Updates for the weekend

NYTBR: Boy oh boy, it’s all about Joan Didion this week, what with Rachel Donadio’s lengthy interview and Robert Pinsky’s slightly less lengthy review of her memoir, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING. Otherwise, A.O. Scott pays tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, James Atlas mulls over the evolution of biographies, Charles Taylor puts down ANANSI BOYS with a disappointed taste in his mouth, and Joyce Carol Oates’ new novel may be her most disturbing, detail-filled yet, according to Stacey D’Erasmo.

WaPo Book World: I’m not totally sure that Jonathan Yardley is the right person to review THE LINCOLN LAWYER but then again, the last lines of the review are simply to die for; Ron Charles wishes that Kim Ponders had given more, more, more in her debut novel; Walter Kirn may be an excellent reviewer (though that’s up for debate) but Jana Richman wishes some of that sensibility bled into his newest novel; and Louis Bayard takes a look at a new book about Henry Willson, decrepit agent to the stars of the 1950s.

G&M: Peter Robinson is wowed by Minette Walters’ latest novel of psychological suspense, THE DEVIL’S FEATHER; Zsuszi Gartner feels much the same way about Julian Barnes’ ARTHUR AND GEORGE, reviewed in a most unusual way here; and Margaret Cannon’s crime column is only one-book deep: a rave for Michael Connelly’s THE LINCOLN LAWYER.

Guardian Review: David Gooblar looks at the literary friendship between Philip Roth & Saul Bellow; Peter Ackroyd shines a light on one of Dickens’ lesser known efforts, BARNABY RUDGE; Lucasta Miller chats with Sebastian Barry, one of the Booker-shortlisted; and Matthew Lewin’s thriller roundup looks at new stuff by Karin Slaughter, Roger Jon Ellory & Joseph Kanon.

Observer: Carole Cadwalladr attended the Tory party convention and came back with a most colorful report; a new biography shows how one young housewife changed things for so many others in the Victorian era; and Robert McCrum wishes the runup to the Booker Prize hadn’t been so damned dull. Where were the fistfights?!

The Times: Ben McIntyre ponders the wonders and failings of absinthe; Jeanette Winterson gets ready to write a new book just as she’s finished touring for the last one; and Marcel Berlins reviews crime offerings from Frances Fyfield, Ed McBain and Luca Di Fulvio.

The Scotsman: David Robinson finds himself deeply moved by Sebastian Barry’s Booker-shortlisted A LONG, LONG WAY; Allan Massie praises P.D. James’ latest work but still manages to get in a few digs at genre writing (for shame); and the new Narnia movie spells big bucks for HarperCollins, the publisher of C.S. Lewis’s bestselling series.

The Rest:

Centuries and Sleuths, one of the Chicago area’s best loved mystery bookshops, celebrates its 15th anniversary next month. The Sun-Times’ Henry Kisor offers up a tribute.

Susanna Yager’s crime fiction column for the Telegraph praises new books by Minette Walters and Mark Burnell.

The Westchester Journal-News catches up with Edward Conlon, who has just begun work on a new novel that will mine similar territory as did his account of working in the NYPD, BLUE BLOOD. Not only does Anthony Bourdain show up to offer a few quotes, but Conlon recommends people read Robert Daley’s TARGET BLUE as “the best novel about the NYPD.”

The same paper talks to Rupert Holmes, author of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (which has been made into a movie getting so-so reviews.)

Walter Mosley talks to the Seattle Times about Easy Rawlins, race relations and his current work-in-progress, a “black erotic novel” with lots of explicit sex.

Hardly anyone does visceral writing like Mary Gaitskill, and as she tells Newsday, her newest novel mines uncomfortable territory as it goes back to the AIDS-crisis days of the 1980s.

For someone who swore off all interviews not that long ago, Zadie Smith just keeps popping up, like in the Boston Globe. So either you want media, or you don’t….?

Speaking of the Globe, James Sallis (whose new novel, DRIVE, just had its paperback rights sold to Harcourt) talks about Lucius Shepherd’s work to frame his thoughts about teaching writing to his students.

John Berendt’s new book brings back lots of the controversy that dogged the previous one — how much of it was fact and how much was fiction? The Houston Chronicle talks to Berendt and gets more scoop.