“There is good quality [coffee] in the South. There are no regional brands that identify with all the cities that are seeing so much revitalization right now,” Emma Chevalier, Revelator Coffee’s Creative Director, tells Eater.com. So Revelator’s owners Chevalier, Elizabeth Pogue, and Josh Owen, have opened stores in Birmingham, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville and are working on more. Their Chattanooga store is discussed in the current issue of Barista Magazine, which describes the store are a contrasting offering to the “homey familiarity” of other Southern coffee options.
Robert Crais has been writing detective fiction at the top of the publishing pyramid for some time. His latest Elvis Cole novel, The Promise, is one of his best. Its pleasures are not only those of a well-crafted crime story. It also touches the heart in surprising ways.
I don’t know if author Crais picked the trick up from Dean Koontz, but he takes advantage of the opportunities offered by using a dog in a story. He did this first with his novel Suspect, which I reviewed here, and the same characters, K9 Officer Scott James and his dog Maggie, reappear here and help out. Maybe not everyone feels the way I do, but for me, working in a few scenes from a dog’s point of view raises the poignancy level of a book about 300%.
On top of that, there’s a human moment of what I can only call grace in the book that was deeply moving, and it came from a character from whom I didn’t expect it.
The plot? Oh yes, Elvis Cole is hired by a woman to find a co-worker who has disappeared. The missing woman recently lost her only son, a journalist, in a suicide bombing in North Africa. She’s gone off the radar and seems to be consorting with bad people. The investigation reveals a bundle of tangled threads and dissimulations. Elvis is assisted by his scary friend Joe Pike, and Joe’s scary mercenary friend Jon Stone.
A really good book. It’ll move you. Cautions for the usual.
Wheaton College has posted eighty-one hours of free videos of Dr. Arthur F. Holmes lecturing on the history of western philosophy. Dr. Holmes has just the right English accent to give his subject the proper authority. Just think about having to learn anything from the farmer in his clip. (via Justin Taylor)
Also The Gospel Coalition has produced its first eBook as a response to an earlier book. Revisiting ‘Faithful Presence’: To Change the World Five Years Later.
“In 2010, noted University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter published the landmark book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. On the five-year anniversary of its publication, we asked eight contributors to engage the book’s thesis and assess its effect on the ongoing interaction of evangelical Christians with the surrounding culture.”
Those contributors are Hunter Baker, John Jefferson Davis, K. A. Ellis, Greg Forster, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Vermon Pierre, Daniel Strange, and Collin Hansen as editor. The eBook is free.
Author Nick Hornsby has been neglecting writing novels in favor adapting other people’s novels for the screen. “First there was An Education, which earned Hornby an Academy Award nomination; then Wild, based on the Cheryl Strayed bestseller, which also yielded acclaim; and now Brooklyn, opening November 4. It’s becoming more of a practice than a habit,” Ari Karpel writes.
All that has him shifting his sense of who he is as a writer. “One interesting thing I’m just kind of getting my head around,” [Hornsby says,] “is that most of this work is not self-generated. Once you’ve done a couple [adaptations] and they’ve worked out, people come to you. Then you find you have two or three things stacked up and that’s all taking up time and imaginative energy, whereas novels are entirely self-generated and you need to clear a space and say, I’m not going to do anything [else] for a year.”
“For me, Batman has the most spiritual narratives. I’d venture to say that, in general, D.C. excels Marvel in exploring the hero’s soul, and no soul is darker than Bruce Wayne’s.”
Turn the page. Author Christopher West says the Chinese were telling the equivalent of police procedurals far before anyone in the West.
A genre known as gong’an began in the Song dynasty (960 to 1279): the term means a magistrate’s desk, and the modern equivalent would be police procedural. Stories would be narrated by wandering storytellers or in puppet shows, and usually told of upright officials exposing corruption and cover-ups. No examples of these stories have survived, however. The oldest gong’an tales come from the next dynasty, the Yuan (1279 to 1368).
Turn another page. For a limited time, BBC Radio 4 is airing a production of an unfinished work by Alfred Hitchcock, The Blind Man. “The world premiere of Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman’s unfinished screenplay, the follow-up to North by Northwest, now completed by Mark Gatiss” stars Hugh Laurie and Kelly Burke.
“Set in 1961, a famous blind jazz pianist, Larry Keating [Laurie], agrees to a radical new medical procedure – an eye transplant. The operation is a success but his new eyes are those of a murdered man, and captured on their retina is the image of his murderer. Larry and his new nurse, Jenny [Burke], begin a quest to track him down – before someone else dies.”
The intersection of writers with Prohibition was at its most intense in New York City — the mecca for all talented young men and women in the 1920s. Seven thousand arrests for alcohol possession in New York City between 1921 and 1923 (when enforcement was more or less openly abandoned) resulted in only seventeen convictions.
For some writers, Manhattan, with its habitual speakeasies and after-hours clubs as well as its famous flouting of the law even in restaurants, became synonymous with drinking too much. Eugene O’Neill and F. Scott Fitzgerald were two writers who were only able to stop drinking, or at least moderate their drinking, after they left what one minister called “Satan’s Seat.”
Apparently Prohibition was too much a temptation for many writers, some of whom became well known. Of course, Chekhov said, “A man who doesn’t drink is not, in my opinion, fully a man,” so maybe O’Neill, Fitzgerald, and others were his disciples in this way.
“Very few authors believe they have sold enough books. Don’t seek personal validation for your career through book sales.”
Ed Cyzewski has a new book out today about the calling and career of writing, Write without Crushing Your Soul. He observes how experts have differing ideas of what works and you can’t copy one writer’s successful habits to gain your own success (though perhaps that works for some).
I once asked an editor at one of the Big Five publishers about balancing traditional with new media advertising, and she said to do all of the traditional stuff and to then do the new media stuff until I dropped. That may have been realistic for success with a Big Five publisher, but it’s hardly possible for the average author who wants to have family time, personal pursuits, or some sort of spiritual practice each day.
I tried to follow her advice for a season, but over time I found that trying to dive into all of the social media marketing options out there at the same time meant I did all of them poorly.
He says he built an email list for a personal newsletter, which I hear is a strong marketing technique. Readers respond to email solicitations more than social media links, especially if they believe they have already gotten a good return from the emails they’ve received up to that point. There are different ways to do this. The main idea is to recognize and utilize your strengths.
Bestselling author James Scott Bell has a few good ideas about how to write well and push yourself to produce.
I was 34 years old and hadn’t written much of anything for ten years (I’d been told in college that you can’t learn how to write fiction, and since I couldn’t write fiction—fiction that was any good, anyway––I figured I just didn’t have it). So when I made the decision to finally go for it, even if I failed, I wanted to make up for lost time.
He’s produced a good bit of work since then, so here are a few ideas on increasing your writing productivity. (via Nick Harrison)
Dean Koontz has a new novel, Ashley Bell, coming out next month. In the run-up, he’s releasing two related novellas which share a character with that book.
The main character of each book is a beautiful young woman, Makani Hisoka-O’Brien. She’s a native of Hawaii, but lives in southern California where she restores classic cars and surfs at the expert level. She loves her island home and her family, but has left them to save her relationship with both. This is because she’s cursed with a supernatural gift – she can tell, through touch, any person’s darkest secrets. This makes it impossible for her to have close relationships, except with her black Labrador, Bob, and her boyfriend, “Pogo,” who is (apparently) pure of heart.
The simple premise of this story is that one day Makani brushes the arm of a jogger, another beautiful young woman. She realizes in an instant that this woman has a twin, and that she is holding that twin prisoner in a secret place and starving her to death.
There’s no question what Makani has to do. With the help of Bob and Pogo, she sets out to rescue the captive.
It’s a great story, with some excellent writing – I especially liked one chapter title: “She Walks in Beauty Like a Polyester Resin.”
There’s a very neat twist at the end.
Recommended. I’m looking forward to Ashley Bell.
An early holiday shopping message from Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks:
“Christians act below their spiritual birth and their holy calling, when they suffer their hearts to be troubled and perplexed for the want of temporal things. Could they read special love in such gifts? Would their happiness lie in the enjoyment of them? Nay then, believer, let not the want of those things trouble thee, the enjoyment of which could never make thee happy.”
Peet’s Coffee & Tea recently bought out Stumptown Coffee Roasters and became a majority shareholder in Intelligentsia a few weeks after that. Does that mean delicious third-wave coffee companies are selling out?
“Many in the core community of specialty coffee cite Peet’s as something of a Moses figure, guiding coffee appreciation out of the Egypt that is burnt-rubber tasting commodity-grade coffee,” Jimmy Sherfey explains on Eater.com. Peet’s was a pioneer in developing a market for rich, flavorful coffee. The company has even trained many of its now competitors
Ángel González puts an ugly spin on the recent decisions. “Peet’s move is similar to that of the titan Saturn in Roman mythology, who devoured his own children so they would not overthrow him. In Peet’s case, it’s the grandchildren who are trouble.”
But company execs tell Sherfey they are “looking to fill the fast-growing demand for their coffee, which both Stumptown and Intelligentsia cite as reasons for the mergers. ‘Frankly, we were just running out of space,’ says [Matt] Lounsbury. [Doug] Zell cites “restrictions on resources’ at Intelligentsia leading up to the acquisition. ‘We could only grow at a certain rate given our internal economics.'”
Now, the new, large roasting family hopes they can create opportunities for producers to deliver great coffee at great prices that will sustain and renew their farming communities.
For #NaNoWriMo, read a bit from Joan Didion:
Paris Review: You have said that writing is a hostile act; I have always wanted to ask you why.
Didion: It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.
PR: I wonder if your ethic—what you call your “harsh Protestant ethic”—doesn’t close things up for you, doesn’t hinder your struggle to keep all the possibilities open.
Didion: I suppose that’s part of the dynamic. I start a book and I want to make it perfect, want it to turn every color, want it to be the world. Ten pages in, I’ve already blown it, limited it, made it less, marred it. That’s very discouraging. I hate the book at that point. After a while I arrive at an accommodation: Well, it’s not the ideal, it’s not the perfect object I wanted to make, but maybe—if I go ahead and finish it anyway—I can get it right next time. Maybe I can have another chance.
The case of the missing Encyclopedia Brown movie is explained by Mental Floss. Cutting to the chase a bit:
Finally, Deutsch reached a deal with HBO in 1988. The network that put Fraggle Rock on the map was interested in expanding their children’s entertainment brand and ordered a live-action Encyclopedia Brown special that led into a recurring series. Producers filmed the pilot in Provo, Utah, and the episodes were well-received.
Deutsch then did something unexpected. After just six episodes, he insisted on breaking away from the network, which puzzled them. “The idea of a producer taking his show off the air that was successful, that was so good, and so far ahead of its time that it made my career is [mind-boggling],” show co-producer Ned Kandel told The New York Times in 2005.
There’s a lot more drama in the article.
I loved these books when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I bought them with my own money at the school book fair. I don’t remember which ones.
The Quote Investigator relates this story. “In 1953 an Associated Press reporter described his experiences in Moscow after the death of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The journalist reported the caustic comment of an unnamed Russian:
I saw Muscovites by the countless thousands shuffle through the cold March days and nights, in long lines that stretched for miles into the suburbs, to see the dead body of the grim dictator.
One Russian whispered to me: “They’ve come to make sure he’s really dead.”
But that isn’t the only account of someone suggesting he or many others had attended a funeral for this purpose. Read on for more.
Thomas Kidd, who has written on Patrick Henry and George Whitefield and is writing on Benjamin Franklin, offers this glimpse into the life of one of the lesser known founders of America.
Perhaps the most evangelical of all the Founding Fathers, however, is one whom few Americans recall today: Elias Boudinot. Baptized as an infant in Philadelphia by the great evangelist George Whitefield, Boudinot embraced and defended evangelical principles throughout his prominent career as a Patriot in New Jersey and U.S. government official.