Maud is preparing to reread one of my favorite novels. Tender is the Night and has a little post on it up at her site. I first read this book for a class on Fitzgerald six years ago and reread it three years ago. I don’t think I have read a better book about someone breaking apart, in which causality and motivation no longer make sense to the reader with wonderful and unsettling effects.
I’m looking for reviews of panel discussions from last weekend’s Los Angeles Festival of Books. If anyone has some, please send them over.
I read Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love this week and absolutely loved it. It may be my favorite book published this year. That the TODAY show selected the novel for its book club probably precludes me from recommending it anymore. Nevertheless, here are links to a couple reviews in The Village Voice and the New York Times.
Jonathan Safran Foer was on KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny on April 18. Here’s a link to the show archive page on which you can listen to the interview in Real Audio format.
My friend Casey and I saw Kazuo Ishiguro speak at Kepler’s on Monday. He read the first chapter from his new novel, Never Let Me Go, and then took some questions from the audience. Unfortunately, I disproportionate number of the questions asked about his writing process. Questions on craft, when asked at readings, tend to produce interminably boring answers. Ishiguro did, however, note an interesting aspect of his work, which is that setting is usually the last element that he comes up with in his novels. He can have an entire novel ready to put down on the page and still be missing a setting for it.
Other comments from Ishiguro:
He no longer writes about Japan or the Japanese because when he did, he was sort of annointed Britain’s expert on all things Japanese, which seemed to him a limiting and burdening label that was also terribly inappropriate.
The Unconsoled apparently enjoys some sort of strange popularity in the Bay Area. He said that it’s the only bok people seem to be interested in at his book readings.
The eight F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference begins tomorrow at Hofstra University in New York. As a huge Fitzgerald fan, I wish I could be there. The focus this year is on Fitzgerald’s time out on Long Island, where he conceived and wrote much of The Great Gatsby. (Because of the conference’s location and subject, it even got some nice coverage in the Times.) Fitzgerald lived at 6 Gateway Drive in Great Neck—a house that became the model for Nick Carraway’s West Egg bungalow in Gatsby. I visited New York for the first time when I was 17 and this was the one place that I had to check out. So, I took the LIRR out to Great Neck, and walked out to the house. At the time it was undergoing some rather extensive remodeling. Last May before I moved out of New York, I made it a point to go out to Great Neck again to see the house. Here is how it looked in 2004:
The San Francisco Chronicle ran a rather long story about Wilsey’s book, focusing on its high society subject matter—Is this part true? Is that true?—which, unfortunately, discounts Wilsey’s writing and storytelling abilities—both top-notch.
Also, check out Ian McEwan’s appreciation of Bellow in the Times.
I flew out to Boston on Wednesday and returned to San Francisco on Thursday. I stayed across the street from the Citgo sign at the Hotel Commonwealth. In a perfect touch, a picture of the ’41 Red Sox hovered above the desk in my room, which also contained a copy of Roger Angell’s Game Time. Of course, there was the inevitable book shopping. I checked out Trident on Newbury Street along with the Harvard Bookstore and the COOP in Harvard Square. Unfortunately, it appears that Wordsworth on Brattle Street shut down back in October; another death comes to the independent bookstore, although their children’s bookstore is still around. Anyway, I picked up Alberto Moravia’s Boredom, Gerald Edelman’s Wider Than Sky, and the second issue of n+1. Boredom is excellent and funny and sometimes ridiuculous through 75 pages so far.