Friday, April 30, 2010

New pubs for 2010!

Yay for me! Two new books out from Gale Group's Greenhaven Press. I'm the third editor, which means I wrote some of the intros, found articles, cut them--even learned to do some paste-up stuff.

Of course, all this was done last summer, so having copies of the finished books delivered to me was a Very Nice Surprise. But also--none of the work looks familiar. Did I really write any of this? Skimming through, I found one phrase (in the Middle Class book) that stuck: Love Jones Cohort.

Professor Kris Marsh at UNC coined the term to refer to "a new kind of middle-class black: young, never-married, urban professionals living alone."

Love Jones Cohort. OK, now I remember! My immediate reaction had been "Love Jones? Was that some Pam Grier movie?" Hey, I'm a boomer--that's my cultural reference point!

But Love Jones was a 1997 movie about a Chicago poet...a young (in 97) Chicago poet. A yuppie in the 2000s, then, and Marsh's symbol for a new stereotype.

But isn't it funny how quickly we forget our work, once it's finished and we must move on to other articles/studies/books? Two months ago I finished a piece on important Supreme Court decisions. Do I remember any of the new facts I encountered while writing that? Beyond what I already knew--Miranda v. AZ, Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Topeka Board of Education?

Nah. Maybe one thing: What Happened to Mr. Ernesto Miranda.

Miranda's case, Miranda v. AZ, established that a suspect must be read his/her rights before being questioned by police.

Miranda confessed to a rape without being told of his legal rights, so when the Supreme Court decided his case in his favor, Miranda won a new trial--and was convicted again! Turns out, the police didn't even need his confession because they found a witness to his crime. Yup, the whole reason for the famous Miranda case turned out to be moot for Mr. Miranda!

The hapless Miranda got killed in a bar fight a few years later, after serving his sentence for the rape. And--irony of ironies--while his killer escaped, the police picked up an accomplice and read the guy his Miranda rights while Miranda lay dying or dead.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Books Up and Down

The good news: Ebook sales shot up 176.6% in 2009, though they comprise only 1.3% of book sales. Better news: adult hardcover book sales were up nearly 7% over 2008 levels. Not so good news is that adult paperback sales went down 5.2%, and overall book sales were down 1.8% in 2009--all according to this New York Times story.

I'm part of the problem, I suppose. While I've bought books as gifts over the past month, my own reading material has come from the library. Right now it's Olive Kitteridge and the Orson Scott Card Homecoming series, which I guess is sci-fi (the first book is pictured at left; there's five in the series).

My very Catholic bff thinks that the Homecoming books tell how the Bible was written. I don't want to break the spell by pointing out that Card is Mormon and the main character is named after Nephi, who (Mormons believe) wrote the Book of Mormon on golden tablets. I suppose we all look at our books through the lenses (or seer stones) of our own beliefs, so does it matter?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Joshua Whatmough's Book

If you're going to write a novel set in Gaul the most wonderful collection of names can be found in a 1949 book by Professor Joshua Whatmough called Keltika, being prolegomena to a study of The dialects of ancient Gaul,.

Sometimes Keltica is part of the title; often not. Dunno why the "ancient" is necessary as there's no modern Gaul to confuse it with. Last bit of trivia--while the book was published in the 1940s, most copies seem to be dated 1970.

Need names? The Dialects has got you covered. I'm relatively certain that Professor Whatmough did not intend his scholarly work to be fodder for romances, but where else can you find such lists of Celtic names? Many come from pots, of all places, but potters signed their works using Greek or Roman letters to spell out their names--monikers that would otherwise have been lost. There's also place names and divine names--all sorted out by region.

Got a male character from West of the Rhine? Call him Maro or Firmus (now that's telling), Abbo for comic relief (well, Abbo sound funny to me), or even Voranus, if you're a fan of the HBO series Rome. Those are all legit names from the region.

As to what those names may mean in Gaulish--good luck! I've read that only 200 words of that language is known, but that may be an old figure. I'm not too sure what's known and what's guessed to be a word's meaning based on its similarity to Gaelic or Cornish, also Celtic languages.

I do have a Gaul-French dictionary, but a lot of words seem to be guesses. If someone wants to update me on the status of scholarly knowledge of the Gaulish language, I'd appreciate it.

As for Professor Whatmough, whose name I adore, I found this article on him and his work in 1963. Better, here's a charming portrait and anecdotes from a former student, along with a picture of the man. He wasn't just an expert in Gaulish, but in all Indo-European language families. He was fluent in 8-22 tongues, depending on how one defined "fluent." He died only a year after retiring.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Show on Anglo-Saxon treasure to air Sunday, April 18

The largest cache of Anglo-Saxon gold--not treasure exactly, but battle trophies--is ready for its close-up. The gold, buried in the 7th century, was found by lucky guy with a metal detector.

I blogged on the discovery a few months ago--September 2009 to be exact. Now the National Geographic Channel is ready to air its documentary on the hoard of gold, including 86 sword pommelcaps. The show will include battle re-enactments and views of the treasure.

National Geographic's online site has lots of extras--mostly about those battle scenes, but nifty pictures, words from the director, and links to production team blogs are there too.