It’s a quiet week for new books. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which famously became a blockbuster bestseller after being released as a paperback original, is now available in hardcover for the first time ever in the U.S., thanks to a new Modern Library Edition. Short story master Tessa Hadley has a new collection out, Married Love, (as a paperback original, coincidentally).
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
Biographer and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald of the Booker Prized novel Offshore, was born on this day in 1916. Ranked twenty-third on the London Times 2008 list of “Britain’s Fifty Greatest Writers Since WWII,” Fitzgerald didn’t begin her twenty-year writing career until age fifty-eight. Can we say Post-40 Bloomer?
Loudpoet has an interview with former Soft Skull Press publisher Richard Nash about his new social publishing venture Cursor. ““Social” is taking the book and making it much easier to have a conversation with the book and its writer, and have conversations around the book and its writer.” Is this a way forward for beleaguered publishers? (via The Lone Gunman)
“How earnest, ironic, condescending, moralistic and simply funny a Tolstoy should the translator inhabit? Perhaps the only way to render Tolstoy’s variable voice is to continue producing ever-varying translations.” Masha Gessen looks at the latest English translations of Anna Karenina and breaks down their nuances of word choice and accumulated meaning for The New York Times Book Review, and along the way she questions the novel’s most famous line: just how alike are happy families? How can we know?
“I’m a total database nerd. In college I worked as a troubleshooter for a database of medical research, trying to predict and prevent mistakes in the data entry process to avoid screwing up the records. Is anything more satisfying than a successfully written query delivering precisely the required results? It’s so much more direct than writing fiction. A query either works or it doesn’t.” Steve Himmer’s Nervous Breakdown self-interview.