“Well, continuing with my policy of baring my soul, Dwight Garner said something like, the book was like one of those satellite photos of North Korea when I talked about the second marriage. I obviously had very little access to Updike from ‘77 on, really. And I cheated a bit by using Ian McEwan as my spy in the Updike household. First of all, Updike definitely did pull up the drawbridge and retire into his castle and I thought, in a sense, that this should be respected. He had decided on his persona, at that point—the highly professional man of letters. And I thought, why not let him go out with that persona intact?” At The Awl, Elon Green talks with Adam Begley about his new biography of John Updike.
“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
Recommended Viewing: 1958 footage of the unveiling of Moscow’s six-meter high monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky. And while you’re at it, read his poem, “An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage,” which features one of the best closing lines in literature.
Last week, Erin Fortenberry reviewed Walter Kirn’s Blood Will Out for The Millions, writing that the events in the book were partly centered on Kirn himself. Now, in the Times, Janet Maslin reads the book, which struck her as “primarily a tale of seduction.”