Peck and the critic; Nepotism; Globe best-of list; out-of-print books most in demand; Walrus a yawner?; literary museum opens; signed versus unsigned

Kate Kellaway writes at length about Dale Peck’s forthcoming Hatchet Jobs, a collection of his criticism. Kellaway ponders Peck’s reception in the U.S. and wonders about the implications for British reviewers. At the article’s end, critics name their favorite critics and the critical qualities they prize.

Kellaway notes Peck’s reaction to the Andrew O’Hagan review that appeared in The New York Times Book Review last Sunday:

In fact, the book has had one review, by Andrew O’Hagan in the New York Times, which Peck describes as ‘the most condescending, homophobic thing I have ever read. It suggests that the book is all about masculinity and points out that because I am gay I will never have children. Dislike the actual book, but don’t make comments about my own life!’

Just when I thought all the coverage of that book celebrating nepotism (no, really) had died down, it pops back up again in the paper of record.

Apparently Adam Bellow, son of Saul, believes a “New Nepotism” has replaced the old. Under the new regime, the privileged sons and daughters aren’t allowed to slap the waitstaff around “are held to higher, more meritocratic standards — thus the playing field remains reasonably level and the result for society is the best of both worlds.”

Look, maybe there’s just too much of the southern woman in me, but if you get where you got because of your daddy, you might be kind enough not to brag about it to those of us who are still paying off the law school loans our belatedly estranged fathers induced us to incur by perpetuating the outright falsehood that the practice of law isn’t really so bad.

Folks, seriously, please don’t buy the Bellow book. If you’re curious, skim it at the bookstore. Read it at the library. Do not put money in this man’s pocket.

The Globe & Mail has released its list of the top 100 books of the year. On the international (non-Canadian) fiction list are many that have received substantial press in the U.S. and Britain. These include Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Ali’s Brick Lane, Galgut’s The Good Doctor, Lahiri’s The Namesake, and the latest from Proulx, DeLillo, Boyle, Alexie, Hospital, Lightman, Amis, and Rankin.

The Canadian fiction list includes the recent offerings from Atwood, Gowdy, and Vassanji, but also heralds work from other, lesser-known authors, including John Gould’s Kilter: 55 Fictions (which was a surprise contender for the Giller prize earlier this year).

Bookfinder.com, meanwhile, has released a more scientific list: the Top 10 Out-of-Print Books of 2003, based on the number of requests for a specific out-of-print book. Madonna’s Sex heads the list, followed by: World Crisis, by Winston Churchill; Flicker, by Theodore Roszak; and Curse of Lono, by Hunter S. Thompson. (Via BookWatch.)

A new “museum of world literary heritage” has opened in Geneva. The museum was “built underground in Geneva’s Cologny suburb by Swiss architect Mario Botta,” and “displays priceless editions of key texts of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, as well as classics from Japanese and Chinese medieval literature.”

The Walrus, you may recall, is intended to be Canada’s own New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly in one. Not so much, says Bookninja:

So, The Walrus 2 (The Boredom’s Back and This Time It Isn’t Taking Any Zzzzzzzzzzzzz…. ) Has Finally Made it to the Stands…

But isn’t it, um, a tad late? The first issue reached subscribers long after it was on the stands and now the second issue is late… I mean, for a mag that has MILLIONS in the kitty, can’t they get the SECOND issue to bed on time? And what’s their budget for the website which still calls the September issue “current?” How come we don’t see this being picked up in the news? Answer? $$Cha$$-ching!! (discuss)>

Here’s a primer on the value of signed and unsigned books. (Also from Bookninja.)


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