The new issue of Bookmarks appearing in my mailbox is always a happy time.
At one time it would be closely followed by a trip to the library, issue in hand, but now it’s closely followed by a lengthy session of list-making (and, sometimes, drooling).
This issue didn’t provoke a drool alert, but there are lot of new books forthcoming from authors whose work I’ve enjoyed (e.g. Tracy Chevalier, Chris Bohjalian, Anne Tyler, John Banville), although nothing that leaves me in a must-pre-order fervour.
Hmmm: the news of a new Louise Erdrich and, finally, a Connie Willis to follow up Passage: well, okay, mouth-slightly-watering.
But although I do enjoy the new-book chat in “Bookmarks”, the real reason that I enjoy it so much is that it reminds me of so many writers and books that I haven’t gotten around to exploring yet.
For instance, the summaries they present on contemporary writers (Jonathan Lethem, Michael Connolly and Ruth Rendell in this issue), which sometimes remind me that I want to read more of an author (e.g. Rendell, because I’ve so enjoyed the three or four that I have read, Wexford and otherwise) and sometimes remind me that I haven’t read anything yet (e.g. Lethem: I know, I know, I need to fix this) and sometimes just update me on a writer whose work I’ve sampled (and in the case of Connolly liked “well enough”) but haven’t followed.
I also find it interesting to see books reviewed that have already appeared elsewhere but, in the interim, I still haven’t gotten around to reading them, so those are useful reminders as well.
So, for instance, the Collected Stories of J.G. Ballard, which was published years ago overseas but is only now being published in the United States.
And the Now in Paperback section has built-in nudges too ::puts stars next to original note to buy Bernardine Evaristo’s Blonde Roots::
Also the mention of new books being published in translation by authors that I keep meaning to read, but haven’t made time for yet (like Bolano and Pamuk, each with a work considered in this issue).
Overall, the magazine is a complement to Quill&Quire, which takes on all-things-Canlit, and NewBooks, which my friend Helen sends me to keep me up-to-date on UK book news. (Does anyone know if Lire is still being published in France?)
The coverage of awards news in Bookmarks is, as you’d expect from a magazine based in North Carolina, American-focussed, so in this issue the National Book Award has no descriptor attached (only the date of announcement) whereas the news of the Man Booker Prize comes with an explanation.
And the majority of books reviewed therein are penned by American writers and the majority are published by mainstream presses, but RainTaxi fleshes out the indie side nicely.
And besides its more-predictable rewards, sometimes, Bookmarks fills a gap that desperately needs filling.
I am still an in-print kind of girl: information that I take in from a screen doesn’t always settle properly and sometimes I leave things in a tab to make a note of something but accidentally close it and lose it (not necessarily in that order).
I did read a review with an author some months ago and was so struck by parts of it that I shared what I’d read with two readers and yet could not remember the author’s name or anything that would have useful to Google: but, at last, a brief mention of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s National-Book-Award-nominated novel settled the question for me. ::wipes brow::
And now for the next issue!