Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sunday Book Talk

I received my copy of Pages this week and unlike last month there are some interesting articles in this issue. The first one that caught my eye was one on "The Anthology Epidemic." This article discussed what is termed the personal essay anthology or what I like to call the self help anthology. I personally have not heard of many of the anthologies they mentioned (apparently the biggest self-help anthology is "The Bitch in the House") but the article as a whole got me thinking how valuable an anthology is to the reader, but what possibly could be the benefit for the writer. I imagine that the pay is substantially lower for a piece in an anthology, why it is almost nonexistent in academic journals. I am not a writer myself, nor have I actually ever sold any of work to a journal nor an anthology (although I have had some creative writing published in campus journals) so not being in the shoes of the writer I may be missing something. The article suggests that the reason many authors will write for anthologies is that they all want to be a part of the "BIG ONE." This I can understand. So my questions to all of you is... Do you think anthologies are valuable? Do you have any yourself, if so what types? If not why not? Personally I own several, mostly literature anthologies, mostly fiction for various time periods. Most were purchased for a class but I have actually bought some just to read. For instance I recently bought "The Longman Anthology of British Literature volumes 2A, 2B, 2C just so I could have a better background in British Literature since both my classes next semester will revolve around Brit Lit. Perhaps I am just a dork, but let me know how you feel about anthologies, I am really curious as to how many people actually like them and how many do not and of course why... I know I do not always like them because of their bulk, but you cannot beat having all that literature at your finger tips (even if some of it is just selections). Equally interesting in this issue were the reviews. There are so many new books out that I would love to sit down with. Take for instance "Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee" by Charles J. Shields. This is an attempt at laying out the life of the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird", an attempt because apparently she is very difficult to talk to about her life. I have always wondered about the woman myself, I loved "To Kill a Mockingbird." Is there anything coming out, or that has come out this year that you are excited to read? Happy Sunday Reading... Amanda I buy my books at... Barnes &


teabird17 said...

I love anthologies, especially collections of essays, both personal and not-. I have the Best American Essays from about 1989, numerous collections of interviews with writers, and quite a few anthologies of sf/fantasy stories. I'm also fond of the annual collections of science writing, and short stories. They let me meet new authors without having to dig through all of the journals, they're great for reading on lines or in waiting rooms, and they usually are inexpensive.

Anthologies were indispensable when I was in college as an English lit major. I still have the collection of Victorian prose that introduced me to Walter Pater, Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, etc. Also, I love the little anthology I used for Victorian poetry - where else, these days, could I find more than a poem or two by Coventry Patmore?

I am also eager to read the new biography of Harper Lee. For the SRC, I'll be reading Capote, and the Harper Lee bio will be a good next-read. I'd like to read the new biography of Mrs. Beeton that I mentioned on KTC. On and on and on.

Mei said...

I love anthologies!
My favorites are the Nortons for both English and American Lit.
I teach a high school reading class and theatre classes, and I find anthologies to be very useful when I need materials on a certain theme or by a certain writer, or to illustrate literary techniques. (Old high school lit books also work).
I'd like to get one with Southern writers; I feel like I've kind of ignored them in favor of the "classic" authors.

Danielle said...

I love anthologies, too. I have been on an essay binge and have bought a few of those. Also I recently bought an anthology of Dorothy Parker's work--which is nicely put together! It is nice to have a selection all together--a nice variety!

Carrie K said...

I enjoy anthologies too, Norton, of course, and I like the Best Selected Essays of XXXX for Science, etc they've put out the last couple of years.

Any book I'm excited about this year? At least one every Sunday I read about in the Book Review of the Sunday SF Chronicle.

jennhx said...

I like poetry anthologies because I feel I can justify purchasing those because in theory they are the "best of." I don't know if I have ever purchased a poetry volume just by one author. (I'm not very knowledgeable about poetry).

But I loved "Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women: An Anthology," edited by Jill Ker Conway. It was a great way to read about great American women, some very famous like Maya Angelou and Margaret Mead, but some whom I'd never heard of like psychologist Margaret Floy Washburn and Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin. This anthology is divided into sections:
--My Story Ends with Freedom
--Research is a Passion with Me
--Arts and Letters
--Pioneers and Reformers

I just purchased the second Volume of this anthology, "Written by Herself: Women's Memoirs from Britain, Africa, Asia and the United States." I plan to read it for my Summer Reading Challenge. However I'm way behind on my reading so I'm not sure when I'll get to it. I might start with section three which is on Indian Nationalism, since this will be interesting to read along with A Passage to India.

Thanks for the great questions & ideas in this post.