A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
“What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed.” At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
Waterboro Library in Maine has compiled a list of books about “Drowned Towns,” – “Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places as a consequence of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, and job creation.” Also known as “Reservoir Noir.”Rare art by Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson (via)AICN Books offers early looks at The Road by Cormac McCarthy and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.The Written Nerd looks at the ethics of “street dates,” the “do not sell before this date, or else!” restrictions that come with blockbuster books.The IHT looks at Gunter Grass’ new memoir, roughly translated as Peeling the Onion. Earlier this month Grass told the world that the book would reveal that he had been a member of the Waffen SS during World War II. Word has it, the book is unlikely to appear in the US any time soon.Google now lets you add a Book Search widget to your Web pages. The search engine giant has also announced that it will start making public domain books available in PDF form. Here’s an example.YPTR, in amusing fashion, takes up the question of DFW and whether he will produce a novel again.