Last week was the week of bad book reviews. In The Guardian, J Robert Lennon reviewed Paul Auster’s Winter Journal (“...a terrible book—the kind of self-indulgent, ill-conceived, and poorly edited disaster that makes you doubt whether or not you could truly have liked the works that preceded it”). And in the New York Times Book Review, William Giraldi eviscerated Alix Ohlin’s Inside and Signs and Wonders in a review so scathing its prompted conversation about why the Times chose to run it. So what are the rules of writing good bad reviews? At Salon, Lennon offers some etiquette tips for panning a book.
Yes, literary self-publishing does exist.
At the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh took the Man Booker Prize committee to task for judging books "based on the conceit that upper-class Englishness is the cultural yardstick against which all literature must be measured."
Sick of being asked about how much of his novel was “from his life,” novelist Jay Caspian King conducted a little experiment on Gawker. He excerpted part of his novel, The Dead Do Not Improve, and went through it annotating which parts are fiction, and which were taken from real life.
New York magazine devises a handy interactive flow-chart to help readers figure out which “event” novels they should pick up this fall. The first question (American or English?) makes us ask: What about literature in translation?
Frank Rich wonders why Nora Ephron, who died last June, never shared news of her terminal illness.
The very funny Joshua Cohen and Gemma Sieff field reader queries about life, love, and Spanish punctuation at the Paris Review blog.