Monthly Archives: February 2015

Shelley Ettinger’s VERA’S WILL!

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Shelley Ettinger’s Very First Novel! is now available and getting superb reviews!    Shelley Ettinger, co-founder of Politerature.com, has just had her first novel published by Hamilton Stone Editions.    It is getting fantastic reviews!  For example, Library Journal says:

Shelley Ettinger’s Vera’s Will is 
“Powerful, superbly written” and “a breathtaking achievement”!!!

Other comments include:

Vera’s Will is a beautifully written family saga with a twist that tells the parallel stories of a woman and her granddaughter who are both lesbian. Their intersecting stories, one that begins a hundred years ago in Czarist Russia and the other that begins in suburban America, re-create in vivid detail their historical epochs. One is a story of self-sacrifice, the other is a story of liberation; the author’s great gift is to show us how they intertwine.  Michael Nava, author of  The City of Palaces

Vera’s Will is a novel of tremendous insight, and tremendous import. Shelley Ettinger moves expertly between two compelling voices, between the recent and distant past, between the personal and political, writing with clarity and heart. Too many stories are lost to history, too many voices are silenced, often the stories and voices we need most. Vera’s Will is not only a deeply moving book, but a gift, and a kind of rescue. Justin Torres, author of  We the Animals

Vera’s Will spans the twentieth century and three generations, taking us from Russian pogroms to immigrant struggles, from family-ravaging homophobia to GLBT resistance. Ettinger’s captivating story is rich with social and cultural detail, alive with generously-drawn characters, and unflinching in its political passion. Ellen Meeropol, author of  On Hurricane Island

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Book Leaf Reports on FBI Surveillance

Great article about how the FBI surveilled (and influenced) Black writers from 1919 to 1972. I’ll bet it goes beyond ’72. Am I cynical or have I just been paying attention?

This just goes to show how political writers (literary works) are. Even the ones who don’t think they are: because to not engage with politics is a vote for how things are.

In light of this article, should writers seek out FBI personnel to critique their manuscripts? Retired FBI people could set themselves up a little critique business: writers send in their manuscripts to be assessed for political potency. The highest praise of a manuscript would be: “Likely to start revolution.” The lowest: “The government (or perhaps more accurately, the 1%) has nothing to worry about.”

Excerpt from the article, but recommend the whole thing:

… said Maxwell. “I knew Hoover was especially impressed and worried by the busy crossroads of black protest, leftwing politics, and literary potential. But I was surprised to learn that the FBI had read, monitored, and ‘filed’ nearly half of the nationally prominent African American authors working from 1919 (Hoover’s first year at the Bureau, and the first year of the Harlem Renaissance) to 1972 (the year of Hoover’s death and the peak of the nationalist Black Arts movement). In this, I realized, the FBI had outdone most every other major institution of US literary study, only fitfully concerned with black writing.”

Maxwell’s book about his discovery, FB Eyes: How J Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, is out on 18 February from Princeton University Press. It argues that the FBI’s attention was fueled by Hoover’s “personal fascination with black culture”, that “the FBI is perhaps the most dedicated and influential forgotten critic of African American literature”, and that “African American literature is characterised by a deep awareness of FBI ghostreading”.

Princeton said that while it is well known that Hoover was hostile to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Maxwell’s forthcoming book is the first exposé of “the extent to which the FBI monitored and influenced African American writing” between 1919 and 1972.

… The academic told the Guardian that he believes the FBI monitoring stems from the fact that “from the beginning of his tenure at the FBI … Hoover was exercised by what he saw as an emerging alliance between black literacy and black radicalism”.

Highly recommended:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/09/fbi-monitored-african-american-writers-j-edgar-hoover

Richard Wright’s ditty is wonderful:
“every place I look, Lord / I find FB eyes / I’m getting sick and tired of gover’ment spies”

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Thoughts about Amazon.com

It seems like Amazon.com is always in the news.  Is Amazon the AntiChrist?  What is it doing today to/for writers and small publishers?

For a long time, I’ve been putting a note on my newsletter for readers and writers suggesting  alternative places to buy books  (the unionized Powell’s for example, and all the local brick-and-mortar book stores).

A while back,  Jonathan Greene, publisher of Gnomon Books, made the point that, on balance, Amazon has done more positive than negative for small presses. On her blog “ReadWriteRed,”  Shelley Ettinger has several posts offering thoughts on monopolies and Mom-‘n-Pop books stores from a left perspective: See  http://readwritered.blogspot.com/2009/11/neither-mom-nor-pop-nor-monopoly.html  and http://readwritered.blogspot.com/2009/11/sorry-mom-pop.html.  She also talks about the essential selfishness of many of the Big Writers , with more here.

And finally– only because it’s the most recent post chronologically– I have a post about why International Octopus is what you get under our politico-economic system, but at least Amazon carries my books.

Let us know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

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