1. When I heard about the discovery of a long-lost Lord Byron poem, I immediately thought of The Aspern Papers, a great novella by Henry James about a scholar who learns that an ancient lady living with her neice in Venice was once the lover of romantic poet Jeffrey Aspern (who seems to have been based on Byron). She is guarding a trove of lost writings by the poet, and the scholar comes up with a grand scheme to insinuate himself into the household and gain access to the papers. Because it’s a Henry James story, the scholar becomes unwittingly entangled in a pathetic and poignant romantic situation and the papers are forever lost.
Back in the real world, it seems the newly found poem was discovered by a librarian. There must be a juicy story hidden somewhere here, but nobody’s telling.
2. Apparently 20 publishers and agents fell for an old trick and failed to accept or recognize a previously published, award-winning V. S. Naipaul novel. I like agent/blogger Miss Snark’s spirited defense of her peers (“So we miss stuff. So fucking what.”), but I’ll go even further.
V. S. Naipaul is a boring author and I have never, ever, ever heard a real person speak with excitement about one of his books. I’ve cracked a couple open myself, and the stuff is instant sleep. Sure, he writes with dignity and precision, and according to Wikipedia he explores themes similar to those of Joseph Conrad. But people actually enjoy reading Joseph Conrad, and Naipaul has never mastered the art of captivating readers. The question isn’t why 20 publishers and agents rejected his novel, but rather why so many literary awards get handed to a writer who is as dull as any college professor you ever met.
And, no, I don’t care that he’s Sir V. S. Naipaul, either. It takes more than gravitas and elegant prose to make a writer matter.