• On the eve of the centenary of Graham Greene’s birth, someone accuses me of having the “screaming thigh sweats for the guy” and alerts me to an article about scholars’ preoccupations with The Great Author’s “tempestuous personal life and voracious sexual appetite.” I have no idea what the screaming thigh sweats are or why anyone would think I have them. But, uh, for some reason I happen to be aware of some other new articles about Greene.
  • Salman Rushdie has presented to Congress a 180,000-name petition lobbying for the repeal of the portions of the Patriot Act that “give access to book-buying and library records.”
  • Next year the Library of America will commence its release of Philip Roth’s work, “making him only the third living author — after Eudora Welty [now deceased] and Saul Bellow — to receive that honor.”
  • The dangerous “wizardry and magic” that have spurred banning of the Harry Potter books around the country are now less offensive to soccer moms than the “sexual content” of Naylor’s Alice series.
  • Three of five esteemed Russian authors who’ve descended on the Iowa Writer’s Workshop — Alexander Ulanov, Dmitry Kuzmin and Yekaterina Sadur — evaluate the likely value of creative writing classes, a foreign concept in their home country.
  • If you live in the Northeast, or are thinking of visiting, now’s the right time of year to hike through the Berkshires to Monument Mountain, the spot of a famous, drunken meeting between Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Oliver Wendell Holmes:

    In August of 1850, Melville, who lived in nearby Pittsfield and was working on “Moby Dick,” was invited to meet Hawthorne, who lived in Lenox and had just published “The Scarlet Letter.” The two had a picnic on the mountain, where they discussed the future of American literature. Joining them was author and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes. To prepare for the outing, Holmes emptied the tools of his trade from his doctor’s bag and replaced them with ice and a bottle of champagne.

    After hiking up the mountain and downing the bottle at the peak, “they got themselves happy enough, and Melville decided to climb out on a dangerous cliff to demonstrate how they unfurl sails on a whaling ship,” said Gordon Hyatt. . . .

    Melville — who was unharmed by his escapade — was so inspired by the meeting that he spent another year working on “Moby Dick,” which was already two-thirds finished. Melville dedicated the book to Hawthorne.

    Also in the Berkshires this fall: Saturday talks in Edith Wharton’s Lenox, Massachusetts garden.

  • Speaking of Wharton, the New York Times already considered her ambivalence about New York earlier this month, but Charles McGrath’s article is a more literary reflection on the author’s connections to and writings about the city of her birth.
  • Dan Green of The Reading Experience argues that “it’s a little hard to understand the outrage over this new Kirkus Reviews policy to charge self-publishing authors $350 for a Kirkus ‘review.’ . . . [W]ho takes the Kirkus Reviews seriously as literary criticism in the first place?”
  • Future topics to be discussed by the Bitch Novelist: “Metaphors and why I’m sick of them. How chick lit is screwing over a generation. Compare and contrast, novels written by men and written by women and how they are evaluated very differently by the reviewing elite.” (Via Galleycat.)


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.