Compulsive Reader

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 21, Issue 1, 1 Jan 2019



New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Competition News
Sponsored By
Coming soon


Hello readers. Happy 2019! We’re now in our 21styear. Internet years are like dog years, so that’s no small accomplishment. Thanks to readers who have been part of this rapidly growing community all of those years and to our more recent readers, please stick around!  This is a warm, borderless, inclusive and diverse community united by the love of books (and the pleasure we take in sharing that love).

Here is the latest batch of reviews:

A review of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents

Jeff Herman’s iconic Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents is a well-respected industry standard, much like Writers Market. Now in its 28th Edition, the Guide enjoys continued acclaim and popularity—and there is a good reason for this. Flatly stated, it’s just the one of the best, if not the best, of many (many!) writers’ guides out there. Read more:

A Review of Little Reunions by Eileen Chang

Chang’s cool precise descriptions, reminiscent of her great American contemporary Jane Bowles, are spiked by preternatural attentiveness to light and colour, as in an early scene when Julie walks in the campus grounds where, ‘The sun had baked the red flowers in the blue ceramic flower pots, and had transformed them into little black fists, and had bleached the sea to a faded blue, like old blue linen drenched in sweat.‘ Read more:

A review of With Walt Whitman Himself in the Nineteenth Century by Jean Huets

Huets has done an immense amount of research to show America’s bard in his own time. Photographs, nineteenth century American landscape paintings, handwritten excerpts from Whitman’s notebooks, quotations from his poetry and from his contemporaries’ writing make the book reader-friendly. Read more:

An interview with Richard Holleman

Editor of Voice of Eve talks about his site, its features predictions for the future of the site, why an artist would want to submit, his favorite poets, and more. Read more:

A review of Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby

The life of the town centres around the pub, and the way in which the death provides a source for gossip, intrigue and transformation, but also in some respect brings the town together to support one another is charming.  Cedar Valley is immensely readable and progresses in ways that are unpredictable but also smooth and natural. Read more:

A review of Atlas of Men by David Sklar

Inspired by these true events and the impact on his life, author David Sklar—an emergency physician, researcher, and professor—writes from the heart and the mind with a broad scope as he tells his story. The author states that he too was subjected to the nude photography and somatotyping as part of a so-called research project while a student at an elite New Hampshire prep school. Read more:

A review of An Incomplete List of my Wishes by Jendi Reiter

The eleven stories in Jendi Reiter’s collection, An Incomplete List of my Wishes are innovative in both form and content. Reiter depicts fraught human relationships with insight and hope, showing many survivors of violence going on with their lives. Read more:

A review of Naming the Silence by Michael David Blanchard

Blanchard consistently displays an ease with poems in both short and long form and reveals a practiced command of nuanced phrasing, versification, and evocative imagery. While the works might be somewhat more formal in style than those of many of his contemporaries, there is no dominant or predetermined verse form here. Read more:

A review of The Northway by Lisa Bellamy

With its keen eye and impeccable phrasing, Lisa Bellamy’s The Northway gives us good-natured laughter, the kind of feeling you get from a Masterpiece Theater series…and it is ever so much more respectable and rewarding than a binge-watch. Read more:

A review of Crowd of One by Filip Severin

There is a great deal of talk about ‘the big picture’ in Crowd of One, a metaphor frequently used to make the ends justify the means and enable a megalomaniac’s vision to outweigh a world of suffering. Read more:

All of the reviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the front page. Older reviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive (and growing) categorized archives (currently at 2,344), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People has been named Waterstones Book of the Year, making the 27-year-old author “the youngest winner of the award, which goes to the title staff at the U.K.’s biggest bookshop chain most enjoy recommending,” the Guardian reported. Bea Carvahlo, fiction buyer for Waterstones, said reader response to Normal People had been astonishing: “As well as the universal praise, it has been a huge word-of-mouth hit. Normal People cemented Sally Rooney’s reputation as the voice of her generation and one of the most exciting novelists around today. Its success is testament to the health of literary fiction and demonstrates that there is still significant appetite for excellent storytelling.”

Years after gaining notoriety for embellishing parts of his memoir A Million Little Pieces,” James Frey “has a new notch in his bedpost” as winner of the 2018 Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his novel Katerina, the Guardian reported. The “honor” is presented annually by the Literary Review to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction.” The judges “said they had been swayed by several sex scenes in the novel, which include encounters in a car park and in the back of a taxi, but were especially convinced by an extended scene in a Paris bathroom between Jay and Katerina that features eight references to ejaculate,” the Guardian noted. “Frey prevailed against a strong all-male shortlist by virtue of the sheer number and length of dubious erotic passages in his book,” the judges said. “The multiple scenes of sustained fantasy in Katerina could have won Frey the award many times over.”

The 2018 Prime Ministers Literary Awards were announced at a ceremony at Parliament House. They are, for Australian History: John Curtin’s War: The coming of war in the Pacific, and, reinventing Australia, volume 1, John Edwards, Penguin Random House.  For Fiction: Border Districts, Gerald Murnane, Giramondo Publishing.  For Young Adult Literature: This is My Song, Richard Yaxley, Scholastic Australia.  For Children’s Literature: Pea Pod Lullaby, Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Allen & Unwin.  For Poetry: Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria, Brian Castro, Giramondo Publishing and for Non-Fiction: Asia’s Reckoning: The struggle for global dominance, Richard McGregor, Penguin Random House UK. For more information about the winning authors visit:

Kazuo Ishiguro will receive the Bodley Medal, which is awarded by the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of literature, culture, science and communication. He will be presented with the award April 3 at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival when he delivers the annual Bodley Lecture.

The Thurber Prize for American Humor was awarded to Patricia Lockwood, for her memoir ‘Priestdaddy,’ on December 5 in Columbus, Ohio. As the winner of the prize, Lockwood received $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.

The longlist has been unveiled for the CA$25,000 (about US$18,675) RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction, which recognizes an author “whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style and a subtlety of thought and perception.” A shortlist will be announced January 9 and the winning author named March 4 at an awards ceremony in Toronto. The winner also announces his or her choice for the CA$10,000 (about US$7,470) RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer’s Award.

Heather Marks won the 2018 Quarto Translations Diversity Award, run by the Golden Egg Academy, for her YA manuscript set in both 18th century Bristol and the Caribbean. The Bookseller reported that the prize, which was launched last year, “is for a manuscript that celebrates cultural diversity, including but not limited to ethnicity, gender or ability.”

Simon Armitage will receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, which is awarded to a published poet from the U.K. or the Commonwealth “for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award.” He will be presented with the medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 2019. Summing up the committee’s choice, poet laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy wrote: “From the beginning Simon Armitage was an original writer and a boundary-breaking poet. He spun poems of emotional weight and musical grace from the fabric of our everyday lives: the high street and suburbia, classrooms and tearooms, the pillion seat on a motorcycle. He touched the matter of our lives with characters and subject matter that lived among us: teachers and council tenants, chip shops and television shows, figures who drank in the local pub and shopped in the nearby supermarket.

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Debra Guyette, Anita Yancey, and Sabine Blanch, who each won a copy of In the Measuring by Carol Smallwood.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of With Walt Whitman Himself in the Nineteenth Century, In America by Jean Huets. To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “With Walt Whitman Himself” and your postal address.

Good luck everybody!



Girls on Key Poetry Portal Bookshop

Your one-stop shop for poetry books online including print and electronic copies, special events, free downloads, and poetic artworks.

Discover a world of poetry at the click of a mouse:



We will shortly be featuring reviews of The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright, Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere by Jeanette Winterson, where the Lost Things Go by Anne Casey, Reykjavík by Tom Maremaa, Annette Sandoval’s Women are like Chickens. and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and giveaways.

Don’t forget to drop by The Compulsive Reader talks (see widget on right hand side of the site) or at to listen to our latest interview with poet Steve Armstrong, who reads from and talks about his new poetry book Broken Ground. To listen, visit the show page or you can listen directly from the site widget (right hand side of the site).

You can also subscribe to the show via iTunes and get updates automatically. Just find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe.


(c) 2019 Magdalena Ball. Nothing in this newsletter may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher, however reprint rights are readily available. Please feel free to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

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