The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Willa Cather's letters are being published next month (never mind that the author of My Antonia was militantly opposed to her letters being made public), and The New York Times has excerpts: "In other matters — things about the office — I can usually do what I set out to do and I can learn by experience, but when it comes to writing I'm a new-born baby every time — always come into it naked and shivery and without any bones. I never learn anything about it at all. I sometimes wonder whether one can possibly be meant to do the thing at which they are more blind and inept and blundering than at anything else in the world." Scholars have long thought Cather was a lesbian and that she guarded her correspondence to keep it a secret. (Joan Acocella famously tried to debunk that theory in The New Yorker in 1995 [paywall protected].)
- Jane Goodall is putting her new book on hold after The Washington Post revealed that some passages were copied from other sources without attribution. Her publisher, Grand Central, said in a statement, "We look forward to publishing Seeds of Hope at a later date."
- Philip Roth talks with NPR's Scott Simon about the joys of napping: "Let me tell you about the nap. It's absolutely fantastic. ... I come back from the swimming pool I go to and I have my lunch and I read the paper and I take this glorious thing called a nap. And then the best part of it is that when you wake up, for the first 15 seconds you have no idea where you are. You're just alive. That's all you know, and it's bliss. It's absolute bliss."
- "Books about the Inquisition and the crusades are a guilty pleasure because I feel guilty reading bad things about the Catholic Church — though it's hard to avoid these days." — Caroline Kennedy on her reading habits, in the Times.
The Best Books Coming Out This Week:
- Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler paints a portrait of Zelda Fitzgerald — the beautiful but notoriously unstable wife of Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald.
- The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout is the latest novel from the author of Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. The book, about a family's reaction to a shocking transgression by one of its members, is a sensitive portrait of a family in crisis.