Links: Rod and Reel

In a Philip Roth interview with the Wall Street Journal—that would be the Roth interview that doesn’t address green dildos—he talks about his current reading habits, which mainly includes old favorites. “Mostly what I’m doing is rereading stuff that I read in my 20s, writers who were big in my reading life who I haven’t read in 50 years. I’m talking about Dostoyevsky, Faulkner, Turgenev, Conrad. I’m trying to reread the best before… I die.”

“Sometimes you write amazing sentences, she wrote to me, and sometimes it’s amazing you can write a sentence”—a lovely piece by Alexander Chee about studying writing under Annie Dillard.

Atlas Shrugged and Ralph Nader’s new novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, have more in common than you might think.

Dan Green takes a close, thoughful look at Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road, but determines (rightly, I think) that The Subterraneans is in many ways a superior work.

The American Scholar takes a close, thoughtful look at F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s tax returns.

Ethan Canin on the film adaptations of his work: “Movies are big, exciting, hopeful collaborations, brought down by venality, pandering, and greed.”

Lionel Shriver opens up about using her family as source material for her novel A Perfectly Good Family.

The Nation on the novels of Don Carpenter. (subscription req’d)

A gallery of Tom Adamscurious paperback covers for Raymond Chandler novels.

Writers aren’t doing too well in the Baltimore Sun‘s contest to declare the area’s biggest local celebrity, but Anne Tyler‘s still in the running.

In related news, Laura Lippman, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane speak out on the importance of the late James Crumley.

“The most overrated novel ever has got to be Beloved.”

Should you wait until you’re 40 before attempting to read Moby-Dick?

Crumley: “A Pot of Coffee and 100,000 Cigarettes”

Shortly after crime author James Crumley died last week, Washington Post obituary writer Patricia Sullivan hit her personal archive to find a clip of an interview she conducted with Crumley in 1985. She was a staffer at the Missoula, Mont., Missoulian at the time, and her piece gets at some of the novelist’s pugnacity:

“When I’m working, I can write anywhere,” he said. “In Guadalajara, I wrote a big portion of my first novel standing at the mantle in the living room while two marriages broke up around me and some guy wrote poetry at the top of his lungs.”

Things are a little quieter int he backyard shed where Crumley now pens mysteries, short stories and reviews. Rebuilt by graduate English students “with Ph.D’s in carpentry,” the room overlooks a dog pen and the backyard of his lower Rattlesnake neighbors. The room is cluttered with books, ashtrays, a stereo system and a half-dozen dictionaries, sitting squarely in front of the typewriter. It takes “a pot of coffee and 100,000 cigarettes” to get to work each day, he said.