Friday afternoon miscellany

  • On The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes: “Raymond Chandler shares his favourite vernacular, ‘Aw, turn blue’; Robert Lowell counts the number of sanatoriums he’s been committed to; and the sodden Zelda Fitzgerald calls a firefighter to her house and when he asks where the blaze is, she strikes her breast and says, ‘Here.'” (That’s Zelda pictured to the left of F. Scott, above.)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri has a very specific reading Rx: “In celebration of the 100th anniversary of R.K. Narayan’s birth, here is one way I propose that you read his Malgudi Days: one story per day for 32 consecutive days, by the end of which you will have experienced Malgudi Days as a Malgudi month, more or less.”
  • Still more on math lit emerges, in an article that gives Scarlett Thomas some props (but that mislabels a Neal Stephenson bookCryptonomicom“). In 2004, Thomas gave an interesting talk on women in publishing and her own failure to conform to the expectations the industry had of her. “[B]eing a young woman,” she said, “I should be writing the type of book that I definitely am not writing.” (Thanks to Paul for the first link.)
  • Laura Miller calls Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which is sitting in my stack, “a literary mystery — a blend of ‘The Secret History’ and Salinger’s Glass stories — with that rarest of delights: A great ending.” (Thanks, John.)
  • Justine Larbelestier has sold her prior YA novels on partial drafts, but she wants to try writing the current one “at my own pace and not try to sell it until it’s as good as I can get it.” (Via Light Reading.)
  • Salman Rushdie reads the Harry Potter books. So do Stephen King and John Irving, who implore J.K. Rowling not to kill off her hero. Says Rake’s Progress: “the mind [] boggles at Mr. King — of all people — requesting that a character not be killed. Hypocrisy! Just for that, Rake’s Progress hopes Potter is killed slowly by a bloodthirsty clown.”

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