The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- The great Spanish writer Ana Maria Matute died Wednesday following a heart attack, her son told Reuters. She was 88. Matute was 10 when the Spanish Civil War broke out, and her novels return, again and again, to themes of broken childhood and lost innocence. Matute's books often describe the devastation of rural Spain under Francisco Franco's regime, which blacklisted much of her work. In a 2009 interview in Spanish with El Pais, she spoke of the war: "It marked us all, those of us that were children at that time." She added, "Even now I can't stand fireworks. They make the same sound as bombs." Matute won the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most prestigious literary prize, as well as nearly every major Spanish literary award.
- Judy Blume (thanks to whom adolescent girls the world over chant "We must — we must — we must increase our bust!") plans to release a novel for adults in summer 2015. Few details have been released, but Blume's editor told The New York Times that the book is "pure Judy Blume, writing about family and about friendships, about love, about betrayal. It's quintessential Judy."
- Barnes & Noble will split into two public companies, one for its bookstores and one for Nook media and its college stores, the company announced Wednesday. Once thought to be a viable competitor to Amazon's Kindle, the Nook has become unprofitable. "We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately," Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huseby said in a statement. "We fully expect that our Retail and NOOK Media businesses will continue to have long-term, successful business relationships with each other after separation."
Brian Sneeden has a poem, "Last City," in The Virginia Quarterly Review:
it is possible, for those who go quickly
or who are born with only one soul
to slip out with dignity, from the back row
at an opera, and into a black cab
with plush seats and tinted windows full
of aquarium lights."