Daily: Self care in the mail.


Literary Shadow Puppet


I was literally hundreds of words deep into a blog post on, of all things, patience when I lost it all: every, blessed word. I’d saved it, and was going to read it through one last time in preview mode – my last step before publishing – when it went *poof!*

How does that even happen? I SAVED THE DAMN THING!

Don’t even ask am I sure. I’ve been blogging since 2006. I am sure. Yes, I’ve tried going to the All Posts drafts. It’s gone, baby. This is why they say don’t fall in love with your own words, and, if you do, cut them out and start over again.

Thanks for the lesson, Karma.


Remember how I told you I’m such a cheapskate? I succumbed to a clothing subscription service . I hate shopping like Trump does ethnic minorities; I dress like the bag lady all the other bag ladies make fun of. Since I scrimp and save most other places, I thought maybe I could throw a little money into improving my wardrobe.

How it works is you give them your sizes and a few preferences, like colors and trends you like or don’t, and how formally or informally you dress (or intend to, in my case), and they pick out some pieces and ship them to you at the frequency you specify. I’m going with every two months, to try it out.

You keep what you like, if anything, ship back what you don’t, for no additional charge. One key thing is not forgetting to ship back what I don’t want. That’s how places like this “get you,” as they say. People are lazy or busy and forget, and the last thing you want is to get stuck with stuff you’re not going to wear. I can’t see how I can lose. If I don’t like the stuff, or it’s too expensive, I just stop the subscription – done. If I do like it, no more shopping stress.

I can’t mess up my wardrobe more than it is, that’s for dang sure.



Lately I’ve let myself slide a couple steps above homeless. You can get away with that “just rolled out of bed” look at twenty or even thirty, but once you pass 40 (and, ahem, beyond) it’s just sad. Not putting in effort is like owning high quality stuff you don’t use, saving it for a special occasion. What if that special occasion never comes?

In this case, I’m the high quality stuff.


It’s like I woke up and suddenly wanted to dress like a human. Can you believe other women take this kind of stuff for granted? They get manis and pedis, wear makeup and take showers.

Does this mean I’m one of them?


The most delightful loofa…


Singles Swag  started my whole subscription mania. It’s a monthly service for people who never indulge themselves. Aimed specifically at dried up old spinsters who sit home Saturday nights, I get all sorts of lotions and loofas, jewelry and hair stuff, even coloring books with pencils. It’s fun, all the items useful in their own way, and it’s been a blast.

I loved it so much, for my daughter’s birthday I bought her a knitting subscription. Once a month she gets yarn and knitting gadgets, patterns, and I honestly don’t know what, because I’m still waiting for her to send me a picture of it.



I think subscriptions are pretty brilliant. It’s fun getting things in the mail, especially if it’s chosen for you by someone with good taste. It’s a present you know is coming, but it’s still a surprise: a very cool business model. I’d sign up for one of those pre-planned, healthy food delivery services, but that’s an expense I can’t justify – not for just one person. Remember, I’ve set my grocery threshold at $ 30 – $ 40 a week – the latter only if I need something pricey like cleaning supplies or dog food.

What’s a little surprising is I don’t belong to any mail order book clubs. Through my life, I’ve belonged to several. I started with the Literary Guild when I was a teenager, back when new memberships got you five free books. Soon, I learned you can join for the free books, buy their minimum required number, then quit and start all over again.

My lack of shame goes back a long, long way.


From there I moved on to Book of the Month Club, which I’m surprised to say still exists. Then Quality Paperback Book Club, which has been absorbed by the Literary Guild. The now-defunct Waterstone’s Signed First Editions from the UK came later, then the Square Books Signed First Edition Club. The Oxford, Mississippi bookstore is a magnet for the finest writers in the U.S., especially southerners. It’s one reason Oxford’s still on my short-list of places I may move one day.

Does it surprise you I’d move to be in proximity to an awesome bookstore?


The iconic Square Books, Oxford, MS


In non-mail subscriptions, I joined a gym back in December (a cheap one!). What with my cracked rib immediately followed by a broken toe, I haven’t been able to make use of it once this year. The lengths I’ll go to avoid exercising, I swear.

Finally, my toe’s healed enough to allow me to wear shoes that aren’t big, clompy snow boots – another attractive look. I’m going back over the weekend, after I pick up a bigger pair of gym shoes. I don’t want to push it just yet.


Now you know what I do when I’m not reading: I join mail order clubs. It may sound indulgent; really, it’s about priorities. Mine have shifted from a warm house and expensive groceries to me-centered things.

Much more slowly, I’m trying to tuck away a little money for traveling. I will get back to the UK, mark my words. Now that you’ve seen what I’m capable of, something tells me you believe it.


So, the post on patience didn’t happen. Ah, well. Maybe next time I go off on a personal tangent you’ll find out what I had to say. The Fates had another topic in mind.

Patience can wait.


Reviews: One big ol’ pile of ’em

I’m tossing several reviews together, like a reading salad. This saves your inbox (or web visit) the agony of separate, multiple posts. It’s out of love. Don’t say I never do anything for you.

Resuming formal tracking of my reading has had the unfortunate side effect of inspiring me to read more. I KNOW.  Awful. My determination to fill this journal is a 2018 goal.



Here are the first few I’ve recorded:

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Raven Books; 1st edition (2017)
  • Purchased via Amazon.co.uk

Where did I hear about this book? I don’t know. In some UK publication, probably. In that case, why didn’t I just buy it there? Was it not out yet? Did I not have time to beg a freebie?

Does it matter? Why am I asking so many questions?

I love creepy gothic books as much as darkly psychological portraits of murderous psychopaths. Makes you wish you could spend a night in my spare bedroom, doesn’t it? Don’t be silly. You wouldn’t wake to find me looming over you.


I relish the dark and brooding. Heathcliff is my ideal romantic hero, which explains the irresistible attraction I have to a certain type of man. I pursue the troubled ones, the mentally unstable. I can save you, angry man with a violent past!

Alas. Sorry, no one can save you but yourself. Seven years of therapy taught me that. Come back once you’ve graduated from therapy, balanced with help of medication. But then, I may not like you as well, because you’d be normal and – GASP – possibly kind.

It’s not me, it’s you.

In literature as in life, the grim attracts me. A very dark stripe runs through my soul – or the empty space it should be, where no sound is heard save the sinister creaking of an empty rocking chair, the tell-tale beating of a disembodied heart. But then, a lot of people must be similarly afflicted, because books like this fly off the shelves. Which makes me normal. Which I resent.

I didn’t enjoy The Silent Companions at first. For at least the first quarter, it irritated me I’d paid across the pond shipping, and an inflated exchange rate, to get my grubbies on it. A haunted house, a woman who’s lost her mind, strange and shifting wooden figures that resemble people she’s known …

Yet, I just wasn’t feeling it.

Tossed to the side of my bed in a huff, I read a couple other books while it lay there, gathering dust. Then I decided dash it! I’ve paid for it, I’m going to give it a few more pages. And you know, I enjoyed it a lot more after letting it sit and stew. Still far from the best gothic I’ve read, it got one hell of a lot better.

The wooden figures – the “silent companions” of the title – are ghoulishly creepy. It’s their shifting around that does it. You know how in horror movies every time a main character works up the courage to jerk open a door, hearing a noise in the hallway, it’s guaranteed as soon as the door closes the monster/killer/icky thing will be RIGHT THERE? That, but in a surprising enough way it’s not as cliché as it could have been. Still a bit predictable, but done well enough.

The heroine develops more fully as a character through the last half of the book, enough that I’d stopped hoping for her swift death, just so the book would be over. It bothered me the plot seemed lifted from Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, done less gracefully. If I hadn’t just watched the Netflix exclusive series, I’d have been blissfully ignorant of the similarity. Purcell is no Margaret Atwood.

If you aren’t familiar with Atwood’s novel, at its center is a woman in a mental asylum. Charged with murder, her mental instability and a lack of firm evidence are enough to keep her locked up, the prospect of execution looming. In The Silent Companions, the main character is unable to speak. Interviewed on an ongoing basis by a man determined to get at the truth, she communicates her story in writing. In Alias Grace, Grace is able to speak, spinning tales like Scheherazade. Grace is completely unreliable as a narrator, the story much more suspenseful. And the ending?


The Silent Companions isn’t the smoothest book. The dialogue tends toward the stilted. The attempted replication of a 19th century writing style comes off cheesily fake. As a lover of Victorian literature, I’m far less inclined to forgive missteps as huge as this.

It was, as you see often in reviews, “readable.” I finished it; that says a lot.

The ending irritated me. Again, picking it up so soon after my experience with the phenomenal TV adaptation of Alias Grace, it did not fare well. The power of Atwood’s novel, compared with the slow fizzle of The Silent Companions, did it no favors. I wonder if Purcell’s read Margaret Atwood’s book, if the similarities were intentional. If so, my opinion drops further.

I don’t hesitate throwing books aside. It’s ridiculous feeling you owe a writer anything. They owe you, the reader. It’s their job. They’ve produced a product, and you’ve paid for an anticipated experience. The writer needs to deliver as promised.

Not a ringing endorsement, I realize. But if you’re into gothics and aren’t looking for something either too heavy or terrifying, this may be it. And if you haven’t read Alias Grace, and aren’t an afficiando of Victorian literature.

Sorry, this just went even further South. The more I wrote, the less impressed I became. Go figure.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Catapult (October 3, 2017)

Holy lyrical and technical perfection. No wonder many lovers of hard-core literary fiction felt this short-listed novel should have won the Man Booker. I own a copy of the winner – Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – but have yet to give it a proper read (as opposed to skimming pieces). Which deserved the win, I don’t know. All I do know, this one’s a beauty.

The trouble so many readers express is nothing much happens. It’s about perfection of writing, not a story that progresses in the traditional sense. A young girl in a remote English village goes missing. For years, residents search for her. Clues are tossed in occasionally, but they’re so few and far between the trail goes cold.

In place of a suspenseful plot, there are stories about everyday people, human experiences and the drama of everyday life in the space of time a tragedy becomes a distant memory. The parents of the girl are silhouettes on the edge. Hard details about the investigation aren’t well-defined.

If you’re looking for another Gone Girl, this isn’t your book. It’s a novel to be read slowly and savored, appreciated for the beauty of writing executed with perfection. It’s the kind of book you can pick up and put down without loss of continuity. I read it at a snail’s pace.

Every word is a treasure.

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (July 11, 2017)

Another beauty, this one with a plot not fast-paced but progressive. And the lyricism, just breathtaking.

Drawn from the story of his great-aunt, native Mississippian Brad Watsons’s Miss Jane is about a woman born malformed, neither her female parts, digestive nor urinary systems intact or functioning normally. She could control neither her bowels nor bladder, her life made painfully difficult.

Participating in normal society required pre-planning, and the constant worry she’d have accidents. From childhood, she was ostracized. Always on the outside looking in, her yearning to be normal, to go to school and live the carefree life of a child was heartbreaking. Forced to wear a diaper, she starved herself to avoid humiliating accidents. She wasn’t always successful.

Eventually dropping out of school, she’d learned enough rudimentary basics to allow her to read and perform basic math functions. As she got older, the dawning realization she could never have a romantic relationship in the traditional sense was a slap in the face. A strong woman, she not only endured but made a satisfyingly full life for herself, not that she never regretted what she couldn’t have. It would have been abnormal not to.

Start to finish a beautiful book, it does have lagging moments. I’m not sure I’d edit them out, though. That’s the thing. I had to pull my way along for brief periods, but overall, very worth it.

Miss Jane has literary prize written all over it.

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree

by AJ Jacobs

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 7, 2017)
  • Courtesy of AJ Jacobs, because friend.

I’ve put off talking about this book because I knew it would be both very personal and time-consuming. I wanted to go into the whole back story of how I’d gotten involved in AJ’s project from the beginning, our personal friendship, and the ways I’d supported him throughout.

Flying out to Manhattan for the Global Family Reunion – the event that is the crux of this book – right around the time my divorce was finalized, it was a defining experience. I hoped to throw in pictures, too, because I went to NY and it was cathartic.

Oh, what the hell. Here are some of the pictures.


9/11 Museum at Ground Zero, Manhattan – a child stares in wonder.


I’ve known AJ at least a decade. His book The Know-it-All, about his experiences reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica, helped bring me out of a deep depression following the loss of a soul-mated friend. Written in short bursts of his thoughts on specific entries, it was both funny and interesting enough to suit my all but non-existent attention span. Losing a friend similarly passionate in his devotion to books, I’d lost the will to and interest in reading. AJ brought me back.

I wrote a deeply personal review of The Know-it-All, which AJ had seen. Meaning to find and get into contact with me, he just never did. Years later, I wrote asking him for an interview following publication of another book. He knew me immediately, telling me then how much my review had moved him.

By the time he started his world genealogy project, we were friends who communicated regularly. An editor of Esquire magazine, a very big deal, he’s still a reference on my resume. I have his personal cell number. AJ is good people.

He described his vision: what if the world traced its roots and realized we’re all cousins. I was hooked. I joined Geni.com, the site virtually hosting the project. Genealogy began to consume me. The problem: once you start, it’s hard thinking about anything else.

My then-husband was furiously jealous of the amount of time it took up in my life, manifesting in hostility toward anything I tried sharing. The rift already there after decades of a terrible marriage, we’d be divorced by the time I attended the Global Family Reunion.

No, I don’t blame that on genealogy.

One World Trade Center.

Long story short, I followed AJ through what turned out to be a tortuously difficult project to get together this real-world family reunion, held in the summer of 2015. Though his friendliness never faltered, I could see the toll it took. He was still AJ, still kind and caring, frantically busy, but never so much he didn’t return my emails. This one nearly got away from him.

The book itself went months overdue. Intending to finish sometime around March of 2016, publication didn’t happen until November 2017.

The resulting book shows the strain. He doesn’t shy away from admitting he’d gotten in over his head, that pulling together a virtual campaign getting people to join Geni and dig into their roots enough to connect with him, plan an actual event with celebrities and publicity and all that goes with it, and gear up to write this book came dangerously close to breaking him. Normally a jovial writer with a sharp edge of self-denigrating sarcasm, the style of It’s All Relative comes off almost depressing.

This book doesn’t sound like AJ to me.

Ultimately, he drew together thousands who traced their ancestry far enough they realized he was right: we are all interconnected. Real life friendships were formed between total strangers of different races and ethnic origins, small celebrations were held around the world. People who couldn’t make the official reunion held their own.

Though it rained torrentially the day of the actual, mostly outdoor reunion, feet and chairs sinking into inches of mud, he pulled it off. Sister Sledge was there, singing “We Are Family”. I saw the celebrities backstage. That part was semi-amazing.

When I saw AJ that day, met him face to face, he was so distracted it didn’t register who I was. It didn’t help I was an unrecognizable drowned rat, caught in the deluge in Manhattan while tracking down a cab. By the time I caught up with him, the strain from all that had gone wrong had him so near distraught he shook my hand absently.

Leaving the event, I couldn’t find a taxi to take me the staggeringly expensive and long route back to Manhattan. In a shady area of Brooklyn, I wandered for hours. My feet were so sore from a poor choice in footwear – fashion over function – I walked the sidewalks barefoot, lost beyond hope. Returning to the venue, I tearfully asked for help. My phone dead more than an hour, the volunteers kindly ordered my taxi.


Times Square

Back at my hotel, I threw things around, irate I’d paid a tremendous amount of money flying out and staying in Manhattan just to have it turn into a virtual shit show. I tossed my backstage pass lanyard in the garbage. I couldn’t wait to leave New York City.

A few weeks later, once I’d cooled a bit but not completely, I fired off an email to AJ. It was a little ranty. And god, he was sorry. So sorry we set up a Skype call so he could talk to me, apologizing as face to face as technology allows.

Fences were mended.

I guess I did wind up writing a personal review about the book, after all. It was a life experience I won’t forget – not a completely great one, but all’s well that ends friendship intact.


So ends a quick summary of the first few books I’ve finished thus far in 2018. I’m close to finishing more. Hopefully I’ll have time to discuss those singly. We’ll see. Lots of other book-related thoughts, but time has been kicking my arse lately.

Either way, I’ll be back soon. Until then, happy January reading.

Blog Hopping on a Fine Saturday Afternoon

Come with me as I bounce 'round the Internet, from blog to book, to book site to who knows where!


Start: Geranium Cat's Bookshelf


I have no idea why but I've had this blog on a tab at the top of my screen for days now. I must have been searching for something and came up with her blog as a hit, followed it, then forgot why I was there. I'm 46. This happens to me a lot.

But anyway, you won't be surprised to hear GCB is a book blog. A lovely, active book blog, too. The post I've been reading today is about Mariana by Monica Dickens (yes, she's related to HIMSELF). GCB is using this to qualify for the year 1940 in the many-blogged "A Century of Books," which I've also decided to join as it sounds like fun and also a good way to read more diversely. In my case, the end date for this project will be when my soul separates from my body, shortly before my body rolls into the crematorium.

In this challenge you read one book from each year in a particular century, the 20th in this case. And  I just figured out what led me here! GCB was on the list of participants I found who knows where and for whatever reason I clicked through to see her example of how it's done. Well, in her case it's done in a table format. So I stole borrowed that with a quick copy/paste and now it's ready to go on my own blog.

Shining, happy smile!



You may not have realized Dickens's's's had a vague relative who was also a writer, and if you didn't I feel rather proud for having taught you that. But about this particular book, GCB writes:


"Here's a book which fits comfortably into its genre, except that the author
wouldn't remotely have considered herself to be writing a genre novel. Because
it's very much a representative of that early twentieth-century phenomenon, the
middlebrow: those endlessly interesting uneventful novels about little people
and little things, the kind in which we see ourselves and our daily concerns
mirrored and discover how we might ourselves deal with life's smaller
vicissitudes and failures. If the broad sweep of life and death, war and peace
is encountered here, it's at the domestic level, and is more likely to be a
complaint about the servant problem during wartime than the death of a loved
one, although many of these quiet books have moments of great poignancy."


This encapsulates the middlebrow novel perfectly. It's a favorite genre of mine but it's gotten pushed to the side of my current reading by all the contemporary books I read for review, as well as the classics I read for the library's Classics Book Group. And I know a lot of people consider middlebrows to be a waste of reading time, because there are no guns or blood or exploding bits. But it's not true that nothing happens. If you love Jane Austen you'll be familiar with the ease with which some dismiss her books as boring, women's books or romances, or <insert favorite dismissive word here>. Underneath what some see as shallow, there's all the truth in the world. You just have to know how to read it. Sounds odd, but it's true.

Most of us live middlebrow lives. Would you say nothing much really happens to you? To the world you present a solid facade but each one of us has a story – thousands, actually – that could make another's hair turn grey, laugh uproariously or give you a sympathetic hug.

Middlebrow fiction is about US.

If you'd like to read more about Mariana have a look here at GCB's review. It's wonderful. It's on my reading list, too.  As for Monica, I loved this passage from the Wikipedia bio of her:


"Known as "Monty" to her family and friends, she was born into an upper middle class London family to Henry Charles Dickens (1878–1966), a barrister, and Fanny (née Runge). She was the grand-daughter of Sir Henry Fielding DickensKC. Disillusioned with the world she was brought up in – she was expelled from St Paul's Girls' School in London before she was presented at court as a debutante – she decided to go into service despite coming from the privileged class; her experiences as a cook and general servant would form the nucleus of her first book, One Pair Of Hands in 1939."


Don't you love her already?

Persephone has republished some of her works (pricey but beautiful paperbacks) and Amazon has loads for the Kindle. If you have a great library system, you may be able to find some there, as well. If you're like me and enjoy learning about the author herself, her autobiography is called An Open Book. Another one goes on the reading list!



From GCB proper, to a book on her sidebar – Robert Neill's Witchfire at Lammas. I have no idea who Robert Neill was or anything about his writing but I know when a title and book cover catch my eye. In this case, the book is a Vintage Penguin of the blue group… And the title sounds wonderfully gothic. Considering GCB's reading tastes, this could be one to explore.

When I went on a Robert Neill hunt I of course found the Wikipedia bio first, where I learned:


"Robert Neill was a British writer of historical fiction. He was born in Manchester, southern Lancashire in the northwest of England, the setting for his best known work, Mist over Pendle, a novelisation of the 1612 witchcraft trials in Pendle, Lancashire."


Not much to go on, to say the least but my gothic hunch was correct. The full bio has a list of his works, which helps, but I don't know if it's complete. Let's dig some more…

I found another link when I typed in "Robert Neill author," but it turns out this is another Robert Neill. Another fiction writer, in this case from Mississippi, around the area where I was born. He went to college at Ole Miss, where I'll be in just under two weeks…



His name is Robert Hitt Neill and here's a bit from his bio:


"Robert Hitt Neill is a native of Brownspur, Mississippi, a small plantation community. He graduated with honors from Leland High School, where he was also an All-State football player. He played football at Ole Miss when the Rebels were the Number One Team in America. He married his college sweetheart, Betsy Henrich, who was an Ole Miss Top Six Beauty and Rebelette. They have three grown kids: Christie, Adam, and B.C., who along with husband John has given them two grandsons, living in Leland."


 Interesting, because he's from MS, but this is what really caught my eye:


"He has published 10 books, 1500+ magazine articles, written a weekly syndicated newspaper column for 24 years, and spoken over 1500 times in 25 states as a professional storyteller. He has won dozens of writing awards, and has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize."


Say WHAT? Never heard of the dude and he's been a Pulitzer nominee, born within a stone's throw of my part of Mississippi. After having a look at Amazon, to check out his books, I'm thinking the Pulitzer reference may have been for his journalism. His books are about things like hunting turkeys. While there's certainly nothing wrong with hunting turkeys for food, I can't quite reconcile that and the Pulitzer Prize.

Another search turned up nothing but more listings of the original Robert Neill's bibliography. This is when it's time to either do full-on research- which would require using the library's databases, finding parts of the interweb not on Google - or go elsewhere.

Let's go elsewhere, because I'm too OCD for this much studious work on a Saturday.




There's another tab open on top of my screen, this one for the blog You Can Never Have Too Many Books. Wonder how that got there?!

Am I the only person who does this, visits a blog with intent then just leaves the page open in a window for days on end, forgetting why you were there? Maybe it is just me.

So, what brought me here? I have no bleeping idea, but check out her current reading list!:


  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  • The Winds of Marble Arch – Connie Willis
  • The Morville Hours – Katherine Swift
  • The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction – Alan Jacobs
  • Howard's End is on the Landing – Susan Hill
  • The Most Beautiful Villages in England – James Bentley


So, I don't know why I was here. Maybe it was an older blog hop session and I clicked on the name because it was too compelling not to, had a poke around, then left the window open. In any event, she and I are clearly reading kin. I know or follow lots of people on her sidebar, too. We're connected in several ways but don't know each other.

Come to think of it, don't you wonder how many degrees of separation there are between book bloggers? Judging from how frequently I see bloggers I know on other people's blog lists I think it just may follow the same six degree rule.

And, just how many book bloggers are there? Can't imagine how you'd count, especially considering the transient nature of a lot of bloggers. I've been here six or seven years now and that's decent longevity. Not so for all bloggers, though. I've hit my share of dead ends, blogs like deserted ghost towns, tumbleweeds blowing across their home pages.

In some cases that's not a bad thing, either, for the sake of book bloggers everywhere. Some losses aren't worth mourning.

So, let's end today's hop here. The lesson learned is we readers have a plethora of interests in common and we're spread all over the web but if you pull one silken strand you're likely to very soon find a blogger or writer or book you recognize. You may also find a wholly different person but one you have some sort of connection with, as was the case with the two authors with the same name, one who wrote gothic fiction of the sort I love to read and the other native to the same general area I am.

Curiouser and curiouser. If you came along on my blog ride, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


More reading:

The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s to 1950s: Class, Domesticity, and
by Nicola  Humble

The Masculine Middlebrow, 1880-1950: What Mr. Miniver Read by Kate Macdonald

Lolita in Peyton Place: Highbrow, Middlebrow, and LowBrow Novels of the 1950s (Studies
in American Popular History and Culture)
by Ruth Pirsig Wood

Married, Middlebrow, and Militant: Sarah Grand and the New Woman Novel by Teresa

A Novel Marketplace: Mass Culture, the Book Trade, and Postwar American Fiction by Evan Brier

Middlebrow Literary Cultures: The Battle of the Brows, 1920-1960 by Erica Brown and Mary Grover