It's ours, it's ours: To my thinking, Max Brod did a mighty favor for humanity by disregarding his friend's request and not burning Franz Kafka's unpublished work after his death. On the other hand, there is the bitter comedy being played out in Switzerland by the Hoffe family, to whom Brod bequeathed extensive papers of his and Kafka's, and the Israeli government. The Hoffes, Brod's late secretary Esther and now her daughter Eva, resisted sharing the archives for decades, but now Haaretz reports that the boxes are being opened in their Swiss bank vault, though only to assess, without publication, the content and value of the papers as part of the legal dispute:
Witnesses who had been inside the bank at Kikar Hamedina when the team of lawyers arrived said Eva Hoffe burst into the building in an attempt to prevent the safe from being opened, shouting "It's mine, it's mine!"
The whisperer: Orlando Figes, the acclaimed (not least by himself, but also by others) historian of the Soviet era in books like The Whisperers, has agreed to pay damages for the farcical episode in which he posted scathing reviews of his competitors' books (and gushing ones of his own) on Amazon.co.uk and then first threatened lawsuits and then blamed his wife when accused.
A+: I'm late to the wake but Robert Christgau, the dean of American pop music critics, has shuttered his monthly "Consumer Guide" (long appearing in the Village Voice and lately at MSN) to new releases after 41 years. Mark Athitakis ("Christgau’s 80s guide is the most dog-eared and battered book in my library") and Douglas Wolk ("Christgau owns the capsule review the way Alexander Pope owns the heroic couplet") celebrate. You can find his capsules collected in Rock Albums of the '70s, Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s, and Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s.
Behind I Write Like: Like everyone else, we've been having fun with the I Write Like site, and the AP found that some of its model authors don't apparently write like themselves and got to the bottom of the Russian programmer's keyword-based algorithm. (If I mention bears does that make me John Irving?)
Moving and shaking: Dwight Garner's NYT rave--"the literary equivalent of a hot light bulb dangling from a low ceiling," which I think is praise--for Bruce Watson's Freedom Summer puts it on today's Movers & Shakers countdown.