At the Rumpus, Kathleen Alcott provides a poignant recollection of what she inherited as a writer from her father: “And is it worth it? Was it for my father, is it for me, for nearly every writer I’ve met, whose default answer is ‘Yes’?”
Last week, I pointed readers to an article about Michael Faber’s latest book and his decision to quit writing fiction. Now, in the Times Book Review, Marcel Theroux sizes up the novel, writing that “the reader is drawn through the book effortlessly, by the combination of incidental strangeness and the suspenseful handling of plot.”
“I’m trying to think of something really suitable to say. What do you think I should say? Look, you tell me what to say and I’ll say it.” That was Doris Lessing, who found out she’d won the Nobel Prize from a group of journalists who surrounded her when she was exiting a taxi. NPR has that great audio, plus other reactions of former Nobel literature laureates, including Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Our own fearless editor-in-chief, Lydia Kiesling, admires Lessing, but felt rather differently about reading one of her most famous works, The Golden Notebook: “Among other things, she did an uncanny job of creating a malaise that was actually infectious. It oozed right off the page and into my own spirit.”
With the frenzied holiday season underway, there aren’t many new releases to look at this week, but there are some newly reissued classics hitting shelves. NYRB Classics has put out Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant and Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman. Vintage, meanwhile, has smart looking new editions of a pair of Somerset Maugham books: The Narrow Corner and A Writer’s Notebook.
This week, UC Davis students protesting a tuition increase (among other things) were mercilessly pepper sprayed by their own campus police. In response, Nathan Brown, a non-tenured associate professor of English, has spoken out and called for UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi‘s resignation. In solidarity with Brown’s demand, students silently gathered around Katehi’s office as she exited. For those hoping for further illumination on the entire fiasco, I recommend this list of “Ten Things You Should Know About Friday’s UC Davis Police Violence.” Elsewhere within the UC system, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass details his harrowing experience at the UC Berkeley protests.
W.W. Norton puts together a project similar to our Year in Reading (and with some participants in common): Writers Recommend.Another clever batch of recommendations: Village Voice asks several notables to recommend their favorite “obscure” books.Three Percent reveals its 25-book longlist for the “Best Translated Book of 2008” (Bonus Link: The Prizewinners: International Edition)A conversation with South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Breyten BreytenbachTodd Zuniga’s (of Opium Magazine and Literary Death Match) “favorite writers we haven’t heard of yet.”Best book cover designs of the year. (via 3% and kottke)Maud reproduces the memo behind the huge reorganization at Random House (which itself is just one part of the belt tightening hitting the publishing industry in recent weeks.)