* The Canadians do love to write about Alice Munro ... and who can blame them?
* This week's John Banville interview. No matter how many he does, there's always good stuff to be found. (Thanks to Adrian Marley.)
"My John Banville books think," he says, while the Benjamin Black books are "books that feel".
* It's unlikely that we'd find the time for 100 must-read science fiction novels - we'd settle for 3 or 4 - but we have some ideas about where to start.
* Nadine Gordimer's attackers remain at large.
* The London Review of Books considers Gunther Grass's memoir.
And yet, until now, he kept secret one corner of his own ‘all that’. This book is a rich and wonderful memoir of his life before he became a public figure (in 1959, with the appearance of The Tin Drum), plaited with a series of complex, sometimes devious reflections on recollection and memory which make it a little clearer why he hesitated for so long. It was not so much fear of damaging his public image, although it obviously became harder to confess the Waffen SS episode as the years passed. It was rather a penetrating, insoluble guilt: the knowledge that as a schoolboy and then as a teenager in uniform he had been a willing, believing, active part of the National Socialist machine. It’s a guilt for which he dismisses innocence, ignorance and youth – ‘I was only a child, just a child!’ – as extenuating circumstances. ‘I was silent. Because so many others have kept silent, the temptation is great . . . to shift the blame onto the collective guilt, or to talk about oneself only figuratively in the third person: He was, saw, did, said, he kept silent . . .’ And Grass is writing about himself here, for almost all that he did or thought or underwent in those times is enacted by a multitude of characters – not only Oskar Matzerath in The Tin Drum – in his novels. But if he hoped that third-person fiction might act as some kind of exorcism, it plainly did not.
* The Southern California Booksellers Association Awards have been announced.
* Haruki Murakami has collected the Kafka Prize on a trip to Prague.
The prize is awarded to "authors whose works of exceptional artistic qualities are found to appeal to readers regardless of their origin, nationality and culture, just as the works of Franz Kafka," the society said.
A former jazz bar manager, Murakami burst onto Japan's literary scene in 1987 with a hugely popular experiment with realism, "Norwegian Wood." Since then, he has won acclaim, as well as a huge literary following, both in Japan and abroad. His works have been translated into some 35 languages, including Czech.
* Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit ... easy for Robert Fagles to say.
* There's a new story up at FiveChapters.com.
* Garrett County Press asked favorite artists to "color in" pages from Kevin Stone's latest project, The Pat Robertson and Friends Coloring Book. The artists, who range from Philadelphia designers to Bangkok street artists, were given simple instructions: pick your favorite page and have fun.
* Martin Amis is interviewed in Newsweek.
* We thoroughly enjoyed Richard Pevear's translation of The Three Musketers, which draws praise from The Independent.
If you want to know why this is a shame, read Dumas's work in modern translation. Start by taking a fresh look at The Three Musketeers. The son of a general in the revolutionary army, Dumas was only 13 when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo: he spent his youth under the dreary Bourbon restoration and belonged to a generation whose young men felt they had missed out on the excitement of revolution and empire. This is why he especially loved the 17th century, the period of this novel and its sequels, seeing it as a lost age of freedom, passion and adventure. It is Dumas's own evident enjoyment, not crowd-pleasing effects, that explains the enduring popularity of his work. Richard Pevear has produced a Three Musketeers for our time, currently available in this handsome hardback edition.
* Bummer. Normally we harp on about the importance of backups but it's hard to back up a notebook.