“My idea of the ideal literary dinner party remains locking a book under my left wrist while conveying risotto to my mouth with my right at the kitchen table.” Stacy Schiff talks literary dinner parties and more in this week’s New York Times By the Book column. Schiff’s latest, The Witches: Salem, 1692, is out this week.
Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann’s Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)
New Directions announced they will publish Irish author Keith Ridgway’s novel, Hawthorn & Child, which was originally published by Granta books in 2012. Look out for the book this September. As a way to entice prospective readers, Tom Roberge does not mince words. “This is absolutely a New Directions book, and we think those of you who’ve fallen in love with Javier Marías or Roberto Bolaño or László Krasznahorkai as much as we did will agree,” Roberge writes.
With news of this year’s winner fresh off the press, it’s easy to see how the Literary Review’s “Bad Sex Awards” are an annual delight to many readers (as well as an annual horror to several authors). But are they also counter-productive? As one former “winner” of the award asks, is the Bad Sex Award “anything more than a sort of moral outrage dressed up as a quest for high standards in writing?”
At the Fiction Writers Review, Robin Black sits down with contributor and Year in Reading alumna Nichole Bernier. The two discuss, among other things, Bernier’s new novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., as well as novels in which lengthy sections feature characters reading journal entries. (Bernier calls them “funhouse mirrors.”)
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.