Sunday, October 26, 2003

Sunday Morning roundup 

After hanging out with old friends and seeing a fluffy but enjoyable movie, I found lots of goodies to post about as the clocks get shifted back an hour (don't forget!)

Craig McDonald's website has long been a favorite here, and he's updated with some great new author interviews of J.A. Jance , Anne Rice, Dan Brown, David Corbett, and Peter Straub. The Straub interview is especially interesting as it not only delves into the process of writing his latest book, LOST BOY LOST GIRL, but addresses a concern I picked up on some time ago:

McDonald: ". . . A few days ago, a long piece about you appeared in Publisher’s Weekly focusing largely on the comparative brevity of this book measured against some of your longer works. Much was also made of the perceived need to publish more frequently — aiming for a book a year. Since that article appeared, and as this interview drew closer, I’ve monitored some book chat sites here and there, and some literary blogs. The reaction so far, seems to be either sympathy for your decision to succumb to "book a year" pressure, or sadness/wariness that you’ve in some way possibly capitulated to market forces. Did you know the piece would be taking that tack?

Straub: No I didn’t. Mind you, I don’t at all object to that article. I think it’s a very good article and I think it presents me in a very accurate way. I don’t see myself as capitulating to market forces anymore than I have throughout my career.

McDonald: Writers write to be read.

Straub: Yeah. I also wanted to write really good books that were different from other peoples’ books and I think I actually mange to do that, I think, and people who like my work agree. When I say I want to write a book a year, I’m describing what I actually do want to do. I want to write shorter books. I had a wonderful time writing
lost boy lost girl. It was the best time I had had in a long long time."

I'm happy to see Straub be up-front about this; although I certainly have and still have concerns about the nature of the industry, he strikes me as someone in control of his own career. Considering that LOST BOY LOST GIRL has garnered some excellent reviews, the change in attitude seems to be working, and should be a good indication of what is to come. If a book a year is Straub's natural rhythm these days, more power to him.

The Washington Post's Book World has some interesting new offerings. There's a review of five, count 'em, five books on Winston Churchill. A book on the hostesses with the mostest in Washington gets a lukewarm reception. The jury's still out on Madeline Albright's memoir; and Jonathan Yardley finds Toni Morrison's latest book, LOVE, to be a "clotted, tedious, uninviting novel." Ouch.

The Observer offers an in-depth profile of comedian Lenny Henry. Not surprisingly, his life hasn't always been a bed of roses. The latest reality TV sensation in Britain is Celebrity Poker Club, where famous enthusiasts can compete against each other for a 25 000 pound prize. Talking about books, there's a critique of a Douglas Adams biography which doesn't meet the reviewer's expectations; Ursula Kenny loves Clare Morrall's Booker-shortlisted novel; Michael Moore may be full of himself, but Stephanie Merritt still thinks DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY should be out there for people to read; and of course, Robert McCrum waxes poetic on many a literary topic.

I admit that I really only know her for the name, but the Telegraph profiles punk rock legend Siouxsie Sioux, as does the Independent. The Sex Pistols may be long gone, but she's still around and promoting a new album.

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