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by Carolyn Kellogg - Los Angeles Times (MCT)

20 Apr 2012

The Tea Fire was raging across the hills of Montecito, and T.C. Boyle was worried. He was worried about the safety of his home, as anyone near the flames would be, and that concern was amplified by the fact that the nearly century-old house was designed by no less than Frank Lloyd Wright. And then there were the papers: the highly combustible manuscripts, research, notes and bound volumes that constitute Boyle’s life’s work. Everything that had gone into writing two dozen books and 150 stories was stashed in Boyle’s basement. If the wind shifted, it would all be lost.

“It scared the bejesus out of me,” Boyle said four years later.

Although the Tea Fire claimed more than 200 homes, it never reached Boyle’s. And now Boyle’s archive has found a safe house of its own: at the Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The Ransom Center, the premier collector of the complete papers of 20th and 21st century novelists, paid $425,000 to add Boyle’s archive to its collection.

by Jennifer Vega

26 Jan 2012

In the last chapter of her biography, Claire Tomalin speaks of one of Dickens’ earliest biographers: his daughter, Katey (Kate Perugini). “Katey spoke out,” Tomalin tells us, “as no one had done before, mixing love and anger, but clear in what she said.” Tomalin speaks in voices of both love and anger, but for the most part, succeeds in narrating a clear-eyed view of a man whose great fault was that almost no one in the real world could captivate him the way a creature of his own imagination could. Most of the real people to whom he did show consistent attention and affection were either unattainable in some way, or themselves set him up on such a pedestal that it was impossible for him to turn away such adoration.

This explains his neglect and eventual dismissal of his wife, Catherine, with whom he had ten children, who was rarely documented to have spoken a bad word about him, and of whom Katey Dickens said, “My poor mother was afraid of my father. She was never allowed to express an opinion—never allowed to say what she felt.” In Tomalin’s biography, Catherine appears as a model housekeeper and loving spouse, content to serve as a prop to Dickens for years while he set first one and then another of her sisters on pedestals far above her (he wanted to be buried next to one of her sisters, and the other was his housekeeper even after he divorced Catherine).

by Sean Murphy

16 Dec 2011

The best way to compliment a writer, as a reader, is to recommend their work to others. That I wholeheartedly do, and have done.

The best way to compliment a writer, as a writer, is to recognize, with neither regret nor resignation, that on your best day you will always stand in awe of what they achieved.

Reading and responding to the Hitch is ceaselessly inspiring and seldom less than exhilarating. More, it is an instigatory experience: it compels you to get involved more deeply with the world around and inside you. Reading any worthwhile writer is an act of celebration, a shared reaction to the act of creation. More, it is an exercise in how to write, read, think and live.

by Mary McNamara - Los Angeles Times (MCT)

30 Nov 2011

LOS ANGELES — Last summer, while browsing in a used bookstore in San Luis Obispo, Calif., I discovered something I thought no longer existed — an Agatha Christie novel I had not read. Anyone monitoring my vital signs would have thought I had discovered the next Gnostic gospel or a lost play of Shakespeare’s. Clutching it tightly as if someone might snatch it from me, I quickly bought it. I promised myself I would take my time, savor the experience and read only a few pages at a time. Instead, I finished it the next day.

Now it resides beside its sisters in my Agatha box, a crate at the foot of my bed. I don’t own all of the 66 mystery novels and 14 short-story collections that Christie wrote, but I have most of them and I read them over and over again, in rotation, throughout the year.

by Susan Carpenter - Los Angeles Times (MCT)

9 Sep 2011

Photo: Autumn De Wilde

LOS ANGELES — A baby is snatched by crows. His sister treks into the woods to find him and is followed by one Curtis Mehlberg, “son of Lydia and David, resident of Portland, Ore., comic-book fan boy, persecuted loner.”

Wild adventures ensue.

If the story sounds like modern-day folklore from the band the Decemberists, it is, in a way. The sturm und drang just isn’t set to a catchy blend of the band’s bouzouki and harmonized vocals. It’s the premise of a new book series for middle-grade readers from the Decemberists’ front man, Colin Meloy, and his illustrator wife, Carson Ellis.

//Mixed media

Indie Horror Month 2016: Executing 'The Deed'

// Moving Pixels

"It's just so easy to kill someone in a video game that it's surprising when a game makes murder difficult.

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