30 June 2010

Adam Langer on the state of modern literature

From the Wall Street Journal:"It seems almost like panic has set in the publishing industry and people are willing to try anything that works. Books are getting sold like they do in Hollywood, on a pitch. Or books are being sold based on a popular blog. Ultimately, readers would like to read a book, not a marketing scheme." I am so excited about his new book, THE THIEVES OF MANHATTAN, set in the publishing scene. It's not out till the 13th but if you haven't read ELLINGTON BOULEVARD or CROSSING CALIFORNIA yet, those should tide you over.

Another day, another "Office" book deal

And it's fiction! And it's epistolary?
Ellie Kemper, who plays receptionist Erin Hannon on The Office, and sister and writer on the show Carrie Kemper's MONDAY SESSIONS, a debut comedic novel comprising misplaced diary entries and patient progress notes belonging to single, thirty-something New York City therapist who becomes humorously and inappropriately involved with the lives of her clients, to Suzanne O'Neill at Three Rivers Press, by Erin Malone at William Morris Endeavor (NA).
Earlier: Mindy Kaling's nonfiction book

29 June 2010

Moscow city officials are being pressured to take down murals of famous scenes from Dostoevsky books in a subway station, on the grounds that they may be too depressing. Don't lie, you love it! Русская душа!

Kalle Bastard

A few weeks ago the New York Times published a piece about the search for the next great Scandinavian crime series. The vacuum left by Stieg Larsson's death and the likely end of his series with THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST (depending on whether you trust the rumors of the 4th in draft) makes execs everywhere say not, "We need to find the next trend in top-selling thrillers," but "Let's quick jump on this bandwagon before it speeds away."

Luckily for you, I am all over this trend like butter and sugar on lefse. Over Memorial Day weekend, I bought a copy of FACELESS KILLERS by Henning Mankell, one of the leading candidates to become the "next" Larsson, at Kaboom Books in Houston. Mankell might find it insulting to be classed as such, given that his 10-book series featuring detective Kurt Wallander began in 1997, has already been adapted into a BBC miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh and was recently brought to a close deliberately by its author... maybe the prospect of selling more books in the heretofore indifferent US market

It's too bad what I read wasn't more promising. FACELESS KILLERS is an obvious predecessor to Larsson's THE GIRL WHO... series, what with their using political currents to feed into crime at hand, the focus on tedium and routine, and the treatment of temporal space as a character. A double murder for which a group of immigrants seeking asylum become the prime suspects makes for a creepy opening but a clumsy development, with the "issue-y" chunks slowing down the suspense of finding the killers. And frankly, I didn't want to spend any more time around the good detective Wallander than I had to; he's basically a dirty, grumpy would-be womanizer who is deeply suspicious of everyone and thinks the world owes him something. Larsson's Mikael Blomkvist has been accused, perhaps with merit, of being a Mary Sue, but at least he's not racist. And without the counterweight of a Salander -- though FACELESS KILLERS does drum up a female D.A. whose time in the center of the plot is deeply appreciated -- we're with him all the time.

I'm not prepared to write off all Scandinavian thrillers because I was disappointed with the Mankell book, but I wonder if the search itself fails to give Larsson enough credit. His reliance on clichés is no worse than any others in his genre, and his character development I submit is much better. Sometimes the "next thing" is nothing at all.

28 June 2010

First Chill -- then Stupor --

If you can bear to read them, the Guardian has a great round-up of 10 books about the credit crunch, with helpful notes as to whether the authors assign blame or offer solutions (or neither), including THE BIG SHORT and PAYBACK: DEBT AND THE SHADOW SIDE OF WEALTH. Speaking of neither, the paper is also carrying an article about Glenn Beck's book and its predictably abysmal reviews, for which it quotes from a Daily Beast article terming it "instructively bad." Heh.

27 June 2010

Portrait of the Journalist as a Human Being

David Foster Wallace was not a journalist. He may have (legitimately) performed much of the investigation contained in his 1997 collection A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I'LL NEVER DO AGAIN with press credentials, under the aegis of 'reporting' on a tennis tournament or the shooting of a film, but as hard as he tries to wear that hat, he can't maintain it... and that's okay.

A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING was published the year after INFINITE JEST but comprised of magazine articles he wrote before and during work on his magnum opus. For readers at the time, the publisher was probably hoping for a "Guess what else he's got up his sleeve!" reaction, which was almost exactly my reaction when I first read the titular essay, in which DFW describes the experience of going on a Caribbean mega-cruise and the feelings it inspires in him. The feelings! Here come the feelings! (Back to those in a second.)

The persona DFW adopts here, for the most part (and which he can't ultimately maintain), is that of a wide-eyed watcher noting down exactly what he sees. I say that it's a persona, because while I don't doubt that his observations are genuine, he seems conscious in that voice that it is a construction. In nearly every piece here, he begins from a point of distance and eventually reveals that he's closer to the source than is apparent at first. "A Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" is the most outwardly autobiographical, in that this moment practically opens the piece. In others, it takes a while to develop.

In "Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All," visiting the Illinois State Fair for Harper's, DFW introduces that angle by taking along with him his former prom date, tagged "Native Companion," who stayed in Illinois and settled down with husband and children. The Native Companion gambit teeters on the edge of stereotype -- how she's unafraid of the carnival rides while he quakes in his shoes, her down-home embrace of the mystery meats and objectification. (He does however steal one of my favorite lines from INFINITE JEST, 'less smitten than decapitated,' to describe her reaction to a cattle show MC.) And then every so often there's a flash of -- regret, and also wonder, as he observes her observing the fair, and observes himself, observing her, observing the fair. Perhaps a classic gambit in postmodern chess, but it works.

I had read two of its selections before ("David Lynch Keeps His Head" and the titular essay), and while the first time through I was all starry-eyed and overwhelmed, the second time I could approach with a more critical eye. I was still impressed, but I found myself disagreeing with the thrust of the Lynch profile, depicting the director as a pure artist who doesn't really care whether anyone gets his allusions or his 'point.' Even as some of the details on Lynch and his world are correct, he didn't sell me on that thesis, and in fact seemed like the essay with the strongest thesis to sell. With "A Supposedly Fun Thing...", though, I felt the second time around I was better able to judge and ultimately accept the author's argument; I could go big picture, instead of marveling at the details, and agreed with what I saw in the details.

"Real" "objective" journalists are taught to screen their opinions behind 'shaping' and editing, as we saw last month with the foofaraw around Lynn Hirschberg's M.I.A. profile.* The postmodernism is what puts the quotation marks in. Is Wallace's postmodern approach particularly novel here? No, there are some spectacular writers who have gone down this path (try the anthology THE NEW NEW JOURNALISM if you're looking). But for lovers of long-form magazine pieces, this book is a feast. Or, because I have to go out hokey like this, because it touched me too, a supposedly fun book that I look forward to reading again.

* Quickly: Hirschberg profiles singer M.I.A. in a not-totally-complimentary way, cemented with the detail that she blithely orders truffle fries while professing to care about political oppression; M.I.A. goes ballistic and distributes reporter's number, then produces recording of them ordering fries, which she thought was just fries and not the truffled ones (with all the aristocratic entailments thereof).

26 June 2010

How to make yourself happy with books

I recently finished Gretchen Rubin's THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, a book whose overall cheeriness and array of applications snuck up on me a little. Rubin admits at the beginning that her life is pretty good overall -- working author, two happy children, nice New York apartment -- but that maybe she didn't appreciate how good it was, often enough.

Being a writer, reading played a part in Rubin's quest for happiness; here are her lessons that stuck out for me (in my words):
Abandon pretension and read what you really like. Rubin loves children's literature, so she decides to make a special effort to seek it out among her other, more "appropriate" reading choices. This decision went hand-in-hand with her choice to only listen to the pop music that she loved, rather than the jazz and classical music she felt she should be enjoying.
Buy the books that matter to you. Rubin describes her joy at finding a collectible set of books she had been looking for, even though her own husband points out that the books will sit on the shelf as largely a conversation piece. I think about something similar when I give away a 'classic' book to make room for something that will never be taught in college courses.
Share it with others. In keeping with her interests, Rubin started a children's literature book club that proved to be such a success she started a second club for people who didn't join the first one right away. (Check the acknowledgments to find out which other 'name' authors were numbered among those club members.)
I largely agree with these rules, although they share the book's bias overall towards the belief that its author has more money than time and the actions that stem from that. As long as I'm here, if I had to spell them out, a few of my own:
Ask people what they're reading. Ask everyone! People who do read are happy to tell you, and the ones who don't (or who act like it's a retrograde question to begin with) set themselves apart right away.
Keep a list. At the end of the year, I always put a list of all (or almost all) the books I read on this blog. But even if I didn't have a book blog, I would still keep that list for myself. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, and it allows me to look back and say, "That was the summer I read ____" and nostalgize a bit.
Stay up late. When I was a kid, the best thing was reading by flashlight and not getting caught, or even sitting downstairs with my dad and not being sent up to bed because I was "just finishing this chapter." Now I can stay up as late as I want, but I still enjoy that feeling of stealing time away from the end of the day.
You're probably here because books make you happy, but what are your rules?

25 June 2010

Congratulations to Pete Hamill, who will receive an honorary high school diploma this weekend 59 years after dropping out of Regis High School on the Upper East Side. It pays to persevere...

24 June 2010

Spotted on the subway

She was a nice old lady, not the kind you would think would be reading a book about the Antichrist. Even this one.

23 June 2010

Some twit of a tweeter with the moniker of @hoopopinion wrote that as badly as LeBron had played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it still wasn’t worse than the book we had written. Why was I being dragged into this mess?

SHOOTING STARS was far from the best book I had ever written; the compromises of such collaboration, written in the first person of James and subject to his approval, had always shamed me. I did it for the money, because all writers, or at least those who don’t want to die, also have to eat. But I also did it because it was an inspirational coming-of-age story involving LeBron and the four teammates who had become his brothers through high school. I took great offense to what this Twit twat said. So I wrote back: Fuck off.
Buzz Bissinger joined Twitter and developed a serious case of Get Off My Lawn, only he thinks the entire Internet is his lawn.

22 June 2010

Overheard in the office

BOSSLADY 1: I was wide awake at 5AM, thinking, should I go to work, should I stay home...
BOSSLADY 2: Did you go to work?
BOSSLADY 1: No, I stayed in bed and read ULYSSES.

Baseball Week 2: The Vengeance

Between August 2 and 8 this blog will be all baseball books, all the time. It's late but it's longer than ever! Here's the lineup:

Aug. 2: Eliot Asinof, EIGHT MEN OUT
Aug. 4: Filmbook: "Eight Men Out" (John Sayles, 1988)
Aug. 5: Jim Bouton, BALL FOUR
Aug. 7: Jason Turbow and Michael Duca, THE BASEBALL CODES
Aug. 8: Open Forum

Read one, read a few, read them all.

I would like to get a second novel in there somewhere, but the only one that has caught my eye is the 600-plus-page THE BROTHERS K; I will keep looking but no promises.

21 June 2010

Are You There?

Each lover has some theory of his own
About the difference between the ache
Of being with his love, and being alone:

Why what, when dreaming, is dear flesh and bone
That really stirs the senses, when awake,
Appears a simulacrum of his own.

Narcissus disbelieves in the unknown;
He cannot join his image in the lake
So long as he assumes he is alone.

The child, the waterfall, the fire, the stone,
Are always up to mischief, though, and take
The universe for granted as their own.

The elderly, like Proust, are always prone
To think of love as a subjective fake;
The more they love, the more they feel alone.

Whatever view we hold, it must be shown
Why every lover has a wish to make
Some kind of otherness his own:
Perhaps, in fact, we never are alone.

-W.H. Auden

20 June 2010

Belated opening of park reading season

Park: Riverside Park (upper)
Book: David Mitchell's THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, set in turn-of-the-19th-century Japan
Notes: Signed a ballot petition for State Senate. Have to write it down in case it comes back to haunt me -- I was so wrapped up in the book I didn't stop to quiz her about her credentials or aims. Bad citizen! (She handed me a flyer, but it is...vague.)

Photo: schuyler therese

19 June 2010

How authors should be more like bands

Even your brother's garage band has a MySpace page with a list of upcoming gigs. It confounds me when authors don't have a website or a blog (or a MySpace page, okay) with at least a little news and a bio, and preferably a list of events they will be appearing at if they have some coming up.

With this morning's search, the author in question has a book coming out in the next 6 weeks and is definitely doing some appearances. I stumbled over one by accident while looking up something else, and thought, "Hey, I wonder if he's doing any other readings in New York." He has written for plenty of sites and has a lot of relevant search engine results, but no blog -- no Facebook page -- no site. His publisher's page doesn't even mention his second book, so that would also be considered an institutional failure, but it would be just as easy for him to buy MySecondBookTitle.com or MyName.com, throw up a list of book tour dates as they are confirmed, and walk away. (By the way, both those mock URLs appear to be available, so have at.)

I'm your audience and I can't show up unless you tell me where you are! Don't count on me to surf over to the bookstore's website in time. Don't assume I'll be walking past a Barnes & Noble with your photo in the window. Best to make it, if at all possible, so that if I Google you, I can click through to some kind of you-maintained Web presence where I can find out that you have a book coming out and that you're reading at the bookstore around the corner from me.

Publicity departments, if you think your author won't do this or isn't willing, you should update your sites too -- or help your author to set one up. If James Ellroy can be on Facebook, what is everyone else's excuse? (Yes, his publisher helps him, but that's my point -- a few hours a week for an intern, a high level of net attention.)

You as an author don't have to put up flyers or play bar mitzvahs or scary gigs in country bars. (And aren't you glad?) Just pick a platform for your online home... anywhere.

Earlier from my apparently ongoing series: Publishing, You're Doing It Wrong

18 June 2010

Dan Chaon's remembrance of his wife, who died of cancer just before her first novel was published, will destroy you. Pairing it with her piece "Three Cancer Patients Walk Into A Bar," you get an inkling of the writer she was. I'll be thinking about these all weekend.

Related/Breaking: Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago has died.

17 June 2010

In which Javier Bardem brings you a spaghetti dinner

Two book-related tips in the NYT's Crib Sheet this week:
6. Themed merchandise for EAT, PRAY, LOVE is in stores. Think I'll wait for THE GLASS CASTLE raggedy pants and bindle.

7. Bret Easton Ellis has written a sequel to LESS THAN ZERO. It’s a miracle that any of those characters are still alive.
Three if you count the Shakespeare reference, which I don't.

These are zings of the highest order, but what's funny about the EAT, PRAY, LOVE merch is that of the two stores that are carrying it, neither has any designated space on their Websites or specific call-outs to the collections. (According to this site, they are manufactured by Dogeared, who similarly has buried them.) It's almost as if they are ashamed! And they should be, because this stuff is a cash grab and I'm sure on some deep sub-economic level Elizabeth Gilbert is regretting them too. Maybe I just want to believe that so I don't have to think about the implications.

16 June 2010

Next year in Dublin

I think my lit degree would get revoked if I didn't mention that today is Bloomsday, the date on which James Joyce's ULYSSES takes place and a classic Joycefest. Another year in which I have not re-read ULYSSES nor have I been to its city of its origin... but someday!

In New York I know there are a bunch of Bloomsday events going on, including Stephen Colbert reading from it at Symphony Space; I also like Tablet Magazine's "Bloom in Bloomsday" at Solas. The L.A. Times has a round-up of events the world over including in Baltimore, Syracuse and of course Los Angeles. And here's a Google Maps project that adapts Bloom's path to any city in the world, in case you want to take a very long walk.

ETA: Flavorpill has a Which ULYSSES Character Are You? quiz. I got L. Bloom with a strong secondary in Dedalus.

Photo, North Earl St. @ Earl Place, Dublin: luca_200x

Filmbook: "Never Let Me Go" trailer surfaces

I'm linking, not embedding because the trailer gives away the entire book/movie. That said, two three unspoilery comments:
1. If they don't stand outside and yell, it's not a real Oscar contender, and
2. Holy bad haircut, Carey Mulligan. You have my sympathies.
3. Who am I kidding, I'll see it anyway.

What do you think?

15 June 2010

Bloodthirsty on the block

Wherever you go this summer you will probably see or hear about someone reading THE PASSAGE, the first volume in an apocalyptic scifi trilogy by the suddenly-hot Justin Cronin. (That is, in hype, not in -- well, you make your judgment call there.) Here's your cheat sheet:

  • In THE PASSAGE, a top-secret military experiment called Project NOAH trying to foster eternal life instead creates a virus that turns people into vampires. A little girl is the only one who can save them, aided by a Harvard professor. (Cronin went to Harvard, by the way.)
  • If we had all been paying attention in the summer of 2007, we might have followed Cronin's $3.75M deal for the trilogy... indicating that it would either be big or fail grandly. This was just two years after the first volume of that other vampire series hit the bestseller lists, and the same summer the third in that series came out.
  • After being on the 'literary' track for several years with the novels MARY AND O'NEIL and THE SUMMER GUEST, he sent THE PASSAGE out under a pseudonym, guessing that publishers would pigeonhole him without looking at his work. (Can't say he's wrong.)
  • (This bullet is blank because one of my coworkers just sent me Sad Keanu and I got distracted)
  • Time: "Even when as a kid, I was reading these big, fat summer books — fat as a Rueben sandwich."
  • NY Times review: "This already-exhaustive book is studded with diary entries, academic papers and other ostensible evidence that its fictitious stories of destruction are true. Every now and then, as when the Gulf of Mexico is described as an oil slick, these accounts are even scarier than intended."

14 June 2010

Recommending THEN WE CAME TO THE END to coworkers: A do or a don't?
The Paris Review has a new series called "The Culture Diaries" slugged "A week in one reader's life," stuffed with the kind of detail that might be boring if it weren't so exquisite. The entries by litblog pioneer Maud Newton alone make me want to consciously live a more literary life -- and also to be Maud Newton, although it's a little late to go back and be born a Southern brunette, to begin with.

13 June 2010

Love For Only One

A while ago my mom mentioned she had read two books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, David Von Drehle's TRIANGLE: THE FIRE THAT CHANGED AMERICA and Katharine Weber's TRIANGLE: A NOVEL. She insisted that I had to read both, otherwise I wouldn't get the proper perspective on the event.

I'm sure Von Drehle and Weber's respective publishers didn't acknowledge each other's existence in any way, but their books in a sense complement each other... unlike those instances where two books on the same topic, in the same genre, are forced to share shelf space. I don't know if this is happening more often recently, or if my scope of book-news has just expanded to the point where I'm more aware of it, but these pairs are everywhere! Here are two other pairs that immediately sprung to mind:

Nancy Horan's LOVING FRANK vs. T.C. Boyle's THE WOMEN: Who knew Frank Lloyd Wright's love life had enough juice in it for two novels? I own and plan to read both of these; Aforementioned Mom has read both, and says LOVING FRANK is "terrible, I don't know why it's so popular." So there you go. If I had to pick one I'd be more inclined to reach for the Boyle because I've read and liked some of his other books.

David Kirkpatrick, THE FACEBOOK EFFECT vs. Ben Mezrich, THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES: Facebook is such an unavoidable force right now that you could justify reading two books about it, and I probably will if only to avoid the filtering that would result from hearing about them secondhand. Kirkpatrick's is, according to reviews I've read, better written but less even-handed since he had Zuckerberg's cooperation; it's also the most current, as it has just come out this week. However, Mezrich's book is already being adapted into what I am confident will be one of the most insane movies of the year, the David Fincher-directed, Aaron Sorkin-scripted "The Social Network." (Already campaigning for an office outing on its release date.)

Can you think of two books that are like this? And which one did you or would you pick?

12 June 2010

Happy not to be a British goaltender today

Reuters: Barbara Kingsolver bested Hilary Mantel and Lorrie Moore for the British Orange Prize for female writers for her novel THE LACUNA, about a young man getting mixed up with famous people in Mexico. I hear not-so-great things... have you read it?

Hey, the World Cup is here! Since I haven't read a single memorable book about soccer, I can only point you to this exhaustive list of the sport's best chronicles. (And I'd skip THE MIRACLE OF CASTEL DI SANGRO, which they singled out.) So you'll have something to do when South Africa goes to bed.

L.A. Times: There's a documentary in the works about Harper Lee that sounds exciting (even though it's called "Hey, Boo"). Authors featured as talking heads include Richard Russo, Anna Quindlen and Lee Smith.

Via Twitter: Bret Easton Ellis' IMPERIAL BEDROOMS comes out next week; the author noticed that Entertainment Weekly thinks he's getting better with age. See?! Authors can be on Twitter and not lose their minds (except for the part where Ellis says "Sex and the City 2" was underrated, shudder).

Associated Press: Fox TV hit "Glee," about a motley crew of high schoolers bonding through music, is spinning off a five-book series including a prequel. (Back when they were all unhappy loners? Was there a demand for that?)

11 June 2010

Spotted on the subway: Not Achewood

30something, balding in a blue sweater vest, engrossed in this edition of the Kerouac book. It reminded me of the popular webcomic Achewood but the artist is Jason, about whom I cannot find any information.

When I looked it up on Amazon, though, I saw this funny review: ...THE BOOK THAT RUINED MY LIFE!!!!!..........!

10 June 2010

New Yorker 20 Under 40: Lead Time Kills Several

Haven't had the chance to read all 20 writers honored in this week's New Yorker yet? (Me either.) The good news is that FSG is coming out with a collection of stories from all the writers. The bad news is... it won't be out till December.


From what I understand, every author under consideration had to submit an unpublished work to the New Yorker at some point. I assume it's from this pool that FSG is publishing. How nice would be to have a lap card fall out of my New Yorker this week that says, "In 2 weeks: Pick up THE ONLY WRITERS THE NEW YORKER EVER LOVED, in bookstores everywhere"? Two weeks so it doesn't interfere with newsstand sales, because 5 of those 20 pieces are in this week's issue.
But that would never work, because they could never get the rights turned around that quickly, or the production.
Okay, so the editors draw up this list in December of 2009. Then they and FSG have six months to hash it out, plus three-fourths of a summer double issue completed much earlier so the good people at 4TS can go on a nice vacation.
It would leak. There's no way a secret that big could stay secret for six months.
This is the industry responsible for the mass deployment of HARRY POTTER. Surely there's an ironclad confidentiality agreement or several (dozen) floating around that would suffice.
Oh, it's not the publishing folk we're worried about, it's those... writers...
At the risk of being blackballed from one of the major magazines in this country that still publishes fiction -- they will keep it down.
What about editing time for the stories themselves?
Assuming that these are, in fact, the 20 best writers anywhere for now (debatable) and they have almost all published at least one book (Tea Obreht the exception), surely they have a recently rejected or finished story in the drawer. Probably many! We're not dealing with Jonathan Safran Foer's first ever workshopped piece, "I Broke Up With My Thinly Disguised High School Girlfriend," or Rivka Galchen's Finn/Mr. Schuster slashlets. These are pros, and since the original lead time was about six months, clearly they aren't counting on needing more.

Okay, now someone tell me why this can't work. (Might as well have called this post, "See, It's Super Easy To Publish A Book In My Mind.")

09 June 2010

Holy shit! Listen to William Faulkner

If you have to lean into your speakers a little, so be it, because you really want to hear the author reading AS I LAY DYING. (I downloaded the .gsm file and it opened right up in QuickTime, FYI.)

08 June 2010

Loved that video of Bill Murray reading poetry to construction workers? He can read to you at the Poetry Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge next Monday. Galway Kinnell, Poet Laureate of Brooklyn Tina Chang and Laurie Anderson will also read at this mobile benefit -- all for the low, low price of $250.

You might think anyone can just walk up, but my friend P. and I wandered into it by accident two summers ago on our way to the Telectroscope and they hurry you along.

In other news, for this summer only I will stand outside your apartment and read you poetry for $1.* A bargain at twice the price!

* May not include travel expenses for recipients outside the tri-state area. Also if you could lower me down an iced coffee at the end, that would be swell.

Respect your elders

This list of 10 Writers over 80 from Ward Six is a trivia goldmine, and not just because of the ages. I didn't like Paula Fox's DESPERATE CHARACTERS, despite strong recommendations, but discovering that she's Courtney Love's grandmother, now that I can drop at readings. And I feel still guiltier over never finishing THE GINGER MAN if J.P. Donleavy is still with us.

Two recommendations to draw from it: If you enjoyed Beverly Cleary's books when you were younger, her memoirs A GIRL FROM YAMHILL and MY OWN TWO FEET will surprise you and give you insight into her writing. Also, I've been meaning to read some of Alison Lurie's other books after randomly picking up FOREIGN AFFAIRS on vacation and really enjoying it; it's light, but not "beach reading."

07 June 2010

There are some puns I won't make

and that would be one of them. Really??? (Taken at Borders over the weekend when I stopped in for a magazine.)

06 June 2010

You're a novelist; your second book is coming out to mild fanfare; why wouldn't you get your famous brother to throw you a book party? That's the least I would expect from my siblings (who are not famous, yet).

05 June 2010

Scenes from a library queue II

Felt like I only did this a few weeks ago, but I was wrong:

1. Perhaps this list reflects a little of the ambivalence I spotted in my lobby in April. Okay, that's not true, I know it does, but someone recommended the Vaynerchuk book to me and this beats buying it.
2. Summer of DFW in full effect! But speaking of, is it ludicrous that the library only has one copy of the David Lipsky book? 36 people are waiting for it right now (myself not included, though it looks like I'm going to have some slots free soon).
3. This is the third time I have checked THE HELP out from the library. Twice I received it, didn't have time to crack it and sent it straight back because someone else had a hold on it. Given my admitted desire to see what the fuss is about, I can only speculate that it's just ill-timed.
4. I realize given #3, I should probably not be requesting this many short-wait books at one time, but this habit dies hard. It hearkens back to my more transient years, when I would move into a place, gaze disapprovingly at the empty shelf, and form an ad hoc collection at the nearest library. (Unless I wasn't allowed to use it. I'm looking at you, college libraries of my mid-high-school summers.) And the DFW I can just renew until I'm finished.
5. On the other hand, I have been digesting books at an awesome rate recently, so let's hope that continues. Must be the weather.
6. It's worth noting that the Michael Lewis book has already been out for almost three months, and yet... Maybe 177 copies just wasn't enough? But I can wait.
7. I flipped through EVERYTHING AND MORE once and it seems pretty esoteric and technical. Not sure if I'll end up finishing it. We'll see.

04 June 2010

Author Blog of the Week: Glen David Gold

Title: O Evil Planet: Theory and Practice of Gnomonism by Glen David Gold
Location: glendavidgold.blogspot.com
Books for which proprietor is responsible: CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL and one of my favorite novels of 2009, SUNNYSIDE
Features: Disjointed, often numbered musings; pictures of pets captioned as "support staff"
You'd never know this author... would list "Dude Where's My Car?" as one of his favorite movies. I hope he is sincere about that.
Why you should read it: Because I don't have the slightest idea what is going on with it, and if you scroll down you might jump out of your chair.
Sample passage: "Why is it, then, that the internet is so disruptive to thought? I think it might be because it mimics the freedom of woolgathering while substituting, like a cuckoo's egg, its own images for the ones you might have made up."
A great recent post: "O. And Why It Took 8 Years"

03 June 2010

New York: Housing Works Open Air Street Fair this Saturday

The twice-yearly street fair is a delightful way to shop -- the SoHo cobblestones, the people-watching, the fact that no one minds if you sit down on the curb and examine your purchases right after buying. The $1 books contain some gems if you're patient enough. Apparently there are also clothes there? I never get that far.

The New Yorker's 20 Under 40

In classically bitchy fashion, the Times goes ahead and publishes the list before David Remnick's baby hits newsstands next Monday. The question isn't whether you have any opinions on it, but do you have enough? Herewith, the class of 2010:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chris Adrian
Daniel Alarcón
David Bezmozgis
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Joshua Ferris
Jonathan Safran Foer
Nell Freudenberger
Rivka Galchen
Nicole Krauss
Yiyun Li
Dinaw Mengestu
Philipp Meyer
C. E. Morgan
Téa Obreht
Z Z Packer
Karen Russell
Salvatore Scibona
Gary Shteyngart
Wells Tower
I will quickly call out a few members:

The Prodigy: The youngest author on the list is 24-year-old Téa Obreht, a Cornell MFA grad from the former Yugoslavia whose first novel hasn't even come out yet. All eyes will be on that book (it's called THE TIGER'S DAUGHTER) but Roving Editor seems to have read it and apparently there is an actual tiger in it. Oh boy.
The Overachiever: Author Chris Adrian's other job is pediatric oncologist.
The Married Couple: Super day for the Safran Foer-Krauss hauss, or launch of a thousand after-dinner arguments? Just kidding, I'm sure they aren't that petty.
The First Mistake: Despite the Times calling out the "international" character of the list, at my extremely rough count, the list stands at 9 foreign-born, 11 American-born, which means your odds are still slightly better as an American. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The Disappointed: Of all the authors who were too old to make the list, the Times singled out only Colson Whitehead and Dave Eggers as not making the cut. Strikes me as slightly unfair, since a lot of authors are also too old, although some are much too old and others are just slightly too old.
The Busy Summer: By my accounting I have a lot of reading to do, since I've only read books by five of them. Pathetic showing. Dare you do better?

02 June 2010


Be warned: Bookshelf Porn is completely safe for work (other than its name) but may inspire uncontrollable urges to redecorate. Or, in the case of these under-the-stairs shelves, move. It also led me to this paperback-themed wallpaper from Anthropologie, which I should hate but I can't! It's just twee enough. Alas, would have to also move to buy that.

Sondre Lerche Just Read JULIET, NAKED

The Norwegian singer also suggested novelist/screenwriter/director Peter Hedges to direct, not surprising given that they worked together on "Dan in Real Life." (If you've seen the movie, you can see Sondre playing with his band over the end credits.)

I like Ricky Gervais in everything, but who will play Tucker?

01 June 2010

Every Monday should be a holiday

Books read over the weekend: 3.5
Books bought over the weekend: 3
Bookstores visited: 2
Literary-themed bars enjoyed: 1

While I was gone one of my roommates reorganized our kitchen and found a library copy of this P.G. Wodehouse book. It's not my late return; I actually have no idea whose it is. I guess I'll return it this week.

Cover: mearso