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Book News: Alice Munro, Author Of Pensive Short Stories, May Retire

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Canadian author Alice Munro says her writing days may be over. In an interview after winning the Trillium Book Award, Munro told the National Post that she was glad to get the award because she's "probably not going to write anymore. And, so, it's nice to go out with a bang." She continued, "Not that I didn't love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way. And perhaps, when you're my age, you don't wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be." This comes as a surprise from a writer who has often expressed horror at the idea of not working. Munro said in a 1994 Paris Review interview that it would represent "the beast that's lurking in the closet in old age — the loss of the feeling that things are worth doing." Asked what she would tell her disappointed readers, she responded, "Well, tell them to go read the old ones over again. There's lots of them."
  • In a letter posted on her blog, the Australian novelist Kathryn Heyman responds to a subscription renewal notice she received from The London Review of Books. She writes, "I had planned a simple, quiet lapse, but as you have raised the question, let me assure you that I have not forgotten to renew. Indeed, I would dearly love to renew my subscription, however, based on the tedious regularity with which you ignore female writers and female reviewers, I have to assume that my lady-money is quite simply not welcome in the man-cave of LRB."
  • The Apple ebook price-fixing trial is expected to wrap up Thursday with closing arguments from both sides. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who prior to the trial said she thought the government would be able to prove Apple "knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books," acknowledged Wednesday that "the issues have somewhat shifted during the course of the trial." It could take weeks or months for the final verdict to be announced.
  • For NPR Books, Lidia Jean Kott explores James Salter's creepy habit of comparing women to food: "In Salter, the women are experiences, storefronts, meals, but never people."
  • Kelsey Osgood describes the unique horror of Franz Kafka's stories: "It's easy to brush aside traditional fairy tales and their modern retellings because we have lost our belief in the overtly fabulous, but what Kafka describes becomes more frightening to us as we age. We are sure, as mature people with 401(k)s and digital subscriptions to the Times, that we will never be stalked by an amorous, sparkly vampire, but we are not sure that we won't be charged and prosecuted for a crime we aren't even sure we committed...In this way — not the bloody, but the banal — Kafka's work becomes more spooky than the original Brothers Grimm, in which Snow White's evil queen is forced to dance to death in scalding iron shoes."
  • Kim Thompson, one of the publishers of the alternative comic book publisher Fantagraphics, has died at age 56, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer. A major figure in the world of comics, he edited some of the world's most famous cartoonists. He was also famously crotchety — asked in a 2008 interview what he found exciting about his job, he responded, "There is always some new cartoonist, or some new work by an cartoonist, on the horizon to snap me out of my depressed torpor. And we've got such a great bunch of people working for us now here in the office ... that's energizing. That said, I wish I didn't have to answer this on a goddamn Monday morning."
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