“James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him.” The Guardian writes about an in-progress book of John Updike‘s letters that reveals how often the writer corresponded with not only his contemporaries, like John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates, but his readers as well. See also: an essay about the personal and literary relationship between Barth and Updike.
Recommended (Revolutionary) Reading: On why Kate Millett's Sexual Politics remains so relevant to today's most heated literary arguments, despite its being nearly fifty years old at this point.
The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century -- namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
On this sad aniversary, the Pioneer Press provides a small selection of 9/11 books and movies.Ed does a great job reviewing Haruki Murakami's new collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kudos to him for penning a thoughtful and thorough review.The AP writes up a new video game based on the Christian apocolyptic Left Behind series of books. The novels have sold more than 63 million copies according to the story.This made me a little queasy: A teacher in Hurst, Texas has ignited an interest in reading among her students by having them all read a book together... James Patterson's young adult thriller Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. Whatever it takes, I suppose.
The Rake takes note of the New Yorker's particularly dark reading of Goodnight Moon.Iain Hollingshead gamely responds to being awarded the "Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award" for his debut novel Twentysomething, which included such turns of phrase as "everything is pure white as we're lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks."With a few celebs getting in trouble for racist outbursts this year Malcolm Gladwell (ever thoughtful) comes up with a way to figure out who's really being offensive and who's just dumb.Maud points to a new blog from one of my favorite publishers, NYRB Press.Dozens of year end-lists floating around here and elsewhere, but I always take special note of Jonathan Yardley's year-end column because it is always thoughtful and sometimes surprising.To do (as soon as I have the time): listen to the Bat Segundo Show that features Edward P. Jones.