Thursday September 30th, 2010

In the Ether

rogincoverLast year, I pointed to an essay about the work of Gilbert Rogin, who wrote comic fiction that was praised by John Updike and John Cheever, among others. Now, his two novels are being republished, and the New York Observer has an entertaining profile of him: “[I]n the spring of 1980, Mr. Rogin, 50 years old and seemingly at the top of his game, submitted a new short story to Roger Angell, the baseball essayist who was then chief fiction editor at The New Yorker. Mr. Angell passed, telling Mr. Rogin, ‘You’re repeating yourself.’ [. . .] That Mr. Rogin took Mr. Angell’s criticism personally should come as no surprise. Told that the Russians were boycotting the 1984 Olympics, Mr. Rogin carped, ‘Why are they doing this to me?’ ” . . . Ian Crouch takes a look at Ladbrokes’ odds for this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. William Trevor sits at 45-1. Trevor is 82 years old. I hope he has many years left to win the award, but one never knows. I don’t care about awards, generally, but if Trevor never wins it I’ll be kind of ticked off. . . . After a time of rough sailing, Harper’s is showing signs of renewed life. The magazine has hired Zadie Smith to write its monthly New Books column. (She replaces the very good Ben Moser, who will continue writing for Harper’s.) . . . Gay Talese sits down for a substantive interview with James Mustich. . . . On October 5 in Park Slope, as part of the lecture series Adult Education, Jim Hanas will celebrate the release of his short story collection, and various presenters will speak about “The Future of the Book.” . . . The Library of America shares Virginia Woolf’s opinion of Henry James’ conversational skills, and notes 10 recent novels that use James as a fictional character. . . . Mark Athitakis points to a Dale Peck review, originally meant to be published in The Atlantic, praising Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day. . . . Sharmila Sen imagines translations as the wives of original texts: “If fidelity represents a certain kind of stasis, then the beauty of a translation lies in the very promise of infidelities it can inspire.” . . . Last but not least, a belated happy birthday to The Casual Optimist, the smart books/design blog that turned two last week.