Has anyone read Sebold’s new book, The Almost Moon, yet? The follow-up to The Lovely Bones, The Almost Moon is a very, very odd and troubling book — the story of a woman who kills her elderly mother in the first page, breaking her nose while she’s at it, and then spends much of the rest of the narrative indirectly justifying her decision. The novel has so far received reviews that are almost more shocking in their viciousness than the book itself — in the New York Times, Lee Siegel said: “The real shame is that ‘Reading Alice Sebold’ isn’t listed in the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.’ After you’ve finished this insult to the lumbar industry, your health care provider won’t cover your search for a cure.” Other reviewers have been even harsher, quite a few suggesting that the book is so badly rendered it’s laughable. I interviewed Sebold last week and found it very tough going indeed. It wasn’t that she was anything other than completely polite and even warm-seeming (quite a feat given what critics are writing at the moment) — it was just that every question got — parden the literary parallel — smothered to death in seconds. She seemed terribly inward-looking and hellbent on being as deliberately uninteresting as possible. Usually with authors, you come away feeling like you’ve had a big, mad, inspiring conversation with them — it’s been brilliant for me to get the chance to meet people like Michael Ondaatje, John McGahern, Margaret Atwood and Julian Barnes. But with Sebold I just felt really uncomfortable. She’s very interesting to look at, though — she’s really got that chic goth look going on — porcelein skin, Oriental-like eyes, high cheekbones and then these strangely shaped bright red lips — she’s like Amy Lee’s book-writing sister… Robert McCrum in The Observer wrote a profile on Sebold recently — it’s here. Also, there’s John Crace’s always funny, if very harsh again, The Digested Read….