Stopped at customs?: Readers outside of Canada might wonder if even one such case exists, when most of the names on their list, even a homegrown institution like David Adams Richards, are virtually unknown south of the border, but Alex Good and Steven W. Beattie have posted a parlor-game provocation called the "10 Overrated Canadian Authors." By following up with a well-chosen companion list of the 10 Underrated Canadian Authors, they've added some light to the heat, and I'd recommend checking out their underrated writers: I'll second their nominations of Bill Gaston, Lynn Coady, and Russell Smith. Coady's Saints of Big Harbour is sharp and funny and contains one of my favorite opening paragraphs in all of literature, and I agree that Smith's Muriella Pent, which still has yet to find an American publisher, is "hands down one of the best Canadian novels of the new century." Or one of the best North American novels, for that matter.
Who reads? Who writes? Who gets reviewed?: Speaking of light rather than heat, Laura Lippman (whose I'd Know You Anywhere is one of our Best of August picks, by the way) checks in with one of the more useful and fact-filled entries in the #franzenfreude debate spurred by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner's frustration with the wall-to-wall Franzmania this month:
One last thought: All fiction is women's fiction. Women's fiction is
redundant. At the launch for my new book last week, I had an audience
of 130 people and 120 of them were women. "Isn't that weird?" someone
asked. I said: "I think it's wonderful."
The backlash begins: As I was pulling all those glowing quotes on Freedom for OMM, I had a bit of the feeling that tsunami witnesses describe of the water pulling away and exposing vast stretches of beach before the giant wave arrives. All this praise and hype (mostly deserved in my book, as I've said before, though inevitably preposterous) can't help but draw a skeptical response. And now the first major pan arrives, from yesterday's video star Ron Charles, who in a review today that's full of post-Franzmania even before the book's been published, calls Freedom "brilliant" but argues "Franzen's wit has mostly boiled away, leaving a bitter sludge of dysfunction."
Back when hogs were really wild: On its 40th anniversary, Dwight Garner in the Times pulls the "primal witchery" of James Dickey's novel Deliverance away from the distracting glare of the Burt Reynolds/Ned Beatty pic and Dickey's own personal excesses: "But Dickey's moral awareness infuses this book with grainy life; guilt
and blame are not easily assigned.... In 2010, it's lonely work looking for its
Moving and shaking: Tina Brown called Juliet Nicolson's The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age a "must-read" today on Morning Edition, and it's #2 in Movers & Shakers as I type.