- Slate's chief political correspondent, John Dickerson, seems dubious about Rebel-in-Chief, Fred Barnes's book on the Bush presidency:
Perhaps with so many books offering cartoon images of Bush as dumb and evil, the shelves need to be balanced out by one that errs in the opposite direction. But Rebel-in-Chief is such a love note that it fails to counteract the negative myths.
- Seattle's The Stranger has an interview with Colin Meloy, lead singer of Portland-based band The Decemberists (whose Picaresque was arguably the best album of 2005) and author of an appreciation of the Replacements' Let It Be for the 33-1/3 series, in which Meloy discusses his literary influences:
When pressed politely, he names Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Thomas Hardy among his favorite classical authors; Julian Barnes ("His latest novel, Arthur & George, is just amazing"), Nick Hornby ("I like him better as an essayist than a novelist"), and George MacDonald Fraser rate high on his list of contemporary writers.
It's probably impossible to listen to "The Mariner's Revenge Song" on Picaresque without hearing echoes of Hardy — and maybe a hint of Melville, too. Incidentally, his sister Maile's next novel, A Family Daughter, is due in February — and has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.
- Mark Schurmann writes in AlterNet, "I've always found literacy and literature outside the mainstream and in the private corners and cracks of society." (Via BookSlut.)
- Today's Morning Editon on NPR had a Seattle librarian's suggestions for rainy-day reading. Titles included Bellwether by Connie Willis; A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell; and The Judgment of Paris by Ross King. The way this winter's been treating Portlanders, we should have enough rainy days to read those books and everything else the authors have ever written...
- One of my favorite mysteries continues unabated: for the 57th year in a row, "a mystery man paid tribute to Edgar Allan Poe by placing roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave to mark his birthday." Happy birthday, Ed. Here's hoping someone doesn't open your casket to find claw marks inside the lid...
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
Books mentioned in this post