His Dark URLs

The happy Pullman train doesn’t stop with Chabon. The Archbishop of Canterbury notes that despite Phillip Pullman’s “anti-Christian” stance, he finds the trilogy a near miraculous triumph. The Left Behind books, meanwhile, remain miraculous only in dramatically underestimating how many readers are willing to defer to guilt and paranoia.

Dame Muriel Spark, best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, is 86 and still writing, despite arthritis, failing eyesight and an inveterate biscuit addiction. She’s just published her 23rd novel.

Harvey Pekar has nabbed a three-book deal with Ballantine. The first will be a followup to American Splendor, dealing with the making of the film, and the next two will be biographies rather than autobiographies. Pekar’s wife, Joyce Brabner, noted that, “We can at last afford to add protein to our diet.”

Judy Blume must be trying to avoid soup kitchens these days. She’s just signed away her books to Disney. Whether Deenie‘s infamous masturbation will be addressed on screen (preferably with Donald Duck involved) remains to be seen.

Online reference sites have cut into the encyclopedia. If there’s any boon to this sad news, it means less encyclopedia salesmen hectoring you at the door. However, Jehovah’s witnesses, hoping to take advantage of this downturn, plan to step up their efforts.

Liverpool has come up with a unique way to celebrate its writers: a beer mat. Some of the initial ideas included a commemorative toilet brush, collectible maxis, and an Alan Bleasdale nose hair trimmer. Fortunately, the Liverpool lads settled on the beer mat. Declasse, yes. But truer to the Liverpool spirit.

The PEN/Faulkner nominees have been announced:

Elroy Nights by Frederick Barthelme
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer
A Distant Shore by Caryl Phillips
The Early Stories by John Updike
Old School by Tobias Wolff

The winner will receive $15,000. The other finalists will nab $5,000. Between the endless New Yorker pieces and the backlist lucre, I’d say Updike’s due a tax audit right about now.

A version of Sam Shepard’s True West playing at the Baruch College Theater turned the sisters into brothers. Shepard was not amused and ordered the play shut down through his agent. The play’s fate is up in the air. (Also in the article: David Talbot has hired Sidney Blumenthal as Salon’s Washington bureau chief. Between this and The Clinton Wars, does this sound like a man whose reputation was completely decimated by Matt Drudge?)

The Hollywood Reporter does the math. Mel will get about $115 million from The Passion. Which means he’ll never have to work again. Let’s hope not.

First, the Age gets intimidated by Coetzee. Now it’s frightened by Sara Nelson? Two different writers, same newspaper. What’s the matter with journalists at the Age? Are they terrified of all interview subjects? Someone Down Under needs a hug. (via Sarah)

Maud: “She and my stepdad and all the other mourners except my sister and Mr. Maud went to their cars. They were all wringing their hands and shaking their heads, clearly mortified at our behavior. People just don’t watch the lowering of the casket in Baptist cemeteries in Bumcombe County, I guess.”