August 28, 2007
Remember boys and girls, when traveling internationally, keep a list of the phone numbers of all of the important fantasy writers in that area. That way, when you're stranded in the countryside with no computer, no car, no internet, no phone book, just a cell phone, a fantasy writer can guide you back to civilization. Seriously, much thanks to Diane Duane, author of Wizards at War and such, for getting me to Dublin and restoring my faith in mankind.
No blogger this week, as it's the week before Labor Day and I predict nothing of importance will happen. Read a book or something. Might I suggest the book I'm currently in love with, To the North by Elizabeth Bowen? I'll be back in the States soon and things will resume here after Labor Day with a new issue and all sorts of celebrating. (Fall publishing! Expectations so high! Quality of books so low! We have to pretend to be excited about yet another mediocre Philip Roth book!)
I've had a lot of tea.
See you on Tuesday.
August 27, 2007
NBCC Announces Week-Long Symposium on the Future of Book Reviewing (and one with such a modest title, too: "The Age of Infinite Margins: Book Critics Face the 21st Century").
Go get 'em, boys and girls. I'm just going to creep quietly into some dusty, book-lined corner and kill myself now, before things get any worse. The last thing the lit biz needs is a week-long symposium on book reviewing--and I say that as someone who spent 10 years assigning book reviews. Self-important pontificating is not the solution, IT'S PART OF THE PROBLEM.
But here's the thing that gets me, the realization that made me laugh out loud while I was cleaning the house this weekend:
The NEA survey states that 56% of Americans read any book in 2002 (that's ANY book, not just "literary works," which the survey focuses on.)
The AP/Ipsos survey say that 73% of Americans read any book last year (i.e. in 2006).
Therefore, if these two respected organizations are to be believed...
AMERICANS READ MORE LAST YEAR THAN THEY READ FIVE YEARS AGO.
(Link via GalleyCat.)
So the Scots AND Oprah love it. Damn, that sounds like a depressing book.
John Ashbery, poet laureate of the mtvU set. (Well, once you've won a MacArthur, a Guggenheim, and a Pulitzer, you have to do something.)
Excerpts of his poems will appear in 18 short promotional spots—like commercials for verse—on the channel and its Web site (mtvu.com, which will also feature the full text of the poems). In another first, mtvU will help sponsor a poetry contest for college students. The winner, chosen by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, will have a book published next year by HarperCollins as part of the National Poetry Series.
The presentation sounds intriguing:
The poems used in the campaign span his career, and the spots are simple: on a white background, black text floats in to a sound like a crashing wave, appears on the screen for a minute, then floats away. From “Retro” (2005): “It’s really quite a thrill/When the moon rises over the hill/and you’ve gotten over someone/salty and mercurial, the only person you’ve ever loved.” From “Soonest Mended” (2000): “Barely tolerated, living on the margin/In our technological society, we are always having to be rescued.”
But check out how they picked which Ashbery poems to feature:
The excerpts were chosen by David Kermani, Mr. Ashbery’s business manager, and two interns and an employee, all in their early 20s, in his office.
“We were just trying to pick lines that were catchy and sort of meaningful in some way, something that would appeal to what we thought younger people would be interested in,” Mr. Kermani said. These young people picked “things that had sort of raunchy references,” he added. “They thought it was sort of a hoot.”
Ah, poetry. Always a hoot.
Chris Shea on James Wood's much-watched move from The New Republic (which a friend of mine used to call The New Repulsive) to The New Yorker (Remnick, you're still on my list):
He is not indirect in his criticisms. The Nobel Laureate Morrison's novel "Paradise," Wood pronounced a few years back, "is a novel babyishly cradled in magic. It is sentimental, evasive, and cloudy." DeLillo's "Underworld," he has written, "proves, once and for all, or so I must hope, the incompatibility of the political paranoid vision with great fiction."
Even his detractors concede that such takedowns are the fruits of a love for the novel -- of a certain sort. But what does it mean that the most storied magazine in American history has aligned itself with a critic who essentially rejects the premises of a broad swath of contemporary American fiction?
August 24, 2007
That wraps up the week for me, unless there's a stray post or two over the weekend. Thanks for reading. I'd introduce the next guest blogger but I don't know who s/he is. I suspect you're in good hands.
What do Dora the Explorer, Odysseus, and Sal Paradise have in common? They're among the world's 10 greatest fictional travelers.
It's a fun (if wildly subjective) list. The inclusion of Kit and Port Moresby strikes me as a little peculiar, but maybe that's just because I hated The Sheltering Sky. I hated it so much I left it behind in my hotel room in Simla, India, on New Year's Eve 1990, as a spiteful gesture toward both Paul Bowles and the room's next occupant. I did, really.
(Thanks to Jim Benning for the tip.)
Check out the lineup for the "Recommendations Under the Radar" event that will be taking place next week on a variety of litblogs. Colleen Mondor, Bookslut's YA columnist, explains:
We're mostly bloggers from the kidlitosphere highlighting books and authors that we think have fallen under the radar (so to speak) and deserve some attention. (Not all the books are kid's books though--several of us straddle multiple interests and ages and our choices reflect that.) It's going to be a great week with tons of good conversation about books.
Some Radar Recs include Dorothy of Oz (the comic ("the Dorothy comic you should all be reading"), Christopher Golden's Body of Evidence, and two books by Mary Mahy, one of New Zealand's leading writers of fantasy.
Vladimir Nabokov was a happy guy. Roger Boylan explains in the Boston Review.
His humor reflected his soul, for he occupies a rare position in the annals of literature—especially modern literature—as that oxymoronic creature, the happy writer. The torments and angst of a Kafka or a Dostoevsky were as alien to him as the politics of the day. He was happy mainly because he loved being Vladimir Nabokov and he knew that his genius demonstrated the near-infinite possibilities of language and life and art. He cared not a whit for the carping of critics and the sour grapes of lesser writers, and, 30 years after his death, his overall influence as a one-man mission civilisatrice is still growing. He remains the master of the art of beauty in exactitude. Unexpected yet precise words are connected in his writing like the fine, unbreakable links of a silver necklace. Lesser writers settle for second best; he never does. He finds the right word, however unexpected. Any sampling of his work shows this; take a random sentence from the beginning of the story “Cloud, Castle, Lake”:
The locomotive, working rapidly with its elbows, hurried through a pine forest, then--with relief--among fields.
And I like this bit from an interview A.M. Homes did with Paley for Salon a few years ago ("All My Habits Are Bad"):
What I mind, of course, is that my time is getting short, that I won't see my youngest grandchild grow up--those things that you're gonna miss. I remember my father feeling like that. I have a poem about it--he knew he wasn't gonna see the end of the Vietnam War. He said: "Goddammit, I'll never know how they got out." There's a lot you won't know. And there's sadness because your friends are dying. And with the terrible things in the world, with the idea that you're gonna leave the world maybe worse than you found it--I don't like that feeling at all.
But if your health is good, and you have a habit of looking at each day as a whole day--unless you drop dead at noon or something--then every day you live something interesting. It's interesting because you either meet a new tree or if you're in the city, you meet a new person. Or something happens. The sun shifts on the mountain--very beautiful things happen.
But what’s a writer for? The whole point is to put yourself into other lives, other heads--writers have always done that. If you screw up, so someone will tell you, that’s all. I think men can write about women and women can write about men. The whole point is to know the facts. Men have so often written about women without knowing the reality of their lives, and worse, without being interested in that daily reality.
August 23, 2007
The sad news about Grace Paley sent me back to this 2003 appearance on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" show upon becoming Vermont's state poet. (RealAudio format)
This week, multimedia and some silliness:
"The cumulative effect of listening to Anglo-Saxon is a slow numbing of the brain," æftersprecan Alastair Sooke.
A dramatic, multimedia adaptation of Anne Sexton's life. My Wisconsin wife will love this: "The problem is that Wolfe, a Midwesterner, is a little too adorable to faithfully represent the sophisticated, haggard, bipolar Bostonian poet."
Richard Milner's "Darwin Live"--that's right, comic songs about evolution, some sung after the style of Jimmy Durante--is pretty funny.
J. S. Kern knows the wrong thing to be doing at midnight. I was doing this at 2am a couple of days ago.
Eavan Boland, reading a poem by Thomas Kinsella.
An animated version of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." If one's going to animate Eliot, perhaps the "jolly tinker" fragments or the scatological Columbo & Bolo verses would be more congenial?
Jim Clark has been setting classic poems to music and animating the faces of the poets as their poems are read. Many of them are Victorians: Here's Coventry "Angel of the House" Patmore's "The Toys"; Christina Rossetti's "Uphill" and "Remember Me" and "When I am dead my dearest"; here's Ernest Dowson's "Cynarae" . . . here's the lot.
Maud Newton's reporting that Grace Paley has died.
I finally got around to reading that Adam Gopnik essay on Philip K. Dick that everyone's been talking about. (Some call it beautiful, some call it ridiculous.) What annoyed me wasn't the essay, which at least gets at the life and work, even though it follows an all-too-familiar pattern: "Here's what you Don't Get about Writer X. Let me enlighten you."
No, what bugged me was the table of contents for that issue. Out of 12 bylines, at least 10 belong to men. This, too, is a pattern I have seen before. David Remnick, would you like a list of lady writers? I'd be happy to send you one. Maybe you could use a few names of writers of color, too, while we're at it. Be a sport. Try something different.
Meanwhile, I comfort myself with the words of Gopnik re Dick:
Dick’s allegiance was not to literature but to writing and to the possibilities of writing as a form of protest and instant social satire. Another twist of fate, or circumstance, and he could have ended up as Rod Serling; another and he could have ended up as Marty Balin, writing lyrics for Jefferson Airplane. But it’s hard to imagine any circumstances in which he would have ended up as Doctorow, or wanted to. There were a million places to write sci-fi in those years, publishers eager to have it, and readers eager to argue about it. You can find unfairly neglected writers in America; Dick, with a steady and attentive transatlantic audience, was never one of them.
It's my friend Jim Hynes's birthday today. Happy birthday, Jim! In honor of the occasion, check out Bookslut's interview with him. If you haven't already read his novels, do yourself a favor and go get a copy of Publish and Perish ("Three Tales of Tenure and Terror"), The Lecturer's Tale, or Kings of Infinite Space. Go. Now.
Book becomes Internet movie! Shriek!
How to tell if your publisher treads lightly on the planet.
400 billion trees a year, people. That's a lot of trees.
(Links via Big Bad Book Blog.)
August 22, 2007
Meanwhile, over in Kansas, some townspeople are ticked off that their local children's librarian has been fired. What kind of meanie fires a children's librarian? (Nobody has charged her with any wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior, as far as I can tell.) Does Miss Gulch sit on the Library Board?
(Link via LISNews.)
A battle's been raging over at K.L. Going's blog in response to a post of hers about her YA novel Fat Kid Rules the World getting banned in an Illinois school district. I especially like this comment from a Going supporter:
A banning! How wonderful, KL! Banned books always sell more copies. Congratulations--you join the ranks of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, Lois Lowry, J.K. Rowling and the most recent Newbery Award winner for The Higher Power of Lucky. I’m so jealous! My favorite Library Lady tells me that the most sought after books at the Public Library are the ones that are banned in schools. She has trouble keeping that shelf filled.
One slightly odd thing: The link to the original story about the banning doesn't work now. It did this morning. Temporary glitch, maybe. Or sinister forces conspiring.
(Thanks to David Russell for the tip.)
I want a moratorium on all headlines that follow this formula: "Why Writer X Matters." And I want it now.
Stephen King, raging egomaniac?
He just publishes everything; it's like he's teaching us a lesson. If the literati don't get it then the real people, his readers, will. Everything he ever wrote and got rejected as a young man, before the fame, is now being dusted off and pressed on the public. If you're very lucky then he'll throw some of his poetry in at the end. It's like he does it out of spite.
(Link via the eNotes BookBlog.)
How many times have you read this story?
More thoughts on this later.
From the White House manual on how to deal with protesters:
...any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.
But that does not mean the White House is against dissent--just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."
No, we can't have you people with your "opinions" disrupting our motorcades.
August 21, 2007
The AP's Hillel Italie is reporting that Barnes & Noble won't stock O.J.'s If I Did It. Borders, however, will--but won't "market or promote the book in any way," a spokesperson says. It will keep the profits.
Nice ethical maneuvering, people.
A month or so ago, Nick Hornby got a request for a self-portrait of a certain part of his anatomy.
On the one hand, I can’t draw to save my life; on the other, the subject--unless I possess a particularly complicated and/or beautiful one--would require really very little talent. And how long could it take, really?
Somewhere, Kurt Vonnegut smiles.
I know that the lads over at n+1 [how many women do you have on staff now, Keith Gessen?] make some people mad, and they can be too twee for my taste, but they have their moments, like the arch little meditation against email they posted on their site last week:
Over email, you can be in touch with so very many people—and make each one mad at you. And they are mad at you, your former friends, because no more efficient vehicle for the transmission of rashness and spleen has ever been devised than the email. Nettled by something—often something imaginary, since no one’s tone comes across quite right, over email—you lash out instantaneously. You hit SEND and it’s too late. It’s too late because it’s too soon.
Ian Rankin and the Summer of Inspired Self-Promotion: Grumpy Old Bookman sees through it all.
Looks like The WaPo got suckered by that story about J.K. Rowling's detective novel too.
Oh, and a commenter on GOB's site points out that Rankin has just made Page Six thanks to his feud with Val McDermid.
Not everybody loves On the Road.
Sorry. That excludes me from decades of free-ranging, self-indulgent, ecstatic-speed-freak, watered-down Zen hipness, I know.
But believe me, book/daddy is grateful. Left me whole areas of fiction I didn't have to bother with. Thanks, Jack.
What's funny about the Iraq war? Plenty, says Malcolm MacPherson. He's an ex-Marine and former correspondent for Time magazine who's covered his share of war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Now he's a novelist, author of Robert's Ridge and the just-out Hocus Potus. In a series of guest posts at Moreover, he's explaining why he switched from journalism to fiction. Turns out that all the good stuff stayed in his reporter's notebook:
I don’t think a journalist ever returned from a war (or any other so-called “breaking event”) without a notebook crammed with jotted sights, sounds and weird impressions. These memories come out like Vampires in late night conversations in bars and with family and friends. It’s the most valuable information a reporter finds. And it doesn’t go beyond the notebook. It is lost forever.
It’s stuff like snippets of confused and goofy conversations, caricatures of personalities, jokes, contradictions, idiocies, sights no one would ever believe – in short, to my mind, the entirety of the Iraq war.
It gets left behind because there is no context for it. Take something that happened to me on my way to Iraq, in May 2003. I was travelling in an Air National Guard C-130 cargo plane with about five civilian passengers like me and one army enlistee who wore the Mylar and carried the big gun. We were up in the air and I asked him what he was doing onboard, just to initiate a conversation. He said, “I’m guarding the cargo.”
“What cargo?” I asked.
“That stuff back there,” he said, and pointed to stacks of containers covered over with tarps in the airplane’s cargo bay.
“What is it?” I had to ask.
“Seventeen tons of twenty dollar bills,” he replied.
I spent the rest of the trip trying to figure out how to hijack the plane and steal it.
(Thanks to Dennis Loy Johnson for the tip.)
August 20, 2007
Motherhood is no pic-nic, according to a French bestseller, No Kid: 40 Reasons Not To Have Children by Corinne Maier. The Times of London's Emma Tucker skips over to France to talk to Maier, a mother of two who's made a career of shaking things up. (Her previous book celebrated the culture of laziness, which inspired New York magazine to describe her as "the Gallic Dilbert.")
Maier doesn't sound so terrible in person. "Nevertheless, it is still shocking to read her declaration that there are moments when she regrets having children – a taboo thought that few mothers would dare to admit. 'If I hadn’t had children, I would be touring the world with the money I made with my books,' she writes. 'Instead of that I am forced to stay at home, to serve meals, to get up at 7am every day, to go over idiotic lessons, and to put the washing machine on. All that for two children who treat me like their maidservant. Certain days I regret having had them – and I dare to say it.' "
Readonomics: Reuters chats with Taylor Cowen, author of a new how-to tome, Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist.
Cowen embraces a ruthless pragmatism when it comes to reading:
"His own strategy when reading a book is to dip in, sample a few chapters, read from back to front, or simply discard the book if there is a better one to be read. If he starts 10 books, he says he may finish just one."
" 'Why not be brutal about this?' he writes. 'Is this the best possible book I can be reading right now, of all the books in the world? For me at least, the answer is usually (but not always) no.' "
Talk about hard to please.
Admit it. You've always wondered what it would be like to be a godless author on tour promoting your--surprise!--bestseller about godlessness. Christopher Hitchens, bless him, would be happy to tell you. (Link via Ed Champion.)
There's a new Book Notes up over at Largehearted Boy's place. This time he's featuring Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England.
Clarke says his new novel's "about a guy (Sam Pulsifer) who burns down the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, MA, and kills two people in doing so. He goes to prison for it, gets a GED, takes a memoir-writing workshop with group of bond analysts, gets out of prison, tries to start his life anew, which I—along with the orphaned son of his victims, the bond analysts, his mysterious parents, other people who want him to burn down other writers’ homes, someone (or someones) who actually are burning down writers’ homes and blaming him for it—do not allow Sam to do."
And no, Clarke doesn't include "Burning Down the House" on his LHB playlist, but I'm delighted to see XTC and the Old 97s on there.
Did I mention my stint here ends now?
Or was it yesterday?
Deborah Soloman, who is arguably the best interviewer in my book, talks to William Gibson.
Bookslut's Indie Heartthrob Interview Series
A weekly interview series where someone involved in the small press (be it writer, editor, slush slave, etc.) is thrown into the spotlight, grilled over the state of the independents and sundry other items, and quickly made to return from whence they came after having graced us all with their presence.
This week: Levi Asher
Levi runs the webzine LitKicks. What started as a lit zine on the Beats from a Wall Street cubicle has expanded over the years into a regular destination for critics and students alike. Asher recently did an extensive interview with Katharine Weber, author of Triangle, adding to a week-long celebration of the novel as headed by The LitBlog CO-OP.
LitKicks' mission statement says that one cannot just sit down and relax with a good book--relaxation only comes with the mediocre. Can you elaborate?
The idea of "reading for pleasure" has never clicked with me. I watch TV for pleasure, and I eat junk food for pleasure, but the act of reading seems to engage the more rarefied regions of the brain, and that's the way I like it. I pick books that challenge me, and I love a book that aims to change the world, like Thoreau's Walden or Plato's Republic, or a book that explores disturbing psychological territories, like Ken Kalfus's A Disorder Peculiar to our Country or Alain Mabanckou's African Psycho. Maybe this is because I studied philosophy rather than literature when I was in college. When I read a novel, I still find myself mapping out the "arguments". If a novel has no arguments, I'm not likely to spend much time with it.
LitKicks started in 1994--that's 13 years going strong. How has the webzine changed over the years, stylistically as well as philosophically?
When I started LitKicks, there were exactly two other well-known literary destinations on the internet: Jason Snell's fiction magazine Intertext and Mark Amerika's Alt-X. That's all there was in the summer of 1994 -- Intertext, Alt-X and me. Quickly, though, webzines started popping up -- Enterzone, Ron Hogan's Beatrice, Urban Desires, Word. Blogs were still a long way away. Our literary efforts were generally scattered and unfocused, and we all had a hard time riding the big waves of possible investor interest during the crazy years of the dot-com stock bonanza. Somehow LitKicks survived and remains alive.
I'm sure that LitKicks is better now than it ever was before, and this is thanks to the help of Caryn Dubelko and Jamelah Earle, who both urged me to get with the "blog craze" several years ago. I resisted this advice at first, but once I started reading the major literary blogs I saw the light, and we completely transformed LitKicks into a blog in the fall of 2004. I don't want to put down the literary innovators with whom I worked so hard in the mid-90's, but I think it's an undeniable fact that the literary offerings on the web now are far more sophisticated and substantial than they were ten years ago. We're finally doing it right.
On the Road turned 50 recently (and strangely, I'm reminded of several debacles from the Howl anniversary a while back...). This means dozens of new, expensive hardcovers of the same text. Since LitKicks started on Kerouac, what are your thoughts on the subject? Exploitative or celebratory? Or both?
Hah. I just went off on a bit of a rampage about this in my weekly review of the New York Times Book Review, which saw fit to put a sketch of Kerouac with an Elvis pompadour on its front cover this week. That's how they seem to comprehend Kerouac over at the Book Review, as a literary Elvis Presley, goofy and dumb and popular with the teenyboppers. My own Kerouac remains the anguished philosopher, the severe Buddhist Catholic who wanted to channel his mind like James Joyce and cleanse his heart like Dostoevsky. I think I'm going to just keep my head down and try to ignore as much of this 50th birthday hoopla as I possibly can.
To SMU or not to SMU: The nice folks in charge of finding Dubya's presidential papers a home haven't yet sealed the deal. They're probably waiting for Bob Barnett to check the fine print. (Thanks, LISNews, for the roundup.)
Maybe you've never heard of him, but Robert Barnett knows everybody. And cuts their book deals. Their VERY LARGE book deals.
I once saw Barnett go mano-a-mano with Daphne Merkin on a panel. If you're the kind of guy who makes multi-million-dollar book deals for ex-presidents and prime ministers on a regular basis, you don't let some literary feminista get in your way. Let's just say that things got ugly.
Hey there. Jennifer Howard sitting in for Jessa this week. I'm just back from the beach (Duck, N.C., which has to be one of the silliest town names ever). What I packed: a Rafael Sabatini swashbuckler, some James Bond ('cause I'm kind of curious about the new 007 novel that Sebastian Faulks has written and I figured I should read one of the originals for comparison), and The Dream Detective by Sax Rohmer, creator of Fu Manchu.
You can download the Sabatini for free here, BTW.
August 17, 2007
Val McDermid reminds us that Ian Rankin is stupid.
Fringe Festival NYC y'all.
I'm probably just asking for it, but it's Friday and I am a bad blogger.
Here's a digest of today's "women ought to enjoy sex more" articles. I know bookslut (rightfully) has a chip on its shoulder about "comics are literature" articles; similarly I can't believe 21st century journalists still like to point out that women can have good sex. If only the other widening hole in the o-zone got this much attention.
Japanese women are buying sex manuals at a rapid clip.
Australian women are entering sex shops in broad daylight.
Obligatory link to A.V. Club Comics review digest. Obligatory because they pimp Apollo's Song, by Osamu Tezuka (published by my until-Monday employer, Vertical, Inc.)BTW, get the book. Just get it. Shut up and get it.
Speaking of Tezuka, last night I participated in a panel on "Publishing Tezuka/Manga in the US" at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum in conjunction with their Tezuka Exhibit.
Interesting group of us: Dark Horse, Viz and Vertical. Something like Goldilocks tryptich. Since the whole audience was Viz staff and Fred Schodt, we got questions like:
How do you deal with an increasingly competetive online market?
Is your licensing agreement with Tezuka Productions ever problematic?
Whereas I'd heard someone actually asked at a recent similar panel, "why are the characters' eyes so big?"
Nice. You've just had a kid, you're in Beijing, where you are only allowed to have one of them, and it comes time to name the progeny. Why the hell not name it "@"? (Thanks for the heads up Carrasco)
August 16, 2007
While deep-cleaning the home office this week, I discovered one of my most prized possessions, something that's been missing for two years: A hand-me-down audio cassette of Alec Guiness reading T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Four Quartets, and other poems. Unfortunately, it looks as if the publishers have allowed it go out of print; in my view, it's a recording well worth a listen.
What's hilarious about the recording is listening to the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi reading The Waste Land. (When I started playing the tape at home, my 4-year-old cocked his head and asked, "What's Ben Kenobi saying?") And I can't swear by all of his interpretive decisions.
But what's really splendid about the recording is hearing Eliot's poems read by someone who knows how to act. Many readers are familiar with Eliot's odd accent--a bizarre combination of St. Louis, Harvard, and his urgent Anglophilia--and those who aren't can check out his reading of The Waste Land here for free.
As a special dog-days-of-summer treat, I've recorded a snippet of Guinness reading a section of The Waste Land, called "A Game of Chess." You can listen to it (in .mp3 format) here. (I'm pretty sure this is within fair use.) It's not the whole section, just the bit about "that Shakespeherian rag" and about Albert and Lil. Sit back, relax, and imagine Obi-Wan telling Han that "others can pick and choose if you can't."
Bonus Eliot content:
A site called "Audiofreemp3books.com" apparently ran the Wikipedia entry on the poem through BabelFish: The Waste Land "is a authoritatively substantial 433-line modernist ode on T. S. Eliot. It is maybe the most venerable and most written-about long jingle of the 20th century." They also translate "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" as "I at will. as or when (one) pleases or wishes or thinks fit(ting) let (someone) in on you second thoughts in a troublemaker of dust," which I think is nice.
Also check out Carlos Castañeda, Jr.'s arrangement of The Waste Land, which uses Guinness's reading "to generate raw musical material. The poem's structure echoes as an abstract representation in the form of the electronic conversion."
If I didn't agree with him so much I'd say this was needlessly snarky. Sorry guys.
Does anyone out there read the Rosie O'Donnell blog? It's an amazing look at what blogs can do for/to someone. At the risk of sounding like an apologist for hysteria, I admit to being in the pro camp here. If anything, Rosie's a lot more interesting without the make-up or tv show. Like, I want to be at The Cubby Hole with this lady at 4 in the morning and hear her start a quibble turned broken longneck-brawl that quickly tumbles into mad make-out action with Leslie Feinberg. Anyway, Ro's blog is
Anyway, I bring this up not because I'm a closet dyke, but because I felt an obligation to mention Elvis Presley (watching the news today will do that to you), and in her "ask ro" column, I found this gem from a fan:
DID U KNOW THAT U LOOK LIKE ELVIS PRESLEY’S MOTHER? HUGE COMPLIMENT…ANY SUGGESTIONS ON THE BEST PLACES TO EAT & THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CATALINA ISLAND IN CALIF??
Another kind of oldish story I'm only finding today:
Euro Books, India's largest Children Publishing House (sic) presents the entire collection of Agatha Christie in graphic novels format.
I'm a tiny bit concerned that they don't say a thing about the artists, but no one's going to read these things anyway, so...
Here's your Tao Lin link. A year ago he took a dig at n+1 that made me laugh really hard.
August 15, 2007
Slow, re: dead blog day because I just, literally just got into my hotel room after travelling all morning from New York to San Francisco to speak at The Marvel Of Manga Panel at the SF Asian Art Museum, in conjunction with the Osamu Tezuka exhibit, which everyone in the Bay Area should come to, tomorrow Thursday at 6:30pm. (phew that was a mouthful)
Do it. Come see my power-point presentation. It's funny.
Oh, and more after I extract the sandpaper out of my eyelids and can blink without crying.
August 14, 2007
The comics industry has lost one of its most respected members this weekend – artist Mike Wieringo has passed away at the age of 44, according to numerous sources speaking with CBR News. Details are unclear right now, but early reports say he experienced a sudden and massive heart attack. Newsarama is reporting that Sunday afternoon Wieringo experienced chest pains and did call 911, but first responders were unable to reach him in time.
There is a phone company out there that rhymes with Splint, that has to be THE worst phone company ever. Am I allowed to say that on national blogovision? Don't ask me to prove it. Just take my word for it. Burn your mobiles.
Anyhoo, via PLunch:
Borders Group, Inc. is offering its more than 30,000 employees nationwide the opportunity to become a published author under the company's exclusive and proprietary publishing program. Borders Group is holding a fiction writing contest open to all employees in Borders and Waldenbooks stores, the distribution centers and the company's corporate office.
Neat. Cost-free content.
Conan The Barbarian is slated for live-action film adaptation again after negotiations with New Line went kaput. The new producers, Millenium, are promising an adaptation more faithful to Robert E. Howard's books than the original movies. (I for one want to see this adaptated from Howard's tome.)
But who's going to out-Arnold this role, folks?
With healthy literary traditions in over 20 official languages, why is so much more attention paid to the small number of Indian authors writing in English?
So Karl Rove is shopping a book. Some prospective titles include:
"The I in Team"
"I Just Think It's Time"
"Why Are You Hitting Yourself? Huh? Huh?"
Very late start to guest-blogging this morning. All apologies. Suffice it to say I hit a personal best in consumption of huh-whiskey last night. Huff huff.
But as if being hungover weren't enough, the F train (from Brooklyn to Manhattan) took eons to get me here. Suffice it to say commuting in New York kind of sucks (and for car-owners it's going to suck even harder soon).
Yet I observed something on the way "up" - Neighborhood Reading Trends.
Some typical reading taking place through the Smith St. corridor of my commute:
A 20-something white lady with a canvas WNYC bag readingEat Pray Love.
Two different white male commuters, one in his early twenties and likely participates in critical mass, the other in his late thirties and likely watches a lot of college football, both reading reading Fortress of Solitude. (I'm tempted to say I see more copies of FOS than Harry Potter on this commute, in general.)
Then past the tunnel and into Manhattan...
Latino man in his late twenties, reading El Nombre de la Rosa.
Black Minnie Driver plops down more or less on my lap and is reading, Casting Away Demons, or something like it...can't find it on The 'Zon, but I did eavesdrop on her reading and caught this gem: Make prayer an act of surrender...the notion of complete surrender is not unheard of to most women...
So I turned my head to the left and see an emaciated Dominican man with some gold-plated bling, reading The Passion of Jesus Christ.
I would be remiss not to mention everyone else was reading The NY Post. You'd think there'd be more of The Times en route to Rockefeller Center, but I suppose that's more of a 1 line or sedan chair trend.
August 13, 2007
Did I mention I'm a sort of Japanist?
A few weeks ago I went to The Eisner Awards Show at San Diego Comic-Con, where one of the guest awards presenters was Brian Posehn, who along with Jonathan Ross made the otherwise saltine cracker equivalent of an event one actually worth talking about.
Last week my friend Jenny directed me to this clip from Posehn's stand-up show, which compares Iraq 50 years from now to Japan ("another former enemy" of the US army) today.
The line-up of speakers for The Seattle Arts & Lecture Series looks pretty awesome.
Speaking of Seattle...
The man allegedly attacked for singing Coldplay at a Wallingford bar is still dumbfounded, and the woman who was arrested claims she doesn't remember the attack.
Bookslut's Indie Heartthrob Interview Series
A weekly interview series where someone involved in the small press (be it writer, editor, slush slave, etc.) is thrown into the spotlight, grilled over the state of the independents and sundry other items, and quickly made to return from whence they came after having graced us all with their presence.
This week: E.J. Van Lanen
Van Lanen recently left Dalkey and went up to the University of Rochester with Chad Post. Right now the two are working on a new world literature and translation project, a press called Open Letter.
When and how did you and Chad get together for Open Letter? What issues does one run into when creating a new press?
Chad and I became friends while I was still working at Ecco, which eventually led to me going to Dalkey Archive. A little while after I arrived at Dalkey, they backed out of their planned move to the University of Rochester, and Chad and I both quit. Shortly thereafter, we had some conversations with the University about their continued interest in a literary translation program, and their desire to have a publishing component play a significant role in the program. One thing led to another, and Open Letter was born.
One of the most interesting things about our relationship with the University is that while we're a nonprofit press that is fully integrated into the University, we'll be functioning much more like a traditional independent literary press than like a university press. This is a pretty new, and I think innovative, model and it's one of the more exciting things about the press.
As far as issues go, I think we've had a pretty easy time of it overall. Many of the trials you'd have to go through in starting a nonprofit have been made much easier due to our association with the University. For example, finding funding is really step number one in starting something like this, and while we still need to raise money, we have access to a lot of resources at the University, like the development office, that we wouldn't have if we were going it alone. This is a big leg up, and due to the other things like staff, space and budget that the University can provide, we're really starting at what would be year 3 or 4 for most nonprofits. One of the challenges with that, however, is that we have slightly higher expectations. This is forcing us to build our profile more quickly--rather than in the slow and steady way someone like Archipelago was able to do--and building a profile without any books is kind of tricky.
Open Letter's focus is on world literature. How will the press help bring these translations to an American audience?
We believe, maybe naively, that there's a real hunger out there for these kinds of books, and, perhaps even more naively, that this hunger is only going to increase in the future. What we'd like to do is bring more attention to world literature, on the theory that what is good for literature in translation (more attention, more money, more reviews, more books published) will be good for Open Letter and will be good for the culture as a whole.
Our first step in this direction is Three Percent, our weblog, which we hope will be a great promotional tool for world literature, and a real resource for everyone (translators, editors, and cultural organizations) who works to bring these books into English. Three Percent is still in its infancy, but in addition to having a running daily weblog of news about international literature, we really want to bring attention to books and authors who haven't yet been translated into English by providing sample translations and reviews. We also are putting together a central calendar of prizes and funding opportunities for translations, and hope that it will simplify what can be a complicated process for translators. Their work is difficult enough without having to seek hither and yon for funding, and we hope to regularize that process somewhat.
Of course, we'll do the usual marketing and promotional things for our authors, but we're also trying to find ways in which we can take advantage of new technology to reach more readers in more ways. The internet, for one, is a pretty awesome tool for an organization of our size and it allows us to reach a lot of places we couldn't have reached even 5 years ago.
What can we look forward to seeing come Fall 2008?
Our first two books are Dubravka Ugresic's NOBODY'S HOME and Bragi Olaffson's THE PETS. Both Chad and I are big fans of Dubravka, and we signed her on as quickly as we could. Her latest collection of essays--about life as an exile--is just as strong as THANK YOU FOR NOT READING, which was excellent and did very well for Dalkey Archive.
Bragi Olaffson is interesting for a few reasons. First, he's written an amazing, and singular, novel, and has been nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize twice. He also writes in Icelandic, and I don't know how long it's been since a book was translated from Icelandic to English. He was also the bassist for The Sugarcubes!
We should announcing the rest of our Fall '08 titles soon. They probably won't all be written by former bassists of seminal rock bands, but we're pretty excited about the books and authors that we have lined up, and we hope everyone else will be too.
Let's talk about the translation program. Rochester is offering a Certificate in Literary Translation Studies starting this fall. Is this directly related to Open Letter? How does the program work, exactly?
This fall the Undergraduate Certificate in Literary Translation Studies gets underway, and sometime soon they should be announcing details about the graduate programs.
The Press and the programs function in mutually supportive, yet independent ways. For example, Chad is on the translation committee that is responsible for designing the programs. Open Letter will, in many ways, be the public face of the programs, but our most direct relationship to the other programs will be through internships. Students have the opportunity to intern at the press in marketing, editorial, and design, and will also be providing sample translations and reader's reports, really helping the press extends its editorial reach.
In the long term, Open Letter will assist in arranging international internships for students, placing them at a foreign publisher or cultural organization for a semester. This is maybe the most exciting thing for me, both because it really is such a cool opportunity for the students and because it's a great way for us to strengthen our ties with different publishers and governments.
This is only vaguely related to publishing or literature, but as I've just left my job in publishing, I couldn't help but examine the bigger picture of (m)ass media.
The The Oxygen Network is up for sale at 1.1 billion dollars. That's a whole channel of 24/7 programming on cable TV - the fastest growing and most widely disseminated medium of communication, for 1.1 billion dollars. Granted it's mostly crap proraming for 40-something women, don't you ever wonder what a billion dollars will get you?
Ford's trying to sell its Volvo unit (I love Volvos, btw, which is the only reason I know this), for $5 billion. Coca-Cola bought Glaceau (aka VitaminWater) for $4 billion (ten years ago I would never have guessed bottled water would sell for as much as a European car company), and last month, HM Riverdeep bought Harcourt Education for $4 billion.
So guys, let's think Monopoly (as in Parker Brothers). You got 5 billion U.S. dollars to make grow. Do you buy a boxy stationwagon from Sweden, a watered-down bottle of juice, five shitty cable channels, or a publishing company?
I had a dream this morning that I was trying to steal toy wooden dinosaur mock-ups from a dentist's waiting room after the receptionist told me I was too old to get one for free. And like a good Freudian, I woke up just before obtaining the prized object, frustrated I didn't get any wood. That pretty much explains how I've landed at this guest-blogging gig.
Hi, I'm Anne Ishii.
I'm going to start this week nice and easy with some Dick. (Philip K. Dick-uendo jokes will NEVER get old. I'm sorry. I am just THAT stupid. Really...Though The New Yorker is not doing itself any favors by calling this article "Blows Against the Empire")
August 10, 2007
Here's my last post. Thanks to Jessa for taking a holiday somewhere without internet access and allowing us to do this, to Emily for the set up and whoever is coming next, to everyone who works on the site, and to You, my dear hedgehog, for being awake at 4 AM EST to read this. Please, put down the cocoa and go to sleep now. (If you are reading this in the morning, please ignore that last couple of lines, thanks.)
The World Fantasy Awards Nominations have just been posted. I'm one of the jury this year and it's been a great honor as well as a great series of conversations and negotiations. I can't really talk about it until after the winners are announced in November but there are definitely some books, stories, magazines and artists really worth searching out. Go!
Shelf Awareness continues its coverage of Australian bookstore chain Angus & Robertson's gobsmacking demand that publishers
that don't contribute enough net profit to the Australian chain pay amounts ranging from A$2,500 (about US$2,100) to A$100,000 (US$84,600) to continue having their books sold in its stores.
The Sydney Morning Herald has the shrivelled-soul letter from A&R telling the publishers to pay up or A&R will drop their books. (Readers: Drop A&R!)
This basically left me speechless (and sputtering) and after a quick lie down and a cooling draft I naturally began to wonder: would this work for Small Beer?
We have recently completed a piece of work to rank our authors in terms of the net profit they generate for our business. We have concluded that we have far too many authors, and over 40% of our author agreements fall below our requirements in terms of profit earned. At a time when the cost of doing business continues to rise, I'm sure you can understand that this is an unpalatable set of circumstances for us, and such we have no option but to act quickly to remedy the situation.
Accordingly, we will be rationalizing our author numbers and setting a minimum earnings ratio of income to trade purchases they we expect to achieve from our authors.
I am writing to you because BOOK TITLE falls into this category of unacceptable profitability,
As a consequence we would invite you to pay the attached invoice by Aug 17th 2007. The payment represents the gap for your book, and moves it from an unacceptable level of profitability, to above our minimum threshold.
If we fail to receive your payment by this time we will have no option but to remove you from our list of authorized authors, and you will be unable to complete any further transactions with us until such time as payment is made.
More actual facts and discussion at Making Light.
Sometime within a month or so The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet will be found lounging around the bookshelves of your local booktique as if it had been there all along. It's an anthology edited by Kelly Link and me: we started the thing ten+ years ago and just can't let it go. Contained within the titanium plates we got Del Rey to use as covers is fiction from Karen Joy Fowler, Karen Russell, and many other non-Karens, advice from Dear Aunt Gwenda, as well some occasional miscellany.
The big question we are always asked (after What spot in the NYTimes Top Ten Paperback Advice will the book debut at?) is Who the hell was Lady Churchill?
The easy answer: Winston's mother. A much more interesting answer can be found in Anne Sebba's American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill -- the US edition isn't due until November but the UK edition (with a better title: Jennie Churchill: Winston's American Mother) drops this month. I fired off a couple of quick q's Ms. Sebba's way to celebrate:
What attracted you to the prospect of spending some years writing about Jennie Jerome?
Anne Sebba: I remember precisely ... it was reading Roy Jenkins' justly lauded biography of Winston Churchill in 2001 and I realised he devoted a few pages only to the mother. I knew there must be more to it than that and at that stage I had only a vague appreciation of Jennie Jerome as a sort of good time girl. I wondered why was she known as Jennie Jerome when she was Jennie Churchill for many more years, why was most people's reaction to her that she was "a bit of a goer."
So I started out, as the mother of a soldier myself, knowing that the popular image must be superficial. In addition I love that period and am especially fascinated by the frustrations of an intelligent woman's life. Jennie could have been anything she wanted in the political or artistic field with a little bit of education, training and discipline. She did the best she could with the fist she had.
Why does Jennie capture the imagination of so many people?
Because she was beautiful and talented and with ambitious parents life promised her so much in her own right. She married the son of a duke who lived in a palace ... yet ultimately it was a tragic life not merely because it ended prematurely but because she never found the man who could give her back what she offered in return, no man as supportive and loving and confidence giving as her own father (all 3 Jeromes looked in vain for someone with their father's personality and zest and enthusiasm and ability to enjoy life) and because she never had any money and was not trained to know how to earn it.
Does her life echo national themes and ideas?
Yes if you mean was she a child of her time... in that she was better educated and broader minded than her English sisters with more zest for life and pizzaz and wit her father had wanted to give her her own money because the Americans were years ahead of the Brits in understanding about a womans need for and right to an independent income but the British did not pass the married womens property act until 1882 and the Marlboroughs were furious that she would want her OWN source of income. It was fashionable for the impoverished British aristocracy to seek out American heiresses because land values had dropped dramatically and the system of entailment meant that they could not easily sell off parcels of land and there was a a serious decline and need for repair. But the American girls were not just a source of income they were also sexy. There is much more on this because she saw herself at various times as an American in a sea of non understanding Brits who failed to understand her. She put herself at the head of various American womens committees to raise money and look after wounded soldiers and some of her closest friends, after her sisters were American women.
The one area where she bucked the trend was in opposing womens suffrage. She was not alone in this but it was at one level an unlikely stance for an apparently free thinking modern woman to take. of course the reason is that she had access to power without a vote.
If Jennie were to launch a literary journal now, how do you think it would do?
Well she would need access to an accountant... perhaps that would help! (I am married to one so I know!)
What's all this about her snake tattoo? Do you have pictures? Can you prove it?
No, no proof and I have scoured the pix but I believe she was the sort of would have had one done - it was both daring and fashionable - and in a way if people thought it of her then it was likely but on the other hand she was also careful and full of discretion...
I am going to have one done on my left wrist for the publication party, in fact I am off to the tattoo parlour right now as we speak... (only half joking ... watch this space ... Or rather my website, I shall put up a picture.) Self Identification with one's subject - MOI? Absolutely.
Here's one strand of the future of poetry: and it's a long and weird one. Alan DeNiro just posted his 165 page(!) speculative poem The Stations online for free. Read and do with it what you will:
It has a pretty open-ended Creative Commons license, allowing people to sample from it and adapt it as long as there’s attribution. I’m trying something new (for me, anyway) in terms of the medium of the piece, and how it intersects with the Intertubes. Read it as a 165-page poem, or consider it a word-carcass to be scavenged–either way is fine. I’m not sure if I have anything else to say about the poem now, but something else might come to me.
This is International Blog Against Racism Week, so would you just stop it? What is wrong with you anyway? Go read a book from somewhere else and get your head around something different. Our next door neighbor, illustrator and web guy Theo Black was one of many to point out how white TV still is. He's a middle-aged white guy, but ... he's a vampire! She's a hot young white chick, but ... she's bionic ! Sometimes difference = no difference.
Matt Cheney has recommended a few Kenyan titles, there's always Alasdair Gray is you're unsure of the cranky old Scots attitudes, Mia Couto's Sleepwalking Land is unfuckingforgettable, and perhaps this is obvious, but you could read Words Without Borders a couple of times a year and try and remove the rut from the front of your brain. Ok? Ok!
August 9, 2007
It's hot. If you only get four days of proper vacation in a particular year, try not to take them during the hottest week endured by your destination in a decade. I didn't know it could even be "too hot for the pool."
ars poetica offers a poem about poetry, daily. Last week, I enjoyed "On Trying to Like a Poem I Don't Understand" a great deal, and Marilyn Taylor's "Trocha-Spondaloopian Sonnet" is surely the funniest poem I know that namechecks Green Bay, WI.
In Judge James J. Keaney's court, the intentional and biographical fallacies are alive and well, as he argues that a poem couldn't possibly be satirical given the author's lack of education. What I particularly admire about this story is Keaney's bravery in ruling inadmissible the testimony of a poetry professor.
Reginald Shepherd's blog consists to a large extent of splendid, thoughtful essays on various topics: e.g., The Tempest, "speech, meter, and meaning in Shakespeare's Sonnet 129," and the dramatic monologue. Plus marxism, formalism, and much else besides.
A handy rule for criticism: When in doubt, insult the audience: "I can't see this appealing to many, especially as poetry is so little read here, but its publication remains an important contribution."
Jim Munroe is like unto an indie god to us. For a couple of years he ran the Perpetual Motion Roadshow (which I went on with Bookslut interviewer Geoffrey Goodwin and poet Liisa Ladouceur) and his recent list of Ten Lessons from the Roadshow is a must for anyone thinking of running a volunteer-led operation. The other day he posted a couple of hilarious and smart excerpts from another indie maven's book, Ariel Gore's How to Become a Famous Writer. Laugh it up.
When asking people what was going round on the internets, Noria Jablonski told me to go see what Charlie Anders was up to. We recently bought a weird and wonderful story by Charlie for LCRW (I really will get to posting about that upcoming Best of anthology soon. Maybe even by the end of the week). But that's not got anything to do with much right now.
Charlie's piece "Supergirls Gone Wild: Gender Bias In Comics Shortchanges Superwomen" in Mother Jones has refired the ongoing kerfuffle over women's place in comics. There aren't tons of women writing comics (there are some and some are great, obviously) and women are still fighting being portrayed as nothing more than witless-but-beautiful (that's rich characterization right there!). Put it this way Marvel & DC: I'll start reading your comics and books again when you get some smart women I can recognize from real life in there. In the meantime after picking up some art and mini comics at Subterranean Books in St. Louis I'm looking forward Matt Kindt's Super Spy as well as Cecil Castelluci's Plain Janes, Sarah Varon's Robot Dreams, and whatever Marjane Satrapi has coming out.
August 8, 2007
Nicola Griffith interview
Nicola Griffith's novel Always is part of her series about Aud (rhymes with cloud), a half-Norwegian ex-policewoman who is harder than Wolverine. I interviewed Nicola a couple of years ago for Book Sense and thought it would be fun to throw her a couple of questions about writing and violence:
Bookslut: Always is very sensual -- when you're writing do you find yourself distracted by the sensations of what you're writing about?
Nicola Griffith: Distracted by my imaginary people and places? Never. After all, it's partly why I do this stuff. I can go live in the woods, or visit Norway, or go back in time. I can thump the bad guys and leap off burning buildings, eat great meals and have fabulous extra-marital sex--all without coping with injury or gaining weight or catching something nasty.
Mind you, it can be hard to tell, sometimes, which comes first, the hunger or the meal. My imagination influences my body and vice versa. And once you get a feedback system going--hungry! write about food! get more hungry!--it can get interesting, which is to say intense.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons writers are weird when dragged from their keyboards is that the real world can occasionally appear pale and insubstantial after our individually tailored virtual experience. I've been a singer, too, and in some ways that was even worse/better: on stage you can act out the Big Life fantasy with others and get multiple and instant feedback; it's addictive. Then you climb offstage and it's all gone. No wonder so many rock stars do drugs.
But back to writing. Usually by the time I fall asleep at night I have a notion of what I'll write the next day, but every now and again I can take an alarming left turn. I've never stopped to think about it before but it wouldn't surprise me to find a lot of those turns originate with my body: I've just had a vile review emailed to me by some jerkoff, I flood with adrenalin, and Aud suddenly feels the need to punch someone in the face; Kelley walks by and smiles and Aud will get all gooshy. But that's just first draft. All the things that don't need to be there get cut in the rewrite (sigh).
Lots of people (I mean lots, even those who ought to know better) ask me: is Aud really you? In the The Blue Place days I used to bridle a bit at that--she's six feet tall, she's Norwegian, she's *this* close to being a sociopath!--but since my own sister phoned a few weeks ago and said, 'Nicola, I keep getting Aud all muddled up with you', I've decided to give in gracefully. Yes, Aud is to some degree me--but so is Dornan, so is Kick So are Else and Rusen and Eric, Peg and Gary and old Ed Thomas Hardy. They're part of me. Even when they're being stupid or sly or manipulative, I love them all.
BS: Always has some amazing scenes on women's self defense -- are there any online sites that are especially helpful?
NG: Well, if you mean helpful for the general punter who wants to learn self-defence without leaving the house, then, no, not so much. Self-defence is about the real world; you need to leave the virtual behind and take a class. If you live in Seattle or environs, there are three places you can begin:
For other places--but don't get excited, there really aren't many I can recommend--visit the community resources page of my website. (If you know of any good self-defence courses, please send a link to nicola at nicolagriffith dot com and I'll add it.)
The thing to do is to stay away from fight-based martial arts courses taught by instructors with short-man syndrome: bouncy, banty-rooster types; pigeon-chested guys who want to 'help ladies' by teaching them how to punch people in the balls. Not useful. Self-defence for women is less about winning than about survival. It's learning to see the world as it really is as opposed to the way we're taught it is (or wish it were). Self-defence is not glamourous; it's commonsense: looking both ways before you cross the road, parking under a light, locking your doors, using oven mitts when you pull out that hot casserole, knowing where the exit is and your neighbour's name.
Reading Always will give you a notion of what, exactly, self-defence is. It might even give you a couple of nifty tricks that could, in an unlikely confluence of planetry misalignment, save your life. But to really learn self-defence, you need to practise with other human beings. It's all about real bodies, real situations in the real world.
BS:Does the recent NPR report, "Rape Cases on Indian Lands Go Uninvestigated," make you think that perhaps parts of society is heading in the right direction in that people are more willing to point out flaws in the system?
NG: It makes me think that the world needs work. It makes me wish I could do more.
I was reading just a few months ago about the appalling state of law enforcement and sentencing power (or lack of it) in this country's Indian lands. Information is beginning to accumulate, finally, and I do think it might achieve critical mass sometime soon. When that happens, change will come. (Unfortunately, it will be too late--already is too late--for many.) Then it's up to us to get behind it and push.
But change is going on, all the time--socially, politically, economically. That's what people do, they change--and if we're lucky, our systems do, too. The wheel is always turning. It's just that I and, I can only assume, others, can find patience difficult, sometimes. But when we're talking about human systems, as opposed to single people, we need not only activism and noise but perspective and patience.
Aud is learning this. In Always her metaphors become, to a degree, historical. Her perspective is expanding. She's also been learning that in the interstices of the change and growth, the patience and perspective, she can find joy. That's why I've spent ten years chronicling her change. It's been a delight to watch her find hope in dark places.
August 7, 2007
Australian author and Printz Award honoree Margo Lanagan says she has finished her novel Tender Morsels and links to amazing photos by Ione Rucquoi that she says "partly captures the feeling of the book." Um, it's all about animal people then?
Lanagan has a mind-boggling good collection, Red Spikes, coming out in October—it came out an age ago in Australia. How much do I like this book? Late last year I made a too-late-damn-it offer on the US rights. Knopf loved it and picked up the novel, too. *$%^! Ahem. Smart of them. Must read faster.
In the meantime read this, it's a stormer: "Singing My Sister Down."
Gwenda Bond is making things happen all week to celebrate the Lit Blog Coops cooption of Nicola Griffith's Always. Today she points to About Last Night where Nicola has a list of Books That Take You There
When I read I want to immerse myself in the word world: to taste it, hear it, feel it on my skin. I want the people and places and modes of thought to invade my mirror neurons--to persuade me, just for a while, that this narrative is my lived experience.
Gwenda is putting on a pretty big show with a roundtable on Griffith featuring new and familiar faces (some of whom didn't love the book: warning! intelligent discussion—or trollish attacks!—possible!). Here's part 1 from yesterday and today's part 2 today.
I'll be posting a short interview with Nicola tomorrow.
Over at the Small Beer site we've got Howard Waldrop's second piece on our bloggy/not-a-journal-updater thing.
My big fear for Waldrop (besides that he'll starve to death trying to live off his short stories) is that he'll get Philip K. Dick'd: after he dies everyone will recognize what a genius he was, someone will get millions for his movie rights, and in the meantime? He dies penniless. Which is why (besides it being a great book) we put out the first paperback edition of his first collection, Howard Who?
Waldrop's an iconocalstic autodidact—and perhaps a tiny bit eccentric—who actually lives off his short stories (he's been "working on a novel" for years). He's not going to argue with my description unless someone prints this page out and gives it to him—despite being a pop culture junkie and working writer for nearly 40 years, he doesn't have a computer. He types his manuscripts and he's good enough that publishers accept them.
Michael Dirda recently wrote a great piece about him in the Post and I imagine that Library of America will soon be doing a collection of his collections with an intro by David Mitchell or Aimee Bender. Then HBO will adapt his stories over 7 or 8 years. Everyone will read "The Ugly Chickens" and be blown away.
In the meantime, here's Howard on Girl Stuff .
August 6, 2007
It's a good month when William Gibson is everywhere. His novel Spook Country is just great—reminds the reader that serious books can also be fun pageturners. You should book a day at the beach just for it. Or at a spa. Or just dress in black and go places where books are so retro they're almost cool again and by your very presence make them cool.
A couple of the most recent reviews: Ed Park gives great review at the LA Times, your truly has a short review at Book Page, and Nisi Shawl likes it at the Seattle Times—where Gibson also does the Max Headroom thing with Mary Anne Gwinne.
My family and I have a proposal to create something positive from this calamity. It originated with the family of Jerzy Nowak, whose wife, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, died on that same morning, Jocelyne teaching French, Jamie teaching German.
Along with our son's widow, a professor at Virginia Tech, and many others, my wife Jeri and I urge the administration to convert a part of Norris Hall into a center for the study of international peace and crime prevention -- as one component in a campaign to promote peace and campus safety everywhere.
(Link from Paul DiFilippo at the Inferior 4+1)
COMIC-CON 2007: Liz Reports! Day 2: Friday
Coverage from Thursday can be found here. Friday was a day of wandering and not attending many panels. But the people helped make up for it.
7:00 AM: My primary employer is being very understanding about my need to attend Comic-Con -- mainly because I've promised that I'd work my ass off while attending. Thus, I shove myself miserably out of bed to spend ten bucks on hotel internet, and do what I can before it's time for 'Con.
7:05 AM: No one is online. Sad and lonely.
7:15 AM: Start pinging East Coast friends I haven't talked to in weeks. Loneliness diminishes.
8:15 AM: One of my NYC buddies mentions that today there's supposed to be a massive scavenger hunt/viral promotion for the next Batman movie, kicking off at 10 AM.
9:45 AM: So distracted by trying to figure out this Batman game that I end up running half an hour late. Hoof it to the con, knowing that getting my badge before the lines kick up is priority.
10:10 AM: After getting checked in, arrive at the address given by "The Joker" just in time to see the HA HA HA skywritten above Petco Stadium. End up knowing nothing about the phone number and ensuing chaos until later that night. Spend the rest of the day assuming that the freaks with faces smeared with Joker make-up are, well, just your average Comic-Con attendee.
10:30 AM: Y'all should watch this show Shin Chan. That shit is funny, courtesy of some very funny writers.
12:00 PM: Get lunch with said very funny writers -- veggie burger and french fries at nice Gaslamp establishment. Diet Coke causes me to feel almost human.
2:00 PM: Every panel is incredibly overcrowded, and the word to line up early for anything you care about has quickly spread. So I catch up with folks while waiting in line for the American Dad panel. It starts at 3:30 -- we're about in the middle of the crowd).
3:15 PM: We're about to walk into 6CDEF when one girl splits off from the crowd in search of iced coffee. I bail at the last second, in pursuit of same goal.
4:00 PM: After only waiting twenty minutes at the Starbucks (an all-time-low record!), finally begin exploring convention floor. It's really settling in how after six years of attendance, I know where EVERYTHING is. Actually kind of eerie, when I think about it.
4:35 PM: Use feminine wiles to get deep discounts on half-priced trades for a friend. (If you're a girl in search of comics, and your finances are as low as your personal dignity, and you're wearing a cute tank top, then the half-price trade booths are for you.) For my services, I am repaid with a copy of Global Frequency Vol. 2, otherwise known as The One Comic I Love But Don't Own. Feel oddly complete as a result.
6:30 PM: Pass on dinner to return to hotel for email-checking, work-completing, and even some showering and pretty-fying. This takes alarmingly more time than usual -- roommates scored first dibs on shower. Learn that there's an industry-wide rumor about moving the convention to Los Angeles or Vegas next year. No one is excited about this idea. NO ONE.
8:30 PM: Head out on foot towards Gaslamp Quarter, wearing a very unwise but cute choice in heeled boots. Finally meet past Bookslut collaborator and excellent blogger Karin (whose Comic-Con coverage is far more comprehensive and interesting than my own -- she was able to actually attend panels. Seriously, check it out).
9:45 PM: Try and get into DC party. Absolute failure. This current line I now straddle -- hearing about the cool parties, but rarely being able to get into them -- is a real pain in the ass. Realize I liked it slightly better when we'd all go to Comic-Con and get trashed at Masquerade. (Drunk!Liz is a bit of a Communist.)
10:45 PM: Arrive at UTA party, which I'm able to get into but my friends are not. Also, the tonic water still tastes wrong. Parties are dumb.
11:15 PM: Some people I know arrive, and Masi Oka and I have a casual conversation about the general awesomeness of vodka tonics. Parties are all right.
2:00 AM: Come back to Hyatt, where the lobby bar is as packed as ever. Mingle and circle. Ask to hold someone's Eisner. Eisners are heavy, and have a spinning globe at the top, if you were wondering. Hear all the gossip about Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Ross's big screen kiss. Adorable, but Gaiman/Pratchett was my favorite first.
3:30 AM: Bed. Dear sweet god, bed. Look out for Saturday's report, coming tomorrow.
Hello! This is Gavin Grant and I'll be here on and off for a couple of days. A quick intro: I publish a zine, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and run Small Beer Press with my wife, Kelly Link. I also run a monthly reading series at KGB Bar in NYC and, with Kelly and my KGB co-host, Ellen Datlow, co-edit The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. Most excitingly: The Best of LCRW is coming soon.
First thing lined up for the week is a series of elegiac posts about those halcyon days (The Revolution Will Not Be Televised) before Hugo Chavez's lust for power shoved him over to the loony side of the fence. Hugo made the NY Times today as well: but in a story about authors compulsively checking their Amazon sales rank. Indie heart throbs—like Anne Ishii—also keep track of the indie bestsellers and of course, the real bookselling crack, Nielsen Bookscan numbers.
Then again, maybe I'll just do daily Alasdair Gray posts instead.
Bookslut's Indie Heartthrob Interview Series
A weekly interview series where someone involved in the small press (be it writer, editor, slush slave, etc.) is thrown into the spotlight, grilled over the state of the independents and sundry other items, and quickly made to return from whence they came after having graced us all with their presence.
This week: Anne Ishii
Anne is the director of marketing and publicity at Vertical Press. A prominent translator of contemporary Japanese fiction, Vertical chooses titles that require no prior knowledge of Japanese culture on behalf of the reader. Like they say on their company profile, "We choose good reads with universal themes."
Explain the concept behind Vertical Press. What makes it stand apart from other indie publishers?
Vertical is the brainchild of a prominent Japanese editor with lots of author connections, and a PhD candidate from Columbia University who'd had it with life. It reads like a local Sunday paper feature - they were having drinks dreaming up million dollar ideas, and it dawned on them - since there is so much great literature from Japan, and because we all know Americans LOVE translations, Hiroki Sakai and Ioannis Mentzas, decided to stop being middle-men in the native information food chain and fully publish Japanese content in American English.
In the beginning, Vertical was pretty enmeshed with the world of "higher" translation, because through the 1980's the only two things anyone translated from Japan were porn and VCR instructions. We're still enmeshed to a certain extent, but post-Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter, I think we've realized publishing with a bottom line is really friggin' hard. To that end we're doing sudoku, original English works (business and industry history books), and craft books now.
What makes us unique in the industry is the fact that our work is wholly specific to Japan-related content, and the fact that we are obsessed with money. (Our first logo was of the editorial director swimming in Benjamins à la Indecent Proposal, but we found it was confusing.)
Manga is quickly becoming one of the more prominent mediums. What sets your selections apart from that of a Manga giant like Tokyo-Pop?
A couple things set us apart from TP. No part of our staff is anywhere as youthful as theirs. Like their head honcho, Stuart Levy looks like he could be Bono's nephew, whereas our president wears boat shoes. I think their books are marketed to a reader that's young enough to be what would have been my first child had I decided to have it. Alright I'm being glib and making stuff up. Sorry.
No but seriously, youth is one big difference. That also means profits are a big difference. You said yourself, they are a giant and we're more like...well, we're like Japanese people. Am I being glib again? Sorry. Well, so youth and profit are the biggest differences. Is that tautological? Like saying that big dude over there is big, and I'm five-two so that's the difference? Ironically, I think we probably have about the same ratio of fan service shots. Though again, their fan service shots are of young girls. Ours are of Buddha's mom.
Translation is always a touchy subject. What is being done to better promote contemporary Japanese fiction?
Translation is indeed a touchy subject. I've waxed senile on the matter before, but here's a conundrum - monolingual readers using the phrase, "the translation seemed a little off/rough/inaccurate." Um, unless you're able to and then do actually read the original, those statements are just posturing. I mean sure, not all translators write Halcyon-prose, but and here's another conundrum - readers relish in using translations to provide information about Difference-capital-D, so isn't it possible the translation is fine but prose stylings are just different chez Japan? The loudest critics are usually the most ill-fit. I'm sure that's someone's quote.
That all said, I believe you're either translating for the reader or translating for the author, and the biggest difference is accuracy. It's hard to do an accurate translation that reads well. Myself, I like reading translations for the reader.
As for what's being done to better promote contemporary Japanese fiction, I suppose Haruki Murakami teaching at Harvard is a big one but on a more ephemeral level as I'm sure there's some trickle-down effect happening with his presence in Cambridge as we speak. I heard there was a survey done in the 1980's, which asked American college students why they are learning Japanese, and a whopping percentage of them said reading Shogun did it for them. Can you imagine? I bet if you asked kids in college now, they'd say Naruto inspired them. I think that's rad. It'd be like if some French kid decided to become an Americanist because of Louis L'Amour or Archie Comics.
Where is the best place to start for the uninitiated?
As regards Vertical's catalog, I'd say start with BUDDHA. As for anything else I've addressed, get some boat shoes.
August 3, 2007
Oh, I should point out that our new Poet Laureate just got $100,000.
COMIC-CON 2007: Liz Reports! (Day 1: Thursday)
COMIC-CON 2007: Liz Reports! Day 1: Thursday
So this is my first very exciting experience posting to the Bookslut Perhaps you missed my annual adorable Comic-Con write-up in this latest issue of Bookslut. Perhaps that is because Jessa's flight from the country and my post-con exhaustion made it impossible to get in on time. Thus, these very exciting blog entries, full of party and panel descriptions and maybe only a little bitching and moaning! I'll be posting my by-the-minute write-ups from each day over the next few, done by next Tuesday. Please enjoy.
5:00 PM: My brilliant plan of leaving by 3:30 is sabotaged by not one but two wrenches -- the demands of my day job, and the schedule of R., who I've agreed to give a ride. Alas, alack...
5:30 PM: ...Though, of course, without R. I wouldn't be carpool-lane legal, or aware of some crazy shortcut through Watts that bypasses the worst of LA traffic. R is a lifesaver.
8:30 PM: Arrive in San Diego, drop off R, and begin a game called "locate the person with my hotel room key." This game is hard, because I've never actually driven a car in San Diego before, despite this being my sixth trip to Comic-Con. Apparently they have one-way streets down here. Eep.
9:15 PM: Arrive at the Hyatt with key in hand. Park car in parking garage, determined not to move it again until absolutely, positively, apocalyptically necessary.
10:30 PM: Meet up with friends and crash a party that is being co-sponsored by several different companies. Which means that all day Friday, I will get three different answers as to what party people attended the night before -- but everyone was at the exact same party.
Talk to several interesting people, including a family of trivia game writers, whose daughter writes for Bongo Comics, a fresh-out-of-the-Army building contractor with friends in the industry, and an old-school comic book inker who now day-jobs as a high school teacher. He educates 16-year-olds on storytelling, while his partner teaches them how to use fancier technology than I ever knew existed in high school. Also have a long and detailed conversation with the open bar, introducing a second theme for the weekend: "Why does the tonic water in San Diego taste wrong?" (Never get an answer, despite asking several different bartenders and independent observers. Don't know what it tasted like. Just knew it was WRONG.)
12:30 AM: Head back to Hyatt. When you don't have anything to do at night in San Diego, you go to the Hyatt. This year, I'm actually sleeping here too -- was lucky enough to score half of a bed for two nights and not an awful amount of money. Meet up with college friend who is here on account of his fabulous cartoon show being featured on a panel the next morning. Very excited about seeing panel. He expresses concern about it even happening. I'm very enthusiastic about everything at this point, though.
1:30 AM: "Fall asleep quickly" sounds a lot better than "pass out." So we'll go with that.
Two U.S. authors have been shortlisted for this year's prestigious Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize (the most valuable prize in the world for a short story collection, at 35,000 euros).
and, the rest of the shortlist:
Simon Robson, from the UK, for The Separate Heart
Olaf Olafsson, from Iceland, for Valentines
Etgar Keret, from Israel, for Missing Kissinger (check this out, too)
Charlotte Grimshaw, for Opportunity
(thanks to the fabulous Jason B. Jones for links)
There is something I would like to Officially Complain about: what's up with the awful movie version of Evening? Susan Minot wrote a great novel, and then Michael Cunningham was supposed to save the day by adapting it for film but it was (with the exception of Claire Danes: Ah, My So Called Life; Aw, Jordan Catalano) a drudgery of sentimental bile. Salon seems to agree, and even if this is old news, I think you should agree, too.
You have your novels, you have your blogs...and now, introducing: The Blogno.
I know, I know, I should be blogging about all the Jane Austen mania, commiserating with poor Anne Hathaway and all the pressure she felt taking on such a weighty role, or about recent de-Darcification of Darcy. But, you know what? I just don't care. I have my BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, and a full set of Austen on my shelves, and that is all I need. In fact, the only Austen reference I have read lately that I found intriguing was in this interview with Susan Straight, where she talks about going to prom with her daughter after reading Jane Austen:
. . .[at] prom we were checking out all the people. And Gaiyla said, “What do you think about this?” and I said, “It’s exactly like the ball at Netherfield.” I said there were the Bingleys over there, and there are your friends so-and-so, and over here were the Lucases. And we were cracking up because we were walking around looking at society as still being stratified in the same ways—you had the people that had a Pemberly.
This is a participatory sort of thing, so submit your favorite Irish writers thru their site.
Today is bagel day! Which is why I am getting off to a late start--but, here goes: first off, I'll show you this cool thing on Fanzine, which reveals, among other things, that nine year-olds can possibly get stoned just from inhaling concert fumes and that Ricky Moody's first concert was "Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention, the Palladium, NYC, Halloween, 1975."
Welcome to Talk Show, a new monthly feature moderated by novelist Jaime Clarke, where writers chat like everyday people. In our inaugural episode, Tod Goldberg, Pagan Kennedy, Rick Moody, and Elizabeth Searle share memories of their first concert experiences.
August 2, 2007
Jean-Paul Pecqueur's first book, The Case Against Happiness, was published in November by Alice James Books. Previously, Pecqueur had been a graduate of the University of Washington's creative writing program, and a winner of the Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Prize. He currently lives and teaches in New York.
In the June Bookslut, I reviewed The Case against Happiness in the June issue, and enjoyed the philosophically-orientated wit that Pecqueur brought to bear in his poems. He graciously agreed to an e-mail interview over the past couple of weeks.
What did happiness ever do to you? Why prosecute a case against it?
It eluded me for thirty-plus years. Simply put, for the majority of my life I did not know what happiness felt like. Then one day, I felt happy. I was living in Tucson at the time. Something lifted, dissipated, broke loose—and I was happy for the first time in my life. From this new perspective, I finally clearly saw the book of poems I had been working on. The title is reflexive. The book is a sort of testimony to living one’s life as if making the case against happiness. Unfortunately, having experienced happiness I also now know how fleeting the feeling can be. I’m not sure how it works for others, but for me it takes a lot of concentrated work to be happy.
One of the pleasures of The Case Against Happiness is your interest in philosophy. What for you are the charms of philosophical poetry? What do poetry and philosophy have to say to one another?
It is nice to know that you find pleasure in reading my book. Thanks for saying that. I worry sometimes that the philosophical discourse, however recontexualized it may be, may put off more readers than it attracts. Also, I wouldn’t call “The Case Against Happiness” philosophical poetry. That implies that the poems in the book somehow concern themselves with the perennial problems of the philosophical tradition. Philosophy, for me, is merely another body of literature that I happen to enjoy reading. At best, my poems borrow words, phrases, and clauses from a variety of philosophical discourses and then create little worlds where these linguistic elements might find new homes. I like to treat these linguistic elements as characters in an ongoing comic-drama. Call this my pragmatism. Call it my life. From the pragmatist’s perspective, continued conversation is all that really matters. Lots and lots of conversation. It just happens that the primary conversations I engage in are poetic and philosophical. However, I also frequently talk sports, politics, the weather, painting, birds, and film. And I’m pretty sure that all of these conversations appear in my poems as well, just maybe not as frequently as the philosophical ones. However, I am working on that.
Are there particular models of this sort of poetry whom you read?
The short list of fast, smart poets I have been reading and rereading for the last few years would include Stevens, O’Hara, Noel Kocot, Dean Young, Mary Ruefle, Ron Padgett, Joanna Fuhrman, and Benjamin Peret. I have read literally hundreds of others, but these are the poets I return to when I want to see how to move.
The poems in The Case Against Happiness vary quite widely: Some seem more specifically rooted in personal experience, while others are more conceptual. And yet there is a bit of a frame--the echo of "the actual infinite." How do you see these poems as a collection, as opposed to a series of individual poems?
I think that this is what I was talking about above. Stevens wrote that poetry is life. I concur. One day I realized that I had been living for thirty some odd years as though my life was a case against happiness. I had also spent at least a decade self-consciously living as a poet. The trick then was to draw together the work I had already successfully completed with new work that emerged from my new emotional landscape. In other words, the book is roughly framed by an “absence and discovery of happiness” narrative. The “actual infinite” might be read metapoetically as a technical joke that stands in for this more personal narrative. The infinite is the absence, the actual is the fully engaged present, the combination of the two is the moment when making becomes magic. That is the moment of poetry. Something new is created, and the future is therefore altered in unforeseen ways.
It's now July, we're deep into summer/beach reading season. What are you reading this summer?
I have been rereading Robert Hass, Field Guide to Time and Materials (I have a thing for reading all of an author’s work consecutively). I have also been reading Isaiah Berlin’s and Richard Rorty’s essays. And I am almost done rereading William Burrough’s Western Lands Trilogy. And of course the ubiquitous student papers
What are your current writing plans?
I just finished my second manuscript. It is titled “Big Thinker.” It picks up the deflationary tendencies from the Case Against Happiness and pushes them as far as I currently know how, short of self-consuming Irony. Now that this project is off my shoulders, I plan to finish a series of essays that have been in progress for a few years. I have about six of these roughly drafted up. I’m curious about what I can do with the essay form. It’s exciting for me because I do not know what I am capable of here given extended concentration. I also have about half of a mystery novel drafted up. Depending on what kind of teaching situation I find myself in during the next year, I may just pick this up as well.
Remember Julie Powell, of the Julie/Julia [Child] project? Well, forget her. You should be reading Dara Moscowitz Grumdahl instead—the food critic from the Twin Cities alt weekly, City Pages. Best food-writing, ever.
Whoa. This was supposed to be a "private" mass email, but since now it's not, it is just too juicy to resist.
A Public Space (my new favorite literary journal) has just put excerpts from their forthcoming issue online (Issue 4 will be available in the next couple of weeks). And if you are curious about the t-shirt model on their website (arms emblazoned with tattoos from Borges, Beckett and Rushdie) you can read more about him here.
Charles Simic has been named Poet Laureate:
Mr. Simic, 69, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and immigrated to the United States at 16. He started writing poetry in English only a few years after learning the language and has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, as well as essay collections, translations and a memoir.
Before I get down to today's book news, it is impossible not to note that we suffered a major tragedy last night here in Minneapolis—a bridge spanning the Mississippi River went down during rush hour, blocks from Milkweed's building (we share a building with The Loft and the Minnesota Center for Book & Paper Art). I was sitting at Grumpy's bar, reading a galley and drinking a gin and tonic when suddenly the air was filled with chaos and sirens, chaos that was made more frenzied by the fact that the Twins were scheduled to play Kansas City at the Metrodome, which we can see from our back porch. Everyone at Graywolf, Coffee House, and Rain Taxi are fine. . .and so is everyone in our building.
August 1, 2007
Because everyone must have a blog: Bookforum has launched a new(ish) website, with extended content. In keeping with their latest issue, "Fiction into Film," they linked to Nerve's 50 Greatest Sex Scenes in Cinema. Why read books when you can Netflick? (yes, I just turned "Netflix" into a verb) (no, I don't actually think you should choose movies over books, not always) (yes, I think you should still also support your local indie video store)
Do we care anymore? But, whatever, the woman behind JT LeRoy now owes a lot of money At this point, the whole affair just seems...sad:
Albert had testified she objected to people calling LeRoy a hoax, saying she did telephone interviews with reporters under that name because she believed he was inside her.
As I am sure many of you noticed, Jessa was kind enough to put the August Issue up before dashing away on vacation. I finally had a chance to read through it this morning and got so caught up—lounging, as I was, on my back porch with tea in hand and laptop on lap—that I forgot to water my tomato plants. So, hey, if anyone is driving through Uptown in Minneapolis this morning, swing by and take care of that for me, willya?
But, back to the issue itself: namely, a riveting interview with Thomas Mallon (discussed: working from DC, Lynne Cheney, and oral sex in the nineteenth century); discourse with David Edelstein, former film critic for Slate, now with New York magazine; Barbara J. King on Traveling Vicariously through Europe; a scathing look at Wizard artwork on bookcovers; and an essay on the factory-issue MFA Writing program. And those are just the ones I've read.
And in reviews: there are almost too many to choose from, but you've got your inconvenient weather and doom, your Leonard Michaels, your hero Xeno, your latest theory-dose on the life of the Bard, a taste of noir, and some "poetic comfort food."