• A new series of literary talks featuring A.S. Byatt and Doris Lessing as speakers launched on the same night as the Booker Prize ceremony, prompting Mark Sanderson of the Telegraph to argue:

    The fact that three such luminaries should choose to ignore the 2004 ceremony suggests that, given there are so many literary awards today, the Booker is losing its pre-eminence.

  • Nick Flynn, who gave a solid reading from Another Bullshit Night in Suck City last Saturday night at Pianos, talks with the Austin Chronicle about the reactions of audience members to his readings in different cities:

    When I read this book in Boston — and I don’t know if this is just an Irish thing — but people crack up, they think it’s really funny. You read it in Minnesota and people weep, or they don’t express any emotions whatsoever. I’ve been asking people lately to look inside themselves for whatever Irishness they have. To see that this is part of humanity, and there is a humor to it. When I worked in the shelter, it was like Beckett, and that’s what makes Beckett so brilliant: this darkness that’s continually punctured by incredibly funny scenes, hysterical absurdity, the weirdness of life, and the comedy that’s just inherent in every tragedy.

    (Via Michael Schaub at Bookslut.)

  • Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe suffered from triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13.
  • The New Yorker takes bits of its festival on the road.
  • Los Angeles artist Don Bachardy’s ink drawings of Dorothy Parker, Anais Nin, Aldous Huxley, and other writers are on display at a library in San Marino, California, through February 2, 2005.

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