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Monday, December 15, 2003

News for your Monday morning 

Theater critic John Simon offers a very in-depth review of Margot Peters' new biography of the acting team Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. Normally I'm conflicted about Simon's opinions, since he can either be brilliant or a crackpot, but this essay is so alive with feeling that I want to read the biography soon.

Meanwhile, Janet Maslin takes a look at a new biography of Oscar Wilde--this one offering a detailed look at the libel trial that outed Wilde's homosexuality and basically ruined his career and life at the time.

For fans of Patrick O'Brian's MASTER AND COMMANDER and the 19 subsequent sequels, looks like number 21 might be forthcoming after all. An unpublished manuscript is believed to have been discovered amongst O'Brian's papers, and it remains to be seen if a posthumous novel (O'Brian died in 2000) will, in fact, see the light of day.

The Glasgow Herald interviews comic novelist Christopher Brookmyre. I've only read his first book, QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING, but I adored it immensely for its unbelievably warped sense of humor (and unerringly fast pace) and must seek out further books soon.

Speaking of Brookmyre, he and a number of other authors are queried about their favorite phrases.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has, as expected, turned out to be the winner of the BBC's Big Read. Interesting that Simon Tolkien (whose own first novel, FINAL WITNESS aka THE STEPMOTHER, was released about a year or so ago) is the only one of the family to go public with any commentary about the result. Related, John Garth of the Scotsman examines why the books are so damned popular.

Patrick Anderson's thriller column focuses on Joyce Carol Oates' new book RAPE: A LOVE STORY. Although I suppose it's meant to be a horrifying look at the worst-case scenario of the aftermath of a rape, the description and deus ex machina effect doesn't make me want to read it terribly much. Not that I don't like to be disturbed--I do read crime fiction after all--but I guess I have my upper limits.

The UK store chain WH Smith has been restructuring of late, trying to figure out what it does best (candy, magazines) and not (lots of books.) Naturally, there's some purging going on.

Anna Picard rounds up the best of Classical Music books of 2003. Some she liked....others, not so much.

In somewhat older news, SJ Rozan is the winner of the Nero Wolfe Award for her 2002 novel WINTER AND NIGHT, which already picked up an Edgar and a Macavity award earlier this year. Also, do take a look at her blog about the process involved in the publication of her next book, the Standalone ABSENT FRIENDS. Very fascinating stuff that's of insight to both writers and readers.

And finally....Prince Charles can't seem to stop making gaffes. Upon meeting Nicole Kidman at a premiere for her latest movie, he asked if she'd recently appeared in the movie ENIGMA:

She looked at him baffled, glanced at Cold Mountain director, Anthony Minghella, before replying: "No. Moulin Rouge".

"You've done a bit since then," Charles said.

"Yes, a few things," she said.

Yup. Just another faux pas from the man who would be king.

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