Remainders (posted prior to the TMFTML announcement, which casts a pall over this entire enterprise)

  • Kirkus Reviews purports to offer self-published writers “exposure” and “credibility” by allowing them to pay for Kirkus to review their books.
  • In two short sentences, novelist Jonathan Coe describes my every visit home to Miami:

    I always feel there’s something vaguely accusatory about the “Why do you write?” line of enquiry, as if I’m being ticked off for some act of unspeakable presumption. But if writing is a presumptuous, self-proclaiming act, the act of reading – certainly reading fiction – is open to charges, at the very least, of being time-wasting and delusional.

  • When asked whether autobiographical details have crept into her latest novel (about a raging alcoholic), hero A.L. Kennedy responds:

    The idea is to make it seem real . . . . The last novel I did [Everything You Need, Cape, 1999] had a male protagonist, and I spent the next three years fielding sideways questions about whether I’m gay. I presume I’m in for another three years of being asked whether I’m a screaming drunk. Or a gay drunk. I’m straight and teetotal – not that it matters.

  • In a letter newly displayed to the public at the British Library in London, Graham Greene upbraids an actor for failing to learn his lines:

    “Alas, you fancy yourself as a literary man, and as I have as little faith in your literary ability as in your capacity to judge a play, I have found you – not for the first time – incapable of understanding even your own part . . . . The time has come to call an end to the selfishness, the laziness and the obstinacy which has impeded nearly every rehearsal,” an infuriated Greene tells Richardson, then aged 61. He adds, “The vanity of an ageing ‘star’ can do far more damage to the living theatre than any censorship exercised by the Lord Chamberlain.”

  • Toni Morrison talks with NPR’s Renee Montagne about the ghosts that populate her novels and were inspired by her childhood. For the weekend’s Observer, she told Rachel Cooke that she believes racism is on the rise in the U.S.
  • The Complete Dairy Foods Cookbook, published in 1982 and co-written by Annie Proulx, includes a story about a massive cheese wheel donated for Thomas Jefferson’s presidential inauguration. The story has inspired a dairy farmer with limited funds to show his support for John Kerry by selling “Kerry-milk cheeses.”
  • In his introduction to the re-release of Bernard Malamud’s A New Life, Jonathan Lethem compares the novel to Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road and Philip Roth’s Letting Go, essentially characterizing all three books as “normatively autobiographical novel[s] of postwar American life, outside any conjuration of the mythic or absurd,” that were mandated by the cultural moment in which they appeared. Lethem says A New Life, which he calls Malamud’s “Yates novel,” is the author’s “funniest and most embracing, an underrated masterpiece.”
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez was barred from a language conference because he suggested at the same conference eight years ago that spelling rules should be scrapped.
  • Stephen Elliott‘s Operation Ohio readings, designed to promote awareness of the presidential campaign on college campuses, and the election day phone calls he’s organized from writers to students needing a reminder to vote have been written up in the Cincinnati Enquirer and my hometown rag.
  • Alasdair Gray has penned the introduction to a new collection of Scottish short stories and poems about meat (?). Sounds like a Monty Python skit.


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