Have Words–Will Write 'Em

On Books, Writers, Most Things Written, Including My Light Verse.

Archive for March, 2012

I Review “Arcadia,” by Lauren Groff”

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Groff is a talented writer with a novel, the widely praised “The Monsters of Templeton,” and a book of short stories, “Delicate Edible Birds,” to her credit. From start to finish, “Arcadia” is poetically delivered through Bit’s eyes.

Bit is Ridley Sorrel Stone, an endearing, diminutive character nicknamed from the phrase “Our Littlest Bit of a Hippie.” Groff begins in 1968 with a two-page prologue of Bit’s earliest memories from the womb. This mystical recounting of Bit’s prenatal recollections becomes a legend among the hippies.

Click the image below to read my review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

You can buy Arcadia at Barnes and Noble.

Written by Joe Peschel

March 25th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Another 100,000 Galleys–On the State of Indie-Book Publishing

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In The Los Angeles Review of Books, I talk with writers, Robert Bausch, Polly Frost, Nina Vida, Molly MacRae; newspaper book editors Laurie Hertzel, Ron Charles, Greg Cowles, and freelance book critics, reviewers, and more about the state of indie-publishing.

I look forward to reading your comments here on my blog or on the LARB site.

Editors, reviewers, and even many authors believe that if you self-publish, you’re branded a sinner of sorts. You wear a scarlet S-P, signifying that you can’t get published because your work is inferior. If you promote your own work on the Internet, you must sheepishly precede the phrase “self-promotion” with “shameless.” It’s difficult to quantify the extent of the stigma, but we all know that publishing your own work has been frowned upon by writers for decades. Recently, genre authors Amanda Hocking (who writes young adult vampire novels) and John Locke (pulp thrillers) have had so much success independently publishing and selling hundreds of thousands of their own books that you’d think the self-publishing wall would’ve been kicked down and lying in a crumbled mess by now. But the stigma attached to publishing, promoting, and selling your own written word persists. Most writers, like Susan Shapiro, who’s written for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and has conventionally published eight books, including comic novels and nonfiction though St. Martin’s Press and Delacorte, remain convinced that it’s better to get a mainstream publisher. Shapiro, who’s helped hundreds of her students get published, recently told me she would consider self-publishing, but only “if everybody else turned me down.”

Click the image below to read more in the March 17, 2012 edition ofThe Los Angeles Review of Books.


Written by Joe Peschel

March 17th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I Review Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “Birds Of A Lesser Paradise”

with 2 comments

Megan Mayhew Bergman is a top-notch emerging writer. In this first book, “Birds of a Lesser Paradise,’’ a collection of a dozen stories, she portrays in fine realistic prose female characters balancing relationships with their fathers, mothers, and partners, as they fight their own foibles and insecurities. Her characters are strong, sensible, but vulnerable.

Bergman’s stories take place mostly in the South – on a prison farm, in the Carolina swamp, and on the road. (A North Carolina native, Bergman lives now in Vermont.) But no matter the locale or the humans involved, there’s always an animal of some sort – a dog, a bird, a cow, a wolf – that influences her characters’ lives.

Click the image below to read my review in the March 7, 2012, edition of the Boston Globe.

You can buy Birds of a Lesser Paradise at Barnes & Noble.

Written by Joe Peschel

March 7th, 2012 at 2:04 pm