The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- J.K. Rowling says she regrets pairing Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter books. In an interview to be published in Wonderland and excerpted in the U.K.'s Sunday Times, she said, "I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron." Rowling added, "I know, I'm sorry. I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I'm absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people's hearts by saying this? I hope not."
- Daniel Handler, a.k.a. children's author Lemony Snicket, is launching "The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity." In a proposal for the American Library Association, Snicket wrote: "It is of the opinion of Lemony Snicket, author, reader, and alleged malcontent, that librarians have suffered enough. Therefore he is establishing an annual prize honoring a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize will be a generous amount of cash from Mr. Snicket's disreputable gains, along with an odd, symbolic object from his private stash, and a certificate, which may or may not be suitable for framing. It is Mr. Snicket's hope, and the ALA's, that the Snicket Prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them." In a press release, he added that "this seems like a better way to channel money to librarians than my previous strategy, which was incurring exorbitant late fees."
- A letter from the reclusive gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe, who died in 1823, has been found. It is a somewhat grumpy letter to her mother-in-law. It was found by Greg Buzwell, a curator at the British Library, who told The Guardian, "It was one of those rare moments which brought a tear to a dusty old curator's eye." The letter begins, "Dear Madam, We are concerned to hear such frequent complaints."
- Stephen Burt has a poem in the Virginia Quarterly Review about black raspberries and "their glossy / overlaps, their tiny black-on-black embossed / like ridges on an alligator hide."
The Best Books Coming Out This Week:
- The Wherewithal, by Pulitzer-prize winner Philip Schultz, is an inventive novel in verse. "Henryk Stanislaw Wyrzykowski, / Head Clerk of Closed Files, / a department of one"
writes about the Polish Jedwabne massacre while hiding from the Army and the Vietnam War in a San Francisco basement.
- In Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman, 72-year-old Aaliyah lives alone in the middle of Beirut, translating the books she loves into Arabic. Alameddine recently spoke with NPR's Arun Rath: "In my opinion once you do a character fully, and if the writer — and this is me in this case — actually loves the character, it comes through. The character becomes lovable. Because the truth is it is rare to find a human being fully before us that you can't fall in love with. You might want to kill them at times, you might want to smack them and throw them off the roof, but it's also a love affair. And that's what, in my opinion, a good novel does."