Misanthrope wins the Goncourt, and other links

Time has been sprinting in the opposite direction from me, yet again, and I haven’t been updating this as often as I want. Here’s a quick and lazy links-fest, in place of my more considered, crafted essays …

Professional Gallic misanthrope Michel Houellebecq wins the Goncourt pour le premier temps (apologies for the appalling French) – reported all over the place, but here’s a link to The Bookseller. Normally I would say I was a “fan”, or an “admirer”, but neither word feels entirely appropriate with MH. I’ve read everything he’s done (translated into English of course), and as soon as the new book is available on this side of the Channel I’ll read and report. He appals and enthrals in equal measure; certainly not the kind of writer you can be indifferent to.

The great Christopher Hitchens is seriously ill at the moment with oesophageal cancer, but the disease has not so far spread to his indomitable spirit. This excellent interview in the Observer is worth a read, although as my good friend David pointed out, we could really do with hearing everything else the interviewer skates over in a mere paragraph at the end. (I think the Hitch looks oddly elegant in the photograph too.)

Yet another article about digital publishing and the potential decline of the printed book, but as this one is in Prospect Magazine, it has more philosophical heft to it. Of particular interest is an analysis of the way digital publishing taps into the “tyranny of choice”, and a publishing model where the audience is expected to do the selecting on behalf of the industry, rather than the other way around.

The new issue of The Scottish Review of Books came out on Saturday. I’m not actually in it this month, but here’s a link to the website. As ever, an excellent read.

I’m still on “Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto” by Maile Chapman, part of the ongoing GFBA longlist read. I’m really behind on this – the book is very good so far, but I haven’t had the time to dedicate myself to it. I’ll try and finish it this week.

Finally, I and my friend Martin are no further forward on our idea to start a literary journal, but we had a fruitful exchange of emails and ideas and think we might have something to work with. We need to meet up and brainstorm this thing, get some blue sky thinking around it, so that we’re on the same page to action our challenges … moving forward. More as it happens.


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