In the latest issue of the LRB, Jenny Diski comes to the defense of Liz Jones, a Daily Mail columnist and spiritual sibling to the far-too-beautiful-to-live Samantha Brick. Her takeaway after reading a column that got Jones into hot water? Diski “couldn’t see” what the pilloried writer had done wrong.
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
“Familiar, well-behaved stories are dressed in nice book covers and sent to our bookstores; from there they march to our homes in an orderly manner.” On Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and how publishing understands the immigrant narrative. Pair with our review of Adichie’s second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.