• He may be a wholly unremarkable writer, but John Grisham’s presence at a Kerry-Edwards fundraiser “helped push donations to an ‘incredible,’ near-six-figure sum.”
  • It’s hard to argue with this assessment of Margaret Drabble’s place in the canon:

    No serious reader of contemporary British literature can afford to overlook Drabble. She is an example of what is best about contemporary British writing, only more so. She delights in intellectual humour . . . Drabble’s women, like many contemporary British heroines, often acquire a lofty education which, rather than elevating their sense of superiority, reminds them of their tantalizing ordinariness.

    If you haven’t tried Drabble, start with The Millstone.

  • The saddest Borges story I’ve ever heard:

    When playing host to the ageing and blind Jorge Luis Borges in the spring of 1971 at his house near St Andrews, the great Argentine asked to be walked down to the promenade and left alone there. After leaving him, [Alastair] Reid glanced back to see his friend had ended up facing inland, rather than facing out over the North Sea, source of his beloved sagas.

  • John Updike reviews a new translation of the Torah from Hebrew scholar and literary critic Robert Alter, and concludes that you may as well hang on to your King James:

    in his very zeal to communicate the nuances of the underlying Hebrew, Alter falls into the error of Vladimir Nabokov’s translation of “Eugene Onegin”: in the effort to achieve absolute fidelity, he settles on rather odd English.

    Take Alter’s version, for starters, of the opening verses of Genesis:

    When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.

  • Daniel Menaker, writer and executive editor-in-chief of Random House, reports at Slate on his stint in Ohio this week to register and canvas voters in the battleground state.
  • Astounding parallels between the proprietor of Tingle Alley and this year’s Booker Prize-winning author suggest themselves:

    Hollinghurst life story: “I was a gay, middle-class only child from the provinces, fairly innocent of real life, with a precocious knowledge of music, literature and architecture.”

    CAAF life story: “I was a [sexually incoherent], middle-class only child from the provinces, fairly innocent of real life, with a precocious knowledge of [Duran Duran], literature and [the mall].”

  • Norman Mailer will appear on tonight’s episode of the Gilmore Girls. In an interview, Mailer reveals that the mother character, Lorelai:

    reminds me very much of my second-oldest daughter, Danielle — both of them are like beautiful hummingbirds, constantly talking and adjusting what they say, quick to the breeze.

    And here’s a bit about the episode itself:

    When the 81-year-old author shows up for lunch at her Connecticut inn, Lorelai raves that Rory “read ‘The Naked and the Dead’ while she was still wearing footsie pajamas.” Her culture-sponge mom is inspired to dream of “being a salon. Of course, we’ll have to keep Gore Vidal on the other side of the room, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez will run interference for us.”

    (Second item.)


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