Shuriks Picks, May 2011


Fiction

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Vintage, $9.95


This Gothic romance centers on the courageous orphan, Jane Eyre, who becomes a governess and falls in love with her mysterious and brooding employer Edward Rochester.


Since first published in 1847, the novel has remained a popular read. Several editions are in print and another is forthcoming in August. The Vintage edition contains discussion questions and a brief section of production notes regarding the 2011 film based on this novel - the latest of numerous remakes (see below right for a list).


Nonfiction

Return of the Tribal: A Celebration of Body Adornment by Rufus C. Camphausen, Park Street Press, $19.95


Body modification (bodmod) is a growing trend and involves a variety of techniques, among them tattoos, lip and neck stretching, cosmetic surgery, and the creation of sideshow celebrities such as Eric Sprague the Lizardman. While numerous TV shows have featured the more exotic practices, the publishing industry, according to some complaints in a reader survey, has treated the subject almost like a taboo (with possible exception of select nonfiction and fantasy novels. e.g. Katherine Dunn’s cult favorite Geek Love). Or are those in the industry merely out of touch with this subculture? One author posted that literary agent J.B. rejected her novel, based on Jocelyn Wildenstein, as “too unrealistic.”


An often asked question regarding bodmod is “Why?” In Return of the Tribal, Camphausen focuses on piercing, tattooing, body painting, and scarification and proposes that these practices represent “a return to our tribal beginnings - a way to identify who we are in a world that has lost its sense of community.” Numerous exotic practices are alluded to, such as the “ball dances” held across the U.S. in the tradition of Indian Taipusham festivals and lip stretching among Suri of Ethiopia where the larger the lip plate the bigger the bridal price. Camphausen asks us to temper our ethnocentrism regarding these practices and view them in cross-cultural context. This 122 page, easy to read introduction to bodmod has enjoyed a long shelf-life. Nearly every pages is illustrated with high quality photos, most of them of primitive people.


Not everyone agrees with Camphausen’s theory. A variety of explanations have been proposed. Some dismiss bodmod as need for attention while others claim that the more extreme practices reflect psychiatric problems. Lady Gaga reportedly regards her horn implants as part of performance art and stated last month, “I think that promoting insecurity in the form of plastic surgery is infinitely more harmful than an artistic expression related to body modification.”


Children’s/YA

Silverlicious by Victoria Kann, Harper, ages 4-6


In this fourth book in the series, Pinkalicious loses her sweet tooth and writes a letter to the Tooth Fairy explaining her dilemma. Since the Tooth Fairy is busy, Pinkalicious is visited instead by Cupid, the Easter Bunny, and an elf. Finally Tootheetina shows up. Silverlicious has a cute story, cheerful illustrations, and an upbeat message about sweetness.


Scholarly/Small Press

Apress Media LLC is a technical publisher concentrating on topics of interest to IT professionals, software developers, and programmers. It has over 1,000 books in print an in electronic formats. Since 2007, it has been part of the Springer Science-Business media. Its bestselling titles include CSS Mastery:Advanced Web Standards Solutions by Andy Budd and Ubuntu Linux: From Novice to Professional by Keir Thomas.


Apress is looking for writers who possess both technical skills and ability to explain complicated concepts clearly. They welcome queries from writers.


Commentary

A cluster of tornadoes hit the south-eastern part of the country on April 27 and caused widespread devastation. More than 340 people were killed, making it the second worst storm in U.S. history. Whole neighborhoods were reduced to rubble, the images reminiscent of war zones. Alabama was the hardest hit. To help the many victims who lost everything, you can contact the American Red Cross (1-800-RED-Cross), the Salvation Army (slavationarmyusa.org or 1-8000-SAL-ARMY) or Feeding America. Additional agencies providing relief are listed on cnn.com.

***

A healthy publishing industry is essential for the country. To maintain it, reader preferences should be taken seriously. In a survey a while back, the numerous reader complaints and concerns included:

  1. Distorted or unattractive illustrations (children’s books) and the poor quality or a lack of photos (nonfiction). “I ordered a Jill Barklem book. Terrible how the publisher changed the colors of her gorgeous illustrations into drab ones. With the present state of technology, it’s inexcusable.”

  2. The decline of neighborhood bookstores. “Years ago we had two bookstores nearby where I would browse before grocery shopping. They both closed. Consequently, I buy fewer books.”

  3. Avoidance of select topics by publishers and too much similarity in settings of novels. Comments included dearth of novels involving environmentalists as protagonists, contemporary body modification, and cults.

  4. Books by some famous authors are actually written by somebody else. “A novel by one of my favorite authors was disappointing. Then I heard it wasn’t written by him. I felt duped and regretted spending the money. Isn’t this fraud?”

***

Updates on previous topics:

  1. John P. Wheeler homicide. Police stated that they are actively investigating but have no suspects. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney believes it was a professional hit. His widow Katherine Klyce has offered a $25,000 reward. On April 29, Wheeler received full military honors at his inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery. The media silence about this case is puzzling.

  2. Rober Wone homicide. His widow Katherine Wone is proceeding with her wrongful death lawsuit against Joseph Price, Dylan Ward, and Victor Zaborsky. The defendants refused to answer questions during depositions, citing their 5th Amendment rights. The D.C. investigators are fighting to avoid answering questions. Apparently relevant information exists that the police have not released.

  3. Judith Dee Kangilaski homicide. We appreciate the information we have received, and we will check on the investigation. We plan to post a human interest profile of her sometime in the future. This case appears solvable and might interest the Vidocq Society (a crime-solving club composed of a variety of experts). Vidocq accepts a case only if it meets three criteria - it is over two years old; the victim was not a criminal (e.g. prostitute, illegal alien, drug dealer); and law enforcement presents the case to them.

Silverlicious by Victoria Kann, is on children’s best seller list.

Film Adaptations of Jane Eyre

  1. 1.1934, Virginia Bruce & Colin Clive

  2. 2.1944, Joan Fountaine & Orson Wells (also staring Margaret O’Brien & Elizabeth Taylor)

  3. 3.1971, Susannah & George C. Scott

  4. 4.1983, Zolah Clarke & Timothy Dalton

  5. 5.1996, Charlotte Gainsbourg & William Hurt

  6. 6.1997 A&E, Samantha Morton & Ciaran Hinds

  7. 7.2006 Masterpiece Theater, Ruth Wilson & Toby Stephens

  8. 8.2006 BBC, Sorcha Cusack & Michael Jayston

  9. 9.2011, Mia Wasikowska & Michael Fassbender

Winners and Losers

Winners

  1. Mike Hollowell, manager of Lowe’s in Sanford, N.C., and his employees saved many lives by their quick action when on April 16 a tornado struck the store. The tornado was one of killer twisters that ripped through six states and left at least 44 dead.

  2. Bethany Hamilton, 21, lost an arm in a shark attack at age 13. This did not stop her from returning to surfing. She has displayed an amazing attitude and turned pro in 2007. A film based on her book, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, opened in April with AnnaSophia Robb portraying Bethany.

  3. Texas Christian University football team had an undefeated season and won the 2011 Rose Bowl. In a Sports illustrated survey of criminal backgrounds of college football players, TCU was the only school in the sample with no felons on the team. Every student-athlete’s background is closely checked before they receive a scholarship.

  4. Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry’s Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity (University of Nebraska Press) won the Mystery Writers of America 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime book.

  5. Texas Tech’s Knight Raiders chess team, the lowest rated in the national college championships (the President’s Cup), beat the odds and finished first.

  6. U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, Kansas, is at age 103 the oldest working federal judge in the U.S. At this time, he has no plans to retire and is praised for his stamina.


Losers

  1. The government of Canada has sanctioned the slaughter of 400,000 baby seals even though the U.S. and many other countries ban seal products. Consequently, HUSA has called for a boycott of Canadian seafood.

  2. Greg Mortosen, co-author of Three Cups of Tea, faces accusations that the book is a fraud and he used contributions to his charity, Central Asia Institute, to promote his book and for private jet service. True or not, it has damaged his credibility.

  3. Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice. On the other counts, the jury was divided whether Bonds was guilty or whether he was too stupid to realize he was injected with drugs. A retrial looms.

  4. CEO Dov Charney’s American Apparel faced financial woes allegedly brought on at least partly by its sexist ads and charges of sexual harassment against the CEO.

  5. Rutgers University was ridiculed when it paid Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi $32,000 to chat about her hairstyle and tanning. This was $2,000 more than it paid Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison to give the commencement address.

  6. Southern University Athletic Director Greg LeFleur, 52, former NFL tight end, was arrested in Houston for solicitation. Not a career enhancing move.

Raoni: Memoires d’un chef indien by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux (Edition Du Rocher, 2010, available only in French) is about the environmental activist Raoni who is noted for his fight to preserve the Amazon rain forest. He is the most prominent person among those with stretched lips.

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African woman, around 1932, “Society and Female Beauty” by Grace Husted.


Lip stretching is presently found in a few parts of Africa and the Amazon region. The lip plate (aka plug or disk) is usually made of clay or soft wood. This labret (any object worn in the pierced hole in the lip) may be inserted in the upper or lower lip or both as shown above. The practitioners are sometimes incorrectly referred to as “Ubangi,” a term that was fabricated by carnival freak shows.”

Interior of a 1st class Trams-Siberian train car in use when Shuriks resided in Tomsk.

Bolshevik propaganda posters were widespread during and after the Civil War. The top poster represents workers defeating capitalism. The bottom one is a May Day poster celebrating the unity of peasants and workers.