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Saturday, November 29, 2003

So much for not blogging 

But with a snowstorm raging and a tenuous internet connection, I was thisclose to just bagging it. But as usual, too many goodies not to at least be semi-informed about.

For the first time in a while, Laura Miller has a column truly worth reading, as she delves into the shadowy world of the Weather Underground and other radical groups as represented in a slew of novels, memoirs, and movies of late.

Cynthia Ozick uses the publication of John Updike's THE EARLY STORIES as a springboard to examine his place in contemporary literature.

Also in the NYT this morning: a thoughtful review of Paul Auster's latest novel; Sasha Frere-Jones
looks at Murad Kalam's NIGHT JOURNEY; and Julie Gray is amused by Louis Bayard's takeoff on "A Christmas Carol," MR. TIMOTHY.

Harry Mulisch is in a unique position to write about Holocaust-related matters: his father was an Austrian Nazi sympathizer, and his mother was Jewish. His latest book tries to find "some good in Hitler."

Is a biography ever complete? Claire Tomalin talks about the pros--and cons--of revised editions of such works.

Elsewhere in the Guardian, Michael Marshall Smith raves about Peter Straub's LOST BOY LOST GIRL; Josh Lacey is nonplussed by Ruaridh Nicoll's WIDE EYED; Helen Falconer is haunted by Peter Jinks' moody new thriller; and DJ Taylor appreciates Henry Sutton's fresh spin on the "bloke novel."

The "dirty little secret" that non-fiction writers and journalists feel about themselves is that they aren't "real writers." Walter Isaacson examines this dichotomy of those who write for a living but may not conform to the so-called excesses of the writing life.

Over at the Washington Post, Maureen Corrigan finds Sara Paretsky's latest to be a provocative blend of genre and social issues; Jonathan Yardley finds a new biography of Nero to be a fully fleshed portrait of the Roman Emperor; and Bruce Bawer is charmed by James McCourt's look at post WWII to 80s gay culture, QUEER STREET.

Friday, November 28, 2003

News for a friday morning 

Looks like Stephen King wasn't just sick when he accepted the NBA award--he had pneumonia in one lung. When he returned hom, it spread to the other lung, and now he's in hospital, expected to recover. Speedy recovery, Mr King--and next time, no matter how important the honor, don't go walking around with pneumonia. Not worth it, really...

Lawrence Taylor has been all over the media promoting his memoirs, which have many a salacious detail. The New York Times profiles him.

Michiko finds that John Keegan's book on code-breaking may be a tad misleading. It evidently promises information on intelligence relating to Al-Qaeda and doesn't deliver. Hmm, perhaps the promise (as given by the title) was a publisher ploy with nothing to do whatsoever with Keegan? Because if he's giving information on code-breaking as pertaining to the current war, he might be accused of, I don't know, treason...

Patrick O'Brian was the bestselling author of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, but it appears he wasn't much of a father. His son, Richard Russ, speaks out about the fractured relationship between the two of them.

The serial is making a comeback. Starting in January, bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith (whom I happen to think is a genius) will be writing a novel in daily installments, 850 words at a time, for the following six months for his home paper, the Scotsman. They're already very excited about the prospect, predicting that the venture "will certainly succeed" based on the segments the paper has already received. So am I, although I wonder, the man is so bloody busy and has so many other projects in the pipeline--how on earth does he do it? Just another of life's mysteries perhaps....

And speaking further of McCall Smith, evidently his #1 Ladies Detective Agency Books don't really register much in Botswana, the country he celebrates in the novels.

Major players, including WH Smith, are putting their promotional dollars behind the "Nibbies" (aka the British Book Awards.)

Andrew Wylie is one naughty boy, yet again. Seems he's been accused of poaching Will Self and Ali Smith from Godwin & Godwin, and two more authors were "cold-emailed" and asked if they were happy with the service they were getting.

Industry insiders say that Godwin and Wylie have a history of animosity, and point out that Godwin has not been averse to behaving like Wylie in the past – Claire Tomalin’s move to Godwin from Pat Kavanagh being one example. “David Godwin very openly went after people when he first became an agent,” said one publisher. “After Wylie poached the historian Michael Burleigh from him, Godwin apparently e-mailed him and said ‘how could you?’ Wylie’s reply may be apocryphal: ‘Dear Pot, F*** off,’ signed ‘Kettle’.”

OK, he may be a bastard and ruthless, but that's a funny line, if true. Must use it at some point.

Carol Birch at the Independent sounds the alarm about Nathanael West's MISS LONELYHEARTS, imploring that it "must be read."

More on Carl Hiaasen's move from Pan MacMillan to Transworld is found here. A contact at the publishing house told me she had read his upcoming novel, SKINNY DIP, a few days ago and enjoyed it tremendously. Bodes well for Mr Hiaasen, I would imagine.

Mayor Ken Livingstone is initiating a plan to designate the week of February 23-27 as "Get Reading London" where 10 books would be selected to appear on ads in tube, train and bus station and vehicles. Works for me, as long as the right books are picked.

Teenage fiction is given a pointed closeup at the Independent. Further, they wonder when is the right time to graduate from such fiction into more adult waters.

THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE--released under "anonymous" but really written by Nikki Gemmell--has been selling phenomenally well in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald wonders why this is so.

The Washington Post has a long profile of travel writer Jan Morris, who's 77 but still going very strong. And coming up next week in the Style section are a couple of contributions from blogland: Chris Lehmann will review VERNON GOD LITTLE, and Sasha Frere-Jones will take a look at Sting's new memoir.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

It's turkey time 

I thought about skipping out on blogging entirely today--in checking my referral logs this morning, I discovered that the numbers are about equivalent to what I get on Sundays--but a couple of things caught my eye on this (late) morning.

First, David McKie seems to be on the same wavelength as Sam Roberts, as he discourses about dedications, mostly that which appear in the novels of P.G. Wodehouse.

Seems Lord Black's in more hot water. An editorial in the National Post that appeared a couple of months back and attributed to David Asper was actually written mostly by Conrad himself. Not necessarily eyebrow-raising except that the op-ed was about his troubles in keeping control of Hollinger: "The jackals who are madly barking at Lord Black's door are evoking principles of 'corporate governance' to justify their allegations against him." Ah well, guess people weren't really out to get him after all, they just got him.

For someone who prides himself on being reclusive, J.M. Coetzee is practically everywhere--perhaps he's a bit of a media whore at heart after all...

In more controversial matters, poet Benjamin Zephaniah has publicly rejected the conferring of OBE upon him by the Queen. Here he explains why:

Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought. I get angry when I hear that word "empire"; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. It is because of this concept of empire that my British education led me to believe that the history of black people started with slavery and that we were born slaves, and should therefore be grateful that we were given freedom by our caring white masters. It is because of this idea of empire that black people like myself don't even know our true names or our true historical culture. I am not one of those who are obsessed with their roots, and I'm certainly not suffering from a crisis of identity; my obsession is about the future and the political rights of all people. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire.

David Beckham, on the other hand, has no such qualms--though god knows why such a status should even be given to him. I mean, yes, he's a famous footballer, the poster boy for metrosexuality, married to Posh (though the gossips keep predicting imminent divorce of late) but...OBE? What next, Ali G gets the honor?

The National Post interviews Mitch Albom, who unsurprisingly, has some choice words about the "gulf" between literary and mainstream fiction as best embodied by the so-over reaction to Stephen King's NBA achievement award:

"I think sometimes journalists feel they have to be cynical in order to prove they're worthwhile," said Albom, who came to Toronto recently to promote the book.

"They think if something's sentimental it automatically has to be bad," he says of critics. "The sad thing is that reviews don't have anything to do with the way people read books."


Well...granted he has a point, but on the other hand, most books that do stray into sentimentality just come off as cheap and cloying. It's a fine line, and at least according to the reviewers he maligns, his novel didn't exactly cut it either.

Five years ago, Thomas DiBaggio was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He chose an unsual route of dealing with it: writing his memoirs chronicling the deterioration of his mind. Also at the Post is a review by Jonathan Yardley of former Harcourt & Brace head honcho William Jovanovich's memoirs.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, whose memoir MADAM SECRETARY has been getting favorable reviews, is interviewed at January Magazine.

Finally, Russian ballerina Anastasia Volochkova must be reinstated by the Bolshoi, the courts rule. She'd been fired back in September for allegedly being too heavy (at 5'6" and just about 110 pounds. Only in ballet...) Doesn't mean she's going to dance there again, though....

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I'd like to thank... 

Sam Roberts gets cranky about the acknowledgements section of a book, a part that started off as a mere throwaway dedication and has evolved into pages and pages of thank-yous. I wouldn't have it any other way. Frankly, before I start to read a book, I first turn to the dedication page and then to the acknowledgement list. Why, you may ask? Well, when an author has written several books over a long period of time, acknowledgements are a great window into which people were important to him or her--or even better, which people stopped being important as time went on. Take the case of a bestselling author whose first novel came out about three or so years ago. She thanked six different published authors for help with hearing her gripes and generally acting as advice-givers and a sounding board. With novel number two, there were still six authors thanked--but one was dropped and replaced with another. By novel three half the original cast was gone. What happened? Were there falling-outs, disputes, old friends dropped and new ones made?

One thing I've especially learned from acknowledgements is who said author cared about at the time. Again, over a long career, significant others, loved ones, spouses, they don't always stay the same as time goes on. The person who might have been gushingly thanked for their love, support, generosity or kindness may not be around in the next book. Or what happens when someone who is front and center in the dedication then gets relegated to the back pages?

Never mind that the acknowledgements section is important to aspiring authors for one very good reason--it gives a clue as to whom the editorial staff was, who the agent was who sold the book. If you're looking to sell a book and you think it's akin to an established author, or you want to find out who agents or edits your favorites, there is no better place to look than in the acknowledgements. That and a little research and suddenly you've got a three-deep list of people to send your manuscripts to, theoretically. And again, such casts change with time. Those very pages of names might give a clue as to why said author left a publishing house, why he or she switched representatives.

Acknowledgements unlock the key to making a book a success, if you know how to read them and what to look for. Granted, perhaps they shouldn't be so unwieldy as to take up pages and pages of text, but I'll never miss looking for them. And I'm always disappointed when authors don't thank anyone. Much as writing is a solitary activity, it involves the help and guidance of so many people. So why not thank them all?

An open letter to the folks running Bouchercon 2004 

Dear Al Navis & co.,

Don't get me wrong. I think next year's Bouchercon will be great. It's in Toronto, in the heart of downtown, with tons to do. The dealers will be happy, there will be lots of new faces I can't wait to meet and old faces I can't wait to see again. It'll be the most diverse and international crowd of folks because the great thing about Canadian bookstores is that they stock not only US publications, but UK ones as well. Therefore, there are no excuses for authors not being their to flog their books (unless they don't have any to flog this particular year.)

But I'm worried, terribly worried, that with the convention less than a year away (October 7-10 to be exact), the website doesn't work. Yes, folks, click the link and you'll get an error message. So, where is it? How do clueless folk magically know how to go about registering, finding out additional information, knowing who the guests of honor are? Sure, I could google some terms and find them, but not everyone is as resourceful and quick-thinking as I am. They want one-stop shopping. For which I cannot blame them.

No one wants a repeat of this past year where there were two sites for the Vegas Bouchercon, each with differing degrees of staleness (in other words, neither was ever properly updated.) So please, I implore you all: get the website up soon, and fast.

Respectfully yours,

Sarah Weinman


New Content for the Thanksgiving Week 

Unlike my fellow bloggers, I'll be posting through the Thanksgiving holiday, since, well, I already had mine. Though since I spent the last two years in the US, I must say that Thanksgiving turned out to be one of my favorite times of the year, as I got to spend a fair amount of time with family members I don't normally see on a regular basis. So for everyone celebrating--enjoy, stay close to family and friends, watch some great football games, and get stuffed on Turkey.

Now to the news:

The shortlist for the 2003 Hughes & Hughes / Sunday Independent Irish Novel of the Year Award has been announced:

The Very Man by Chris Binchy (Pan Macmillan)
Lost Souls by Michael Collins (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Schopenhauer's Telescope by Gerard Donovan (Scribner)
Dancer by Colum McCann (Orion)
The Parts by Keith Ridgway (Faber)
Two for Joy by Patricia Scanlan (Bantam Press)

I know that DANCER has been reviewed extensively, but the only one of the shortlist I've read is the marvellous LOST SOULS. Although I'm sure the other nominees are worthy, that's the book I'm rooting for.

Changes are afoot at Random House. First layoffs, and now the Fodor's imprint is being revamped.

Colleen McCollough may not be as imposing as she once was, but she's still going very strong, thank you very much. The Age takes a look at the woman behind THE THORN BIRDS and the Roman Empire Chronicles.

Publishers are hoping that the Harry Potter books will lead to an explosion of sales in children's fantasy novels. They might be getting their wish.

Although I've been a little leery about the idea that Alan Dershowitz can write a book about Israel's place in the world, evidently he gets it right, according to Jonathan Dorfman at the Boston Globe.

As pointed out yesterday by Terry Teachout, the literary critic Hugh Kenner has died at the age of 80.

Last year the Sulzbergers of New York Times fame took over the helm of the International Herald Tribune, upsetting the balance of control they shared with the Grahams of the Washington Post. It looks like the move is turning out to be one big headache, according to the New York Observer.

And finally, with the New Year approaching, it's good to keep an eye on what literary events will be on in my adopted city of New York. Doing as fine a job as Sam does with the Chicago scene is Stilljohn.com, which keeps track of the big box store signings, the indies, and practically everything else in the NYC area. See for yourselves.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

No telling what the Viagra or Vicodin emails would prompt 

In one of the first court cases involving "spam rage, "A Silicon Valley computer programmer has been arrested for threatening to torture and kill employees of the company he blames for bombarding his computer with Web ads promising to enlarge his penis."

Who'd have thunk it 

Somehow, in the midst of running an empire, being a Lord, and enduring a heap of trouble due to financial shenanigans, Conrad Black has managed to write a very good biography of FDR. Or so says the New York Times.

Men from Boys 

John Harvey's staggering collection of short stories, featuring works from the likes of Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane and Daniel Woodrell, is reviewed at the Evening Standard. Though Ben Sloan finds it an "uneven affair" he makes special note of Block's and Lehane's stories.

The morning roundup 

Faber & Faber is a distinguished publisher of many fine books, including this year's Booker Prize winning VERNON GOD LITTLE. But they make most of their dough off the royalties of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical CATS, and as those dwindle, they must find a way to recover.

It wasn't enough that Andrew Motion wrote a rap piece. Now he wants to find England's "greatest football chanter". The catch? No obscenities. That's like a game without any form of soccer hooliganism....

Tom Bower's BROKEN DREAMS is the winner of the William Hill Sports Prize.

Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin has recently published the third installment of her autobiography (she's only 41.) It's banned in her home country and in India because evidently some people got quite angry at how sexually explicit the book is, especially poet Syed Shamsul Haque.

Michiko finds the latest installment in Bruce Wagner's Hollywood Trilogy to be "an entertaining satire, but not as well-rounded as the preceding book." Chris Lehmann of the Washington Post Book World (also known as the Antic Husband) reviews the book as well.

Meanwhile, the Times also features a long profile of Thomas Eidson, the author of the book that has been turned into the movie "The Missing." The Boston Globe runs a similar profile as well.

The Independent enjoys Jane Juska's A ROUND-HEELED WOMAN; this book has been out a while in Canada, and struck me as a very honest portrayal of an older woman's emerging sexuality. I, too, hope we hear more from the author.

Hot on the heels of the Globe & Mail's profile, the Toronto Star interviews Audrey Niffenegger.

Both authors and readers agree: Tim Winton is Australia's favorite author this year.

Terry D'Auray at Trashotron looks at several crime novels with gay themes or protagonists, including the books of Joseph Hansen and Michael Nava.

Finally, Oline Cogdill's mystery column takes a look at Don Bruns' new Florida-set novel, Barbados Heat.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Monday Lunch, Tuesday Lunch, Wednesday Thursday Friday Cheers 

Special mention to those who can identify where I cribbed the title from.

Just in time for Lit Idol:

British bestselling novelist Jenny Colgan's THE BOY I LOVED BEFORE, about a girl who wishes she were sixteen again (and has the misfortune to get what she wishes for), moving to Jennifer Weis at St. Martin's, by Deborah Schneider at Gelfman Schneider. Her UK agent is Ali Gunn at Curtis Brown UK.

Suddenly, the song "Only Sixteen" comes unbidden into my brain (the Dr. Hook version, since I've never heard Sam Cooke sing it, probably to my detriment.) but anyway, I believe this marks Colgan's move to a new publisher.

Jerry "Dusty" Rhoades's debut novel THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND, described as "redneck noir that combines the vivid atmosphere of
Elmore Leonard, the furious pace of Stephen Hunter, and the haunting Southern landscape of Daniel Woodrell," to Ben Sevier at St.
Martin's/Minotaur, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group (NA).


This makes me so happy, as I've known Dusty for several years through rec.arts.mystery. We've been cheering him since he broke the news on the group a few days ago, and I can't wait to read the book (someone send me an ARC, please?)

Interestingly, Dusty has the exact same people working for him and his book as does Ken Bruen. Good company, my man.

Sci-fi crime fiction has a couple of new deals. Perhaps a trend is brewing?

Elizabeth Bear's HAMMERED, a near-future science fiction thriller featuring a disabled veteran, who is pulled into a complex web of
conspiracy surrounding the construction of interstellar flight, and two sequels, SCARDOWN and WORLDWIRED, to Anne Groell at Bantam
Spectra, in a nice deal, by Jennifer Jackson at the Donald Maass Literary Agency (world English).

Warren Hammond's first novel KOP, blending detective noir and high- tech science fiction, plus a sequel, to Jim Frenkel at Tor, by Richard
Curtis. Translation rights are with Danny Baror.


And more crime deals, both agented by John Talbot:

DEPARTMENT THIRTY author David Kent's thrillers featuring Deputy United States Marshal Faith Kelly as a full-time case officer in the federal government's shadowy Department Thirty, to Kevin Smith at Pocket, in a nice deal, for two books, by John Talbot at the John Talbot Agency (US).

LEAVE MYSELF BEHIND author Bart Yates' second novel, TRY ME, about two brothers and the devastating consequences their family's
legacy of violence has on a small Connecticut town, to Kensington's John Scognamiglio, in a nice deal, by John Talbot at the John Talbot Agency.


In paperback news:

Paperback rights to Marcos M. Villatoro's LA Times 2001 Best Book selection HOME KILLINGS, MINOS and a untitled novel, all from a
suspense series set in Nashville featuring Latina homicide detective Romilia Chacón, to Caitlin Alexander at Bantam Dell, in a nice deal.
HOME KILLINGS was sold by Nicolás Kanellos at Arte Público Press; MINOS and the untitled work were sold by Michele Rubin at Writers
House on behalf of hardcover publisher Justin, Charles & Co. (NA).


Another great pickup for Bantam Dell, which is really varying their focus with small press authors. For example, Victor Gischler's GUN MONKEYS is in paperback, and it's everywhere. Tons of copies in each bookstore. Bodes well for his next book, THE PISTOL POETS, which I shall duly gush about at a later time.







afternoon notes 

Cinetrix has alerted me to the launch of the Crime Fiction Canada Database, which is intended as a springboard to future studies in detective,crime and mystery fiction at the site's host, Brock University. It looks good so far, and my best wishes go out to the creators, Jeannette Sloniowski and Marilyn Rose.

Late but not a dollar short: the Christian Science Monitor weighs in on the Stephen King/NBA business. (link from Bookninja.)

And based on this article about awards night, BookWatch suggests that perhaps mud wrestling would have been a more appropriate--and far more amusing--venture than simple verbal sniping. I don't know--people only tune in when it involves good looking women, preferably of the porn star variety....

The Michael Jackson scandal has an unusual benefactor: prolific biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, whose latest tome Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness is only available in the UK:

"The reason the book is not available here: the tome is an updated and rewritten version of his 1991 bestseller of the same name, and Kensington Publishing holds U.S. rights to the book--along with Taraborrelli's first biography Call Her Miss Ross: The Unauthorized Biography of Diana Ross . Although both books have been unavailable for many years, the author has not been able to wrestle the rights away from the publisher.

Ah, publisher snafus. So much fun. I don't see Kensington giving up so easily, unless they can be persuaded that the American public must obtain the latest version of the book. Which honestly, considering the wall-to-wall coverage, why would they?

Good morning 

Ack, I feel like I'm late this morning, an odd sensation since I'm neither employed nor attending classes. But to wit:

The New York Times reviews Amy Tan's THE OPPOSITE OF FATE, features a revealing interview with National Book Award winner Carlos Eire, and Michiko is up to her usual tricks again, calling Harry Mulisch's novel about Hitler "sensationalistic" and "nothing more than a potboiler."

Croatian novelist Dubravka Urgesic is a rather cranky woman, and especially didn't care for Stephen King's NBA award, saying that had he been in Russia he would have won the Stalin Prize:

"King's award is not a surprise but a logical consequence of contemporary literary professionalism, which -- like socialist realism -- demands that a writer clench his teeth and write within the framework of the given norm or else end up, if not in a prison camp, then in his own personal ghetto of anonymity and poverty. The symbolic meaning of King's award is a Fall of the Literary Wall: a final unification, not of good and bad literature but of literature and trash."

Er, ouch.

The Guardian runs a long profile on Andrew Wylie, who has pissed off lots of people (including Tibor Fischer, who took more shots at Wylie in his infamous review of YELLOW DOG than he did of Martin Amis, really) in his long career. Frankly, he doesn't come off so well.

DH Lawrence's paintings are on display--more than 70 years after they were first banned for obscenity.

Patrick Anderson reviews John Marks' WAR TORN, a novel with "depth and richness" that he likes very, very much.

The literary world showed great respect for agent Giles Gordon, as there was a strong turnout, including author Ian Rankin, for his funeral a few days ago:

"He seemed indestructible," said Rankin with a shake of the head. "He was great to meet up for lunch with, as he was a fountain of good gossip. Although he was never my agent, he worked for my publishers, and I’ve known him for years through Allan Massie from as far back as university days. Allan was right when he said that Giles always kept something of the boy about him. He was such a big part of life here that he will be sorely missed."

When it comes to writers, we want to know everything, no matter how esoteric or seemingly unimportant. In short, are writers like the rest of us (answer: yes, very much so, if not more boring. Sorry.) Tom Payne investigates the matter further.

January Magazine reviews Leonard Koppett's new baseball book. As it happens, it will be his last, as Koppett died earlier this year.

And finally, The Globe and Mail interviews Samantha Bee, the newest "correspondent" on THE DAILY SHOW. They talk a lot about the Asian porn segment, which finally aired last week. Although I know that several fans aren't so keen on her, I like her with every segment she does. She's getting better and is a good counterbalance to the guys, who incidentally, all seem to look the same, don't they? (btw this is my obligatory Daily Show reference of the day. Be glad it wasn't a gushing comment about Jon Stewart. That gets kind of old. Maybe in a few days...)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Who Wants To Be an Editor of a Stuffy Publication 

New York Magazine asks a bunch of prospective candidates, from expected to outlandish, if they want the job recently vacated by Chip McGrath:

Expected: Dale Peck, novelist and reviewer: “No. I would send back their letter with my own excrement on it. They have been just shitty to me. If I did take it, I would tell the staff that I was giving them a vacation to Club Med and put them on a plane to Siberia.”

Aw c'mon Dale, say how you really feel. That said, it would be somewhat amusing to get certain folks' takes on their time in Siberia.

Outlandish: Jackie Collins, author of Hollywood Divorces: “You bet! I’d give major space to commercial fiction as well as literary masterpieces. If books were food, you wouldn't want to have steak every day—some days you’d fancy a hamburger.”

Actually, I'm being slightly unfair, because Jackie has a real point. Why not give more space to commercial fiction? Granted, it ought to be of the midlist, underrated, up-and-coming variety (do we really need a zillion more reviews of the Grisham/Patterson/Cornwell ilk?) or gasp!--even a romance novel or two, since it does happen to take up the most market share of books sold. And not to give it short shrift, like the time the NYT actually did review a romance novel a few years ago (Jennifer Crusie's WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, which is more women's fiction anyway.)

But of course, it'll be months and months before a successor is announced anyway, by which time few of us will care, because we'll have moved on to some other pseudo-scandal du jour. Unless it's someone particularly shocking, unexpected, or controversial. That's the way things work, after all.


News for a Sunday 

In a news truly worthy of shock, your faithful correspondent actually went out on a Saturday night for the first time in...oh, she can't even remember. A word to the wise: disco bowling is actually very amusing. Of course, it helps to have had several drinks prior to engaging in such an endeavor (in other words, serious bowlers go home.)

So the Guardian decided that it wasn't satisfied letting the New York Times have such a profile all to itself and features a long-ass profile on The Talented Roommate of That Gawker Boy. As Old Hag helpfully points out, "to Peck" is not a new verb unless it is the activity of bobbing one's beak up and down in search of food, which is bloody hard to do as a human. The article then turns to an examination/lament that British critics can't be harsher. Er, you're the country that uses the term "rubbish," which sounds so much more eleganty harsh that anything the Yanks could come up with.

Stephanie Merritt imagines how next year's Lit Idol might shape up:

Imelda: Cassie, I'm going to stop you there. How important is it to you to make it as a writer?
Cassie: Oh, it's all I've ever wanted to do.
Imelda: So - you won't mind me saying this - you know that if you want to be taken seriously as a novelist you're going to have to give some thought to losing - what would you say, Dan?
Dan: I'd say two stone. If she even wants a shot at the Whitbread.
Cassie (on the verge of tears): That's, like, discrimination.
Imelda: That's the world of publishing, sweetheart. It's not a charity. Next!


Douglas Coupland, the man responsible for "McJob" entering the lexicon and later, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, wonders why it took McD's so freaking long to protest.
He then offers his own take on what people should really be upset about:

"Let me speak up for the millions of Scots ... everywhere in expressing our annoyance at McD's for taking our surname prefix 'Mc' and turning it into a cheesy signifier for tasteless globalized pap. Thanks guys."

Having more than a little fun at McDonald's expense, Coupland added:

"And now that we're at it, let's discuss Ronald McDonald's sexuality."


Hari Kunzru explains his refusal to accept the Llewellyn Rhys Prize much more fully. (link from Maud.)

The 100th anniversary of J.M Barrie's PETER PAN is upon us--but what is the story actually about? The Scotsman takes a closer look.

In the latest in a series of interviews sponsored by the Mystery Readers Journal, Cara Black is interviewed by Peter Lovesey. As pointed out before, these are some of the most interesting interviews in the mystery genre because the writers are talking to each other. Scroll down to the bottom to check out earlier interviews.

Susanna Moore is written up by the Sydney Morning Herald. Meanwhile,Philip Marchand profiles the tempestuous and somewhat eccentric Tama Janowitz. Marc Weisblott saw this profile too, and uses it to make a comment on the 80s-reknowned women he had a thing for back in the day. Extra points for bringing up the late, lamented SASSY magazine, of which there is simply no parallel these days, and that's a bloody shame.

At the Sun-Sentinel, Chauncey Mabe has issues with the "porno-ization" of American culture. Over at Newsday, Robert Harris' POMPEII gets another stellar review.

And finally, yesterday's Heritage Hockey Game was simply wonderful. Seeing a bunch of gloried hockey stars put on their skates and uniforms and put on a show in front of 57,000 fans freezing their asses off in Commonwealth Stadium was amazing to behold. Especially Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford playing like it was 1984 and 1990, respectively. I especially think Ranford could get a job in the current league. Now, if only Ottawa weren't sucking so badly...

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