Another Roundup From the Past!

  • Why stop at one pre-rigged roundup? Here’s another one for Monday. I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire two posts or only three? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is WordPress 2.3, the most powerful web app in the world, and would blow a newspaper clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself a question. Do I feel lucky? Well, yes and no. In large part because I’m the punk and you’re not.
  • Except in this case, I’ve timed this second roundup to go up at sunrise in New York. Which makes you wonder when these roundups were written, or whether the first roundup is appreciably better than the second. One of many strange mysteries here at Reluctant.
  • Atwood revisits Brave New World (via Maud)
  • No, not the actress or the books editor. Is Elizabeth Taylor one of the most distinguished practitioners of the art of the short story from 1972? In other words, could this be a John P. Marquand figure that has been needlessly forgotten here?
  • “And always wet your hands before you handle a trout!”
  • Lindsey Gardner has been seeing her children’s books censored by publishers in some pretty odd ways. Sharp objects were removed in one book and another book banned youngsters from walking alone. If this keeps up, pretty soon any illustrated depiction of a human will be airbrushed out. Because really, you never know if their thoughts could be misinterpreted by a young reader! A little subconscious ambiguity here and a misperceived line there and eventually you’ll have yourself a corrupted young mind! Then again, to paraphrase Jack Burton, son of a bitch must pay!
  • From the lively link collector Michael Orthofer, who I presume isn’t prerigging his roundups, comes this profile of New York Review of Books curator Edwin Frank — another of the Literary Eds You Can Trust in New York. If Mr. Park is “The Other Ed,” then I suppose Mr. Frank will be referred to as either “The Third Ed” or “The Curating Ed” or possibly “The Win, Place or Show Ed.”
  • I’m with Gwenda on this. Why should fairy tales be confined to a specific century? Sounds to be like a temporal form of Jim Crow or apartheid, if you ask me.


  1. My friend’s children’s book was purged of steam rising from the soup. Because you could get hurt if you ate hot soup, you know.


    At the beginning of Sept Robert McCrum of the Observer/Guardian polled 50 estimable UK writers about who the most underrated writer of recent times was. With one exception, all the writers whose names came up were mentioned once. Elizabeth Taylor was mentioned by three different writers.

    The result is a bit of a contrast to what happened in 1976 when the TLS, in its 75th anniversary issue, asked 75 writers to select their most overrated and underrated writer. (That list can be found at, I think.) The only writer there to be mentioned as underrated by more than one writer was Barbara Pym – Philip Larkin and David Cecil chose her. This resulted in the big Pym revival which brought her back to print; inspired her to write and publish again in the last years of her life; and keeps at least some of her books in print to this day. But the difference there is that Pym was still living, so she could go on TV and people would say, “Oh, what a nice old lady! I want to read her books.” Elizabeth Taylor has been dead 32 years. In the early ’80s Virago reissued all her books, some of them here as well as the UK, to no particularly wide notice. In 1990 Carroll & Graf reissued one; nobody paid attention. In the last couple of years Virago has again reissued some of her books with intros by the likes of Sarah Waters. Some notice in the UK, less here. The big problem is, obviously, she started publishing in 1945, the year after another Elizabeth Taylor became an international superstar with “National Velvet.” But she didn’t choose a pen name because of that. Nonetheless there are not many novelists as highly regarded by her fellow writers as her.

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