Book Beat: 19 Years Later and Other New Beginnings

Hello all! Hope you’re all doing well. I’m currently battling a cold that I got from a con (as teased here), so what better thing for me to do than read while I’m resting up? Other than sleep, I mean. This week’s book news seems pretty dispiriting, but at times like these I notice that life is often cyclical. Endings can herald new beginnings, so there really is no definite “end” to anything. Things are only transformed into something else: a new song, a new story, or a new experience. It’s nice to remember the positive side of these things, especially when you’re sick and being reminded of the frailty of your own body!

Last Friday was the first day of term for many, including new Hogwarts students such as Albus Severus Potter. Yes, the Harry Potter series, having started long ago in the 1990s, has finally caught up with our current timeline. It was a bittersweet reminder that I hadn’t kept my childhood promise to myself to be at King’s Cross on the same day Harry, his friends and his family bid Albus goodbye. Yet upon reflection, I realized that I was still being true to my vow – like Albus, I too was experiencing new academic beginnings (in my case, starting law school applications). Pottermore also launched a new “fly-through” (read: digital tour) of the Hogwarts grounds too, so at the very least I can imagine myself on a magical campus tour. You should head over to the site if you’re feeling nostalgic; I promise you won’t regret it.

Take another example of new beginnings in endings. Author Susan Vreeland, best known for The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, recently passed away. A few short days before her death, I had actually recommended to a friend Vreeland’s The Passion of Artemisia: A Novel, a fictionalized account of Artemisia Gentileschi’s life as one of the rare female post-Renaissance painters recognized for her work during her lifetime. I am saddened to hear about Vreeland’s death, but I can’t think of any better way to honor her memory and ensure her literary voice lives on than to widely recommend her work.

Speaking of living beyond death, publisher Clarion and human rights organization Amnesty International have partnered to release John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s song “Imagine” as a picture book for the first time ever. The book will feature a forward by Ono as well as illustrations by Jean Jullien, and it will be released in 15 different languages and 20 territories. You can get your own copy at Amazon and Bam! Books-A-Million, among other stores.

Inside look at Clarion Books and Amnesty International's "Imagine" book. Illustrations by Jean Julien, lyrics by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Clarion Books, 2017.
Inside look at Clarion Books and Amnesty International’s “Imagine” book. Illustrations by Jean Julien, lyrics by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Clarion Books, 2017.

It’s important to note, however, that peace cannot be achieved by passiveness. No one embodies that struggle as much as Chelsea Manning, the trans woman and former U.S. soldier who disclosed files on U.S. corruption and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks. Who better to headline this year’s New Yorker Festival in October? After being sentenced to 35 years in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Manning probably thought that her life was over. Thankfully, through the efforts of many trans rights activists, Manning was released earlier this year after President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. It just goes to show you – it’s not over ’till it’s over.

Editor’s Note: Remember last week’s news on Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem? The embers from that controversy have only just cooled, but someone has surprisingly risen from its ashes like a brilliant phoenix – Rose Christo. You may not know her name, but you certainly know her infamous Harry Potter fanfiction My Immortal. Christo recently revealed her authorship after people speculated that Sarem was the true fanfic author due to similar writing styles. Not only did Christo shoot down the rumors, but she also revealed that she has been honing her writing skills ever since that fateful youthful attempt.

After all these years Christo is the proud author of several novels, such as the Gives Light series and Suddenly Space Pirates. She is also set to publish a heartfelt memoir next year called Under the Same Stars: The Search for My Brother and the True Story of ‘My Immortal.’ According to early reviews, it’s a masterfully crafted examination of the challenges Native American children face in the foster care system. If Book Beat had a winner for the coolest news on par with the week’s theme, Christo’s comeback from fandom notoriety to a promising literary career would win hands down. 

Stephanie Tran

Stephanie Tran

Queer, 20-something intersectional feminist, Vietnamese-American, and born fangirl. Writes about anything geeky and thinks about food too much. You can find Stephanie's Twitter rants at @YouAndYourEgo.