The things they say … about books

Some things people said about books in newspapers around the world at the weekend.

“Well, I didn’t want to write 600 pages of getting even. I thought I would try to be as understanding as possible to everybody else and as rough as possible on myself. I decided not to varnish stuff.” Salman Rushdie talking to Stuart Jefferies in The Guardian about why he decided to write his memoir, called Joseph Anton, the pseudonym he adopted after the fatwa was taken out against him in 1989. 

 “Today, many towns have no bookshops. If they also have no library, where are children to find books? Is it a surprise that we are always reading horrifying statistics about the number of homes without books? If children don’t discover what books they like, they are unlikely to become life-long readers, and we are therefore heading for a less literate society. Illiteracy leads to lower skills, greater social problems, higher crime rates, and a country less able to prosper in the global jobs market. Cutting libraries is a false economy. They are the best literacy resource that we have. “ Julia Donaldson, author of  The Gruffalo, commenting on far-reaching cuts funding for UK Libraries. 

“I hope men will read this book — not because it will make them less inclined to drool over bizarre, artificially enhanced, porn-star cleavage. But because the dangers that Williams details are not exclusive to women. They threaten our entire species.” M. G. Lord’s reviewing Breasts: Unnatural and Natural History by Florence Williams in the New York Times.

Although Auster has interesting stories to tell, some of them have been told before in greater detail: we learn little here, for example, about the murder of his paternal grandfather by his grandmother, the family secret at the heart of The Invention of Solitude. He seems to struggle to find a way into his material, spending 50 pages describing all the addresses around the world (but mainly in Brooklyn) he has lived in, without managing to dig up any compelling themes or insights. What emerges are two conflicting strands that don’t work well together: first, a positive tale about a journey to artistic and domestic fulfilment; second, an attempt at a dispassionate meditation on ageing and mortality. But it is never clear why Winter Journal had to be written, and the persona that Auster presents in it risks detracting from his mysterious and playful fictions.” Giles Newington writing in the Irish Times about Winter Journal by Paul Auster

“Storymoja is bringing together people who might not go to other festivals, apart from the writers themselves…the young people, the schools. This really is opening another door – I see it as a very strong and empowering thing.”  Poet Imtiaz Dharker in The Independent, talking about the fourth annual StoryMoja Hay Festival cousin offshoot of the highly successful Hay Festival in Britain and set up to promote literacy and cultivate a culture of reading in Kenya.

Almost everything about Kapuscinski is laid bare in this book: his little lies and pardonable embellishments, his career of seductions, his unending desire for celebrity and fame. … the last word on his trajectory must surely belong to his great friend and fellow traveller in the furrows of Third world activism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: ‘Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life and a secret life’.” Nicolas Rothwell reviewing Ryszard Kapuscinski: A Life by Artur Domoslawski in The Weekend Australian.

1 Comment

  1. I rejoice in my Kindle and the sudden cheapness of books then a friend sends me a photo from Paris of the interior of Shakespeare and Co and want to weep.


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