The Lazy Woman’s Weekend Update

Although as far as I’m concerned, I have a pretty damn good excuse to be lazy…

NYTBR: Jonathan Lethem writes about one of his favorite authors, Italo Calvino, on the 20th anniversary of his death; Mary Mapes might think she was in the right, but Jonathan Alter has other ideas; and Peter Guralnick strikes again with the music superbiography, this time with gospel/R&B master Sam Cooke.

WaPo Book World: Thomas Hayden reviews a couple of books about great scientific discoveries and the folks responsible for them; Walter Mosley supplies his own brand of writing advice, concentrating on the importance of poetry and politics; and Michael Dirda questions the wisdom of a critic writing fiction (even though let’s face it, a hell of a lot of us want to do it, and do it well.)

G&M: W.O. Mitchell’s kids have completed their biography of the CanLit legend, to favorable mention; Martin Levin reveals his obsession with lists (something I share very much); and Jason Anderson’s debut novel sounds really cool – but maybe because Lenny Bruces is in it…

Guardian Review: Philip Pullman, Monica Ali, Salman Rushdie and Philip Hensher consider the ramifications of potential anti-hate legislature in Britain on literature; Nadine Gordimer supplies an original short story for the Review; James Campbell appreciates Hilary Mantel so much he compares her to Muriel Spark and Graham Greene; and Matthew Lewin rounds up new thrillers by Olen Steinhauer, Jonathan Kellerman, Robin Cook and Ben Elton (who tried his hand at historical thrillers? WTF?)

Observer: Koren Zailckas wonders how Britain’s new liquor licensing laws will affect binge-drinking (my answer: people will do it whenever they want and not have to worry to get it all in by 11); Benjamin Kunkel takes his slacker-lit approach to Britain; and Carl Wilkinson wonders about the whole Christmas Book trend.

The Times: Lin Anderson continues to ride the buzz wave with this lengthy interview about her Rhona MacLeod novels’ Simon Jenkins finds Christopher Meyer’s much-hyped DC Confidential to be “highly readable”; I know Martin Davies’ THE CONJURER’S BIRD is supposed to be excellent, but it sure ain’t his first novel; and I love how Bill Scott-Kerr is presented as “the man behind the DA VINCI CODE” when all he did was buy it from Jason Kaufman (or Dan Brown’s agent, Heidi Lange, but I admit I’m too lazy at the moment to look up who did what deal…)

The Scotsman: It’s all Truman Capote, all the time, and David Randall adds his $0.02 on the author; Michael Dobbs turns his hand to fictionalizing Winston Churchill and succeeds, for the most part; and who knew? Jane Urqhuart has a new novel, and evidently it leaves Katie Gould seriously wanting.

The Rest:

David Ulin wonders, with the upcoming book by a dead character from LOST, if real life is just a template for fiction (or for marketing whims.)

The Independent’s Christina Patterson uses the Creasey Award-winning RUNNING HOT by Dreda Say Mitchell as a way to comment about how crime fiction excels most when it’s dealing with stark realities, not plot-driven fantasies.

At the New England Crime Bake, held last weekend, Brendan DuBois was the recipient of the first annual Al Blanchard award for best short story, a way to commemorate the former New England MWA chapter president’s contributions to the genre. The Boston Globe has a brief roundup of the writing conference as well.

David Montgomery’s Sun-Times column features new releases by Greg Rucka, Patricia Smiley, Elizabeth Becka, Mark Gimenez and John Lutz.

Oline Cogdill plays catch-up with her new column, looking at crime novels by John Connolly, Lori Avocato as well as the non-fiction tome L.A. NOIR.

Laura Lippman reviews Amy Tan’s SAVING FISH FROM DROWNING for the Baltimore Sun, commenting on the blurring of truth and fiction.

SF Chronicle’s David Lazarus offers his gift ideas for mystery fiction lovers for the holidays, a selection that is plentiful and very good.

With the National Book Award under her belt, Joan Didion talks to the Seattle Times about the book in question, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING.

Why was Heather Rose’s new novel inspired by Lord Lucan? That’s what the Sydney Morning Herald’s Daphne Guinness wants to find out.

The London solicitor who caused some sort of storm by publishing a racy tell-all under a pseudonym has quit his lawyering job. What he’ll do next remains to be seen, but probably writing another book might be in the cards.

Maggie Nelson is a poet who decided to write a long-form work about her aunt’s unsolved murder. But just as the book was going to the printer, the case was solved — and she tells the Boston Globe about the impact upon her.

And finally, another day, another article on the Daggers brouhaha. This time, let’s start speculation on who the “mystery guest” was at the Dagger Lunch who will be the big sponsor for next year. Can we say Tesco, boys and girls?

UPDATE: And finally, finally, hey, I said I was lazy…but since the mistake link was, indeed, hilarious, I’ve kept it right here.