Literary links

Having recently changed jobs, I happily have much more time to read so have decided to resume blogging here. My immediate reading plans include plenty of  Chinese fiction and non-fiction in preparation for my trip there in October; the Miles Franklin shortlist and the next two volumes of Trollope’s Palliser novels, namely Phineas Finn and The Eustace Diamonds.

As I’m only halfway through Peter Hessler’s River town: two years on the Yangtze, I thought I’d share the best literary links I’ve found this week in the hope you find them as interesting as I do:

  •  Haaretz has a fascinating article about the lives and work of authors whose work was banned and burnt by the Nazis.
  • Continuing with the theme of moral courage, Sheila O’Malley reviews Booker’s Place. I’ll be looking out for this documentary about African-American waiter Booker Wright, who simply told the truth about his life in the Jim Crow South and suffered for it.
  • Xujun Eberlein’s joint review of Mao’s Great Famine : The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 and Tombstone in the Los Angeles Review of Books is a masterly look at two accounts of the Great Famine. Grim but essential reading.
  • The New York Times explains the US Justice Department vs. Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster case and why it’s important.
  • Sticking with e-books, the Review of Australian Fiction is a new online venture enabling you to read a story from one established and one up-and-coming Aussie author a fortnight for a bargain price. I find this is a good way to expand my reading horizons and a lifesaver when, book finished, I need something to read on the train home. Geordie Williamson shares his thoughts on it here.
  • I’m also loving the Library of America’s free weekly short story. Some favourites: classic Dashiell Hammett; Bettye Rice Hughes’ tour of the South shortly after bus segregation is banned and Henry James’ account of visiting an English workhouse.
  • Speaking of the Great Man- Selling Henry James by Joseph Epstein is pure pleasure.
  • The Atlantic recommends Aussie crime fiction- here here!
  • A new review by James Wood is a must read, doubly so when it’s of Hilary Mantel.
  • Lastly, this bookworm’s paradise is now on my must visit list.

Happy browsing!

Authors’ Ghosts by Muriel Spark

I think that authors’ ghosts creep back
Nightly to haunt the sleeping shelves
And find the books they wrote.
Those authors put final, semi-final touches,
Sometimes whole paragraphs.

Whole pages are added, re-written, revised,
So deeply by night those authors employ
Themselves with those old books of theirs.

How otherwise
Explain the fact that maybe after years
have passed, the reader
Picks up the book – But was it like that?
I don’t remember this . . . Where
Did this ending come from?
I recall quite another.

Oh yes, it has been tampered with
No doubt about it -
The author’s very touch is here, there and there,
Where it wasn’t before, and
What’s more, something’s missing -
I could have sworn . . .

-  From All the Poems by Muriel Spark, 2004; inspired by the recent (wonderful!) Muriel Spark Week