Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Mid-week musings 

What's the hottest selling type of book in Japan these days? Don't remember? Exactly. Memory power is the latest fad there, as worried Japanese folk try frantically to keep everything they do and see in their heads. Kumon Publishing Co. has put out 2 books in this manner, and they've sold 228,000 copies to date, far exceeding expectations.

How did JRR Tolkien keep up inspiration for his Lord of the Rings trilogy? Michael Dirda thinks it might have something to do with his membership in The Inklings, a groups of writers (including CS Lewis) that met up pubs to talk shop.

After I went public with my dislike of VERNON GOD LITTLE, Jessa has pointed me towards a review who was rather bewildered about the whole business, wondering how this book was good satire.

THE GAY TALESE READER is due in stores fairly soon; the 71 year old author was a founding father of the New Journalism that enjoyed popularity in the 1960s, and Newsweek interviews him about all sorts of goodies, including the current state of the NYT (link from The Elegant Variation.)

Louis Bayard's MR. TIMOTHY is reviewed at January Magazine; it's under the crime fiction umbrella but their literary reviewer takes a crack at it, and enjoys it quite a lot.

In more reviews, Crime Time has put up three new ones this week: Henning Mankell's THE WHITE LIONESS, Boris Akunin's THE WINTER QUEEN, and Michael Carlson's short essay on why Dashiell Hammett's THE RED HARVEST may be the greatest crime novel of all time.

Meanwhile, SHOTS has updated its site, though the full issue of #20 won't be out till the end of the year. In the meantime, enjoy Ali Karim and Mike Stotter's detailed report of the CWA Dagger Luncheon, including an interview with Minette Walters and her agent, the incomparable Jane Gregory. I'm a bit curious, however, to find that she's representing Chris Simms (author of OUTSIDE THE WHITE LINES and the upcoming PECKING ORDER), as there's yet no mention of this on the agency's site. But if it's true, that can only mean good things for an author whose books have picked up tremendous (and deserving) buzz.

Oh god. Do we really need another installment of Canadian Idol? Well, even if we don't, Ben Mulroney and his cast of has-been judges will be back for another season.

And finally, happy anniversary, Gawker. The first year was crazy and tumultous; let all years to come be equally exciting for you guys.

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