“I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not?” Hilary Mantel considers the royal family.
If you didn't like Elif Batuman's gut-punch to MFA writing ("Get A Real Degree") in this issue of the London Review of Books, might I suggest Jenny Diski's cudgeling of self-help lit in the LRB's Diary essay?
"[I]n the world of letters, it is hard to imagine a more seismic change than this one." The New York Times announces that its longtime book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down after nearly four decades of reviews. The Times also offers a roundup of her greatest hits, including writeups of Beloved, Infinite Jest, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Bill Clinton's memoir My Life: The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history. This announcement was followed by the great news that repeat Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal will join Jennifer Senior and Dwight Garner as a Times book critic, leaving her position as senior editor of the NYT Book Review. Congratulations, Parul!
"Author-hot" has historically been a pejorative phrase, or at best faint praise, but Canteen is looking to change that with its "Hot Authors" project, "reinterpreting and reappropriating fashion magazine glam" for the Moleskine set. The redesigned Canteen website also features an interview with yours truly - not, I'm sad to report, included in the "Hot Authors" package.