April 29, 2005
Well, I'm scared.
If poetry is dead or dying, nobody told Seattle. The 2005 Seattle Poetry Festival kicks off tonight, featuring Sherman Alexie and Anne Waldman. Also profiled in this P-I article is Cranky, the Seattle-based literary journal.
Did you ever have that experience in high school where you witnessed the two nerdiest kids in the state getting into a surprisingly intense slapfight? Well...
The two branches of the Writers Guild of America are suing each other over whether arbitration is required to address their ongoing money dispute.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the WGA, West, said union rules required arbitration over its claim that it was subsidizing the WGA, East, by more than $1 million.
East Coast versus West Coast! Yeah! Me, I'm representing for the Dirty South. Holla! Or something.
Sad, sad news:
We're sad to inform you that April was the final edition of Cupcake. In the nearly two years that the series existed, we were proud to have presented readings by some of New York's best women writers. The time has now come for each of us to move on to pursue other endeavors.
We thank you for having made Cupcake one of the many reasons that people look to downtown New York for cutting-edge arts and culture, and hope that you will continue to support talented women writers wherever you may find them.
The Bush administration yesterday revealed that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers booked their tickets on the Internet using a computer in a college library in New Jersey.
Ken Wainstein, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, made the disclosure in testimony to the House subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security. He argued that Congress should renew provisions of the USA Patriot Act that allow seizure of library and bookstore records.
Get ready for a fight.
More on David Parker, the Massachusetts father who was arrested Wednesday for trespassing after he refused to leave the campus of his 5-year-old son's school. Parker was upset that his son had brought home a copy of Who's in a Family, the Robert Skutch children's book that mentions families with gay parents.
Parker and his wife, Tonia, 34, who was also in court yesterday, said the dispute arose because they asked school officials to notify them about classroom discussions about same-sex marriage and what they called other adult themes. They also wanted the option to exclude their boy, now 6, from those talks.
Ever heard of home schooling, dude?
The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to make it appear the government was obtaining valuable intelligence, a former Army translator who worked there claims in a new book scheduled for release Monday.
Erik Saar's Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier's Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo will be released on May 2 by Penguin.
Art Spiegelman was elected into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences this year along with Tom Brokaw, Jeff Koons, Tony Kushner, and William Rehnquist.
“The women who write [cozies] stop the action to go shopping, create a recipe, or take care of cats,” he says. “Cozies are not serious literature. They don’t deserve to win. Men take [writing] more seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. There are wonderful exceptions, of course—P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.”
Today, inspecting my shelves, I cannot explain or deny the frisson of excitement I get simply from looking at the grey-and-white spines of Camus's The Outsider, Norman Douglas's South Wind, Elias Canetti's Auto-da-Fé, Ronald Firbank's Valmouth and Other Stories. Forgive me if I give the spines a quick sniff - a warm, sweet, toffee scent with a fugitive whiff of cigar-box and pencil shavings.
Um, John, do you want to be alone? 'Cause this is starting to feel a little awkward...
Those pesky Red Eyes and Red Streaks aren't just bad for your brain. They're bad for their parent companies, too.
The marketing insight at play here is that if you put something light, easy to read, and disposable in the hands of people facing a 15-minute train ride, many will take it. And having taken it, they'll feel less of a need to buy some other paper -- even if that paper was their actual preference. For the last nine years, Rose (who doesn't want her last name used) has managed the newsstand inside the Irving Park station. "I was selling 70 to 75 Sun-Timeses a day, 30 to 35 Tribunes, and 20 to 25 RedEyes," she told me. "Now it's 12 or 13 Tribs and about 30 Sun-Timeses." Overall, she said, her business is off 70 percent.
April 28, 2005
The Boston Phoenix profiles local lit mag Post Road.
Top selling novelist Frederick Forsyth is the latest high-profile personality to publicly back the father of a murdered Red Cap’s bid to unseat Tony Blair at the General Election, it was announced today.
Forsyth called the candidate, Reg Keys, "a decent, honest man." Keys also has the support of legendary musician/producer Brian Eno and authors Richard Dawkins and Benjamin Zephaniah.
More reviews yesterday. In New York, the Daily News and the Post both weighed in with thumbs up. The review in the San Francisco Chronicle, however, was another animal. Anthony Giardina spends most of the article enumerating—in excruciating detail—what he says are the rookie mistakes that make me, as he puts it, an apprentice to the form. (“Only certain kinds of thriller writers,” he says, “deem it essential to tell us, when two people are out to dinner, that one of them is eating pumpkin ravioli.”) Also, in a 900-word review, Giardina misspells my name 11 times.
Bound to Be Read is closing its stores in Albuquerque and St. Paul. The Journal and the Star Tribune both refer to the bookseller as an "independent" retailer, though it's actually owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, a Minnesota-based corporation that owns several television and radio stations.
On September 16, 2003, as I was leaving my flat to go up to London for a radio interview, I picked up with the post a letter forwarded by my agent. Something about it said, "OPEN ME." I glanced at the signature: a stranger's. I read the contents. I dropped the page into my notes for the interview. As I travelled to London, I felt that, though my body was on the train, my mind was radically displaced. "So," my interviewer said, "… your family. Your parents split up when you were 11. You haven't seen or heard of your father - is this correct - since 1963?" I touched the letter, which I had put down, like a talisman, by the microphone. I was able to say: "Not until this morning."
UCLA is trying to cut energy costs by reducing the use of air conditioning. That worries the college's librarians, who are concerned about the possible effect on books.
Kristen St. John, the collections conservator in charge of preserving books, said she will be looking for sharp rises in humidity or temperature, which could accelerate the death of books by speeding up a process called acid hydrolysis, which causes paper to lose its flexibility.
Over time, paper becomes brittle, turning yellow or brown and cracking easily, she said. This is the point of no return for research materials, as acid hydrolysis breaks fibers in paper, an irreversible process, she added.
Old people like books about old people. (And if there are cats involved, so much the better.)
Author Mykel Mitchell has set out to bridge the gap between Hip-Hop and Christianity in his new book, titled "Word: For Everybody Who Thought Christianity Was For Suckas."
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis? That's the way I need Jesus.
The Washington Post profiles satirist and cartoonist Ali Lmrabet who was recently banned from practicing as a journalist for ten years in Morocco.
In March, after battling for months with media regulators, Lmrabet received a temporary license giving him permission to start a new magazine. In an interview at the time, however, he predicted that the government would continue to throw obstacles in his way. "I do believe that I'm going to publish again, but I also believe that they are going to make my life very, very hard," he said.
If you want to view pornography, buy a home computer. While we support free speech, our facility needs to be child-friendly. No one -- not children, other patrons or staff -- wants to see your "private life."
But if you must view pornography on a library computer, at least try to make it family-friendly. There's no reason to do a Google search for "naked frat guys with hard cocks" when you could just search for "naked frat guys with erect penises."
Police arrested a Lexington father who refused to leave the Joseph Estabrook School yesterday after school officials rejected his demands that his 6-year-old son be shielded from any discussions about gay households.
David Parker, 42, confronted officials after his son brought home "Who's in a Family," a storybook that includes characters who are gay parents.
The Book Standard reports on how Ignatius Press, a small Catholic publisher, dealt with the sudden fame of one of their authors the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. You have to wonder how it would have affected sales if Ratzinger had taken the name "Hilarius II."
He was a very strong, magnetic force throughout my childhood. A close friend of my father's, Heinz Haber, worked for Disney and presented him like a demigod. So I became curious: who was the man behind the demigod? The more I learned about him, the more I became fascinated, especially when I found out how little artistic work he had actually done himself. He had been the general of a thousand workers and drawing soldiers. It was quite an experience to look behind this facade.
Mario Garcia examines the use of the tabloid format by newspapers at a time when it is becoming more and more popular. (As it should. You can't read standard newspapers on the train without asking your neighbor to hold up the other side for you.) Poynter has an excerpt of the article, although the entire 24-page (depending on just how much a journalism geek you really are) is available for download in PDF format.
Ian McMillan has reworked John Betjeman's famous poem "Slough" to be more positive about the town.
In the original, Betjeman writes: "Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough, it isn't fit for humans now".
In the revised work, McMillan counters him: "Come friendly words and splash on Slough! Celebrate it, here and now".
On mainstream strips he enjoys: "I like to look at 'The Family Circus' because it's so fucking weird. A lot of people say the world of 'Red Meat' is so separated from reality. I think it's more in step of reality than 'The Family Circus.'"
Edward Wyatt looks at a new trend in retail: supermarkets with big-ass book sections.
April 27, 2005
Here's one way to get your novel published: Marry a filmmaker. The New Yorker looks at Hollywood wives who write, paying special attention to Ron Howard's wife, Cheryl Howard Crew (In the Face of Jinn).
Howard counts among her literary influences Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, James Clavell, and Nelson DeMille, along with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.
Also at The New Yorker (yes, The New Yorker): A new short story by Haruki Murakami.
The Boston Globe profiles the book The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution by Elizabeth Lloyd. That title sure grabbed my attention.
America is obsessed with fat, possibly because it's easier to be obsessed with fat than it is to be obsessed with, say, geopolitics. Try this: Watch your local news broadcast three nights in a row. I fucking guarantee you'll see a story about how fat this country is and why that's bad. Fuck terrorism, the environment, and homelessness there are soda vending machines in school cafeterias! Won't somebody please think of the children?
Seattle Weekly looks at three new books about the American preoccupation with weight: Wendy McClure's I'm Not the New Me, Judith Moore's Fat Girl: A True Story, and the anthology Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession. Reviewer Lynn Jacobson isn't exactly impressed by the first two, but I'm still looking forward to reading McClure's book. (What can I say? I like her.)
Ronald Reagan's handwritten diaries of his eight years in the White House will be published as a book to be released next year, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation and HarperCollins Publishers announced Tuesday.
Finally, a book that will teach America's youth about real values. How else will the leaders of tomorrow learn how to ignore AIDS, lie about Iran-contra, joke about bombing the Soviet Union and consult astrologers about vital national security decisions? Even in death, the man's still giving.
Ian McEwan considers climate change at OpenDemocracy.net.
The sheer pressure of our numbers, the abundance of our inventions, the blind forces of our desires and needs, appear unstoppable and are generating a heat – the hot breath of our civilisation – whose effects we comprehend only hazily. The misanthropic traveller, gazing down from his wondrous, and wondrously dirty machine, is bound to ask whether the earth might not be better off without us.
Gina Mallet explains why she, a food writer (and author of one of my favorite books of last year Last Chance to Eat) and gourmet, loves McDonalds.
If the public buys what the food biz sells, then food biz's like McDonald's will happily continue to sell. If however, the consumer starts to protest and stops buying, the food biz reacts positively by trying to adjust its practices. The supermarkets would never have themselves included organic produce in their stores unless the public had asked for it. McDonald's would never have stopped buying battery hens' eggs unless it was convinced that the hen-huggers, animal activists, were affecting their business. In the matter of ADR, the technology that strips cow carcasses so thoroughly that chips of bone were showing up in pizza toppings, McDonald's reacted quite swiftly to consumer protests and banned it. McDonald's is always trying to stay one step ahead of the consumer.
He bashed liberals for trying to convince him that President Bush was the Anti-Christ. Give the Anti-Christ a little credit, he said.
"I think the Anti-Christ is going to have higher than a 40 percent approval rating," he said.
See, this is why Jen has a crush on the guy.
In China, you don't even have to exist to have a bestseller.
At about US$4 a copy, Executive Ability is estimated to have grossed about US $8 million. The publisher of the first volume, which was co-authored by a fictitious white-haired Duke University professor named David Byrne, said it was duped like everybody else.
April 26, 2005
If you want to steal occult books or sex manuals from a library, don't do it in New Zealand. The consequences are dire.
On another occasion Mr Lewis saw a young man push four books under his jacket and leave the library.
"I followed him and asked him what he thought he was doing. He was quite taken aback that someone from the library had descended on him so quickly. We sat and talked and when I explained that the library was a community resource, he got quite a sheepish look on his face."
And then Mr. Lewis brought out the taiaha. Problem solved.
John Wiley & Sons, a leading publisher of technology books, said Apple Computer has removed all its titles from the shelves of Apple stores in apparent retaliation for the upcoming publication of a biography of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The books disappeared from Apple stores last week after a month of increasingly contentious discussions about publication of the book, "iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business," said author Jeffrey S. Young. The book, co-written with William L. Simon, offers an unflinching account of the rise, fall and rebirth of one of Silicon Valley's most charismatic figures.
It's encouraging that Donald Hall, one of America's best poets, is getting some good press these days. The Concord Monitor looks at Hall's new memoir, The Best Day The Worst Day, about his life with his late wife, poet Jane Kenyon.
Also at LHB: John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats is the first participant in Note Books, in which "musicians will stop by and write a short piece on their current reading, influential books, or literary leanings." It's a great idea, and you couldn't pick a better first contributor than Darnielle, who also writes the journal Last Plane to Jakarta. I've been listening to The Mountain Goats pretty much exclusively over the past few weeks, and I couldn't be more excited about The Sunset Tree, which was released today.
(Physician Rita Charon) and others are seeking to improve the relationship between physicians and patients using literature and writing. The goal is to make doctors more empathetic by getting them to articulate and deal with what they feel and to develop sophisticated listening skills, ears for the revelations hidden in imagery and subtext. The field -- alternatively called narrative medicine, literature and medicine, or medical humanities, depending on the approach -- began by most accounts about 30 years ago and is now widely reflected in medical school curricula around the country.
This sounds like a great idea, but I just learned that Zadie Smith is writing a rock opera based on my Zyrtec prescription, so I'm not really sure how to feel.
I guess we all went through a Gothic chapbook phase when we were teenagers, listening to Felix Mendelssohn and reading Stephen Cullen's The Haunted Priory; Or, The Fortunes of the House of Rayo, A Romance Founded Partly on Historical Fact. But it used to be such a pain to go to Hot Topic to get the latest books. Enter Zittaw Press, which reprints and assembles the chapbooks in the owners' New Hampshire apartment. Not everyone surprise! gets it.
Apparently, their Web site turns up in searches for "Gothic," and Franz Potter has fielded e-mails from concerned parents who want to know why their teenagers are dressing in black, whitening their skin and wearing red lipstick.
A French children's book author who claimed Disney's Finding Nemo copied a fish of his creation has been convicted of fraud and ordered to pay damages.
Franck Le Calvez claimed that the film's title character was based on his orange and white clown fish, Pierrot.
But a French court ruled on Wednesday that Nemo had existed before Pierrot and that Le Calvez even knew of the Disney character when he created his.
This sounds a lot like a nightmare I have every once in a while. It also involves peach cobbler and 3rd Rock from the Sun actor French Stewart. You can sort of imagine how the whole thing plays out.
American publishers are dying to cash in on the manga craze, and they are releasing manga versions of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys this year. No word on whether these American versions will be flipped like Japanese manga. The New York Times gives a timeline of Nancy Drew's evolution including the new manga version, and the Papercutz website has previews of the artwork.
Southern Connecticut State University barred a student from a poetry class after his professor said a poem he submitted contained veiled threats to sexually assault her and her 3-year-old daughter.
The student, Edward Bolles, said his poem entitled "Professor White," was meant to be a satirical piece about globalization. In it, a Mexican student named Juan has a sexual encounter with the daughter of his white professor.
Dennis Johnson of Moby Lives gets to the bottom of the whole Chabon hoax affair with a precise summation and an interview of the original Bookforum article and target of Eggers' scorn, Paul Maliszewski.
It seemed to me that buried in the lecture is a story about Chabon's life, and that it got lost. It's a story about his growing up in Columbia, Maryland, about his parents' divorce and his father's embellishments and lies, and about Chabon's attempts to escape that world into alternative universes imagined by mystery, science–fiction, and fantasy writers. To me, that sounds like a great story. It's a quieter story, for sure, and harder to tell in some ways, more difficult to imagine as a writer, because, in some of its details, it might appear just plain or even average American, but still, I'd love to read it. But that story—that true story—is obscured when Chabon inserts his fictional brush with a fake Holocaust survivor. In fact, letting the Holocaust into the story of his life has the effect of dwarfing everything else.
The Daily Star profiles Israeli dissident author Sami Michael.
Not that Dobson acknowledges a debt to feminism; indeed, he sees it as a threat to Christianity. The problem, as he outlines it in Straight Talk to Men, a Dobson "classic" originally published as Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, is that men, in a righteous attempt to resolve the problems of sexism, have ceded too much power to women. As a result, he insists, women are engaging in a parody of male headship and most men lack the guts — and the sensitivity — to stand up to them. "Everything we do is influenced by our gender assignment," he writes. "Any confusion… in the relationship between the sexes… must be seen as threatening to the stability of society itself." Dobson, unlike other Christian manliness gurus, gets specific about the consequences, illustrated in this new edition of Straight Talk through an imaginary dialogue between a group of "yesterday's husbands and fathers" (from 1870) who've been transported into the present to talk to a representative of "the culture."
The culture's spokesman paints a lurid portrait of today's world, in which boys typically look at pornography depicting women "hanging from trees, and being murdered with knives, guns, ropes, etc."; in which "it its legal for a father… to have a homosexual experience with his son"; in which women are called to combat in a time of war, because men are not up to the job. "I miss John Wayne," laments Dobson.
Can't read without Oprah? Get a life. Think about it: If you don't care enough, or aren't interested enough, to freely pick out a book you want to read and enjoy, then you might as well not be reading at all. Go do something else. You're obviously not that interested in books anyway.
Alex Good might be on to something. But I was reading The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life yesterday, and well, it was making me very tired. It was just so much work. Steve Leveen wanted me to make lists of topics that interest me, wanted me to interview people I knew to get book recommendations, wanted me to practice speed reading and "learn how to take notes" in the margins of my book. (The very idea makes me shudder.) Does being well read really take all of that? No wonder people are afraid of books. I put the book down and watched a few Alec Guinness movies.
Harry Potter's choice of girlfriend has set off a global internet backlash with ugly racial overtones.
Yeah, I had to read that twice too. Scottish actress Katie Leung, who is 17, has become the target of vicious racial slurs by jealous and/or sociopathic Harry Potter devotees. Leung will play the character Cho Chang in an upcoming Harry Potter movie.
April 25, 2005
Even if you’ve never fantasized about Jane Austen in leather...
Stop right there. I have. I do. Every night.
...you’ll get a kick out of "A Factory of Cunning." This deliciously wicked novel by British writer Philippa Stockley takes us back to London in the late 18th century, a dark, scurrilous time of strict public morality but ubiquitous sexual exploitation.
If the pulse of Washington is driven by power, the pulse of New York is driven by money. The heartbeat of Los Angeles, on the other hand, is driven by creativity.
Wrap your mind around that one for a while.
Canada's first poet laureate, George Bowering, only wrote two poems during his two-year term, reports the Winnipeg Sun.
These dangerously naïve or clandestinely seditious librarians are beyond foolish. They potentially jeopardize the lives of American citizens.
No square inch of this country should be a safe harbor where terrorists calmly can schedule the slaughter of defenseless civilians. Whether fueled by sincere civil libertarianism or malignant Bushophobia, those who thwart probes of Islamo-fascist library patrons have the same impact: They make it easier — not harder — for terrorists to kill you.
The National Review's Deroy Murdock takes a bold anti-librarian, pro-Fascist stance on the Patriot Act. I don't think they know who they're messing with here. Librarians tend to take the First Amendment pretty seriously and, like nurses, they're legendarily intelligent, well-informed and politically active. No offense, Deroy, but I'm putting my money on the good guys.
The Orange Prize debuts a new prize for first fiction.
What a relief to read a comic book round up that doesn't include the phrase "not just for kids anymore!" and seems to be written by someone who encountered comics before the moment the editor asked him to review some. The review has to cover a lot of ground in a relatively small space, but John Hodgman manages to cram in reviews of two nonfiction books about comics and short reviews of Locas (read Bookslut's review here), Buddy Does Seattle, The Golden Plates, and Above and Below. Don't miss the sidebar with a slideshow of artwork from the books, narrated by Hodgman.
On Thursday, (Norman) Mailer will be in Austin, Texas, to announce the sale of his archives to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas for $2.5 million. Stored in nearly 500 boxes weighing more than 20,000 pounds...the trove includes all manner of Mailerabilia dating to his childhood and especially his early years at Harvard...
I don't guess there's a tactful way to include a wife-stabbing joke in here, huh? Just wondering.
How do you get an author to visit your book club? A few Virginians suggest buying her dinner and drinks, though a huge mirror just overflowing with coke has always worked for me.
The Marjane Satrapi Embroideries deluge has begun. There are new reviews at Time, the Globe and Mail (which I wrote), the Village Voice, as well as PW and Booklist. You can read an excerpt at Salon.com, and she's interviewed there as well.
In Iran, sex is not considered a sin. A woman, even in the Islamic Republic of Iran, if she can prove that her husband cannot do it with her, then she can ask for a divorce. It's not a sinful thing, the sex act itself.
I'm not talking from the legal point of view. I'm talking about the way the people think about it or talk about it. But then comes the issue of virginity, and virginity for me is really the sign of a patriarchal society. In a patriarchal society in which the father is the chief of the family, he owns the land and he owns the cow and he owns the house and he owns his wife, and so it's better if she is not secondhand. If you want to buy a pair of shoes, it is better that nobody else has worn them before you -- it is something like that.
Young girls who enjoy classic romantic fairy tales like "Cinderella" and "Beauty and the Beast" are at greater risk of becoming victims of violent relationships in later life, a British researcher says.
A study of both parents of primary school children and women who have been involved in domestic abuse claims than those who grew up reading fairy tales are likely to be more submissive as adults.
No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam author Reza Aslan has been making the rounds lately, recently appearing on The Daily Show and Fresh Air. While the Daily Show interview is oddly not available online (most of their interviews are put up for at least a short amount of time) you can listen to the Fresh Air interview, which is more in depth anyway. Aslan gives a fascinating interview.
I bet you've been wondering, "Hey, what were the best poems in New Zealand during the year 2004?" Wonder no more. There is now a website.
April 22, 2005
Holy crap. When I posted earlier today about Harvard's book collection prize, I sort of assumed it was the only one. But no. Apparently, this is a lot more common than I thought. They didn't do this at my alma mater, where the Poultry Science Department probably gets more funding than the undergraduate library.
Anyway, bookseller Garrett Scott of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was nice enough to send me links to some other college-sponsored book collecting contests, including ones at Yale, Michigan, Sweet Briar College, UCLA, Berkeley, Amherst, and Montana. (And Emily Friedman, who does not own a bookstore as far as I know, points out that Bryn Mawr has a similar contest as well.)
I'm still confused about this whole thing, but Garrett points out that these contests help to "develop a new customer base for a pursuit sometimes seen as overrun by old white guys." I don't think any of these contests are open to 27-year-old college dropouts, which means my "Like Sugar: 176 Used Sweet Valley High Books" will not be paying off for me anytime soon. Pity.
(Garrett and Emily thanks.)
I read. I talk. I open it up to questions. Sarah’s realtor raises his hand. “What religion are you?” he asks. “Catholic,” I say. The realtor nods, stands up, and walks out the door.
One day, you're a new New Yorker subscriber. A few months later, the only issue you finished reading was the first one to arrive, and even that felt like homework. The others get flipped through and then placed on the "Surely I'll read these someday" pile along with the half-read Atlantic Monthlys, the issues of The Economist you pick up at the bookstore but never read, and the Paris Reviews you should really just throw away. Soon after that, your cat is knocking the precarious stack over at least twice a week, and you're getting so close to just chucking the whole lot. But articles! That look so interesting and important! Oh... you'll get around to them soon. Real soon. Right after you finish this issue of Lucky. Well, at least I'm not alone.
Alternet reprints this article from Poets & Writers about the success of small publishers. It's written by Johnny Temple, Akashic publisher by day, rock star by night.
It was the money I received from our record deal that gave me the means to begin Akashic. We modeled it after visionary, independent music labels, like Dischord Records in D.C. and Touch & Go Records in Chicago. Although Bobby, then Mark, left the company early on to focus on raising their families, I have worked with Johanna Ingalls, our managing editor from near the beginning, to keep our doors open for business. Now we publish more than 20 books a year; our list is about three-quarters urban literary fiction and crime fiction, one-quarter political nonfiction.
Writer and former Esquire editor Daniel Torday picks five young writers you should be reading.
Oprah Winfrey will be extending her already pervasive and lucrative brand with the launch of an annual series of hardcover books that will spin off material from O, the Oprah Magazine...
Live Your Best Life, the first book in the new series, will be published in September and feature 100 articles from the magazine's past two years. Contributors will include such Oprah regulars as relationships expert Dr. Phil and financial adviser Suze Orman. Oxmoor will sell the Oprah titles in both traditional bookstores and by direct mail.
Mr. Luna has rounded up some information on Jacob Holdt, author of American Pictures: A Personal Journey Through the American Underclass. Lars von Trier has based his USA Trilogy (Dogville, Manderlay, and Washington) on Holdt's book. Holdt has quite the odd personal website, including a "Coming soon!" gallery of his ex-girlfriends.
But her new US publisher, Houghton Mifflin, was convinced that this could be her break-through novel. So last year, in her mid-seventies, she was trained up by a media coach who, as she wrote, "impersonat[ed] every possible species of television interviewer: breezy; bright; bored; brazen; stupid; intense; indifferent", and then embarked on her very first author tour.
Three (Harvard) undergraduates were recognized this week for the outstanding quality of their personal book collections, ranging in subject from Beat literature to standards of American etiquette.
Loren J. Bienvenu ’07 and Brian J. Distelberg ’05 tied for first place in the competition for this year’s Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting. Katherine G. Ward ’05 received third-place honors.
I don't know what's more horrifying: that Harvard has a prize for book collecting, or that the students actually name their book collections. (Example: "Women’s Spaces and Social Safety: American Etiquette and Lifestyle Manuals 1846-Present.")
Four young men have pleaded guilty to charges they assaulted a librarian in an attempt to steal valuable books and artworks from the Transylvania University library.
They admitted they conspired to steal rare and valuable books such as a first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and sketches by renowned naturalist John James Audubon....
But what the four defendants in the Transylvania book heist didn't say yesterday is why they decided to steal some of the most treasured works in Transy's collections.
Uh...money? Maybe? That's usually why people steal things, but...
A scholar is reconstructing James Agee's A Death in the Family. Agee died before the book was completed, and the current version which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1958 was originally published to raise money for Agee's widow and children.
April 21, 2005
Alternet profiles the upcoming book The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President by Edward Klein, a book dominating right wing media a full five months before its release.
In 1957, on television's Nitebeat, Mike Wallace asked William Carlos Williams if he thought that E.E. Cummings' poem "(im)c-a-t(mo) / b,i;l: e" was really a poem. (Television was different back then.) Williams said no.
In which Billy Collins traces a line from E.E. Cummings to text-messaging.
God, Colin McIlvoy is my new hero. This guy may be one of the only people out there who actually gets poetry. Nice work, man.
Wade Roush looks at the infinite library, and the attendant copyright battles and handwringing over what this means for actual libraries.
The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford in England is the only place you are likely to find an Ethernet port that looks like a book. Built into the ancient bookcases dominating the oldest wing of the 402-year-old library, the brown plastic ports share shelf space with handwritten catalogues of the university’s medieval manuscripts and other materials. Some of the volumes are still chained to the shelves, a 17th-century innovation designed to discourage borrowing. But thanks to the Ethernet ports and the university’s effort to digitize irreplaceable books like the catalogues—which often contain the only clue to locating an obscure book or manuscript elsewhere in the vast library—users of the Bodleian don’t even need to take the books off the shelves.
Dear newspaper and magazine people: Just because we're under 35 does not mean we're retarded.
Print outlets are simultaneously encouraging their staffs to get out and "do" television, even if that means appearing as experts in dubious venues. Take the Newsweek correspondent who found himself vamping through a "Britney's Pregnant!" segment last week on Headline News' "Showbiz Tonight." The only things missing, in hindsight, were a kazoo band and floppy red shoes.
This mandate to entice younger readers -- to be more confrontational, lively and provocative -- invariably comes at a price. It's terrific in theory, until the facts inconveniently begin to get in the way and credibility suffers.
An Edgar Allan Poe scholar is claiming that Baltimore where even the NFL team is called the Ravens doesn't really have a strong claim to the writer. Poe lived in Baltimore for a while, and died there, but he was a Boston native who considered Richmond his real home, according to Poe author James M. Hutchisson. Happily for Baltimore, though, the city can still lay claim to John Barth. Look for the Ravens to change their name to the Sot-Weeds any day now.
Actor Michael Douglas is behind one of several new projects being considered for next year. He is executive producer of a drama series about the late author Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House). Described as a cross between Desperate Housewives and The Twilight Zone, the series mixes supernatural tales with Jackson's own saga, "a family drama about the unconventional life of an urban clan living in small-town Vermont," says Mark Stern, chief of original programming.
Matt Taibbi considers Thomas Friedman's latest.
Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.
Wayne Alan Brenner talks to 24 hour comics people.
The Daily Star reports from the second "Imagining the Book International Biennale" at the Alexandria Library.
The British bookstore chain WH Smith is in trouble for what may be the most insensitive marketing campaign since Royal Crown's ill-fated 1989 "I'd Piss on My Grandmother's Grave for a Diet Rite" ad push.
A man who said he was a Vietnam veteran spat tobacco juice in Jane Fonda's face at a Kansas City book signing, calling her a traitor for a trip she made to Hanoi in 1972, police said Wednesday.
April 20, 2005
If you're a liberal Catholic, it's hard not to roll your eyes at the title of Truth And Tolerance: Christian Belief And World Religions by Pope Benedict XVI (the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger), who has not historically been known for either truth or tolerance. Dennis Doyle very delicately reviews the book at the National Catholic Reporter.
Cardinal Ratzinger does have an intellectual approach that tends to be markedly detached and analytical to a fault. Still, he too has grown and adapted over the years, and can almost be called mellow relative to his persona of the ’80s. This book could help many American Catholics to bypass common stereotypes of the cardinal as an unthinking reactionary and get down seriously to where they agree or disagree.
Good luck finding a copy the book has skyrocketed to #17 on Amazon's book sales list. (Benedict's Salt of the Earth is #5, closing in on Harry Potter and Thomas Friedman.) Ignatius Press, which publishes Benedict's books in the United States, is being inundated with orders.
Books about Benedict aren't doing so bad, either. Christianity Today's Sam Storms recommends John Allen's Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith, letting the German-born pope off the hook thusly:
Nothing should be made of the fact that he was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth, given the fact that membership at that time was compulsory. The relationship of the Catholic Church to the Nazi regime is a controversial issue even today, as countless books have been published in the attempt either to suggest collaboration on the part of the papacy or to vindicate Rome from any involvement in Hitler's policies. Allen is probably correct in concluding that "Ratzinger is no more culpable than any other decent German citizen. The point is that many Germans failed to question, to dissent, and where necessary to fight back." The bottom line is that there is no evidence to suggest that Ratzinger was anything other than adamantly opposed to the anti-Semitic policies of the Reich.
(To be fair, some Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors have suggested that Benedict's past isn't worth worrying about.)
But no one doubts that Benedict's election will be bad for Catholic liberals and dissenters. Boston College theology department head Stephen Pope (seriously) worries that Benedict's reputation as a censor and doctrinal hardliner will have a chilling effect on Catholic academics and writers.
"The thing that makes theologians most nervous about Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI is he's not very interested in engaging in a dialogue and providing a clear public process," said Professor Stephen Pope, chairman of Boston College's theology department. "Cardinal Ratzinger's tendency was to want to stop conversation as soon as what he considers errors appear, whereas most theologians want to allow for free discussion and for debate."
Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, has been elected chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, the board announced Tuesday.
Variety is reporting that Alfred Molina and Ian McKellen will star in the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. Ugh. Man, they can't even use money as an excuse. McKellen is rolling in Lord of the Rings cash, and Molina can always fall back on the millions upon millions he got from the television phenomenon that was Bram and Alice.
Embroideries is appearing in America after Persepolis 1 and 2, but I made it between those books. Persepolis was a heavy story — I had to remember unpleasant things, and had in my mind a mission to teach people about my country, because there has been so much misunderstanding. So I really needed a moment of joy, just joy — and I wrote about this afternoon that I spent with women of different generations. I really loved the stories the women told me. I don't know if they are made up or true. I don't think it matters. They made me laugh so much I just wanted to share them.
I'm confused. What the fuck does a dead lamb floating in formaldehyde have to do with Camille Paglia's new book?
Whoa! Phyllis Schlafly is still alive! Who knew?
"Well, if you notice, most grocery stores are becoming almost 50 percent deli. That's because women just don't want to cook anymore," Schlafly said.
Old age plus insane conservative author equals hilarious.
The Guardian endorses Leonard Cohen for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Don Hewitt, the man who brought dreamy Mike Wallace into my life on a weekly basis with 60 Minutes, is looking to create a new hour long news program for PBS. With Nightline's future in jeopardy, this seems like a genius idea to me. The author of the piece, however, seems not to have noticed that 60 Minutes is consistently one of the highest rated shows on television, as he asks, "Also: Does anyone really care to watch quality news?" (What does all of this have to do with books? Umm, Don Hewitt wrote a book once called Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and 60 Minutes in Television. There you go.)
Over at Chicklit, they're discussing going on book binges.
Adam Langer pays tribute to the hardest workers in publishing, the copyeditor.
Adam Langer: What makes you a good copyeditor? Is there a "copyediting gene?" Are copyeditors wired differently from everyday folks?
Steve Lamont: One needs to be fairly neurotic to copyedit—you have to be willing to spend time worrying about whether something’s a restrictive participle or a nonrestrictive one, and you actually have to care. Relatedly, it has to make a difference to you whether the name of the song is “I Want to Hold You Hand” or “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
Naturally, realising that you're suddenly the nostalgia generation is strange and unpleasant - you get used to being too young for culture to take your nostalgia needs seriously, and then suddenly you get Hitchhiker's, Doctor Who and Live Aid, all aimed directly at your heart. If you're old enough for your formative years to be the focus of all cultural retro-thrusts, then the chances are that you're the ones in charge, and it's your fault, not your parents' at all, that everything's going wrong.
Zoe Williams looks forward to the nostalgia fest that is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Above all, the BL was at pains to keep at bay London University's 100,000 students. But, in the last few months, undergraduates have suddenly been made very welcome. Word of mouth means more are streaming in every day. Even, as one member of staff complained to me, sixth formers can now get a reader's ticket.
Why is the British Library now Liberty Hall? One assumes that new "targets" have been issued. More users means more clout, and more funds. Lift the portcullis: let in the students. And, if that doesn't work, let in the winos and the street people.
A library welcoming college students? God forbid. And I'm all for being randomly offensive (Fuck! Fuck! The Pope is a Nazi! Fuck!), but something tells me that winos/street people reference could have been rendered just a wee bit more sensitively.
April 19, 2005
The Guardian has an odd little interview with Irvine Welsh.
MM: Tell us about your new novel.
IW: Oh god, I hate it so much. I'm at that stage where I wish it would just leave my life so that I can do other things. I can't make head nor tail of it. I think it's about identity, but I could be wrong.
If you want to catch up on the literary career of Pope Benedict XVI, you can check out his Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Truth And Tolerance: Christian Belief And World Religions, or Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today.
A gaggle of Canadian poets will hoist books and beers in New York this week at three events to help publicize a landmark achievement: the first publication in recent memory of a Canadian poetry anthology in the United States.
That anthology would be Open Field: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Poets.
Introducing the Wingdale Community Singers, featuring musician David Grubbs (Gastr Del Sol) and novelist Rick Moody. I'm sure Dale Peck will waste no time in calling Moody the worst songwriter of his generation.
Book #31 was The Diary of Andres Fava by Julio Cortazar, a book so good it made me cry on the train. It feels unfair to talk about it now when it's unavailable, so Bookslut will have more about it when it's released next month. But consider pre-ordering it if you're a Cortazar fan.
It must be hard to be you. I know your circulation is healthy, your advertising revenue is doing well, but you and I both know you are the bimbo of the male magazine category. Even more so than Maxim, which comes off more like the cad than the bimbo. You and Esquire used to be on the same level for a couple of years. Then a new editor, some real content, a redesign, and pow. Esquire was kicking your ass in quality. And look at you. Your design is even hard on the eyes. You don't have much going for you these days other than the half naked girl on the cover, and even she is a bimbo.
But by printing Walter Kirn's "The Forbidden Word," you've changed from bimbo to frat boy, and it doesn't look good on you. There really are no redeeming qualities to this article; it's not even provocative in its controversial stance. It's just... dumb. It's like that guy at the bar complaining about how the "Mexicans" are coming into our country and stealing our jobs. And why can't they just learn some fucking English already? Everyone just averts their eyes and slowly backs away. Except for the brain dead idiots who agree with him.
And is that really what you want in an audience? People who agree with Kirn that women are to be dominated? People who read Kirn's spitting fury at his memory of fights lost to women, of times women turned down sex with him, when they had the nerve to fight back, and nod along? Kirn writes about his dick and his "masculinity" with an obvious fear of castration, as if he equates it with sexual rejection. He compares women to "wall sockets with fur," and refers to his dick as "my vigor, my alpha status, my swollen, overbearing potency."
Now, I know it's not cool to call someone a sexist. It's not. Sexists are in vogue right now. Blah blah blah, I'm a humorless feminazi who probably doesn't shave her armpits, blah blah blah. But seriously?
Back in the 70s, when I was young and feminism was a strange new force in my tiny Minnesota town, I remember my sense of puniness and dread as one by one my buddies' mothers became aware of their talents and potential and started doing things like taking night classes in Journal Writing and Sketching the Male Nude. Houses that had been spick-and-span for years suddenly languished, with toys all over the living room and half-eaten TV dinners in the trash cans. Something big was happening. Big and bad. When I heard my playmates' parents fighting, the husbands' voices were high and pleading, like the voices of firemen talking down stranded kittens. The wives' voices were as throaty as V-8 engines, though, and they made me fear for my future as a man. Would I be allowed to talk back when I grew up, or had the sexual order shifted permanently?
Later, in college, surrounded by the daughters of those growling, liberated mothers, it took me a while to dish out the low blows that they felt entitled to aim at me. The utter shame of having been born male was being reinforced daily in my classes, which, no matter what their subject was -- but especially if it was literature or art -- seemed devoted to reminding me that my sex had long run roughshod over the world and would presently face some frightening reckoning. I could only conclude that I'd been born too late. My forefathers had held the upper hand for centuries, but just a few years ago they'd dropped their fists and exposed my generation of men to a thousand years of pent-up wrath that we were expected to absorb without complaint, in the name of historical justice or some such nonsense.
Umm, GQ, isn't this supposed to be an essay on the word "cunt"? Not exactly William Safire material, is it?
I'm just saying that maybe a real article on the word "cunt" would have been interesting, not this screed against feminism. I know you can do better than that. Maybe you guys should actually read what you publish.
Hugs and Kisses,
An Esquire Subscriber
"George Washington is the father of our country. He is the greatest American who ever lived and he's the 11th president. What's wrong with that?" Stanley said.
When (parent Ruth) Walsh expressed concerns about the Grisham novel, Meyers suggested Walsh's daughter read "Fahrenheit 451," Walsh said.
Gawker Reports: PEN Festival Puts Even Margaret Atwood to Sleep.
If you doubt copy editors can be artists, witness this headline: Anne Rice: Gone from New Orleans, editing book about Jesus.
What this does to employee morale hardly needs to be spelled out. Those who choose not to buy into the system and claw their way into middle management are left at best, bemused and annoyed; at worst, bitter and paranoid. Imagine my co-workers' disappointment when they fled from that world of incompetence to the perceived haven of the independent bookstore - only to find the same damn thing, minus the holiday party and the health benefits.
The fact is, a "corporate" atmosphere can be created anywhere; it's not just about the size of the store or the profit margins. Our bookstore certainly lacks the corporate bottom line and the large employee base. We aren't setting up shop in every city across America or drawing up maps for world domination. We don't have an advertising budget. Hell, we don't even have a bathroom. (Yes, that is illegal. Someone please contact OSHA.)
Link from Galleycat.
A book that's quietly being distributed within Norway's Muslim community refers to Norwegians as the sons of Satan. The book, written by an anonymous author, has been turned over to police by Oslo's Anti-Racism Center.
April 18, 2005
The Discovery Channel asks: Who is the greatest American? The list of nominees includes writers Maya Angelou, Carl Sagan, Sen. Barack Obama, Michael Moore and Dr. Phil McGraw (seriously), as well as publisher Hugh Hefner. Though perhaps all you need to know about this television special is that one section of the nominee list is labeled "Favre to Hanks." (Via Political Wire.)
So that's why everyone was staring at me. I thought it was because I was wearing white shoes after Labor Day but before Memorial Day, but I guess it was the axe/porn thing.
Scholars from Oxford are using infrared light to read manuscripts that have faded so badly, they were presumed unreadable. It's technological advances like these that make me wish I hadn't failed science. Three times. (Thanks to Wes for the link.)
Camden, New Jersey, has the wrong Whitman.
It seems Camden is actually the home of Geezer Whitman, a poet past his prime who came here old and left stone-cold.
Forget Leaves of Grass. Our guy's more Stems and Seeds.
The Ann Arbor News has a sensitive profile of Donald Hall, "one of our best loved poets," and the husband of the late, sorely missed Jane Kenyon. Hall is the author of an essay that deserves to be a classic, "Death to the Death of Poetry." Kenyon was one of America's greatest poets (see "Let Evening Come," one of her best-known, most beautiful poems).
The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended the work of a children’s author jailed for 2½ years for sexually abusing his young girl fans.
One student meandered in asking a question about (Ann) Coulter's assertion that Muslims should be converted to Christianity. "What is your name?" she asked. "I'm sending it to John Ashcroft."
Patrick White's Sydney house, in which he lived and wrote from 1964 until 1990, has been sold after a long and emotional battle over its future.
"Everywhere you go in the world, all civilised societies honour their literary figures by saving their houses and making them into places people can go and visit, but the Australian governments obviously don't feel that Patrick White should be honoured," she said. "They don't feel they will get political kudos out of it.
"The apathy and neglect that we have shown to the father of Australian literature is bewildering."
I wake up in the morning to the sounds of a lesbian in Howard Stern's studio; blindfolded, she is trying to guess which of three contestants is her girlfriend by licking their pussies. I yawn, switch from FM to AM, and try to find the weather report.
I trudge through Manhattan, oblivious to the towering billboards of near-naked models, oblivious, too, to the near-naked women around me. Two girls hurry by; their asses read Juicy. "How come," I wonder, "you can never get a goddamn cab in this city?"
I arrive home in the evening, turn on the television, and I'm met with the latest music video from the latest teenage ingénue, bent over, her barely covered ass shaking at the camera. I reach for the remote and change the channel. "There's never anything on," I sigh.
What the hell is happening to me?
Thomas Leitch suggests a few books that would make good movies.
The Decatur (Alabama) Daily has an interesting rundown of a disturbing trend: Overprotective parents are evidently getting tired of trying to ban video games, and have turned their attention back to books. The Limestone County Board of Education, which had previously banned Judy Blume's Blubber from its schools ("because it contained the words 'damn' and 'bitch'"), just recently handed down the death sentence to Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk. Challenging Whale Talk is becoming something of a nationwide pastime for right-wingers:
"We can’t allow students to go down our halls and say those words, and we shouldn’t let them read it," said board member James Shannon. "That book’s got a lot of bad, bad words."
So you buy a used book from eBay, and it turns out it has a university stamp on it with the warning "not for resale." Which government agency do you notify: Homeland Security or the FBI? Ethicist Randy Cohen has the answer. (Scroll down to the second letter.)
The Orange Prize has announced its shortlist.
The New York Times Magazine has an essay that was adapted from Peter Kramer's new book Agaisnt Depression. Kramer is the author of Listening to Prozac and a somewhat controversial figure, especially with author Peter Breggin whose book Talking Back to Prozac is a direct response to his theories. The controversy lies in Kramer's full faith in prescription medication and that there is nothing wrong with being on these drugs for the rest of your life. Of course Breggin is controversial himself for being against all mood disorder medications all the time.
Somewhere in the middle is Daphne Merkin, writing about Against Depression in Elle Magazine.
My own view is that depression is confounding precisely because it isn't psoriasis; it speaks to our complexities, our mix of vulnerability and resilience in a way that a skin disease simply does not. It is an imaginative trope as well as an illness, pointing up the cracks in the facades of all our lives, the places where we might stumble if we aren't careful. Thinkers have been mulling over heroic melancholy since before the invention of brain imaging not only to justify their bleak outlooks but also as a way of understanding the workings of the creative imagination and the meaning of emotional suffering.
Haaretz profiles Israeli author Etgar Keret.
All in all, a number of good things have happened in recent years: He has married Shira Geffen, his girlfriend for the past eight years; he has published a book of short stories ("Gaza Blues") jointly with Palestinian writer Samir el Youssef; he has written the script for an animated puppet feature; in the United States they are making a film based on his book "Kneller's Happy Campers" (Tom Waits is supposed to be playing the main character); he is working with his wife on a film that will be called "Meduzot" ("Jellyfish"), in which there will be three stories about women.
It must have been the first conference in the history of Abraham Lincoln scholarship to call the Great Emancipator "a terrifically sexual guy." Addressing the nation's top Lincoln scholars on Sunday, two historians defended a new book that claims Lincoln was gay and called for more research into his sexuality.
We're spending millions on researching space and vaccines and shit, and we can't free up a few bucks to fund studies on whether Lincoln was gay? That's not the America I love.
Paula Kamen got a glowing interview and review in Salon.com last week for her new book All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache. (Although I would like someone to put a stop to this trend of people in similar situations reviewing books like Kamen's. Andrew O'Hehir's wife suffers from chronic pain as well. It's great that O'Hehir liked it because he could relate to it, but I prefer a reviewer who acts as a reader, not just a fact checker. Reading some of these reviews, the reader may be led to believe that these books are only for chronic pain sufferers/farmers/statiticians. I would like to report that I started reading All in My Head last night, and thus far, it is excellent even for people not in pain.)
Honestly, I don't quite know what to say to people when they tell me they loved ELIC. A part of me (the well–behaved, slightly fraudulent part) wants to say: Well, that's great! To be moved by a book, particularly in this era of screen addiction, is a net positive. The other part of me wants to say: How could you fall for such well–meaning dreck?
April 15, 2005
Well, that's one way to get young men to come to the library. At least 10 percent of them.
The early publication date would seem to fly in the face of all the attempts by George Lucas, the creator of the science-fiction saga, to keep the film's plot a secret.
SPOILER ALERT: This movie is going to fucking suck!
The Comics Curmudgeon, which might be the best website ever, points us to the Drink at Work blog, maintained by Francesco Marciuliano, a writer for the comic strips Medium Large and Sally Forth. There was a Sally Forth strip a few months back that had Ted, Sally's husband, wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt. I wonder if Francesco was responsible.
You'd think a Catholic university would take peace pretty seriously. You'd be wrong.
Colman McCarthy, a professor in Georgetown’s Justice and Peace program, was asked not to teach his Literature of Peace class next semester, according to William Hahn, a dean in the College.
McCarthy, a self described pacifist and anarchist, has taught the class for the last three years.
I have this fantasy that the next Pope will shock the world by revealing himself to be a far-left liberationist once he's installed. He'll ordain women and married people as priests. He'll defrock Cardinal Law and encourage the state of Massachusetts to prosecute and imprison him. He'll drop the Church's increasingly irrelevant ban on birth control. And he'll force so-called Catholic universities to respect peace and justice. Someday.
Nerve offers sex advice from former Catholic school students, though they didn't ask me. And nowhere does the phrase "crushing sense of guilt and shame" make an appearance.
What's the best way to suggest introducing a third partner into a new relationship?
"It worked for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
If anyone needs me, I'll be at confession.
Tragically, I missed Stacked the other night, though Slate reporter Dana Stevens didn't, and was a little surprised at the show's "decent dialogue and solid ensemble acting." If you're not familiar with the show, Stevens offers this rundown:
The premise: A stuffy, recently divorced bookstore owner (Elon Gold) hires a high-spirited party girl (Dame Judi Dench. No, just kidding: Pamela Anderson) after she wanders into the shop distraught, seeking a self-help book and the courage to dump her cheating rocker boyfriend....
Pam's appeal (which Stacked, at least so far, seems to understand) is that her persona makes visible the contrivance, the ridiculous effort, of remaining the official "sexiest woman alive" for over a decade and a half. Whatever the real woman may be like, the appeal of Brand Pam is, above all else, how natural she seems—she may be a fake, but she's a real one.
The Australian founders of the Lonely Planet guides stay in $500-a-night hotel rooms, give the finger to beggars and have lost touch with their counter-culture roots, according to a profile in The New Yorker magazine.
That's from a report in The Australian. Reporter Georgina Safe gets a somewhat annoyed quote from one of LP's chief hippies in charge, Maureen Wheeler, who the New Yorker describes as "an ardent woman with a deeply amused laugh."
"Tad (Friend, the New Yorker reporter) told us that he thought it would be interesting to do the idea of how Lonely Planet has become a mainstream publication, which there is no doubt that it has," she said. "(But he) came to the story with it pretty much framed in his mind ... there are different interpretations of stories, and that is his."
The Newport-Mesa (California) Unified School District has banned a flier advertising an upcoming lecture by controversial author and commentator Eric Schlosser.
Jaime Castellanos, assistant superintendent of secondary education for the district, said he had ordered all middle schools and high schools not to display a flier promoting Schlosser's speech this Friday and Saturday as part of the Newport Beach Public Library's Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series. Schlosser, whose presentation is billed to center around his book "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal," has written numerous articles and books advocating the decriminalization of marijuana.
Why is California afraid of pot? I thought that was like their number-one export.
The Telegraph is pleased with the new film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, despite the film's apparent Yankification (courtesy of U.S. actors Mos Def, Sam Rockwell and Zooey Deschanel).
All three Americans acquit themselves well, particularly Rockwell, who portrays Beeblebrox as a titanically stupid rock god, with Freddie Mercury mannerisms. The British influence in the story remains intact, thanks to Martin Freeman (Tim from TV's The Office) as Arthur Dent, the mellifluous but unseen Stephen Fry, who narrates the story tongue firmly in cheek, and the redoubtable Bill Nighy as the planet designer Slartibartfast (fjords a speciality).
Man, what book won't they make a musical out of? The Seattle Children's Theatre is staging a musical adaptation of Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
The Eisner nominations have been announced. The graphic novel nominations are a bit... eh.
Best Graphic Album -- New
Blacksad Book 2: Arctic Nation by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido
It's a Bird . . . by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen
The Originals by Dave Gibbons
Suspended in Language by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis
Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel
Best Graphic Album -- Reprint
Age of Bronze: Sacrifice by Eric Shanower
Bone One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith
The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess and others
Clyde Fans by Seth
In the Shadow of No Towers by art spiegelman
Locas by Jaime Hernandez
Contrary to what these nominations would have you believe, women did write a few graphic novels last year. And some of them were considerably better than Clyde Fans (stunningly boring) or It's a Bird (also stunningly boring). The Comics Reporter also has a few thoughts on the nominations.
14. Wait [shaking my head vigorously] I get their plan! These nominations are not just unimaginative, they're not very good, but they lull you to sleep so you don't feel particularly disapointed. Apparently, the leading light of the medium in its full flowering is a comic book about a superhero mayor. This is a perfectly fine comic book, clever and with stylish art, and one that I can read without having to keep picking it up where I threw it, but --- zzzzzzz. What? Shit!
The Atlantic has a storied place among American magazines. Its editors have included such famous authors as James Russell Lowell and William Dean Howells. Contributors have ranged from Mark Twain and Henry James to Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. King published his celebrated ''Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in the August 1963 issue.
In addition, the magazine was very much a Boston institution. For many years, its offices were in a townhouse on Arlington Street. Such editors as Ellery Channing, Edward Weeks, and Robert Manning became celebrated local figures. Manning's feud with Mortimer Zuckerman, the magazine's owner before Bradley, inspired a lengthy lawsuit and one of the great grudge matches in a city famous for them.
Also, Cullen Murphy will be leaving Atlantic after the move.
April 14, 2005
Despite the rave review in yesterday’s New York Times, not a single person who is not my friend has shown up for the reading.
Not a single person. Thank God.
And just like that, *poof*. There goes all of my faith in humanity and the future of our nation.
Jane Jacobs won the Writers' Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing worth $15,000. Jacobs is the author of the essential books Dark Age Ahead and The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Officials of a prestigious library in India's north-eastern state of Manipur say nearly 145,000 books have been destroyed in an arson attack.
Protesters demanding the introduction of Manipur's ancient Mayek script set fire to the Central Library in Manipur's capital Imphal on Wednesday.
Officials say many of Manipur's most ancient texts were among the books destroyed by the fire.
The National Magazine Awards have been announced. Virginia Quarterly Review may not have won (it lost to Print, a fine magazine), and Martha Stewart Weddings may have beat The Atlantic Monthly (????), but Samantha Power's "Dying in Darfur" won for Reporting, and Seymour Hersh articles won for Public Interest. The Washington Post comments on the awards.
National Geographic won the essays award for David Quammen's cover story "Was Darwin Wrong?" Quammen answered that question with a resounding no, concluding that "the evidence for evolution is overwhelming." The judges, noting that many Americans don't believe the theory of evolution, called the story "courageous."
That makes me so, so sad.
Poynter Online looks at two new books about the decline of the newspaper industry, Davis Merritt's Knightfall: Knight Ridder And How The Erosion Of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy At Risk and Philip Meyer's The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism In The Information Age. Both books highlight the change in priorities that led journalism to come second to profit in the newspaper business.
So the temptation for newspapers companies is to pinch and whittle on news staff and news space. Understandable, maybe, but Meyer doesn't give the executive fraternity a free ride for a collective strategy that is destructive of the core of the newspaper -- its daily report and the influence a good one exerts in a community and confers on advertisers.
The chapter excerpted here, "How Newspapers Were Captured by Wall Street," points to the element of voluntary surrender as companies chose to go public, either as a device to preserve family control with two classes of stock or to raise a pool of cash for acquisitions. Crusty patriarch Jack Knight told analysts at his first meeting with them in 1981 that "we did not intend to be regulated or directed by them in any respect." But as analysts often point out, you voluntarily join the Wall Street game, you're exposed to the rules of the game, and you're competing for capital with all the other players.
Poynter also has excerpts from both books.
For 14 years, Channel 7 in Buffalo, N.Y., provided an invaluable service for its audience.
The station allowed volunteers for the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service for the Blind to read periodicals and books for the blind over its secondary audio feed.
We're left to wonder what that one offensive passage was, but using Amazon's new "statistically improbable phrases" feature, which is as addictive as coffee or cocaine, or coffee with cocaine stirred in as if it were non-dairy creamer, we can speculate that it might have been "unhh unhh unhh," "rutting rutting," or "ilial crest." Actually, The Guardian wondered about that last phrase in their review of Charlotte:
When Charlotte gets drunk for the first time, Wolfe seems to be egging her on, hitching up her skirt, his prose apparently mesmerised by her legs. For Charlotte - and her creator - student groping is best understood as an anatomy lesson. Her grim date moves his hand, 'first along the side, down to her ilial crest, and up to her armpit and then more toward her abdomen down to the gully that ran from her ilial crest to her crotch'. Her ilial crest?
The comparison becomes even more apt when you learn that Plath taught the secrets of confessional poetry to James Coburn, Steve McQueen and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
This CBC story on prolific authors helps explain why Bookninja is so fucking cool it actually hurts. Oh, Canada!
George Murray, a poet and co-editor of the literary blog Bookninja.com, sees the near-annual release of a new Stephen King novel as “the literary equivalent of watching a skinny Japanese dude scarf down 100 hot dogs in an eating contest; you are kind of grossed out, but gotta hand it to him.” Murray harbors a unique theory about what distinguishes a genre writer like King from a so-called serious artist like Joyce Carol Oates. “It seems with Oates the hotdog eater is a performance artist commenting on the nature of consumption and American hegemony,” Murray avers. “With King it’s just a guy eating 100 hot dogs, then looking like he’s going to die of nitrate poisoning.”
The church in question is building a huge compound basically a new town, like Celebration, Florida, one supposes, but with more of the evil in west Texas. The Austin American-Statesman (go to bugmenot.com for a login) reports that the Texas House is considering a bill, aimed at the Fundamentalist Church, that would "raise the age of marriage without parental consent to 16 from 14 years old" and "(prohibit) people from marrying their stepparent or their stepchild." (Polygamy and quasi-incestuous arranged marriages are common in the sect.)
Jon Krakauer, scheduled to testify before the House in support of the bill, didn't mince words about what he sees as a huge danger.
"You folks out there have no idea what a time bomb you're sitting on," Krakauer said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I think that the odds of a Texas version of Jonestown are huge, and I don't think many people there realize it."
April 13, 2005
"Pamela Anderson Busts Into the Book Business." Yeah, we get it. Pamela Anderson has enormous breasts. Fascinating. Anyway, do people really think that this show will inspire people to go book shopping? That's the idea behind this article on the Book Standard, and they actually interview bookstore owners on the probability that Stacked will improve their sales. I only wish I could have been in the store to watch the eye rolling, the twirling of the finger around his head, and the silent mouthing of "This girl is cuckoo" as Scott McWilliams, "a manager at 57th Street Books in Chicago, IL," answered Rachel Deahl's questions. Now damn, if only my Tivo weren't already taping Lost and America's Next Top Model tonight, I would definitely tape it.
A girl discovers comics. It's a magical thing.
If you have a teen or tween girl in your life, chances are you're familiar with the phenomena of traveling pants and full-frontal snogging.
The Star-Tribune examines "teen chick lit," and I invoke my Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate myself.
Actually, magazines print lists because they take about five minutes to write, take up a lot of space, and they can use a lot of stock photography. Obviously Bookslut needs a whole lot more lists.
From the site's FAQ:
Q: At the end of the filming, will a Book Millionaire winner be chosen?
A: Yes. We will be filming the actual selection process leading up to the culmination of one Candidate Author being chosen as the Book Millionaire. The winner of Book Millionaire will be granted the ultimate dream — to enjoy the lifestyle of being a successfully published author. And they will receive additional prizes to help achieve the goal of Best Selling and Celebrity Status and becoming the America's next Book Millionaire.
I can have Best Selling and Celebrity Status? Only in the America! (Laugh if you want; it's still more legitimate than PublishAmerica.)
It's never too late, though, to start planning next year's entry. Forget journalism. I'm going to shoot for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
There must be - what? - six poets still left in America. Quick - name one. OK, OK, Ted Kooser won this year, and he's an Ames native and Iowa State graduate. But most of the others are unknown and writing about verdant fields, fertile moss and the unrelenting despair that visits you late at night when you suddenly realize that your soul has turned into a darkened little pellet of charred soot.
Ken Fuson can't seem to win a Pulitzer for journalism (perhaps because he appears to be an idiot), so next year he's shooting for poetry.
Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, a boxer turned civil rights activist and a leader in the Chicano movement in the Southwest, died Tuesday. He was 76.
Gonzales wrote the near-legendary poem "I Am Joaquin," which has become a staple of middle school and high school American literature textbooks.
From Pamie.com: "Amazon has added a brand new evil feature."
Perhaps the most level-headed, honest, and in context eulogy for Andrea Dworkin yet to come out was written by Susie Bright.
Andrea presented herself as a street fighter intellectual, a bohemian freedom fighter, and someone who wanted to get to the bottom of things. That quote about Malcolm X is apt. Malcolm pointed out “The problem is WHITE PEOPLE.” Dworkin said, “The problem is MEN.” And for all the holes that can be poked in that cloth, there is something about that grain that is absolutely true, when you are the short end of the bolt.
I loved that she dared attack the very notion of intercourse. It was the pie aimed right in the crotch of Mr. Big Stuff. It was an impossible theory, but it wasn’t absurd. There is something about literally being fucked that colors your world, pretty or ugly, and it was about time someone said so.
Philip Martin remembers Saul Bellow.
I learned from Bellow. For a time, he probably made me tougher and more callous. I fucked pretty freely for a couple of years; I felt I had license. For the first time in my life, I felt okay about having a couple of lovers at a time. That lasted for a while. I went out west and screwed in Phoenix and in Hollywood, and I wrote stories about my ex-wife; I changed her name and told them in my own self-flattering way, but they were as true as anything I've ever written. Years after she fled, I snatched her back and put her in my stories. I used her, like I'm using Bellow's corpse now.
Michael Schaub and his girlfriend (yes, ladies and gentlemen, the dreamy Michael Schaub is in fact taken) have started their column on Saucy. Leela, that brave soul, will be teaching Mike to cook.
LEELA: When I met Mike, he was in line in front of me at a falafel stand, shouting about cilantro. Apparently the stuff they used wasn’t washed to his satisfaction. I figured that anyone who could get that excited about the cleanliness of cilantro would be both tidy and a good cook. Boy, was I wrong. Mike’s good at lots of things, but neatness and cooking are pretty far down the list, which he admits freely. By the time I figured that out, however, it was too late. Now that we’ve moved into a house together, I’ve decided to try to introduce him to the more elementary aspects of cooking. He made some decent refried bean tacos the other day and he’s coming along well in vegetable-washing.
It was hard to tell what was more interesting about Book #30, Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, the book itself or reading all of the controversy after. I don't know why it took me so long to read it, after all, it was really big two years ago. Of course two years ago, I was reading another book about Mormons killing people, the nowhere near as good American Massacre by Sally Denton. (And if I had read Under the Banner instead, I would have learned that Juanita Brooks's The Mountain Meadows Massacre is the definitive book on that particular Mormon slaughterfest.)
If you go looking for reviews of Under the Banner of Heaven, however, you quickly come across the church's official response. (If you buy the paperback version of UtBoH, you also get Krakauer's rebuttal to the church.) It's interesting in that Official Response to Accusations kind of way, although it's so thorough that without having read the book first, you might think that Krakauer had some sort of vendetta to libel Mormonism. The book is not on a mission to change people's minds about Mormons, although it did just about convince me that polygamy (all the way up to Joseph Smith) was designed by a bunch of pedophiles who only wanted justification in fucking 14-year-old virgins. The best response to UtBoH, however, was this sermon from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. (This being the same church that let us abortion clinic escorts gather and get away from the screaming nutjobs outside.) It's so good, it makes me wish (just a little bit) that I still lived in Austin and could attend church service there more often.
Jose Canseco got a $300,000 advance for his book claiming several high-profile players used steroids, it was revealed in court yesterday in Miami.
I would inject steroids directly into my eyeball for a $300,000 advance. Anyone interested? Judith?
I'm not sure how I missed this, but the James Beard awards were announced, and one of my favorite books from last year was nominated in the Writing on Food category. Gina Mallet's Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World will be up against Jack Turner's Spice and Nigel Slater's Toast. You can read all of the nominations here (pdf).
Ms Ross, a "voracious reader" who has been in the television business for 20 years, admitted her show was inspired by the "incredible phenomenon" of Oprah Winfrey’s book club in the United States.
But British audiences needed something less schmaltzy, she said. Instead of a celebrity-style interview with the author, the show opted for an "honest discussion" of the merits of a book with Richard, Judy, and two guest celebrities. "Sometimes they like it and sometimes they don’t," she said.
April 12, 2005
The life of Dale Carter Shackelford, the Idaho man who murdered his ex-wife, Donna Fontaine, and her boyfriend, Fred Palahniuk, has been spared. A judge in Idaho vacated Shackelford's death sentence, though it could still be reinstated. Fred Palahniuk was the father of novelist Chuck Palahniuk. (Via Maud.)
The next time you hear someone announce loudly that they don't own a television ("They call it programming for a reason," as an acquaintance of mine once sneered), slap them hard and tell them Tony Kushner disagrees.
I love television. As a playwright, I feel really comfortable working for television, which is a medium that I think in many ways has much more in common with theatre than film has with theatre.
Ha'aretz thinks Ariel Sharon needs a poet laureate.
And the king himself, Ariel Sharon, why should he lose out? In the case of Sharon, the poet will have no problems with rhyme. On the contrary: the rhymes write themselves - Sharon-aron (closet or coffin)- garon (throat)- haron (anger) - and the possibilities are limitless.
Renowned writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante died after contracting MRSA at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital while being treated for a broken hip.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is an infection that can be caused by poor sanitary conditions in hospitals.
Authors Art Spiegelman (Maus), Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind), Alice Munro (Runaway: Stories), Cornelia Funke (The Thief Lord), among others, made it to Time's 100 Most Influential People list.
Lan Samantha Chang, a Harvard University professor and award-winning fiction author who specializes in stories of Chinese-Americans, has been named director of the nation's most prestigious writing program, the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop.
Happy birthday, Da Vinci Code! Now go away.
Normally, when people see books flying in Berkeley, it has something to do with high-grade Humboldt County green. But not this time.
I think it’s pretty clear what the common thread here is. Books are the true evil. For the sports world to be truly healed of its ills, we need to get back to our puritan roots and start burning books again.
Judith Regan, publisher of HarperCollins' ReganBooks imprint, is planning to move the publishing and media group to Los Angeles by the end of the year to focus on television and film projects.
Hope you're single, Chief Bratton!
Meanwhile, The Telegraph wonders why America hasn't fallen in love with Judith yet.
Regan has long had a reputation as the enfant terrible of American publishing - a brash executive with a penchant for publicly ripping into the likes of Madonna and Monica Lewinsky. But VF went further, denouncing her as a "foul-mouthed tyrant" who ruled by intimidation, and who had got where she is by trampling over everybody else. Worse still, she enjoyed it, said the article. Here was a woman who saw herself as a warrior, who quoted General Patton and had been known to shout, "I have the biggest c--k in the building!" when she thought colleagues were being wimpy, it said. She has been merciless with some writers, said the magazine, but she is worse with her own staff, particularly women.
The biggest cork in the building? The biggest cook in the building? I'm confused.
Something tells me that's not the first time "comic book" and "virgin" have been used in the same phrase. (I'm sorry. That was too easy.)
Am I the only one who actually prefers that The Atlantic is cutting short stories and putting them in one annual Fiction Issue? The short story is always the last thing I read in The Atlantic, and I usually tell myself "I'll read it later," put it aside, and never do. (Kind of like my entire New Yorker subscription, which I am now three months behind on.) Quinn Dalton (Bulletproof Girl) seems quite upset about the news from The Atlantic, even though executive editor Cullen Murphy explains that the amount of fiction will remain the same, just not spread out through the year.
When Philippe Roger's book The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism was released in France two years ago, some of the French were horrified, thinking Roger's book was making excuses for American behavior. Roger examined two hundred years worth of "political polemics, pulp sci-fi serials, and travelogues," none of which portrayed America in a flattering light. The Boston Globe profiles Roger and the anti-American sentiments still felt in France. (Dear France: You can hate us. But please still send the cheese.)
Disgusted. Betrayed. A real slap in the face. Judging from these and similar rants from disgruntled readers of her new novel, mystery writer Elizabeth George has done a very bad thing.
Specifically, she kills off a long-running character. With No One As Witness is the thirteenth book in George's extremely successful Thomas Lynley series. Longtime fans shouldn't despair, though; it's not uncommon for characters to be brought back to life after fans protest. Take Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, who died in John Updike's 1990 novel Rabbit at Rest, and was brought back to life in the little-known 1998 book Rabbit Is Resurrected and Exacts Horrible Revenge on That One Greek Guy Who Slept with His Wife in the Second Book.
Rev. Moon's paper gleefully reports that a new right-wing book by Edward Klein "could prove a roadblock to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's possible run for the White House in 2008." Pretty much all you need to know is the title: The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President. Hillary isn't my first choice to run for president (that would be a tie between these two governors), but the fact that Republicans hate her so ardently makes me like her so much more.
Katharine Viner remembers Andrea Dworkin at the Guardian.
It was this bottom line that Dworkin provided. She was a bedrock, the place to start from: even when you disagreed with her, her arguments were infuriating, fascinating, hard to forget. Feminism needs those who won't compromise, even in their appearance; perhaps I'm alone, but I find it pretty fabulous that, as a friend told me, Dworkin would "go to posh restaurants in Manhattan wearing those bloody dungarees". She refused to compromise throughout her life, and was fearless in the face of great provocation. In a world where teenage girls believe that breast implants will make them happy and where rape convictions are down to a record low of 5.6% of reported rapes; in a public culture which has been relentlessly pornographised, in an academic environment which has allowed postmodernism to remove all politics from feminism, we will miss Andrea Dworkin.
Garrison Keillor is optimistic about the future of books, but not so much about the future of newspapers.
"I think that I would want to talk about the beauties of journalism and say a word in its behalf, as against, say, the personal essay and the memoir and other genres that seem more in vogue. ... But I think that American newspapers have taken a very serious wrong turn, and that aside from a few newspapers the quality of the product is in decline, especially for the reader, and I think that newspapers have forgotten that their readers are readers and love writing - writing is what people want. They don't want a sort of concept of journalism; they want writers. And writers are always individuals."
Orlando Baez has been picked to illustrate Family Bones, a comic book about the true story of two elderly serial killers who murdered laborers working on their farm.
The Comics Journal has an article about the mass production that goes into translating Japanese manga into English.
That said, un-flipped translations are at the very least readable. So are badly timed, typo-ridden subtitles on a fifth generation vhs bootleg. As to the question of authenticity, if it's that important, move to Japan, learn Japanese, and read it on the train. The point of a translation is to make a work intelligible to a completely different culture, to interpret it so that the barriers of language and custom are no longer insurmountable. Un-flipped manga is at best a half-translation, and while they are popular at the moment, it's a fad. The peculiar enjoyment of reading something from another culture is made more exotic because it's un-flipped. In the end, such pleasures fade to be replaced by new ones, and it makes good sense if manga publishers don't count on a momentary trend to define their publishing practices.
Andrea Dworkin, 58, a self-proclaimed radical feminist whose scathing writings about sexuality, and pornography in particular, made her a provocative icon of the women's movement, died April 9 at her home in Washington.
A spokeswoman for the D.C. medical examiner's office said further investigation is needed to determine the cause of death. Ms. Dworkin had a variety of health problems and had several falls after recent knee surgery.
April 11, 2005
Sadly, Pat "Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians" Robertson is a force to be reckoned with in the publishing world.
"I was thrilled when I came up with the title because it’s really bad. It’s so bad I thought, ‘Wow, that’s exciting!’ I’m a little scared of it, but I also like it because it is of the book and not out of left field. Yes, it’s shocking but it is a book about race and racism, so I’m happy with it," she says, adding with a shrug that the bloggers are already remarking that it’s offensive. "But it’s my word - and it’s just a word. I don’t want anyone to cry over it."
You might have thought the movement to censor sexually explicit young adult novels died out after Reagan's second term, but no such luck. Emma Pearse reports on some new censorship efforts aimed at YA authors. Depressingly, Judy Blume is still a target, thirty years after Forever "the first ever Young Adult novel to contain an explicit sex scene," Pearse writes was published.
The best thing about National Poetry Month besides the drunken parties, the lost weekends, oh, so many lost weekends is that the newspapers that ignore poetry for 11 months a year feel the urge to publish at least a few cursory articles about great poets. Over the weekend, Donald Justice was profiled at The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. It's a great piece, though short, and it's also a good reminder that Justice's Collected Poems was published not long ago. You should check it out.
This month's nominees:
Ignore the stupid introduction, but this column on what 9th graders should be reading in English classes has a point. Ninth grade forever ruined Steinbeck for me with that Red Pony nonsense, but In Cold Blood was a perfect choice.
Even though I wonder how many more food memoirs Ruth Reichl will be writing before she's left with Creamed Rice and Stewed Peas: My Infant Years, I'll still pick up every one she writes. Her latest is Garlic and Sapphires about her years as a restaurant critic. She's interviewed at Salon about disguising herself to eat at restaurants, why she gave the job at the New York Times up, and the class issues of eating at expensive restaurants.
I have trouble reading mysteries. Whodunits don't hold my attention, as I've usually either figured it out or I have stopped caring. My other problem is I keep imagining the detective as Andre Braugher and then I just give up the book to watch an old episode of Homicide. But the Bookslut interview with Ian Rankin interested me enough to pick up Black and Blue from the used bookstore. I did put down the book to watch an episode of Homicide, but I picked it back up again. As usual, the main storyline didn't interest me all that much, but Rankin's subplots and the character of Rebus himself held my attention. Rankin's books won't be a regular staple in my house anytime soon, but I might be taking him on planes with me instead of my usual Stephen King.
I won't say much about the other book I finished this weekend, Beware of God by Shalom Auslander as I'm reviewing it for the Chicago Reader. But dear lord, that was some funny shit. I read an entire story to The Boy (the one about the man God demands go to Home Depot to buy supplies to build an ark), called people up to read passages to them, and basically giggled my way through Sunday. I've already reread several of the stories. It's just so good. (You can read the Bookslut review here.)
James Wood remembers Saul Bellow in the Guardian.
Bellow was one, to my mind the greatest of American prose stylists in the 20th century - and thus one of the greatest in American fiction. It was a prose for all seasons; it seemed to do more of what one wanted from prose than any other competitor. It was intensely lyrical and musical, its rhythms a pressing mingle of Yiddish, American, English, and Hebrew (after Lawrence, Bellow was the most biblical of modern writers in English); but it was also grounded in speech, and seemed incapable of preciousness (unlike, say, the lovely but often pampered lustres of an Updike); it was witty, metaphysical, sensuous, playful. Above all, Bellow saw the world anew. When he looked, say, at icicles hanging from a hospital roof, he saw them resembling the teeth of a large fish, and then saw the "clear drops burning at their tips". Burning! When he described a younger man helping an old man across a street, he noted the "big but light elbow" of the old man. Big but light! There indeed was a writer attending to the world, attending to the body, missing nothing.
"Many people have accused me of being an elitist," Straus, a Guggenheim heir, once said.
"I'm guilty. I am an elitist. I like good books."
Please, God, for the last time. Jane Austen and the Brontes were not the godmothers of chick lit. They were the godmothers of good writing. Pride and Prejudice is not the "original chick lit masterpiece," no matter what Jennifer Crusie says. It is, however, a good book. Jane Eyre is a good book. Babyville is an offensively awful book that took Jane Green probably all of a week to write. I understand that chick lit writers would like to legitimize themselves by claiming Jane Austen as one of their own, but she is not their ancestor. Their ancestor is Mills & Boone. Jane Austen gave birth to Arundhati Roy, Kazuo Ishiguro, and, you know, literature. So stop it, seriously. You're only hurting yourselves.
April 8, 2005
I wonder if anyone reads P.G. Wodehouse any longer? Apart from weirdos like me, that is.
The Grumpy Old Bookman considers one of the funniest writers in the history of the English language.
The hometown of author John Steinbeck won't be wiping out its three libraries after all. At least not this year.
A grassroots fund-raising effort has reached its goal of $500,000 to keep Salinas' three libraries open a total of 26 hours a week through the end of 2005, city officials announced Wednesday.
Exciting news, but it's nothing compared to the shocking announcement out of Pocatello, Idaho. Tree videos? Fucking sign me up.
You should find a login to The Atlantic so that you can read this extensive interview with Kazuo Ishiguro. He discusses his new novel Never Let Me Go, the original screenplay he wrote The White Countess currently being made into a movie with Ralph Fiennes and various Redgraves, and how he feels about being compared with Jane Austen.
I've long been fascinated by how a writer could veer away from realism. Certainly in the English and American tradition of fiction, the mainstream work has been realist, even when we use interesting techniques of narrating or multiple viewpoints. I have always been straining at the lead, probably, in writing within a realist tradition. I've always wanted my books to take place in a slightly different world. Even a book like The Remains of the Day, which people think was a quintessentially realist novel, I saw as being in a slightly alternative world. It was almost the world of P. J. Wodehouse, intended to be a lot more cartoon-like than most people receive it.
The (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger wonders who will carry on the Magnolia State's literary tradition after the (fairly) recent deaths of Larry Brown, Eudora Welty, Willie Morris and Margaret Walker Alexander. (The article notes that Barry Hannah is "not writing much anymore," but doesn't mention his recent hospitalization in Texas for an "undisclosed illness." Is he OK? Does anybody know?)
Other Darren Aronofsky fans probably remember checking IMDB every once and a while -- usually after a conversation that ended with "What the hell has he been up to all this time?" -- and seeing the entry for "The Fountain." It's been up there for four years now. Taunting us. And never, ever moving out of pre-production. Well, not only is it now actually becoming a movie (I'll believe it when I see it), it's also a comic book. Comic Book Resources talks to Aronofsky and his writing partner Ari Handel about the adaptation process and what the hell went so wrong in the making of the movie.
The latest Guardian quiz: Catholics in Literature.
The Free Press would like to apologize for printing the work of Mitch Tuesdays with Morrie Albom. Not because anyone there came to their senses and thought, "Wow. This guy can't string two sentences together," but because he has entered that proud line of journalists to make shit up.
Basic Books would like to help push Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman into a bestseller with a book tour (Read Bookslut's review of this here.) The problem, of course, is that Feynman is dead.
Coming to Kent in two years: Dickens World!
A multiplex cinema with bars and restaurants is to open in October 2006 and the theme park in April 2007.
Be sure to check out the Bleak House roller coaster, which no one will ever actually finish riding, though they will tell everyone they did.
(Also at the BBC: One Book, One Stevenage, Zero Interest. I think I love this town.)
April 7, 2005
But here's the catch with Amber Frey — all she did was fuck a murderer and talk about it. Her story is about as compelling and dramatic as a coiled dog turd baking in the summer sun. It slips entirely beyond the "personal interest versus serious news" dichotomy and into another category entirely: naked commercial greed. Unless God has personally prepared you for the ordeal of reading "Witness," the rankest fruit of the publishing industry's hunger for a quick buck, your best move is leaving this malodorous raspberry on the shelf.
I think what she's basically saying is: Wait for the paperback.
I always knew Galileo was a little bitch. More like Dantean invariance, motherfucker!
Actors Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson and Sam Waterston were among the luminaries at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall Tuesday evening, as the Academy of American Poets celebrated the 10th National Poetry Month.
I've always wanted to see Darkman read poetry. I guess I missed my chance.
More proof that no country cares more about literature than Scotland.
Wondering why Edinburgh was named the first "City of Literature"? This is why. (Also honored will be George Mackay Brown and Blind Harry, who sounds like a blues singer to me, but is, I have determined after several hours of research, not.)
One of Germany's most successful authors, Frank Schätzing, was facing the claim yesterday that he lifted large chunks of his latest blockbuster from the internet.
The book, The Swarm, is an apocalyptic eco-thriller which tells the story of how a mysterious undersea being known as Yrr incites the natural world to revolt against humans.
Fonda (v.): to plead for harmony and social justice until humanity can't take it anymore.
I've been reading Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales very, very slowly. After every story I want to take a break as I try to absorb every little detail that I just read. It's quite an amazing book, and I'm so glad that I found it. This article, about Dinesen in America and her many different names is a good introduction.
Rupert Thomson is interviewed by the Independent about his new book Divided Kingdom (released in the US in June), how his books are autobiographical works hiding behind the fantastical and the political dystopias, and why he chose to set this new book in an "alternative present."
Pulitzer update: Alternet notices that this year is only the fifth time in Pulitzer's history that an alternative weekly newspaper was given an award; The Boston Phoenix interviews Gareth Cook about the Pulitzer he won for science reporting.
Neal Pollack has finished reading his thirteenth book this year.
Oh, great, you think. Now Pollack is going to start babbling about drugs. Exactly. But first, let me praise the book.
The Guardian tries to clear up the mystery of No War, a book that claims to be by Naomi Klein but is not.
t looks like a Naomi Klein book. It has her name emblazoned on the cover. In a tilt to her bestseller, No Logo, it's called No War. The design is strikingly similar. The book's synopsis on Amazon namechecks the activist writer in the first sentence. But, according to Klein, No War by Naomi Klein is not by her at all. It is an anthology of essays which, says Klein, "contains one previously published magazine article by me that has been available free-of-charge on my website for eight months".
Klein is adamant that "No War is not my book; I had no role in choosing the title, and will accept no revenue from its sales.
Obituaries for Frank Conroy at The New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, The Des Moines Register, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and The Daily Iowan. Narrative Magazine and Identity Theory have fairly recent interviews with Conroy. (Thanks to Jamy for the Narrative link.)
April 6, 2005
Frank Conroy, the memoirist and longtime director of the celebrated University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, died Wednesday at 69, according to a colleague.
"The sun beat down mercilessly, relentlessly, like a manic ex-girlfriend who disregarded restraining orders to sneak past police protection and slash my tires, brutalize my cat, and threaten my kids, although the ex-girlfriend probably couldn't give me a nasty sunburn on my nose, which is why the sun was so much worse."
"No, how about you please leave the premises? Huh? How about you don't make a scene? How about ... how about that? Well, fine. Fucking ... fine. Don't touch me! Don't you dare touch me! Fuck you, you fucking piece of ... of fuck. How's that for a bloody quotation? Ingrates."
The death of Pope John Paul II has inspired touching tributes worldwide, but none so poignant, perhaps, as The Incredible Popeman and his special chastity pants.
Amsterdam prosecutors said Wednesday they would ban a book published by an Islamic-interest publisher because it contained anti-Jewish passages that violate Dutch law.
Gerry Shamray reviews Sin City the movie in comic form.
Lawrence Journal World has all you would ever want to read or know about Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, including a photo slideshow of the Clutter house, Truman in his fat phase, and Garden City; articles on every angle of the book's influence and legacy; and exclusive interviews with people involved who have refused to talk to anyone before.
This year is the 25th anniversary of Calvin Trillin's debut novel Floater, "a send-up of the editorial side of news magazines." (Painfully enough, it seems to be out of print, but it can be found used rather easily and cheaply.) Trillin is interviewed at Mediabistro about the anniversary, newsroom culture, and the difference between a writer and an editor.
I actually had a friend who became a senior editor and while everyone was congratulating him, I said "I don't know how I feel about this. Sound like you're going over to the other team." I mean there were some writers who just stuck around for 40 years writing about the same kinds of things, but we just sort of knew we'd be moving into something else. And those who got promoted to senior editors were not really editors, they were basically just promoted writers, who wouldn't take one or two words out of a piece you handed in. They'd either tell you to rewrite something or rewrite it themselves; they weren't about tightening things up. But it's true that if you weren't interested in rising in the firm your choices were somewhat limited.
A world history textbook used by seventh-graders at Scottsdale’s Mohave Middle School was pulled from classrooms mid-semester amid growing criticism of the book’s portrayal of Islam.
The "growing criticism" comes from one mother of an Arizona seventh-grader, and a handful of conservative blogs. History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond was pulled by its publisher before the parent could intimidate the school district into actually banning it. Janie White, the mother in question, explains herself thusly:
"I do not want my children trying out Islam, or thinking about becoming a Muslim now, or in the future," she wrote to (Superintendent John) Baracy on Jan. 25. She did say, however, that she approves of including some information about world religions in history lessons, so long as it is presented factually and briefly.
"Trying out Islam." In fairness, it has been proved that Islam is a gateway religion, and kids who experiment with it can soon turn to Zoroastrianism or even hardcore Caodaism.
East Valley Tribune reporter Andrea Falkenhagen cites a website, apparently run by a former Arizona public school teacher and her husband, who claim that the state's schools are being turned into Muslim madrassas. Wow. Evan Mecham must be rolling in his grave. (Actually, I just checked, and he appears to be alive.)
April 5, 2005
Harvard University did not discriminate against a black assistant librarian who alleged that she was repeatedly bypassed for promotion and was told she was just a "pretty girl" who dressed too sexy to get ahead, a federal jury found yesterday.
Two Cheap Bastards: Books don't suck!
The Florida state House of Representatives is considering a bill that would "limit 'controversial matter' in the classroom and ensure that students 'will have access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion.'" If you're thinking this is an anti-evolution bill dressed up to look all pretty, you'd be right. Supporters of HB 837 are calling it "The Academic Bill of Rights," continuing the great American tradition of giving horrible bills heroic-sounding names. Want to pass a law requiring all non-white citizens to register with the government? Just call it "The American Freedom Act for Liberty and Justice" or something like that, and watch the Democrats roll over!
At the Sun-Sentinel, Howard Goodman warns of the bill's possible consequences:
At the hearing, Gelber asked Baxley if it was true that his bill would give legal standing to students who wanted their courses to include Scientology or refute the Holocaust.
"Well, freedom is a dangerous thing, isn't it?" Baxley answered. "You might hear some things you didn't want to hear. You might get exposed to something you can't control ... [Academic freedom] is not just to protect leftist views."
Huh? Insisting on the reality of the Holocaust is leftist? It's leftist to want medical schools to actually teach medicine?
The New York Times' Paul Krugman is similarly skeptical:
Consider the statements of Dennis Baxley, a Florida legislator who has sponsored a bill that - like similar bills introduced in almost a dozen states - would give students who think that their conservative views aren't respected the right to sue their professors. Mr. Baxley says that he is taking on "leftists" struggling against "mainstream society," professors who act as "dictators" and turn the classroom into a "totalitarian niche." His prime example of academic totalitarianism? When professors say that evolution is a fact.
Liverpool is to host a fortnight-long celebration of poetry, recognising the city's rich history of producing acclaimed poets.
Poetry in the City, which runs from 10-24 April, will feature readings and workshops for audiences of all ages.
Andrea White, the wife of Houston Mayor Bill White, has just released her first book, Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083. No word yet on whether Mayor White intends to censor his wife's book, but there is a precedent.
The Watchmen movie is in danger. Again.
In his latest column for the Book Standard, Adam Langer reports on the literary scene of Bloomington, Indiana.
Howard’s Bookstore traffics in literary fiction and nonfiction, with a fair amount of attention paid to sci-fi as well as some local authors. There are also packs of tarot cards for sale. Many of the books that sell at Howard’s are the kind of odd and often statistically insignificant Nielsen BookScan blips, leaving one to ponder why a book that sells a couple of copies everywhere else sells 50 in Bloomington. With fewer independents around, the blips that Howard’s reports matter even less in terms of overall sales; yet those same blips are still interesting and important to ponder, for many represent the sorts of oddball books that keep places like Howard’s in business and the culture of reading alive.
I'm not familiar with Robert Pinsky's poetry, though I'm embarrassed to admit it. Still, any poet who's appeared on The Simpsons is OK in my book. At Slate, the former poet laureate kicks off "Slate's annual Month of Poetry Against Poetry."
Jane Fonda's autobiography is preachy and self-absorbed, but still pretty good, says Jonathan Yardley, who is almost always right about these things. (On my way to work today, I passed a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that said "VIETNAM VETERANS ARE NOT FONDA JANE." Indeed.)
In the face of protests from historians and Jewish groups, C-SPAN yesterday backed down from plans to air a lengthy speech from an author whom critics and a British court have labeled as a holocaust denier.
Instead, the network’s popular “Book TV” program included only two brief video clips from David Irving, the British historian who in 2000 lost a highly publicized libel case against an American professor, Deborah Lipstadt. The professor had accused Mr. Irving of being an anti-Semite and of grossly distorting evidence in order to prove that the Holocaust was largely a myth.
C-SPAN initially planned to carry a talk Ms. Lipstadt delivered last month to a Harvard Jewish organization, Hillel. However, Ms. Lipstadt withdrew permission for the network to tape her remarks after she learned that the cable outlet planned to pair her comments with a lecture Mr. Irving delivered recently at a dinner in Atlanta. She said the consecutive appearances would violate her longstanding policy of not engaging in debate with Holocaust deniers.
Poynter has links to the Pulitzer Prize winning journalism pieces.
We all know by now that "reporter" Jeff Gannon is also the sexy sexy James D. Guckert. But is he also... Johnny Gosch???
The Iowa paperboy was kidnapped in 1982, with unsubstantiated stories emerging later from his mother that he was abducted into a child pedophilia ring. No trace of him has ever been found, and no suspects have been arrested.
American author Bill Bryson, who is really British author Bill Bryson since he's lived there for most of the past 30 years, has been named chancellor of Durham University.
So it looks like the Shreveport (Louisiana) Police Department might have a little too much time on their hands.
Shreveport police Detective Mike McConnell got quite a few chuckles as he introduced his new partner, (children's book character) Flat Stanley, around the station recently....
"His favorite thing was the bust," McConnell said, pointing to a picture of Flat Stanley "arresting" Shawn Franklin, 22, of Shreveport, who is planning to apply for a spot in the upcoming police academy. "He got pumped up in the weight room, getting healthy and huge, and he had to go out and make one big bust. He was so proud of himself, he went out and ate a banana split with the rest of the detectives."
Stanley's camaraderie with his fellow brothers in blue was cut short, tragically, by a slug from a perp's 10 mm Glock. McConnell reportedly cradled Stanley's head in his lap and screamed "WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?" before vowing revenge on the evil South American drug cartel that took his life.
Flat Stanley only had two days left until retirement.
A retired Indian police officer has begun legal proceedings against a Bengali writer accusing him of defiling a Hindu goddess.
Author Sunil Gangopadhyay was quoted in a newspaper saying that he was sexually aroused by an idol of the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati.
Look to your left for Bookslut's April issue. Might I suggest you not miss God Save My Queen author Daniel Nester's interview with Camille Paglia about her new book Break Blow Burn? She does, after all, call Seamus Heaney a pussy. (Not exactly in those words, but...) Or perhaps the Ian Rankin interview by Clayton Moore that convinced me to break down and start reading his books? Comicbookslut Karin Kross and Hollywood Madam Liz Miller team up to discuss the Sin City adaptation, making a hell of a lot more sense than I did yesterday. The latest Stripped Books reports on a Gary Shteyngart and Jeffrey Eugenides reading at the Abbey Pub here in Chicago. Colleen Mondor talks to Margo Rabb about Nancy Drew and why adults shouldn't be afraid to read Rabb's young adult novels. Author Barbara J. King profiles Temple Gardin, an animal rights activist and author of books on autism. Geoffrey Goodwin talks to Sonya Taaffe about having her first two books be released simultaneously, the label "the New Weird," and hooking up with authors at conventions.
In reviews, we have the latest books by Jaime Hernandez, Francine Prose, Sue Townsend, Dorota Maslowska, Louise Welsh, Anne Lamott, Kevin Young, and more. In columns, Propagandist Michael Schaub nearly bursts a blood vessel reading Karen Hughes's memoirs, Gutterslut Bill Baker presents a belated Best of 2004 list with the overlooked books of the year, Novella columnist James Morrison loves the short work of H.G. Wells, and more.
If you had been a subscriber to our newsletter, you could be entering to win a signed copy of Francine Prose's A Changed Man or a copy of the new game Booktastic! right now. Don't miss the giveaway for our May issue, subscribe now.
April 4, 2005
The Pulitzers have been announced. The literature awards:
Fiction: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Drama: Doubt, a parable by John Patrick Shanley
History: Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Biography: de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
Poetry: Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser
General Nonfiction: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll
The Comics Reporter has an insanely large resource of links about Frank Miller and Sin City. (Which I saw this weekend, and thought, "Eh." I mean, I enjoyed it. I really like particular scenes. It's very well done, a remarkable technical achievement. The casting was dead on. But a note-by-note adaptation of a comic book I've already read? What was the point again? It left me rather cold. It did spark an interesting conversation, though, about the mainstream embrace of comic books and the old argument of whether comic books are art. A friend declared, "I've read comic books for years and I just decided: I don't like them." That led to an important distinction that has to be made in every genre or medium: good for a comic book, or good for a book. Preacher: Good for a comic book. It's entertaining, but also horribly sexist and homophobic and some of the writing is awful. Epileptic: Good for a book. Reaching genius, really. You can, of course, plug in any genre into that equation. Robert Heinlein: good for science fiction. Stanislaw Lem: good for a book. Etc. This was probably obvious to everyone else in the world, of course. I won't bore you with the rest of the conversation, which was primarily about why comics criticism as it exists now is utterly meaningless. Anyway, I got off track. Go read The Comics Reporter for your Sin City rundowns.)
I use the word "book" with some hesitation: Certainly it possesses chapters and words and other book-like accoutrements. But Men in Black is 208 large-print pages of mostly block quotes (from court decisions or other legal thinkers) padded with a forward by the eminent legal scholar Rush Limbaugh, and a blurry 10-page "Appendix" of internal memos to and from congressional Democrats—stolen during Memogate. The reason it may take you only slightly longer to read Men in Black than it took Levin to write it is that you'll experience an overwhelming urge to shower between chapters.
Somehow, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America has snuck onto the Times bestseller list, even though it's scary-bad.
Protesters are fighting to stop the closing of all of the public libraries of Salinas, California.
I remember reading In Cold Blood in 9th grade English class. It was the only book in Ms. Wright's class that held everyone's attention. Her family lived in Garden City, not far at all from where the murders took place, and we heard from her parents what the response in the city had been when the bodies were found. Western and North Central Kansas is a very Gothic place. The idea of an entire family being murdered was not all that unreal to us, even in such a small town, because four years before our art teacher killed his wife and two daughters before killing himself. In my class was a girl whose extended family was slaughtered in a standoff between the police and an escaped convict. It's strange that I cannot think about In Cold Blood without this peripheral information coming up.
The Lawrence Journal World has a feature on the enduring legacy of In Cold Blood and the effect it had on Capote's career.
Are women beginning to cast themselves as protagonists in some kind of imaginary farce? I shudder to think that women now talk about themselves like a bunch of junior high self-mutilators. It’s as if we can no longer explore our emotional lives with any seriousness for fear of looking like humourless, retro feminists.
Katrina Onstad reports on "nonfiction chick lit" books He's Just Not That Into You, BitterGirl: Getting Over Being Dumped, and Playing with Matches: Misadventures in Dating. (Can articles stop calling Jane Austen "chick lit" please? It's not. But way to be reductive.)
Claire Zulkey interviews Alex Kotlowitz.
I suppose most outside Chicago think of it as this rough and tumble place, one that will take you for all your worth if you're not watchful.
Coming from New York, I thought of it as provincial - which is how most easterners and Los Angelinos think of it. I grew up in New York, and there's no question that there folks hang around with like-minded folks -- writers with writers, lawyers with lawyers, money people with money people. That's not the case in Chicago. It's a democratic (small 'd') place - where every thing and every one is out there in the open, for better or for worse. (So watch your wallets. Only kidding.)
Look, the truth of the matter is, it's a complicated city, filled with paradoxes. But I like how my artist friend Tony Fitzpatrick thinks of it: as exotic, like Bombay or Istanbul. It is exotic, magical and gritty at the same time.
April 1, 2005
The International Booker is shaping up to be the literary equivalent of the World Cup: which is to say, the British have once again invented a global sport they have little hope of ever winning.
Man, no one makes fun of the British like the British. Americans just don't have that self-deprecating sense of humor. Probably because we're the greatest country in the world! Whoooooo! USA! USA! USA!
Seriously, though, the Telegraph is rooting for Muriel Spark, but notes that Philip Roth is "perhaps the best (writer) in the world." Roth is my favorite living novelist, but I imagine he's used to being passed over for awards by now. (Via Bookninja.)
Mr. Zadie Smith is interviewed at The Belfast Telegraph, and he talks about the Kafka musical he's writing with his wife.
I'm going to write the lyrics, Zadie's writing the story and a composer friend of ours is doing the music. We're all interested in Kafka. We've finished a few songs already, but we're taking a break for a while because she has to finish her novel and I'm busy this summer. I don't know if it will be any good but it's an interesting project.
I know if it will be any good. (No.)
Holt Uncensored has been following the success of Terry Ryan's The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less. Now that the book is being adapted into a movie starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, Holt has been examining the script writing process, the casting, the first visit to the film set, and the anxiety of letting someone else tell the story. In the Holt Uncensored archives, there are also columns about turning the book into an audio book, Ryan's appearances on television, and the promotional tour. It's all even interesting if you haven't read the book.
Everyone should use this phrase as much as possible today.
"I think this is bigger than it's ever been before, but I kind of liked it back when everybody hated us," said Ghost World author Dan Clowes, speaking at the recent U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen in February. "There was no pressure. I used to send out my comics and hope it would be reviewed by the Comics Buyers' Guide."
6. "Let's ruin irony for everyone."
The Boston Globe has an interview with JJ Jameson/Norman A Porter, Jr., the Chicago poet/murderer.
When he got to Chicago, he said, he took a room in a $35-a-week flophouse called the Olympia and picked a name from the phone book, Jacob Jameson, J.J. for short. He asked someone he met at the flophouse when his birthday was, then took it as his own. He got a public transportation pass and began exploring the city, visiting places mentioned in Algren's book.
Porter said he didn't live in fear of capture, concentrating instead on transforming himself, an act he compared with learning a foreign language.
''After a while, one starts thinking in that language, dreaming in that language, as well as speaking in that language, and the behavior becomes different," he said. ''Some languages don't allow for certain behaviors, because there aren't words for that behavior."
For Porter, or Jameson, that meant no crime. ''J.J. never stole a thing," he said.
This is your Sin City roundup for the day: Sun of Gelatometti reports on the comics A-listers who turned up for the New York City premiere. David Edelstein loved, loved, loved the film (as did Roger Ebert and a whole lotta other critics). The Village Voice hate, hate, hated it. UGO has interviews with the cast. Robert Rodriguez defends the violence. You can watch an 11-minute featurette online. Jessica Alba talks about being naked, or not. Wired Magazine features the technical side of the filmmaking experience. And Frank Miller is interviewed about the film.
The Guardian has an April Fool's Day quiz up to test your knowledge of literary fools.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of the best-selling book Dead Man Walking, praised ailing Pope John Paul II for his work fighting the death penalty during a lecture and book signing Thursday night at Regis University.
The Independent profiles Rupert Thomson, whose forthcoming Divided Kingdom imagines Britain undergoing "psychological cleansing." The only Thomson I've read was the novel The Book of Revelation, which is brilliant and extremely unsettling. I recommend it.