The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

Finally, a lit post: The year of publishing that will deliver us from our misery. Maybe.

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C. Max Magee, who edits the superb website The Millions, previews the year to come in fiction. And frankly, it looks promising, or at least very eventful.

Will 2010 live up to the hype? Hard to say. Skimming through the titles month by month, I note three trends:

  • The Year of the Highly Anticipated Follow-up. Among the novelists to be scrutinized after (relatively) long lapses between novels include Jonathan Franzen and Yann Martel (whose last big book I fully enjoyed, so sue me!). Joshua Ferris presents his sophomore opus after wowing the critics with his debut in ’07. And John Banville is back from his crime-dabbling Benjamin Black alias and writing as his unequivocal self again.
  • The Year of the Posthumous Release. No act of upsetting bones and ashes could top the ongoing drama that was The Original of Laura. Still, 2010 is looking good for writers beyond the grave. Speaking of anticipated follow-ups, we begin with Ralph Ellison’s never-quite-finished second novel (and this WaPo article on the editorial cobbling-together is way worth reading). There’s also a “discovered” novel by Henry Roth, as well as the possibility of that last hobbling giant that David Foster Wallace recorded before doing himself in. And it looks like Roberto Bolaño is in good company with Charles Bukowski on not letting death get in the way of publishing–although if he really wanted to fool us, he would have his translators space his titles out a couple of years.
  • The Year of Nobel Laureates Publishing Their Blogs in Book Form. OK, no, not a real trend yet–but if Jose Saramago can do it, why can’t Doris Lessing or Orhan Pamuk? Call this a victory for the ancient, reputedly dying print medium–or for the need for a translation of Saramago’s Portuguese-only website. The fact that he calls his blog ‘O Caderno‘ (The Notebook) only adds further to the Jenga-like stack of ironies here.

While you’re in the midst of catching up on all the classics, recent and not so recent (I’m finally getting to Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex–hey, where’s his follow-up?), take heed of the coming months. Best wishes for happy page-flipping and arguing at all the coffee-table discussions to come.

(Thanks to Maud Newton for the link. Muito obrigado.)

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Written by cwmote

January 7, 2010 at 11:17 pm

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