Sunday, May 25, 2008

John Updike on Literary Biography

John Updike on why we read literary biographies:

We read, those of us who do, literary biographies for a variety of reasons, of which the first and perhaps the most worthy is the desire to prolong and extend our intimacy with the author—to partake again, from another angle, of the joys we have experienced within the author's oeuvre, in the presence of a voice and mind we have come to love.

From John Updike, "On Literary Biography" in Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism (Random House, 2007).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

An Unintentional Hiatus

I didn't intend to take a three-week break from blogging. But a number of academic deadlines converged (a conference paper and two book chapters), and while I worked madly to meet them I found myself bereft of energy for anything else, at least anything else that involved sitting at the computer and writing. I don't feel too badly about not posting here. For, of course, there are plenty of fine blogs where you can get your fix of book talk regardless of whether or not there's anything going on here. But I do feel that I've rather let the side down where the various reading groups and challenges that I run are concerned. Here's a quick update on each of those:

A Curious Singularity: Regular participants will have noted that no new short story discussion commenced in May. I'm just going to let that slide and turn my attention to June. To that end, please send me your nominations for our June short story and I'll compile a slate of them for us to vote on in short order.

The Short Story Reading Challenge: Over the last month several people commented or emailed requesting to join the challenge and I was very slow to respond. I think I've caught up with all of the requests now though. If you expressed an interest and didn't receive an invitation to join the challenge blog, let me know and I'll rectify the oversight. We're up to 75 participants now who have collectively posted 118 reviews of short stories or short story collections since the beginning of the year. Not a bad show of interest in a genre that we're forever being told is dead or dying! Thanks to all those posts, I've been introduced to a number of authors and collections that I hadn't come across before and I'm very grateful.

Blogging Anne of Green Gables: Our group read of Anne of Green Gables, in honour of the 100th anniversary of its publication, is scheduled to begin on June 1st. I've sent out invitations to join the Anne blog to the eighteen people who have so far expressed an interest in participating. Again, though, if you ought to have received an invite and didn't, let me know and I'll send you another (and please make sure to provide me with a working email address for this purpose). And of course there's plenty of time to sign on even if you haven't yet communicated your interest. Just let me know. I'm looking forward to reading a multitude of different perspectives on this enduring classic.

A Modest Poetry Challenge: Several brave souls took up my April challenge, writing one or more critical posts about poets, poems, or poetry collections during National Poetry Month. Before the end of May, I will post a proper roundup linking to all of those very thoughtful and interesting posts and then I'll perform the promised book draw.

I think that's me all caught up in the blogging realm. Hopefully now I'll be resuming regular posts here. I've missed sharing my reading with you!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A.L. Kennedy on King Lear

A.L. Kennedy on King Lear:

Shakespeare's King Lear is magnificent, appalling, soaring, banal, cruel, tender, funny and complex; the virtuous are punished, justice is rarely served (and lawyers are unloved). Its scope is so demanding that it's virtually impossible to stage and its end is simply shattering—in other words, it's very much like life.

To read the rest of the article, the latest in the Globe and Mail's 50 Greatest Books series, click here.