Another week flies by and the height of my to-read stack has diminished by a barely perceptible one. Before I talk about that, let’s do a quick news round up. Posthumous honors granted to Roberto Bolano continue unabated as 2666 wins the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Other awards granted include Patrick French’s authorized no-punches-pulled biography of V. S. Naipaul and the Nora Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing going to the deserving Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Meanwhile over at the Guardian, two articles worth checking out are Alison Flood’s query about whether we judge the quality of a book dependent on the sex of the author (yes, I fear we do), and Sam Jordison’s contention that Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald should never have won the 1978 Booker. Again, despite being an Fitzgerald groupie, I have to agree – Offshore is not one of her best.
“Nor did the world need me cloned. And I don’t regard my two small grandsons as ego-stuffers or an apparatus for immortality. They will exercise their ingenuity under conditions beyond what we can accurately imagine and with mores under siege. Besides an undue focus on one’s own ancestors or descendants is unseemly if it demeans the poignancy marbled nearly everywhere….” Such a wise view of the current obsession with fertility treatment and the wanting, (the demanding) of the right to be able to produce multiple mini-me’s.