Month: June 2006

  • Writers on readers

    Mario Vargas Llosa on readers and reading: “Madame Bovary doesn’t read masterworks. She reads … pulp fiction. That’s what she reads: pulp fiction, love stories, very banal, very superficial. But these stories disturb her profoundly, because they give her the idea of a very different kind of life. A life of pleasure. A life of […]

  • Wendy Lost Girls Grow Up

    Alan Moore’s Lost Girls causes malice in wonderland: “The “lost girls” in question are Alice, Dorothy and Wendy—three women of varying ages and backgrounds—who converge on a Parisian hotel just shortly before the beginning of World War I…. “You’ve got these three characters that sort of represent our childhood. Now, one of the things about […]

  • Baa baa, blacklist

    The Madhya Pradesh government yanks “Western” nursery rhymes from schoolbooks–no more Baa Baa Black Sheep, no more Johnny Johnny, Yes Papa, and Humpty Dumpty can go jump. This is kind of puzzling; instead of banning nursery rhymes, my nephew’s school in Delhi offers original and bootleg versions, so that kids sing Incy Wincy Spider and […]

  • Medals, awards and the sunglass-wiping service

    —Colm Toibin wins the IMPAC for his novel on Henry James, The Master –James Shapiro wins the Samuel Johnson prize for his A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare –Ian McEwan wins Britain’s oldest book prize for Saturday –Sonny Mehta helps set up a literary prize aimed at finding and introducing new Japanese writing […]

  • Barbara Epstein, NYRB co-founder, dies

    “Ask the cub if she wants to interview Barbara Epstein,” the editor said. I would love to be able to say I got the assignment because of my impeccable literary credentials, but the truth is that I was a) the juniormost reporter in the pecking order at that time and b) the only one who […]

  • The Gatekeeper: Joyce, Stephen James

    D T Max asks whether James Joyce’s grandson, Stephen James Joyce, is suppressing scholarship in the guise of protecting his grandfather’s legacy: Most prickly literary estates are interested in suppressing unflattering or intrusive information, but no one combines tolltaker, brand enforcer, and arbiter of taste as relentlessly as Stephen does, and certainly not in such […]

  • Seth’s opus

    The Telegraph interviews Vikram Seth: Seth’s forces are currently manifesting themselves in the latest of what he declines to call his filler projects: a poetic collaboration with a composer on ‘a sort of music-theatre piece’ (his words) which will play this summer in three British festivals: Salisbury, Chelsea and Lichfield. He is vague about how […]

  • One little, two little, three little Indians…

    Tanuja Desai Hidier explains what it feels like to be at the receiving end of plagiarism; she says Kaavya V stole about 24 separate passages of Opal Mehta from her book, Born Confused: (Link courtesy Zigzackly–thanks, Pete.) It was a surreal experience for me, looking at these and the other parallel parts side by side. […]

  • Dedicated to the one (or two?) I love

    John Sutherland points out that marriages are less than eternal, but a dedication lasts forever: James Atlas, Saul Bellow’s biographer, records that to get his muse working the novelist liked to change wives. He got through five and his dedications are a trail of marital gore. His last great novel, Ravelstein, contains a vicious portrait […]

  • Alentejo Blah

    The Guardian digests Monica Ali’s Alentejo Blue in a few deft paragraphs, and sums it up in one line: “Mad Portuguese and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Other reviews have been politely underwhelmed, though there’s some faint praise here.