August 31, 2011
I will not shut up about F for Fake. Anything in a conversation leads me back to F for Fake lately. Orson Welles's examination of fraud, lies, thievery, and magic, from art forgery to his own War of the Worlds broadcast, is a marvel. Every time I watch it I see something new. But it's not simply because it's so well done, it's because there are extended scenes of late Orson Welles being late Orson Welles, drinking wine, holding forth, eating steak, while 20 year old girls in miniskirts hang all over him.
Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works, tells the story of the art forger who sold Goering a forged Vermeer at this TED Conference. (That would be Van Meegeren, and there were dueling biographies about him not too long ago. Now they both appeared to be remaindered. That is how the world works, is it not.) But Bloom goes into the same territory as Welles, which is, why does it matter that a piece of art is a forgery? Monetarily, okay maybe, but there is still pleasure to be had with a fake. That, to me, is a more interesting story.
Deborah Blum's book The Poisoner's Handbook was, among other things, a long catalog of all the ways the government and corporations want you to die a long, painful death from poison. The government during Prohibition used to poison the alcohol supply, causing a lot of people to drop dead. (Shouldn't have been drinking anyway!) Factories wouldn't tell their workers that the things they were working with were highly toxic, ignoring the fact that they were dropping dead. And now she's continuing this online, like her new post about poison by leaded gasoline. "The companies preferred to avoid the lead issue. They’d deliberately left the word out of their new company name to avoid its negative image." I mean, of course. It's enough to make you want to "go off the grid" and "live off the land" even if people who say things like that you usually want to punch in the face.
It turns out that cursive handwriting is dead. Which is too bad, because if I am vain about anything it is about my handwriting. I practice my handwriting, I fuss over it, I use handwritten notes for everything so that everyone can see my gloriously beautiful handwriting. It's a pretty useless thing to be really good at in the digital age, also. Like juggling otters.
This would probably also be a good time to mention that Kitty Burns Florey's Script & Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting is also very good.
August 30, 2011
“No one in the history of the world has ever self-identified as a pseudoscientist. There is no person who wakes up in the morning and thinks to himself, ‘I’ll just head into my pseudolaboratory and perform some pseudoexperiments to try to confirm my pseudotheories with pseudofacts.’”
In Chicago, if you tell someone you’re a writer, they look at you suspiciously—as if to say “yeah, right.”
Bookslut columnist Jesse Tangen-Mills talks to Elaine Equi about Chicago poetry, the connection between poetry and punk rock, and New York versus Chicago.
We have erotic capital, and this divides into six categories: beauty; sexual attractiveness; social skills like grace, charm and discreet flirtation; liveliness, which is a mixture of physical fitness, social energy and good humour; social presentation, including dress, jewellery and other adornments; and finally, sexuality itself, competence, energy, imagination.
Well, I'm fucked on that whole grace, charm and discreet flirtation thing. I might have to stock up on actual real capital.
But this Zoe Williams takedown of Catherine Hakim's Honey Money (I fear I get stupider every time I type that title) is a marvel, even if I don't agree overwhelmingly with either side of this argument. (I fear Williams is playing dumb on this whole I-can't-tell-the-difference-between-eroticism-and-sexuality thing.) Either way, teeth are bared, people snap at each other and they take breaks to brush their hair. It's more exciting than literary interviews generally get.
(I am waiting for Laura Kipnis's take, and I hope someone asks her to write a review. Hers, I think, would be a more interesting counterpoint than Williams's.)
August 29, 2011
Yes, like our genius at scheming. No one can persuade someone to join them to destroy someone else (like their older sibling) quite like a middle child. I know what I am talking about.
A friend once mistakenly bought me a copy of Timothy Ferriss's The Four Hour Workweek. They thought maybe I was unhealthily working too much. I couldn't figure out a way to explain to them I didn't need to work less, that work is my favorite thing. If I only worked four hours a week, what the hell would I do with myself? Besides watch more episodes of Supernatural.
Then, a conversation with a different friend that landed on Ferriss somehow. And from Ferriss the Dwight Garner New York Times review of The Four Hour Body. My friend wanted to know what I thought of the book, since I had actually read sections of it. Specifically, the infamous 15 minute female orgasm chapter. While it didn't sound exactly pleasant -- the female body as video game, where doing a certain number of things in the right order gets you bonus points isn't really my idea of good sex -- I had had enough bad sex where I obviously could have just left my vagina there in the room and gone and run some errands and the guy wouldn't have noticed that I was almost charmed that someone cared enough to try to figure it out.
This is a very long lead in to the New Yorker profile of Ferriss. And it's written by Rebecca Mead, who has written some good stuff. Ferriss is kind of hopelessly magnetic, built from his enthusiasm. Even if you think he is bonkers and his theories, sexual or other, are batty, you can't begrudge his success. Or, I can't. He gives good profile.
If you are keeping a list of the things that the Internet has ruined, you can add "literary prizes" to it, if you like. Rick Gekoski believes that the people who can't see the fine qualities of Banville's The Sea, including the judges who disagreed with him that it should win the Booker, are simply suffering from Internet-Brain.
I spent the weekend revisiting an old obsession of mine: multiple personality disorder. When I was 8, I devoured every book on the subject I could find, including, of course, Sybil. And if, oh my god, there were say a teen murder mystery where the murder was committed by an alternate personality and the girl herself didn't remember doing the deed, yesssss please. At some point I was worried that by reading so much about MPD I was going to catch it myself, and so I moved on to my next obsession, which was probably demon possession or something equally cheery.
This weekend, then, was spent reading Debbie Nathan's Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case, which is kind of trashy fun, and Dr. Logi Gunnarsson's Philosophy of Personal Identity and Multiple Personality, which is not. Sybil Exposed has lines like, "Masturbation -- the 'solitary vice,' Mrs. White called it -- was a horrible sin for boys and men, worse than fiction reading." The book by Dr. Gunnarsson (a friend of mine) has lines like "X at t1 and Y at tN are one and the same individual fundamental entity (=FE). W at t1+1 and Z at tN+1 are one and the same individual fundamental entity (=FE*). Under what conditions are FE and FE* one and the same individual fundamental entity?" Nathan's book made me want to eat potato chips and read in the bathtub, Gunnarsson's I had to read out loud while pacing to follow it. Yet my inner 8 year old was intensely satisfied. (Although, after reading Nathan, maybe a little afraid her therapist is going to give her MPD, but we're dealing with that.)
Nathan, by the way, wrote one of the sanest examinations on the moral problems of pornography. Called -- wait for it -- Pornography. It's recommended.
August 26, 2011
"I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he said in a statement for MI5 in 1944.
There's a charming profile of writer (among other occupations) Warren Niesluchowski and his lifelong habit of not really living anywhere. The Nation calls him the "Perpetual Guest," and writes about his drifting from guest room to guest room, leaving his books scattered around the world, dependent on a very large circle of friends.
We are having a crisis in masculinity, did you know? Is your masculinity in crisis? Mine is having a sherry in the other room, but for the most part it seems intact. But we always have to be having a crisis about something, and we also had this particular crisis in the 1950s, but luckily Playboy came and settled it. Carrie Pitzulo talks to Berfrois about her book Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy and how Hugh Hefner saved masculinity.
What does it mean to be a man in this changing world? Playboy answered this question by telling American men that they need not live up to the pressures of the day, which were to get married, become a father, and work to provide for your family. Playboy said that men could stay single, as there was nothing wrong with self-centered bachelorhood. This is where the term “highly sexed” would have entered into the conversation.
"Here we see the intersection of parental values being offended, the hypersexualisation of our youth and the homosexual agenda being pushed. This just illustrates why a lot of American parents are not willing to entrust their children to the public schools any more."
That's Peter Sprigg, author of Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage, explaining why parents are outraged that their children are reading Murakami's Norwegian Wood. Apparently people ask him questions and then record his answers, despite obvious problems with that...
Uh, happy birthday Peggy Guggenheim. I've only been reading completely nasty things about her lately, as I made my way through a stack of artist biographies. Lee Krasner and Leonor Fini had awful things to say about her, she shows up obnoxiously in the Coco Chanel biography, and just the other day I was reading an essay somewhere in the LRB or the TLS, I forget which, about her habit of buying paintings dirt cheap from desperate artists and collectors fleeing the Nazis.
August 25, 2011
I sort of got lost today jumping from link to link on a series of discussions about the portrayal of sex workers in science fiction and fantasy. There's this post from 2007 by a sex worker, there's this examination of a really icky CS Lewis short story, and there's this recent post about sex workers in A Song of Ice and Fire.
In my mind, it's connected to the other thing I spent too much time reading and thinking about today, this discussion by women who were wondering if they should stop contributing to a website that had become out of control sexism-wise. Do you stay and try to elevate the tone, or do you walk away? It's one of the few times recently where the comments are actually enlightening.
I'm of the walk-away variety, but I understand the argument for staying. I stopped reading science fiction almost entirely when I was in my mid-20s, and I used to read a lot, and play a lot of video games, and read a lot of comic books, because of that sensation of, oh, the people who write this stuff, publish this stuff really just don't like my kind very much. (Ugh. Let's not talk about the science fiction conventions I went to.) And it's a shame. I miss it. I let my geekier friends slide recommendations across the table every once and a while, but it's not the same.
But then there's also this story in the Smithsonian, about girls disappearing in New York City in the early 20th century (before they called it trafficking, they called it white slavery) and a woman detective nicknamed Mrs. Sherlock Holmes who, before solving the murder in this article, saved an innocent man from death row and exposed inhumane working conditions in mines (all while probably embroidering like a motherfucker). We should all acknowledge that the Smithsonian has been killing it lately, with this great little historical piece and then their story on a baffling cold case of a body found on Somerton Beach in 1948.
In the summer of 1931, Gertrude Stein invited me to stay a fortnight in her house at Bilignin, in southern France, where she always spent the warm months of the year. At the beginning of the second week she asked me where I intended to go when I left. Not having seen much of the world, I replied that I thought Villefranche would be a good place. She was gently contemptuous. “Anybody can go to the Rivera,” she declared. “You ought to go somewhere better than that. Why don’t you go to Tangier?” I was hesitant, and explained that living there might cost more than my budget allowed me. “Nonsense,” she said. “It’s cheap. It’s just the place for you.”
Little Star reprints Paul Bowles's “Worlds of Tangier,” originally published in 1958.
August 24, 2011
A book I like very much, Sonia Faleiro's Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay Dance Bars, is finally being released... at least closer to the United States. It was previously only available through Penguin India, but at least now there's importation as a possibility. (The US version is not coming out until March 2012.) I wrote about it briefly here, and now that it's finally available at least a little bit, I'll be posting a Q&A with Faleiro soon. Until then, there's a review at The Telegraph:
When Faleiro meets Leela in 2005, she is 19 and dancing in Night Lovers bar on Mira Road. She is in a “marriage” with the bar owner. She occasionally sleeps with a customer after trying to extract the largest price in gifts, cash or dinners at restaurants where she couldn’t pay her own bill. Faleiro draws an excellent portrait of a woman who knows the world is a cruel place and who believes her job is to fool every man and extract what she can from them before surrendering her only asset: her body. Such knowledge, at 19.
It's always interesting to me to see which German books are making the news in America. In the last month or so we've had a retread about that book that says Turks are stupid and are ruining Germany, Charlotte Roche's book about sex and fluids and threesomes with prostitutes, and now a book that kind of calls stay at home moms cowards.
Bascha Mika, author of a controversial best-selling book, “The Cowardice of Women,” published in Germany this year, thinks women have largely themselves to blame. According to her, they aren’t putting enough pressure on politicians, are failing to negotiate equal terms in relationships and often voluntarily retreat into a traditional mother role that spares them other hard questions about identity and purpose in life.
Which I'm sure will be greeted with totally sane commentary and a thoughtful reception. (Also, I totally bet that everyone who wants to talk about it reads it in its entirety before forming an opinion.)
"The black and rufous giant elephant-shrew hid in his habitat and refused to come out for afternoon feeding."
I am re-reading The Golden Bough, a book I blew through one summer when I was 15. It's a slow process, as it's five billion pages long and I am also reading eight other books (one of those figures is not an exaggeration). As I was making my afternoon tea, I sat down to finish up the chapter I was on, and was a little surprised to read this:
It is no mere accident that the most vehement outbursts of activity of the human mind have followed close on the heels of victory, and that the great conquering races of the world have commonly done most to advance and spread civilization, thus healing in peace the wounds they inflicted in war. The Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs are our witnesses in the past: we may yet live to see a similar outburst in Japan. Nor, to remount the stream of history to its sources, is it an accident that all the first great strides towards civilization have been made under despotic and theocratic governments, like those of Egypt, Babylon, and Peru, where the supreme ruler claimed and received the servile allegiance of his subjects in the double character of a king and a god. It is hardly too much to say that at this early epoch despotism is the best friend of humanity and, paradoxical as it may sound, of liberty.
Now, it is completely unfair for me to take one paragraph of a massive 19th century work out of context -- mostly I was simply surprised because I don't remember the rah-rah empire, rah-rah despots, rah-rah monarchy aspect to this book. Then again, I was 15 at the time that I first read it, and I probably responded to this section by thinking, "God, get on with it and get back to the part where you wrap a man's intestines around the tree again, Jesus."
On the plus side, I am learning how to kill people from far away, although where I am going to get that much of my enemies' saliva from over here I have no idea.
August 23, 2011
The Hugo Awards had a very enthusiastic winner in Chris Garcia, who won for Best Fanzine for Drink Tank. BoingBoing has video of his 'Best Ever' acceptance speech, and be honest, you would totally have the same reaction. Hell, I kick off like that when I win an eBay auction.
The other winners include:
Best Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
Best Novelette: “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (from Asimov’s, June 2010)
Best Related Work: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It
Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse
Hilary Spurling has won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, for her work on Pearl Buck, Burying the Bones. She used the occasion to respond to Michael Holroyd's recent grim predictions of the death of the genre, adding:
All books should be shorter now. Mine is a bus ride or short flight book. You need to be able to pick a book up these days and finish it by the end of your journey. That's the ideal book for today.
Also, movies need to be shorter. Nothing longer than 90 minutes. Someone get on that, please.
Tatjana Soli won the Best Novel for her title about the Vietnam War,
The Lotus Eaters.
It's not even another Monday and I already have another trivial bit of W. Somerset Maugham information for you. I'm trying to keep it under control, I really am. From a review of Pictures, Passions and Eye: A Life at Sotheby’s by Michael Strauss.
Others are about clients and their eccentricities, as when Somerset Maugham had second thoughts about going through with a 1962 [Sotheby's art] auction. To the rescue was sent the young Sotheby’s specialist Bruce Chatwin, known for his charm with "collectors of a certain persuasion" (and later to become a novelist and travel writer, dying of AIDS in 1989). Chatwin visited Maugham in Dorset, where he somehow calmed the great writer by allowing him to run his fingers through his hair, which had been specially washed for the occasion.
It only took a few threatening letters from our fake attorney Frau Zickig Schlauhose to get Facebook to turn over the Bookslut name to its rightful owners. Us. Or actually I think we maybe just asked nicely? I don't know, I wasn't a part of this. But we're now at facebook.com/bookslut and Charles is going to be doing some neato things over there. We know there are some really great books that we just don't have the time or resources to cover, and so we'll be highlighting some of them over there, as well as continuing to give away books and post pictures of Charles's dog.
(Seriously. You all get so goddamned excited about pictures of Charles's dog I was wondering why we bother with the whole developing content thing.)
Also, Charles asked if we could call this Bookslut 2, like MTV 2, and I told him we are old and half of the people who read this aren't going to know what we're talking about, that there used to be a time when a channel having another channel was oooooh new and different, before there were 18 Discovery Science channels. So go, bookmark or whatever it is you goddamn kids do.
Grant Morrison talks to Rolling Stone about the death of comics, his new book Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, and why Chris Ware is truly awful. (via)
I can appreciate someone like Chris Ware for his artistry, which I think is beautiful, but I think his attitude stinks, it just seems to be the attitude of somebody really privileged, and honestly, try living here, try living on an Indian reservation and shut up, and really seeing all that nihilistic stuff, it really makes me angry, it's unhelpful to all of us, and it's coming from people who have money and success to talk like that and bring those aspects of the way we live in favor of all the others, and it's indefensible.
I have to admit, there was a time I would have defended Ware, but I read the strip that made it into the Best American Comics 2011 and couldn't tell you what the fuck its problem was. Some writers only have the only palette, I guess. His I haven't been able to deal with for years.
My review of Michael Holroyd's lovely A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers is up at Kirkus.
History is generally the domain of men of action. Battles, stirring speeches, conquering and plundering. The downtrodden and the discarded are merely footnotes, casualties to the greatness that is the progress.
And yet, biographer and historian Michael Holroyd finds himself putting the man of action, a British aristocrat who went by Ernest William Denison and then Ernest William Beckett and then the Second Baron Grimthorpe, into the margins of his own history to focus on the creatures who would normally populate the sidelines. His new book A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers is about the cast off fiancees, the mistresses, the dead wives and sisters, the bastard children, and the descendants down the line, who still carry the burden of Baron Grimthorpe’s careless ways.
I somehow forgot to link to this: Charlotte Roche, she of Wetlands, a very sexually explicit book that really personally annoyed some people, has written a new book about sex in marriage. It's really personally annoying some people, including "Germany's answer to Germaine Greer" Alice Schwarzer, who shows up in the main character's head as a fantasy during sex to criticize her orgasm. (Which is, just by the fact that it exists, pretty fucking brilliant. Who cares how it's actually executed, it makes my day brighter knowing someone wrote that.)
August 22, 2011
We can reveal the central premise of Catherine Hakim's book, which is that not only do looks matter, but that they should matter a great deal more. Furthermore, the people who tell young people – and in particular young women – that their beauty and sex appeal are of little importance are themselves ugly, if not physically then at least morally. For, as Hakim sees it, it is an "unholy alliance" of wannabe patriarchs, religious fundamentalists and radical feminists who have – in Anglo-Saxon countries especially – acted to devalue what she terms "erotic capital". In Hakim's estimation, for all young women, and in particular those who are without other benefits – financial, intellectual, situational – an entirely legitimate form of self-advancement should consist in their getting the best out of – if you'll forgive the pun – their assets.
And that, rather rudely, makes me think of this.
On BBC4 radio, they discuss Irmgard Keun's novels, and thank goodness the interview subject cuts down the interviewer's attempt to link Keun to chick lit. (Because chick lit is always dealing with the rise of dangerous nationalism and poverty.) The Keun bit starts at around the 19:00 mark, although if you want to start from the beginning, you can listen to Joanna Trollope talk about clubbing and house music.
Two things about reading John Spurling's A Book of Liszts:
It has a slightly vile little dedication, "For AMY, a kinder daughter than Cosima Liszt" Cosima may have been brutal to her father after she reached adulthood, but this was only after her childhood of prolonged neglect, abandonment and fierce physical abuse, I'm going to take her side on this. (Biographers take sides, too. This is something they should be a little more conscious of.)
It's really pretty distracting that, since having seen the movie Impromptu, I can only really picture Liszt as Julian Sands.
There's a thoughtful take on the mad rush of grief memoirs that have come out over the last year, from Joyce Carol Oates to Meghan O'Rourke. (Actually, that's not very far to travel -- as the article points out, they both work at Princeton and blurb each other.) It's witty and exasperated, but still very smart and controlled in its criticism.
Metaphysical platitude, repetition, obsession, incoherence, "a car crash of cliché" – all are permissible because this is how grief is, the thing itself. Or so Julian Barnes argues in a strangely neutered review of A Widow's Story. Since "autobiographical accounts of grief are unfalsifiable," he claims, they are "therefore unreviewable by any normal criteria". So it is from behind a critical cordon sanitaire that JCO can write "the mind floats free, a frail balloon drifting into the sky"; "my concentration [is] broken and scattered like a cheap mirror"; "Those days! – nights!" (Oh! those exclamation marks!). Or Didion can insist melodramatically that the dead are forewarned, "like Gawain in the Chanson de Roland" (her italics). Or Goldman can dramatise himself, metaphorically, as both the wave that killed his wife and as "Orpheus descending into memory" to haul her back.
I don't know if you noticed, but in the New York Times this weekend there was an oh my god, boys don't read and this must mean this is the fault of girls and ladies and really something must be done article. (That thing that had to be done apparently involved buying the author of the essay's book. But of course.) I wasn't sure there was any good response to the piece -- at least not verbal. I can think of some gestures that would be appropriate, but I'm not going to start video blogging now. Luckily for all of us, The Rejectionist responds, delightfully.
Mr. Lipsyte is no stranger to the perils of being a man in a woman's world; his home press, Harper Collins, is in fact the property of that most famous of hairy-legged man-haters, Rupert Murdoch himself. Who can blame Mr. Lipsyte, then, for his yearning for such classics as The Chocolate War, a book that is refreshingly devoid of vagina and its many complications altogether. ("Editors who ask writers of books for boys to include girl characters--for commercial reasons--further blunt the edges," Mr. Lipsyte notes; one can hardly imagine the nightmare these poor emasculated writers must endure.) Indeed, young men persecuted by their peers is a sorely underexplored topic in the annals of fiction. It's not like Lord of the Flies gets taught to every American high school student ever in the history of time or anything.
It's your Somerset Maugham Monday trivia bit. (Don't worry, I'll never remember to do this again.) From Sphinx: The Life and Art of Leonor Fini:
The portrait of Countess Julia Ottoboni is a good example of Leonor's work in portraiture. She is shown seated, three-quarter length, beautifully dressed and coiffed, and wearing fine jewelry. Clearly Leonor felt a need to flatter, but it is nevertheless an impressive image. The countess was notorious for her behavior. She lived next door to Coco Chanel and so hated her that she was in the habit of throwing all her rubbish over the wall into her neighbor's garden. Somerset Maugham depicted her in The Razor's Edge as Princess Settemali (Ottoboni translates as "eight good"; Settimali, as "seven bad").
August 19, 2011
Bookslut contributor Roxane Gay (whose great essay about Skinny and the way fat and body image issues are portrayed in fiction is in this month's issue) takes on another fraught issue with her essay about The Help, the film and the book. And she handles it deftly.
The Help is billed as inspirational, charming and heart warming. That’s true if your heart is warmed by narrow, condescending, mostly racist depictions of black people in 1960s Mississippi, overly sympathetic depictions of the white women who employed the help, the excessive, inaccurate use of dialect, and the glaring omissions with regards to the stirring Civil Rights Movement in which, as Martha Southgate points out, in Entertainment Weekly, “…white people were the help,” and where “the architects, visionaries, prime movers, and most of the on-the-ground laborers of the civil rights movement were African-American.” The Help, I have decided, is science fiction, creating an alternate universe to the one we live in.
There’s a powerful literary stereotype that men write about war and politics and public life, while women confine themselves to family and food and personal life. Or as my friend Charles Star put it: “War and foreign policy for the men, romance and recipes for the ladies!” He was joking, but he really nailed it. I wanted to play with that stereotype by combining the traditionally feminine genre of the culinary memoir with the traditionally masculine war/travel/adventure book.
August 18, 2011
Choose your path to literary stardom:
Memoir of abusive childhood
Picking a subject and throwing "The Neuroscience of" in front of it
(If you manage somehow to combine all three, oh my god the glory that would be bestowed upon you, also please let me know how you managed it. Brain scans of abused vampire children? The neuroscience of mothers who let vampires gnaw on their children? I want to know.)
I'm reading Michael Holroyd's excellent A Book of Secrets at the moment. It's rather making me want to read Violet Trefusis, who figures greatly in the book, but who is also (almost?) entirely out of print. (Paging Persephone. Paging NYRB. Paging Neversink.)
But I also had a bit of a geek out moment when he casually mentions his wife, Margaret Drabble. I just read some Margaret Drabble! And loved it! Is it weird to be happy that two authors you enjoy reading are married? Like when I learned Susie Orbach and Jeanette Winterson are a couple. Gossipy and probably stupid, but still.
But another reason I like A Book of Secrets so much is that he tells the history of these figures through the "women of no importance": the mistresses, the discarded fiancees, the dead wives. Here he is talking in the Guardian a few years back about why he likes writing about women. "I like extraordinary characters, I like irregularity, extreme things happening."
Barbara Solomon remembers her friend, the writer and communist dissident Jorge Semprún, and the literary circles they traveled in.
My mother met Norman Mailer’s mother, and Norman’s younger sister, Barbara, and I immediately became friends. It was spring 1948. Mrs. Mailer was bringing Norman a first copy of The Naked and the Dead, and my mother read it. When our ship docked in Cherbourg and our two families met, my mother, one of Norman’s first fans, firmly informed him: “You have written the great war novel.” Years later Norman would also add, laughing, “and she was also the only mother who asked me to take care of her daughter.”
Coco Chanel is the subject of yet another biography coming out soon, after a handful of already useless biographies in years past. And perhaps feeling the weight of expectations, this particular biographer has decided to spice things up a bit and claim that Chanel was a Nazi spy, despite every other goddamn biographer of hers investigating this rumor and deciding it was simply that. The fact that she dated a German soldier during the occupation of Paris, dated an anti-Semitic Duke and tried to wrestle control of her company back from a Jewish family after they fled France is not exactly a secret. WE KNOW. She was kind of a horror show. I also happen to find her endlessly fascinating.
John Walsh has a similarly exasperated response to the "news":
One's first response is to wonder whether Ms Chanel ever linked up with Hugo Boss, who designed the Nazi uniform and whose career blithely survived the war despite the taint of fascism. One's second response is to say: I thought we knew this stuff about the Nazi lover already. And a third is to wonder: how much more information about Coco bloody Chanel do I need in my life?
There's another rave review for the Wendy Wasserstein biography, Wendy and the Lost Boys. This time it's at the New York Times, and they're more dishy about her personal life than the others I've read.
When Wasserstein won the Pulitzer in 1989, for “The Heidi Chronicles,” she was 39 and still very much at the mercy of her mother, Lola Wasserstein. She hovers in the biography like a shadow subject, charming to outsiders with her theatrical hustle and zany style sense (she liked to wear a dance leotard under a fur coat), less so to Wendy, her youngest daughter, whom she inflated with ambition and undermined with criticism. Walking down the street together, Lola Wasserstein might point to the crowd and inform her daughter, “They are all looking at you and thinking, ‘Look at that fat girl.’ ”
Fertility treatments, even more than high-school dances, are a regular confirmation of negative femininity, with every disappointment underscored by megadoses of hormones. There’s nothing like sitting in fertility doctors’ offices, looking at photos of the children they’ve nudged into creation and knowing that you’re the negative statistic. It becomes an addictive impossible dream.
August 17, 2011
We regularly romanticize the relationship between the writer and the little magazine -- James Joyce and Little Review, TS Eliot and The Criterion, Elizabeth Hardwick and The New York Review of Books, etc. But a writer cannot live on free copies of the magazine that published them alone. Michael Kimmage has an interesting article on the Henry Luce and the new book about him, Intellectuals Incorporated: Politics, Art and Ideas inside Henry Luce’s Media Empire. Luce was the man behind such intellectual heavyweights as Time and Fortune. And while writers might take shit for selling out for a per word rate that allows them to keep in cigarettes and bread, Luce had a habit of hiring talent, like James Agee, John Hersey, and Margaret Bourke-White.
Have you ever wondered why children -- notorious little liars and thieves -- are allowed to give testimony at a trial? Probably not. But the BBC Magazine will tell us anyway.
It turns out that it was the witch trials, one witch trial in particular, that first allowed the testimony of children. And the first child to do so, a young girl, denounced her entire family as witches and they were all executed. So there's that. And that set the precedence. Oh, the things you learn, and wish you could unlearn.
August 16, 2011
The series is perhaps most famous for the fact that most of its principal cast is female, which was unusual at the time for any medium, but particularly for comics. Prose science fiction had undergone its own feminist revolution in the 1970s, thanks to authors such as Joanna Russ, Ursula k. Le Guin, and James Tiptree, Jr. (a pseudonym for Alice B. Sheldon), but sci-fi in other media still had a ways to go before it could catch up. The cleavagey sexpot who existed to titillate took a ribbing in the form of ex-pleasure droid Erotica Ann, who, despite her intellect and status as the Spock-like stoic of the cast, couldn’t seem to rid herself of the Marilyn Monroe-esque bimboisms in her programming. Brucilla filled the archetype of the rowdy, boozing, promiscuous hotshot pilot normally reserved for men, and preceded Battlestar Galactica’s Kara Thrace in doing so by about 20 years. And as an anarchist punk spaceship captain who was arrested in her youth for defacing public property with feminist revisions of nursery rhymes, Galatia-9 was a Riot Grrrl before the movement existed.
There's another remembrance of chain bookselling by a former Borders employee at The Morning News. There are probably going to be a lot of these, I think. But I'm feeling nostalgic (and kind of wondering what kind of hair of the dog hangover cocktail I can make with vodka and Rescue Remedy) so here you go.
I was trying to find something in Bust Magazine's online archives, of which there appear to be none. But I was a little distressed to see that they wiped that site clean of the word "feminism." Their mission statement was all about providing the female take on pop culture and on -- let's face it -- knitting. There's a lot of knitting in Bust now, or there was when I stopped subscribing in a weepy, nostalgic fit. But oh, I remember the first issue I got, with Thurston Moore on the cover, and it was my first solid replacement to Sassy, and my first real introduction to the Third Wave. But now of course the genius behind Sassy is now behind the joke that is xojane.com, so why should Bust have any better fate?
My latest Smart Set column is on whether the word feminism is even necessary anymore, whether I should mourn Bust's removal of the word, whether it's okay if the word is removed from the movement for sexual equality. It's a review of Sylvia Walby's The Future of Feminism, and from the first sentence I was a little worried:
“Feminism is not dead.” If this is the sentence Sylvia Walby was forced to use to open her book The Future of Feminism, it casts doubt that the argument that follows will be persuasive. It carries the tone of defensiveness, of exasperation, of stomping your foot. Of “You guys.”
August 15, 2011
The Economist reviews Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein, and reminds us why we should miss her.
What about those novels they planned to write, the prizes they would win, the children they might have? Weren’t they meant to be “fucking amazing” already? At a time when female pain on stage was defined by men, Wasserstein signalled an authentic woman’s voice. Her uncommon women talked about sex and need, menstrual blood and disappointment. They were vital, funny and not terribly uncommon.
Tim Rostron writes a eulogy for the recently killed She magazine, and with it, a eulogy for women's magazines that aren't all airbrushed waistlines and enhanced cheekbones.
"You don't think of Lizzie Borden as this kindly woman who loved children and sent Christmas cards and little bunny stickers, and she did," he says.
A) People in her hometown still have strong, personal feelings about whether Lizzie Borden was an axe murderer.
B) There is apparently a quarterly journal about Lizzie Borden (deliciously called "The Hatchet") and I for whatever reason don't subscribe to it. (Must change this.)
C) There is a new book coming out about Lizzie Borden called Parallel Lives and its co-author swears it will blow people's minds. Possibly only the minds of the 91,000 people who live in Borden's town and are still caught up in the drama, but count me in, too. I will read the 1000 pages of axe-wielding goodness.
(Excerpt here. "Mrs. De La Crème gushed." I bet she did.)
The Censor is sufficient unto himself. Dare him to produce a single individual of the moral negativism -- that he pretends he strives to protect -- and he will be unable to do so...
The worst kind of sex maniac is the Censor (see: Sumner and Smoot). With their canine affinities -- they can only sustain their sexual potentiality by sticking their noses into the neighbor's -----.
* By the way, if you have wee ones you need to introduce the concept of sexuality to, that is the book for you.
The Walrus on why extra-special ladies' issues of literary magazines is not the way to fix the gender imbalance.
It’s no secret that literary periodicals are failing female writers. It seems they share a knack for siloing off women into special issues once a year, stuffing the contents with female experiences, concerns, and viewpoints, and then ignoring them the rest of the time. Literary editors commonly march out an occasional or annual gender issue, or a woman’s issue, or a feminism issue — or mistakenly assume the concepts are interchangeable. They wave around the lady issue as if to say “Look! We included you! Thank us!” but this only succeeds in making women’s writing, or issues of gender, a “special interest,” and shuts up any arguments to the contrary.
Which is why I ignored that silly f-word issue by that one literary magazine. I forget the name. G-something. (By the way, post-VIDA statistics, I knew this kind of thing was coming.)
August 12, 2011
I am rushing to the emergency room to meet a real-life superhero called Phoenix Jones, who has fought one crime too many and is currently peeing a lot of blood.
Jon Ronson, he of The Psychopath Test, looks at another... well, delusional behavioral system maybe, with men who dress up like superheroes to fight crime and help strangers. In like a big rubber get-up.
In the ‘Backstage with Esquire’ piece accompanying “This Sandwich Has No Mayonnaise” Salinger wrote of himself, “I am a dash man and not a miler, and it is probable that I will never write a novel.”
I'm not really a Salinger reader, but two pieces on Catcher in the Rye caught my eye. There's an excerpt from Michael Moates's longer essay on how Catcher made its way into print, and you can find the full version for sale here (proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project).
Also, Bookslut contributor Ned Vizzini wishes Catcher a happy 60th birthday.
August 11, 2011
If you have the strength, you might want to read Laurie Winer's examination of the literary career of Glenn Beck, but I warn you: you might not.
This August issue of Bookslut became accidentally heavy with poetry. Even our fiction reviewers were writing about poets. This is never a bad thing, getting to publish pieces on H.D., Mina Loy, Andrea Rexilius, and others. But mostly I was happy to see Elizabeth Bachner writing about Anne Carson. Her essay on Humiliation took on Koestenbaum's interpretation of Carson's poem "The Glass Essay." It's one of my favorite Carson poems, one that no matter how many times I read it usually makes me cry.
And for your reading/crying pleasure, I give you, Carson's "The Glass Essay," online at the Poetry Foundation.
There's an interesting essay about how Paris appears in American books, specifically the recent, bestselling The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris versus how the French see Paris versus how Paris actually exists in the physical world*.
In the 19th century, books pitching insider knowledge were often guides to Paris’s “pleasures”—in particular, its brothels (maisons closes and unauthorized maisons de rendez-vous) with addresses and sometimes names and descriptions of Parisiennes for hire... [Now] the secrets are often quirky details about famous people or events and odd tidbits about a place, such as the spot where you can still see the foundation stones once supporting the guillotine in the prison Grande Roquette … or the Palais Royal cutlery shop where Charlotte Corday bought the knife that she used to kill Marat.
* I would just like to say to all of the Americans that have been setting movies in Berlin, that the Berlin clubs in the real world don't actually all have New Order playing at all hours of the night. Just take note.
Talk of the Nation discusses the shifting media world, revolving around the comic book The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media.
Also, be sure to read Bookslut's own Martyn Pedler's conversation with Josh Neufeld, who turned Gladstone's text into the comic.
Charles Blackstone speaks for Bookslut in this radio discussion about whether or not book clubs are a tool of Satan, whether or not Oprah Winfrey is the light and the way, and whether or not we should all just get drunk on some Pinot and pass the cheese plate.
(Our pre-show conversation was something along the lines of, some people just want to read The Help and drink some chardonnay, I don't have a problem with that, and then Charles making wise statements about how important book choice is, how the types of books marketed towards book groups are generally awful, and how bookstores would be wise to steer book clubs towards independent titles. Then he got on air, he said his name, and then oops we're out of time. At least there's still some chardonnay left.)
August 10, 2011
Luc Sante explains how he became a writer, as a process of elimination:
As noted above I’ve always been equally invested in the visual. But not only did fate arrange for me to go study with Kenneth Koch at Columbia, I also had the handicap of being colorblind. I would have played music except that I was too lazy to practice. And I wanted to be a filmmaker until one of my closest friends became one, and then I realized I didn’t have the mettle to be a military commander, which is what that job requires.
Okay, yes, it's Peter Hitchens and I know, it's also the Daily Mail, but Hitchens writes a remembrance of Hugh Walpole, also known as the buffoon in the novel that ruined his reputation, W. Somerset Maugham's Cakes and Ale. (Also known as, one of my favorite novels.) Walpole used to be successful, now he's barely in print.
In this already fascinating enough article about Germany's unexpected financial dominance, Michael Lewis tells us about a book called Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder: A Study of German National Character Through Folklore. I need this book. Need.
He then proceeded to pile up a shockingly high stack of evidence to support his theory. There’s a popular German folk character called der Dukatenscheisser (“The Money Shitter”), who is commonly depicted crapping coins from his rear end. Europe’s only museum devoted exclusively to toilets was built in Munich. The German word for “shit” performs a vast number of bizarre linguistic duties—for instance, a common German term of endearment was once “my little shit bag.” The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a “Purgation-Calendar.” Then there are the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings: “As the fish lives in water, so does the shit stick to the asshole!,” to select but one of the seemingly endless examples.
The article goes on to explain the fecal habits of Adolf Hitler, so maybe I'll let you decide if you want to follow the link and learn more, rather than inflicting it on you here...
August 9, 2011
Interview with AL Kennedy in the Telegraph:
Her use of initials, in the deliberate manner of JRR Tolkien and E Nesbit, was thrilling, staking her claim as a writer who wanted to be judged by her output, not by her gender or back story. But that absence, she once said, meant people “thought I was a troglodyte living in a cave”.
La Maupin was always willing and ready to draw the sword. One night she had the caprice at a public ball to make eyes at a lady attended by three gentlemen. The latter challenged her, supposing they had to do with a man, for she used never to wear the dress of her own sex. They left the ball-room, and la Maupin killed the three men one after the other. She got off with nothing worse than a short sojourn over the frontier in Belgium.
—from The Sword and Womankind: Being A Study of The Influence of “The Queen of Weapons” Upon The Moral and Social Status of Women by Alfred Allinson.
You are going to want to learn more about La Maupin, which you can do here.
Stendahl biographer Jonathan Keates writes about the pleasures of snooping through the correspondence of writers, and picks five of his favorites. (Yes and hallelujah to his pick of Evelyn Waugh's letters, particularly the volume of letters between Waugh and Nancy Mitford. A friend was reading those to me, they are marvelously nasty.)
(Reading his description of the park made me itchy to see my favorite neighborhood Berlin park, but instead of the swan-shaped boats and the lovely fountains Chejfec wrote about, I found a mass of Australians, all urinating in the trees. I bought an ice cream and walked back home to finish the book.)
We'll be giving away copies this week, too.
Reading through a publisher's catalog, I started to wonder if page 26 (Tamara Duricka Johnson's 31 Dates in 31 Days) should have a conversation with page 22 (Samhita Mukhopadhyay's Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life).
August 8, 2011
Speaking of author and stand up comedian Stewart Lee, and we were, you could either read the article he wrote for the Financial Times about being a long winded elitist (or something like that) in the age of 140 characters and populism, or you could just spend all day on YouTube watching clips from his shows. Like this bit about Harry Potter and the Tree of Nothing. Or his kind of genius assessment of rap singers. Fuck, I just lost another half hour. Just go.
"I'm interested in the unknown and the unknowable and the role they have in our understanding," says Kunzru. And perhaps how irrationalism and faith thrive in such conditions. Throughout he seems to be arguing that the quest for meaning is a human projection on to the void. In a novelistic echo of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, Kunzru suggests that religion – especially Christianity – is best understood as a projection of human longing.
The Chronicle of Higher Education introduces the Upper West Side Philosophers and their two new (tiny and charming and German but translated) books, Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Fatal Numbers: Why Count On Chance and Durs Grünbein’s The Vocation of Poetry. He also reveals this bit of information:
According to the site, UWSP offers a philosophical studio in which you can practice “Yoga for the Mind”—a registered trademark “R” accompanies the phrase, in case you think that “Inc.” is pure affectation—and philosophical walks in Riverside Park. You can even “order in” a philosopher “should you prefer practicing philosophical thinking in a venue of your choice.”
Because sometimes I think I should hire a life coach to get me off the floor when that happens, but then I quickly realize I would probably shoot him or her in the neck. But a philosopher making house calls? I wonder if we get to choose the inflection. Because a Jamesian, sure. A Cartesian I would probably also shoot in the neck.
(The Grünbein was excerpted over at Little Star -- you can read it online.)
There are surreal moments, one of them a history-changing visit to Beijing by the Soviet leader Khrushchev in 1958, when Sino-Soviet tensions were incubating. To put the Russian leader at a disadvantage, the Chairman conducts their second meeting in his pool, with interpreters patrolling the sides. Khrushchev, who cannot swim, wears water-wings.
August 5, 2011
One month, for some reason, the cafe sold Ernest Hemingway–branded chai.
Paul Constant on the slow decay of Borders, from an ex-employee.
Alyssa Pelish may not have deep love for Defoe's prose in her essay "Islands for Introverts," but that doesn't mean there aren't other pleasures:
Robinson Crusoe is notable for a lot of reasons. It was one of the first English novels. It brings up stuff like cultural relativism and morality and providence with a capital P. Marx favorably critiqued its depiction of pre-capitalist man. It can be read as a big old allegory of British colonialism. And, of course, it’s the locus classicus of desert island tropes. Yet when I finally got around to reading it this summer, it recalled to me nothing so much as the contentment I’d felt at age eight-ish, sheltering in a makeshift lean-to of blankets and card table chairs as I shined a flashlight over the pages of another, though not entirely different, book.
Speaking of Mary McCarthy, and we were, you can read Norman Mailer's original takedown of The Group online. It's hilarious in its... well, in every single way, really. It's almost unreadable in its bluster, and yet every paragraph has something surprisingly hilarious. There's "all of them civilized to that point of Christless High Church rectitude whose communal odor is a cross between Ma Griffe and contraceptive jelly." Or, "let’s refine Comrade Mary’s problem a little further." Holy hell.
Then of course The Group showed up on Mad Men, which means that the sites devoted to dissecting each episode have takes on the book. And there's a video on YouTube of McCarthy talking about her days at Vassar in the '30s, relating back to the setting of the novel.
But back to that Mailer review, Second Wave writers had a damned-if-they-do problem, as my copy of Margaret Drabble's The Waterfall comes equipped with a front cover blurb from the Wall Street Journal: "A lady of awesome talent." Lady writers, write on.
Joshua Foust is raising serious questions about the New Yorker's feature article on the death of Osama bin Laden. The writer, Nicholas Schmidle, confuses languages like Urdu, Pashto, and Hindko; he relays the thoughts of the Navy Seals without ever having met or interviewed any of those involved; and he has a history of being sloppy with letting the reader know what's conjecture and what's fact. But it tells a good story, right? Where the US looks totally awesome?
August 4, 2011
3 Quarks Daily has an extensive interview with food and travel writer David Downie, and he passes along expat advice from Mavis Gallant and Muriel Spark.
One of the ways I got around my father's house rule of "nonfiction books only" -- or, more accurately, only books you could learn something from -- as a kid was to load up on books about the paranormal. (I talked a bit to Rebecca Wolff about this, and her book about teenage girls and their affection for stories of witches.) Anything about the Bermuda Triangle, spontaneous combustion, UFOs, the witch trials, ghosts, whatever. It was in the nonfiction section, it counted, god damn it. (My other way was to store illicit fiction underneath my mattress.)
As a result I still get easily distracted by anything paranormal. A three hour documentary about ghosts that doesn't actually ever show anything? Sure, why the hell not, I wasn't doing anything today anyway. A new book about the mysteries of Easter Island? Oh, of course I'll be getting that. The Wall Street Journal reviews Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo's The Statues that Walked, which purports to explain the fall of that civilization. It sounds much less idiotic than the book I read when I was 12, which explained the connection between Easter Island and a specific intelligent alien race, but I guess I'll look at it anyway.
Michael Wood writes about the Melville House reissues of Heinrich Böll for the Los Angeles Review of Books. (I wrote the afterword for one of them, Billiards at Half-Past Nine, so you probably know where I stand on the value of the work.)
Speaking of Mina Loy, and we were, her biographer Carolyn Burke gave an interview a few years back discussing the parallels between Loy and her other biography subject Lee Miller, the difficulties of the aging genius, and the difficulties of feminine genius. (A short excerpt from the Loy biography is also online.)
And all the while I was editing SJ Chambers's piece on Mina Loy, reading about the idea of woman as sphinx -- The Library that should be filled with liberated Sphinxes -- women who regained their awareness and could answer -- was empty of their presence. In fact, according to Loy, most intellectual women seemed content to have male authors write on their behalf: "Your literature --" Loy scoffs at The Sphinx, "let us examine it your literature -- It was written by the men --" -- I kept turning to my biography of Leonor Fini, who painted one of my favorite self-portraits. She too was obsessed with the idea of the woman as sphinx, as mysterious, unknown figure in men's minds. Loy was also a visual artist, and a few examples of her work are here.
August 3, 2011
Did you read the New York Times piece about the free, unlimited IVF treatments in Israel, and the (kinda weird, you have to admit) pro-natalist thing going on over there? Rebecca Steinfeld, who is working on a dissertation called War of the Wombs: The History and Politics of Fertility Policies in Israel, 1948-2010, talks to Sara Ivry in this podcast discussion about the (possibly selective) pressure to procreate in Israel.
A new book is claiming that it will be the first waterproof paperback. So you can take it into the bath with you, or the beach, or other liquid environments. "Only children's books or specialist scuba diving titles currently boast to be fully water-resistant."
Except... I was thinking, wasn't there a waterproof book of erotica not too long ago? A regular paperback, that was marketed as something you could read one-handed and in the tub? Ah yes. There it is. As for how I remembered the marketing strategies of a book that is 11 years old, and how it immediately came to mind, we'll just leave that vague.
The comics industry has been a little shitty lately, with the lawsuits and the not hiring any women. So maybe it's time to pause and give thanks for things like Tank Girl.
This article about life and art in Weimar Berlin is a good overview of the historical and artistic conjunction. I like that it opens with Joseph Roth, that wide-eyed witness to the madness.
"I don't write 'witty columns'. I paint the portrait of the age. That's what great newspapers are there for. I'm not a reporter, I'm a journalist. I'm not an editorial writer, I'm a poet."
But I can't help feeling this tickle in the back of my throat, despite cursory mentions the writer makes to Hannah Höch and Käthe Kollwitz. I want to write the man who wrote it: "You do realize there were actually women artists and writers and playwrights and singers during that time, don't you? That it wasn't all Otto Dix and Brecht, that women did things other than sell themselves on the street and occasionally pose for portraits?"
And I feel the ehhh that comes with such a reaction, like when I read about DC Comics saying they don't know of any female artists or writers they should hire -- all the best writers and artists are men. But you know, they "hear" us, so things are totally going to be better from now on.
And so, since some people need the obvious pointed out to them, the non-male women of Weimar would be the following:
There are others, if you're still drawing a blank.
August 2, 2011
There is one thing I learned from the fans—how to enjoy. How to allow yourself to let loose and get lost in what you like. How to prepare to best savor an experience you are anticipating, how to let go as strongly as to block the world around you, even if it is for just a second. In a world with so few experiences, where our daily routine is heavily regulated, finding that back door to transcendence has been a blessing.
And over at Deutsche Welle, Courtney Tenz looks at Keun's renewed popularity from the German side and gives a good history of the times from which Keun's books emerged.
If you’re going to lie and say you’ve thrown a book across the room, you may as well take such expressions to their logical extreme. A possible replacement: “I put down the book, scratched a curse in Hermes’s name against the author on a sheet of lead, and nailed it to the wall of the local temple, in the manner of a Roman defixio.”
You read a lot about how travel is supposed to change your life. It's supposed to make you a better person.
This is a storyline woven tightly into our culture. It is in our novels, our movies, our memoir. From Henry James to Elizabeth Gilbert, this is a story we tell ourselves and each other: The act of travel, of forward motion, will somehow distill your inner essence, and deliver yourself to yourself, so that you step off of that train or out of airport baggage claim a more you version of you.
So then, what if you pack your bags, get on a train, and nothing happens? Over at the Smart Set, I write about this idea, from Tony Hiss's book that proclaims that travel is an act of refinement and transformation and brain rewiring, to Andrzej Stasiuk's tales of his (maybe unhealthy) compulsion for travel, to an essay in Thought Catalog that said traveling to Europe didn't change a goddamn thing.
After the completely unsurprising* yet totally depressing judgment against Jack Kirby's heirs in their attempt to get a little cash, copyright or appreciation from Marvel after Kirby's work and characters made that company billions of dollars, Steve Bissette is calling for a boycott of all Kirby-derived Marvel products. Which would include that Captain America movie, which does look a little less worse than the X-Men movie. (You can't watch that one, either, but really. You are not missing anything.)
* Unsurprising because this is just one of many instances of creators and artists who say I don't know created Superman dying in poverty and ill health while the comic book publisher spent who knows how much trying to prevent them getting a nickle of the profits.
August 1, 2011
"Unpredictability is grounds for hope." Rebecca Solnit on the changing fortunes of powerful men and nations, and the pit of dread we get when we turn on the news.
Because you're going to need a place to hide out from the apocalyptic weather of August (I wish! Berlin is being punished for something and is not getting a summer this year, only cold and wet, eternally), we put together a new issue of Bookslut for you.
Elizabeth Bachner is writing about humiliation, literary and otherwise; Roxane Gay remembers fat camp and Google image searches author photos; Greer Mansfield writes about Robert Duncan writing about the modernist poet H.D.; S. J. Chambers writes a beautiful eulogy for our other modernist poet for the month, Mina Loy (that sphinx); Ben Hamilton thinks stand up comedian Stewart Lee can teach writers something about chasing audiences; and Jenny McPhee writes about the novel that Norman Mailer derided as "the best novel the editors of the women's magazines ever conceived in their secret ambitions" so you know it has to be good.
And after all that, there is even more.