• Digby, a political blogger, considers the grand literary tradition of exposing “the phony piety of middle American life.” He namechecks Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, John O’Hara, Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, and Erskine Caldwell, all writers whose novels and stories “laid bare the twofaced nature of bourgeois American morality.”
  • Jeanette Winterson held the opening party for her in-house deli Thursday night. The Oranges are Not the Only Fruit author revived the store’s original name, “Verde’s — after an Italian importer of oranges who opened up a fruit and veg business here in 1805.”
  • South African authorities have returned letters written by Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned at Robben Island off Cape Town. (Via Moby Lives.)
  • The owner of an old manor house has discovered a winding staircase where “the 18th-century original of Mrs Rochester – the tragic enigma at the heart of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – was allegedly confined.”
  • Last month Nick Hornby interviewed Sarah Vowell (A/K/A Violet Incredible) about her role in Pixar’s The Incredibles and her forthcoming book, Assassination Vacation (due out in April), which I’ve been reading intermittently since a kind soul thoughtfully passed it along after the election.
  • Speaking of Nick Hornby, he talks with Kevin Canfield about criticism and The Believer’s anti-snark policy. Of the latter, he says:

    I think that if every literary magazine and every book section in the world adopted the Believer no-snark approach, there might be a debate to be had about whether people should take it on the chin. But that isn’t going to happen, and I for one find it absolutely delightful that there is one — ONE — place in the world where a writer can go in the knowledge that he or she will not be made to feel unwelcome. I think I can speak for just about every writer when I say that we have all had really unpleasant experiences with book reviews — sometimes when we were least expecting it. We’ve all had unfair reviews, and some of us have found ourselves compared unfavorably, occasionally venomously, with other writers, in the middle of reviews that were ostensibly nothing to do with us.

    (For different perspectives, see Emma Garman’s thoughts on snark, and my interview with Chris Lehmann.)

  • Lydia Millet tells Mark Sarvas about her forthcoming book, Everyone’s Pretty and names Lydia Davis as a favorite author.
  • Dan Wickett asks questions of 10 more literary bloggers. Some of my favorites are among them.


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