* We are thoroughly enjoying Padgett Powell's fascinating novel, The Interrogative Mood - watch for an upcoming giveaway - and it's nice to see him get an appropriate level of love from the Sunday Times Magazine. CBS also beats us to mentioning it and interviewing the author.
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write this book?
Padgett Powell: Let us say I received workplace emails exclusively in the interrogative, like this: "Is it time for our esteemed Director [I was the Director] to have a chat with the Provost about our autonomy? Are we remembering what was promised us last spring by the Dean? Will we be content, again, to let History repeat itself?" and let us say I started wanting to have some ready answers: How do you stand in relation to the potato? Do you love the velvet ant as much as I?
And could not stop, for 140 pages.
* It's been extensively reported elsewhere by now, but Vroman's has stepped in to buy Book Soup.
* Reports from the Frankfurt Book Fair all seem variations on the "subdued" theme.
Orion deputy c.e.o. Malcolm Edwards agreed. "It has been very quiet on the editorial side—not many have come from the States," he said. Scout Louise Allen-Jones said there was "definitely . . . less material around than usual and there are definitely far fewer Americans than there have ever been, and fewer editors".
* Big news for the Big Read: TEV favorite Cynthia Ozick kicks off the New Rochelle Big Read.
* Another TEV hero, Los Angeles' literary Rabbi David Wolpe, has unveiled The Sacred Word, a column on sacred writings for the Huffington Post.
* The Center for the Art of Translation posts Natasha Wimmer's discussion of 2666.
* Lethem v. Chabon: Two of contemporary fiction's heavyweights battle it out for media attention. We will not link to every single mention, but here's a thoughtful look (and corrective to Kakutani's predictable juvenalia) at Lethem's Chronic City; and here's Carolyn Kellogg's Q&A with Chabon over at Jacket Copy.
* Philip Roth makes a surprise appearance in Newark: “As you get older, you get closer to home.”
* The Seattle Times considers The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard.
The marvel of most of these tales is how instantly comprehensible their alternate realities are when so little is explained — and how believable they are, too, thanks to Ballard's unflappable narrative voice. With unerring instinct, he finds the ordinariness in the most preposterous scenarios, thus connecting them in detail and tone to our own reality.
* Booker winner Hilary Mantel interviewed at the Globe.
* Robert McCrum states the obvious - but it's worth stating, nevertheless.
* Salman Rushdie receives the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.
Rushdie isn't concerned with reviews. "The things people who like a book like about it, are exactly the same things people who didn't like a book didn't like about it. The exact same sentence! At this point, I just don't care." But what he does care about is that written literature endures. "The beauty of reading a book by yourself," he said, "is how the author's imagination interacts with your own, in a way it doesn't if you're watching a movie. There's that curious intimacy of strangers. That's why I think this genre will survive."
* A pundit's guide to the Giller Prize.
* A profile of Ingo Schulze, whose New Lives has been in our To Read Pile for an absurdly long time.
* Some wonderful forthcoming Penguin Classics covers out of Central Europe - designed by gray318, the genius behind the cover of Harry, Revised. (Thanks, EG)
* From the sublime to the ridiiculous - Bloomberg's list of "Top Five Literary Novels" includes John Banville and Richard Russo.
* Mr. Darcy takes it on the chin: Jane Eyre's Rochester has been voted most romantic literary character.
* Daniel Mendelsohn's Cavafy translation - which we remain doggedly determined to attend to on this site before the end of the year - is noted over at Bloomberg.
* The excellent independent press, Unbridled Books, ventures into non-fiction.
* We extend our belated congratulations to John Freeman, who has been named the permanent editor of Granta.
* Terry Jones remember Douglas Adams, and his days with the Pythons.
During that fourth series of Monty Python Douglas came out filming with us and that was how he came to play the occasional small role. Since Douglas wasn’t so busy acting, he took it on himself to drive Mike Palin, Eric Idle, Graham and myself around in his minivan. One night, after we had all been to dinner at some remote country restaurant and had imbibed a fair amount of real ale and wine (Douglas included), Douglas drove us back to the hotel. He took us up a deserted bit of road that fed on to the main highway, and we drove for about a mile before we saw another car. It was driving in the opposite direction.
* And, finally, if you're reading this from anywhere within or near the 310 area code, please come out tomorrow night to the Hammer Museum, where we'll be sharing a preview of the novel-in-progress ...