Fears for Murdoch's books

Charles Davis writes: "from
The BBC:

There are fears a collection of 1,000 books that belonged to novelist Dame Iris Murdoch may leave the country. The books are being sold by the novelist's widower, Professor John Bayley, who said it was "painful" to sell his late wife's library but he had no room for them in his Oxford home.

The collection is on sale for £150,000 and there are fears it may go to the United States which, along with
Japan, has shown some interest."


Stephen King joins literary lions

Horror writer Stephen King, lauded by readers but panned by many critics, called for support of other popular fiction authors last night as he received the prestigious Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the U.S. National Book Foundation. The Toronto Star, AP, Boston Globe, CSMonitor and an NPR Piece.


What would O'Brian have thought of 'Commander'?

Patrick T. Reardon Says Patrick O'Brian would have hated "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." He says It's a wonderful film, But, as he knows from interviewing him, O'Brian was a prickly coot, and, when it came to his writing, his characters and just about anything, he was quick to take offense. With no control over the movie, O'Brian would have been aghast at the liberties the filmmakers took, such as the way they cherry-picked scenes from the long run of novels to give the movie a near-constant flow of action. That continuous action, too, went against the general tenor of his novels, which focused much more on the everyday routines and challenges of shipboard life than on events such as storms and battles.
But how would he have felt about his URL?
Another good look at the movie/book connection at


Courtenay books dominate Australia libraries

Bryce Courtenay's books dominate public library shelves, with six of his books appearing on the list of the top ten books held in Australia.
Figures released by the Public Lending Right Committee show that over the past three years, Courtenay's Solomon's Song is the book most often bought by libraries.

This is followed by Courtenay's Tommo and Hawk, and Four Fires. Are such records kept for other countries?

Full Story.


Reclusive Judy Blume shares her inspirations

Bob Cox spotted This Story on Judy Blume, and her visit to Park School students in Baltimore.
They say Judy Blume wished aloud that she could speak to kids at a public school, too. In fact she wished she could talk to kids more often. On the other hand, it's a mystery to her why anybody thinks that writers who hide themselves away to get their ideas on paper could possibly feel comfortable standing before hundreds of kids.

Luckily, Judy Blume is a ham, a frustrated actress, and her performance yesterday was much like what happens in her books: She offers humor, empathy, solace, maybe even enlightenment, whether it's related to fear of putting your face underwater - as in Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great - or adolescent struggles with puberty and religion, as in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.


Italy to bare bones of famous bard

CNN has a story about a plan to dig up the grave of Francesco Petrarch to find out more about his appearance and health.

The 14th century Italian poet Francesco Petrarch left hundreds of letters detailing his life and thoughts. Now scientists plan to dig up his remains to find out more about his flesh and bones.

Petrarch became famous for the hundreds of love poems he wrote to the mysterious Laura, a woman he worshiped from afar. For her, the poet perfected the sonnet form that would influence William Shakespeare and many others.


The Case of the Missing Marketing Blitz

A New York Observer article about the lack of marketing - and thus ordering by Barnes & Noble - for Julie Hecht's The Unprofessionals.

To sell a book without Barnes and Noble is like trying to make bouillabaisse without fish: The retailer is a basic and noticeable ingredient. And it’s hard to believe that Random House "forgot" to approach the Barnes and Noble buyers.


To Stars, Writing Books Looks Like Child's Play

A story from the NY Times about the recent explosion of famous people writing children's books.

A handful of celebrities, like John Lithgow and Jamie Lee Curtis, actually have a gift for writing for children: they know how to tell a story and how to tell it with words and pictures and whimsical wit. For others, children's books are just another way to merchandise themselves, another vanity production: Britney books, along with Britney dolls, Britney cellphones and Britney mouse pads.


Imprisoned Cuban writer-librarian given PEN Award

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Cuban writer-poet- librarian Raul Rivero Castaneda and the Sierra Leone PEN Centre were given the Freedom to Write Awards by PEN West on Monday."


For a love of books

A Toronto Star Article covers Azar Nafisi, ran a clandestine reading group in her Tehran apartment for seven young women who had been her best students.In her recently published memoir, Reading Lolita In Tehran (Random House), Nafisi writes that Mitra, a student in her secret class, once asked her, "Why is it that stories like Lolita and Madame Bovary — stories that are so sad, so tragic — make us happy? If we were to write about our lives here in the Islamic Republic of Iran, should we make our readers happy?"



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