‘Book Bites’ for Tuesday 19th May 2009

Ever seen Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky rap? – I’m sure you all know by now that I’m a big fan of Harper Perennial’s Fifty-Two Stories website, a website which promotes the short story form by offering a free short story every week. Well Fifty-Two Stories forms part of a larger campaign by Harper Perennial, a campaign to get everyone reading short stories over this coming summer (and a worthy campaign it is to, if I may add).

Leaning heavily on a quote by bestselling author Ann Patchett – “Summer is short, read a story”, as the summer gets closer and sun gets hotter, so does Harper Perennial’s campaign. They’ve now enlisted the help of a number of authors to get the word out in a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs), and they certainly make for fun viewing. Here’s a rundown. Go watch them (all YouTube links):

Also, in promotion of “Summer is short, read a story”, Harper Perennial have produced an hilarious short story rap video, which stars a whole bunch of unlikely rap stars; stars who originate from Harper Perennial’s new classic short story collection range. Miss this at your peril!

Speculating about Murakami’s new novel – There’s a great post by Ben Dooley over at The Millions blog regarding the Japanese launch of Haruki Murakami’s new novel at the end of this month, and some of the speculative talk that’s going around about what exactly the novel is about. It seems the content is being closely guarded, and all we do know is the novel’s enigmatic title 1Q84, and the fact that it’s going to be tome-like in size (2 volumes in fact). It would be wrong of me to pass on any of Ben’s gathered speculation so I invite you to head on over to The Millions blog and read the post for yourself. It’s worth it!

Mosse champions Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath – Looks like I’ve got a new friend for life in Labyrinth author Kate Mosse, as she picked John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (one of my all-time favourites), as part of her 40-book selection for the Waterstone’s Writer’s Table campaign. You may remember I’ve spoken about the ingenious Waterstone’s Writer’s Table before. It’s a marketing promotion in which writers give their recommendations on 40 titles which have helped shaped their literary career. At the time I spoke about it the campaign was featuring Nick Hornby, and now the focus has turned to Kate Mosse.

Mosse’s list is actually wide-ranging and the Steinbeck inclusion isn’t the only title I approve of. Mary Shelley, Jules Verne and Mikhail Bulgakov all feature as does one of my current favourite short story writers – Guy de Maupassant. Samuel Beckett makes Mosse’s list too, but I urge not to rush out and buy the listed edition of Waiting for Godot. Better you wait until September and pick up one of the delicious new editions from Faber, with covers designed by A2/SW/HK as recently featured in my recent Cover Love feature.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).