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Short Takes

The New York Review of Books reminds us of Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s comments on free speech: “In March 1985 Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter made a trip together to Istanbul. At the time, they were perhaps the two most important names in world theater, but unfortunately, it was not a play or a literary event that brought them to Istanbul, but the ruthless limits being set on freedom of expression in Turkey at that time, and the many writers languishing in prison.”

Also at the NY Review of Books, KR Advisory Board member Joyce Carol Oates reviews Margaret Atwood.

Michael Palin’s personal life, in a word: boring.

One more strange European quirk.

The story of Nicholas Bourbaki, the mathematician who does not exist.

The Independent’s ten best autumn reads. Just two women make the list, by the way, and one of them is (surprise!) Kiran Desai. Hmm. Perhaps Amy Hempel’s collected works haven’t been released in the UK yet?

But where some of her peers were laying the expressiveness on pretty thick (Tom Wolfe’s exploding pop art punctuation marks, Hunter Thompson’s pharmaceutical embellishments), the Didion persona was withdrawn, neurasthenic, its bursts of insight flashing up like the last brilliantly lucid comment somebody makes before a nervous breakdown.