Received my first book from Open Letter Books (I have a subscription to their catalog, which is a fantastic deal, by the way) yesterday – The Golden Calf, a Russian classic by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov. This book looks absolutely excellent and downright hilarious. The From the Authors bit at the very beginning of the book is already funny and I can’t wait to read this novel. Hooray for Open Letter Books and the fantastic translated fiction they are bringing to English-speaking readers.

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Anyone else wondering whether the literary world is about to be flooded with unpublished JD Salinger fiction? Apparently, he never stopped writing…

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I started reading Siri Hustvedt’s The Sorrows of an American. First, I was completely shocked to learn on page 6 that the narrator is a man. I hate it when this happens. I think most readers can’t help but assume a 1st person narrator is female when the author is female unless specified to the contrary within the first paragraph. But I went back and diligently reread those first six pages and I still think the voice is feminine…but I put the book down and will pick it back up in a day or so with my expectations in line.

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Have made two big reading resolutions for 2010…

#1 – read as much as possible from the small presses. I continue to be overwhelmingly impressed with what is coming from the independent houses and less and less impressed with anything coming from the big houses. Especially for new writers. I realize a lot of this is simply because the independent presses appear to be the only ones even taking new writers, and therefore new fiction. In the long run, I see the closed-up-ness of the big houses for the past year and a half as detrimental to their future in a big way.

#2 – read second novels from anyone I’ve read only once. I tried to do this in 2009 but failed rather spectacularly, except for John Banville, Graham Swift and Philip Roth. But really, I need to be getting further into André Brink, Arnost Lustig, Michèle Lesbre, Richard Powers, Shirley Hazzard, David Malouf and a bunch of others. Plus Iris Murdoch, I cannot forget Iris Murdoch.