Peter Robins

Across the literary pages | 3 January 2011

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Here is a selection of news from elsewhere on the literary web:

A woman in New York is attempting to smell 300,000 books, making notes as she goes. As of 12 December, she was up to 150. It's art.

F Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, John Buchan and Isaac Babel are among the authors who may or may not be going out of copyright this year. The list comes courtesy of 'Public Domain Day', which exists to 'celebrate the role of the public domain in our societies', but also, perhaps inadvertently, highlights the difficulty of knowing the public domain's extent. (The British situation, for instance, is complicated by the copyright term having been extended by 20 years about a decade ago, with the result that some of those writers' books were already available in supercheap editions. Lawyerly readers with some idea what's actually going on are particularly welcome to comment.)

Does literary criticism have to have a point?

My former employer has unveiled Britain's 100 top-selling books of all time, where 'selling' means 'registered as selling by Nielsen BookScan' and 'of all time' means 'since 1998'. Of the top ten, two are by Dan Brown, seven by J.K. Rowling, and just the one by Stephenie Meyer - but give her time.

Happiness doesn't always write white.

Green's Dictionary of Slang has provoked some particularly treasurable reviews: a bad thing, because they make me really want to buy it, and the list price is £295.

The world can always use more G.K. Chesterton aphorisms. (You know that we published a selection the other month, don't you? Good.) 'More translated fiction' appears to be the 'lose weight' of readerly new year resolutions (though the New Republic's Ruth Franklin manages to include 'lose weight', too. Me, I'm resolved to start bringing you these roundups of literary links on a regular basis, probably twice a week. We shall see how long that lasts.