End Notes for Thursday, 8 September 2011

WELCOME TO END NOTES, Advance Copy's weekly trawl for all the book and publishing news that's fit to print, with some music thrown in for good measure. Email me at:


In-House: Our H-Net review of the week (they appear Mondays) is Neil F. Gregory, et al.'s New Industries from New Places: The Emergence of the Hardware and Software Industries in China and India, reviewed by Sharmistha Bagchi-SenOur Reviews page can be found here.

Remembering 9/11: The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, is this Sunday. I remember vividly watching news updates stream across the screens in Montreal's metro that morning, staring at disbelief at what I was reading; I then watched the second tower come down on the TV in a café downtown. We are now fully into the commemoration process; as an historian of memory and commemoration, I'm blown away by the speed of memorialisation here. Anyway, The Guardian offers the twenty best books about 9/11. One of my favourites, Don DeLillo's Falling Man, made the list; my other favourite, Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers, is missing. The Guardian also has an interesting series of short stories from authors all over the world looking at notions of change and stasis over the past decade.

9/11 Redux: 9/11 was a bit of a boon to the publishing industry, in the decade since, there have been any number of books on Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, the Bush Administration, jihad, the war on terror, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Economist looks at four recent additions to this library: Fawaz Gerges's The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda; Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World, by Robin Wright; Sherard Cowper-Coles's Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West's Afghanistan Campaign; and The 9/11 Wars, by Jason Burke.

Redacting the CIA: The CIA is takng some heat of late for censoring books by former agents concerning the War on Terror. First came redactions from Glenn Carle's The Interogator, which was published with blacked out pages to show where the Agency had demanded cuts. Now comes Ali Soufan's memoir, from which the CIA has also demanded redactions, including information in the public domain already. Brilliant.

Coco the Traitor: Rare are the times that I've turned off or walked out of movies because they're so painfully bad or dull. It happened a few weeks ago with Mike Leigh's incredibly smug and dull Another Year. The time before that was Coco Before Chanel, despite the starring role of my long-time crush, Audrey Tautou. I bring up Coco Chanel because an explosive new book by Hal Vaughan, Sleeping With the Enemy, claims that Chanel was a collaborator with the Nazi régime in France during the Second World War. Judith Warner reviews. Meanwhile, German crime writer Ferdinand von Schirach has a new book, Der Fall Collini, (it does not appear to have been translated into English yet) with a character based on his grandfather, Baldur, the leader of the Hitler Youth.

The King of the Jews: Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski was the autocratic ruler of the Lodz Ghetto; Steve Sem-Sandberg examines him in his new novel, The Emperor of Lies. Daphne Merkin reviews.

Fiction: As even the most casual reader of Advance Copy will know, I am a big fan of fiction, especially as a device for historical study. Turns out fiction also makes us more emphathetic.

Man Booker Prize: The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced on Tuesday. Some surprises, at least for me, in that Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side was left off, amongst others. Julian Barnes, who has been the bridesmaid three times, but never the bride, made the shortlist, as did Carol Birch, who was longlisted in 2003. The shortlist is comprised of four Brits and two Canadians. Feels like Old Home Week in the British Empire, doesn't it? As usual, there is a lot of chirping about what the judges got wrong, but the Chair of Judges, ex-MI5 director Dame Stella Rimmington, has told critics to take or leave the shortlist. Oddsmakers have installed Barnes's The Sense of an Ending as the early favourite.

Giller Prize: Meanwhile, back in Canada, the Giller Prize longlist has been announced, featuring the two Canucks on the Booker shortlist: Patrick DeWitt and Esi Edugyan, as well as Canadian fiction heavyweights such as Michael Ondaatje, Dany Laferrière, Lynn Coady, and Guy Vanderhaeghe



9/11: NPR is posting interviews with composers who have written works about 9/11. Monday was Steve Reich; Tuesday was Michael Gordon; and Wednesday was John Corigliano. Trinity Church, which stands across the street from where the World Trade Center once stood, was a site of refuge during the chaos after the terrorist attacks. Trinity also has a long history of music in Manhattan and to commemorate 9/11 is offering up a week of choral music, mostly by Bach. I wish I were in NYC just for this.

Salvatore Licitra, RIP: Licitra, the Italian tenor pegged by some to be the heir to Pavarotti, has died at the age of 43 after suffering severe head and chest injuries in a scooter accident in Italy.

The Mercury Prize: Polly Jean Harvey has won her second Mercury Prize. In 2001, she won for her masterful album, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Yesterday, she won for her devastatingly brilliant album, Let England Shake. Rare is an artist so clearly deserving of the win. Unlike most years, when the announcement of the winner is met with disbelief in some quarters (think of Speech Debelle's win in 2009), Harvey's win has been well-received, with Laura Barton even going so far as to argue that she is a cultural treasure in The Guardian.

Oh For the Love of God...: Apparently Beyoncé is being accused of wearing a prosthetic pregnant belly at the MTV VMAs. Seriously. 

Superfuzz/Bigmuff: Along with the tenth anniversary of 9/11, September is the twentieth anniversary of when grunge broke. It was in September 1991 that Nirvana and Pearl Jam took the music world by storm, launching a new fashion trend of flannel shirts and baggy jeans (well, for those of us who grew up on the Northwest coast of North America, this was OUR uniform, dammit), and forever changing music. Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm is having none of this, however. His band were the great underdogs of the Seattle music scene, never reaching the stratosphere, but commanding everyone's respect from their first album, the titular Superfuzz/Bigmuff in 1988. 



And finally...: The requisite video to send you on your way towards the weekend. First, PJ Harvey's "The Words that Maketh Murder," from Let England Shake. Then, Mudhoney's classic 1988 track, "Touch Me I'm Sick." And, to end it off, Salvatore Licitra performing "O Sole Mio" in Tokyo, 2005. RIP.

Reader Comments (1)

The Omnivore has rounded up the reviews for all the short listed books, bringing you a critical digest of quotes from UK and US newspapers and literary journals.

Read our roundups here:

Sep 8, 2011 at 15:47 | Unregistered CommenterFleur
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