Carefully Selected by Your Crack Staff of News Sleuths
Column Editor: Bruce Strauch (The Citadel, Emeritus)
Bookshops in the Time of Covid
Sally Pattle owns Far from the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow, Scotland and is the winner of this year’s Nibbie for Independent Bookshop of the Year. She says they were clobbered by all the government ordered closures, but they have proven people still want books.
With two other Indies, she formed Wee Three Indies and hosted virtual author events. And they ran their first online festival #WeeNatureFest.
See: “This Week,” The Bookseller, April 23, 2021, p.24.
Let’s Read Encounters with Catastrophe
Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World (1922) (Scott’s disastrous 1912 South Pole expedition); (2) Cecil Woodham-Smith, The Reason Why (1953) (charge of the Light Brigade); (3) Tom Simkin and Richard Fiske, Krakatau 1883 (1983) (three month long volcanic eruption); (4) Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction (2014) (our current mass extinction); (5)Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak, The Warsaw Ghetto (2009) (day-to-day history of the ghetto).
See: Jim Shepard, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, May 29-30, 2021, p.C14.
In looking for classic old movies, came across Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes” and discovered it was adapted from a novel The Wheel Spins by Lina White. Turns out, in the ’30s and ’40s she was as famous as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Some Must Watch became the movie “The Spiral Staircase.” Midnight House became “The Unseen.”
Her books are on Amazon Kindle, so she’s creeping back into the limelight.
See: “Ethel Lina White,” Wikipedia.org
In an article on best places in Key West, Cori Convertito, curator of the Key West Art and Historical Society, gets in a plug for Key West Island Books. There’s been a bookstore at 513 ½ Fleming Street since the 1920s. They focus on local authors. Uvakeywest.com
See: David Farley, “Journal Concierge,” The Wall Street Journal, July 17-18, 2021, p.D4.
Let’s Read American Humor
S.J. Perelman, The Road to Miltown (1957); (2) James Thurber, The Thurber Carnival, (1945); (3) Veronica Geng, Love Trouble (1999); (4) Woody Allen, The Complete Prose of Woody Allen (1991); (5) Nora Ephron, The Most of Nora Ephron (2013).
See: Adam Gopnik, “Five Best,” The Wall Street Journal, July 17-18, 2021, p.C8. Gopnik is the author of “S.J. Perelman: Writings” in the Library of America Series.
Obits of Note
Arthur Staats (1924-2021) was a school drop-out who served on a battleship in WWII. On the GI Bill, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology at UCLA. He was opposed to spanking, believed in behavior modification through rewards and consequences.
And he invented — wait for it — Time Out!!
See: “The psychologist who popularized the ‘time-out,’ The Week, June 18, 2021, p.39.
Richard Robinson (1937-2021) rejected his father’s business Scholastic, a magazine which at the time mostly covered high school sports. But a couple of years teaching English showed him the lure of the family trade.
And did he make a difference. As CEO for 46 years, he turned Scholastic into a $1.4 billion behemoth of children’s lit. Goosebumps, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Hunger Games. It distributes 1 in 3 American children’s books. It grabbed up Harry Potter and sold 180 million copies in the series.
He said his goal was getting kids to read and expand their world view.
See: “The publisher who created a kids’ book giant,” The Week, June 25, 2021, p.35
Pat Hitchcock O’Connell (1928-2021) was Alfred Hitchcock’s sole daughter but only got small film parts “when they needed a maid with an English accent.” Her father did nothing to further her career and may have impeded it.
She claimed to be content with her role as wife and mother and defended her father against claims of being a control freak. She was vocal in support of her mother as well, arguing that the best Hitchcock films were a joint effort.
See: “The actress who lived in her father’s shadow,” The Week, Aug. 27, 2021, p. 35.
Cookie vs. Biscuit
Covid had America’s kids locked down, and preschoolers became huge fans of British cartoon called “Peppa Pig.” Parents were shocked to hear their children use a plummy accent and words like “optician,” “lovely,” “petrol station,” “water closet,” and “Father Christmas.”
They even learned to say “please” and “thank you.”
And now there’s “Bluey,” a cartoon about dogs with Australian accents.
See: Preetika Rana and Meghan Borrowsky, “Binge-watching ‘Peppa Pig’ Has Preschoolers Speaking Colourfully,” The Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2021, p.A1.