1. Apparently it’s not duck season, and it’s not rabbit season. It’s blogger season. Well, I missed the jump on Rachel Cooke’s condescending piece trashing bloggers as talentless “pooters” in the Guardian, and plenty of other people have already let Ms. Cooke know what they think of her calculations.
So I’ll keep this short: I read professional book critics and I read literary bloggers. I’m quite sure that many literary bloggers can stand up to their “professional” peers on the basis of writing skill, knowledge, judgement and style. What bloggers lack in editorial oversight, we make up in humor. I find it strange that so many professional book critics are writing articles trashing bloggers as sub-literate or incompetent, since we are nothing of the sort. Myself, I’ve corrected the New York Times more often than they’ve corrected me.
2. Here’s some more nonsense. Ian McEwan has always acknowledged that his superb novel Atonement, which depicts British medical emergency units in World War II, was based on background information found in a series of books by a nurse named Lucilla Andrews (whose popular books were sometimes sold as steamy paperbacks). Since McEwan clearly acknowledged this inspiration in the book itself, and since there is nothing wrong with fiction based on primary historical sources, this case does not resemble plagiarism in the slightest sense. Yet McEwan has to endure junk like this.
3. Now here’s something good: somebody’s finally writing a full-length and well-researched biography of Kurt Vonnegut. Charles Shields is looking for stories of encounters with the debonair satirist of Schenectady, and in fact I already sent him my story, which I’ll tell you someday soon too.
4. Here’s a great investigative piece by the Rake on Dave Eggers’ early panning of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (which he is now writing forwards for). I agree that Eggers has every right to change his opinion over ten years, though it’s strange he didn’t mention this change of opinion in the new forward. Well, anyway, I guess I have no problem with the co-author of What is the What.
6. Here’s where Will Self writes. Appropriately extreme. I’m not disappointed.