THE WALRUS SAID . . . . . . . . . being a bookish blog

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The biblio file: interesting images of libraries, for bibliophiles

New York Public Library, New York, New York

Annual winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901 (1945)


The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. The prize has been awarded annually since 1901. It is the world’s most prestigious literary award, although many of its recipients are now obscure. Critics have alleged that the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winners, is biased toward European writers. For whatever reason, most of the recipients have been European.

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)
Residence at the time of the award: Chile


Received the prize "for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world."

"They say it's your birthday" - writers born on October 17th



Jimmy Breslin  (1930)
Robert Jordan  (1948)
Mohja Kahf  (1967)
Arthur Miller  (1915)
Nathanael West  (1903)

Monday, October 16, 2017

The biblio file: interesting images of logos, for bibliophiles

Publisher's logo, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Annual winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901 (1944)


The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. The prize has been awarded annually since 1901. It is the world’s most prestigious literary award, although many of its recipients are now obscure. Critics have alleged that the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winners, is biased toward European writers. For whatever reason, most of the recipients have been European.

Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (1873-1950)
Residence at the time of the award: Denmark


Received the prize "for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style."

"They say it's your birthday" - writers born on October 16th



Gunter Grass  (1927) 
Thomas Lynch  (1948)
Eugene O’Neill  (1888) 
Oscar Wilde  (1854)
Kathleen Winsor  (1919)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The biblio file: interesting images of bookmarks, for bibliophiles

And you read your Emily Dickinson
And I my Robert Frost
And we note our place with book markers
That measure what we've lost

Annual winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901 (1939)


The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. The prize has been awarded annually since 1901. It is the world’s most prestigious literary award, although many of its recipients are now obscure. Critics have alleged that the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winners, is biased toward European writers. For whatever reason, most of the recipients have been European.

Frans Eemil Sillanpää (1888-1964) 
Residence at the time of the award: Finland


Received the prize "for his deep understanding of his country's peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature."

"They say it's your birthday" - writers born on October 15th



Italo Calvino  (1923)
Ed McBain  (1926)
Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844)
Mario Puzo  (1920)
Douglas Reeman  (1924)
P. G. Wodehouse  (1881)
Virgil  (70 B.C.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The biblio file: interesting images of logos, for bibliophiles

Publisher's logo, Vintage Books

Review: "Fallen Land," Taylor Brown


By Paul Carrier

To describe Fallen Land as a Civil War tale is a bit risky; the classification is simultaneously misleading and right on target.

Taylor Brown’s novel is set in the South during the last year of that conflict. Yet it does not focus on posturing politicians, garrulous generals or ghastly battles. There is no mention of strategy or tactics, of goings-on in Washington or Richmond, although the destruction of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea figure as backdrops.

Instead, we find 17-year-old Ava and Callum, a 15-year-old horse thief, joining forces in a desperate bid to evade marauders, highwaymen and a notorious bounty hunter in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as the two orphans try to escape from a surreal wasteland. A massive black stallion named Reiver is their only traveling companion.

At 273 pages, Fallen Land is concise, but it overflows with so many narrow escapes, violent confrontations and murderous encounters that the fleeing teenagers and the desperadoes who pursue them seem to occupy a much larger stage than the one Brown has provided.

This is Brown’s first novel, but boy, does this Georgia native know how to write. (A quibble: an occasional lapse into obtuse language. I’m quite sure I’d never seen a door described as having a “rhombic shape” before.) Believable characters, a spellbinding plot, crackling dialogue dipped in a convincing vernacular, and a nightmarish setting are on display. The author casts an otherworldly spell over the entire enterprise.

The bad guys hereabouts are a truly venomous bunch who “had long ago forsaken the war of newspapers for the one they carried everywhere with them, and which had no colors, no sides, and which could be fit neatly to any new opportunity that presented itself: ambush, pillage, torture.” This is a time and a place of men so lost and debased that they have “nothing but viciousness to keep them alive.”

It may be a cliché to describe a novel as unforgettable, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Fallen Land deserves that characterization, with its breathtaking mix of romance and courage and grit in the face of abominable cruelty, war-induced madness and senseless death.

And yet there are saving graces, even in this hell on earth. Brown continually mesmerizes with the lyricism of his prose, particularly when it comes to describing the natural world.

When Callum spots a flock of migrating geese overhead, he eyes “the gentle working of their wings, long-feathered for wind riding, and the neatly tucked pairs of webbed feet. The bottle-shaped contour of necks and bodies so sleek cutting through the sky, and hollow-boned, like something God-made of the truest reckonings.”

Brown offers up a love story in a setting that probably conveys the horrors of the Civil War, from a civilian point of view in the rural South, more intimately and convincingly than any nonfiction account could do.

We often visualize the Civil War as “a big, bilateral war with clear sides,” but that can be misleading, Brown said in a 2015 interview with writersbone.com. There were renegade bands and "outrages of every kind on both sides." Brown said he was intrigued by the idea of "a world where sides and loyalties were so muddled they hardly mattered. Everyone was a possible friend, a possible threat. Fear was everywhere.”

Blessed with a theme that is loosely reminiscent of Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain (1997), Fallen Land is a novel in which even secondary characters are indelible and the story line zigzags at the speed of a stallion in full gallop. Saddle up for a truly memorable ride.

Annual winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901 (1938)


The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. The prize has been awarded annually since 1901. It is the world’s most prestigious literary award, although many of its recipients are now obscure. Critics have alleged that the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winners, is biased toward European writers. For whatever reason, most of the recipients have been European.

Pearl Buck (1892-1973)
Residence at the time of the award: United States


Received the prize "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces."

"They say it's your birthday" - writers born on October 14th



E. E. Cummings  (1894)
Katherine Mansfield  (1888) 
Katha Pollitt  (1949)