The 2012 finalists for the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book Awards have been anounced. In the “Novel” category, they are Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. The Costa site has lists of the nominees in all categories.
“Yehuda Amichai’s genius lies in how—to borrow from his own language—he makes metaphor ‘useful.’ He thinks metaphorically, and in so doing he makes stories of them, treating his likenesses as if they were not metaphorical but animated literalisms. That’s why, I suspect, his metaphors have not merely poetic power but practical vitality, in the way that a horse is not only alive but usefully alive.” Every time James Wood publishes a big profile in The New Yorker, it’s worth a read; this week’s essay on the “secular psalmist” and poet Yehuda Amichai is no different.
Over at The Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced sequel of Pride and Prejudice. The book by Terri Fleming will focus on the life of Mary Bennett, a character who is deliberately neglected by Jane Austen. As Jones puts it, “Lizzie only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not. Even beautiful Jane is a bit insipid – a fact Austen knowingly plays with, as her eventual engagement to Bingley is briefly threatened by Jane’s reticence.”
“Eleven years later, the Atlantic Monthly editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, made a similar request to an obscure, retiring poet named Emily Dickinson who had written a letter asking if her verses ‘breathed.’ Her response was much like Melville’s, if typically elliptical: ‘Could you believe me—without? I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur—and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves—Would this do just as well?'” The age-old problem: how writers deal with publicity.
Yes, but what’s everyone else reading this summer? Bookstores in beach towns know better than to stock “business, personal finance, or diet” books–though poetry does pretty well–but they are looking forward to these bestsellers. The print-disinclined can take heart that there are even a fair number of literary movies coming out soon. (Related: our own recommended summer reading list, also blessedly personal finance-free.)