31 August 2012


Yesterday I took my Kindle to Best Buy to get the right memory card for it (why didn't I do this before? I have no idea) and when I took it out, the employee helping me said "Whoa, what is that?" I handed it to him and he said, "I've never seen one of those." The scene repeated itself at the cash register, although the cashier was less interested in what it was than trying to hurry me along.

The 1st generation Kindle was released less than 5 years ago, or a little more than one-sixth of my life ago. On the bright side, I've never gone into a store and heard someone say to me, "Whoa, what is that?!"

August Unbookening

"Buy books used, perform periodic culls, and resell them."
--Sarah Manguso, "How to Have a Career: Advice to Young Writers"

Checked out: 7
Reviewed: 10
Bought: 5
22 in

Returned: 7
Lent/ returned: 2
Donated: 19
Left behind while traveling: 1
29 out

And that's how you hit zero for the year -- diligently, and with a secret list of "Books To Buy Right Now" that you are not actually buying right now.

30 August 2012

Now hear this: Martin Amis on "The Bat Segundo Show"

This is a great interview if you want to feel your eyebrows shooting up approximately once every 10 minutes. I am weirdly fascinated with Amis and will probably chase that down, but I don't trust him at all when he says (in this interview) he loves all his characters. Nope!

Everybody knows it sucks to grow up

I liked this book in equal proportion to how much I disliked its protagonist.

The fictional magical college, Brakebills, at which most of THE MAGICIANS is set is outwardly closest to Hogwarts of the HARRY POTTER series, but not as close as I would have believed given the glibities of describing this book as "Harry Potter for grownups." That's some of the story, bu not the whole story. Hogwarts just picks up where all those English-boarding-school novels left off, giving a new plausibility to students' choosing to go to boarding school (particularly for an American audience in which these institutions are rare, and considered either for the super-rich, the red-shirted or the troubled [or all of those]). It's not just because your aristocratic parents don't want you underfoot any more.

Quentin Coldwater, THE MAGICIANS' hero of sorts, is a smart an isolated high school student in Brooklyn who finds a passage to Brakebills and decides, more or less immediately, to leave his friends and family behind and enroll. This is in keeping with the senior-year-of-high-school mindset, and think of all the teen movies that start with the protagonist switching schools or making themselves over in some way with the goal of being unrecognizable. (Later, Quentin will reflect back on his upbringing with a venom that frankly shocked me and didn't seem supported by what we have known about them, so we know that he can never go back.)

When my book club discussed THE MAGICIANS earlier this month, we split pretty fiercely on it, including on whether Quentin is at all altered during his five years studying at Brakebills and what happens to him after. I thought he was altered, but I couldn't identify at the time what the dimensions of them were, only that Quentin becomes more and more unlikeable even as the plot presses us to root for him. I think I recognize it now: Quentin arrives at Brakebills a 17-year-old kid and proceeds to go through the whole roil of adolescence while he's there, stirring up a range of emotions he doesn't know how to deal with. In his previous life, he was content to go along; now the full forces of anger, superiority, jealousy etc. are hitting him and it makes him act (as teenagers often do) like an asshole. Whatever he had suffered before, it was just a trial run.

Quentin's just a late bloomer, and in some ways I sympathize, but he is fairly unpleasant to be around for most of this book. Sometimes it was hard to believe that his friends were still his friends. Practically the only person he can tolerate (who thus comes off fairly blandly) is his fellow advanced classmates, and in return he wounds her pretty deeply for her loyalty. Everyone else gets scorn to varying degrees. I know the disillusionment of discovering that his magic school isn't as fun or life-changing is supposed to help us empathize with Quentin, and it did sometimes. It's enough for me to see if Quentin gets his footing in the second part of Grossman's series, THE MAGICIAN KING. After all, Harry Potter went through this, and he came out all right. But that's not a very flattering comparison after all.

29 August 2012

"(In those high-school days, we thought that poetry was pretty much anything about 'feelings.')"
--Daniel Mendelsohn's critic's manifesto for the New Yorker is excellent all around, but I love this parenthetical the most. 

I enjoyed this post and this diagram by Lydia Netzer about "the difficult second novel." I have long suspected that such a phenomenon was real (akin to bands' struggle to record their follow-up albums to big hits) but rare is the author who will be open and honest about it.

I'd give Netzer's first novel SHINE SHINE SHINE, which came out this summer, an F for "fantastic prose" and a D for "Definitely cried on the subway while reading."

28 August 2012

Maybe it's Form Reversion Week: Michael Chabon tells Mother Jones his new novel TELEGRAPH AVENUE began life as a TV pilot for TNT:
"It never got past the script stage. I put it aside. But I think partly because I was living in the world of that story every day and because I really love the characters, I decided to go back to it. I mistakenly thought all I needed to do was novelize it. Well it turned out that was just idiotic. And I spent two years wrestling with that laziness. Because—it seems so obvious in hindsight—a TV pilot doesn't do anything that a novel does. A TV pilot is all about setting the table. It's opening doors and leaving them open, and they're the doors that you're gonna go through to tell stories in the course of the series. Oh, it was a horrible structure. You try to make a novel out of it! I spent two years trying to before finally deciding just to abandon the novel completely. My wife talked me out of it. She loved Archy; she loved Gwen especially. And she just said, 'You can't do that! I need you to write this book.' Anyway, I kept the same characters and settings but I just reconceived the whole thing." 
I believe my response to this is best delivered in a YouTube video.

(P.S. I linked to this interview on Twitter, noting that the interviewer asked Chabon how he and author wife Ayelet Waldman manage their work and kids, which I thought was a positive step because it's a question most often asked of female authors. I thought I might get backlash for pointing this out -- is it reverse sexism to say that male authors should be asked that question? I don't know, okay? -- but I only had 1 unfollower and no angry responses. It's like the medium is growing up or something!)

How tos meet to dos

My post about summer reading made it to The How To (and was promptly shared by a user named jaygatsboobs... can't make it up). That's where I found this great post on how to start a group writing retreat, something I would really like to do, though maybe not for two weeks. Anyone in?

27 August 2012

Some "Don'ts" for authors on social media

1. Don't complain about how your book only went to #2 on the New York Times best-seller list, and the crushing disappointment of not being #1. (Comparing yourself to the Buffalo Bills is, I guess, still kosher.)
2. Don't send your husband or assistant to comment on negative reviews about your work...
3. ...especially if they are going to call out negative reviewers by saying things like "Psycho alert" and "You are just plain wrong."
4. Don't argue that every negative review of your book is a personal attack.
5. Don't link to negative reviews on your fan page and ask your fans (or have your assistant ask them) to defend you.
6. Don't say "Well, she asked for it by posting a negative review in the first place" when a reviewer is harassed over said negative review.

Amazingly, Emily Giffin broke all those rules. Nice work! She even suggested the author of the original negative review remove her post after someone called her house to threaten her to delete it. Because clearly, that's not an outsize reaction or anything.

(I have never read any of Giffin's books, so I can't comment on her oeuvre. And frankly, in this case? Doesn't matter. She could be Leo Freakin Tolstoy and this would still be absurd.)

Summer Reading: Reading (and still reading) like a writer

There have been (and I have written about) a ton of blog-to-book adaptations, but Francine Prose's READING LIKE A WRITER is a book that should beget a blog.

This is an outsize request for an author who doesn't even have a website (as it seems), but hear me out: READING LIKE A WRITER is a useful but not that revolutionary guide to close reading for fun and profit technique, clearly compiled from Prose's years teaching writing here, there and everywhere. (If anyone out there is a professor, the scene of Prose cramming Chekhov in a Greyhound bus terminal might be inspirational... hopefully not too dispiriting. I loved it.) I don't mean to downgrade her advice, which overall is excellent. I didn't find it too earth-shattering, but only because I majored in it.

The real treat for me in this book was hearing about the authors Prose loves and looks up to, the ones she uses as models for her students and holds up as exemplary. It would be hard to come away from this book not wanting to read the aforementioned collections of Chekhov short stories, along with A SHIP MADE OF PAPER, Henry Green's LOVING, even treat A MOVEABLE FEAST to a second look. Her habit of using block quotes to illustrate especially good use of detail or dialogue or character serve as textbook examples without the textbook feeling. It wouldn't be too hard to extrapolate writing exercises from them should someone be so inclined; in almost all cases you see what she's getting at.

(This just in: Having written it several times, I am just now realizing how well suited Prose's last name is to her profession. She didn't marry into it either. Ah, should we all be so lucky.)

These passages are why I think Prose should have her own blog -- to call out exemplary parts of prose that she comes across in her reading, that can offer Teachable Moments. A SHIP MADE OF PAPER is one of the most recent books quoted (2003) and surely Prose has come across exemplars since READING LIKE A WRITER came out that could be similarly didactic. For concerns of time, the blog could only publish twice a week: The excerpt (maybe on a Tuesday), and then the professorial gloss (on a Thursday), and in between readers could speculate on what the device of the week is, and whether it's working, and how it fits into the overall work if they're familiar. Dear Professor Prose, if you need help with online strategy, just let me know! I would love to see what she's reading now, not just what she has read.

That's why I liked this book and will take several of its recommendations, but I probably won't go back to it. I'll stick to my personal pantheon of WRITING DOWN THE BONES, ON WRITING and LETTERS TO A FICTION WRITER.

24 August 2012

Reading on the Road: If I could escape, I would but first of all let me say

As you read this I'm packing myself on a bus to Washington D.C. for a few days. There will be many more weekend trips after this, but there won't be any more this summer.

I'm taking two much anticipated fall reads, Emma Straub's LAURA LAMONT'S LIFE IN PICTURES and Martin Amis' LIONEL ASBO STATE OF ENGLAND. (That latter title... such cojones.) And I'm bringing a paperback of Charity Shumway's TEN GIRLS TO WATCH that the good people at Atria sent me. I had seen the author's name around and was trying to figure out why it looked familiar -- turns out we were classmates in a summer course a few years ago. So, that's cool!

23 August 2012

Basis for my sitcom, "Word Up"

Someday Haruki Murakami's going to write a book about what it's like to be perpetually in the running for the Nobel Prize for Literature and never get it. Also, cats and a mysterious woman. Naturally Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy would be his next-door neighbors and Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be a local gangster who swaggers past without ever actually doing anything. Personally, I'm rooting for Italian author Dacia Maraini, because it's good to take a side.

22 August 2012

You know, as long as nobody got hurt.

It makes me happy to think of the polite, soft-spoken David Mitchell being mobbed by fans of CLOUD ATLAS in China. Some people should be rock stars.

This is the 100th book I read this year.

I predict it will surprise a lot of people and as with all surprises, some of them aren't going to like it.

21 August 2012

Hey, maybe disgraced Missouri representative Todd Akin just got his false and reprehensible ideas from the DUNE books! (Not having read these books I have no idea whether this is true or not. Perhaps you can speak to it. But I think this blogger makes the point that it really doesn't matter where he got his ideas, he's still wrong.)

20 August 2012

"Fiction for me is a conversation for me between me and something that May Not Be Named"

D.T. Max's biography of David Foster Wallace is out next week; here's an excerpt. New Yorkers, I hear the author is reading on September 4 at that weird underground bunker Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side.

2 Truths and a Lie: Christopher Plummer "Sound of Music" edition

1. During shooting in Austria, Christopher Plummer gained a reputation for spotting beers for the whole crew but complained that the atmosphere on set was not conducive to fun because there were too many children around.
2. On a break from set, Plummer had himself fitted for traditional Austrian suits and ate so much he had to get all his costumes let out when he got back to shoot.
3. During interior shooting in Los Angeles, director Robert Wise had to shoot  Plummer and costar Julie Andrews in silhouette for the musical number "Something Good" because they were giggling too hard to keep going.

(All gleaned from Christopher Plummer's memoir IN SPITE OF MYSELF at the point where, unable to get past his early years, I skipped ahead in the index-less book to what I consider the good stuff and what he would consider an episode to be looked on fondly in the present despite how he felt about it at the time.)

17 August 2012

Fun Friday Fashion update

This month in Literary T-Shirts I Absolutely Need. In my alternate life, I am a grad student somewhere pretty and remote and I wear this shirt with a really long skirt as I walk across campus to my office (which, because it's my fantasy is extremely picturesque and has a great view, and I don't have to share with anyone) to write. Ryan North

16 August 2012

Do you have a favorite character or hero from children’s literature?
Hermione. Harry Potter to me is a bore. His talent arrives as a gift; he’s chosen. Who can identify with that? But Hermione — she’s working harder than anyone, she’s half outsider, right? Half Muggle. She shouldn’t be there at all. It’s so unfair that Harry’s the star of the books, given how hard she worked to get her powers.

Great news, Ma

Despite having convinced myself to the contrary, I still don't need bifocals. Can't remember the last time I read under covers with a flashlight, but maybe I should bring that back.

15 August 2012

Anatomy of a successful reading

Last night I went to see Robert Anasi read from his new memoir/ oral history THE LAST BOHEMIA: SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN at WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint.

Anasi lives in southern California now, but he lived in Williamsburg, a part of north Brooklyn parallel to 14th Street in Manhattan, from 1993 to 2008, observing the neighborhood's transformation from an artist's paradise, squatterville and industrial remainder to the hipster epicenter it is now. Reflecting on the place after he left, Anasi interviewed people he knew "back then" to chronicle a now-vanished city -- in his reading, he compared it to Atlantis.

Of all the readings I have been to this year, and there have been a lot, this was the most successful reading in terms of converting me from a curious listener to someone who needed to buy it, now. (And that's just what I did.) I don't mean that cynically -- I was happy that that's what happened. Normally, when I go to readings like Anasi's, I already have my mind made up as to whether I will buy the book or not, and what happens there doesn't sway me either way. (Well, I can't think of a reading where I went prepared to buy and didn't, anyway, but maybe it happened to you.)

In that sense I'm defining "successful" a bit narrowly -- after all, readings can surely pay other dividends beyond cash in hand book sales -- but publishers (in this case, FSG with its new to me "Originals" paperback line) would definitely consider it a metric. So why do I think it was so successful, and what can other authors learn from it?

  • He read crowd-pleasing passages, instead of just starting at the beginning of the book. Anasi read a section about a now-defunct Williamsburg bar called Kokie's Lounge, a place I had never heard of (though judging from the knowing laughs around me, some people had) where you could openly buy and do really, really poor-quality cocaine. The two connecting passages Anasi read were funny, unbelievable, detailed and formed a small story in themselves. (Side note: The people who brought their 8- or 9-year-old kid to this reading probably would not agree that reading this passage was a great idea.) 
  • He engaged with audience questions, instead of just answering them. Some authors just don't look comfortable doing Q&As, and really, who can blame them? But Anasi welcomed other people in the room to tell their stories of old Williamsburg, and ask the questions that will probably come up at every reading he holds, notably: How did this [the gentrification of Williamsburg] happen? and Can we keep it from happening again? It reminded me a little of the Christopher Bram reading I went to earlier this summer when I heard about the pre-"Stonewall" Stonewall. 
  • He added something to the reading that you can't get from the book. Anasi opened his reading with footage from (if I recall correctly) a friend's documentary about Williamsburg, about a five-minute clip. Some of the places were hard to identify, particularly for someone like me who doesn't know the neighborhood extremely well, but the scenes with voiceover about how the neighborhood used to be set the tone for the whole reading -- nostalgic, painful, mystical. Not every author will have access to something like that, but something like reading new work or speaking off-the-cuff before the reading can give it that "something extra" without demanding too much of the author. (Some local reading series have built that "something extra" in, like how Literary Death Match has every reader "compete" for a meaningless title, or how Happy Endings forces every author to "take a risk"onstage.) Sounds paradoxical -- especially if you're selling the book itself, but it was like Anasi invited us into the book before he even started reading it. 
My Williamsburg is a place where, in some muddled moment in 2008, I went from "too young and naive to belong" to "too old and staid to belong." Hearing about the neighborhood long before I was first exposed to it (2004? I think?) still isn't old to me, and I'm looking forward to reading THE LAST BOHEMIA. 

Filmbook-to-Be: "Life of Pi" World Premiere Set for Sept. 28

Does anyone know where the presidential candidates stand on this NY Film Festival-opening mess? Asking for a friend.

14 August 2012

Bombs away!

At age 24, the word "F-bomb" has finally been inducted into the Merriam-Webster dictionary. I could suggest to you how best to celebrate this day, but I think you already know.

13 August 2012

True reading confession

One of my goals this weekend was to finish all the books that have been sitting around half-finished. I ended up finishing three, which was pretty good.

I would describe my attention span as "average," but I'm always starting books while in the middle of other books. I don't think it's just boredom; some of it is circumstance. Something else will catch my eye, or I'll have need to hurry up on some particular book. I'll jump to a book I'm reviewing, then jump back with varying levels of success. I have met a decent number of people who say they can never read more than one book at once, and I used to be like that -- but I don't know what happened. I think it's becoming a bad habit.

Just like with multitasking, I think by jumping from book to book I am convincing myself that I'm getting more reading done than I actually am. True, I did say I finished 3 books, but they were all at least half-done, and maybe it did take me longer to get into them when I finally got down to business. And take a book I didn't finish, but managed to get through a chunk of, Jonathan Franzen's debut THE TWENTY-SEVENTH CITY. I read about 150 pages of it, wasn't overly impressed but wanted to finish to have an informed opinion on why I didn't like it. When I came back to it, I found myself getting more caught up in its plot of political intrigue (more on that later, I'm sure). Maybe in that case I needed a break to get more engaged. Then again, if it was so gripping, why did it sit around for six weeks?

Anyway, including 27TH CITY, I'm now down to six (!?!?! I have a problem) half-read books, but I may quit one because it was more boring than the Franzen book in its first pass.

"He said he expected the single store to be maintained by his heirs."

Times are tough for bookstores everywhere; Westerns author Larry McMurtry is downsizing Booked Up, his used book dealership in Archer City, Texas (150 miles northwest of Dallas, near the Oklahoma border). Sounds like a fun field trip if you're in the vicinity... for now.

12 August 2012

If only he could have had headphones: Ryan Hall dropped out of the Olympic marathon this morning near the 15K mark. Expect God to fire some of his coaching staff.

11 August 2012

Ba bump, bump, bump

Time editor and talking head Fareed Zakaria plagiarized a New Yorker article about gun control. Zakaria's apology in part: "I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault."

10 August 2012

The "girl" at the front desk

Janet Groth's memoir THE RECEPTIONIST is getting a lot of attention for the potential of gossip from and about her longtime employer, the "New Yorker," and in that respect it’s something of a disappointment. Through her years of manning one of the magazine’s front desks, Groth knew and squirreled away everyone’s secrets, but most of those she relates here are her own.

For its portrait of a working environment in which the social bled into the day-to-day, THE RECEPTIONIST is a time capsule of a different age. Luck got Groth her initial interview (she was working for a friend of E.B. White’s) but the job she and everyone else would be a short sojourn before marriage became an enduring fixture in her life.

A major reason for that: the changing workplace climate, even to our modern eyes it may not seem changed enough, allowing her to stay single . It wasn’t always that fun; Groth was routinely pestered for dates by whoever came in to see one of the writers, even the married men, and found herself dreading the job for a while after her cartoonist boyfriend was fired. Her account of her time at the “New Yorker” suggests that the major difference between that workplace and others was that the men who asked her on dates, at least those worthy of mention here, were not intimidated by her intellectual pursuits. That in itself is a victory, as well as the fact that most of the time Groth was behind the desk she was chipping away at graduate school at NYU. Like many of the never-marrieds I know, her romantic history is a patchwork of a few serious relationships and some “good story” dates.

The question of why Groth never progressed beyond the receptionist's desk in her time at the “New Yorker” is one even she finds herself unable to answer. She pointedly told E.B. White in her interview that she didn't want to be placed in the typing pool, with the implication that doing so meant choosing a dead-end career as one in a large body of largely replaceable women (who, one assumes, would quit as soon as they got married), landing her at the reception desk. Yet she never wrote for the magazine, and finds herself unable to articulate why. As the magazine went through some growing pains in the ‘80s with the suggestion that it systematically discriminated against its women, Groth asks of these policies, "Was I a victim? Or a beneficiary?" reasoning that the same job security that kept her safely ensconced prevented her from moving up.

THE RECEPTIONIST wasn't a standout memoir to me – at one point she has a revelation on vacation that doesn’t go anywhere, and the chapter about the things Groth learned from her African-American roommate is particularly winceworthy -- but it would have been nice to get her perspective into such an august body that at the time leaned heavily on old white dudes to set its tone. Maybe that makes this book necessary after all.

A Canadian litmag is reporting that David Rakoff, "This American Life" contributor and all-around funny writer, passed away yesterday.

09 August 2012

Feel on the verge of going mad -- then it's time to punch the clock

Meet Publishers Weekly's 6 Authors Who Never Quit Their Day Jobs, fully half of whom are or were in medical fields (counting psychologist Tomas Transtromer). Next time I can't get a doctor's appointment because the office is only open from 10:30 to 11:45 and 2:30 to 4, I'll know what the score is. In a larger philosophical sense, though, has this economy not made Melvilles of us all?

08 August 2012

Rock Hudson FTW

Bret Easton Ellis' Twitter rant about why no openly gay or gay-acting
actor can play Christian Grey in the dreadfully inevitable 50 SHADES
screen adaptation is:

A. Homophobic
B. Ignorant
C. Hilariously presumptuous
D. Just the type of insane provocation which makes it hard not to
engage with because of its sheer wrongheadedness
E. Still less crazy than Ellis' top movies of the year so far a
F. Both A and B
G. Both D and E
H. All of the above
I. For the love! It's acting! That's what it means! (He did indicate
he understood this, with a "but..." indicating he completely missed
the point.)
J. Injurious to the openly gay actor Ellis held out as an example, who
got dragged into this because of some casting rumor or other (and
whose name I only omit because he did get dragged into it).
K. NOT injurious to that openly gay actor, because he may not even
want or be up for that part anyway, because there's nothing to hide
about him being out, and because of IMPERIAL BEDROOMS.
L. Seriously, it is 2012, are we really arguing about this?

07 August 2012

NYC: Bookswappers' Club tomorrow night, Brooklyn

This is such a genius idea. $4 beers! The books of strangers! Why oh why do I have to be in midtown at this hour?

06 August 2012

Warner Brothers has moved "The Great Gatsby" to summer 2013, for who cares what reason this is terrible.

Poor Yunior.

Salcedense (noun) Person or native of the region of Salcedo; since the construction in question is Spanish, the region is likely to be either the city of Salcedo in the Dominican Republic or a territory in Ecuador. (Pronounced: sahl-seh-DEN-say.) 

As used in the new Junot Diaz short story, "The Cheater's Guide to Love" (New Yorker, 7/23/12 issue). The subject described as a salcedense (the narrator's ex-girlfriend) is assumed to be Dominican in this case from context provided by this later passage:

In general, any Spanish word ending in -dense denotes origin or nationality, hence the little used but grammatically Estadounidense, resident of the Estados Unidos (United States).

(And while we're here, clavo saca clavo means roughly "one worry replaces another"; literally, one nail takes out another.)

04 August 2012

"In the research pile there are books about advertising, De Beers, Paris, marriage and F.D.R."
--Whatever J. Courtney Sullivan's next project is (according to this New York Times description), I'm on board. 

03 August 2012

How To Assign Yourself Summer Reading As A Grown-up

1. Sometime in mid-April, realize that the lines you are doodling on your legal pad at work are stacking themselves into the weeks and months of summer.
2. Request your vacation days, squeezing each for maximal sunshine and minimal expense.
3. Unearth the box of your summer clothes with a heavy puff.
4. Survey your bookshelves and wonder about how your summer will be.
5. Add one book that's almost too heavy to carry around by itself, your summer anchor, the kind of thing you can use to hold a corner of a towel down at the beach, the book that could set the tone for the whole summer -- at least you hope so.
6. Pile on three or four books about who you want to be, something bigger than your commute and your vacation plans.
7. Unearth the gifts you opened months ago, still dusty with good feelings.
8. And oh, how about those discoveries you made at bookstores in Houston and Portland, recycling someone else's hard labors into your own.
9. Top them all with something new that you have been looking forward to the symbolic event of buying, just to carry it out of the store in a paper envelope like a prize.
10. Stack them all precariously on your floor so when you hop out of bed every morning, to roll out your yoga mat on the beach or stand in a meadow in western Massachusetts with two economists and a composer, there they are.
11. Realize at the top of August that there's no way you could possibly finish all of those books. Take delight in that. Realize in a way that was the point. Wish anyway that summer would never end.

(Three books down, 7 to go this year.)

02 August 2012

Just when you thought it was safe to turn off your e-book reader...

Harper Perennial is reprising its 99-cent e-book sale from last year. Got my eye on: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WALK IN THE WORLD, THE LONDON TRAIN, THE GREAT LOVER.

Olympian Ryan Hall for Audiobooks

Just in time for London, here's Ryan Hall listening to THE ODYSSEY on his "short run." Surprising that the famously religious Hall (he lists God as his coach wouldn't get a plug in there for his favorite long book, the Bible. Hall will compete in the marathon on August 12.

01 August 2012

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is offering refunds to people who bought Jonah Lehrer's IMAGINE, after the former New Yorker writer admitted to fabricating some Bob Dylan quotations in it.

12 for 7: Best Books I've Read in 2012 So Far

Come on, did you think I'd really forgotten?

Published in 2012 
Gillian Flynn, GONE GIRL
Heidi Julavits, THE VANISHERS
Richard Ford, CANADA
Adam Levin, HOT PINK

Published previously 
Dana Spiotta, STONE ARABIA 
Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, I WANT MY MTV

RIP Gore Vidal, giant of American letters, one-time Kerouac bed buddy and (most important to our purposes) member of the Modern Library editorial board.