February 28, 2006
As Anna Johnson suggests in her witty introduction to "Handbags: The Power of the Purse," 'a good bag becomes an intimate extension of the body,' which is why an astute female reader will realize that Anna Karenina is about to end it all when she tosses aside her red handbag. "A woman who is sick of her handbag," Johnson observes, "surely, is absolutely sick of living."
Then there is this quote from Elizabeth Wurtzel:
"A bag," observes Wurtzel, "is about controlling the world outside your home. It's not any more about materialism than Neruda's 'Ode to Things' is. When he says, 'Oh irrevocable / river / of things,' he's talking about his attachments, and some of us cannot bear to be separated from our things for too long."
And that was the point at which I thought, "Wow! I have finally found the people I have the least in common with!"
From Over the Top: The New Yorker cover you never saw.
I admire so many authors - Robert Parker, Annie Proulx, Richard Russo, Mark Helprin, Stephen King, Mary Gaitskill. But when I'm writing, what I love most of all is a really, really atrocious book (no names). There's something about reading crappy writing that brings out the best in me.
Do you think that whenever Dyson tells someone the title of her book, they start singing the Talking Heads song, especially the part towards the end where David Byrne is all like "HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEEEEEEEEEEY"? And if so, do you think that really pisses her off? Because if I met her, I would probably do that.
I have said before and will say again how much I fucking love Rob Walker, whose "Consumed" column in The New York Times Magazine is pretty much always the best article in the Sunday paper. He's also the author of Letters from New Orleans, which he'll be reading from on Tuesday, March 14, at 7 pm at Mo Pitkin's in New York. (And here is something that is cool: All author proceeds from the sale of the book go to relief organizations in New Orleans.)
I am pretty much dying to read The Amalgamation Polka by Stephen Wright, which I picked up last week. I don't really know all that much about Wright, except that his author photo is a little scary, and he's responsible for one of the best, weirdest books I've ever read, the 1994 novel Going Native. I need to reread it I remember loving it, but it's the kind of sharp, shining road novel that both confuses and amazes you and makes you feel like you've been doing a lot of drugs. Especially when you actually have been doing a lot of drugs. (Hey, it was college. Whatever.) Wright is also the author of the novels Meditations in Green and M31: A Family Romance, which I haven't read.
But if The Amalgamation Polka is a fraction as good as Going Native, it's well worth picking up. The novel is reviewed at The Village Voice, Newsday, The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The New York Observer.
Jeffrey Archer says his political career is over after serving two years in a British jail. The Grumpy Old Bookman has more about the man apparently formally known as "Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare."
God. Franklin Foer, the new editor of The New Republic, is barely older than I am.
While there is no blood spattering its walls, the magazine that Mr. Foer, 31, takes over is hardly on a roll. The New Republic's circulation has dropped by almost 40 percent in four years; it cut its circulation and staff salaries after aggressively spending on the Web in 2002. Meanwhile, its historical role as a maypole for middle-way Democrats is under challenge from countless Web sites and bloggers. And one of the magazine's major preoccupations — a search for the soul of the Democratic Party — would seem to require a lot of patience and a miner's helmet.
The Independent: If you want your book to do well, be nice.
Publishing is a small world. Gossip spreads faster than meningitis in a youth camp. Talk to any industry insider and they will be able to rattle off a list of authors infamous for everything from grabbing women's breasts to hissy fits designed to intimidate the poor saps promoting them. Over the years, I have heard stories of authors who have demanded that their publicist go score drugs for them, had tantrums with booksellers or dressed down literary critics in crowded rooms. In this business, get a reputation for being difficult and you risk cutting short your career.
Terry Gross talks to Marc Weingarten, author of The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, and the New Journalism Revolution. Also at NPR: Greg Bear talks about the legacy of Octavia Butler.
The Village Voice has an interview with Poppy Z. Brite, who is back in New Orleans. She's enjoying this Mardi Gras without the tourists.
Carnival is variously a family celebration, a gay celebration, a traditional black celebration. This year we're seeing those elements more than ever, and less of the dorks. Zulu, the traditional African-American parade, is the only one being allowed to keep part of its traditional route rather than having to use a shortened Uptown route. This year's tourists seem a little more respectful and interested in our traditions than the usual drunken yahoos.
You got a big boost when you were picked for The Today Show's book club for Fluke. Did things change for you in any kind of Oprah-esque fashion?
Not in the least. I flew from Hawaii to New York, went on the show for six minutes, and was back in flip-flops working on my book twenty-four hours later. It was very generous of Nicholas Sparks to pick me for the club, and I'm sure that we sold a lot more books because of it, but it didn't have anything near an Oprah effect. My friends yelled at me for wearing a tie on the air, when normally I wear aloha shirts at public appearances. I got razzed; that was my "Oprah" effect.
A Million Little Lies, announced today by publisher Judith Regan, parodies James Frey’s super-selling memoir A Million Little Pieces as it tells the drug-and-rehab story of one Mr. James Pinocchio. It is to be released on March 28.
Seriously? That's the best you guys can come up with? Replacing "pieces" with "lies" and making a Pinocchio reference that would have been stale in the Eisenhower administration? Oh, hey, that William Taft sure is fat! And Clara Bow sure shows a lot of leg in her new picture!
Oh my God, people, if you are not funny then do not write or publish books, and fuck you for not being funny.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, 64, has collected the last editions of 79 daily newspapers that closed down since 1963. His adult children don't want the old newspapers, which fill a closet. "The only kind of paper my family wants is greenbacks and stock certificates," he says.
He hasn't been able to find a university to take his collection, either. And now he's under the gun to get rid of it. He is about to marry his third wife, who is 27 years old, and in the prenuptial agreement, there's a clause that he must dispose of the collection by Dec. 31. She wants to store her shoes in that closet.
Also in the prenup? Millions and millions of dollars. I'm just guessing.
The New York Times profiles Deborah Eisenberg, author of, most recently, Twilight of the Superheroes, which has an awesome cover and has been getting better reviews than, let's say, a hypothetical collaboration between Philip Roth and God (see: Newsday, The New York Observer, The New York Times, and, awww yeah, Bookslut). Deborah Eisenberg sounds like she might not be the ideal guest at your next house party...
She lives with her companion of more than 30 years, Wallace Shawn, the playwright and actor, in a Chelsea loft whose main room is an unearthly white. The windows are covered with filmy white material, the books hidden behind semitransparent plastic, to make them look like "a dream of books," Ms. Eisenberg said. There is a wrought-iron daybed with a white mattress that is not inviting.
"There's nowhere to sit," she said, in a not unfriendly way. "It discourages visitors."
...though it would be awesome to do a keg-stand with the dude from The Princess Bride. Huh? Am I right?
There are obituaries for Octavia Butler in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Seattle Times and BlackAmericaWeb. Frederick Busch is remembered at The (Syracuse, N.Y.) Post-Standard and The New York Times.
February 27, 2006
Kathryn Davis is interviewed for WAMC's Book Show about her book The Thin Place, still my favorite book of 2006. Only ten more months to go on that one, but I still don't expect anything to take it down.
It sounded like witchcraft to Mma Ramotswe, but she decided to say nothing as a distressed young woman, wearing an apron covered in food, entered the room. "I would guess that you are a cook," said Mma Ramotswe. "You are truly gifted with second sight," the girl answered.
This month Melville House Press is releasing Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush along with the Center for Constitutional Rights. And if you forgot your senator on your Christmas Card list this year, you can make it up to them by buying them their own copy. Melville House will even pay for the shipping when you do. (I'm the lucky one here, as I assume my senator Obama would consider it a good read.)
ON MONDAY, the High Court in London will hear a lawsuit which will either make publishing history or be dismissed as a storm in a teacup. The reason for the fuss is that it relates to one of the most successful novels of modern times and the lifting of "the whole architecture" of a body of research, a largely intangible entity which, not without reason, has caused paranoia throughout the literary world. Plagiarism is not a grounds for litigation in the UK, so instead the plaintiffs are alleging copyright infringement, which, of course, amounts to much the same thing. What makes the situation all the more titillating, and bizarre, however, is that they are suing their own publisher.
February 24, 2006
Is your professor the kind of communist America-hater that David Horowitz warned about in his book? Circle Jerk at the Square Dance presents a handy guide you can use to tell whether your teacher is biased or not.
Literature can teach us much about the how we interact with our fellow men and women — Biased
Literature can teach us much about how college kids are boinking like heathens — Not Biased
Great novelists: Steinbeck, Faulkner, Morisson, Woolf, Ellison — Biased
Great novelists: Rand, Clancy, Gingrich, O’Reilly, and more Rand — Not Biased
Winona Ryder told Vanity Fair in 2003 that she went to an opera with JT Leroy, reports Jossip.
"...We went to this diner afterward and talked. I wanted to take care of him, have him move in, but he said he was heading back south. I fell in love with him. And I've been in love with him ever since."
I guess you could say that he...stole her heart! Ha ha ha! Wait, are we still doing Winona Ryder/shoplifting jokes? No? OK. Then I got nothing.
The AP profiles Dan Futterman, who is nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for his adaptation of Gerald Clarke's Capote: A Biography. Other notable screenwriting nominees include Woody Allen (Match Point), Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (Brokeback Mountain), and a retarded chipmunk (Crash).
The International Herald Tribune looks at some independent British presses, and has a list of UK-based small publishing houses. Several Bookslut favorites especially Canongate and Persephone are mentioned. (Though it would've been nice to see the great Serpent's Tail get some well-deserved attention.)
She says she sometimes wrote "Lithium for Medea" during the drug rush after injecting cocaine, taking care to do so in her kitchen, so the blood could be easily wiped off the linoleum, instead of in the living room, where it might stain the rug. From 1971 until 1985, she said, "I was a total cocaine addict." She relapsed in the early 1990s, smoking heroin, for "several grotesque years," she said.
Such drug use, she says, gets female writers written off. But when male writers such as William Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson used drugs to fuel their creativity, "people lionize them as geniuses," she said.
Didn't anyone read And the Ass Saw the Angel? Or has no one listened to his music? You don't ask Nick Cave to write the screenplay for Gladiator II.
"Luckily, it was so completely unacceptable they didn't even ask me to do rewrites," says Cave, with a kind of amused pride. "It wasn't makeable." Why not? "I wanted to write an anti-war film and use Gladiator as a raging war machine. He died in the first one so he comes back as the eternal warrior. It ended up in Vietnam and the Pentagon." He shrugs his spindly shoulders. "It was just this really wacked-out script."
But man, look at that mustache. I'm so in love with him that I think the dorky facial hair makes him even hotter.
A man has accused a book shop of 'outraging public decency' after they promoted a 'pop-up' edition of the (Kama) Sutra.
February 23, 2006
Shakespeare died of lymphatic cancer, says German professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel.
Great news: Melville House Publishing, one of America's great indie presses, will publish Tao Lin's short story collection, BED. Tao is the creator of the Reader of Depressing Books blog, and an unbelievably talented writer. His book of poetry, you are a little bit happer than i am, will be published by Action Books in the fall.
First off, let me say that I find Star Jones Reynolds endlessly fascinating. This is largely because I enjoy being disgusted. I love horror movies, and medical shows like The Man With The 800-lb. Tumor––so to me, watching Star is like sitting through some magical combination of the two, like The Man With The 800-lb. Zombie Tumor, or something.
The following is a letter I wrote after picking up Git-R-Done - The Larry The Cable Guy Story (ghost written by Susan Sontag). I have to warn you that it's nearly 11 pages long. But I think it's chock full of life lessons for all of us and if you're not careful... you just might learn something!
It is worth it for the part where David explains to Larry The Cable Guy that referring to Iraqis as "commie r-- head carpet flying wicker basket on the head balancing scumbags" is, indeed, racist. (Via Backwards City.)
Ian McKellen: Marvel will tell you that they like X-Men more than any of their other titles because it appeals specifically to three groups - the demographic is young blacks, young Jews and young gays. They identify themselves [with these characters] more than most - although perhaps all teenagers consider themselves "mutants" in that they are perhaps ill-treated by the rest of society for a time, for no good reason. And as a gay man, the idea that someone might come along with a cure...
Brett Ratner: You're gay? I had no idea! [General laughter]
IM: Well, there aren't many of us in Hollywood...
Brokeback Mountain is about two gay cowboys. We know they’re gay cause they have sex. Also cause they don’t like Anne Hathaway, Michele Williams, and that chick who played Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks and is on ER now. They both wear cowboy hats, but not yellow ones. . . .
Although the two movies were the same, they were also different.
Largehearted Boy's Book Notes features Simon Reynolds, creator of Blissblog and author of Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. I got this book last week, and I'm looking forward to reading it for whatever reason, I was obsessed with Public Image Ltd and Mission of Burma when I was in high school. (At the time, it was actually against the law for radio stations to play any song that wasn't Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," but I think I first heard PiL on 120 Minutes.)
Jim Knipfel (Ruining it for Everybody) goes back to high school to speak to a memoir-writing class. (Yep. A memoir-writing class. In a high school. What the hell are these kids writing about? The time their testicles descended last summer? Jesus.)
My two favorite question of the afternoon were, “Does it take a long time to get to be so shameless?” and “Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder why you’re doing this?”
I can honestly say that no interviewer has ever had the balls to ask me anything like that. God bless the beasts and the children.
Helen Dunmore talks to the Independent about the book I'll have to wait patiently for in America, The House of Orphans. (Also for a better cover. It makes it look like a companion piece to a Masterpiece Theater production from the '80s. The interview with Dunmore makes the book sound nothing like what the cover would suggest.)
The new issue of Narrative Magazine has selections from Frank Conroy, Rick Bass, Tom Grimes and others.
ABC has greenlit the anthology series Masters of Science Fiction, which will present works of well-known authors such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, reports Variety.
Oh, yeah, they can't throw enough money at the SF geeks. But it takes them five minutes to turn down my horror show pitch. Whatever, ABC. You'll be kicking yourself for passing on CSI: R'lyeh. Just you wait.
The Austin Chronicle recommends the new Lone Star Literature: A Texas Anthology, which includes selections from O. Henry, Molly Ivins, Kinky Friedman, J. Frank Dobie, Katherine Anne Porter, Naomi Shihab Nye and Rolando Hinojosa-Smith. The Chronicle also mentions Lee Merrill Byrd's forthcoming Riley's Fire, which is possible novel-of-the-year material look for it in May from Algonquin Books. Byrd is the co-publisher of the excellent Cinco Puntos Press, based in El Paso.
A robber wearing a Spider-Man mask was caught on surveillance video Tuesday stealing a set of rare comics from a store in Culver City, Calif.
I think we all know who's behind this one. Sure, Tobey, you have some valuable comic books now. But at what cost? At what cost?
Is Michael Jackson our Oscar Wilde? Well. Obviously.
The Stock Mistress protests an animal rights protest through her bookshop's window.
I block my ears and fill my windows with titles designed to bring a smile to fellow victims of the nuisance protest. It is a catholic selection, including Julian Baggini's The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten, which plays with ideas in an idle fashion, The River Cottage Meat Book, a practical manual with a blood-stained cover, The Fox in the Cupboard, Jane Shilling's memoir of a late-blooming love affair with hunting, and Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat, a collection of completely beside-the-point essays about translation (but passing punters aren't to know it's not a poem to the pleasures of cutting up rodents).
It looks like Maureen McHugh's Hodkins has returned. More information on her blog.
February 22, 2006
KB: Why do you deal with whores and pimps, the denizens of the Tenderloin? What is the philosophical basis for this?
WV: The fundamental intellectual level of humanity has and will always be low. New technological possibilities mean more experimental things can be forgotten in new ways. There are amazing filmmakers, like the Soviet Dziga Vertov. Who knows who this guy is and who cares? Who knows or cares who Joyce was? That means people who want to write at that level, and I include myself, are only doing so because we love it. In the end, what else is there? There is no prize, including the Nobel Prize, which can compensate you for the work you put in. If it's not a joy, you shouldn't do it.
The Willamette Week (I should just move to Portland already) reviews three books I'm dying to read: Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead, Chris Bachelder's U.S.!, and John Carey's What Good Are the Arts? Brockmeier's book is reviewed at Slate, the Detroit Free Press and Salon, and Brockmeier recently contributed a track list to Largehearted Boy's Book Notes. Bachelder's novel has drawn praise from George Saunders and Michael Chabon, two of the country's great fiction writers, and received reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle and The Village Voice. (Bachelder was interviewed at Bookslut in 2004.) As for Carey's book, the Washington Post's Michael Dirda says "Anyone seriously interested in the arts should read it."
The Montana State Library has canceled a showing of a movie critical of the U.S. Patriot Act after people complained about the American Civil Liberties Union being involved.
Hillary Frey says that Justin Tussing's The Best People in the World "could be the best debut of the year." The novel was also recently reviewed at the Washington Post and the Willamette Week, and The New York Times reprints the first chapter. Why haven't I read this yet? Something about that excerpt reminds me of Kevin Canty, one of my favorite writers of fiction, whose Into the Great Wide Open and A Stranger in This World are both pretty essential.
Wait. Where was I? Oh right. Justin Tussing. I really need to check that book out.
Is your kid reluctant to read Sister Carrie and learn about the Treaty of Fredrikshamn? You might have a problem.
In a boldly counterintuitive move, big publishers are trying to lure readers with books about prepare to be shocked like you have never been shocked before sex.
"If you had said five years ago, 'erotic, hot, sexy romances,' people would have said 'What, are you crazy?'" says Kensington editor in chief John Scognamiglio.
He's right, in that if you just walked up to somebody and said "Erotic, hot, sexy romances!" they would probably assume that you might have some issues that could be addressed by psychoactive medication. Everyone should try it today, though. Just go up to a random person on the street and say "Erotic, hot, sexy romances!" Let me know how it goes.
The Socialist Worker looks at the lies of David Horowitz, neo-McCarthyist author of The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.
Horowitz and SAF claim that they have hundreds of documented examples of left-wing academic bias. But some of the complaints listed in the “Academic Freedom Abuse Center” -- a collection of unsubstantiated claims on the SAF Web site -- include a student who was offended when her sociology class watched an “immoral Seinfeld episode,” and an Ohio State student who claims he got a poor grade on an English essay “just because the professor hates families and thinks it’s okay to be gay.”
Also at the Worker: Some of the professors blacklisted by Horowitz respond. Here's Dana Cloud of the University of Texas:
Like all of the scholars on Horowitz’s hit list, I am a careful, responsible and successful teacher. It seems clear that Horowitz is only concerned on the surface with the potential “indoctrination” of students. (He is not too concerned that our business students are inundated with pro-capitalist propaganda, or that our petroleum engineering faculty has not one environmentalist on it.)
Writers from around the world plan to mark March 20, the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, as the 'day of political lies.'
Among the writers signing the call for the 'day of political lies' were Britain's Doris Lessing and Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, India's Amitav Gosh, Turkey's Orhan Pamuk, Americans Paul Auster and Russell Banks, and Germany's Peter Schneider and Ulla Hahn.
Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter, bought works by JK Rowling, Iain Banks and Tom Stoppard at a London charity auction.
Radcliffe's mother Marcia Gresham bid on his behalf at the central London auction.
She said: "This should put paid to anyone who says that Daniel doesn't like reading.
"Daniel hasn't stopped since he read the first Harry Potter book and he loves Iain Banks and Tom Stoppard."
Man, that news is going to spark a whole lot of age-inappropriate crushes. I can just see it.
The British Book Awards nominations are out, and some observers expect sparks to fly.
The London hotel hosting the event, Grosvenor House, has asked for an "exclusion zone" between two of the shortlisted authors, Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson, on account of their now legendary personal feud having erupted into fisticuffs at a previous ceremony two years ago. Both men are up for the WH Smith Book of the Year award, Morgan for his memoir, The Insider, and Clarkson for The World According to Clarkson.
That's quite a list. God, I'd hate to see the books that didn't make the final cut. The Joy of Wheat-Free Cooking? The Big Book of Fart Jokes? It's Just a Bunch of Pictures of Posh Spice?
Is Mary Higgins Clark a plagiarist? You have no idea how disruptive to my sense of reality this will be if it's true.
And there remains the question of Denmark: a small democracy, which resisted Hitler bravely and protected its Jews as well as itself. Denmark is a fellow member of NATO and a country that sends its soldiers to help in the defense and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. And what is its reward from Washington? Not a word of solidarity, but instead some creepy words of apology to those who have attacked its freedom, its trade, its citizens, and its embassies. For shame.
(Thanks to Randy for the link.)
Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem, who was himself condemned to death by Islamists during the civil war, comments on the Muhammad cartoons.
Some people have their own vision of freedom of speech, others have their own vision of what we can or can’t do. Both visions can’t be reconciled, we have been trying for centuries, to no avail. Once again, what I blame this issue for is that it has invited religion in the debate on freedoms. Liberty and religion are two completely different things which will never reach an agreement about anything.
The Supreme Court passed up a chance Tuesday to decide if college administrators can censor campus newspapers.
The students sued after a dean blocked the paper's printing in 2000 until she could review the news stories. Campus journalists had written unflattering stories in the Innovator about departments at the school in University Park, south of Chicago, which has about 6,000 students.
The Smoking Gun shows a little compassion for James Frey.
Bastone expresses some sympathy for his subject, whose painful appearance on Oprah Bastone watched with his staff on a live satellite feed, courtesy of TSG owners Court TV. "It's not like he was a child molester or a murderer out there, though she treated him like one," Bastone says.
Editor Bastone is interviewed about their investigation into My Friend Leonard, using "off the record" conversations in the original story, and why he wasn't on Oprah.
Gina Frangello, who has more energy during a full term pregnancy than I have ever had in my entire life, has started a blog. Five days before giving birth. (Which should be happening today. All the best, Gina!) She reports on her appearance reading My Sister's Continent at the Bookslut Reading Series.
(Speaking of readings, thanks to everyone who came out for the Grace Reading Series last night. We were being taped by CBS News because Elizabeth is a fucking rock star, and the whole camera and mic thing was a bit more invasive than I had thought. Or maybe I just thought that because I had the sound guy's hand down my dress, duct taping the wire through the back.)
February 21, 2006
If you are in New York, you have to go to tonight's Grace reading at Mo Pitkin's. The reading starts at 7 pm, and features guest host Jessa Crispin introducing authors Elizabeth Merrick (Girly) and Myla Goldberg (Bee Season, Wickett's Remedy). If you're not in New York, I have no idea what you should do tonight. Watch some more of that ice dancing crap on the Olympics, I guess. That'll kill an hour or two.
Salon interviews Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt: Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Be Young.
What it is all really about for me is realizing that we are part of the first generation in America that does not expect to and probably won't do better than our parents. It's about taking a step down, and that is a feeling that is terrifying. The American dream has always been about progress and about going up and up -- but we are not making as much money as our parents, and maybe we are a little bit less educated than our parents. We are not achieving the milestones of adulthood at the same time that they did.
(Thanks to Leela for the link.)
The Old Hag has started a feature on her blog in which she prints excerpts of forthcoming novels. It's called get this "The Old Hag's Feature On Her Blog In Which She Prints Excerpts of Forthcoming Novels." (It's actually called "Teaser," but mine's better.) The first installment features an excerpt from Maud Casey's Genealogy, which comes out in May.
Sarah Polley, who is an incredibly accomplished actor but who will always be Beverly Cleary's Ramona to me (anyone else remember that show?), will direct the film Away from Her, based on the Alice Munro short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." Polley wrote the screenplay for the movie, which will star Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis. The short story is part of Munro's collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.
Virginia Haussegger asks: Why do women hate Maureen Dowd?
In the case of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, the collective answer seems to be: she's a powerful, sexy little fox who's smart, witty, made it to the top and has got it all sewn up. She's a bitch.
The Australian media response to Dowd's new book, Are Men Necessary?, has been a fascinating study in our own thinly disguised insecurities as women - and Antipodean women at that.
I lived in San Antonio for 19 years, and the only people who ever came to town were members of certain '70s heavy metal bands. Now that I've left, apparently it's safe for all my favorite writers to visit. Lorrie Moore will be speaking at Trinity University on Thursday night, so if you live there, you have to go. Moore is maybe America's best short story writer, and the author of the very, very highly recommended Birds of America and Like Life. Check out Tao Lin's commentary on Moore's fiction at Reader of Depressing Books, and this 1998 profile of Moore from Ploughshares.
The Raw Story reports that Scott McClellan, displaying his trademark brand of stammering ineloquence, dodged a question about President Bush's meeting last year with wingnut airport-novel king Michael Crichton. Meanwhile, Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell says the meeting "would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire." In a related story, the Bush administration has reportedly canceled plans to prepare the country for the possible avian flu epidemic, choosing instead to start inoculating all Americans against the Andromeda strain.
Musician, author and publisher Henry Rollins (Roomanitarian) is being investigated by the Australian government after a fellow airplane passenger was "disturbed" at the book he was reading Ahmed Rashid's Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia.
February 20, 2006
An Austrian court sentenced historian David Irving to three years in prison on Monday for denying the Holocaust during a 1989 stopover in Austria, dismissing his argument that he had changed his views.
An Arizona state senate committee approved a bill that "would let university and community college students opt out of required reading of items the youngsters consider personally offensive or pornographic," reports the Arizona Daily Sun. It's great to see one of my favorite novels in the news, I guess:
One specific complaint came over "The Ice Storm." The novel deals with adults and children experimenting with sex, drugs and suicide. [College student Christina] Trefzger described it as a "pretty sexually graphic book."
Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Mesa, said he also heard complaints from a Maricopa Community College student.
"There's no defense of this book," he said. "I can't believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material."
Thayer Verschoor, meet Dale Peck. Dale, Thayer.
Her book is not a forerunner of mindless airport fiction so much as the kind of attack on bourgeois complacency and puritan cant later formulated by offbeat, not to say camp, film-makers like John Waters - the trash pope of Baltimore and a huge Metalious fan - and David Lynch. New England towns, Metalious once wrote, "look as peaceful as a postcard picture, but if you got beneath that picture it's like turning over a rock with your foot. All kinds of strange things crawl out."
Leonard Pitts says "thank you" to the staff of the Little Falls branch library in Bethesda, Maryland:
Business is going on as usual when two men in uniform stride into the main reading room and call for attention. Then they make an announcement: It is forbidden to use the library's computers to view Internet pornography.
As people are absorbing this, one of the men challenges a patron about a Web site he is visiting and asks the man to step outside. At this point, a librarian intervenes and calls the uniformed men aside. A police officer is summoned. The men leave. It turns out they are employees of the county's Department of Homeland Security and were operating way outside their authority.
Tomorrow I will be guest hosting the Grace Reading Series in New York. The authors will be Elizabeth Merrick (Girly) and Myla Goldberg (Bee Season, Wickett's Remedy). See the Grace Reading Series page for more information, but I hope to see you guys there.
European critics are much smarter. Some of the best critics of American literature are in Germany and France. They know what's going on. They keep up. They have a much better intellectual equipment, a firmer grasp of languages. When I go abroad I feel much more at home. It's that sense of all writing is in the same country, and that there's just one country now.
Because pro-choicers rely on science, and so much of our language is born out of fact and evidence, we're hampered in some sense. We can't come up with these inaccurate soundbites that are very seductive, like "partial-birth abortion." Doctors would never come up with that term because it's inaccurate. In some ways we're hampered by the truth. It's kind of like we're the nonfiction version, and they're the fiction version -- we're science, and they're science fiction.
American English speakers tend to fall into two categories: those who think the word "whom" is antiquated and pointless and should never be used, and insufferable pricks. (Hey, sorry. You people who get pissed off about "split infinitives"? Yeah, you guys suck too.)
"Beginning a question with whom in contemporary standard English would not just be unusual, it would be bizarre," says linguist Geoffrey Pullum, coauthor of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. "Insisting on whom, as some people still do when writing for print, is more and more looking like an affectation," says Pullum, who's currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge.
Anti-semitic author David Irving has pleaded guilty to charges of denying the Holocaust. Irving could be sentenced to ten years in prison by an Austrian court, and is now changing his tune.
This morning, outside court, Irving told reporters: "History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989. Yes, there were gas chambers. Millions of Jews died, there is no question. I don't know the figures. I'm not an expert on the Holocaust."
Batman vs. Bin Laden: What do you think?
Q: What was the strangest thing a president has done?
A: It's a tie between Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Lyndon Johnson bought his wife's wedding ring at Sears for $2.50. Ronald Reagan loved ear lobes and played with other people's earlobes whether it was foreign leaders of the world or his own family.
I would literally rather have this kid advising Bush about global warming than Michael Crichton. Seriously. I'm not exaggerating for comic effect.
“We All Die Alone” has a fuzzy cover. It’s a flocked or, more precisely, mock-flocked cover. So everyone who attends one of my readings will receive a free book-grooming tool to maintain the pristine appearance of their mock-flocked book cover. A slide show will illustrate exactly how the book groomer works and the dangers inherent in owning a mock-flocked book.
President Bush met with Michael Crichton last year to discuss the author's novel State of Fear, which claims that global warming isn't a real threat, says Fred Barnes in his new book Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush.
Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," writes that the president "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement."
"The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more," he adds.
Even more troubling: Bush invited the author of The Pet Goat to the White House to discuss federal disaster management.
John Updike has a new short story, "My Father's Tears," at The New Yorker.
Strangest headline of the day: "Elizabeth Barrett Browning was far more than an invalid, says Roy Hattersley." Umm, yes. Wasn't there some poetry or something?
4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
In between orchestrating the French Revolution with Robespierre and badmouthing President Bush with the Dixie Chicks, French author Madeleine L'Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time, which centers on a fatherless and troublesome 13-year-old girl, Meg Murry. Obviously, L'Engle is implying that single mothers need welfare to properly raise their children.
Well, what is the Eucharist, for heaven's sake? It's a payoff on a hundred levels. It's paying off God, because God is vengeful. The incarnation and crucifixion and sacrifice of Christ is the law of the talion. You owe a god to a god for a breach of god's rights.
So is violating the Pope's copyright a venial sin or a mortal sin? Help me out here, I'm lapsed.
Royalties for Pope Benedict XVI's writings and speeches? The Italian publishing world is aghast.
The demand by the Vatican to respect copyright on the pontiff's writings and pay for their use has triggered hot debate: Should an institution which exists to spread the word of God be putting a price on papal writ?
The flames burnt bright and the stench of burning flesh hung in the air.
"We shouldn't have done that," said Tom.
"I can't tell you as it's just a device to artificially ratchet up the tension for 20 pages."
Ander Monson, author of the fantastic Other Electricities, has been announced as the winner of the 2006 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize for Neck Deep.
David Rees talks Get Your War On.
“I was going to quit Get Your War On when Kerry was sworn in and Bush left,” he says with a sigh, “and Bush won, and I was like, ‘Oh god, I’ve got to do this shit for another four years.’ Now it’s like running a marathon: Come on, a couple more hills, and then you’ll be done when Bush is done! But I think I’ll continue it for now, because it is cathartic.”
The Nation talks to Art Spiegelman and Joe Sacco about the Danish cartoon controversy. (And for those following the story, Comics Reporter has been doing an excellent job of collecting the information on a daily basis.)
Spiegelman: The public has been infantilized by the press. It's escalated to the point where it's moot whether one should reprint these pictures or not because now to do it puts you firmly on the side of the libeler, the defamer. And yet, it seems to me that to write about this without access to the pictures is an absurdity. The answer to speech, in my religion, is more speech, a lot of yakking--and a lot of drawing. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, very often it requires 2,000 words more to talk about the picture, but you can't replace that thousand words with another thousand words.
If The Nation and the New York Times had simply said, "We're scared shitless," I could take that. I'm not only a cartoonist--I'm a physical coward.
February 17, 2006
I have come to consider myself a "Chicago writer" but only after years of people asking me how conscious I am of working in the Chicago tradition. Finally I simply surrendered to the question. OK, I plead guilty, I'm a Chicago writer--I was born and raised here and I write a lot about the city. One of my books even has the word "Chicago" in it. I didn't start out with that in mind.
[Stockton-on-Tees, England] Council officials today apologised after misspelling the word grammar on a road sign outside a school....
The sign, which read Grammer School Lane, had been in place for more than a week, according to the headteacher, Gillian Taylor.
I created a gay and lesbian literature course at Virginia Tech in 1998 because I wanted to give queer kids an affirming mirror of their experience through literature.
I remember those students saying to me, almost patronizingly, "Well, yeah, it was harder for your generation. But things are changing, and that nasty homophobia is dinosaur stuff." I remember thinking, I hope you're right; I think you're naive.
Ole Miss instructor Allan Mitchell talks to NPR about the proposed state poem, Paul Ott's "I Am Mississippi."
The maker of Macintosh computers had anticipated hackers would try to crack its new OS X operating system built to work on Intel's chips and run pirated versions on non-Apple computers. So, Apple developers embedded a warning deep in the software — in the form of a poem.
Dan Clowes is interviewed at the Los Angeles City Beat.
I like characters that are angry. I like people that are angry. I’m always interested in and can befriend people that are extremely angry – whereas most people are repelled by that person, I find it somewhat endearing. And so I have a lot of friends who are seethingly, bitterly angry and pessimistic and dismal to be around, and I like that. And I hear that about my characters a lot, that these are just one horrible, dismal character after another.
She says: "I really like the bit where the narrator beats the shit out of his miserable old grandfather." "Yes," I say, "that probably was the strongest moment in the book."
Tim Parks introduces his children to the books he's written.
There is a chick lit book that uses a Nirvana lyric for the title. My entire adolescence, poof. Thanks, Caprice Crane. If I ever meet you in a dark alley, I swear...
I know that it was a shitty night last night, so I want to thank everyone who braved the snow/sleet/rain and wind and nastiness to join us at the Reading Series. I think it might be an actual miracle that the night came off as well as it did, as the weather system over Chicago delayed both of our out-of-town writers' flights and Gina Frangello was five days away from giving birth. Something probably should have gone wrong, but it didn't.
Gina started the night off when a reading from My Sister's Continent. It was dirty. In fact, it's one of my favorite parts of the novel, when Kendra's ex-boyfriend finds out she's in an S&M type of relationship and tries to dominate her. It was dirty and funny and it was being read by a very pregnant woman.
Now, everyone knows what a huge fan of Kathryn Davis I am. And the night was an interesting mix of authors for me personally, what with Clarke's book being something I picked up with no expectations and ended up falling in love with, Continent being the first novel from a woman I've known in Chicago since I arrived here, and Davis being a familiar favorite. But when I got up to introduce Davis for The Thin Place, I ran out of words and went with "It's fucking incredible, read it." That boils it down nicely, I think. She read the chapter about poor doomed Gigi (a cat) and introduced the section by saying, "All you need to know is Peter is Helen's son and two, the fisher cat is a nasty animal."
George Elliott Clarke finished up the night with a reading from George & Rue, a tale of two of the members of his family tree that bring him less pride. He started off with a little history lesson to answer a question I'm sure was about to overtake a number of audience members: "There are black people in Nova Scotia?" Then he read a murder scene, a sex scene (that was independently applauded), and a murder scene, finishing off with a poem. That is, after all, what he's best known for.
For March, we're doing something a little different. First off, the next event is March 1st, in two weeks. Gina Mallet, author of Last Chance to Eat and one of my favorite food writers, will be designing a menu with the Hopleaf for Bookslut readers. So if you make a reservation at the Hopleaf (773 334-9851) for between 5pm and 6:30pm, tell them you're with the Bookslut Reading Series, there will be a special menu for you when you arrive. Then the reading will follow at 8pm. All of this will be on the Reading Series page later today. If you can't come to the dinner, you are still welcome to come for the reading. But if you do want dinner, consider making reservations now, as that room doesn't hold many people.
February 16, 2006
A man in a white pickup, on his way to work, slows as he drives past, staring at Friedman. Within minutes he's circled back and pulled over. He saw Kinky on 60 Minutes, he says, and he agrees with him, especially on the importance of border issues; Kinky's got his vote. Kay slips into the salon and returns with a handful of bumper stickers and a campaign poster. "How would you like this signed?" asks Friedman. "'Luv, The Guv;' 'Yours in Christ;' 'See You in Hell'?"
"See You in Hell," the man replies.
He's not the only author running for office this year. Sander Hicks, the founder of Soft Skull Press and Vox Pop bookstore, and author of The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up, is running for the New York governorship as a Green Party candidate, urging an end to the media monopoly and the culture of corporate advertising.
James Webb, author of the highly acclaimed novel Fields of Fire, is running for the US Senate from Virginia. Webb was Secretary of the Navy for a year under Ronald Reagan, but he's running as a Democrat. Rob Reiner, another famous Democrat, will direct Webb's script for the Iraq War-themed movie Whiskey River next year.
The most entertaining writer/candidate, though, is Dr. James Dunn, running for a US House seat in South Carolina. It doesn't look like any of the books listed on Dunn's vita are easily available or published at all but the titles are amazing. I would do anything to get my hands on a copy of A Futuristic Look at America's Recent Past - A History of the United States from the 1990s to 2032 or, especially, Talking With Your Youngsters, Such That They Will Enjoy Minding You!
I'm not a big comic, graphic novel type of person, but I didn't really know much about that whole world until this film. I never thought that they actually had...real stories [laughs]. I was completely ignorant about it. It was really impressive to see something that had such a serious intellectual side that was also, beautifully drawn and realized.
Bookstores have suddenly become like pot to me, which sounds like an endorsement but is not. I approach them both hoping for insight and inspiration, but these days all I'm left with afterwards is a lingering depression and a funky taste in my mouth. At least with pot I've had some Pringles.
Maria Dahvana Headley has what might be the funniest anecdote ever at the Powell's blog. And it comes with a lesson: If you don't enunciate, people might think you're really into anal sex.
In the drink line, I encounter a skinny poet from Texas.
"So, you're really into anal sex, huh?"
Since I'm now wholly convinced that my brain is cheesecloth, I know that this is not what the poet has really said. Probably he's just asked me if I'm really into Angela Carter.
"I love her work," I reply. "She's like a modern Brothers Grimm."
The poet looks at me. "Anal sex," he repeats. "Anal Sex."
Tonight is our Chicago Reading Series. If you don't come, seriously, I just don't know what's wrong with you. You would be passing up a chance to stand in the same room as Kathryn Davis, who has written the best book of 2006. You will have passed up the opportunity to see nine-month pregnant Gina Frangello read kinky sex scenes. You will miss being surprised by how sharply funny George Elliott Clarke's tale of murder and nastiness can be. These people are coming for you, and if you ask nicely, they will chat and sign your books. Sex! Murder! Talking lichen! You have to be there.
Nerve.com has a photo gallery inspired by the works of Bukowski.
There are a thousand reasons to subscribe to Virginia Quarterly Review, but one of the best ones is because Tom Bissell (author of the devastating God Lives in St. Petersburg) is a frequent contributor, writing about trips to Vietnam (where he and his friends were thrown out) and the Great White North. (Also, they're serializing the new Art Spiegelman.) Bissell writes about "truth in travel literature" for World Hum. (Link from Maud.)
Frank Miller will be following in the footsteps of other comic book writers with his latest work on Batman by having him fight the current Big Bad: al-Qaida.
The San Antonio Current interviews Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
I keep trying not to write political poems, they’re a drag. Politics is a drag. I mean, I’d much rather be writing love poems all the time. But under the Bush Administration, the rich are getting rich, and the poor are getting poorer. That’s the shape of things these days, even in New York. Even taxi drivers say it.
February 15, 2006
The Kirkus Reviews Spring & Summer 2006 Special Issue is now available go here and click on the first link. Some of the forthcoming books mentioned look pretty great, like AM Homes' This Book Will Save Your Life, David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, Gautam Malkani's Londonstani, and John Updike's Terrorist.
Reviewers will read your book, and review not just your writing, but your life, your looks, and your moral compass. One of them, in Great Britain, will literally quote from your acknowledgements, complaining that you've thanked too many people. He will have written a book very similar to yours, but not as commercially viable, and you will suspect him of a small jealousy issue.
Destiny's Child singer Beyonce Knowles is mortified the term she created, "bootylicious", is now in the dictionary.
John Nichols, the author of The Rise and Rise of Richard B. Cheney: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Most Powerful Vice President in American History, wonders whether Cheney was drunk when he shot Harry Whittington.
According to an MSNBC report that appeared briefly Tuesday on the network's website, Armstrong peddled the line that she did not believe that alcohol played a part in the shooting accident. But, she admitted, "There may be a beer or two in there, but remember not everyone in the party was shooting."
The MSNBC story, which appeared only briefly before the website was scrubbed for reasons not yet explained, has been kept alive by the able web investigators at www.rawstory.com and other progressive blogs. And so it should be, as the prospect that alcohol may have been involved in the Texas incident takes the story in a whole new direction.
David Benioff, author (The 25th Hour, When the Nines Roll Over) and screenwriter (Troy), might get $2 million for his planned remake of the Danish film Brothers, reports New York Magazine. The Internet Movie Database lists Benioff as the screenwriter for upcoming adaptations of The Kite Runner and Ender's Game, as well as next year's planned Wolverine movie.
Book swapping: like the other kind of swapping, but with a lesser chance of genital lesions. (Via Bookninja, who notes that the book swapping program is "the perfect way to cross-breed the mold in your basement AND spread disease worldwide!")
Tao Lin has a great short story, "Sincerity," at Dirt.
The mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, had this to say — via e-mail — about Mr. Berendt's new work: "It's not my habit to comment on books that don't interest me or, for various reasons, I don't like." . . .
The author makes no bones about his American's-eye-view of the city. "Obviously I wrote with a foreigner's eye," he said in a telephone interview from his home in New York. "You can object to it, but it hardly sounds like a legitimate complaint. Foreigners have been writing about Venice forever."
Mr. Magazine lists the 30 most notable magazine launches of 2005, and it includes, god help us, Bee Magazine (tells women they should really learn a few facts about Iran to sound smart at cocktail parties), Web MD (in case you have a touch of the hypochondria and can't get online), that Rachel Ray magazine (just, no), and New Beauty (AN ENTIRE MAGAZINE ABOUT PLASTIC SURGERY). Thanks to Kathleen for the link.
Julian Barnes, to drop a name, once told me that the worse thing that could happen to a first-time novelist was to win a major prize. Not only because of the increased pressure and expectations, but because critics would be sharpening their hatchets. But in my case things were made worse by the theme I chose for the second novel – memory. Because it dragged me back into a painful period, the 1990s, when I was confronted with the heartbreaking spectacle of my parents’ battles with memory loss.
Under cross-examination by lead prosecutor Patrick M. Collins, Prejean flashed humor.
"As a product of Catholic education, it's every schoolboy's dream to cross-examine a nun," Collins said with a broad grin.
"You'd better mind your p's and q's, young man, or Sister Godzilla will haunt you for the rest of your life," Prejean said as the courtroom cracked up.
I went to Catholic school for 11 years, and luckily, never had to deal with a Sister Godzilla. There was ol' Deacon Mecha-King Ghidorah, of course, always firing gravity beams and capture cables when we started talking in class. Oh, the fun we had!
Moore says: "I came to the sad conclusion after my first book [Frost On My Moustache] that all the bits people used to say they liked were all the bits where I was having an appallingly bad time. You know, being sick all over myself and all that."
Jessa, do we have enough money in the budget to buy the naming rights to a Pennsylvania library? It's only $300,000! We can split the cost! I'll send you a postdated check.
Whoa, whoa, whoa...you're telling me I can buy a personalized poem by Alfredo León, The Love Poet? The Alfredo León, The Love Poet? Why didn't I know about this before Valentine's Day? Nothing says love like:
And lately, somehow, I feel you are going through the same feeling and
desires, just as I am, because this truly is our season to gaze into
each other's eyes.
. . .
Hold this poem close to your heart. . .to absorb the absolute effects
of its meaning, it's what you must do!
An Internet cafe owner in Tokyo and two other people were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of posting popular manga comics on an Internet site without the consent of the authors and publishers, the police said. (Link from Comics Reporter.)
Anybody want to be the editor of The Atlantic? No? I'll do it if no one else will.
You guessed it, it's an illustrated guide to car sex, featuring positions such as the "Backseat Monsoon".
Since her first appearance in 1955, Miffy has starred in 115 books, which have been translated into 40 languages and sold more than 85m copies worldwide. She has become a cult figure, perhaps more popular among pre-teens than the pre-school market for whom she was originally designed. From the shopping malls of Tokyo to Topshop in Oxford Circus, Miffy merchandising is big business; she is one of Holland's biggest exports, reaching those places that even her main rival, Heineken, cannot reach.
February 14, 2006
At the Powell's blog, Chris Faatz falls in love with Penguin's new Great Ideas series of books. Dude has good taste they're beautiful volumes. Check out, for example, their editions of Common Sense and On the Shortness of Life.
I feel the same way about Penguin that most of my computer-savvy friends feel about Macs: Everything they do just looks so cool. (Particulary the Classics.)
How to conquer Cupid on Valentine's Day.
If other people's experiences do not convince, why not explore your own in a memoir? Casanova and Colette and Anais Nin did it, and now you can record all the painful, embarrassing and lurid details of your romantic history. Once this sad inventory is committed to paper, you might very well conclude that it is indeed better to have loved and lost.
In an ordinary Canadian library, if Andrew George searched for a book with the keyword "bears," the computer system would list all the volumes dealing with a large furry animal.
Not at the University of Western Ontario's new Pride Library, where the information popping up would be about a unique subculture — hairy and heavy gay men.
You can search databases using "queer lingo" at "Canada's first library devoted to the academic study of 'diversexuality.'"
Melinda Bargreen reads relationship and sex advice books so you don't have to.
But it takes six months to understand a partner's "context and the context of their values," and men who are seeking a full relationship and not just a sex partner will wait that six months to build trust, respect and emotional intimacy. They will also look like Colin Firth. (Just kidding.) The cautionary advice comes from Seale's "The Questions to Ask Before You Jump into Bed" (Perigee Trade Paperback, $14.95), and she also has some good tips for the top 10 questions to ask on a first date. Even though you are likely to feel like the Nazi interrogator in one of those old World War II movies by the time you get to "Do you consider yourself an analytical or creative thinker, or intuitive? Why?"
I think it was appropriate to start off blogging on Valentine's Day with a reference to cutting, or perhaps I'm just a cynical bastard. Whichever one you believe, there is a holiday collection of poetry for you.
Just because I'm your uncle
Doesn't mean I cannot love you
The right way.
And with a beck ye shall me call;
And if of one that burneth alway
Ye have any pity at all,
Answer him fair with yea or nay.
The Mississippi House unanimously voted to make Paul Ott's "I Am Mississippi" the state poem, but some residents aren't happy.
"We do not want America and the world to think that 'I Am Mississippi' is the best poem this state can offer," they say in a letter addressed to the state Senate, Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, Gov. Haley Barbour and the people of the Mississippi.
But how bad could it be? Well...
I'm Walter Peyton catchin' a pass, Elvis Presley,
Coon hounds and bird dogs and tea of Sassafras
Well, I'm everything good you have ever dreamed about
Hush yo' mouth, I'm Mississippi
I am the South
The latest book to come under fire at a high school is Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. Now what are all the depressed girls who cut themselves going to read? (I kid, but I was slightly obsessed with that book in my teenage years. Without even once cutting myself.) So why the controversy? "It contains vivid descriptions of suicide, incest and sexual acts." It's about girls in an institution, what the fuck do they think put them there?
Kaysen, of course, thinks the whole thing hilarious.
(Seriously, are they going to replace it with Prozac Nation or something? Because that's a whole other level of crazy.) Thanks to James for the links.
February 13, 2006
The Michigan Quarterly Review has a (partial) list of poetry in movies. It turns out that DH Lawrence's "Self-Pity" makes an appearance in GI Jane, and Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" shows up in both Dangerous Minds and wait for it the Rodney Dangerfield classic Back to School. Expect the list to be updated next year, after Galway Kinnell and WS Merwin's long-anticipated collaboration on the screenplay for Big Momma's House 3 is finally made public. (Via Choriamb.)
At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard looks at academics who are questioning the historical accuracy of Herman Melville's Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, which the author claimed was nonfiction. Howard also details how technology is changing the way some literary scholars read Moby-Dick and other Melville works.
Publishers like the comic books now or something. I didn't actually read it, because every time I read the word "Tokyopop" my skin won't stop crawling. They like to throw weird promotional material in with their books, and sometimes it's a lollipop and sometimes it's a fucking package of worms. Opening a box from them is like some sort of weird social experiment, and I'm still looking for the surveillance cameras in my apartment. Am I going to get the treat or the electric shock this time? Thanks to John D. for the link, though.
Bernard Cooper is interviewed at Nerve about his new book The Bill from My Father. Cooper did in fact receive a bill for two million dollars from his father, for expenses raising him. (I wonder if I can do the opposite, send my parents an invoice for my therapy bills...)
Authors recently blurbed by James Frey are feeling a bit embarrassed.
The autobiographical element has been very visible in comics publishing for several years … perhaps too much so: too many artists are telling us how they clean their teeth.
Patrice Killoffer is interviewed about his new graphic novel Six Hundred and Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer, which is not at all autobiographical, unless he did once run into 675 other versions of himself one day, at his publisher's website. (Link from Comics Reporter.)
The Continuity Girl illuminates the limitations of my thesaurus. Uber-lousy? Fifth-rate? Super-bad? None of above. There exists no English word that adequately describes the not-so-goodness herein. Even the German word SaumassigeSchreibmaschiene, which roughly translates into "putrid garbage typewriter prose," fails to convey the stench of this slush pile.
I'm just sad I don't live in a country where this book is being released. My blood pressure could use a good bout of bad-book-stimulation.
Oral-B is launching an integrated marketing campaign styled after Harlequin romance novels and drawing on the celebrity voices of Tia Carrere, A Martinez and Fabio, in an effort to court consumers towards its new Sensitive Advantage toothbrushes, which are slated to hit store shelves next month.
I guess this Brush With Romance thing is pretty clever, at least for people who don't automatically roll their eyes when they hear phrases like "integrated marketing campaign." But it would've been cooler if they went with mystery novels instead of romances. You could enter your name, and Fabio would say something like, "You are strolling through a peaceful forest in springtime, and the sunset is like a delicate OH MY GOD SOMEONE JUST STABBED YOU IN THE EYE WITH A SHARPENED TOOTHBRUSH AND NOW YOU ARE DEAD." I mean, I don't know about you, but I'm buying that goddamn toothbrush, you know?
"Integrated marketing campaign." Jesus.
Singles who like to read are descending upon libraries across Belgium as part of an experiment in what two librarians have dubbed "lib-dating."
All this is well and good, but what about singles who like televised sports, golden retrievers, drinking beer, shouting "Whoooooooo! Spring break!" and novelty drinks with suggestive names? When will they have a place of their own? The bookish and meek have dominated the dating scene for too long.
February 10, 2006
Without going into too much detail, I will say this: if you are a fan of hers who complains that the media unfairly portrays her as more obnoxious than she really is, you need to come up with a new line of defense.
You only have five days to take advantage of New York Review Books' sweet, sweet Sleeper Sale (50% off selected books, yo). You really can't go wrong; they've never published anything less than great. I love them as much as I hate Charlie from Lost. That whiny little bitch.
Adam Fleming covers poet David Berman's reading Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, and offers the saddest lead in the history of time:
David Berman’s mother sent a complaint letter to the Trojan Condom company three months before he was born.
Utah librarians recommend Valentine's Day reading material. (Because when you think hot, unbridled passion, you think "Utah librarians.") Props are given to Rilke, Neruda, Shakespeare, and, uh, Simon and Garfunkel.
My favorite year is when I was 19, because of all the things I did for the first time: got married, lived in Europe, became a prostitute, and continued to write and perform weird, dirty operas and bizarre record reviews. It was not a happy year at all though. I recall being suicidal for much of it. I had a lot, a lot, of energy. That's not good for the soul. It's good for looking back at decades later.
The next book that everyone needs to run out and buy immediately (remember, the last one was Kathryn Davis's The Thin Place): The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore. Evidently he's beloved in Canada, but this is his first book to find publication in the States. (Damn you, Canadians! Why did you not tell me about him before?!) He's profiled in the Montreal Mirror, the Penguin website, MRB, and other Canadian-type publications. All I know is that after reading his book I want to marry him.
John Morrison tries to get bookstores to carry his novel, with mixed results. One independent bookstore owner is particularly hostile:
“There’s no point. I had an author in here yesterday haranguing me to put her book in the window.” Independent bookshops pride themselves on their personal service and old-fashioned courtesy, but none of it was coming my way. I left, muttering that I was off to Waterstone’s where the booksellers had better manners.
Feminists hate sex.
Not true, but what is true is that it’s physically painful to refrain from saying, “With you, sure,” to any man who says this. But refrain we do, because god forbid we be accused of lowering the tone of the discourse.
(Thanks to Leela for the link.)
He's 24, looks a bit doofy, doesn't talk much, and I get the feeling he lives with his parents back home. I'm guessing his biggest literary influences are a Dave Matthews Band CD and half a Dave Eggers book. But writers have to stick together, and we stand behind Austin Carty to win the million for all of us back home. The tribe has spoken.
In other TV-shows-about-islands news, Hyperion Books will release the Lost tie-in novel Bad Twin, last seen on the show as a manuscript that Hurley found, in early May. Hey, Lost producers, I promise to buy 100 copies of that book if you never mention Driveshaft again. Nobody needs to hear "You All Everybody" or whatever the fuck.
I hate Charlie so much.
Also TV-related from The Book Standard: the show Love Monkey, based on the novel by Kyle Smith, has been canceled. Also, the season finale of Arrested Development comes on tonight, and you should watch it. That has nothing to do with books; just consider it a public service announcement.
"I kept a journal. I'd be lying if I said I couldn't see it being turned into Jane Eyre for the modern age."
The governess is back. No word on whether the mad woman in the attic is back as well.
If there's anyone in Austin other than Mike reading this, you should get yourself to the last weekend of the Rude Mechanicals musical "Get Your War On," based on the comic strip. The Rude Mechs were always one of my favorite things about Austin, and I think I just had a twinge of regret about leaving. Or I'm ovulating, I'm not sure. (Link from Bookninja.)
In order to make children more willing to read books, we should... not teach them books. Genius, lady.
Haruki Murakami: big in Russia.
February 9, 2006
Two men have confessed to the slaying of Curious George cowriter Alan Shalleck. The AP reports that Rex Spears Ditto and Vincent J. Puglisi will be charged with "first-degree murder, armed home invasion, aggravated battery and dealing in stolen property."
The Nation has an excerpt from Walter Mosley's new Life out of Context, in which Mosley calls for "the formation of an African-American interest group, or maybe a political unit, that would bring our issues, and others, to the forefront of American political discourse."
Lifehacker: Let's face it, libraries are fucking cool.
Why are European companies buying up American publishing houses? In the wake of the Time Warner/Lagardère sale, Daniel Gross explains:
Like the French, book editors enjoy languorous lunches and batting ideas around. Like the French, some U.S. publishers and editors (viz. l'affaire Frey) seem to have adopted Derrida-esque attitudes toward the nature of truth. The French work 35-hour weeks. Ditto for publishers. France is a one-time giant that, having lost its status in the world, is fighting a rear-guard action against 21st-century capitalism. Check.
Nyree Belleville laughs heartily as she recalls the people who invariably peek over her shoulder whenever she types furiously on her portable word processor in a Sonoma Valley coffeehouse. "I just think to myself, 'Y'all are going to get an eyeful of cocks and pussies,'" Belleville says.
The North Bay Bohemian looks at the art of the erotic romance, where "a penis is a penis, or maybe a cock is a cock, but it's never a 'throbbing manhood.'"
A year before the Man with the Yellow Hat took Curious George out of Africa, Margret and H.A. Rey saved him from the Nazis.
Jossip looks at the new Page Six Magazine.
Since we're quite ready to actually ditch this glossy and pick up a book at this point, it's only natural that the uppish Accompanied Library Society feature shows up. In sum: Rich kids think drinking Moet is even classier when surrounded by books.
"Why, oh why, did I ever allow the phrase 'lesbo-Victorian romp' to cross my lips?"
The Guardian presents a guide to Sarah Waters.
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists is giving a journalism award that's journalism award to Michael Crichton, for his anti-science propaganda novel State of Fear, reports The New York Times.
The book is "demonstrably garbage," Stephen H. Schneider, a Stanford climatologist, said in an interview yesterday. Petroleum geologists may like it, he said, but only because "they are ideologically connected to their product, which fills up the gas tanks of Hummers."
Daniel P. Schrag, a geochemist who directs the Harvard University Center for the Environment, called the award "a total embarrassment" that he said "reflects the politics of the oil industry and a lack of professionalism" on the association's part.
Crichton might be the biggest literary liar of his generation, but I guess no one's going to get mad unless he finds some way to piss off Oprah. Hey, Oprah, Michael Crichton said your haircut is stupid! Get him!
You can create limits to how far that goes. Can you create a child to be destroyed in utero to save another? I don't think so. Would you create a child who would be sick in order to save an existing child? Probably not. However, can you create a child who will be a perfectly happy, healthy child and all you need is their umbilical cord blood? Yeah, I'm OK with that. In fact, if you want to be business schooly about it, it's probably a more efficient means. Because otherwise the existing child is going to have a much longer and more costly decline -- costly to society. It's not the only frame I would want to use, but it's actually pretty useful.
It's too bad Debora Spar's book Baby Business: Elite Eggs, Designer Genes, and the Thriving Commerce of Conception is not as interesting as this interview. Actually, it is quite interesting but dry, dry, dry. A book that touches on the same topics without using the language of economics to tell it is Pandora's Baby.
Seattle Seahawks running back Kerry Carter will release his first book of poems, Fiery Scenes of Seduction, on Valentine's Day. His publisher swears that "Carter’s poems are enticingly romantic and create an atmosphere of promised erotic passions." It is probably not a good sign when your publisher sounds like a bad English translation of a Japanese condom advertisement, but still. Fiery Scenes of Seduction! (Via The Virginia Quarterly Review blog.)
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn has become something of a superstar in Russia with the television adaptation of his book First Circle. (First Master and Margarita, now First Circle. Who knew I'd be jealous of Russian television? That'll be over in a week, though, as next Wednesday is the Sayid episode of Lost. Ohhhhh.) Where was I? Oh yes. Solzhenitsyn is a rock star now. And if you haven't read Cancer Ward by now, there's something seriously wrong with you.
By way of celebrating their seventy-fifth anniversary, The New Yorker reprints James Thurber's "The Greatest Man in the World."
Salon interviews Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.
We cannot let any group, however devout, blackmail us into silence by their expressions of hurt feelings whenever they feel that we are getting close to the truth. That is what con artists do when their marks begin to get suspicious, and that is what children do when they can't have their way, and it should be beneath the dignity of any religious group to play that card. The responsibility of science is to safeguard the well-being of those it studies and to tell the truth. If people insist on taking themselves out of the arena of reasonable political discourse and mutual examination, they forfeit their right to be heard. There is no excuse for deliberately insulting anybody, but people who insist on putting their sensibilities on a hair trigger demonstrate that they prefer pity to respect.
(Thanks to Leela for the link.)
The deaths of Wendy Wasserstein and Betty Friedan are unbearably depressing, but Jessa looks at three feminist authors who could fill their shoes Leslie Cannold (The Abortion Myth), Susan Faludi (Backlash and Stiffed) and Laura Kipnis (Bound and Gagged and Against Love).
Freedom Riders author Raymond Arsenault reads tonight at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., the city where the 1961 Freedom Ride originated. At the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Cohen calls the book "compelling."
February 8, 2006
She spelled it right. The judge said it was wrong. And she's not getting a second chance.
Reno, Nevada, eighth-grader Sara Beckman spelled "discernible" correctly during a spelling bee Tuesday at the University of Nevada, Reno. But the judge rang the bell anyway.
The girl's mother is threatening to sue, which just proves that it's never too late to take a disappointing life experience and turn it into a horrible, horrible lesson for your child.
At the San Antonio Current, John DeFore looks at new comic book anthologies and books about graphic literature. He particularly digs the Yale University Press surveys Masters of American Comics and Pictures & Words, and Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. (Madden talked to Daniel Nester about 99 Ways last October at Bookslut.)
A federal judge struck down a Georgia law that exempted Bibles and some other religious books from sales tax.
Champions of the English language are about to mark a momentous point in its 1500-year history: the creation of its millionth word.
I really like useless linguistic trivia like this. For example: Did you know that the first word created in English was "rip-snortin'"? Honest to God. You would have thought it would have been a simple noun or verb, but no. "Rip-snortin'."
It sometimes seems these days that in our quest for "reality" we have forgotten that the truth of art and literature must be found in the work itself. If we must rely on external reassurance that such-and-such a thing really happened, then the work in question is crap and we might as well be watching "Cops." At least it has pictures.
The Sun-Times profiles Chicago magazine Stop Smiling.
The Scotsman profiles children's author Kare Bluitgen, "who ignited a worldwide protest" with his book The Koran and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad.
The body of a former producer and co-writer of the popular Curious George books and cartoons lay under garbage bags for more than 24 hours until it was found early Tuesday morning in the driveway of his home, police and witnesses said.
. . . Police are treating the case as a possible homicide, a spokeswoman said, but have not released a cause of death.
Excerpts from William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, and Generouss Q. Factotum's The Elements of Spam.
1. Form the possessive of nouns by adding 's, just an apostrophe, just an s, a semicolon, a w, an ampersand, a 9, or anything.
My wifesd*porcupine hot pix for u.
February 7, 2006
Raymond Arsenault, author of the critically acclaimed Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, will be speaking tonight in New York.
. . . beginning at 7:30 PM, Arsenault will be downtown at Barnes & Noble (6th Ave. & 8th St.). In addition to hearing Arsenault tell of the Freedom Rides story, this might be a perfect opportunity to hear from the Freedom Riders themselves. Many of them have agreed to come and speak at the tour events in the coming weeks as the Freedom Riders Book Tour wends its way roughly along the route of the original Freedom Rides.
I'm looking forward to Freedom Riders, which could well become this year's standout American history book.
The Grace Book Club recommends Judy Budnitz's Nice Big American Baby, Joanna Scott's Liberation and Kathryn Davis' The Thin Place. And if you're in New York, be sure to check out their Feb. 21 event, featuring readings by Elizabeth Merrick (Girly) and Myla Goldberg (Wickett's Remedy), and guest-hosted by Jessa Crispin.
Dr. Frank discusses the connection between rock music and young adult literature.
The parallel between the YA novel and rock and roll goes deeper than the mere fact that people make annoying comments when they find out you're of a certain age and involved with either of them. Rock and roll music is teenage music if it is anything, yet it doesn't have a strict expiration date. People of all ages write rock and roll songs, and people of all ages like them. The themes of teen angst, frustration, confusion, heartbroken-ness, as well as the joy of being in love or horny or simply being alive and moving around (as well as the torture of being in love or horny or simply being alive and moving around, let's be honest) never, or so it seems, "wear out."
Unfortunately, literature written by black people but not about black people tends to go unread, undersold, or out of print. This has done a disservice to learning about how prolific and sophisticated our most famous African American authors actually were. It has also prevented us from deepening our knowledge of the most famous examples of African American literature.
The new issue of Bookslut is up! You might notice some changes from last month a different background color, font and logo. If you do notice these changes, you should go see a doctor, because all that stuff is the same. You might have one of those diseases that causes you to see things and I am quoting from the DSM-IV here "all fucked up and shit." I don't know how they treat that. Probably electroshock. So have that checked out. Then come back and read the new issue.
This month, we've got interviews with Mary Roach, Kate Braverman, Paul Mandelbaum, Michael Winter, Brian Costello, Peter Ackroyd, and Lawrence Block. Melissa Fischer, not a fan of Valentine's Day, says "the hell with love.". Barbara J. King takes a look at the science of Gilligan's Island. And Julia Ramey offers a Middle Eastern fiction reader.
In columns, James Stegall urges the nation's libraries to invest in decent children's sections. Melissa Fischer tackles food magazines, both highbrow and...not. Liz Miller looks at the nominees for Outstanding Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. And Eryn Loeb isn't all that impressed by Norah Vincent's gender experiment. And be sure to check out our reviews this month for our writers' takes on the latest from Paul Auster, Jonathan Ames, Jared Diamond, Deborah Eisenberg, Kaye Gibbons, William T. Vollmann, Chris Ware, Lawrence Joseph and more.
Thanks for reading! And remember, if you experience some weird symptoms while reading this issue shaking hands, sweaty palms, bleeding from the eye sockets you just might have a bad case of Bookslut-itis!
Seriously. I'm not joking around. You could die. It kills hundreds a year. Be careful.
Helen Scully reports from New Orleans:
The New Orleans literary scene is more active than ever. New books by Andrei Codrescu ("New Orleans, Mon Amour: 20 Years of Writing from the City"), Tom Piazza ("Why New Orleans Matters"), and Rosemary James (editor of "Ballads to the Big Easy by her Sons, Daughters and Lovers") capture the unique character of the city for readers at home and at large. Independent bookstores, fiercely local and largely undamaged, were some of the first places to reopen after the storm. Residents turned to Octavia Books, Maple Street Books and Garden District Bookshop -- to name just a few -- to get a warm welcome back to the neighborhood and to exchange ideas. In these uncertain times, bookstores are a place to find both understanding and escape.
See also: Letters from New Orleans by Rob Walker, the forthcoming Chin Music Press release Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?, the books of The Neighborhood Story Project, and Stories Care Forgot: An Anthology of New Orleans Zines. (First link via Syntax of Things.)
Warren St. John in The New York Times:
A central figure in the case of the mysterious writer JT Leroy has come forward to say that no one named JT Leroy exists, and that the books published under that name were actually written by a San Francisco woman named Laura Albert.
Geoffrey Knoop, Ms. Albert's partner for the last 16 years, said in a telephone interview on Saturday evening that he had seen Ms. Albert write the books of JT Leroy in their San Francisco apartment.
Austin's version of the "One City, One Book" program, called the "Mayor's Book Club", has selected Luis Alberto Urrea's The Devil's Highway as its 2006 pick. Urrea was a guest at the Bookslut Reading Series in Chicago last year; go see Kathryn Davis, Gina Frangello and George Elliott Clarke at the next reading on Feb. 16.
John Banville claims The Sea is a novel, but is it really fiction?
. . .I was startled to discover, upon perusing my hefty atlas, that this supposedly fantastical place named Ireland was an actual island. While reading, I thought it sounded familiar, yet I let it slide, not wanting niggling particulars to ruin the experience.
(Via The Morning News.)
Betty Friedan "changed the course of human history almost single-handedly". Her ex-husband, Carl Friedan, believes this; Betty believed it too. This belief was the key to a good deal of Betty's behaviour; she would become breathless with outrage if she didn't get the deference she thought she deserved. Though her behaviour was often tiresome, I figured that she had a point. Women don't get the respect they deserve unless they are wielding male-shaped power; if they represent women they will be called "love" and expected to clear up after themselves. Betty wanted to change that for ever.
February 6, 2006
"You just don't understand," Edie snapped angrily. "Empty nest syndrome is an important issue for middle-class couples like us. You must resign yourself to 300 pages of tortured angst."
I know that Bonnie Fuller is hardly a feminist scholar, but I have to admit to warm feelings about her book The Joys of Much Too Much: Go for the Big Life - The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You've Ever Wanted (Even If You're Afraid You Don't Have What It Takes), if only because it comes at a time when I'm sick to death of the women-staying-home arguments and oh-my-god-I'm-too-successful-I'll-never-find-a-man whining. Fishbowl NY has an interview with Fuller about having too much.
Okay, I will now stop posting about vaginas.
Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice responds to Slate's running debate about abortion by Katha Pollitt and William Saletan. She has good points, and it amazes me that so few people in the pro-choice movement discuss morality in their reasonings, perhaps in the fear that we have no ground to stand on. To which I respond, why haven't you read Leslie Cannold's brilliant The Abortion Myth yet? If you need convincing, you can start with this interview I did with her.
Someone go check on Susan Faludi and make sure she's all right. Can't lose any more this month.
Jeff VanderMeer writes about his growing awareness of politics in his writing for the Emerald City.
Yes, everyone knows the name Chip Kidd. But now you should get yourself familiar with designer Jon Gray, too. The Book Covers website has an interview.
I loved the Dune movie as a kid. Little did I know that it would be the beginning of a long love affair with David Lynch, but at the time I think it just helped me be less confused by the book. (I am the only person in the world to say this.) I was six or something, my father had already read the book to me as a bedtime story, and all I really remembered were worms, glowy eyes, spice, and an apparatus that filtered water from the air they exhaled. But I was so taken with the movie, a movie now that I think about my father really should not have allowed a six-year-old to watch, I could, and would, perform Dean Stockwell's death scene when asked. I probably still could, although now I would probably require a lot of whiskey.
Now that the extended version is on DVD, I am going to stay the hell away from it. I can imagine so many childhood memories being shattered at the knowledge that it's a horrible movie. But I may have to borrow someone's copy to brush up just on the death scene. You never know when someone is going to ask.
February 4, 2006
Betty Friedan, the feminist crusader and author whose searing first book, "The Feminine Mystique," ignited the contemporary women's movement in 1963 and in so doing permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world, died yesterday, her 85th birthday, at her home in Washington.
February 3, 2006
In The Book Standard, Kimberly Maul explores the Oprah effect, and Martin A. Grove considers the success of America's favorite gay cowboy movie in a story entertainingly headlined "For 'Brokeback,' It's Not Necessarily Easy Being on Top."
Ha ha ha! "Top."
The Chinese government has canceled the release of "Memoirs of a Geisha" a decision made amid speculation that officials are worried the sight of Chinese actresses playing Japanese geishas would stir a backlash.
A Minnesota high school student was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital because of a creative writing assignment.
The 17-year-old's satirical fable concerned a boy who awoke from a wet dream, slipped rear-end first onto a toy cone, and then had his head crushed "in a misty red explosion" under the tires of a school bus. . . .
"Bowling for Cuntcheson," a vivid dream-within-a-dream about a boy who finds a gun under a church pew and shoots his teacher, "Mrs. Cuntcheson," so frightened Mershon that she alerted the school administration.
Chinese-born fiction writer Yiyun Li's petition for permanent residency in the United States on the grounds of "extraordinary ability in the arts" has been denied on appeal.
Li, a former student at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is the author of the insanely critically acclaimed A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. So that's two pieces of evidence that argue pretty convincingly for her "extraordinary ability." Not to mention the plugs from Salman Rushdie and David Remnick.
Feel free to let the US Citizenship and Immigration Services know how you feel about the denial of Li's application:
Dr. Emilio Gonzalez, Director
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20529
Babies Are Fireproof has more about their former fellow student.
Thirtysomethings meet, don't quite couple, then retreat into a steamy, increasingly revealing correspondence in this quirky epistolary novel. . . .
All's well that doesn't end after all, and the contented reader anticipates (what both Jane and John would have wittily, mercilessly mocked) something very like a future for these two bright, screwed-up, engaging oddballs. The episodic results are sexy, funny and touching. . . .
Keen insights into sex, love and coming to terms with one's own unruly imperfections. A winner.
Slate: The film spends a lot of time on Capote's ultimate desire for Perry and Dick to be sentenced to death. Why do you think that Capote was so obsessed with having them die? Couldn't the book have worked without their death?
Slate is having some trouble separating the Philip Seymour Hoffmann who pretended to be Truman Capote for a while and the guy on the screen.
Amazingly enough, the final report of the A.L.A. declined to recognize the new Cuban libraries as “libraries” and the librarians themselves were referred to as “individuals associated with these collections.” Am I hallucinating? Is this the same American Library Association that stands against censorship and for freedom of expression everywhere? This organization cannot logically condone imprisonment and torture of librarians: Yet somehow it can act against Provision 215 of the Patriot Act but approve of Fidel Castro’s Order 88, which denies all the rights we cherish.
The scandalous downfall of a public man makes a lousy subject for instant punditry. Pharisaical pomposity, spluttering self-righteousness, bone-headed ignorance of the byways of ambition and desire - all those faults have been shown off in spades by the commentating class in recent weeks.
Boyd Tonkin, I want to buy you a beer.
"Thinking of Melville," wrote Algren at the height of his success, "thinking of Poe, thinking of Mark Twain and Vachel Lindsay, thinking of Jack London and Tom Wolfe, one begins to feel there is almost no way of becoming a creative writer in America without being a loser."
The Telegraph looks back on Algren and his novel Walk on the Wild Side, a book that kicked the ass of every book I had read the previous three years and sent me on an Algren obsession.
Shout Mike, "Who it is I kill you! KILLED!"
Bucky writes a screenplay. It's still better than Crash.
Leonard Steinhorn's "The Greater Generation" sets out to turn this picture on its head. For Steinhorn, the "Greatest Generation" did its duty honorably in defeating Hitler, but melted under fire when it returned home and faced racism, sexism, homophobia, intolerant moralism, and general Organization Man uptightness. It was the baby boomers who won these wars.
Yes, and then gave us Hummers, President Bush, more medical advances on erection pills than birth control, the Evangelical movement, environment degredation, and then they stopped caring about anything listed above as soon as they started to make money. Now, I don't think that much of the Greatest Generation either -- just read Joseph Heller's Something Happened -- but I can't say I'm that impressed with Steinhorn's assertions that the Baby Boomers were better. C'mon people. PRESIDENT BUSH.
A young adult book about the Garden of Eden told from the perspective of Eve, who was sleeping with the serpent and being much more satisfied with him than with Adam? Oh yeah, no school in the world is going to challenge that one. The Guardian profiles Elsie Aidinoff and The Garden, one of the most challenged books around right now.
"I wrote it out of outrage," she tells me. "I was in St Paul's Cathedral and the lesson for the day was the third chapter of Genesis. Adam was accused by God of having eaten the apple; his answer was 'yes, but the woman gave it to me'. I was outraged by that response - it seemed like such a cop-out on the part of Adam. I got the idea for the book then and launched into it."
God bless her.
"A really vexatious part of what's taking place now has to do with how America reads," Moody suggests. "We're a country begun by religious protestors and the history of the nation emerges out of this way of reading scripture that's - what's the word? 'Inerrant' is the word they use. Biblical inerrancy. They think it's the revealed word of God and they approach the fundamental political documents of the country in the same way. So if the Declaration of Independence says 'You've a right to the pursuit of happiness', well, Goddam it - pursue happiness!"
February 2, 2006
KATHERINE DUNN IS NOT DEAD. Geek Love was one of those lifeline books so long ago, I had thought maybe she died and no one told me. But no! She has a new book coming out in 2008. There might be reason to carry on living after all. At least for a couple more years.
The latest book from the great Chin Music Press, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?, has arrived in time for Mardi Gras. Be sure to check it out the book contains an essay by Bookslut contributor/rock star Colleen Mondor.
Hey, all you Austin comic book fans: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Austin Books are sponsoring a fundraiser tomorrow night with author Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise). Tickets are on sale now, and there will be sales, door prizes, pizza and beer. Go and support Gordon Lee and the CBLDF. (More details at The Austin Chronicle.)
At NPR, Xeni Jardin discusses amateur audio books.
Back when I posted about a book that I hated so much I couldn't stop reading it, the most fun part was reading the guesses about which book was the offender. My neighbor wrote in almost immediately, "Oh, you must be reading the new Ayelet Waldman." That wasn't it, but the book looks like it'll have the same train wreck quality that makes everything else she writes and every interview she gives absolutely irresistible.
Largehearted Boy has been busy lately. Today he has another installment of Book Notes, this time with dirty lady Susie Bright. Her latest book is The Best American Erotica 2006, and she and some of the contributors talk about the music that makes them feel tingly, you know, down there.
In the Seattle lawsuit, which also includes breach-of contract claims, readers are asking for compensation for the time they spent reading a book they thought was non-fiction but was partially fictional. Readers in Seattle are asking to be paid for their "wasted time". However, courts have denied similar "wasted time" claims before - so these damages demands may end up being dismissed.
And, in my view, they should be. How can the reader's enjoyment derived from the writing, be separated from his or her enjoyment derived from the false belief that he or she was reading the truth? And even if the two could be separated, isn't false enjoyment still enjoyment? And how is the lost time to be valued - given that it probably would have been spent reading a different book?
The brothers’ idea was to offer a dating alternative to people who are just as - or more - inclined to discuss Dante or The New Yorker as the Red Sox or the latest movies.
I hope it fares better than my ill-fated "literary bathhouse" idea. It turns out people aren't interested in going to a seedy converted gym to talk about books quickly with as many people as they can, all the while avoiding eye contact and leaving with a deep, abiding sense of shame.
The Harvard Crimson discusses library books bound in human skin. The practice is evidently called "anthropodermic bibliopegy."
I could have just had adolescent kids struggling and running away from home and all these things. But I wanted to push it into even stronger, more extreme situations. That was the reason I chose to do the mutations and the transformations. Or maybe it was just an excuse to draw a naked girl with a tail, I don’t know.
Having endorsed a book whose dubious veracity was apparently raised with her show's producers almost from the start, and then, having professed her loyalty to fellow talk-show host King after Frey's credibility was already in shreds, Winfrey turned into a self-righteous attack dog. She was, as media critic Robert Thompson noted on the PBS "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," a "sanctimonious bully," her scorn and affronted ego all but singeing the screen as she bore down on the shamed memoirist of addiction. The next day, newspapers across the country paraded her triumph on their front pages.
Authors William Saletan (Bearing Right) and Katha Pollitt (Subject to Debate) are taking the week at Slate to answer -- I'm completely serious here -- "Is Abortion Bad?" Isn't this great? At the end of the week, one of the most decisive issues will be completely figured out. Thanks, Slate!
February 1, 2006
In the Groove features down-on-his-luck NASCAR driver Lance Cooper and ex-kindergarten teacher Sarah Tingle. They meet when his car hits her. She gets a bump on the head. He's driven to distraction. When he looks at Sarah, Cooper "feels like he has been shocked by a loose spark plug wire."
Awesome. Look for the next release, Darlene and the Car What Goes Real Fast, in March.
(Thanks to Tim for the link.)
2. Old Yeller (Fred Gipson, 1956)
Ask 10 random people about the greatest popular-entertainment-related trauma of their childhoods, and you'll probably find it's an even split between the death of Bambi's mom and the death of Old Yeller, a brave farm dog who redeems himself for bad behavior by saving his master's life. As a reward, he eventually gets killed by said traumatized young master, who manfully bites the bullet and saves Yeller from hydrophobia the only way he can.
YA writer Gordon Korman, a favorite of mine when I was a kid, addresses the weird phenomenon of assigning students books about dead pets in his novel No More Dead Dogs.
Allan M. Jalon reviews the new Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century, published by the great indie press Sarabande Books. (Via Choriamb.)
Kimberly Maul of The Book Standard has more on those children's book character postage stamps.
True story. As an undergraduate, my friend took a creative writing course from David Foster Wallace at Illinois State University. On the first assignment he turned in, Wallace wrote, “I swear to God if you ever turn in a piece of shit like this to me again I will flunk your ass. I shit you not.” The meaning of this anecdote is open to interpretation, but to me it suggests several things about Wallace's way of relating to others.
The first issue of A Public Space magazine comes out next month, featuring pieces by Charles D'Ambrosio, Kelly Link, Anna Deavere Smith, Haruki Murakami, Marilynne Robinson, John Haskell and Antoine Wilson, among others. It might be a good idea to subscribe now before you forget. (You should also be subscribing to the Virginia Quarterly Review. And Tiger Beat. Is Tiger Beat still around?)
(I checked. It is.)
(Via Babies Are Fireproof.)
(I checked. They're not.)
Scott McLemee pioneers the field of "Oprah studies."
Oprah was angry, and Frey was some very considerable distance from OK. She was also indignant to discover that the publishing industry makes no real effort to enforce the implicit contract between reader and writer that goes with a book being shelved as nonfiction. This seems terribly naive on her part. But no doubt most of her audience shared her surprise. (“She wants publishers to fact-check their books?” I thought. “Hell, they don’t even edit them.”)
This is definitely the cutest line of postage stamps since the "Former Lieutenant Governors of Kansas" series of the late '80s. (Remember that one with James H. DeCoursey, Jr.? Awwwwwwwwww yeah!)
Thanks to Christien for the link.
When you’re writing a book, it really is in the womb. It’s insulated. It’s protected from critique and/or misinterpretation. But as soon as it’s published, it is its own entity, completely independent of you. It’s out there in the world and it’s open for interpretation. You have to let it go. Cut the proverbial umbilical cord. I also think all writers go through a kind of postpartum depression when the book goes to press. We all feel a certain loss when the writing and editing’s all done. And we’re all in a hurry to get knocked up again.
Tao Lin reviews Noah Cicero's The Human War. Noah is the author of Burning Babies (reviewed last year by the Grumpy Old Bookman), a beautifully written novel that will hopefully find a new publisher very soon; Tao is the author of the forthcoming you are a little bit happier than i am. Also be sure to check out their collaborative effort, Hamster.
The best book of last year, and one of the best books I've ever read, was Ander Monson's brilliant Other Electricities (reviewed at Bookslut here). Ander spoke at the Bookslut Reading Series in Chicago last year, along with Kirby Gann (Our Napoleon in Rags), Lisa Selin Davis (Belly) and Luis Alberto Urrea (The Devil's Highway). I think the theme for the night was "Extremely Talented Writers Who Deserve a Better Introduction Than Mike, Who Is Nervous and a Little Drunk, Is Capable of Giving." (We had trouble fitting that on the fliers.)
Anyway, Ander is featured in the latest installment of Largehearted Boy's Book Notes he provides a suggested soundtrack for his book, mostly by Low (one of my favorite bands). Check it out and if you're in Austin, be sure to see him read on Feb. 16 at the Michener Center for Writers at UT. You will be so grateful for the tip, you will want to hug me and give me money. And if you're in Chicago, be sure to check out the next Bookslut Reading Series, also on Feb. 16, featuring authors Kathryn Davis (The Thin Place), Gina Frangello (My Sister's Continent) and George Elliott Clarke (George and Rue).
Charles Ealy remembers Coretta Scott King's support of children's literature. The winners of this year's Coretta Scott King Book Awards were Julius Lester for Day of Tears (author), Bryan Collier for Rosa (illustrator), and Jaime Adoff for Jimi & Me (new talent).
Publisher's Weekly has an article about the first New York comic books convention, something I am going to this year. I'm not sure why, so don't ask. (I got four hours of sleep last night, I really should not be blogging.) I asked a friend if she had any advice for me for my first comic book convention, and she said, "Dude, don't ask me. I couldn't even get laid at Comic Con. Really think about that. I could not get laid at Comic Con." Then she reached for another glass of whiskey.
I'm really much more depressed about Wendy Wasserstein's death than I'm letting on. I can't read too many of these memorials, although the first two and a half paragraphs of the new one at Salon seemed nice.
An anonymous letter arrived yesterday in the mailboxes of Brentwood Middle School parents asking them to sign a petition to have the novel To Kill a Mockingbird removed from Williamson County [Tennessee] Schools.
The letter writer claims the Harper Lee novel endorses "racial hatred, racial division, racial separation and promotes white supremacy."
Some articles just...defy irony.
Look! I'm a hipster! Just like McSweeney's.