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One of the bloggers who has signed up for the "pay for a blogging tour" site has some thoughts on my post from last week about this subject. I made a few points in my comment at her site but mostly feel that we have to agree to disagree on this point. The most frustrating thing is that yet again I read that the SBBT & WBBT are exclusive and that is a point of contention. I've said many times that if anyone wants to know how we conduct those tours I am happy to answer questions on the subject. Blog tours are not rocket science, anyone can organize one, but it's not my responsibility to include a hundred bloggers in the tours we organize just so everyone feels better. The logistics are huge and that's why the group is small, no other reason than that.

And I feel like I need to repeat that I do get paid to review books at Booklist so it is not like I think reviewers should be above compensation. The big difference is that Booklist is a well established venue with impeccable credentials that has proven itself over a period of years to not be susceptible to selling positive reviews for dollars. The lit blogosphere just is not there yet - which is why many bloggers have very popular personal sites but still get paid to review in print (or via online sites attached to print publications). You can not compare the two venues; it just doesn't work. (And I'm not even going to go into the levels of protection that insulate a reviewer from an author at print publications.) The internet can do tours in a way that is far superior (and cheaper) to "in person" or print (they don't even work in print) but we can't claim the sort of legitimacy - not yet - that Kirkus, PW, SLJ etc. all have. So am I being cynical when I see something like this new blog tour for cash site? I don't think so. I think I'm being realistic, which is why I started the SBBT & WBBT as small tours with no money involved. We have a long way to go, and I'm not looking to take a shortcut. (And it doesn't help when this new site purports to define blog tour and the people who organize and take part in them in ways that those of us who have been doing them for awhile do not agree with. This whole thing is just really frustrating.)

Ugh. Enough of all that.

Haruki Murakami on running:

While I've been in Japan a new short-story collection of mine, Strange Tales From Tokyo, has come out, and I have to do several interviews about the book. I also have to check the galleys for a book of music criticism that's coming out in November. Then I have to go over my old translations of Raymond Carver's complete works. On top of this, I have to write a long introduction to the short-story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, which will be published next year in the US. I have to take care of all these as best I can, and keep up my running.

You naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. This is a lot like the training of muscles. And gradually you'll expand the limits of what you're able to do. Almost imperceptibly you'll make the bar rise.

This new book sounds quite interesting - a different take on both writing and running. He also manages to work F Scott Fitzgerald, the Red Sox and Rolling Stones into this excerpt, so I can only imagine how widely he casts his net for the whole book.

The Good Soldier continues to have influence (although, perhaps, not enough):

More recently, I was talking to Ian McEwan, who told me that a few years ago he'd been staying in a house with a well-stocked library. There he found a copy of The Good Soldier, which he read and admired greatly. A while later, he wrote On Chesil Beach, that brilliant novella in which passion, and Englishness, and misunderstanding, lead to emotional catastrophe. Only after publishing the book did he realise that he had unconsciously given his two main characters the names Edward (as in Ashburnham) and Florence (as in Dowell). He is quite happy for me to pass this on.

A review of Puppet Master by Joanne Owen makes me wish they had been a bit more creative with the title:

There are stories within stories in this book, spanning millennia. Many concern strong women, and the things they did to keep the world working - a legacy Milena inherits. Of course, there's a powerful feminist message: that independent, free-thinking women have been present since the beginning of history, and remain vital to the health and balance of society. The narrative also has contemporary political resonance.

(No idea if/when this one is coming to the US.)

Carl recommends The Fall, a movie I haven't heard beans about but sure want to see:

Adult fairy tale stories are certainly a hard sell. By making this a rated "R� film and including some violent imagery Tarsem closes the door on the audience that may have made his film a box office hit. By doing so Tarsem preserves the integrity of the film he was trying to make and gives adults seeking a different movie experience something not only beautiful to look at but something with a beautiful message to ponder when leaving the theater.

And finally, author Thomas DeWolf reminds us "The Shoulders Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton Stand On" :

During my lifetime Emmett Till was tortured and murdered in 1955. His subsequent open casket funeral resulted in photos of his badly mutilated body being circulated nationwide and became one of the key motivating events in the Civil Rights movement.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama eleven years after Jackie Robinson's court martial. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery bus boycott and the Civil Rights movement caught fire. Events of the 1960's changed the way Americans viewed race. Laws and hearts were changed and continue to change. There is much left to accomplish before we live in an equitable land; a just society. Race remains a rather large elephant in our living room, as do inequities based on gender, class, sexual orientation, and disability.

It is easy—and justified—to feel grim over how much we still have to accomplish to live up to the ideals established by our nation's Founders. But at this moment I pause to marvel at how far we've come. Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and many other notable—and unsung—heroes stand tall. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—and all of us—stand on their shoulders.

The view from up here is grand and hopeful.


Thanks for highlighting my post at Beacon Broadside. I hope your readers will be interested in watching the documentary film of a journey my family made called Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. It premieres on PBS's acclaimed series POV next Tuesday, June 24 at 10pm (check your local listings as date/time varies).


The companion book to the film is also available. Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History is my memoir of our experiences in taking a new look at our family's--and our nation's--history.


thanks again and best wishes,

Tom DeWolf, author

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