The Washington Post’s Short Stack blog alerted me to this footage of Ron Charles accepting the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Book Reviewing at the National Book Critics’ Circle Awards earlier this month. Aside from serving as a textbook example of how to accept an award, Charles has some salutary things to say about the changing role of the critic in an age of ubiquitous opinion.
More information on Charles and the Nona Balakian Citation is available on Critical Mass, and the Washington Post’s Book World helpfully provides a digest of his reviews and articles for those interested in exploring his writing. And if you want a reason beyond his speech to warm to him, there’s always this wonderful piece about why Pottermania isn’t necessarily a sign of the health of our literary culture.
And then there’s the video:
The Telegraph is reporting that two new novels have been found amongst the late Roberto Bolano’s papers. Reportedly entitled Diorama and The Troubles of the Real Police Officer, the two come hard on the heels of another unpublished novel, The Third Reich, which was made available at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
Bolano would have to be one of the most improbable literary success stories of all time. Barely published at the time of his death in 2003, posthumous translations of Nazi Literature in the Americas, The Savage Detectives and most recently 2666 have seen him acclaimed as one of the leading lights of world literature, with 2666 winning this year’s National Book Critics’ Circle Award in the US, and becoming an international bestseller.
But what we’re to make of the suggestion that one of these new novels is a sixth part of the cycle of five novels that make up 2666 I’m not sure. Having read all five, and seen them as part of one whole, it’s difficult to imagine where or how another novel might fit in the sequence. Despite famously being unfinished at the time of his death, the work as it stands seems to have a sort of unity, particularly in the relationship of the fifth novel, The Part About Archimboldo (a work of genius in its own right) to the preceding four.
But is it possible my reading of it was conditioned by the belief the five parts were all there is? How different would another part make it? And what have I missed? And given the damn thing was 900 pages long to start with, does it really seem fair to suggest there might be more of it?