with a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, empty but for a … Nook.

I’m not opposed to progress or technology; I think ebooks are great, too. But let’s not “close the book” on books. Hey, even the vinyl record is making a comeback!

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Apostrophe Teed Off

Just in time for back-to-school shopping, Old Navy will probably be offering T-shirts of 70 major colleges at reduced prices, thanks to a punctuation faux pas: a rah-rah cry to “Let’s Go” without the apostrophe.


I’ve always believed proofreading would pay off!

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Out of this Atmosphere

Another recent book review, in case you’re looking for a quirky read!

Intriguing ‘Atmospheric Disturbances’ amuses
Posted by Jami Carpenter, Las Vegas Review-Journal guest reviewer
Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 at 05:00 AM

I’m a sucker for books with odd titles. Hence, when I came across Rivka Galchen’s debut novel, “Atmospheric Disturbances,” I was tickled, to say the least.

And the story is intriguing. A psychiatrist believes his wife has disappeared and a “false” wife has replaced her, a woman who walks, talks, smiles — even brushes her teeth — just like her. Well, almost. Dr. Liebenstein believes the woman’s imitation is almost perfect, but off just slightly, just enough that he knows the real Rema is somewhere else and he has to find her.

The story might sound ludicrous at first, but Galchen’s writing is so masterful, so compelling, that I was drawn into the bizarre twilight zone of his mind as he searches for her, reaching at the most abstract connections, reminding me of the days we looked for clues on the cover of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album that Paul McCartney was truly dead.

Teetering on science fiction, Galchen cleverly weaves in meteorological research and psychiatric studies to aid Dr. Liebenstein in his quest; was this all a tongue-in-cheek ruse or a serious and real (well, it is fiction) story? I found myself torn between deeply concentrating on the minute details of the doctor’s findings and laughing at the absurdity of it all. I was amazed at his perseverance as he travels from their apartment in New York City to Argentina, where his Rema was born and her mother still lives, though he’s never met her. I was amused as he muddles through one mysterious lead after another, thinking he’s almost unlocked the secret and he needs to hang on just a little longer, yet other times, I thought he was simply crazy.

Who, though, hasn’t looked at a spouse, a parent, a child behaving out of character and thought, “Who are you, and what have you done with my … ?” I can’t say I loved the book, but I also couldn’t stop reading it. Like an antibiotic, I knew that after finishing it, I would be better for it. “Atmospheric Disturbances” had me re-evaluating my own relationships, questioning what was real, what really mattered, and was that really my husband with a vacuum?


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Never. Give. Up.

Writer-clients frequently ask me if I think their manuscript is “good enough,” if they should try to publish, if they should quit after getting rejected. My response? It doesn’t matter what I think – it matters only if they believe in themselves.

If you haven’t seen Kathryn Stockett’s post about her book The Help being rejected sixty times before being accepted and eventually becoming a bestseller – and now a movie, read it here:

She is proof positive that if you want to be a published author, you should never give up.


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State of Wonder is Wonderful!

When I find a good book, I love to share…
Ann Patchett’s ‘State of Wonder’ wonderful
Posted by Jami Carpenter, Las Vegas Review-Journal guest reviewer
Tuesday, Aug. 09, 2011 at 05:00 AM

After reading “Bel Canto” many years ago, I fell in love with author Ann Patchett and carried my adoration of her writing through four other books, each time fearful I might be disappointed, as so often happens.

I needn’t panic.

Patchett’s latest, “State of Wonder,” is exquisite storytelling. Methodically and masterfully, Patchett weaves a subtle, yet powerful, tale with an ending that haunts me; an ending she had prepared me for — though I was still surprised — and as much as I regret, is perfect.

We travel from a bustling Minnesota city to the Amazon jungle with Dr. Marina Singh, a pharmacologist with a large pharmaceutical company. She is ill-suited for the journey but determined to satisfy her employer’s concerns for the research being conducted there on the company’s behalf, as well as discover the truth about the death of a colleague who had been sent there before her.

With her trademark literary style — succinct, almost sparse narrative — Patchett immerses us in a fictional culture far-removed from our own world, from modern technology and convenience. Her characters are complex and at the same time, simple and straightforward. She creates heart-pounding situations that are both bizarre and believable, so accurate in detail that we have no choice but to accept — an anaconda that almost crushes a young boy; a tribeswoman who nearly loses her life, and the life of her baby, in childbirth; threats of malaria and monsoons. For a time, we forget about traffic and noise and Midwestern winters and embrace wild mushrooms and mosquito netting.

I appreciate Patchett’s respect for the reader — not telling us everything, but allowing us to see and figure out for ourselves. I couldn’t wait to settle down and read each night, yet I hated to finish it — the most wonderful compliment of all.


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