The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
Courtesy of the publisher
- Evie Wyld's novel All the Birds, Singing has won the 2014 Miles Franklin award, Australia's most important literary prize, worth 60,000 Australian dollars. This is Wyld's third major win in a period of two weeks – the book also won the £10,000 Encore award and was one of eight winners of the £5,000 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered prize. In All the Birds, Singing, a girl named Jake tends sheep on a cold, windy British island. Something or someone begins killing off her sheep, one by one. It's a grimly beautiful book with a strong sense of the animal world: crows that "roost in trees like unopened buds," a dead sheep "mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapors rising from her like a steamed pudding." (I reviewed the book earlier this year.) Wyld told The Guardian that the prize will give her room to write her next book, adding, "We're really, really lucky in that we get to do for a living the thing that we want to do most in the world, but it doesn't make a lot of money."
- Radio Open Source found an old interview with David Foster Wallace in the WBUR archives. It's from 1996, when Wallace was, in the words of host Christopher Lydon, living on the cusp between "cultish obscurity" and "international artistic celebrity, perhaps even immortality." In the interview, Wallace said, "I think somehow the culture has taught us or we've allowed the culture to teach us that the point of living is to get as much as you can and experience as much pleasure as you can, and that the implicit promise is that will make you happy. I know that's almost offensively simplistic, but the effects of it aren't simplistic at all."
- "Reading Middlemarch in Rome when I was 20 was a transformative experience for me. That feeling of being unequal to antiquity — no one has ever described it so well as Eliot." Author David Leavitt talks to The New York Times about his favorite books.
- In an effort to protect small retailers, French lawmakers have passed a bill that will keep Amazon and other major retailers from offering free shipping on discounted books. France's lower house of parliament has already signed off on the measure and the Senate passed it on Thursday. The bill now goes to President Francois Hollande, who Agence France-Presse reports is expected to sign it into law. Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti says the bill shows "the nation's deep attachment to books."
- In what is either deadly serious cultural criticism or a superb parody of it, David Trotter reviews Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator in the London Review of Books: "No wonder that the closest high-end TV drama has come to Sartrean nausea is the moment in Mad Men when a pair of elevator doors mysteriously parts in front of troubled genius Don Draper, who is left peering in astonishment down into a mechanical abyss. The cables coiling and uncoiling in the shaft stand in for the root of Roquentin's chestnut tree." Indeed.