30 November 2010

Who Is The Who

The Times newsletter today attributed this quote to the subject of Dave Eggers' WHAT IS THE WHAT, although in the actual article the speaker is one J. Christopher Gallagher. I was hoping for a Bernard Goetz, vegetarian activist afterlife, but it seems to be just a misprint.

So what's Deng really up to these days? Far as I can find he lives in San Francisco, is married with a baby and is working on building schools in the area of Sudan where he grew up, with the help of the foundation that bears his name.

29 November 2010

Now where have I heard that before?

"The guide's creator certainly had a talent for fiction: Despite his claim that 'all young persons are more or less unbalanced,' author Sherwin Cody was just 26 years old. His only previous volume was a self-published poetry chapbook." Slate reviews what it claims is the first how-to about writing fiction and finds it pretty sound, actually.

Cyber Monday at your friendly neighborhood bookstore dotcom

Cyber Monday is against my religion, but Borders.com is offering free shipping on orders of $20 or more, BN.com has buy-1-get-50%-off for some Times bestsellers (Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1 among them) and Amazon appears to be featuring a sale on reference books. Hey, remember reference books? Well, you can get the OED for just $379.95 and free shipping.

ETA: Simon & Schuster is offering a $40 for $20 Groupon on their online store... which apparently exists.

28 November 2010

Traveling with the Kindle

Short review: Big fan!

Slightly longer review: In transit may be the perfect place to use a Kindle and its major advantage over paper books, whose tactile experience is still pretty damn special to this author. I could merrily click away knowing that if I were to finish all my downloaded books I had access to BOOKS FOREVER if I wanted to buy another. Because I wasn't switching back and forth between paper and screen, as normally happens when I'm reading something on the Kindle, I didn't get that jarring feeling.

I'm not saying I would burn all my books for it, but I see the utility, particularly for people I know who travel a lot for work. Also, I was somewhat isolated on this trip, and if I had had to run out and get another book (heaven forbid) I might not have met with such success. We were all but snowed in for a few days. (Rural areas -- they're way out there.)

My only real problem with it was surviving those pauses between "Please put all your electronic devices away" and "it is now 'safe' to use portable electronic devices, never mind that airline employee you're sitting next to who was writing e-mails on his Blackberry during the entire takeoff segment, please just believe us when we say that your 4-year-old iPod is hazardous to our entire operation." That is, regrettably, not a flaw of the device.

27 November 2010

According to one way of looking at the problem, a personal library is an enormous accumulation of books you don't want to read – either because you once tried and failed, or because you've already read them and won't ever need to reread them. So what function are they actually serving? In past times, the library of a grand house was a domestic resource that contained a repository of knowledge that couldn't be stored in any other way. It was also somewhere your guests might find something with which to entertain themselves in the quiet times between talking and eating.

These days, no such extravagantly space-consuming resource seems necessary. There will always be books to which one wants to refer back again and again, but what of most of the novels, biographies of minor figures, the tidal wave of critical theory? The answer is: they can go. Having served their moment, they can be shown the door. It's a brutally efficient new system – buy, read, flog on Amazon Marketplace – but it feels like a mid-life rite of passage.

--Stuart Walton, "My book cull: a loss of shelf esteem." But are we not all entitled to pretend we have the library of a grand house once in a while, if not the rest of the house?

26 November 2010

Are you a Dwight, a Janet or a Michiko?

Concurrent with its 100 notable books of 2010 (which will take me a few days to digest) the New York Times has published the top-10 lists of three of its lead critics, Dwight Garner, Janet Maslin and Michiko Kakutani. Here's where I would rig up some kind of clever personality quiz taking your favorite color and the last magazine you read into consideration... I was surprised to determine that despite disagreeing with some items on her list, I'm definitely a Michiko.

25 November 2010

Stoner Thanksgiving message

Pending your personal beliefs on reincarnation of course, does it ever unnerve you to think that you could have been born in a pre-Gutenberg universe where the only books you saw were held by monks, not as if you could even read them, and so you would see books as not just metaphorically a sacred object but as literally a sacred object as well, something you could never touch let alone own, and which you were lucky even to see at all and had no thought of understanding?

I've been taking too many Vitamin C drops, but for living in a time when printed books are plentiful, cheap and endowed with cultural value,

I am profoundly grateful this Thanksgiving Day.

24 November 2010

Reading on The Road: Final Frontier Edition

It's now or never! On this trip, for the first time ever, I am only bringing my Kindle. It made sense because I had too many books to bring and will be jamming all my luggage into your overhead bin (yes, yours; sorry) on my way across the country. Also, I took a health survey at work and was paid off in Amazon credit. (Was I supposed to spend it on my actual health?) Here are a few books I have on there in preparation:

Haruki Murakami, A WILD SHEEP CHASE
Louis Auchincloss, A VOICE FROM OLD NEW YORK

Either this is going to work, or I will be reviewing a lot of airport books in December. "Whoops, no, I didn't read the book club book, but that Nora Roberts is crazy, right?" (I kid a bit. In the worst case scenario I'll just pillage from my mom's stash, because she will probably have extra books along. That's what you get for not reading my blog, Mom!)

What are you reading this weekend?

23 November 2010

Well I guess I'll just put it off forever then

University of Chicago Press is releasing Anthony Powell's Dance To The Music Of Time series as e-books, but they aren't Kindle compatible. Can we think of a series that is more conducive to digital purchase?

"Confidence is hardly in short supply for Jay-Z."

One can feel the waves of shock radiating off Michiko Kakutani's very positive review of Jay-Z's promised book, DECODED. I mean, she describes "Big Pimpin'" as "a comical, party-down song"! I foresee a lot of angry letters to the Times, but I wouldn't write one.

22 November 2010

Was it good for you, voters?

For once, I have read two of the nominees for the Guardian's Bad Sex in Fiction Award -- and judging by the passage quoted, FREEDOM should run away with it -- but the news in Britain is that voters tried to get Tony Blair's autobiography on the fiction list as a political commentary. (THE SLAP is really good; don't be deterred from its description here.)

Four is a trend

Apparently I do have a cultural line across which There Be Monsters, and that is this New York Observer story on writers quitting fiction to write video games. I am not against all video games, nor am I against authors writing for video games which indeed can be very elaborate (though I'm going off my experience beating my head against a wall trying to beat Myst... remember Myst?) A working author is a working author! But I am not convinced this is "the way the industry is going," and if it is then we need to turn this minivan around.

21 November 2010

Balm to the human soul

Above embedded: the latest episode of the web TV series "Cooking the Books," in which Emily Gould makes food with authors. Here's author Marcy Dermansky has to say about her novel BAD MARIE:
"I was having fun with coincidences in this book. I mean, it's preposterous what happens in a way -- Marie reads a book when she's in prison by a French writer and she goes and she finds her friend. Her friend's husband, of course, is that writer. I think when you write things you can do whatever you want."
I recently finished Joanna Smith Rakoff's A FORTUNATE AGE, another novel I think has fun with coincidences. I really liked the book -- following a group of Oberlin friends through post-college life in New York City -- but I think at one point it stops just a twist short of being totally unbelievable. (It's the scene where Emily goes to Caitlin Green-Gold's apartment, the first time, if you've read the book.) I almost picked up my disbelief at that point, but I went on, and the way it was woven into the rest of the book it almost made sense... but not too much sense that I wouldn't mistake it for life.

My craving for realism, particularly in books set among people I seem to know and places with which I'm familiar, could be a critical weakness but I keep feeding it anyway. Certainly there are sad or depressing coincidences out there, but what do people normally say when faced with one: Oh, how funny! What a small world! Usually it's a source of delight. A novel flush with coincidences, if written well, provides us with those little sparks of delight when a character just happens to bump into her old college nemesis, or watches his bandmate fall for the woman he's been trying to pursue for years. Even if we haven't had those things happen to us, we could point out a similar exchange. It's only when authors overuse this device (or use it poorly) that we remember the book is not life.

20 November 2010

Filmbook: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (Abridged Straight-From-Theatre Edition)

One non-spoilery observation: As my friend and I were waiting to be seated for this movie, we were trying to remember what year the first installment of the franchise came out (2001, in fact) and how old the youngest kids who would remember that movie would be today. I doubt it was deliberate that the several directors and bunches of producers involved with the "Harry Potter" adaptations seemed to age their movies along with some sweet spot in their demographic. Still, that first movie in my recollection was pretty tame, whereas this one offered its own versions of horror-movie setups that cause audiences to shout "Don't touch that/ go in there/ turn the light on!" I definitely enjoy them more with some teeth, and I'm not a scary-movie fan at all.

One more: I think everywhere but the balance sheet it was a colossal mistake to split this book, as indicated by "Part 1," into two movies. And not just because I'm annoyed at having to wait till next July for the second one.

19 November 2010

Translation nerds RISE UP might enjoy this account from Jayne Williams about working with a German publisher who wanted to change the title of her book SLOW FAT TRIATHLETE: LIVE YOUR ATHLETIC DREAMS IN THE BODY YOU HAVE NOW to the diet-tastic AT LONG LAST FIT AND LEAN.

18 November 2010

Unsurprise of the Week

Sloane Crosley is finally quitting her day job to write full-time. And yeah, I do give her credit for hanging on this long, considering that she was publicizing her own books on her off time from publicizing other people's books, essentially doing the same job over and over. (The more times you write "publicizing," the more you become convinced you're spelling it wrong.)

Depending on your perspective she's either living the dream of many in book publishing, or got extraordinarily lucky on her professional connections. I like her writing, so I'd say she's definitely living her dream (I hear not everyone in publishing wants to be a published author... maybe it's just a rumor). Working inside the machine undoubtedly helped her, but if she had shirked her work no one would have taken her seriously. Best of luck, Ms. Crosley!

17 November 2010

That's National Book Award Winner Patti Smith to you

It's true! Smith nabbed the nonfiction prize at the American publishing fiesta held here in New York for her book JUST KIDS. During her acceptance speech she cried and reminded the audience that she worked in a bookstore when she first arrived in New York.

On the fiction shelf, Jaimy Gordon's LORDS OF MISRULE pulled a surprising upset -- so much so that to all accounts I have seen, she didn't have a speech prepared. Much congratulations also to Kathryn Erskine and Terrance Hayes for taking home the big ones in young-adult fiction and poetry, respectively.

Not to be outdone by some young punk kid, Tom Wolfe sang part of "The Girl From Ipanema" during his speech. Really. He really did that. Do they make white-on-white Hawaiian shirts these days?

16 November 2010

"You want to do something new when you write a novel, it's right there in the word novel."
--Jonathan Franzen reading at 92Y last night. I don't know why the audience laughed on that?

15 November 2010

D-list celebrities need not apply

David Mitchell is auctioning off the name of a character in his next novel, which he blushingly refused to speak about when I saw him at Book Court last summer, to benefit autism research in the UK. Important to note: "The author reserves the right to make the winning character name as large or small a character as necessary for his book. The character will not be based in any way on the actual winners’ characteristics." (via Moby Lives)

Currently installed on my desk at work

After ten months at my current job and nearly two years at the company, I finally decided to "express my personality" on my desk. (Well, more than the Now Panic and Freak Out sign, anyway.)

I knew that suspicious-smelling corporate merger promotional water bottle was good for something.

14 November 2010

Olive Editions: They did it again!

Look what I spotted at Borders on Thursday night!

I've written before about the adorable tweeness of Harper Perennial's Olive Editions. The next three have been released -- THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, BRAVE NEW WORLD, and this one, a book I love and one of my best novels of the Noughties. I'm not even sure what kept me from buying it -- I love it, don't own my own copy and my edition of MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH could use some company.

See the other debutantes at HP's blog The Olive Reader. And honestly, if you haven't read this book yet, do it now. You'll be riveted to your chair.

13 November 2010

Not only is Jhumpa Lahiri involved in the new season of "In Treatment," now Adam Rapp is writing scripts for them? Maybe I should be watching this show.

Next year in magical thinking

Joan Didion has finished a new memoir that will be out next year. Not forthcoming: Her blog -- she says the idea of blogging "makes me uncomfortable."

12 November 2010

Wait... authors in the U.K. get paid every time someone checks their books out of the library? Where on earth does that money come from?
Via Ed Champion on Twitter: In the next McSweeney's Michael Chabon will publish the first four chapters of FOUNTAIN CITY, the legendary [only to me?] 1500-page novel he abandoned to write WONDER BOYS and the probable inspiration for Professor Grady Tripp's baggy unfinished masterpiece. Probable buy.

11 November 2010

NYC: Come see Maria Schneider and Nathan Rabin tonight

Shameless plug! Readers in the vicinity should plan to hit the joint Onion-A.V. Club reading at the Borders in Columbus Circle at 7PM. Schneider created the Onion columnist Jean Teasdale and has a collection of "her" work out now called A ROOM OF JEAN'S OWN; Rabin published THE BIG REWIND last year and MY YEAR OF FLOPS this year.

Ben Mezrich exists for my amusement

Would someone from Doubleday please confirm for me that this is real? Or Mr. Mezrich himself? Anonymity guaranteed! (It's from what purports to be their Tumblr account.) Because, WOW.

10 November 2010

Filmbook-to-Be: "Jane Eyre" (2011)

The Charlotte Brontë classic gets a very moody, almost horror-movie treatment from Cary Fukunaga ("Sin Nombre"). Mia Wasikowska (daughter Joni in "The Kids Are All Right," Alice in the Tim Burton "Alice in Wonderland") is Jane and that's Michael Fassbender ("Inglourious Basterds," "Hunger") as Rochester.

I may or may not be in for this movie, but the trailer did illuminate for me one additional reason I have never warmed up to this book. And now I feel totally traumatized and need a hug, the end.

Trailer via Word & Film, Random House's really nice new landing page for its movie news.

Meet Jane E-Book

From the "we already knew this, but now we have data" department: The e-book market is still narrow but deep, finds a Forrester forecasting report* which posits that 7 percent of American adults online are doing all the buying. The prototypical US e-book junkie is a woman (woo) who does 41 percent of her reading in digital form and -- not surprising -- buys and reads more than her non-e-reading counterparts.

What boggled my mind was only half of that 7 percent is using a Kindle or other e-reader; the rest are reading on computers or their phones (or iPads, or tablets). Kindle for BlackBerry just came out and do you know how eye-bleeding it is? Think I'd rather stare into space.
At the same time, Forrester's blog post on the report points out that the most common way people get books these days is still borrowing from a friend or the library, so it's not as if it will happen overnight. Then again, Kindle lending (with the publisher's approval**) has been promised soon, so...

*Which I would buy, indeed in e-book form, were it not $499. Can I borrow someone's copy?
**Let my skepticism on this point be noted. Granted, I don't know so many people with Kindles that I'm dying for this feature, but the ones I know also buy a lot of books, thus exponentially expanding my reach if it were allowed -- given that we don't physically swap Kindles now. 

09 November 2010

Out today: Princes of darkness

Salon.com calls Stephen King's new collection of stories FULL DARK, NO STARS "horrible" -- though it's unclear whether the reviewer means it as in "full of horrors" or as in "bad." Perhaps both.

Oh yeah, and George W. Bush's memoir DECISION POINTS is out and its first juicy tidbit concerns a fetus in a jar. A fetus in a jar! Worst way to teach your kids sex ed ever. (Belated warning, after you read that story you will be reduced to muttering to yourself "Fetus in a jar?!?!" for the rest of the day. I don't think I can say anything else, in fact.)

08 November 2010

My word of the day: nostrum

From Merriam-Webster:
Definition of NOSTRUM
: a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness
: a usually questionable remedy or scheme : panacea
Example from the NY Times:

Dr. Farley [New York City health commissioner] is more forceful in print. His 2005 book, PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY NATION, which he wrote with Dr. Deborah A. Cohen, senior natural scientist at the Rand Corporation, foreshadowed his hair-shirt approach to public health in New York. In its review, Publishers Weekly characterized the authors as “scolds” and “puritanical,” and predicted that Americans would react to their nostrums the way [daughter] Emily Farley’s students did: apathetically.

07 November 2010

The rent is too damn high

The mansion where parts of Martin Scorsese's adaptation of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE were shot is looking for a tenant if you've got a spare $18,000 a month lying around. Surprisingly, it's not in Gramercy Park or the Upper East Side as I would have guessed, but in Park Slope in Brooklyn.

06 November 2010

Publishers Weekly's* Best Books issue hits stands on Monday, but their top 10 is out now. The overlaps with Amazon's list if you're keeping score at home are FREEDOM, JUST KIDS, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS and THE BIG SHORT. Much love for THE LONELY POLYGAMIST and THE SURRENDERED here.

Jess and Jen, I will definitely be making my own Top 10 of 2010 list (and really, thank you so much for asking!). I did a best-of list last year, although it wasn't limited specifically to 10, because the Internet is crazy and there are no rules. I want to squeeze in a few more weeks of reading, too -- as always.

Meanwhile -- and not just you, but everyone -- what books would definitely make your list this year? What do you think has been overlooked so far, given that some heavyweights' lists are still outstanding?

*Disclaimer: I occasionally review for them, although I did not contribute to making either this list or the longer list, so I'm just as curious as you as to what will show up on it.

05 November 2010

Friday afternoon brainteaser

My friend Shana wrote to me with a lit-related question and I am totally stumped:
There was this short story I read when I was in 5th grade as part of our "great books" reading class. It involved people telling a story around a campfire (at least I think) about a miserly old woman with a big house and no friends. And one day she got a chicken bone stuck in her throat and the doctor said she was going to die. And she had trouble breathing so she decided to get rid of the things in her house by giving them away to her neighbors. By the end of the story she'd made so many friends since she'd given away all her belongings and her friends and her were laughing so hard that the chicken bone popped out of her throat. It's probably really random or obscure but I've wanted to find it again and I thought you might be able to help.
I was not able to help, but maybe you are. I on the other hand have now read several medical accounts of choking and will be subsisting on oatmeal and applesauce for the rest of the day.

Just when you thought it was safe... to send another e-mail...

Emory University's Salman Rushdie archive will allow visitors the chance to play on his computers, as representing the primary medium for most of his late novels. Can't wait till we can read writers' e-mails in printed collections. (Nosy like that.)

04 November 2010

Amazon Picks 10 Best Books of 2010

Preempting Publishers Weekly's list, typically the earliest, by about four days. New-media whippersnappers!

Strong disagreement here over #7 and I've never even heard of MATTERHORN. I guess it's time to start working on my own list. What do you all say?

My dream Patti Smith/ JUST KIDS index

  • Thrift Store Clothing Scores
  • Meals Eaten At The Automat
  • Tantalizing One-Line Descriptions of Explicit Mapplethorpe Photos Which Do Not Appear In The Book
  • Max's Kansas City*
  • Times Robert Mapplethorpe Said "Patti, no!"
  • Bookstores Smith Worked In
  • Times People Mistook Smith For A Lesbian
  • Times People Mistook Smith For A Drug User
  • Hey, Did You Know Blue Öyster Cult Used To Be A Legitimate Band
  • Memorials Held For Famous People Who Died In The 1960s
  • Haircuts And Their Meaning
  • "Saw A Double Rainbow" (okay, one citation: p. 273)
*Most confusingly named venue... ever?

03 November 2010

Josh Karlen: The WORMBOOK Interview

Being a nosy reader as always I pestered LOST LUSTRE author Josh Karlen with a few questions about what he had been reading lately.

What was the last book you read and loved?
I was deeply immersed in memoir, autobiography, and personal essays while I was writing my book, so the most recent books I've enjoyed have been in these fields, rather than fiction.

I recently re-read after many years Alfred Kazin's WALKER IN THE CITY and rediscovered how extraordinary the descriptive prose is about tenement New York and specifically from the perspective of boyhood. To my mind, Kazin wonderfully pushes descriptiveness to the very limit of what the sentence will bear, and then stops. Its also a fearlessly soulful and tender book.

I've also recently enjoyed Annie Dillard's AMERICAN CHILDHOOD and Rebecca Solnit's A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST for the sheer wonderful writing. And Fitzgerald's THE CRACK-UP. In fact, I've been dipping into Fitzgerald again and finding again how truly great a stylist he was, and what a warm and decent and razor-sharp intelligence shines through his best work.

What was your favorite book when you were 12?

I can't remember what I was reading at that precise age, but generally in the years before adolescence I read TOM SAWYER and HUCK FINN and TREASURE ISLAND and enjoyed them immensely.

What book that you read can you confidently say changed your life?

I'm not sure there was one single book I could name for such a strong impact. I can name a few books that changed the way the way I think about what good writing is, and so they in effect changed my perception the world.

When I was in my teens and starting to write, Hemingway, predictably enough, upended the way I thought about how to write prose. And Conrad, Jack London, Melville made an enormous impression because they presented a whole new range of possibilities of how to live one's life, how to forge a new destiny. In my case, this led me to go to the Amazon on a silly adventure at age 18, so in a sense these authors did change my life in a concrete way.

In college, I remember the absolute shock when I first read Henry Miller's TROPIC OF CANCER, which again upended my ideas of what good writing is both in style and substance--it was an explosion. In my twenties, Orwell's exquisite essays did the same, showing me the power of non-fiction, expertly handled.

I'm not sure any single book could be said to changed my life, but I think strings of books, taken together, combine to open up new ways of thinking, provide examples of how to approach the world as a writer, as a person. For instance, the books of Conrad, London and Melville, or the long list of books of essayists I've read the last few years have had a cumulative effect or opening new avenues of how to look at the world as a writer--and therefore as a person. They are the same thing.

What's the last book you put down without finishing?

I wouldn't wish to identify a specific book that didn't grab me, especially since I often put down books without finishing them. That's in part because as a working parent in NYC, I'm lucky if I have time to finish the newspaper each day. I'm also increasingly impatient with books to either get to the point or, if not, to write in such a way I find too compelling in thought or description to pull away from. Few books grab me that way.

What is your favorite place to read?

I don't have a single favorite place to read--I enjoy reading at home, but I suppose I enjoy reading outside most of all--in a park, on a beach, on a porch, or by a pool. Any place relatively quiet in the sun where I can stretch out and have a soda or coffee. The nice thing about reading outside is that you can take a break and have a swim or throw a ball around with the kids, and then go back to the book refreshed.

Who or what do you think most influences what you read, and why?

When I was younger I preferred fiction, though now I read more essays and memoirs. I still enjoy fiction, but these days, I want essential truths placed right up front and discussed. Life is too short to waste on extraneous issues unless they are written about with extraordinary charm-- but when they are, its wonderful.

LOST LUSTRE: How the dirty city feels and looks

I started Josh Karlen's memoir LOST LUSTRE when I was in the middle of Patti Smith's JUST KIDS, a book that for all its hardness is more New York fantasy than reality. Jumping from Smith's cozy Chelsea Hotel existence -- art and poetry till the wee hours, lobster claws at Max's Kansas City -- to scenes of Karlen running away from bullies and gang members in an East Village that looked as if it had been bombed was like having a bucket of cold water thrown in my face.

Yet it was a necessary one, because both artistic dream and urban nightmare belong to the city. (I did like some things about JUST KIDS but I'll get back to that tomorrow.) Karlen's collage of experiences as contained in LOST LUSTRE, skipping backward and forward from his parents' divorce to midday meditations from the office, aren't all so violent as that opening shot, but the thread connecting them is the sense of loss -- primarily, for Karlen's innocence when his mother moved him to pre-gentrification Avenue C.

That brutal backdrop pushed him to escape -- into an arts magnet high school, into the punk scene (as he mourns a friend whose band The Lustres gave him the soundtrack to some of his best moments), into the arms of his first love and the SRO where they used to stay. Karlen's text is his ambivalence about his memories, the debauchery of his youth taped over with disapproval over the bar owners who would serve him and his underage friends to excess and the ruin to which some of them came as a result.

As a memoir in fragments LOST LUSTRE left me with a lot of unanswered questions about Karlen's upbringing, but the current of feeling superseded my need for answers in the end. I would absolutely recommend reading this book in the context of others about New York past -- besides the coincidence with JUST KIDS I was reminded of LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BRONX IS BURNING, for example, and portions of THE TENANT -- as one image among many.

This review is part of a TLC Book Tour in which a bunch of bloggers review the same book. So if you don't like my take on it, visit Life in the Thumb tomorrow.

02 November 2010

Hatches battened

Not that I really have room to protest, nor that I think the amount of money I pay for it (nearly nothing) should lead to better service (which is excellent already)... but the New York Public Library online accounts have been down for two days and I am not dealing particularly well. What if I need to renew a book and I don't even know???

01 November 2010

There are no T-shirts, yet

Today marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month [NaNoWriMo], annual frenzy to finish a 50,000 word novel* in 30 days**, and writers everywhere will perhaps look a little bit tired in response. Launched in 1999, it has produced several books that hurdled to mainstream publication, most famously Sara Gruen's WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.

After a term of disproportionate vacillation over the subject I am reluctantly out this year, for reasons that will only bore you. However, for the slightly less ambitious I recommend National Blog Posting Month [NaBloPoMo], for posting a blog entry every day, which really anyone can tackle. Or we can start National Read More Month and sink into the cozy sloth this weather demands. NaReMoMo? Yes/no?

* so what if it's more like a novella. I mean, that is still a farking lot of words.
** 1,667 words per day. You're welcome.

Field trip!

Last week I went to a new library branch near my office to drop off some books. This is one of the smallest branches I've ever visited - your basic retail floor, only the back half is all wrought-iron-capped shelves and a short-looking second floor with a spiral staircase, and that rickety bridge. 

This smartphone photo does not adequately capture the surprise. 

Obligatory depressing midterms post

Jon Avlon of The Daily Beast claims the subgenre of anti-Presidential angry screed has flourished like never before in the first half of President Obama's first term. I have my doubts as to his methods but then there's this:
There are plenty of rational reasons to oppose the policies of President Obama and his administration. Accusing him of being a Manchurian candidate out to undermine the Constitution and replace it with Communism isn't one of them.
See also Poll: 1 in 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus.