"No one was more grimly adamant that the world was in mortal peril, or had more fun trying to save it from itself." Over at The New Yorker's Page Turner blog, Alexandra Schwartz considers the life and work of Grace Paley, noting that Paley's slim output "is a great shame, if not so surprising. Activism, like alcoholism, can distract a writer from the demands of her desk." Also of note: this tribute to Paley that our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote upon her death in 2007.
In the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller explains why all the year-end lists are a tiresome exercise: "What annoys and disappoints me, though, is the chilly retrospective nature of such lists. They drain all of the blood from the critic's job. They require a cold, methodical calculation of passions long past. They're about yesterday's yearning. Compiling them is a bit like trying to remember why you used to be in love with so-and-so." (Thanks, Laurie)
"When I go back to Bogotá, I like to share my knowledge of the car bombs that went off in the city in the ’80s and ’90s. I helpfully point out the gory details to cab drivers and friends. I press my finger on the window and point at corners, 'That’s the spot where an ATM blew up, seven dead.'” From Bogatá to Tel Aviv -- here are ten writers on the places they immigrated from, returned to, remember, and call home.
Today marks the opening round of the always-worth-following Morning News Tournament of Books. In the ring, Adam by Ariel Schrag faces off against The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, in a match refereed by Matthea Harvey. For background, you could read our review of The Bone Clocks.