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N/A What We Discuss in the Yahoo Ruth Rendell Group Barbara Leavy
Yahoo runs a series of what are called lists, inviting people who wish to have polite conversations about an author to join.  I joined the Ruth Rendell group.  We talk about Ruth Rendell, her books, adaptations of her fiction for TV and film.  We also talk about genre, for some of the members of this list are published fiction writers.  But, inevitably, we converse about other authors, other films, other TV shows, for instance.  The present state of book publishing is a matter of great concern to all of us, and we have different views about the role of technology.  To have an e-book or not to have an e-book, that is one of our questions, and we have different responses to it.  And, finally, we talk about the state of the world, and more immediately the state of education in this country and how it affects how many people actually read fiction and the varying levels of their tastes.  This has an indirect relation to Ruth Rendell, for her books are complex novels, and those who want a simple, quick read in a genre mystery that focuses on whodunit generally are not willing to give her the attention and thoughtfulness she requires.  Read More...
N/A How My Yahoo Group Inspired This Forum Barbara Leavy
When the designer of my website asked me for a quotation or some other brief saying to put on my home page, I quipped, "I do literary criticism, therefore I am."  But of course this allusion to Descartes famous "I think, therefore I am" was grandiose and only semi-serious and  I soon discarded it for a quotation about literary studies from a Ruth Rendell novel.  Either way, talking about literature is a passion for me.  While I taught college English lit courses, my students gave me an outlet for this passion.  Writing books was part of what I had to do to get tenure and promotions in the Queens College English Department, but when I wasn't stressing out over that requirement, I enjoyed the research and writing. It may be difficult for some to realize, but sitting in a research library silently engaging in a virtual dialogue with other critics about a subject we are interested in is a great pleasure for me.  I would at times symbolically shake my head as I read and say, "No, you have missed the point," or symbolically nod with enthusiasm and say, "That's a great point.  I will use it in my own work and credit you with the idea."  Of course all this went on unobtrusively so that those around me did not think I was nuts, gesturing and talking to myself.  When I finished my fifth book, I ran into marketplace problems (google "CreateSpace and Foreign Distribution" for my account of my problem) and self-published it.  I still am working on selling and distributing it (my study of Ruth Rendell is available on Amazon.com, but aside from the listing, Amazon does not promote most of its books).  Did I ever want to write another book?  Slowly and unhappily I decided the answer was "no."

Was I now like an avid  tennis player afflicted with a severe disability that precluded getting up on the court?  What would be my outlet for discussing literature.  At some point I got in touch with how much I enjoyed my postings on my Yahoo discussion group and the back and forths that sometimes resulted from the postings. .  And what a colleague once suggested, a suggestion I vehemently rejected at the time, that I put my writing online, seemed a very good idea.  

So I would like to thank the group for leading the way to this forum and for the insights I have gained from them along the way.  And for putting up with my long postings!   Read More...
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