No Love for Slow Man

Not even from Francine Prose, who opines, “The problem was that every word I was reading was not only reminding me of, but making me desperately wish that I was reading, another book that, as it happens, begins with a man struck by an automobile while riding his bicycle, and that also follows his slow, painful attempts to recover some damaged, recognizable version of his former self. That is Denton Welch’s extraordinary A Voice Through a Cloud, his last novel, published unfinished and posthumously in 1950.”

[UPDATE: The Literary Saloon has a nice overview of the Slow Man coverage thus far.]


The Guardian has an excerpt of Carol Shield’s unfinished novel, Segue, which she was working on at the time of her death.

Terry Gross interviews Stephen King. Hearing Terry Gross describe the beginning of Gerald’s Game in such clinical intellectual terms (apparently, without irony) is pretty hilarious, as are the additional queries that jump from third-person to first-person (“Let’s get Stephen King to the kind of gore and terror and suspense that you create.”). But the second interview has King talking about his accident.

The Globe and Mail features a New Year’s-themed article on the description of drinking in literature that’s also unintentioanlly funny. Really, I couldn’t make this stuff up: “You can, with a little licence, trace an arc in 20th-century drinking literature that follows the act of drinking itself. In Hemingway’s work, the drinking was never-ending, and often celebratory when it wasn’t the weary duty of the lost generation. Hangovers were left largely undescribed, something that could be walked off in the clear air of the Pyrenees, or washed off in a fine and true Michigan trout stream.”

More fun from J.M. Coetzee in the latest NYRoB.

Speculation in the Age on 2004’s Australian heavy-hitters.

Tony Kushner gushes over Eugene O’Neill.

Biggest surprise: USA Today names both Living History and The Five People You Meet in Heaven as worst books of 2003.

Stavros has a translation of the Lost in Translation commercial scene that reveals (no surprise) remarkable caricatures.

And about 70 books on Mao were published in China this year. Perhaps because the 110th anniversary of Mao’s birth was yesterday.

Putter Patter Silver Platter

Hugh Hefner plans to auction off his black books. Among the entries? “Big blonde from ‘Wild Women of Wongo.'”

Brian Stillman remembers Hal Clement.

Stories from Eric Kraft at The Hamptons.

Life working at B&N (via Maud).

Sad news from Ohio: Almost half of the third-graders failed a reading test, with a wide gap in race. And in Scotland, half of the 14 year-olds failed a national writing test. Writing of an altogether different sort might be in the horizon for NYC subways.

And a comparative oldie, but a goodie: J.M. Coetzee’s Nobel speech.

[1/20/06 UPDATE: What I didn’t know at the time was that The Wild Women of Wongo was a bona-fide film directed by James L. Wolcott (no relation as far as I know to the blogger) and not a secret codeword at all. This Wolcott, apparently born in 1907, is still alive. But which of the blondes did Hugh Hefner bed? Further, the black book question raises other issues, such as whether other celebrities’ black books are worth auctioning. And is Hef’s black book the closest we get to Casanova’s memoirs?]


Recent Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee says that television has replaced books as the imaginative impetus for kids. Apparently, he hasn’t heard of Harry Potter.

Is Rick Moody aware of periods?

The New Yorker has a profile on Lucia Joyce, James’ daughter, focusing on Lucia’s efforts to live in the shadow of a paternal genius and her father’s neglect. Lucia Joyce would later spend most of her years in an asylum. Carol Schloss’s book on the matter seems to suggest that Lucia was the price paid for Finnegan’s Wake and that she was instrumental in contributing to its imagery.

Jim Crace on research: “My wife and my editor think I do lots of research. And I encourage them in their delusion as it makes me seem hardworking. But actually I don’t research. I oppose research. What I do is a bit of background reading in order to work out how to tell my lies. I don’t look for information, I look for vocabulary and for the odd little emotional idea that will give some oxygen to my imagination. Vocabulary is the Trojan horse that smuggles the lie. Facts don’t help. If you’re not a persuasive talker at a party, no one’s going to believe you, even if everything you say is true. But if you’re a persuasive liar then everyone is fooled.”

The future of board games? The Boston Globe says Germany.

Hitler’s unpublished second book: “Hitler introduces significant new arguments, notably in relation to the United States, Europe, and, above all, the most crucial area of his foreign policy, relations with Britain, arguments which he had been developing in speeches and articles during 1926?8. ”

More end of the year lists:

The New York Times [The Bottom Line] (user: dr_mabuse, pw: mabuse)
The Washington Post [Fiction] [Nonfiction]
The Chicago Tribune [Best of 2002] (user: dr_mabuse, pw: mabuse)
The Seattle Times [Visual Arts (including The Pop-Up Kama Sutra!)] [Performing Arts] [Classical Arts] [Rock & Roll]
The Christian Science Monitor [Top 5 Fiction] [Top 5 Nonfiction] [Noteworthy Fiction] [Noteworthy Nonfiction]