- In her introduction to Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, one of the novels being re-released to mark the centenary of its author’s birth, Zadie Smith argues that Greene “was the master of the multiple distinction: the thin lines that separate evil from cruelty from unkindness from malevolent stupidity.”
- Rosemary Goring uses review space for the Dictionary of Literary Characters to advance the argument that “despite writers’ protestations . . . you can catch a glimpse of the author, or their associates, in every sensate creature on the page”:
I don’t for a minute believe Philip Roth when he says, of his novelistic alter ego, “Nathan Zuckerman is an act. It’s all the art of impersonation, isn’t it?”
Somerset Maugham was far franker, a luxury that, in these litigious times, few novelists enjoy: “You are much more likely to depict a character who is a recognisable human being, with his own individuality, if you have a living model,” he wrote. “The imagination can create nothing out of the void.”
- Speaking of Roth, he explains why Charles Lindbergh, rather than Franklin D. Roosevelt, is elected president in his new novel. Also in the weekend’s New York Times Book Review: T.C. Boyle’s latest is reviewed and excerpted (and there’s a career retrospective); Maud Casey praises Josip Novakovich’s “wickedly funny and deeply harrowing first novel,” Ivan the Terrified; and Vendela Vida admires Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.
- A.S. Byatt is among the authors gearing up to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Anderson’s birth. She says reading his “dark stories of The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen and Thumbelina . . . turned her into a writer.”
- Book 11 of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Grim Grotto, appears in bookstores tomorrow. Last month the Daily News reported on the “gigantic, ghoulish soundstages” used to film the forthcoming Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events film adaptation starring (ugh) Jim Carrey.
- “American Writers at Home,” a new exhibition from Massachusetts’ Concord Museum, opens to the public on Oct. 8 and includes photographs of the homes of American writers and selections from the writers’ manuscripts and letters. The exhibition includes homes of Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Frederick Douglass, William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Eugene O’Neill, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott.
- Like Charlotte Bronte, Britain’s walkers are now free to wander on the moors.