• Even though I don’t spend much time in front of that box with the blinking lights that normal people seem to enjoy, I wish I had cable so I could watch the Graham Greene tribute on TCM next week.
  • Did Alice Walker’s and Toni Morrison’s “serious and well-written fiction” help “pave the way for today’s commercial black fiction, too much of which is neither well-written nor serious and is certainly not as artistically, politically or intellectually ambitious”?
  • Ben Williams rounds up reviews of Bob Dylan’s memoirs and finds “[t]he early word . . . is ecstatic.”
  • This brief article includes a brief report on the “gala celebration of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction” (scroll way down) and notes that Grace Paley “couldn’t attend because of illness.” Ms. Paley may well be the best living U.S. short story writer. She’s certainly one of my favorites. She’s getting older, though, and I’m sick to death at the thought that she might not write much more. I want to follow her around and make sure she’s taking care of herself.
  • Philip Marchand doesn’t get all misty-eyed over the end of writers’ careers. While Roth’s latest novel meets with his approval, and he notes that Thomas Hardy successfully took to poetry late in life, Marchand points to Salinger and others as evidence that most writers either become reclusive freaks or keep writing long after they are incapable of producing good work.
  • Sam Tanenhaus, New York Times Book Review Editor remarks on the New York Times Bestseller status of Paris Hilton’s advice book:

    She’s debased herself enough to be rewarded on the best-seller list. . . . No one ever said the best-seller list is like being short-listed for the Nobel Prize.

    (Via Cupcake.)

  • The curry houses of London’s Brick Lane, where Monica Ali’s novel of the same name is set, are said to be serving up inferior and inauthentic meals these days.
  • Montblanc, a German manufacturer of expensive pens, has long supplied writing instruments to literary luminaries like Ernest Hemingway. The company “has filed suit against American rival A.T. Cross (ATX ), which started selling ink refills for Montblanc pens, as well as a model that looks very much like Montblanc’s flagship Meisterstuck model.”
  • A Brooklyn band, Mimi Ferocious, has a song about writer Jonathan Ames. The tune, “Jonathan,” just received an “Honorable Mention For Alternative Songwriting” from Billboard Magazine and appears on the band’s new album: 250 Times Sweeter than Sugar. The lyrics are available online.
  • Inspired by the new Best American Short Stories collection, Nathalie Chicha goes to town on the short story form. James Tata’s take on the same collection:

    I saw the new Lorrie Moore edited “Best American Short Stories” at the store today, and ho-hum, it’s like every other version of that anthology, same old names, same old stories. They should rename it the “Annual of the American Short Story Writing Teachers’ Union.” I think that rather than the editor reading the stories they actually feed the year’s magazines into a computer program, and out comes the list, balanced ever so correctly between the Names That Must Be Included and a handful of Promising Newcomers who just happen to be well-conected. Just by coincidence.


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