Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Libraries Acquire Books

How Libraries Acquire Books (Because Most People, Including Digital Piracy Advocates, Don't Seem To Understand This)

On my list of ten items about why digital piracy sucks, one of those items was meant to dispel a common argument employed by idiots, which is: Durr there's no difference between pirating a book and getting it from the library.
The simple response to that, of course, being: Well stop being lazy and just get it at the library, asshole.
Except, libraries do not get books for free. They pay for books. And those sales can be incredibly important to authors. This, apparently, is not obvious to a great many people, because I still see the library gambit tossed around by the pro-piracy set.
And in doing research for this little rant, I found that it's not so obvious that libraries pay for books. So I thought it might a good idea to spell that out. The more you know, as G.I. Joe used to say. 
I don't expect to change anyone's mind. No one changes their mind anymore. That's a sign of weakness. And anyway, people who contort themselves into pretzels to defend their shitty behavior, they don't care about facts. They care about the endgame: Their own entitlement. 

Rob Hart

Column by Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor, as well as the associate publisher for He's the author of New Yorked and The Last Safe Place: A Zombie Novella, and his short stories have appeared in publications like Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, Needle, Joyland, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared at Salon, The Daily Beast, and Nailed. He lives in New York City, and you can find his website at

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cleopatra’s shadows

The author of a debut novel sidelines Cleopatra in favor of her sisters, powerful protagonists of their own dramas.

The story of Cleopatra has been told many times over, in many different ways, though there’s a certain consistency to the tale’s key elements — the seductiveness, the asp, the sultry kohl eyeliner. In her new novel, “Cleopatra’s Shadows,” Emily Holleman decided to break free of the clich├ęs dogging the last great pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, the better to see her fresh. 

The book is the first in a planned series of four that will tell of Cleopatra’s rise and famous fall, but Cleopatra herself hardly appears in it; we glimpse her, in the opening pages, not as some Elizabeth Taylor-esque glamazon sure of her erotic power, but as an 11-year-old girl, setting sail from Alexandria with her father, Ptolemy Auletes, to seek support from Rome against her half-sister, Berenice, who has taken the throne for herself.

Berenice, 19 and in charge of holding together an unstable kingdom, is one of the shadows of the title. The other is Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s younger sister, left behind in Alexandria to fend for herself in an environment of political and familial treachery. The book’s title turns out to be slyly deceptive; Arsinoe and Berenice might be confined to the shadows of history, but here they are squarely in the limelight, powerful protagonists of their own dramas.

Timeless tale of a medieval saint

A novel about the life of a 15th-century Russian monk might sound an unlikely bestseller, but Eugene Vodolazkin’s extraordinary tale Lavrus became a literary sensation, won Russia’s Big Book award in 2013, and was shortlisted for numerous other prizes. This fall it’s published in English.

So what is the appeal? Vodolazkin’s spiritual odyssey transcends history, fusing archaism and slang to convey the idea that “time is a sort of misunderstanding.” Towards the end, the eponymous hero “Laurus”, a medieval doctor, holy fool, pilgrim and - finally - hermit, is leaning on an old pine tree. The ants are swarming over the bark and through the monk’s beard, embodying the idea that he has almost become part of the forest he lives in. The image is typical of Vodolazkin’s poetic vision. 

An Unexpected Revival For A Beloved Russian Poet Anna Akhmatova

There's a surge of interest in the work of 20th century Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. It's inspired in part by American country and folk singer-songwriter Iris Dement, who has an adopted daughter from Russia and has set some of the poet's work to music in a new album, The Trackless Woods.

Akhmatova, born in 1889, witnessed the tumultuous years of the Russian Revolution and lived through the horrors of Joseph Stalin's repressions. She survived as a beacon of artistic courage.

Akhmatova came from an aristocratic background and she knew the splendor of the palace during its pre-revolution days — when it was, as Nisnikova says, "a kind of treasure house with examples of Western European art, ancient Russian icons, armor and ancient manuscripts."

Octobers Additions to the Library

Just a few additions (so far) to the Library for October 2015:

The Book of Melusine of Lusignan in History, Legend and Romance by Gareth Knight.
This book provides a collection of material from various sources to give an all round picture of the remarkable faery, her town, her church, her immediate family, and the great Lusignan dynasty she founded. An established authority on Melusine, Gareth Knight collects together all the best source material, which he translates from the French, and presents his own researches into the Lusignan family of the 12th century, whose dynasty included kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem, examining the possibility of a familiar spirit guiding the family in its destiny.

Anna Comnena by G. Buckler
This book discusses Anna’s character, attitudes, biases, theological opinions, and writing style (all of which are useful and interesting), but of more immediate interest to the genealogist is her chronicling of military affairs, foreign relations with the Crusaders (especially the "Franks"), and political marriages with Balkan rulers. 

The Man Who Believed He Was King of France by Tommaso Di Carpegna Falconieri
ith the skill of a crime scene detective, Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri digs up evidence in the historical record to follow the story of a life so incredible that it was long considered a literary invention of the Italian Renaissance. From Italy to Hungary, then through Germany and France, the would-be king's unique combination of guile and earnestness commands the aid of lords and soldiers, the indulgence of innkeepers and merchants, and the collusion of priests and rogues along the way. (Still awaiting delivery of this one - have read it a numbers of times - on loan from local library - so now is the time to add it to my own personal library).

Magna Carta by David Carpenter
With a new commentary by David Carpenter "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land." Magna Carta, forced on King John in 1215 by rebellion, is one of the most famous documents in world history. It asserts a fundamental principle: that the ruler is subject to the law. Alongside a new text and translation of the Charter, David Carpenter's commentary draws on new discoveries to give an entirely fresh account of Magna Carta's text, origins, survival and enforcement, showing how it quickly gained a central place in English political life.

Templar Families by Jochen Schenk
This detailed study explores the close relationship between the Order of the Temple and the landowning families it relied upon for support. Focusing on the regions of Burgundy, Champagne and Languedoc, Jochen Schenk investigates the religious expectations that guided noble and knightly families to found and support Templar communities in the European provinces, and examines the social dynamics and mechanisms that tied these families to each other.