Extra-rich round-up with your vente latte this morning

  • The Guardian picks the World's 10 Best Bookshops. They're really the world's most striking or even beautiful bookstores, as witness the amazing Livraria Lello in Portugal (above). The only American bookseller included is the Secret Headquarters comic book store in L.A. It must be quite the place because a) its website is irritating (it's designed as a secret dossier) and b) Jim Hanley's Universe in New York is the best comics shop that book/daddy has seen, although it (like Titan Comics here in Dallas) is a bit utilitarian looking. Terrific stock, though. Hence, the argument that this list is about decor as much as inventory. But it's worth it just to see the 360-degree view of Livraria Lello or the old theater-turned-bookstore in Buenos Aires. Gorgeous: If anything remotely like these vendors were in Texas, book/daddy would simply move and live inside them.

  • The inspiration for many of P. G. Wodehouse's characters have been tracked down. They're not just delightfully silly fantasies; it takes two volumes to document them, plus Wodehouse's many classical references.

  • The Apocalypse is truly at hand, although he'd never admit it. Christopher Hitchens has quit smoking.

  • "A young woman's path to damnation": Benjamin Markovitz' new novel (not yet available in the US) re-tells Bryon's life from the viewpoint of his estranged wife, Anabella, the famous "Princess of Parallelograms." Meanwhile, Andrea di Robilant uses her family archives once again (she wrote A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century) to write about her great-great-great-great-grandmother -- who was Byron's landlady.

  • That old cliche -- the greatest author in the world is named "Anonymous" -- gains renewed force when one considers just a brief list of some of the writers who hid their names: William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Andrew Marvell, the Brontes, Jane Austen, Walter Scott. And that's just British writers, let's not forget the Iron Curtain countries. John Mullan's new book, Anonymity, examines the many reasons that have caused writers to write both publicly and secretly.

  • "You can find in it all the ammunition you need to confound those who think of the theatre as a poor substitute for cinema, or as entertainment for toffs only, or as a backward-looking medium" -- Francis Beckett writing about Robert Tanitch's new history, London Stage in the 20th Century (not available in the US until November).

  • January 12, 2008 10:29 PM |



    Best of the Vault


    Pat Barker, Frankenstein, Cass Sunstein on the internet, Samuel Johnson, Thrillers, Denis Johnson, Alan Furst, Caryl Phillips, Richard Flanagan, George Saunders, Michael Harvey, Larry McMurtry, Harry Potter and more ...


    Big D between the sheets -- Dallas in fiction


    Reviewing the state of reviewing


    9/11 as a novel: Why?


    How can critics say the things they do? And why does anyone pay attention? It's the issue of authority.

    The disappearing book pages:  

    Papers are cutting book coverage for little reason

    Thrillers and Lists:  

    Noir favorites, who makes the cut and why



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