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Showing posts from January, 2015

On the joys of the writerly memoir

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"Reality, as Nabokov never got tired of reminding us, is the one word that is meaningless without quotation marks."

Was Pippa Middleton the beginning of the end?


Penguin would have thought it a sure-fire win. An in-law of the royals (and not just any in-law, but the one the press nicknamed "Her Hotness" when she burst onto the scene at her sister's wedding to the second in line) imparts the secret of -- not curing the King's Evil, no, something much more 'of our time': brilliant parties year round.

They handed Pippa a £400,000 advance, and she handed them Celebrate: a year of British festivities for family and friends. And it flopped! Only 2000 copies sold in its first week. In a nation of 65 million people! Plus the Commonwealth!

It wasn't the first celebrity title to flop -- earlier, a book by Alec Baldwin on fatherhood failed even more spectacularly, not surprisingly, I think you'll agree -- but maybe because of the personality in questio…

"Do I dare to eat a peach?" T.S. Eliot lives!

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Starting the new year with a bang and not a whimper, here's to T.S. Eliot! This week marks the 50th anniversary of Eliot's death in 1965; he lived to see the Beatles' first LP, but not a man on the moon. He also lived to see himself an esteemed figure, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he accepted, he said in his speech, "not on my own merits, but as a symbol, for a time, of the significance of poetry". Of course, that "for a time" was excessively modest, as is demonstrated by the flurry of activity the anniversary is engendering: readings, productions, broadcasts, a Mass or two, a social media shout-out with his own hashtag of #TSEliot, and more.

In a prime example, actor Stephen Dillane, who is described by the event organisers -- and here's where we see what 50 years mean -- with pride rather than offhandedness as "well known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", will read Four Quart…