Friday, December 18, 2009

highlights of the literary year

Start your reading: The organizers of the Tournament of Books, one of the highlights of the literary year, have for the first time announced their long list, the 50 books they are considering for their 16-book bracket in January. They have most of our favorite fiction of the year covered, with some intriguing wild cards too, but among those from our own list that didn't make the cut: Cutting for Stone, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Too Much Happiness, The Magicians, Blood's a Rover, and The Vagrants.

"Read across rather than down": Milorad Pavic, the game-playing Serbian novelist best known for his first novel, Dictionary of the Khazars, died recently in Belgrade at the age of 80 (the Times obituary just appeared today). The Dictionary, you may recall, was released in "male" and "female" editions that differed by a single, hidden paragraph. Dorkily, I of course have both versions on my shelf (not that I've read either), but only now I find that Pavic himself considered that owning both was "like incest."

Room for one more Teen Wolf reference: Bill Simmons, whose Book of Basketball our own Dave Callanan pretty much single-handedly made into a #1 bestseller, gets 2,200 words in his ESPN column to run his deleted scenes from what was already the fattest sports book since, well, you know Simmons would make a joke about Wilt's little black book here... [P.S. After posting, I just ran across New York mag's roundtable on The Book of Basketball, featuring Jonathan Lethem, Sherman Alexie, FreeDarko's Bethlehem Shoals, among others, which is worth a post of its own but probably won't get one.]

Moving & shaking: An appearance on Ellen this morning raises Lewis Blackwell's lovely coffee-table book, The Life & Love of Trees, into our Top 100 and up to the top spot in today's Movers & Shakers list.

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