New fatherhood sleep deprivation has pushed our Joseph O'Neill interview back a week but in the interim, some worthy links for your morning coffee:
It used to be a central ambition of novelists to capture the experience of working life. From Balzac to Zola, Dickens to Kafka, they evoked the dynamism and the beauty, the horror and the tedium of the workplace. Their books covered the same territory as is today featured at copious length in the financial pages of newspapers or in the breathless commentaries of the 24-hour newscasters, but their interest was not primarily financial. The goal was to convey the human side of commerce, where money is only one actor in a complex drama about our ambitions and reversals.
* As fans of both Sherlock Holmes and Robert Downey Jr, we're midly curious to see what he makes of the great sleuth.
* Oscar Wilde's original, handwritten love letters are among the 600,000 pages of manuscripts made available in a new online resource called British Literary Manuscripts Online c1660-1900 (which the Telegraph appears unable to link to).
* Note to self: Get daughter set of Nancy Drew books.
* Wired's Bruce Sterling offers a list of Eighteen Challenges in Contemporary Literature, some of which are sensible, others of which - like this one - are, well ... Step away from the computer, Bruce.
Algorithms and social media replacing work of editors and publishing houses ...
* The lineup for the Brooklyn Book Festival has been announced.
* Milan Kundera blows off a Czech conference in his honor.
Kundera sent good-humoured thanks for the "necrophile party" in a letter to the organisers of the three-day event, which drew scholars and translators from as far away as Chicago, Paris, Reykjavik, Rome and Warsaw.
* Mavis Gallant in celebrated on WNYC's Selected Shorts.
* Marilynne Robinson: "If I know where an idea's from, I don't use it."
* Maud Newton continues her entertaining series of "literary quips, observations, and warnings."
* Brandon Wenerd makes the argument that Aspen belongs on our American Literary Map.
Though literary tradition may not be as apparent to the rest of the world as tourist pursuits like skiing and gourmet dining, this once-Wild West mining town retains an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity and boheme idiosyncrasy, making for an idyllic hideaway for literature to flourish. The Aspen Writers’ Foundation – the oldest literary center in Colorado – wines, dines, and host lectures for eminent authors like Salman Rushdie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ishmael Beah, and David Davidar during its five-day summer literary festival, writing retreat, and popular Winter Words lecture series, dubbed “après ski for the mind.” In the 70s, a literary journal titled “The Aspen Anthology” published book excerpts, poems, and short stories by locals. It boasted a circulation of 1000. The nearest Barnes and Noble may be nearly 95 miles away in Grand Junction, but the cozy Explore Bookstore on Main Street keeps independent bookstore tradition alive in an era when homegrown sellers are becoming either an anomaly or a nostalgic relic of the past. Even a casual browser at the Aspen Thrift Shop will discover a highbrow and sophisticated collection of used volumes ranging from Sylvia Plath to Edward Abbey between the pulpy stacks of Janet Evanovich mystery thrillers and John Grisham bestsellers.
* Wexford is to literary novelists as Liverpool is to songwriters ...
* Boyd Tonkin on Anne Michaels's The Winter Vault.
To put it mildly, The Winter Vault does not build, or grow, like a conventional novel. Each main character slips or swerves into a mode of rapt soliloquy that, for all the breadth of their references to science, art and history, often sounds alike. Motifs and metaphors drift like spores from one mind to another: dams, seeds, stones, tombs, the endless traffic between the organic and inorganic worlds. Read this book like poetry, or rather hear it like music, but stay if you can with Michaels' gorgeous melancholia even when the waters of her rhetoric rise to the very lip of absurdity.
* And, finally, a unique literary quiz: judging a book by its "improbable phrases".