Barnes, Big Read, Clinton more

Julian Barnes talks about his latest book, a cookbook: “Cookbooks are a bit like sex books in that they require a perfection and perfectibility on the part of the participant. I thought it might be worth writing about my experiences as a non-taught and amateur pedantic cook.”

Barnes also discusses Tibor Fischer’s now-infamous review of Martin Amis’ Yellow Dog:

I thought it was rather pathetic. It was a ‘kill the father’ piece, and the thing about killing the father is that you’ve got to write better than the father, especially in the piece where you’re trying to kill him. This piece wasn’t well written.

(Via A & L Daily.)

Sure, many of the 21 books selected in Britain’s Big Read are far from the most deserving, but is the project really “a howling embarrassment to any real lover of literature”? Isn’t the point that it’s a populist project? David Sexton argues that it fails on that count, too. (Via The Literary Saloon.)

This week a New York Times review trashed Bill Clinton: An American Journey. Great Expectations. Page Six reveals that the review was written by Todd S. Purdum, “the husband of Clinton’s first White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers – though Times readers weren’t informed of his connction to Clinton.” “‘It is the equivalent of allowing the wife of Ari Fleischer to review an anti-Bush book,’ said one observer.” (Link via Moby Lives.)

While Nicholas Clee opines that there are “no contemporary [literary] giants at work in our midst,” he still believes these years are momentous ones for book publishing. The rise of the Internet as the public reading forum and the popularity of book clubs are only part of the picture. According to Clee, DBC Pierre:

Australian whose book is said to be ‘the Huckleberry Finn of the Eminem generation’, Peter Finlay (as he should properly be known) is almost an emblem of Anglo-American convergence. In this context, it is ironic that the Booker, and its American counterpart, the Pulitzer, should exclude American and British contenders, respectively.

Yet, in the 35 years since the Booker Prize was launched, English language culture has changed beyond recognition. There is now a recognisable world English, expressed in an idiom that is neither fully British nor even wholly American.

(Link first seen at Arts Journal.)

In the U.K., a serial killer turned to the courts in an effort to recover his memoirs, which have been confiscated by authorities. He claimed that “the right of all inmates to free expression was being denied,” according to the Guardian.


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