The First Weekend Update of 2009

NYTBR: Caleb Crain looks at radical Marxist literature for children; Jacob Heilbrunn on a spate of books and films that romanticize or embellish on the horror of the Holocaust; Matt Ruff digs Josh Bazell’s pacy debut BEAT THE REAPER; Robin Finn visits Nelson DeMille’s sprawling Long Island estate; and Marilyn Stasio’s first column of the year looks at new mysteries and thrillers by Jo Nesbo, Thomas Perry and Laura Benedict, as well as reissued work by Earl Derr Biggers and Claire Taschdjian. And I agree: publishers, especially small presses, are exceptionally smart these days about what books to bring back, but there are always more to reprint!

WaPo Book World: Ron Charles has a good time reading BEAT THE REAPER; Stephen Amidon gets caught up in the political shenanigans Leonard Downie depicts in THE RULES OF THE GAME; and Peter Moskos looks at a compendium of cop oral histories collected by the late Hugh Holton.

LAT: Susan Salter Reynolds travels to Boston to meet Jayne Anne Phillips; Sonja Bolle wonders why there are so many chickens in children’s literature; and Paula Woods looks to apply Catherine Blyth’s rules on THE ART OF CONVERSATION.

G&M: The brand-spankin’ new books site is here! Go check it out.

Guardian Review: Stephen Frears remembers working with Donald Westlake; John Mullan on ten of the best butlers in literature; Andrew O’Hagan wonders whether English novelists will accept their fair share of responsibility; Edmund White looks at how Rimbaud “liberated” Verlaine to write more poetry; and Mark Lawson is enthralled by THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, but saying Elisabeth Salander is “hot for anything” totally and utterly misses the boat.

Observer: William Skidelsky jumps on the 2666 bandwagon; Andrew Anthony considers the fatwa against Salman Rushdie twenty years later; Kamila Shamsie cannot praise Tobias Hill’s new novel of terror highly enough; and Robert McCrum wonders whether we’ll be released from Hitler “and his band of psychopaths.”

The Times: Joan Smith adores THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson; Stephen Amidon has much the same reaction to Roberto Bolano’s magnum opus, as does Leo Robson; Leslie Klinger explains the enduring appeal of DRACULA and vampires; and David Baddiel writes his first – and final – column of 2009, and thus for the paper.

The Scotsman: Gerald Kaufman reviews new crime novels by Alison Bruce, Sebastian Fitzek, Louise Penny and Jean-Francois Parot; David Leask sounds like reviewing the new Grisham made him inordinately cranky; and Lee Randall meets children’s book doyenne Vivian French.

The Rest:

More appreciations of Donald Westlake roll in from Otto Penzler, Bill Kristol, Charles Ardai (at TIME), Don Fogelman and many others as collected by Cameron Hughes.(II)

The St. Petersburg Times attends the Writers in Paradise retreat and hears from the keynote speaker, Stewart O’Nan.

Declan Burke previews what’s to come from Irish crime fiction in 2009 for the Irish Independent.

Peter Craven examines the body of work of Australia’s recently departed and beloved contemporary poet Dorothy Porter.

The Chicago Sun-Times chats with Blue Balliett, author of bestselling novels for children like CHASING VERMEER.

UK scriptwriter Matthew Hall explains to the Independent why he left his career behind to write THE CORONER as MR Hall.

At the WSJ, Jeff Trachtenberg quizzes Bernhard Schlink on the film adaptation of THE READER and Lauren Mechling talks to Janice Y.K. Lee on her critically acclaimed debut THE PIANO TEACHER.

Alix Lambert delves into her collection of interviews with notable authors, filmmakers walking the mean streets of CRIME with Film Threat.

The Baratz-Logsted family of writers – Lauren, Greg and Jackie – [are profiled at the Danbury Times about their collaborative children’s

book series]44 THE SISTERS EIGHT.

So Winnie the Pooh will have a sequel, which would be sacriligious but come on, Disney’s been mining that well for eons.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin looks at the recent reissues of the first two Charlie Chan novels by Ear Derr Biggers. 

And finally, the State Department has a great big email fail.