A variety of 2004-previews (of what's going to be published) have been appearing.
Odds and ends of interest, though our eyes tend to glaze over in reading these sorts of things -- so, for example, when perusing Christina Patterson's Preview of 2004: Fiction in The Independent (26 December), which begins with quite a few books long available in the US.
A bit more interesting: "Suzi Feay casts a jaundiced eye over the publishers' catalogues" in When the proof is in the padding (The Independent, 28 December) -- though the eye doesn't seem very jaundiced to us: "More frequently the hype is justified", she finds.
(Hype justified ?
She must be kidding.)
Of antipodean interest: Jane Sullivan "reports on what books might be tempting us in 2004" in 2004: The first chapter (The Age, 27 December) -- not that we'll see a lot of these titles in the US or UK.
As previously reported at the Elegant Variation, the story recent Nobel laureate J.M.Coetzee read 20 November at the New York Public Library as the Robert B. Silvers Lecture, As a Woman Grows Older, is printed, appropriately enough, in the current issue (15 January 2004) of the periodical edited by Robert B. Silvers, The New York Review of Books (and is currently available online).
Callously and utterly indifferent to our overworked and underpaid staff and their claims of other obligations (what could be more important ?) we usually plough constantly ahead, come rain or shine, updating the site steadily through weekends and holidays and everything else (bar the occasional regional blackout and similar technical complications).
Unfortunately, the Christmas season defeats even us -- we just can't keep the lazy bums at it.
So it is with heads bowed in great shame that we must apologise for not providing you with any new information, updates, or links for the next week or so.
Expect the return of regular posting to the Literary Saloon (and new reviews, and updates to the old) around 31 December.
In the meantime: season's greetings, merry merry, etc., etc.
May your Christmases see you receive many fine books, and here's hoping you find time to read some !
Alex Good (of goodreports-fame) organised an end-of-year panel, getting together a few people from a variety of literary sites and weblogs to comment on the year that was.
Participants were: Alex Good, Maud Newton, Bookslut-Jessa Crispin, prolific interviewer Robert Birnbaum (who also chronicles a reader's progress), and some guy from the complete review.
The full transcript is now available here (or also at goodreports.net, here).
Over 1100 titles under review, of which a large percentage was originally written in foreign languages -- but not a single title under review at the complete review was originally written in Arabic.
Until now, that is.
We've finally gotten around to tackling some Arabic fiction, and unimaginatively chose the only Arab Nobel literature laureate, Naguib Mahfouz.
Not a bad choice, it seems -- and we did at least go straight for the magnum opus, The Cairo Trilogy, consisting of:
In today's issue of The Observer, Robert McCrum profiles young British publisher Short Books (and founders Aurea Carpenter and Rebecca Nicolson) in Short and sweet.
We're fans of the semi-diminutive publisher (and have a couple of their titles under review, notably Gregory Dart's Unrequited Love and Thomas Munch-Petersen's Fatal Error).
The forthcoming title we're most interested in ?
No question: Gilbert Adair does Michael Jackson (the spring catalogue promises the subtitle: "or the Melancholy of Anatomy", while the Amazon.co.uk page (where you can pre-order the book) says it's: "the Anatomy of Disfigurement"), due out in April.