Private: Some old, some new

Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and other novels, celebrated his 83rd birthday with this wish:

One night, 100 years from now, a youngster will stay up late reading “The Martian Chronicles” with a flashlight under his blanket — on the Red Planet.

(Via Zuzu’s Petals.)

Tibor Fischer recently made waves when he expressed his loathing for Martin Amis’ Yellow Dog, saying that reading the novel is akin to discovering that your “favourite uncle” has been “caught in a school playground, masturbating.” Robert Douglas-Fairhurst takes an opposing view. He contends that with this latest novel Amis has found a “subject to match the tessellated polish of his style” and “seems to have guessed what you thought about the world, and then expressed it far better than you ever could.”

Stephanie Zacharek calls Vendela Vida’s And Now You Can Go “a swift, fleet novel, a spare but polished miniature that isn’t ashamed to strive for small truths instead of great lumbering ones.” Zacharek finds nothing to criticize about Vida’s debut novel but the title, which she says is “empty-sounding, magnanimously pretentious title that doesn’t suit the tenor of this modest and heartfelt book.” The first chapter is available online.

Carol Watts looks at Tristram Shandy in its historical context and takes note of the questions it raises:

If Tristram Shandy testifies to what we might now see as a culture fascinated by celebrity, it is also a critical response to those commercial forces that flow beyond the local trials of the book market to underpin economic adventurism and “curiosity” around the globe. What does it mean to be born into a world of risk and imaginative experiment, the novel seems to be asking, where the boundaries of the self and the body politic are suddenly remade? What are the human affections – the “trust” and “credit” – that bind people and their communities together, like readers and authors, in such a world?

Newsweek interviews Toni Morrison and hails her forthcoming novel, Love, calling it the equal of Song of Solomon and Beloved. (Via Publishers Lunch.)

Australian author Peter Carey continues to criticize Prime Minister John Howard for his involvement in Iraq. Carey says it is the job of the writer to question. (Via Zuzu’s Petals.)