* Regular TEV readers will recall my enthusiasm for Rob Riemen's Nobility of Spirit (which still sits atop our Recommended sidebar). The book has just been released in France, where it has been immediately taken up by Slate's Jacques Attali. If you have the French for it, it's worth taking a look.
D'abord, c'est le titre qui m'a attiré: «Noblesse de l'Esprit». Dans la pile des livres reçus ce matin, je choisis les brèves épreuves d'un texte d'un auteur inconnu pour moi, Rob Riemen, un professeur hollandais, avec ce titre intriguant. Je l'ouvre, décidé à ne faire que le feuilleter, puis je lis, l'attention d'abord attirée par la brève préface de George Steiner, qui ne dit presque rien sur le texte qu'il préface (c'est mauvais signe) et beaucoup sur un thème qui l'obsède depuis toujours, comme il obsédait son maitre à penser, Thomas Mann: comment la société allemande, sommet de la culture européenne , a-t-elle pu enfanter le nazisme?
(Which, not to be coy or anything, is exactly how the book caught our attention, too.)
* An IT perspective on the Amazon brouhaha ...
* Maurice Druon, who won the Goncourt and fought in the Resistance, has died at 90.
* The Observer reports on the scene as the NY gliterati take in the Paris Review's spring bash. Much fuss is made about Zadie Smith's dress.
* Jay Parini reports from the Key West Literary Festival in the Atlantic.
And so this year at the Key West Literary Seminar, now well into its third decade, some heavy hitters in the world of historical fiction met for something like pre-spring training. The likes of Gore Vidal, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Matthiessen, Russell Banks, William Kennedy, Marilynne Robinson, and Barry Unsworth were joined by historians such as Eric Foner and David Nasaw to sit in the sun for a week or so and talk about making history.
* Fearful of repeating herself, Margaret Drabble announces her retirement from fiction.
* An argument for book review digressions (which namechecks some of our litblogging pals).
* Novel-Tees is in the business of creating T-shirts for establishments that only exist within the pages of novels.
Readers can sport the bright red Championship Vinyl T-shirt from the London record store in Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity," a high school jersey from the small town of Owl, N.D., in Chuck Klosterman's "Downtown Owl," or the Boston-based Kenzie & Gennaro Investigations from Dennis Lehane's novels, to name a few.
* Publisher George Braziller is offering a poem a day for National Poetry Month. (Recommended.)
"I didn't know what it was all about, but my editor and agent thought it was important enough to pull me off the tour to go to the ceremony," Boyle said.
* And, finally, Hugh Laurie is a best-selling novelist in France. There's no punchline.
"You have to realize Dr. House is a phenomenon here," François Verdoux, head of Sonatine books, told the Guardian newspaper. "But, despite his incredible popularity, no one had the faintest idea Laurie had written a book. There was no risk involved here. It was a no-brainer."