SITWELL FRIENDS

Fifty years ago, Osbert Sitwell’s autobiography was widely acclaimed “as one of the masterpieces of 20th-century writing in English. Today most of Sitwell’s works, including the autobiography, remain in print, but only in expensive library editions available on special order, and it is doubtful whether many people read them.” Now a new biography. – Boston Globe

TWO OLD PILES OF BONES

On a Canadian TV show John Irving attacks Tom Wolfe: “I can’t read him because he’s such a bad writer,” and dismissed Wolfe’s novels as “yak” and “journalistic hyperbole described as fiction.” Wolfe fires back: “Irving needs to get up off his bottom and leave that farm in Vermont or wherever it is he stays and start living again. It wouldn’t be that hard. Salon

THE UN-E-BOOK

Call them software companies, content-managers or digital distributors, but they all want the same thing: “to fundamentally disrupt the business of book publishing and bookselling — not the writing or editing of books, but everything that happens afterward, or, in New Media- speak, the way it is distributed to, and consumed by, the end-user.” Publisher’s Weekly

THE MOST POPULAR POET IN AMERICA?

His very popularity has provoked one of the odder publishing battles of recent memory. Improbably, a large commercial publisher is battling a small academic press over a literary poet. “It is an argument about money, with a distinct David-and-Goliath plot, but it is also about publishing ethics and the right of an author to determine the direction of his own career.” New York Times

THE FRENCH CENSORS

“It has taken five years for Eric Hobsbawm’s world-acclaimed Age of Extremes to appear in French – even though it has been translated into more than 20 languages. By November, one month after publication, the book was on all the best-selling lists, with 40,000 copies printed. The whole affair has revealed the disquiet and ambiguities that surround intellectual life in France. No-one denied the quality of the work. Nor was it a question of financial considerations. It was Hobsbawm’s ideas that were in question, in particular his unrepentant position on the left.” –  Le Monde Diplomatique