Easing back into things around here ...
* Writing in The New Republic, Ruth Franklin finds The Kindly Ones, " ... deeply unpleasant ...one of the most repugnant books I have ever read."
* Speaking of Wood, his lengthy examination of Orwell has just gone live. (Registration required.)
* Steve Bach has died. He was the author of Final Cut, our absolute favorite book about Hollywood) which detailed the Heaven's Gate debacle.
* Gabriel García Márquez: "Call me later, I'm writing." (Words to live by.)
* Canada is agog as The Winter Vault, Anne Michaels' long awaited second novel, hits stores.
"It became clear quite soon that I could not bear to compromise either my work or the raising of my children," she says. "As any parent knows, part of your mind is always engaged – wondering and worrying that everything is okay and calculating all the stuff that has to get done in the course of a day. When the children are asleep in their beds, I can go where I really need to go in my head."
* Ten new writers, including a former debt counsellor and an indie-band drummer, have been longlisted for the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize.
* Maud Newton finds Brad Gooch's biography of Flannery O'Connor "both a great gift and a curse to O'Connor's fans."
* Scientists are suggesting that Agatha Christie might have been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease when she wrote her last novels.
Scientists in Canada who performed an in-depth study of the author's use of language found that it declined markedly by the time she was in her Eighties, when she was still writing.
Towards the end of her life her vocabulary had shrunk by between 15 and 30 per cent and she began to repeat greater numbers of phrases in her books, according to the study.
Her use of indefinite words, such as something or someone, also increased significantly, another early warning sign of dementia.
* John Updike's ashes have been spread at the site of his parents' graves in Pennsylvania.
* The three women who "nurtured Faulkner's imagination."
Judith Sensibar's "Faulkner and Love: The Women Who Shaped His Art" is a breakthrough account of how the Nobel author's imagination was forged from infancy by three women: Callie Barr, his black nurse; Maud Falkner, his mother; and Estelle Oldham, the childhood friend who became his wife. In one way or another all mothered him.
* Arthur Phillips, whose new novel The Song Is For You has just been released, contributes "Companionship" to Five Chapters.
* Wells Tower is interviewed by David Varno in the new issue of Bookslut.
What? Oh my god. The internet is a fucking curse! To write good fiction, you have to get into a tiny space that’s infinitely deep. That thing [the Internet] is so vast, yet has only a centimeter of depth. I actually have two desks; one with "nternet for magazine work, and a desk just for writing that’s completely offline. "Inspired by the internet…"
* Nelson Algren's centennial noted.
* Finally, Daniel Mendelsohn, the translator of two new volumes of poetry by C.P. Cavafy (about which more presently) will appear at Cooper Union, 7 E. 7th St. No tickets necessary. April 13 at 7. Don't just sit there staring at the screen - go!