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July 31, 2003

"A hero is a possible human being. A superhero is not. To be a hero is a viable human dream. To be a superhero is a childish fantasy." Here we go with the stunted adolescence argument again, and it's published in the Austin Chronicle. (Honestly, Shawn, couldn't you have stopped this?)

Neilalien responds with, "Comic books and cartoons and such do teach kids right from wrong and teach a heroic example within a fantasy metaphor. They make heroism easier for kids to find, not harder. C'mon. This is just more of the same idiotic snob thesis that anyone who actually enjoys superhero entertainment must be so detached from reality, so living in an arrested-adolescent power fantasy world, that they must be literally walking around sad that they are not a superhero themselves. Sheesh."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

"Kids' sex book fury." What do you think that headline is referring to? Kiddie porn? Playboy showing up on the playground? Perhaps a children's book with a hidden bare breasted lady or a cloud in the shape of a penis? No. A copy of Ghost World was found in the children's section of a library. In the overreaction of the century, IC Birmingham shrieks, "Shocked parents were horrified to find a cult comic book littered with obscenities and references to Satanism - in a library's children's section." Basically, the book was misshelved. But that doesn't stop parents from becoming shocked! Shocked, I tell you! (Link from Journalista.)

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Publisher's Weekly has quite the extensive article about Neil Gaiman up. There's quite a lot of ground to cover these days, with the Mirror Mask movie, The Wolves in the Walls, the new Sandman, his script adaptation of The Fermata, Telling Tales, 1602, "A Short Film About John Bolton," not to mention the touring and the conventions. They do a rather good job covering all of it.

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While Jeffrey Archer talks about how difficult life was in prison, his prison memoirs show just how good he had it, compared to most people's experiences. Will Self reviews his Prison Diary: Volume Two for This is London.

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When the Modern Library asked Joyce Carol Oates to recheck A Garden of Earthly Delights for errors before the reissue, they weren't expecting to publish a completely different book. But she essentially rewrote the entire novel. The Associated Press article details the types of changes that were made and why Oates decided to rewrite it instead of reissuing it as it was.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Comic Book Resources is hosting "Comic Book Idol." Let's just hope Ryan Seacrest doesn't show up at any point.

"Comic Book Idol" is an amateur art competition hosted by CBR. It's a five-week, five-round contest in which contestants will be asked to complete an art assignment each week by a deadline. Their art will be posted in a CBR forum designed especially for judges to post comments on and critique said art, as well as for CBR readers to view and vote on their favorites. CBR fans select which contestants move on in subsequent rounds, and two artists will be eliminated from the competition in each round until we have the one and only "Comic Book Idol," who'll receive some amazing prizes for the hard work accomplished during the competition.

Comic Book Idol is hosted by J. Torres of Oni Press, and the judges will include Jamie Rich (Oni), Ron Marz (CrossGen), and Joe Quesada (Marvel). Winners won't exactly be allowed to take over X-Men or anything, but publication is involved.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

"Publish a book about an author who uses a pseudonym—not to mention somebody else’s work in the first place—under a pseudonym. How funny." She's talking about The Storyteller, but the couple behind the pseudonym has been found out already.

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Comic Book Resources has even more information about Neil Gaiman's 1602.

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Doubletake Magazine has a previously unpublished interview with Walker Percy, the author of The Moviegoer. Evidently it was a difficult interview to get, as when the interviewer called the first nine times, he was met by, "If you knew anything about my work, you'd know I hate the twentieth century, the whole culture, and that I've had enough of interviews." Robyn Leary eventually wore him down.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 30, 2003

Author Jonathan Ames wants your help to find the most phallic building in the world.

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Stephen King has been hired to write a monthly column for Entertainment Weekly on American pop culture. He says it will be funny. I guess we can predict how good this will be based on whether Stephen King thought that bizarre essay he wrote for Book Magazine was "funny."

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With the release of American Splendor, a movie based on the life of comics writer Harvey Pekar, the Village Voice profiles his life and the long journey the movie has had.

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Sex and the Single Girl was the grandmother of all chick lit. (It says so right on the book now. "Before Sex and the City, there was...") But 40 years later, is it a relic or a beach read? Caitlin Macy thinks it's more like an afternoon with your crazy aunt.

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Neal Pollack will be guest editing an issue of The Believer. He gives us a look at what we can expect:

Laurie Anderson is going to interview Phillip Glass about Frank Gehry. I'm going to write 10,500 words on the work on Wadislaw Pryzbilla, a Polish poet who died in 1375 but was recently reanimated only to have his work ignored by everyone but me. There will also be an article, written by a young intern who was recently released from prison in Serbia, about how to make a paper boat out of tinfoil. Then there's a very long appreciation of Elvis Costello by Jonathan Lethem, an even longer appreciation of Jonathan Lethem by Elvis Costello, and a poem by a black guy.

(Remember, Neal Pollack has a book coming out, Never Mind the Pollacks. Kenan stole the advance copy, so I can't tell you if it's as good as his first book, but the CD "with songs from the novel!" is genius.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

With the hysteria around Jayson Blair (who was hired to review the Stephen Glass movie) and Stephen Glass, is it possible we're going too far in the "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" standards in journalism? Slate argues that John Hersey's Hiroshima as well as books by Ryszard Kapuscinski would be torn apart.

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Crabwalk.com brings us the many (crazy) faces of Suze Orman, the woman who brought us The Courage to be Rich.

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July 29, 2003

David Sedaris gives instruction on how to read Moby Dick.

It's what my brother, Paul, would call "all symbolical and shit," meaning that no one ever approached the author to say, "I could tell you probably had a lot of fun writing it." By the end of the first paragraph, I realize that in order to get through all 521 pages, I'll have to come up with an incentive, something that might help spur me on. Hugh and I are spending the week in Normandy. There are no shops or theaters nearby, so rather than reward myself with magazines and movies, I've decided I won't bathe, shave, or change my clothes until I'm finished with the book.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

This is much too good to pass up. A boy called the principal a "fucker" and a "fucking fag" and was slapped with a penalty for it. In a court document on the Smoking Gun, the boy's lawyer presents a history of the word "fuck," trying to prove it is protected under the first amendment. "In order to provide a context for the alleged crime, we must first examine the history of Fuck and its evolution in society." (Link from The Morning News.)

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The first 1,000 fans at the Aug. 21 game between the Lowell Spinners and Williamsport Crosscutters of the Class A New York-Penn League will receive bobbing likenesses of Jack Kerouac. The giveaway, in partnership with the English department at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, is part of "Jack Kerouac Night" at LeLacheur Park. Am I the only one missing the connection between Jack Kerouac and baseball and wobbly heads? (Thanks to Kathleen for the link.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Antic Muse tells you what you can learn about yourself from the ads in your favorite magazine.

The Nation reader is a sensitive1, bird-watching2, book-loving3 optimist4. Also into spanking5.

1. Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones ("You can list to portable CD/DVD/MP3 players, home stereos, computers and in-flight entertainment systems -- or nothing at all."), Memory Foam Ultra Mattress
2. Micro Mono ("The Micro-Mono is perfect for any activities, like bird watching, concerts, and sports watching."), Carson SuperZoom Binoculars ("You never know where or when you may want them to take a closer look at the natural world.")
3. University of Chicago Press ("It's your world--understand it."), New Press
4. Classified: "Ex-Nation staffer looking for full-time position with benefits in Queens/NYC area"
5. Classified: "Find a partner into spanking!"

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New York City has joined the list of libraries with slashed budgets who need book donations. NY Daily News has a special report.

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With a whole bunch of movies based on books coming out soon (Seabiscuit, The Human Stain, I Capture the Castle, etc.), the Seattle Times provides a list of some of the better films based on books and short stories.

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Los Angeles didn't do so well on the survey of the most literate cities. The L.A. Times takes offense and calls the study flawed.

More points go to cities where residents hold college degrees. By Miller's reckoning, it doesn't matter if you're a high-school grad who cleans out the library shelves of good books each week. No college degree, no reading points.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A new book about pornography will feature portraits of 30 pornography stars--both clothed and not--as well as essays about pornography by Nancy Friday (My Secret Garden), Karen Finley (A Different Kind of Intimacy), and, well, John Malkovich. I don't think I could be any less interested in what John Malkovich has to say about pornography, which makes the essay strangely alluring.

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July 28, 2003

Literary bar jokes. Link from The Morning News.

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I thought we had already established that things that are written in memoirs did not necessarily happen. My favorite example still being Judy Blunt's description in Breaking Clean of a scene in which her father-in-law smashed her typewriter with a sledgehammer. This, of course, being the anecdote that every reviewer (and the author herself) brought up. When it was determined the father-in-law did no such thing, her explanation was, "I meant it metaphorically." That was a good laugh.

So now it just so happens that there are problems with James Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces. And, as always, it was the most compelling scene that was made up. There are some allegations that the root canal Frey described undergoing without painkillers could not have happened. Frey seems to be shrugging it all off for the moment. At least he didn't say, "I meant it metaphorically."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Posthumous releases should be seen less as a publishing event and more as a treat for the hopelessly devoted. There are often times reasons these books weren't published during the author's lifetime. For example, the new Virginia Woolf diary, Carlyle's House.

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The Washington Post believes Dick Morris just invented something new with Off with Their Heads: The Blook. It's a book that's written as casually and with the same disregard for the Chicago Manual of Style as a blog.

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The publishing industry doesn't publish books in translation, and Stephen Kinzer tries to figure out why. There's a disinterested public, a lack of editors who can read foreign languages, a refusal by Americans to pay attention to anything happening outside of its borders, unless it's a historical novel written by an American.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Now that Jeffrey Archer is out of jail, he's working on revenge. Instead of taking them to court, however, the Guardian suggests he simply write them into a novel. That's what writers have been doing since the dawn of time.

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A woman finds she's able to track her ex-husband's life through his book dedications. "It's dedicated to someone whose name I can't remember," [her literary agent] announced, "but it's not the same name that was in his last book." It's almost refreshing that this woman comes out and states the name of her ex, none of this "I'm going to drop enough hints that you'll know instantly that it's Jonathan Franzen, but never come outright and say it. I'm so coy." nonsense.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Thomas Hardy made it clear that after his death, he wanted all of his notebooks and private papers destroyed. Scholars everywhere gasp with horror. Well, it seems that twelve of his notebooks escaped the fire and are now being published as Facts Notebook.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 25, 2003

The News & Observer comments on UNC-Chapel Hill's recent controversy over the choosing of Nickel & Dimed for incoming freshmen to read. On one side is the university, shrugging its shoulders and looking bewildered. "We don't know why this book would upset anyone." On the other is the right-wing, accusing the lefties of undermining what America stands for. J. Peder Zane argues that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. "To begin, Nickel and Dimed is not simply an account of the struggles of low-wage workers. It is a polemic against American capitalism."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

It has truly been too long since I've linked to a "Harry Potter is the root of all evil" article. But this will make up for it.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

This is Mr. Puck. Honor student. Rebel.
All-American HERO.

The Anarchist Collective and their crash pad known as SAM housed an idealistic assortment of unruly characters looking to make a difference and find a happier way of life.

And then came Johnny Black...

Someone is making a movie about the Anarchist Cookbook. (Two comments: First, do you think I'm now on some kind of list for having linked to the Anarchist Cookbook? Second, be sure not to miss the reader's comments on Amazon. "If you really want to know how to make homemade exploseives try "HOME WORKSHOP EXPLOSIVES" by Uncle Fester, now that book is the real deal.")

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Bookslut is looking for writers to profile their favorite independent bookstores. Anyone interested in submitting something? E-mail me.

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Steve Almond has a new friend Heather. She lost some weight with a brand new product and wanted to share the good news. (I actually received the same marketing call, but by a woman named "Jane.")

But in this brave new era of phone solicitation, computers make the calls. Rather than live voices that sound dead, we get recorded voices that sound frighteningly alive. So alive that we hesitate a few moments before pushing the erase button. And I trust that some market researcher in some well-furnished corner of hell has figured out just how profitable it is to keep the consumer on the phone for those few extra seconds.

He also has a short story, "Spartacus", at 3 a.m.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Washington Post's Magazine Reader writes about a series in Punk Planet written by TR, a disgruntled member of the United States Army.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

While the RIAA has been suing as many people as they can get subpoenas for, Harlan Ellison perhaps thought they had a good idea. Trouble is, he didn't notice they were suing individuals rather than the program itself. Ellison has been trying to sue AOL Time Warner for having owned Gnutella where people were trading his short stories. AOL/TW put a stop to it as soon as it was aware of it, but that's not stopping Ellison.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Chicago Tribune decided not to run two Boondocks strips (July 14th; July 17th) because they were "not funny" and "offensive." They try to explain, but they would have done a better job if the strips had in fact been offensive. (Although I suppose it's all a matter of taste.) Link from Journalista.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 24, 2003

L.A. Weekly has an interview with Mian Mian, author of Candy.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Two things of interest over in Nerve's Road Trip issue. There's a new short story by Steve Almond, and an essay about a traveling sex workers art show by Michelle Tea.

(Also at Nerve, a list of sexual innuendos found in the new Harry Potter book. "I thought not," said Snape, watching him closely. "You let me get in too far. You lost control.")

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Ian Spiegelman hates Dave Eggers. Hates. It's hard to tell why, or how anyone could feel so strongly about Mr. Eggers. I can understand being tired with him, or bored with his antics, or perhaps even think his books are crap. The man who brought us three versions of Velocity doesn't seem like a person worth so much bile. And Spiegelman may say he doesn't hate Mr. Eggers, but if you've ever read his column, you will find that hard to believe.

I don't hate him. Hate between individuals is an intimate thing and we don't even know each other. I hate what he's come to stand for, which, to my mind, is behaving with a rabidly superior attitude merely because you have a knack for being clever. Cleverness was celebrated in Victorian parlors and we had pretty well done away with it as a virtue until his posse filled a void in which the children of the ruling class decided for themselves that nothing was "happening" in the world. Plenty was happening, just nothing that they could see or speak of. In any case, men are far too concerned with the dimensions of their genitalia. Eggers might very well have a larger package than I but he'd probably riff in a woman's ear about Duran Duran while he was mildly pumping away, and if that's your thing we shouldn't be together anyway. Wait, that's not right. He wouldn't utter a sound in bed, not one word. It would be cold clinical silence -- you could hear molecules colliding, icecaps melting. He'd hold his breath.

I'm sure there are more proper targets for his wrath. Ann Coulter, perhaps? Maybe even Osama bin Laden. Hate him all you want. (And no, I'm not comparing Coulter to bin Laden. I wouldn't stoop to her level.) It all just feels like a waste of energy.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Possibly the best headline ever, "What’s Wrong with Twinkling Buttocks?" Theodore Dalrymple also uses the phrase "mass bastardy," which I think will be Bookslut's new slogan. If you don't know, Dalrymple has spent most of his career writing about the underclasses, which he continues in his new book Life at the Bottom. In this essay, he writes about the downfall of English manners. All that drinking and sex. He blames literature, specifically Glen Duncan. (link from TMFTML.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 23, 2003

Sarah Hepola clues us in on the life of a freelancer.

Since freelance writers tend to work alone, it’s easy to grow hungry for human contact during the day. It’s easy to pounce upon our partners as they arrive from a hard day’s work, toppling them with questions and requests: What happened outside today? Do you want to see the eggs I bought at the store?

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Laura Hillenbrand (the author of Seabiscuit) came down with a mysterious ailment and went through doctor after doctor, diagnosing her with anorexia, mental illness, and Epstein-Barr. She has written an essay about it for the New Yorker.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A review of Comic Con that doesn't mention a single comic? Just another treasure from those punctuation-challenged boys at Ain't It Cool.

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This has been a bad year for movies. Sure, X-Men 2 is great (saw it twice), but everyone I know wrinkled their noses when I asked them what they thought about The Matrix, I still haven't seen The Hulk because the CGI Hulk looks silly, and please don't make me bring up LXG again. Well, profits have been down all around, and this is going to be affecting any future comic book adaptations. (Link from Journalista.)

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In this new celebrity-penned books for kids trend, Jay Leno is writing a children's book, based on a childhood story.

"I was a little kid and I was fascinated by the roast beef going around the spit," Leno said. "So I took out my little plastic comb and stuck it in the meat. At one point the comb caught on the string used to tie the roast beef. So I went, `Oh, oh,' and I didn't want to break the motor. So I said, `OK,' and I walked away."

Fascinating, no? I've changed my mind about the memoirs. Celebrities can write all the memoirs they want. Just leave the poor children alone.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Jasper Fforde talks to the Independent about his latest Thursday Next novel. In America, we have the recently released Lost in a Good Book, but over in the UK, they already have The Well of Lost Plots.

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The memoirs need to stop. No, really. They just keep coming, and now we have to put up with the Traci Lords life story, the truly insubstantial tale of Strawberry Saroyan... do they think we really care? (Although evidently people do. They're both selling well.) Linton Weeks at the Washington Post is sick to death of memoirs, too.

I feel that the memoir is the genre of our generations. The Me Decades are stretching out into the Memoir Millennium. The I's have it. Modern Memoirmania can perhaps be traced to Frank Conroy's "Stop-Time," published in 1967. Other memoirists such as Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff, Mary Karr and Augusten Burroughs followed. Today the memoir is endemic, epidemic, pandemic. It's taught in colleges and writing schools.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't really good memoirs. But if you find yourself tempted, go buy Love and Other Infectious Diseases instead.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The BBC is airing a documentary about the lives of the Bronte sisters. It's a story that's been told over and over, yet it seems to be different every time. The Guardian argues that the problem with the documentary is that it does not admit how little we actually know about their lives. Speculation is presented as fact, which only adds to the confusion about what Charlotte, Emily and Anne were truly like.

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Two new novels discuss the trouble the publishing industry is in, The Last Days of Publishing and Foul Matter. Business Week has reviews.

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Tonight the Bookslut chat is being hosted by Liz, our own Hollywood Madam. At 8:00 CST, go here and say hello.

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Zoe Williams comments on Jeffrey Archer's release from prison.

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Representatives Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Butch Otter (R-ID) and John Conyers (D-MI) have proposed an amendment that would overturn the government's right to search your library and bookstore buying records, currently made possible through the PATRIOT Act. If you'd like to send an e-mail or fax to your representatives, please visit the ACLU website to do so.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

For whatever reason, people have been sending me e-mail asking for Salman Rushdie. (Seriously. Three different people in two weeks. One in a foreign language.) I don't know Salman Rushdie, and I'm not sure why people assume that I do. But please stop. Thank you.

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July 22, 2003

Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls has a new website.

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I'm sorry, but I only have one comment: Get a life.

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Wired gives an interesting, if not incredibly in-depth, history of the Comics Code, a self regulating board for the industry.

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Stephen Glass has been hired by Rolling Stone. "Jann Wenner felt it was worth giving Glass another chance." Yeah, or he saw all of the free publicity he would get by hiring a liar.

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Two Sherman Alexie interviews, one is the standard Alexie interview with the Los Angeles Times, and the other is a much more political interview with Alibi.com. And then go buy yourself a copy of his new short story collection, Ten Little Indians. It's great.

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The Two Blowhards are discussing the importance (or lack thereof) of bestseller lists. As always, some of the most interesting things on that website take place in the comments section, so be sure to read the whole thing.

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John Walsh gives a history of the roman--clef novel, mercifully leaving out the string of dissatisfied magazine workers who have been pumping them out.

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Simon & Schuster have the number one nonfiction book in the country right now, but that can't prevent lay offs. (Thanks to Kathleen for the link.)

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Erica Wagner was asked to give writing an erotic novel a go. She was up for it, but then found out by the end of the second chapter, she had no idea what else to do. It's difficult to write. After all, strip off the mystery and it's boring. Be to elusive and it's not hot enough. Eventually her book was rejected for being "too clever." Wager writes about the allure of erotica and her failed attempt at it for the Times.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Las Vegas City Life has an article on the popularity of manga, something Frank Beaton just doesn't get.

I hate manga. I really do. All the big eyes and small mouths, the giant robots, the ham-fisted moral lessons (usually something deep and meaningful, like, "War is bad") -- frankly, I can do without all of it. So you can keep your club shirts and your Friday night "Toonami," 'cause I'm really not impressed. In a word, anime and manga can fuck right off.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

It turns out that the monstrosity on top of Dean Koontz's head is not a toupee. It is actual hair, a product of surgery, according to an e-mail I received. So I guess, then, that it's just a really bad haircut? Which is even less forgivable. Seriously, someone should stop him.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Comic Con was this past weekend for the lucky bastards who got to go. If, however, you're like me, outside of California and broke, you'll have to just read about it.

Comic Book Resources has a very excessive amount of coverage. But they have pictures of scary clowns, which makes it all worth it. Their photo galleries are interesting, even though it makes me sad to see comic book geeks still dressing up in costume, especially when the outfits make no sense. Neil Gaiman talks about directing, Grant Morrison talks about leaving X-Men and is going to be writing a "Islamic sci-fi love story" for DC, Books of Magic is going to be relaunched, among other news at Comic Book Resources. KPBS interviewed attendees of Comic Con, which you can listen to on their website.

At Comic Con, the Eisners were announced with Lynda Barry, Fables, and Krazy & Ignatz taking home big awards. (Go here for the full list of winners.) Over on Neil Gaiman's site is the text to the keynote speech he gave at the awards.

I'm sure there will be more to report tomorrow.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 21, 2003

The New Yorker has an excerpt from the upcoming Jonathan Lethem novel, The Fortress of Solitude, as well as a new interview.

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Jeffrey Archer is out of jail.

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Fiction is essentially lying, but good fiction is a believable lie. Things like typos, incorrect phrases, and inconsistency can ruin a book. (I recently became exasperated by a book with a character who was referred to as both Lehmann and Lehman.) Lily Tuck, who wrote Limbo among other books, writes about why an author should keep extensive notes while writing a book.

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"Feminism as a stance calling for equal rights, equal education, equal pay—no rational, halfway decent human being could possibly disagree with this. But what is called feminism in the academies seems to be a very different phenomenon indeed. I have sometimes characterized these people as a Rabblement of Lemmings, dashing off the cliff and carrying their supposed subject down to destruction with them." Harold Bloom is feeling a bit cranky today, but that's why we love him. He has a new book out about ... wait for it ... Shakespeare.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Salon has an article (and an excerpt) about the comic Y: The Last Man, which is really, truly excellent. The article on the other hand is just plain odd. It's not a review exactly. It tries to compare the comic to movies for some reason. It's like someone handed her the comic and said, "1000 words by Monday." The comic deserves better.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

It figures. The New York Times Magazine publishes a much talked about profile of Random House, and my first reaction is to squeal at the new picture of Dean Koontz's really bad toupee. I have a sick fascination with it, you see, because it's so obvious and nasty looking. You can't use an author photo with your bald head for years and years, then decide to go the toupee route and think no one will notice. But oh yeah, important things are said about Random House in the article. I think.

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Robert McCrum explains why two-book deals are bad for authors.

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Many Soviet-era dissident writers are being removed from mandatory reading lists in Russian schools. A group of Russian writers and musicians have written an open letter to the Education Secretary expressing their concern. "We think the main goal of school is forming a personality with a critical and freedom-loving spirit which loves and knows its country and not just the 'chosen parts' of its difficult history."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Like probably most people, I own A Suitable Boy but have not read it. It is, after all, 1,488 pages long. That's longer than Infinite Jest and that took me an entire month of doing nothing but lying sick in bed and reading. It did, however, sell very well, and I hear it's great. But evidently Little, Brown thinks enough people actually read the book to want to buy the author Vikram Seth's memoirs. After all, they just bought them for around $2 million.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 18, 2003

I would consider moving to Miami just so that I could go to Books & Books every day. However, since Chicago still beckons, I may have to just start an e-mail campaign to get owner Mitch Kaplan to open a store in Chicago. (And, I don't know, maybe give me a job?) Until then, however, this interview will have to tide me over.

We present over 50 different events each month. On any given night we mount readings, lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and we host scores of meetings and discussion groups. Just last Friday night, we presented Gary Shteyngart in a reading, DJ Le Spam spun old jazz, blues and Latin music albums in the courtyard, and a poetry reading was in full swing in our old books room. So, no, that night was not an exception. We do all of this as part of our mission to be a community center; we want to present to readers in Miami programming that is unique and smart and which doesn't take anyone for granted.

Again, I think Books & Books is one of those spaces that is essential to a community. A space that has earned the appellation of a "great, good place." A place that is a third place, outside of the home and the office, where people can come and easily feel comfortable while interacting with others.

God damn it, I want to live in this store.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The new book A Revolution in Kindness has been banned from the Louisiana State Prison at Angola as a "threat to security." The book's author Anita Roddick, also the founder of The Body Shop, has written a letter to the warden asking how a book about "using kindness to make the world a better place" could be a threat to security. (Link from New Pages.)

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A woman who showed up as a character in a Thomas Keneally (best known for Schindler's List) novel tells her side of the story and writes about writers who use people they know as characters.

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"Increasingly, graphic novels tell stories without characters more powerful than a locomotive. The best graphic novels, told any other way, wouldn't be as sweet. There are some contemptible works, but truly inspired graphic novels can rightfully stand alongside literature." It really has been too long since I've linked to a Comic Books Can Be Literature, Too! article. Of course maybe I find them more amusing than you do.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

For an article about the art of the blurb, it certainly is long. Couldn't it just be summed up with "publishers send a bunch of galleys out, people who like to see their name in print read the book - or not - and then get out their thesaurus to write a long string of adjectives and then it's put on the book"?

(Of course it was news to me that publishers pay some people for their blurbs. Bookslut is now taking offers to get paid to write blurbs. We, too, own thesauruses.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Mastication is Normal will start a new monthly column devoted to writing reviews of book covers. The reviews include the horror of the Oprah wrap on East of Eden, Hillary Clinton's Living History, Ann Coulter's Treason and more.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

I know I should be sick of reading just how bad LXG is, but there's something spectacular about its badness. So how bad was it? So bad the director didn't show up to the premiere. So bad that its failure could really fuck up Fox. And so bad, as I was informed in an e-mail, even the prop designers spelled Quatermain's name wrong on a headstone. So tragic.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 17, 2003

Along with the release of 1602 and Sandman: Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman also has another children's book coming out, The Wolves in the Walls. (Which is gorgeous. Everyone should buy a copy.) He's interviewed at Newsarama about massive jam damage, why grown ups don't believe their children, and a future book called Fortunately, the Milk.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A man accused of spitting on a police officer has been sentenced to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Next: parents who do not allow their children to reach their "full potential" will be forced to join Oprah's Book Club.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

As a huge appreciator of pens - especially ones I cannot afford, I present you with a history and future of fountain pens.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A new action figure by Accoutrements is pissing off the librarians. The figure is modeled after Nancy Pearl, director of the Washington Center for the Book in Seattle, but her finger is raised in "shh" position.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Contra Costa Times has a profile of librarian Jess Nevins who has been annotating comic books for years now. He's spent four years on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

"They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white ... Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn't taste distinctly dissimilar from the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently." Oh yes, it's the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Dark Horse Comics has announced something a little confusing. Okay, so in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the two characters created a comic book character called The Escapist. Well, Dark Horse is presenting a new comic series based on that character. Michael Chabon will be overseeing the project, but will not be the primary writer. Chabon will be at this week's Comic Con giving more information about the future series.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Jonathan Ames, author of I Pass Like Night and What's Not to Love: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer, has this week's Diary at Slate. So far he's written about cheese, Bastille Day, and how coffee can be used to melt things. There are also pictures of his Great Aunt Doris and his dogs. I'm not really selling this, am I?

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Oxford American has yet again ceased publication.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Virtual Book Tour is at Crabwalk.com today, one of my daily reads. (Bookmark it, people.) Josh does a great interview with the author, Mary Roach.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Carol Shields, author of The Stone Diaries and Unless, has died. You can read her obituary at many places, including The Guardian.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

For those of you in Austin, evidently Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith are in town today for a reading at BookPeople at 7p.m. Unfortunately, I'm way behind on my reading and my e-mail, so it looks like I'll have to skip. I'm sure Eggers and Smith will be crushed.

Speaking of McSweeney's, they have a new feature on their website, "Open Letters to People or Entities Who are Unlikely to Respond." Today's letter is to Ann Coulter.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 16, 2003

Roz Kaveney has written a much circulated diatribe about the "drunken fop" Christopher Hitchens. It'll satisfy my cravings for crazy Hitchens commentary for now. (Thanks to Ter for the link.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Another article on how the gay community should be able to relate to the superhero genre of comics. Nothing really new about it, but it's still interesting.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Remember when that wacky college threw a fit over a book about Islam being required reading? That same college is at it again, but this time it's not Allah they want to pretend does not exist, it's the poor. There are protests over Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America because of its "perceived liberal and anti-capitalism views." (Link from The Muse.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Christopher Hitchens has a new book out, A Long Short War, a collection of his bizarre pro-war essays. The Spectator is not impressed.

Since someone answered my plea for a wacky Amazon.com blog, perhaps someone will do this for me: I want a Christopher Hitchens watch, documenting his further decline into madness. Someone who has more time and a stronger stomach would be best. Any takers?

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A British author created a new pen name in order to branch into a new genre, but having two identities can be a difficult task.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 15, 2003

Neal Pollack wants us to know that he thinks it would be funny if we all sent yellow cake mix to the White House, but he's not specifically advocating it.

By the way, Neal's new book comes out soon. It's called Never Mind the Pollacks, and you can pre-order it now.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Bookslut's own Hollywood Madam gives us eleven reasons why The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I mean LXG, I mean THE LEAGUE, whatever, sucked.

"Why, hello, you league of extraordinary gentlemen. Pardon me while I take this opportunity to introduce myself fifteen minutes into our little story here. My name is the Fantom -- I will be the villain for this picture -- you know this, because I look oh-so-intimidating in this oh-so-shiny metal helmet. Do not worry about such things, though -- for although I seem to be a reference to either an obscure series of French novels or an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, in an hour it will make absolutely no difference."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

With the rankings of America's most literate cities, sitting in the middle of the list is Dallas, Texas. Austin is higher, but embarrassingly low on the Publications tally. The Dallas Morning News reports on its middling status and tries to convince us it's not really that bad.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Patrick McGrath, author of Dr. Haggard's Disease, became a U.S. citizen just in time to see the Bush Administration do its worst. He has to admit that the America of Thomas Paine and the Declaration of Independence that drew him to it is not the America we see today.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Attention all movie reviewers and people commenting on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For God's sake, it's QUATERMAIN, not Quartermain. So stop it already.

Also: The Seattle Times lists all of the crazy, stupid changes the movie made to the original comic.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

New York magazine has a series called "Wanna be a Writer?" David Amsden interviews a series of authors about how they got their start. Gary Shteyngart wrote while working for a lawyer, Alice McDermott read Redbook's slush pile for money, and Jonathan Franzen admits to having incestuous desires. He throws in that he had a crush on his cousin for no particular reason. It is strangely comforting to see that he uses the word "like" half a dozen times.

Also in the series is an article about the "I dated a reclusive author, he broke up with me, I'm gonna write about it for revenge and money" phenomenon.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

If you fell for Dave Eggers's trick of charging more for a third version of You Shall Know Our Velocity renamed Sacrament, prepare to feel like a fool all over again. You can now download the added chapters for free as a PDF.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Come on, an entire review of a book about vitiligo and no Michael Jackson jokes? What a waste...

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 14, 2003

There are those of us still seething about the Supreme Court's decision to protect insane copyright laws, and those who didn't really pay much attention to the issue tend to think us insane. But Matthew Baldwin explains that if you still need proof that art progresses from works of art falling into the public domain, he points to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That would be the book, not the movie. I haven't seen it, but I did get an e-mail this morning with "LXG sucks" written over and over again.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A new Nokia phone has Cory Doctorow coming to the conclusion that he's Amish.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Kbanas.com has a little parody of Million Little Pieces called "James Frey Goes Camping."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

It took two generations, but it's finally finished: A Genealogical Chart of Greek Mythology. It's tough to keep the family tree straight with all of the raping and the changing of sexes and the four different women named Antigone.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

I need to start cursing my books. Found on Book Filter: links to a series of book curses, which were used in Medieval times to prevent theft.

For him that Stealeth a Book from this Library,
Let it change into a Serpent in his hand & rend him.
Let him be struck with Palsy, & all his Members blasted.
Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy,
Let there be no Surcease to his Agony till he sink to Dissolution.
Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not,
When at last he goeth to his final Punishment,
Let the flames of hell consume him for ever & aye.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

"Barely a week goes by without some sneering reference to chick-lit which has become all but a term of abuse. Why this should be is not clear - simple envy, perhaps, at our huge sales and concomitantly large advances. Or the belief that because these books are easy to read, they're easy to write. They're not. But I think there is something much deeper at work: a snobbish distaste for popular writing full stop." I would like to suggest a reason. Most of it is terrible. Yeah, I know, there is good chick lit. I really liked Good in Bed and Why Girls Are Weird and a handful of others. But I get a lot of chick lit review books, and I stop reading most of them at page 20. For every Bridget Jones, there are twenty terrible, insipid, Sex in the City rip-off, obviously written with some sort of Chick Lit Mad Libs kit books.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Literary advances for unknowns are tricky things for both the publisher and the author. If the publisher announces they spent a million dollars on a first novel and it flops, the publisher looks like an idiot and the writer's career is wrecked.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Tim Adams has the unenviable task of reading the top ten bestsellers in England looking for some quality. At least the British bestselling list looks a little more enticing than the American version. I'd take the mixed-review novel Brick Lane over Johnny Angel, for example.

The final tallies looked like this. Number of pages: 3,891; murders: 54 (of which, throats cut: 17); orgasms: 24 (of which, simultaneous: 8); books using the word 'raghead' to denote an Arab: 3; good-looking villains: 1; central women characters who did not talk about needing a man: 0; pistol whippings: 5; gasps over unexpected proportions of lover's manhood: 3; uses of the phrase 'all hell broke loose': 2; uses of the phrase 'you do the math': 4; times I went to sleep halfway through a paragraph describing the night sky: 2; times I smiled at an authorial joke: 4; times I laughed out loud (when supposed to): 0.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

People should know by now that you just don't mess with Harry Potter. They will come after you. But if you wanted to download a copy of The Order of the Phoenix, evidently you can. So far Scholastic is doing a pretty mediocre job of getting the illegal copies down.

My question is, did somebody sit and type that whole damn book? It's 900 pages. Honestly, does your boss know what you do all day?

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has written a guide to writing eulogies. No word on any of them are to be performed as a rap.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 11, 2003

The Boston Phoenix has announced its Muzzle Awards, awarded to those who "undermined freedom of speech and personal liberties" in the past year.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Dennis Perin tries to figure out what happened to the Christopher Hitchens he knew and loved. Evidently the "Hitch" he knew and loved was not a Cat Stevens fan.

We're chatting about nothing in particular when the juke begins playing "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens. Hitch stops talking. His face tightens. Eyesnarrow. I know this look--I saw it on Crossfire when he nearly slugged a Muslim supporter of the Ayatollah's fatwa against Salman Rushdie. I saw it during a Gulf War panel discussion at Georgetown when he responded to some pro-war hack with a precision barrage of invective, followed by the slamming down of the mike, causing a brief reverb in the speakers. And here it was again. "No," he said, shaking his head, exhaling Rothman smoke. "No--get rid of that!"

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

This latest development in the Jayson Blair case is just too disturbing to restate. Just read the very last part and you'll see what I mean. (Link from Gawker.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Heath Row has single-handedly restored my faith in the Virtual Book Tour. Mary Roach took over his blog for a bit and he interviewed her. Content! Also, if you've been looking for a provider of embalming fluid, Roach gives a recommendation. (Did I forget to mention? The Virtual Book Tour book is about corpses.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

How long has this Life of Pi promo been around? I just found it today, but it's great fun. There are not-quite-games where you can control Pi, creepy Myst-like music, flash movies... Every book should come with an interactive promo like this. My only complaint: no tigers. The promo should definitely have tigers.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Dan Rhodes talks to 3 A.M. magazine about his new book Timoleon Vieta Come Home, his many enemies in the book world, and trying to write like The Smiths.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 10, 2003

Poetry readings can be a dreadful bore without adding anything to the writing itself, but they can tell you a lot about the poets themselves. Just think - if you could listen to audio of Shakespeare reading his sonnets, you would in a second, wouldn't you? So perhaps the charm of the new CD The Spoken Word - Poets is not that it will bring a new appreciation for the works. It's just about hearing Robert Browning flub up a reading of one of his poems.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Redbook, best known for its 15 Quick & Easy Pasta Salad Recipes!, was oddly among the list of magazines Wal-Mart would be censoring the covers of, along with Cosmo and Marie Claire. Slate examines what the hell happened.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

One of Pakistan's most prestigious universities has been removing classic works of English literature from its syllabus, declaring them "vulgar," including Gulliver's Travels. Also being removed is a poem by W. H. Auden because it "promotes Jews."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A. S. Byatt really wants to get into a fistfight with J. K. Rowling. (All I can think of is the little cartoon cat, "Come on! Put em up!") It's just a rundown of the New York Times controversy, but it has the funniest damn thing I've ever seen in it. "Charles Taylor, book critic for the American literary web site Salon..." Literary website. Ha! Oh, I think I just perforated my lung laughing so hard.

They're referring to an article by Charles Taylor defending the Harry Potter books. I find it amusing that he's accusing someone else of being a snob. He regularly writes in Salon about how the DVD is killing cinema and how all modern day film is crap. He writes about "classic" movies an awful lot, and I am not sure I've ever read a positive review of a first-run film by him. Pot? Kettle.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The only thing that could lure an author out into the New York City snowstorm in March 2003 is a call from CNN. Christian Bauman, author of The Ice Beneath You, was asked to appear on CNN, so he hiked through Manhattan to the CNN offices.

I am a novelist, and novelists rate right above poets and plumbers in media interest. What all this boils down to is I will not be seeing the main CNN studio and the sexy anchor desk and bright lights. Nor, unfortunately, will I be seeing a stylist about my slight hair problem. I am instead in a cramped conference room right down the hall from the elevator, with a large cameraman trying to find a place to plug in his lights and a busy, friendly reporter apologizing that I had to drive through the snow and apologizing for me having to get my own coffee across the street and really, she says, you’re better off because the stuff here is just awful anyway. She sips from her cup and grimaces to prove it.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 09, 2003

Hillary Clinton's book has sold one million copies. Tucker Carlson better get ready to start eating his shoes.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

As my boyfriend is a big fan of the I Love Everything message boards, every once and a while he'll send me a link to an interesting discussion. This one, once you scroll past the first bit with the name calling with the woman from the Chicago Reader, gets interesting. Dave Eggers, crappy literature coverage in alternative weeklies, the ULA, then Neal Pollack comes on and insults a few people. Plus it has the line, "philip roth puts on a hell of a stage show what with all the backup dancers and the giant plastic wonderbras descending from the rafters." It's worth the read.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Guardian will be publishing an American edition. This makes me nothing but giddy.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Really, Caleb Carr should stop writing letters. Doesn't he have a publicist? Can't they take his stamps away from him? Anyway, now he's responding to the A. S. Byatt Harry Potter column. At least he doesn't call anyone a bitch or accuse anyone of killing the soul of New York City. (Actually, I'm a bit disappointed.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Okay, so I'm confused. I was excited for the Virtual Book Tour. It sounded very, very cool. "Tours last for two weeks with the author “stopping” at one site each weekday, 10 sites in all. Each site participates either by posting book excerpts, audio clips of the author reading, an interview with the author, or a review of the book. With the site’s permission, the author may also “take over” that site and post to it for a day mutually agreed upon by the author and the site owner—an essay, a personal story, funny facts and anecdotes, etc."

Now, I don't mean to be the killjoy. Maybe kinks are being worked out due to its newness, but the Virtual Book Tour is less than enthralling. On the first day, there was a very short review, most of it being a two paragraph excerpt from the book. Day number two was a two paragraph excerpt with the statement "I recommend it" tacked on the end. Today, another very short blurb-y review.

It really is a great idea. Use blogs to help market books. It could be entertaining and innovative and do some very interesting things. I'm only worried that future authors will shy away from participating in something like this because blurbs do not make a marketing campaign.

The tour is only on day three. I really do hope it picks up and someone does something interesting with it. Because if not, I may be forced to start my own damn Virtual Book Tour.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Everyone hates Fantagraphics it seems. The Village Voice is a little late to the party, yelling, "Kim Thompson and Gary Groth are DICKS!" while all of the other articles about that came out over a month ago. And it seems that Joy Press really wanted Groth to start foaming at the mouth in the interview, but he didn't. So Press pretends he did.

"People aren't going to get better at what they do if they live in this cocoon of reciprocal backslapping," says Groth. Hm. Well, that makes sense; I guess I agree with that. Sounds reasonable. Press, however, follows it up with, "With that kind of caustic attitude, it's amazing that Groth's never had his lights punched out." Really, if you can't find a quote in an interview of him being an asshole, use an anecdote. The story is loaded with them, and they're all more representative of his caustic attitude. The moral of the story is, still, Fantagraphics may be run by assholes, but they publish good stuff.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

My birthday is on Friday. I have an Amazon.com wishlist. These are two completely unrelated sentences, I swear.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 08, 2003

The Guardian has a previously unpublished short story by Joseph Heller.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

More about The Kite Runner: the Los Angeles Times has a profile of author Khaled Hosseini.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The American Booksellers Association has attacked First Lady Laura Bush for her recent appearance on the CBS Early Show. No, she didn't burn a copy of Harry Potter, nor did she order the arrest of anyone for their library reading habits under the PATRIOT Act. She mentioned Amazon. I'll wait while you overcome your horror. "Wouldn't it be better for every library and every outlet that sells books to have the same opportunity to disseminate the information?" So what exactly was Laura Bush supposed to do? Read out a list of every independent bookstore in America? Granted, there aren't many left so it wouldn't have taken very long, but be serious. And I hate to break it to people, but Amazon? Independent. Not owned by a chain. Just because it's successful doesn't mean we should spit on it.

I would also just like to say that I hope this is the only time I will ever be forced to side with First Lady Laura Bush. In fact I feel like I should throw in an insult just to even things up.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Washington Post has identified the minority of the year in literature, and it is Arab-American! Congratulations. May your Arundhati Roy write more than one novel. This means the Washington Post can review three completely different books (Crescent, Kite Runner, and West of the Jordan) in the same article and use their ethnicity as the excuse. Isn't pigeon-holing great?

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

New Jersey finally got around to abolishing the state's poet laureate position, their only option to get rid of Amiri Baraka.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Regarding this article about what Shakespeare would be doing if he were alive today, I can't put it any better than the TMFTML folks: "we like to think that he'd be writing gay porn."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Our chat session this week will be with Karin Kross, our Comic Bookslut, tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8:00 p.m. EST. I'll post the link tomorrow, or you can join our notification list (just send a blank e-mail) and I'll send out an e-mail tomorrow morning with all of the details. Plus you'll receive notice when the new issues go up, future chat sessions, and things of that nature.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 07, 2003

Salon has something of an Ann Coulter wrap up in their gossip column today. First, Joe Conason compares Coulter to McCarthy in a review for Salon. Even the Wall Street Journal is surprised by Coulter's declaration of McCarthy as one of the heroes of the 20th Century. (Quit gasping. She's crazy. We just have to accept that.) And perhaps this is just symptomatic of my growing conservatism, but I've been reading a lot more Andrew Sullivan lately. He weighs in on Treason, too.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Joe Sacco reports from Rafah in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

With the release of James Wood's The Book Against God, you could hear people sharpening their knives. Wood has been less than kind to a great number of writers, and many viewed this as a chance to enact revenge. There is something so boring about that, so I have ignored most of the reviews. But now we have a review by Daniel Mendelsohn for the New York Times. Instead of using the review to settle a score or call Wood names, he puts the novel in context with Wood's history of criticism. It's quite even headed and impressive, actually.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

An article about muckraking journalism declares it was killed by the culture of the consumer.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The Boston Globe has an article about the world of out-of-print books. The statistics are sobering. In 2002, 150,000 books were published and 131,000 went out-of-print. Luckily, we have NYRB to republish old gems, but there is also Persephone, the Modern Library's 20th Century Rediscoveries and now the Lost Books Club.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

A. S. Byatt is full of shit. I may not understand the Harry Potter obsession among (most) adults, but I don't go as far as Byatt. I don't think reading a children's book is regressing or a symptom of our society's decay.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Michel Houellebecq's controversial Platform is just now seeing release in America, and it's had a strangely quiet one. (Definitely read this review by Julian Barnes.) But over in England, a new Houellebecq book is being released and kicking up dust, Lanzarote. But if you don't want to wait another year to read it in the States, you can always read the Guardian's digested read.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

The pirated version of Harry Potter has been outselling the official edition in Pakistan.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Pamela Ribon has been stalking people in the bookstores if she sees them pick up a copy of her book, Why Girls Are Weird. She seems to be scaring them away from buying it.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 05, 2003

Due to the conversion of Bookslut to Movable Type, the new issue was late. We're terribly sorry, but I think the issue will make up for it.

First off, we have interviews with Pamela Ribon, author of the newly released Why Girls Are Weird, and Carol Emschwiller, author of The Mount. Ribon discusses why Anne Heche is funny and the shifting definition of chick lit. Emschwiller, who recently won the Philip K. Dick award, assures us that her last book wasn't really about horses. Really.

Over at the 100 Books Project, there have been a lot of books flung around the room. Some months are just off over there.

We have reviews of the latest books by David Amsden, Ian Frazier, Donald Hall, and Kate Moses. We even have reviews of the new Harry Potter and "this year's The Lovely Bones", The Dogs of Babel.

While things are a bit of a mess at the moment - some of the archives are not available right now - we hope to have everything back to normal by the end of the month.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 03, 2003

James Lileks has a great column on DC vs. Marvel superheroes. While Marvel's characters were infinitely more complex and interesting, they also stretched believability just a little bit. (Link from Journalista!)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Scott McCloud has debuted his new web-comic, The Right Number. Each issue is accessible with a micropayment, or 25 cents for a download or 32 online views.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

When Jeremy Gravon walked into the bookstore and saw Monica Ali's Brick Lane, he felt a bit ill. For the previous two years, he had been working on his own novel about Brick Lane, entitled, well, Brick Lane. Other than an odd coincidence about characters named Tariq, hooked on heroin in both books, their two books could not be more different. In fact, he's quite happy that multicultural London's story is showing up in more novels than just White Teeth.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Really, the best thing about this list of songs about libraries and librarians is just knowing there's a band out there called Spazz with a song called "Dewey Decimal Stitchcore." Warms the heart, it does.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

I know this says a lot about my sense of humor, but when I read about the book Bad Girlz, a book of "'street life,'... ghetto or hip-hop fiction," my first thought was of Andy Dick's parody of the Backstreet Boys. His own band was called Backstreet Boyz. "We're from the streets. We don't care about spelling."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Why are adults buying the new Harry Potter? "Sticking to children's bookstores after bad experience going to an 'adult bookstore' a few years back."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

"Hillary Clinton's new memoir is more than 100,000 pages long. At least I think it is. There are only 562 page numbers, but you know how those Clintons lie." If you wanted a reasoned review of the book, you probably shouldn't read the one written by P. J. O'Rourke. As usual, he hovers near clever, but the Onion's infographic was funnier. (Thanks to Carl for the link.)

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 02, 2003

With all those freedoms America is busy instilling into Iraq, they seem to have forgotten freedom of the press. Troops are threatening to shut down newspapers that have started printing since the fall of Saddam.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Who do you think would win in a fight? Jesus or Harry Potter? It seems that the Christians are worried Mr. Potter could kick Jesus's ass and are afraid of the competition. With a new book, the banning has renewed. Now even a college is banning Harry Potter.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Marvel had a press conference regarding Neil Gaiman's upcoming comic 1602. Comic Book Resources has more images of the artwork and a transcript of the conference.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Adam Kirsch writes about Los Angeles being the cesspool of hell in literature as if that's an inaccurate thing.

For Nathanael West in The Day of the Locust, it was famously a "dream dump," a "Sargasso of the imagination" in which civilization is reduced to "plaster, canvas, lath and paint." For Truman Capote, it was a nightmare city where "a crack in the wall, which might somewhere else have charm, only strikes an ugly note prophesying doom." And those are some of the milder opinions. H.L. Mencken thought "there were more morons collected in Los Angeles than in any other place on earth." Aldous Huxley wrote that "the truest patriots, it may be, are those who pray for a national calamity" to wipe the smile off the face of "Joy City."

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

I joined the Oprah.com book group online so that I could have access to their "online guide." I was curious. I think critics' fears that Oprah would turn Steinbeck into a personal guide of inspiration have been confirmed. If you register and click on the "EXCLUSIVE GUIDE!", you'll find an "About the Author" for Mr. Steinbeck. The first question? "What was his family life like?" That's such an Oprah thing.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

In the digital age, when a student can't answer his homework questions about a work of fiction, they can now shoot off an e-mail to the author themselves. Andrew Lam's short stories are being taught in college, and he's amazed at how many e-mails he receives with the subject line "HELP!".

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

"A Tale of Two Cities—Dude, Where’s My Head?"

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"Imagine a future without cyberspace...without virtual reality...without AIs and simulations...and without the Web. What would you do? What would you fear? What wouldn't you know?"

Umm, I wouldn't be able to look up "brain tumor" on WebMD every time I get another migraine. I would actually have to be productive at work. I would probably actually answer my phone from time to time. Oh, and Bookslut wouldn't exist. How exactly are you going to write a book about no cyberspace? Wasn't that, you know, the 70's?

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

July 01, 2003

Salman Rushdie is a sexy man. If someone at Encarta happens to read this blog, please, please, please update your picture of him. May I suggest a replacement?

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I would like to officially ban the word "postfeminism." Especially when it's used in articles about chick-lit.

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Stephen King is pissed off at Jonathan Franzen. He's awfully late in the game to be queuing up to throw stones, but he's making up for it by taking it really far. He is taking offense at a few comments Franzen has made about popular authors, so he has written an essay for Book Magazine (only an excerpt is available online) about a fictional world where authors like Franzen sell millions of books and authors like King have to live in a trailer. Did somebody mention to King that Franzen does actually sell millions of books? He might want to know that. As Peter Carlson says, "Good Lord, what happened to Stephen King?"

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If the new 900-page Harry Potter book is breaking your back, be glad you're not reading it in Braille. The first printing of the 13-volume set will be shipping out soon.

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"Have you ever wondered why TV interviews of authors tend to be so lame?" It's not just television interviews. I just read an interview with Carolyn Parkhurst for her novel The Dogs of Babel, and she's asked the question, "Did you ever think of writing the novel from the perspective of the dog?" As she tried to formulate an answer, it was swiftly followed by, "How about the dead woman?" And don't get me started on Fresh Air. (By the way, read the article. The fake interview is brilliant.)

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"Both of the dead cats have a mediocre opinion of McSweeney's." (Link from TMFTML.)

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For a while I hung out at a feminist bookstore. I read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I read Rubyfruit Jungle. Then I realized that's pretty much the only good lesbian literature out there. The lesbians know this, too. They just feel like they should be reading it anyway.

Twenty years ago I worked at a women's bookstore, and I decided to read all of the lesbian fiction. Feasible, because it only occupied two bookcases. So, to the accompaniment of a Lucie Blue Tremblay album ("Allo, Seen-seen-ah-teee!"), I started, and choked about six books into Sarah Aldridge. I realized that I'd have to skip around because I would kill myself if one more college professor-softball player moved to a small town and helped a housewife discover her true nature.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Tan's 1989 novel, "The Joy Luck Club," presented a heartwarming picture of Chinese American life that enjoyed wide mainstream acclaim, but that many younger Asians felt was overly romanticized, even "whitewashed." Or maybe just boring as hell. The L.A. Times has an article about Asian-American writers living under the "Amy Tan legacy." The Amy Tan legacy should be nothing more than boyfriends hating their girlfriends for making them watch that god-awful movie and a whole bunch of eye rolling.

Posted by Jessa Crispin | link

Hillary Clinton nearly caused riots at a recent booksigning when more than 1,000 people showed up and she only stayed two hours to sign.

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