Today in books and publishing: 96-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk gets a book deal, deconstructing Amazon's charitable ways, and a non-heartbreaking letter from David Foster Wallace to Don DeLillo.
Herman Wouk Is Back Simon & Schuster will publish a new novel by the 96-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner in the fall. Called The Lawgiver, it's apparently going to be about "a group of people filming a movie in modern times about Moses." We are very excited, because we read
Mutiny on the Bounty The Caine Mutiny for the first time this past weekend and adored it. Really, truly adored it, even though we mistyped the title initially. The ships! The conflict! The mutiny! [The New York Times]
On rereading The Guardian has a great new package in which 15 mainly British authors -- including Ian Rankin and Hilary Mantel -- contribute mini-essays about the texts they keep coming back to. Call it 'What I Re-read.' We're partial to these kind of things, obviously: but the overall effect is excellent, and it's fascinating to hear why Rankin can't quit The Big Sleep, while Geoff Dyer finds himself returning to Don DeLillo's The Names for reasons he can't quite explain. [The Guardian]
Amazon's largesse From the Amazon "Hero or villain?" files comes an extended look at the company's grants in support of writerly groups, causes, and publications, like The Moth, the NY Writers Coalitions, and the PEN American Center. What you think of the company's charitable streak is inevitably going to be influenced by whether you believe Amazon is a nefarious behemoth trying to put hard-working, bestselling authors like Scott Turow in the poorhouse or a fundamentally inoffensive multinational company that's only guilty of bringing down book prices. (We tend to fall in the latter group, because we like cheap books.) [Salon]
"Dear D2" This is just terrific: the folks at Electric Literature have unearthed a postcard David Foster Wallace sent to Don DeLillo in 2002, in which he addresses the Underworld author as "D2" (!!), acknowledges Jonathan Franzen's struggle to write his kinda-boring New Yorker essay about William Gaddis, and also brags about getting a driver's license in California. Other excerpts from the D2-DFW correspondence have been heartbreakingly sad for fans of both authors, but this, this is sunny, optimistic and just about perfect. Click through for the actual, handwritten goodness, but Electric Literature has provided a thorough (and accurate) transcript.
DEAR D2, I AM NOW A LICENSED CA DRIVER, WHICH FROM THE SENSE I GET IS OFFICIAL STATE-CITIZENSHIP IF ANYTHING HERE IS. THERE IS A PALM TREE IN MY BACK YARD THAT’S 11 1/2 FEET AROUND. A BRICK SHITHOUSE OF A PALM TREE. ¶ THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOTE. I HAVE NOT YET READ THE GADDIS, BUT I’M IN CONTACT WITH FRANZEN, WHO’S APPARENTLY BEEN CHARGED THE TASK OF A COMPREHENSIVE GADDIS PIECE BY THE NYer, AND IS ‘STRUGGLING’ WITH IT. ¶ THIS BLOODY MENGENLEHRE BOOK (IT INTIMIDATES ME THAT YOU KNOW THIS TERM) TURNS OUT NOT TO BE DONE — BOTH THE MATH-EDITOR AND THE GENERAL EDITOR WANT REPAIRS — OFTEN THEIR DEMANDS ARE MUTUALLY CONTRADICTORY. I WILL END UP HAVING SPENT 11 MONTHS FULL-TIME ON A PROJECT I’D PLANNED TO KNOCK OFF PART-TIME IN 4. I NEVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER FOURIER SERIES AS LONG AS I LIVE. ¶ I’D LOVE A CHANCE TO EYEBALL YR. NEW NOVEL IF YOU DON’T OBJECT. AND I HOPE VALPARAISO IS IN GOOD HANDS WITH THE TROUPE.