• Richard Eder begins his review of The Double this way: “The novels of José Saramago invent some unearthly event or circumstance — the kind of ‘what if?’ we find in science fiction — and populate it with a murmurous, hapless, sweetly questing humanity.”
  • Mark Holcomb considers Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and concludes: “given the stridency of the times, Robinson’s well-reasoned scrutiny of faith in action is more audacious than pedantic, and it’s difficult to imagine a less sanctimonious writer.”
  • From Tod Goldberg’s introduction to his interview with the editor of Other Voices:

    My god, I thought, these editors are real people! It doesn’t always seem that way when the generic rejection letters come floating in (damn you ZYZZYVA editor Howard Junker and your persistent demand that I go “Onward!”) or when you get your manuscript back seemingly the same day you sent it out (a pox on the house of the Antioch Review). So, for today’s installment of Four Dumb Questions and One Serious One, we visit with Gina Frangello, editor of Other Voices and an acclaimed and talented writer in her own right, in hopes of humanizing her in the eyes of potential submitters. What is more humanizing, I ask, than knowing that Ms. Frangello likely knows all the words to “Hungry Like The Wolf”?

  • Chip Kidd, the “closest thing to a rock star” the field of book design has to offer, delights in the failure of e-books (so far) to take hold: “Nothing gives me more delight than the total, utter failure of e-books . . . Publishers still throw good money after bad on this crap.”
  • Apparently someone has added the reclusive Thomas Pynchon to a website called Am I Annoying?:

    Part of the case for Pynchon’s annoyingness: “His novels are extremely complex and contain many allusions and references that can be difficult to understand.” And for the defense: “He made his only voluntary public appearance on an episode of ‘The Simpsons.'”

  • Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling reportedly “lost several secretarial jobs because she wrote stories on her office computer.” Rejection Collection, a site devoted to authors’ pink slips, receives a mention in the same article about getting fired.
  • Gearing up for Halloween, the Guardian excerpts some superstitions of the British Isles from a new book on the subject.

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