Monday, January 15, 2007

Weekend news roundup

There were a fair few articles about books and reading over the weekend worth mentioning here if you missed them.

The Times had an interesting article claiming that Gatsby was based on a prize fighting Welsh boxer and the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was also full of his friends. The theory hinges on the friendship between the boxer and the author and crucial details of a car crash that is replayed in the novel.

The Review section in Saturday’s Guardian had an interesting piece about writing and reading novels by Zadie Smith which includes some interesting thoughts about the responsibility of the writer.

Picking up on the responsibility there is a very interesting reply to a question about research made by Martin Amis in his response to reader's questions in the Independent that you have to applaud for honesty but wonder about whether or not he should have visited the country he wrote about.

How did you research your new novel, The House of Meetings. You have not, I believe, ever been to Russia? OKSANA EVERTS, London

No. I did it by reading (and imagining). The Daily Mail school of criticism would have it that all writers, including Tolstoy and Shakespeare, are sneak thieves and bagsnatchers (see the recent non-scandal, indeed non-story, centred on Ian McEwan). But reading is the other half of writing, or the other third: you write, you read, and you live.

Then finally there are some stirrings on what will become a louder debate this year no doubt about using recycled paper in books. The Independent lists some big authors who are calling for a switch to recycled paper and there will be more calls for action on this because books are a bit of a sitting target for environmental criticism.

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