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January 19, 2009 Leave a comment
Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

I’ve posted many times recently about the Naipaul biography I finished two Saturdays ago, and then a couple of days ago about the book on Vietnam and McGeorge Bundy. I’m in the midst of three other non-fiction books: the history of the Byzantine Empire that I’ve also written about, the recent bestseller on traffic that I started just after Christmas, and a short book about the history of Daylight Saving Time that Joel read when he was home and left for me. But I decided it’s time for some fiction. Which leads me to an aside.

One of the larger figures in the Naipaul biography was his longtime editor Diana Athill, now 91. By chance, just last week her second memoir, Somewhere Towards the End, was reviewed in the NYT. Having edited Updike, Mailer and many others as well as Naipaul, Athill knows a thing or two about fiction. Yet, when I read the review, I was stopped by this passage:

I was surprised that this longtime fiction editor has declared that she has “gone off novels.”

Why? She no longer feels the need to parse the intricacies of human relationships and love affairs, “but I do still want to be fed facts, to be given material which extends the region in which my mind can wander.”

I’m not there yet. I think I’m not anyway, but then again, I haven’t read a novel in months. What I have read, this morning, is
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Categories: Books, Film, Television