The Finely Calibrated Weekend Update

NYTBR: Let’s start off with Rachel Donadio’s rather witless, poorly-thought-out, boring essay on literary feuds. Oh, where shall I begin? The fact that this piece has been done before, but much better and much funnier? That A.J. Jacobs v. Joe Queenan wasn’t mentioned, possibly because by doing so then Joe might get mad and not want to write for the Book Review anymore? When there was no mention of Dale Peck & Stanley Crouch? That Salman Rushdie’s comments directed at John Updike cannot possibly be called a “feudlet” when Updike didn’t respond publicly? That if the blogosphere is dismissed out of hand with “web feuds devolve into baroque strings of sub-literate name-calling,” there’s no hint of supporting evidence (and I’m sorry, but “edited for space” is a lame excuse that won’t cut it.) I mean, for crying out loud, I just rewrote the essay right here, with more recent and appropriate content.   

So if this is the start of a literary feud, awesome – your move, Ms. Donadio! (Although it is pretty surreal to produce more of a takedown piece than Ed did. Who knew?)

Otherwise, Natalie Moore puts Ian Rankin’s pseudonymous BLEEDING HEARTS in career perspective, Andrey Slivka takes issue with Paco Taibo’s partnering with Subcommandante Marcos, the literary scene is informed by  Alice Denham’s tell-all and an account of the Downtown scene of the 70s and 80s, and John Waters waxes eloquent about Tennessee Williams.

WaPo Book World: Jonathan Yardley looks at the work and life of David Lean, a filmmaker who loved big, sprawling movies that sometimes got away from him; Steven Moore applauds Thomas Pynchon for doing, well, what Pynchon does best; Kevin Allman likes how Harry Bosch is aging “like fine scotch” in ECHO PARK; and Tom Perrotta can’t help but think that reality hurt Harry Shearer’s fictional attempt at political satire.

G&M: Andrew Pyper is fascinated by Stef Penney’s exploration of 19th century Georgian Bay; Natasha Cooper is unsettled by Ruth Rendell’s latest, THE WATER’S LOVELY; T.R. Rigelhof catches up with the latest installments of Canongate’s MYTHS series; and Michael Greenstein welcomes the English edition of Chava Rosenfarb’s mammoth Lodz Ghetto novel.

Guardian Review: By writing about formidable literary figures, Claire Tomalin has become one in her own right; Don Juan gets another recasting thanks to Patrick Marber; and OMG, Ian Rankin’s wife is a Pynchon Widow! Or at least, she’s about to be, if he’s got his copy of AGAINST THE DAY yet…

Observer: Robert Pirsig talks to Tim Adams about Zen, motorcycle maintenance and the death of his son; Jason Cowley wonders if a Hannibal Lecter prequel is really worth the trouble; Marilyn Johnson mines the Dead Beat with pleasurable results; and Alex Clark re-examines the reissue of Christopher Priest’s THE PRESTIGE, published 10 years before the Christopher Nolan movie based upon it.

The Times: It’s the Christmas Special edition, so it’s all “Best of” and gift books. Erica Wagner rounds up the best in fiction; Peter Millar does the same with thrillers; and all the other holiday guides can be found here. Otherwise, Bryan Appleyard wonders why so man obsess about literary gossip – hmm, I know, because it’s fun!

The Scotsman: Zachary Leader’s new biography shows the complexities of Kingsley Amis’s life; Tom Adair finds Gilbert Adair (no relation) exploring “a time machine full of pleasures” in THE ACT OF ROGER MURGATROYD; and Alistair Findlay reveals what’s on his bedside table.

The Rest:

Pynchon Pynchon Pynchon! It’s all about the man this week, as AGAINST THE DAY prepares to land in bookstores on Tuesday. Aside from the WaPo review already linked, Christopher Sorrentino gives it a go for the LA Times, as does Scott McLemee for Newsday, Mark Feeney for the Boston Globe, Carlin Romano for the Philly Inquirer, and John Freeman does the same for the Seattle Times. And Newsweek’s Malcolm Jones does a smart thing: he reviews the book on the installment plan. Reviews from earlier in the week included Adam Kirsch at the NY Sun and Peter Keough at the Boston Phoenix. And if I forgot any, The Complete Review will list ’em all.

Oline Cogdill can’t quite classify Carl Hiassen’s latest novel, but appreciates the satire and its exploration of why people are so nasty to each other.

David Montgomery reviews new crime fiction titles by Michael Connelly, Julie Hyzy, Michael Black, Jan Burke and Julia Spencer-Fleming.

Jack Batten’s Whodunnit column at the Toronto Star focuses on Arnaldur Indridason’s SILENCE OF THE GRAVE.

At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Michele Ross rounds up new mysteries by Michael Connelly, Mitchell Bartoy, Michelle Spring, John Mortimer and Barry Maitland.

Mark Sarvas has a great time with Scarlett Thomas’s THE END OF MR. Y, a book I’m just about to crack open soon.

Aileen Reed at the Telegraph declares Ian Rankin’s THE NAMING OF THE DEAD “The best crime novel you’ll read this year.”

Keith Raffel explains to the San Jose Mercury why the dot-com world was a perfect place to set a mystery.

In 2005, two Random House editorial assistants decided to put a contest together to assemble content for an essay collection. Now the result is available in bookstores, and Ben Goldenberger at the Chicago Sun-Times delivers the verdict.

And finally, Dave White explains why you should see CASINO ROYALE. Because it’s awesome, it looks fantastic, and Daniel Craig inhabits Bond that owes much to Connery but is all his own.