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  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 am on 2019/09/20 Permalink
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    Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble 


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    With the Downton Abbey movie arriving in theaters, Barnes & Noble is throwing a weekend long celebration of our favorite British TV series!

    This weekend,  September 20-22, you can get 50% off all British TV Shows DVDs & Blu-rays (both in stores & online)! Browse the complete selection here.

    If you’re looking to catch up on Downton Abbey, this is also your chance to get an amazing deal Barnes & Noble exclusive boxset featuring the first three seasons for only $19.99—$70 off the regular price!

    We’re also hosting a special sweepstakes: You can enter for a chance to win a free Trip to London (1 winner for a pair of tickets) A 7 Day Tour of England. Enter both in stores and online).

    And there are more special offers in stores only!

    Enter for a chance to win Downton Abbey Complete Collection gift set (one per store) a $199.99 value. Visit a store for the official rules and to learn how to enter.

    You’ll also receive a free Harney & Sons Tall Hot Tea with a the purchase of any British TV DVD or Blu-Ray. If you’re one of the first 25 customers to purchase, you’ll also receive a f
    ree button with the purchase of any Brit TV DVD or Blu-ray!

    British TV Weekend takes place at Barnes & Noble from September 20-22.

    The post Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 am on 2019/09/20 Permalink
    Tags:   

    Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble 


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    With the Downton Abbey movie arriving in theaters, Barnes & Noble is throwing a weekend long celebration of our favorite British TV series!

    This weekend,  September 20-22, you can get 50% off all British TV Shows DVDs & Blu-rays (both in stores & online)! Browse the complete selection here.

    If you’re looking to catch up on Downton Abbey, this is also your chance to get an amazing deal Barnes & Noble exclusive boxset featuring the first three seasons for only $19.99—$70 off the regular price!

    We’re also hosting a special sweepstakes: You can enter for a chance to win a free Trip to London (1 winner for a pair of tickets) A 7 Day Tour of England. Enter both in stores and online).

    And there are more special offers in stores only!

    Enter for a chance to win Downton Abbey Complete Collection gift set (one per store) a $199.99 value. Visit a store for the official rules and to learn how to enter.

    You’ll also receive a free Harney & Sons Tall Hot Tea with a the purchase of any British TV DVD or Blu-Ray. If you’re one of the first 25 customers to purchase, you’ll also receive a f
    ree button with the purchase of any Brit TV DVD or Blu-ray!

    British TV Weekend takes place at Barnes & Noble from September 20-22.

    The post Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 4:30 pm on 2019/09/19 Permalink
    Tags: 12 rules for life, , , brene brown, eight dates, , essentialism, greg mckeown, , john gottman, jordan peterson, julie schartz gottman, , , my friend fear, ryan holiday, , , stillness is the key, the gifts of imperfection,   

    9 Books to Help You Become the Person You Want to Be 


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    The right book at the right time can help us feel a little less alone. That’s especially true with nonfiction written by someone who once struggled with the same issues you’re struggling with today. The books below are on some of the most powerful desks in the world, and they’re frequent bedtime reading as well. Whether you’re looking for a pep talk or a detailed action plan, these books will help you envision a new future and grow into the person you want to be.

    Essentialism, by Greg McKeown
    This is the kind of book you’ll want to schedule a personal retreat to read each year. Its principles have guided the work of CEOs, teachers, creatives, and others who want to use the limited time we have to do work that matters. With sections on play, rest, and making choices, the book goes beyond traditional definitions of work to address the learning and work we can spend our whole lives doing.

    The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
    Researcher Dr. Brene Brown’s work includes talking with thousands of people about shame, worthiness, and fear. Then she analyzes those conversations and transforms them into simple lessons we can all use to live more wholeheartedly. She’s worked with executives, military leaders, parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and more, giving people the language and tools to feel worthy, overcome fear, and live their best lives. This book is a great introduction to her work.

    My Friend Fear, by Meera Lee Patel
    This gentle invitation to see fear in a new way is filled with wisdom and gorgeously illustrated in Patel’s self-taught watercolor style. Throughout the book, she shares her own struggles with insecurity and self-doubt. Quirky diagrams, personal stories, and luminous quotes all work together to prompt readers to see fear as a sign they’re doing something new, not something wrong. Keep this one on your bedside table and read it anytime you need a little reassurance or confidence.

    Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
    With her frank, commonsense voice, Rubin attracts readers who are eager for a no-nonsense approach to making all areas of life a little better than before. Whether you’re struggling with weight loss, exercise, work-life balance, decluttering, personal relationships, or one of the other areas that make us humans feel a little too human, Rubin offers sensible, tested advice. She’s an expert on habits and encourages readers to find what works for them, while offering loads of practical advice. Grab this book whenever you’re ready to tackle a new project or personal bugaboo.

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    We’re taught that the relationship between work and success is linear. Try harder, do better, be happier. But life proves time and again that idea is actually just a recipe for feeling crazy and crabby. Manson offers real talk about what’s actually in our control and how we can focus on what matters. It’s a refreshing approach to happiness and finding meaning, and after reading Manson’s work, you’ll find yourself drawn to contentment and feeling grounded rather than in hot and heavy pursuit of joy. This is a book you’ll give a f*ck about.

    Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    This is the sort of book that’s loaned, gifted, whispered about, and exclaimed over with friends. It’s one to turn to when you’re feeling stuck, longing to shrink down, and to maybe never think the words “I have an idea” again. In this modern classic, Gilbert tackles the fear that every artist faces during the creative process with wisdom, sharing the personal practices and mindset shifts that helped her write several bestselling books. And if you’re thinking you’re not an artist, she’ll help you see yourself in a new way too!

    Stillness Is the Key, by Ryan Holiday
    Holiday has positioned himself as a modern Stoic teacher, and his lessons are popular with leaders, thinkers, and warriors of all types. His latest book offers a counterintuitive premise: slowing down is the key to succeeding. With rewards like taming your temper and developing self discipline and creativity, Holiday makes a strong argument for getting quiet and turning inward, even when the world around us is spinning.

    Eight Dates, by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman
    If you’re eager to deepen your relationship with your significant other, Eight Dates helps couples prioritize time together and know what to do with that time once they’re on an actual honest-to-goodness date, so they’ll grow closer and fall more in love, rather than come home fighting. From the team that predicts divorce rates with a 94% accuracy rate, the book is packed with scientific research and personal stories. There’s actionable advice and suggested dialogue to make it as easy as possible to transfer the best practices for successful relationships to your own life.

    12 Rules for Life, by Jordan Peterson
    This wide-ranging book touches on science, nature, philosophy, mythology, and more, all while feeling personal and thoughtful. Written by a psychologist who has spent his life thinking about how to make the world a better place and help people find meaning, the 12 rules are meant to lead readers toward a more moral existence. Does the book accomplish its goal? Reviewers and thought leaders from all walks of life have both celebrated and rejected Peterson’s work. Read it for yourself to join the conversation.

    What books would you recommend to readers hoping to become the person they want to be?

    The post 9 Books to Help You Become the Person You Want to Be appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2019/09/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , burn the place: a memoir, go ahead in the rain: notes to a tribe called quest, race for profit: how banks and the real estate industry undermined black homeownership, say nothing: a true story of murder and memory in northern ireland, solitary, the end of the myth: from the frontier to the border wall in the mind of america, the heartbeat of wounded knee: native america from 1890 to the present, , thick: and other essays, what you have heard is true: a memoir of witness and resistance   

    Announcing the Longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction 


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    Throughout this week, the longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards are being announced, with the selection of finalists in each of five categories—Young People’s LiteratureTranslated LiteraturePoetry, Fiction and Nonfiction—to follow. This morning, we present the longlist for the category of Nonfiction. Additional longlists will be announced each day.

    From an homage to the rap group A Tribe Called Quest, to an analysis of the continuing evolution of the concept of the American Frontier, to the harrowing story of a man who served four decades in solitary confinement, the books included in the longlist for the National Book Award for nonfiction are filled with close examinations of overlooked periods of history and unforgettable—and deeply personal—stories. Even readers who don’t typically read nonfiction will be spellbound by any of the ten picks below.

    Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, by Hanif Abdurraqib
    How does one pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest? The seminal rap group brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces such as The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. Seventeen years after their last album, they resurrected themselves with an intense, socially conscious record, We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service, which arrived when fans needed it most, in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib digs into the group’s history and draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.

    The Yellow House, by Sarah M. Broom
    A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows.

    Thick: And Other Essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom
    In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—is unapologetically “thick”: deemed “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less,” McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick “transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women” ( Los Angeles Review of Books ) with “writing that is as deft as it is amusing” (Darnell L. Moore).

    What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance, by Carolyn Forché
    She is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep. The relative of a friend, he is a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. She’s heard rumors from her friend about who he might be: a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, but according to her, no one seemed to know for certain. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forché to visit and learn about his country. Captivated for reasons she doesn’t fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension. Pursued by death squads and sheltering in safe houses, the two forge a rich friendship, as she attempts to make sense of what she’s experiencing and establish a moral foothold amidst profound suffering. This is the powerful story of a poet’s experience in a country on the verge of war, and a journey toward social conscience in a perilous time.

    The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin
    Ever since this nation’s inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States’ belief in itself as an exceptional nation—democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America has a new symbol: the border wall. In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history—from the American Revolution to the War of 1898, the New Deal to the election of 2016.

    Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe
    In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with.

    Burn the Place: A Memoir, by Iliana Regan
    Burn the Place is a galvanizing memoir that chronicles Iliana Regan’s journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth. Regan grew up the youngest of four headstrong girls on a small farm in Northwest Indiana. Regan has had this intense, almost otherworldly connection with food and the earth it comes from since her childhood, but connecting with people has always been more difficult. She was a little girl who longed to be a boy, gay in an intolerant community, an alcoholic before she turned twenty, and a woman in an industry dominated by men—she often felt she “wasn’t made for this world,” and as far as she could tell, the world tended to agree. But as she learned to cook in her childhood farmhouse, got her first restaurant job at age fifteen, taught herself cutting-edge cuisine while running a “new gatherer” underground supper club, and worked her way from front-of-house staff to running her own kitchen, Regan found that food could help her navigate the strangeness of the world around her.

    Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
    By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusionRace for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties.

    The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer
    Dee Brown’s 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was the first truly popular book of Indian history ever published. But it promulgated the impression that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee—that not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U. S. Cavalry but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear—and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence—the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. Our B&N Podcast interview with Treuer is here.

    Solitary, by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George
    Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

    The 2019 National Book Award winners will be announced on November 20.

    The post Announcing the Longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2019/09/19 Permalink
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    7 Author Pseudonyms That Were Cracked—and 6 That Haven’t Been (Yet) 


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    Author have chosen to publish novels under a pseudonym for many reasons—a chance to work in a different genre without alienating their existing fans;  a way to test how much their fame influences their books’ reception; maybe even to evade the prejudices of their time.

    Unless they are known from the outset (the name of sci-fi author James S.A. Corey, “creator” of space opera saga The Expanse, was always known to be a front for the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) pen names often aren’t revealed until they’ve served their purpose, or even until the author behind one of them passes away and there’s no point in maintaining up the illusion.

    But every once in a while, a pseudonym is cracked prematurely due to either happenstance or clever detective work. And then there are the aliases that have never actually been revealed, leaving us with an enduring literary mystery. Here are seven authors whose secret identities were exposed before they were ready—and six we may never identify.

    Cracked Pseudonyms

    Robert Galbraith (Real identity: J.K. Rowling)
    J.K. Rowling chose to publish the Cormoran Strike novels under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith simply because she wanted the work to stand on its own, particularly after the scrutiny that greeted her first non-Harry Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy. It’s an understandable (and perhaps even laudable) motive—certainly she must’ve been curious as to whether she could sell a book with out riding the tails of boy wizard’s robe. We’ll never know how long she intended to keep up the ruse, because only a matter of weeks after The Cuckoo’s Calling was released (to strong reviews and rather modest sales—if respectable for an unknown debut author), the wife of a partner in Rowling’s lawyer’s firm leaked the secret to a loose-lipped friend, who subsequently blabbed to the press, and everything fell apart. Rowling initially took the revelation in good cheer amidst a surge in sales (increasing the print run from 1,500 to 140,000 will do that), but later expressed anger and irritation that her carefully constructed alter-ego had been so quickly and casually revealed. She continues to use the pseudonym for new novels in the series, and even maintains a separate website and social media presence under Galbraith’s name—almost as if Rowling is determined not to let all that creative effort go to waste (that said, Galbraith’s back-of-book author bio mentions her by name).

    Richard Bachman (Real identity: Stephen King)
    Stephen King created the identity of Richard Bachman  in the late 1970s for two reasons: one, he was too prolific, an his publisher was reluctant to put out more than one book a year under his real name, worried about overexposure (which seems surreal in retrospect, but the 1970s were simpler times); two, he wanted to see how much the success of his new books was driven by simple name recognition after the blockbuster sales of Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot. Beyond creating a fictional biography for the writer (married, an ex-Merchant Marine turned dairy farmer writing at night from his home in rural New Hampshire) King didn’t exactly put a lot of effort into maintaining the illusion—this was the pre-internet era, after all, when such schemes were a lot easier to pull off. Certainly he got away with it for a few years. In 1984, a Washington, D.C. bookstore worker named Steve Brown noticed similarities between King and Bachman’s writing and started doing some digging, eventually finding proof of the ruse in some legal documents in the Library of Congress. He sent King all of his research. King responded graciously, and agreed to grant Brown an exclusive interview about the whole thing, so he could get a little publicity for it. In the aftermath, King “killed off” his alter-ego, and Misery—originally planned as a Bachman book—was released under his own name. (Bachman did put out twi more books—1997’s The Regulators and 2007’s Blaze—the latter being a rewritten version of one of King’s earliest novels).

    Murray Constantine (Real identity: Katharine Burdekin)
    Katharine Burdekin found a measure of success as a writer under her own name in the early 20th century. Her books were ahead of their time, dealing with gender fluidity and sci-fi themes like time-travel; she also wrote a children’s book set in a world without gender. She was extremely productive in the 1930s, writing thirteen novels and publishing six—four under the pseudonym of Murray Constantine. It’s thought she used a male name to escape the sexist prejudice against women writers in the sci-fi genre. As Constantine, she published what many believe is one of the first truly dystopian novels, Swastika Night, which not only envisioned a terrifying future where the Nazis endured and thrived, but also serves as an early echo of The Handmaid’s Tale, describing a future where women are subjugated and treated like cattle. Burdekin published her last book in 1940, although she continued to write, and passed away in 1963, with no one the wiser that she and Constantine were one and the same—though it was a known pseudonym, at least one scholar believed the true writer to be a man—respected British sci-fi author Olaf Stapledon. But in the mid-1980s, an American scholar named Daphne Patai researching utopian and dystopian fiction put the clues together, which led to the discovery of a trove of Burdekin’s unpublished manuscripts, one of which—The End of This Day’s Business—is a mirror to Swastika Night, set in a future in which women rule the world and men are subjugated.

    James Tiptree, Jr. (Real identity: Alice Sheldon)
    It’s common knowledge among modern science fiction readers that James Tiptree, Jr. was a pseudonym for Alice Bradley Sheldon, the truth having been revealed decades ago at this point. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Tiptree name is not how long Sheldon kept it secret, but the fact that for many years, seemingly everyone in the sci-fi community knew it was a cover, but assumed the person behind it was a male writer hiding his identity. Hugo-winning author Robert Silverberg even publicly declared he found suggestions Tiptree might be a woman to be “absurd,” because the writing style was “superior in masculinity” to Ernest Hemingway—whatever that means. It was especially ironic (or perhaps appropriate), as Sheldon chose a male pseudonym because she didn’t want the attention of being a prominent woman in what was then a male-dominated field. Sheldon kept the ruse going for more than a decade before slipping up by making a reference to her mother’s death while “in character” as Tiptree. Her secret revealed, Sheldon gave up and admitted everything—though she continued to publish under the Tiptree name until her death a little over a decade later. Today, the James Tiptree, Jr. award is given annually to speculative works that expand or explore concepts of gender—though that may soon change. Earlier this year, a movement to change the name of the award gathered steam, with proponents suggesting honoring Sheldon in that way is inappropriate, given the fact that she murdered her infirm and ailing husband before killing herself—an act many in 2019 see as a clear case of caregiver murder. The issues involved are complex and heartbreaking—evidence suggests the couple had shared a pact to die on their own terms—and you can learn more of the sad details here.)

    Anonymous (Real identity: Joe Klein)
    If you’re old enough to remember Bill Clinton’s campaign for the presidency in the early 1990s, you might recall the furor over the release of the 1996 novel Primary Colors, a lightly fictionalized account of Clinton’s campaign that made everyone involved look pretty sketchy. The anonymous identity of the author was immediately a point of interest (and an incredibly effective marketing gimmick) that saw literary detectives poring over the book for clues. Surprisingly, it didn’t take too long to crack the case: journalist Joe Klein was quickly and correctly identified as the likely culprit early on because of the writing style “Anonymous” employed. Klein nevertheless denied it publicly several times, until The Washington Post hired a handwriting expert to analyze notes written on the manuscript pages. When the Post revealed the expert’s analysis revealed the author had to be Klein, he came clean. A sequel to Primary Colors, The Running Mate, was published in 2000 under Klein’s own name.

    Trevanian (Real identity:Rodney Whitaker)
    Literary writer Trevanian was an enigma for decades—a man whose bestselling novels varied so much in subject and style that some people suspected he was a group of writers sharing a pseudonym. The fact was, Rodney Whitaker was one man writing under several names, only the most famous and successful of which was Trevanian. His first hit, The Eiger Sanction, was intended as a spoof of spy thrillers, and Whitaker was irritated that everyone seemed to take it seriously (he doubled-down on the spoofiness in the sequel, even giving it the title The Loo Sanction). Whitaker kept his true identity secret until 1998, when a reporter in Austin somehow discovered the secret via an examination of school records and published Trevanian’s true identity. Whitaker no longer lived in the United States by that time and wasn’t terribly bothered by the outing; he published two more novels under the name, including Crazyladies, which is a largely autobiographical work that offers plenty of insight into the unusual mind of one of the most successful writers of the 1970s.

    K.J. Parker (Real identity: Tom Holt)
    Like most names on this list, everyone knew K.J. Parker’s was a pseudonym—but for 17 years, no one was certain who was using the name to publish excellent fantasy novels and short stories which were praised for their wit and historical verisimilitude. In a delightfully modern comparison to the hullabaloo surrounding Tiptree, Jr., many people were pretty convinced Parker was a woman using a vague pen name to write that sort of grim, dense fantasy that were the domain of the male author. In 2015, British satirist Tom Holt outed himself as Parker, surprising the heck out of a lot of people. Holt, best known for his silly and pun-laden (if creative and cleverly constructed) speculative fiction, seemed like the least likely candidate for the job—especially when you start to add up the sum total of Parker and Holt’s output and realize that one mortal producing that many novels so quickly probably means Holt sleeps about a minute a day. While Holt’s secret identity was voluntarily surrendered rather than “cracked,” it still caused a minor stir.

    Still a Mystery

    Elena Ferrante
    You might think that the true identity of Elena Ferrante, author of the Neopolitan Quartet that begins with My Brilliant Friend (which was adapted into a successful TV miniseries) has been solved; there were a flurry of articles a few years ago that certainly gave that impression. The problem is, the three people who have so far been named as credible candidates—Marcella Marmo, Anita Raja, and Domenico Starnone (as well as Raja and Starnone together) have all denied it. There’s no hard evidence, and “Ferrante” continues to have nothing to say on the subject. The attempts to find the truth have elicited accusations of sexism and mean-spiritedness and led to questions about what an author “owes” their readership—and none of it has gotten us any closer to the truth.

    B. Traven
    Literally every detail known about the author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is disputed on some level. From his name, to his birthplace, to whether or not his writing was initially published in German or English, no one can state with certainty a single concrete fact about the man—except that he wrote some of the most popular adventure novels of the early 20th century. In 1960 Traven submitted his final novel to his publisher, but the style and subject matter were so different the publisher rejected the book, believing that Traven had passed away and someone was attempting to use his name. One candidate for Traven’s true identity is German actor Ret Marut—but that name is also suspected to be a pseudonym. With every year that goes by, the likelihood that we’ll ever know for sure grows slimmer.

    Walter
    Let’s just get it out of the way: My Secret Life, published between 1888 and 1895 in seven volumes that eventually amounted to over a million words, is a terrible book. As a memoir it meanders, repeats itself, and, despite the racy subject matter (covering affairs with prostitutes, serving girls, and just about anyone else who was willing), is written with all the style and literary talent of a shrub. The reason it’s still a notable work is simple: it details the sex life of a gentlemen in the Victorian era, a time when such matters weren’t discussed much, making this a valuable historical document. Adding to the intrigue, the identity of its author has never been convincingly proved. Since Walter’s escapades are not always complimentary (a fact that argues against this being a work of fiction or plain old erotica passed off as a memoir), it would be interesting if Walter turned out to be someone of prominence, but chances are we’ll never actually know.

    John Twelve Hawks
    Sci-fi author Hawks’ has maintained near-perfect anonymity, despite seeing his novels sell millions of copies around the world. He wrote that he decided on the pseudonym while working on his first novel, The Traveler, partly because he idolizes George Orwell (a pseudonym, in case you didn’t know), and partly because the novel focuses on a future society where the citizens are accustomed to being watched and monitored at all times. He felt it would be hypocritical to seek publicity after writing a story warning against a loss of privacy. The very small amount of information we have about Hawks has been gleaned solely from his interviews and writings, making him one of the most mysterious working authors today.

    James Church
    Church’s detective novels are set in North Korea and crammed with enough detail to convince you that he was, as he claims, once an intelligence agent who worked or works in the East Asia—and who must remain anonymous because he still travels regularly to North Korea. His novels follow the investigations of a North Korean policeman named Inspector O and detail the struggles of the inspector to solve cases while living under a repressive and often dangerously paranoid totalitarian state, and have been praised for their combination of great storytelling and presumed accuracy. Whether there will ever be a time when it’s safe for Church to reveal himself remains to be seen—if in fact his identity isn’t considered some sort of state secret, never be revealed at all.

    Bandi
    We end with the troubling case of Bandi, the unknown North Korean writer who smuggled this collection of short stories out of his native country under the nose of an oppressive regime but continues to live and work as a writer there. Details in the stories that might be used to identify him were deliberately altered by the publisher to protect him, and while the defector who helped him smuggle the stories out in the first place found ways of letting him know the book had been published, she also admits she hasn’t been able to get in touch with him since 2018. While there’s no reason to believe anything has happened to the author, the circumstances are certainly a bit ominous. This is one mysterious pseudonym we don’t want cracked—at least not until the writer is safely out of danger.

    Pseudonyms are always tantalizing little mysteries. Did we miss any that haven’t been figured out yet?

    The post 7 Author Pseudonyms That Were Cracked—and 6 That Haven’t Been (Yet) appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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