Francine Prose

There’s been a flood of year-end best books lists lately, and we don’t blame you if you’ve stopped paying attention (especially since they mostly feature the same few books). However, there is one more list that may come in handy as you prepare for the holidays: 2010's Best Nonfiction For Winning Family Arguments.

On Sunday, Housing Works Bookstore cafe hosted a heartwarming three-hour marathon reading of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, featuring thirty authors including Mary Gaitskill (“I think people who think [Dickens is] corny just can’t read”), Francine Prose (“Here are all these people who could be out shopping for useless presents, and they’re sitting here, listening to Dickens”), and Patrick McGrath (“Dickens’s rhythms seem made to be read aloud . . . especially when he gets quite soppy—you can be bombastic with it”), whose mastery of English accents proved especially handy.

Author Larry Eisenberg has contributed more than eight thousand comments to the New York Timess website, on subjects ranging from Sarah Palin to Kool-Aid pickles. The best part? Many of them are Limericks.

It’s inevitable in New York literary circles to hear someone talk of quitting the daily grind and moving to the city “where young people go to retire,” Portland, Oregon. For those heading to the City of Roses, here’s a guide to Portland’s literary presses and a theme song to keep your spirits high as your employment opportunities dwindle.

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