December 29, 2005
It was just a couple years ago that, for example, Interpreter of Maladies was a really successful book for Jhumpa Lahiri. I also did notice, looking over the list of recommended books this year, that you don’t see any collections of short stories. The biggest problem I think is that they are hard to sell. And there still aren’t all that many places to sell short stories—although more and more, thanks to the Internet.
Maureen McHugh talks about her nomination for the Story Prize for her collection Mothers and Other Monsters at the Book Standard. (If you need other recommended short story collections from this year, try Shalom Auslander's Beware of God and Tom Bissell's God Lives in St. Petersburg.)
Media types take some hallucinogens and predict what will happen in 2006.
In 2006, newspapers will finally get their act together and become exciting, modern, user-friendly tools for life. A newspaper rolled up under the arm will be more hip and fashionable than dangling white earbuds. In an unrelated development, scientists will announce the birth of a pig with tiny, fully functional wings.
December 28, 2005
A blogger got fired from Sur La Table after writing about a Rachel Ray book signing at the store. The title of the post was "Rachel Ray is Not God." Really, just stating the obvious here. Not even, say, a decent cookbook writer.
George Monibot comments on Orhan Pamuk's trial.
Turkey's accession to the European Union, now jeopardised by the trial of Orhan Pamuk, requires not that it comes to terms with its atrocities; only that it permits its writers to rage impotently against them. If the government wants the genocide of the Armenians to be forgotten, it should drop its censorship laws and let people say what they want. It needs only allow Richard Desmond and the Barclay brothers to buy up the country's newspapers, and the past will never trouble it again.
December 27, 2005
Ireland Online has updates on the Beckett centenary celebrations in 2006.
This article would be very funny if I didn't relate so well. Entertainment Weekly held an odd little focus group: they asked a handful of some of their longterm subscribers to go without the magazine for a month and see what the impact on their lives would be. I did my own little experiment with Entertainment Weekly recently when I let my subscription lapse. I lasted approximately four weeks as well. Either Entertainment Weekly is printing their magazine on heroin-laced paper, or they are run by geniuses in psychological manipulation. It sure ain't the review section.
Montero : I am not interested in sex for its own sake in my writing. Only two of my nine books are truly erotic. Even when I decide to write about sexuality, even in its more crude variations, I always have a safety valve. Curiously, maybe it's because of my education -- very Catholic, with lots of nuns -- I tend to soften the sex with a substantial dose of humor.
Grossman : No one can write about human beings truthfully and leave sexuality out of the picture. I think people are struck by women who write about sexuality, and so perhaps the erotic characteristics or moments in your books stay in people's minds more than if a man were writing the novel.
There is a stereotype of literary fiction shared by both science fiction readers and non-science fiction readers: that academically-sanctioned, "serious" contemporary fiction is all about dull middle-class people having affairs, and that the writers of this fiction do such things as use a couple hundred pages to describe events that could quite easily be described in a paragraph.
Are the geeks getting revenge for all of the "______'s not literature, except for these few titles" articles that the literary fiction guys have written? I suppose that's fair. Their recommendations, other than the Jeanette Winterson, are pretty good.
Is Sam Tanenhaus creating a creepier book review?
December 26, 2005
If you waited to buy your copy of Little Nemo in Slumberland, it looks like you're too late. As of last week, the publisher was down to his last 150 copies. Even Amazon only seems to have two copies left. There is, however, talk of a second printing.
I hope everyone survived their respective holiday whatevers. Let this Michael Faber essay on the enduring "A Christmas Carol" be the last Christmasy thing on this blog. Here's hoping everyone reading this is flush with shiny new bookstore gift certificates.
A writer has been fined 3,000 lira (£1,300) under a much-criticised law against insulting Turkish identity.
Zulkuf Kisanak was first given five months in jail, but an Istanbul court then reduced the sentence to a fine.
December 22, 2005
A work of art has to circulate through a sub-economy of exchange operated by a large and growing class of middlemen: publishers, curators, producers, publicists, philanthropists, foundation officers, critics, professors, and so on. The prize system, with its own cadre of career administrators and judges, is one of the ways in which value gets “added on” to a work. Of course, we like to think that the recognition of artistic excellence is intuitive. We don’t like to think of cultural value as something that requires middlemen—people who are not artists themselves—in order to emerge. We prefer to believe that truly good literature or music or film announces itself. Which is another reason that we need prizes: so that we can insist that we don’t really need them.
Louis Menand discusses James English's The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value at the New Yorker.
See how well you were paying attention this year with the Guardian's 2005 in books quiz.
"You see, the real reason I became a communist was to impress girls. Back then, all the pretty ones were revolutionaries. One of the things that's gone wrong for the Left is that their girls just aren't cute any more."
P.J. O'Rourke is interviewed at the Telegraph.
December 21, 2005
"Writing fantasy isn't writing for children, but it erases the distinctions; it's inherently a crossover genre," she says. Much of fantasy writing, she adds, is "about power - just look at Tolkien. It's a means to examine what it does to the person who has it, and to others." A believer, with Shelley, that "the great instrument of moral good is the imagination", she says: "If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there's no way you can act morally or responsibly. Little kids can't do it; babies are morally monsters - completely greedy. Their imagination has to be trained into foresight and empathy." No easy task. As she once wrote in exasperation, "Sure, it's simple, writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up."
The Chicago Sun Times profiles artist Jay Ryan, whose book 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels has recently been released. If you're in Chicago (damn holiday travel!) you should stop by his book release party with Joe Meno at the Hideout tonight.
Laura Miller brings up two excellent points (god, you have no idea how much it hurts me to write that) in this interview on Moby Lives Radio: the superiority of English fiction this year and the fact that men's best of the year lists consist mostly of books by men, even in a very strong year of books by women.
If you are a single woman of a certain age, you can either be obsessed with Jane Austen or you can have cats. You cannot do both, and a long, long time ago I chose Jane.
Hey, Gina Fattore, remember a few paragraphs ago when you were afraid of bringing back the stereotype of Jane Austen fans as desperate spinsters who deserve all the pity and scorn they inspire? Yeah, you just reinforced it.
I am in Arizona this week, hanging out with my sister's baby and reading some Joseph Heller. If you're using blogs as an excuse not to talk to your family this week, I'm sorry you won't have more time to kill with Bookslut. Perhaps you could sneak out and go see a movie? The Book Standard reviews the Golden Globe nominees for book-to-film adaptation.
December 20, 2005
When Emily sent me an e-mail linking to an author interview with the subject line "Lesbians in Antarctica," I thought it was the oddest porn spam yet. Turns out, however, there are lesbians in Antarctica as well as a whole book about it. On the Ice is Gretchen Legler's account of the scientists who live and work at the South Pole. And she is interviewed at Salon.
Italy is that long thin country dangling in the Mediterranean and ever since I was a kid I've been obsessed with it. So when I was feeling completely burnt out this year after giving school dinners a makeover, I thought what better way to relax than to go there on my own with a camper van and a film crew to make a TV series and write a book.
Brian Calame, the New York Times public editor, looks into the question of nepotism in the Times's Notable Books of the Year list. Around 10% of the notable nonfiction books were from former or current Times staffers. I do have to wonder why, however, it bothered them this year. Perhaps more people took note? They've been at this for quite a long time, after all.
December 16, 2005
New York Magazine's best-of-2005 list has categories for "Best Queens Novelist" (Sam Lipsyte) and "The Five Best First Sentences":
3. ‘The Truth About Diamonds,’ by Nicole Richie: “I know some people out there are thinking, Why is this girl writing a book?”
(Thanks to Kathleen for the link.)
Johnny Temple looks at bestselling authors who are choosing to publish with independent presses.
Sienna Miller has revealed she loves to read poetry - when she's drunk. . . .
She revealed: "It sounds so pretentious but it's one of my favourite things. I've got this group of friends who are quite Bohemian and we get drunk, get the poetry books out and read."
Oh, yeah! That is just so Bohemian! Do you think they wear berets? And play bongos? And say "dig"?
Who's responsible for introducing celebrities to poetry? Was it Ally Sheedy? Whoever it was, I wish I knew how to kick you.
"It's literary appreciation week, and as you know, everytime we have literary appreciation week, somebody dies." Last Saturday I appeared on the Late Night Late Show, a faux talk show at Improv Olympic. Fast foward to listen to the podcast for the hilarious Chicago Police Department Patriot Act crack down.
The AP interviews Annie Proulx.
AP: Do you think straight men will watch this movie?
Proulx: They are watching this movie. Of course, why wouldn't they watch it? Straight men fall in love. Not necessarily with each other or with a gay man. My son-in-law, who prides himself on being a Bud-drinking, NRA-member redneck, liked the movie so much he went to it twice. Straight men are seeing it and they're not having any problem with it.
The descendants of DH Lawrence are angry about a sex shop selling "Lady Chatterley" lingerie, though Frida Kahlo's niece is fine with the brand of tequila named after her aunt. Meanwhile, Hemingway is posthumously selling furniture, Jane Austen is posthumously selling everything, and I wish I knew how to quit you.
As for his place in the canon, one could persuasively argue that Roth has written more great novels than Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway combined. I'm serious.
And the thing is, unlike Hawthorne and Melville, Roth's work isn't so boring it makes you want to shove sharpened pretzel sticks into your eyes.
Carolyn Mackler's popular YA novel The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things is too hot for Carroll County, Maryland and students are pissed. Man. If that offends the delicate sensibilities of the Carroll County superintendent of schools, I'd hate to see how he'd react to, say, Brokeback Mountain. I wish I knew how to quit you! Oh, man, I just can't stop with that. It's just so good.
I finally saw a preview for Brokeback Mountain. And I honestly wish I could hear Jake Gyllenhaal say "I wish I knew how to quit you" without laughing. I do. But I'm not at that point yet.
Anyway, here's a review of a book about gay cowboys. They're so hot this year!
The trial of Orhan Pamuk for "denigrating Turkish identity" was adjourned today, and probably won't resume until February (unless the charges are dismissed altogether, which is possible).
Why? Because they're so much easier to give than they are to receive. They're so much more gratifying to gift givers than they are to recipients.
December 15, 2005
Pre-procrastination Christmas book list! Look at this, fellow procrastinators: Almost two weeks before the actual day, and here I am to solve all your shopping problems with the annual one-stop, hit-the-bookstore with less than 24-hours-to-go, all-purpose Procrastinator's List.
Spiritual guru to stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and many royals, Deepak Chopra has been reportedly commissioned to rewrite Vatsayana's Kama Sutra, the world famous book on sex tantra and erotic enjoyment.
But will it sell as well as Hot Sexual Positions "They" Don't Want You to Know About?
The Boston Phoenix marks Atlantic Monthly's move from Boston to Washington DC.
I'm trying to console myself about the loss of Kitchen Confidential, the show that evidently I'm the only one who watched. But now Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl is developing a television show about her saucy life. Please assure me that there will be more boutique lettuce jokes on television again.
A newspaper in New Brunswick is catching flak for editing a poem written by a Canadian POW in Japan during World War II. The Tribune removed two lines that contained racist slurs about Asians.
Get some shopping done while upping your karma. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is auctioning original art.
I got over all my prejudices about paper vs the web and submitted a book review almost two years ago to Bookslut because I loved the site and I wanted to be writing something for someone while I plugged away at my book on Alaska flying - I wanted to be on a deadline and I wanted to be edited. And hey - Jessa offered free books! My first piece ran and I’ve been a regular contributor every since. And Bookslut is 100% responsible for every amazing thing that has followed that first review.
Awww. Mike and I are blushing. And we love Colleen and wish her all of the best in the world.
December 14, 2005
Mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell picks a fight with the biggest idiot in the fucking world.
Writing on her website, Cornwell, who has studied psychiatry while researching her books, said: "There are misconceptions about psychology, especially when people out there like Tom Cruise say there's no evidence of chemical imbalance and psychiatric disorders. There's going to be some girl or boy who worships this megastar, who decides, 'I'm not going to take my anti-depressants because Tom Cruise said I don't need drugs'."
If you have a child who worships Tom Cruise, he or she should definitely be on some kind of medication.
The 1954 movie features a different kind of snow.
Chicago has produced a serious amount of science and speculative fiction, from Philip K. Dick to James Tiptree, Jr. to Ray Bradbury to Edward Gorey, but there is no Chicago style of SF like there is a Chicago style of, um, pizza? Hey, not all metaphors are going to be great. (Link from Locus.)
Usually I say something like, "I write stories with zombies in them." I figure that either the person who asked is going to be charmed by this,
because, like me, they're fond of zombie stories, or else they'll know
to steer clear. I believe in truth in advertising.
Kelly Link is interviewed at Fantasy Book Spot.
John Updike's next novel will deal with terrorism.
The threat is not anonymous, foreign born or groomed overseas by Osama bin Laden. He is an 18-year-old American-born son of an Irish mother and Egyptian father who finds Islam at a small urban American high school.
Taking the Slate model and running with it, the Comics Reporter brings together Dr. Craig Fischer and Dr. Bart Beaty to discuss Beaty's new book Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture. Wertham is the author of Seduction of the Innocent, the book that many accuse of nearly destroying the comics industry in the '50s. Beaty tries to restore some of Wertham's reputation in his book, and at the Comics Reporter, they expand on the idea of putting Wertham's ideas into context. The discussion will be continuing all week.
It was a good year for plagiarists (or a bad year if you consider that all of these guys got caught).
Ain't no party like a Philip Roth party!
"Now you're talking! I would be wonderful with a 100-year moratorium on literature talk, if you shut down all literature departments, close the book reviews, ban the critics. The readers should be alone with the books, and if anyone dared to say anything about them, they would be shot or imprisoned right on the spot. Yes, shot. A 100-year moratorium on insufferable literary talk. You should let people fight with the books on their own and rediscover what they are and what they are not. . . ."
At other points in the interview, Roth refuses to smile for a camera, calls religious people "hideous," and, when asked how Judaism has influenced his fiction, stabs the interviewer in the eye with a screwdriver.
December 13, 2005
. . . you have to wonder how soon it will be until one of the hip characters on The O.C. refers to a friend's coming out of the closet as "going Brokeback" or "heading to Brokeback Mountain."
About 20 literary icons recently met for an afternoon tea in Gwinn. Queen Victoria presided over the affair, which attracted the likes of Mary Shelley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen.
Gwinn high school seniors played the parts of each historical figure in Heather Hollands' Advanced Placement English literature and composition class. The Victorian tea party was part of the class's efforts to study the authors and culture of the era.
The good news: With the help of an AP test or two, these kids will be able to place out of their Intro to Total Dorkiness classes in college.
John Sutherland considers new sponsors for the Whitbread literary prize.
"TGI Friday's" doesn't really evoke images of curling up with Claire Tomalin, or going head to head with Salman about whether Peter Kemp was right to describe his latest (favourite for this year's, last ever, fiction prize) as a rest home for geriatric magic realism cliches (bastard).
Sounds to me like Pimm's needs to step up. Or Jaffa Cakes. Those being the only two British food products I can name at the moment.
The state of California executed author and former gang member Stanley Tookie Williams (Life in Prison, Redemption) this morning. Williams was sentenced to death in 1981, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday refused to commute his execution.
“Purity” is a slogan that leads to segregations and explosions. Let us have no more of it. A little more impurity, please; a little less cleanliness; a little more dirt.
Salman Rushdie ponders the question of multiculturalism in the Times.
At the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard explores how universities are teaching literary theory and quotes the great D.G. Myers (The Elephants Teach, Unrelenting Readers), who taught me American literature and Holocaust literature at Texas A&M. (Find a way to take a class from him, even if it involves moving to College Station. I assure you it is worth it.)
Also at the Chronicle: Harvard University Press executive editor Lindsay Waters asks whether literary theory is dead and finds that it's not, but it's "lost its life force."
December 12, 2005
Ohh, adorable little Time Magazine. When I read they were listing seven "great books you may have missed," I thought they'd be highlighting some of the more ignored books of the year, like Maureen McHugh's Mothers and Other Monsters. (I'm just going to keep mentioning it until it goes into its tenth printing.) But no. They want you to hear about The Plot Against America one more time, just in case you missed the billion and a half other articles about the fucking book when it came out last year. They really are just useless.
While my natural tendency is to move every couple of years, I realized the other day that if I leave Chicago, Barack Obama will no longer be my senator. I just don't think I could do it. We're so proud of him, everyone is giddy over his Grammy nomination for best audio book. He's interviewed by Al Franken, his fellow nominee in the same category.
Whitbread no longer. Anyone want to sponsor a literary prize?
Before following the link to this review of Watchmen, I want you to read this introduction and really try to picture the type of person who would write this. Form a mental image of what they might look like.
Why do contemporary artists all seem to think the end of the world is nigh? Why has art become a thing of ugliness, instead of light? With all the beautiful things we see every day, the delicacy of a flower, the turn of a woman's arm, the grace of a bird in flight, we are treated only to the bizarre and horrid by our artists. These days we see sculptures that look like molecular mistakes writ large. We live in architecture that appears like a jumble of blocks thrown to the ground in the midst of a temper tantrum by a gigantic, petulant child. We view paintings that appear more accidental than planned. We have movies full of violence and anti-social behavior. On the radio we hear music that celebrates all the worst in man. We even have comic books that belittle heroism, that deconstruct the good and exceptional turning their heroes as cartoonishly flawed as the most obscene head case on the Jerry Springer Show.
Okay, got it? Now go.
It was exactly dead on, wasn't it? Man. Who knew that Civil War re-enactors read comic books anyway? (Oh, and can I just say that I love the fact that a right-leaning website has a review of Watchmen that decries the lack of female roles? My head is nearly spinning.) Link from Comics Reporter.
In Istanbul this Friday—in Şişli, the district where I have spent my whole life, in the courthouse directly opposite the three-story house where my grandmother lived alone for forty years—I will stand before a judge. My crime is to have “publicly denigrated Turkish identity.” The prosecutor will ask that I be imprisoned for three years.
"I love you," Grady mewed. Clyde said nothing. Since the war had ended, his life had been a disappointment. Was working in a parking lot the best he could expect? He knew the affair with Grady McNeil was going nowhere. He was down-at-heel and had friends called Mink and Gump. Worst of all, he was Jewish.
December 9, 2005
James Westcott advises that you do the exact opposite of everything Lynne Truss demands in her new book Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door.
If there's a counter between you and your interlocutor, there's no need to pussyfoot around. Just say—and the less clearly the better—"A cheese roll" or "Just this banana." When you turn away with your goods, see how thrilling the omission of the P-word feels. The deli man doesn't need to be patronized with politeness, and neither do you. And in cabs: Don't expect the driver to acknowledge the destination you've just given him, and definitely don't repeat it in a clearer voice. This is the worst thing you could do and a sign of terrible weakness.
One page, titled "Anatomy of a New Mom" sums up the book's appeal: A mock medical diagram of a baggy-eyed woman nursing a "totally oblivious and blissed-out need machine," it points out all the identifying characteristics of new-mom-hood, like "needs a perm," "wonders 'why,'" "feeds infant but forgets to feed self," "total disconnection from sexuality," and other details not often mention in baby books.
Not to take away from Arnold's affection for C. Tyler's lovely new comic Late Bloomer, but can we please stop saying that no one talks about the unhappiness of motherhood? For the past ten years, that's all anyone talks about. Every mothering guidebook, memoir, novel, magazine article, talk show, radio program, whatever, mentions that new motherhood kind of sucks. It makes you wish they'd go back to talking about how fulfilling it all is.
The Observer takes credit for the stay of execution for Nabokov's unpublished manuscript.
Kansas City Star lists noteworthy books from 2001 to 2004. Why? Who knows. Perhaps, like me, they looked at all the books they read this year and realized they got so caught up in reading Graham Greene, Shirley Jackson, and Stanislaw Lem that they had only read a handful of books from 2005. Rather than admit that the reason the William T. Vollmann wasn't on their list was "Dude, I took one look at it and ran straight for some Melville House novellas," they went for older books from years maybe they've finally caught up with. As for me, any day now I feel ready to give you a list of my favorite books from 1985.
Alexander Masters won the Guardian First Book Prize for his book Stuart: A Life Backwards. The biography follows a psychotic formerly homeless man who eventually killed himself a few years back. Luckily for us and the book, the author seems not to have a shred of sentimentality in him, not even in his audio book listening:
It was Dickens for a while, but he came a cropper with Oliver Twist. He can't stand the sentimentality of Dickens's good characters. "Die, Oliver, die!" he says, barrelling down the streets of Cambridge, looking for a parking space.
December 8, 2005
Jarret Keene recommends buying small-press books for your holiday gifts this year.
If you're a comic book fan with a sense of humor, check this out! If you do not have a sense of humor, maybe go read that one graphic novel about the sensitive emo Christian dude.
If you share more than ten books on the New York Times Notable Books of the Year list . . .
. . . then you, too, have been bought out by corporate interests. With almost no books from small presses, only a handful of books by women, a whole lot of books by their own writers, and almost every single book published by one division of Random House or another, the New York Times Notable Books of the Year is quite possibly the most predictable best-of list put out every year.
MoveOn.org tried to get its silly little petition to the leaders of the Tribune Co., and failed. Columbia Journalism Review has an opinionated report.
It's not surprising that FitzSimons wouldn't give Winer the time of day -- after all, it's pretty obvious at this point that neither quality journalism nor engaging critics of its business tactics is high on Tribune Co.'s list of priorities.
Also, their headline for the story? Genius.
December 7, 2005
Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, the story of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's perspective, has completed a novel told from the point of view of the Smurf-hating sorcerer Gargamel.
Pakistan's government is to remove a poem from a school textbook after it emerged the first letters of each line spelt out "President George W Bush". . . .
Critics say it praises Mr Bush. Its rhyming couplets describe someone "solid as steel, strong in his faith".
Nice try, Karen Hughes.
Peter Manseau is interviewed at Nerve about his lovely book Vows: The Story about a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son.
Even when I was exploring this idea of celibacy, I was still going to bars and whatnot. So I was living a double life the same way my father had when he was young. Except that, I don't know, his double life — it might have been more honest than mine. When I was at the monastery, I always felt like I was lying. I didn't want to admit that maybe the bars in Northampton were my more authentic place to be.
The Story Prize (an award for short fiction) nominees have been announced, and they include Bookslut favorite Maureen McHugh. The nominees are:
The Summer He Didn't Die by Jim Harrison
Mothers and Other Monsters by Maureen McHugh
The Hill Road by Patrick O'Keefe
American Heritage looks at The United States of America v. One Book Entitled Ulysses.
Sam Coleman, the prosecutor, had marked 250 passages as obscene, but he refused to read them aloud in the presence of a woman, (lawyer Morris) Ernst’s wife; Ernst, for his part, lauded Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness technique to the court. Puffing on a cigarette, (Judge John) Woolsey commented that “reading parts of that book almost drove me frantic,” and said he needed more time to ponder the situation.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute, is tightening submission rules after a prominent journalist complained that an article falsely implicated him in the Kennedy assassinations.
This is going to bum out a lot of college students with term papers due tomorrow. Especially ones who believed the entries on Grover Cleveland ("inventor of reggae") and the Battle of Hastings ("a type of lunchmeat").
By the end of the first few chapters I was screaming “Jump, you two-dimensional ba****ds, jump!” Sadly, they didn’t hear me.
December 6, 2005
I have read more books on this list of the 20 best food books of the year than the New York Times notable thing. But shit, now I have an additional 14 books to buy.
Chili, that grand spicy, meaty stew, cannot be warped and scatted by the School of Displaced Guilt. Undoubtedly, attempts to dissolve the potency of chili are abundant and will persist, a regrettable result of continuing investments in political rectitude for the return of praise by impressionable, likeminded peers. Everywhere, it has become fashionable, a matter of course, to suppress the idea of a chili aesthetic.
Definitely coming from Ohio and wanting to make sense of the city as an Ohioan, or as a person from a small town. You adapt yourself to the city, but you also adapt the situation to yourself so you can make it seem as if you’re still in Ohio. And I think a lot of the book is about trying to live in this extremely civilized place, with millions of other influences, all these different ways of looking at life, and still trying to be just a person from Ohio. How one goes about that, and whether even you should go about it, or should you just completely lose your former identity and become a New Yorker completely.
Rain Taxi is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a celebrity auction.
When my good friend Jessa Crispin founded Bookslut over three years ago, she had one simple goal: to publish more issues than Time magazine ever has. It was a crazy dream, sure, for one kid from the prairies of Kansas (Jessa, was it a prairie? Or more of a plain? Please advise.) but there was just no stopping her. Now, with Bookslut's brand new 43rd issue, she's finally realized that goal.
I know what you're thinking. Time has been publishing weekly for decades and decades. Surely they've published more than 43 issues. How can I claim otherwise? Because I am lying. And it's great. I've basically decided to fill this entire blog with pure lies, as it is easy and much less stressful. It's made the last month much better for me, psychologically speaking. So despite what I wrote on the blog last week, Rick Moody has not been arrested for arson. Joan Didion did not refer to the other National Book Award nonfiction nominees as "fucking pussies." Leonardo DiCaprio has not bought the rights to Malcolm Gladwell's hair. And poetry is not "totally gay." Though like 90 percent of poets are. That part's true.
You won't find any lies, though, in the new issue. You will find some pretty sweet articles, though. Like John Detrixhe's fascinating interview with author Annie Proulx, whose short story "Brokeback Mountain" has just been adapted to film (and Annie likes it). Or our interview with mystery novelist, singer-songwriter and Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, who talks about his favorite Texas books and his plans to name Texas roads after the state's best country musicians. Geoffrey H. Goodwin talks to Paul Bates about finding his muse, and writing for small presses. Melissa Fischer wants you to have a blue, blue, blue Christmas, and Barbara J. King reveals that professors read, too. (It turns out that one of my co-workers took an anthropology class from Professor King at William & Mary, and reports that she is an unbelievably great teacher. Which I suspected.) And Colleen Mondor, one of Bookslut's all-stars, learns to look at the Pacific Northwest differently after reading Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide.
In columns, our Girl, Interrupting looks at "The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to That Which She Already Knows Too Much About." Small, But Perfectly Formed returns to Germany. And our Bookslut in Training offers a holiday gift guide for YA fans. Our reviewers take on the latest books from George Saunders, Billy Collins, Shane White, Thomas Wharton, Geert Spillebeen, and more.
Not only that, it's 100 percent lie-free. Unlike my posts on this blog, which are just going to get more and more absurd and irresponsible. Watch this: John Updike is addicted to anime porn! Independent bookstores are all fronts for the Michigan Militia! Jonathan Safran Foer was somehow involved in the McKinley assassination! This is just...so...fun.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael Schaub is leaving Bookslut next month to become editor-in-chief of Wikipedia.)
December 5, 2005
Nerve.com has the Aimee Bender story "On a Saturday Afternoon."
You'll be glad to know that only one of the proposals contains the word "fisting".
Continuum releases a list of proposals for books in their 33 1/3 series.
Over the years, others have had uneasy doubts about the Narnian brand of Christianity. Christ should surely be no lion (let alone with the orotund voice of Liam Neeson). He was the lamb, representing the meek of the earth, weak, poor and refusing to fight. Philip Pullman - he of the marvellously secular trilogy His Dark Materials - has called Narnia "one of the most ugly, poisonous things I have ever read".
Why? Because here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America - that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right. I once heard the famous preacher Norman Vincent Peel in New York expound a sermon that reassured his wealthy congregation that they were made rich by God because they deserved it. The godly will reap earthly reward because God is on the side of the strong. This appears to be CS Lewis's view, too. In the battle at the end of the film, visually a great epic treat, the child crusaders are crowned kings and queens for no particular reason. Intellectually, the poor do not inherit Lewis's earth.
Man. Americans are going to fucking love this movie.
When I was laid off from a dot com last year (yes, I actually was the last person in the world to do so), I didn't know that the best strategy would have been to write a petition. "Yes, I understand that you're slowly going out of business because you run your business like a crazy man, but here I have 500 signatures saying you should let me keep my job." We'll see if Moveon.org's fight to save newspaper jobs will work any better.
It's very exciting to find myself in Chicago for two whole weeks before I have to get on another plane. It's like a motherfucking Christmas miracle. During those two weeks I'll have to make a trip to Unabridged bookstore, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
We don't even want to have an online presence; we want to hand-sell the books to customers in the store. Also, all along I decided that I wanted to have only full-time help, no part-timers. That way you get people who have a better knowledge of books and a better knowledge of the store. And by paying them more than most bookstores and providing them with full benefits, people here stay a long time. So you have very little turnover, and everyone gets to know your customers thoroughly, by name, by face.
Who runs a bookstore that way anymore? So naive, yet actually working. Stop by and wish them a happy birthday this week.
I have a bit of a crush on Douglas Wolk, I must confess. His article in the Believer made me give Cerebus another go. His reviews in Salon are just about the only reviews in Salon that don't make you want to smack the writer (Hi, Rebecca Traister!). His latest review is of Little Nemo in Slumberland, a book everyone who comes into my apartment eventually gravitates to and oohs and ahhs over. (It's a beautiful, beautiful book.) Unfortunately, his review comes at about the same time the book is selling out of its print run, so snap them up while you can! Yes, it's $150 ($120 on Amazon, I think), but does your family really need Christmas presents? Just fill out a bogus card saying you bought a llama in their name at the llama rescue center, and then sneak back to your apartment to read Little Nemo.
December 1, 2005
A Swedish drama student was fined 2,400 crowns on Wednesday for reading pornographic stories to a group of six-year-olds as part of a theater project on children's sexuality.
Only in Sweden! And probably several parts of California.
(Thanks to my dad for the link.)
The main building of the Library of Congress was evacuated for several hours on Wednesday because of a "suspicious odor," but the building reopened early in the afternoon, a library spokeswoman said.
Kyrie O'Connor speculates that the fifth book in CS Lewis' Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy, might not be adapted into a film not because it's a bad story, but because it's horribly, horribly racist.
The book, first published in 1954, may never get to the screen, at least not in anything resembling its literary form. It's just too dreadful. While the book's storytelling virtues are enormous, you don't have to be a bluestocking of political correctness to find some of this fantasy anti-Arab, or anti-Eastern, or anti-Ottoman. With all its stereotypes, mostly played for belly laughs, there are moments you'd like to stuff this story back into its closet.
Gambit Weekly looks at the "literary responders" in post-Katrina New Orleans, and features pieces by John Biguenet and Tom Piazza. Piazza will read from his new book, Why New Orleans Matters, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6 pm - 8 pm, at Preservation Hall in New Orleans. It's the first time the legendary club will be open after Katrina, and donations will be collected at the event for the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund.
The New York Times names their ten best books of 2005. Ian McEwan is honored for the book nobody seemed to like, and Curtis Sittenfeld and Zadie Smith represent for young writers. The only real surprise: LSU beating out Texas for the No. 2 spot. Are the Tigers overrated? Find out Sunday when they take on Joan Didion!