Reluctant Habits

Chip’s Asleep at the Wheel

Posted by in New York Times

More journalistic endeavors later. For now, the NYT book coverage has me very concerned. Eurotrash is the NYT takedown queen, but I knows bad grammar whens I sees it. From this Michael Kazin review: “Susan Jacoby regrets in her new book” — Is that the only way Jacoby regrets? Through tomes? “zealous Protestants secured laws to ban the sale of alcohol, erotic literature and diaphragms” — As opposed to executing them? I secure my pants and the Xmas tree on top of the car, thank you very much. “the teaching…read more

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The Time Has Come

Posted by in Personal, Technical

At long last, I have figured this gambit out. The Life, only occasionally referred to here in Reluctant-Land, has become one of those things where one wonders how to maintain a blog under the circumstances. Over the past two weeks, I have been trying to figure out how to balance reading, writing, and living — all three of which are far more important than anything I could possibly post here. Like most bloggers, posts are offered to stave off afternoon boredom (hence the one-third nudity clause referenced not long ago…read more

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Kerry Urges Supporters to Look Into the Orb

Posted by in Photo Headlines

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Leave of Absence

Posted by in Technical

Herr Pollack is back. My services are no longer required.

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How to Spice Up Your Relationship

Posted by in Relationships

All it takes is a broom.

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Updike Wins PEN/Faulkner

Posted by in Awards, Updike, John

The Hollywood Reporter (of all places) is reporting that John Updike has won the PEN/Faulkner. [UPDATE: Here's the Reuters article. Damn, I was rooting for ZZ. I dig the Rabbit Angstrom books, but does Updike need another award?]

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Times X2

Posted by in New York Times

The Times chronicles the success story of Andrew Sean Greer, now covered in every newspaper from here to Madrid. Read Max Tivoli before you get sickened by the chronic coverage. Beyond that, there’s stunning news of Anne Fadiman departing The American Scholar. Fadiman was reportedly asked to leave because of PBK’s perilous finances. Under Fadiman’s tenure, the Scholar was one of the foremost places to find nonfiction.

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Dale Peck: PR Poster Boy?

Posted by in Peck, Dale

Rake points to this press release for “Peck’s Last Negative Review Ever.” There’s a phone number there for some guy named Peter McFarlane, if anyone’s curious. McFarlane notes that he “scored” the Peck review. Well, certainly, if anyone wishes to compare acquiring an essay called “The Man Who Would Be Sven” to a midnight run for a dime bag, then the metaphor is apt. We here at Return of the Reluctant, however, prefer publicity in a more abrasive form:

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Those Nanny Diaries Gals Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Plum Sykes

Posted by in Literary Hipsters

Sykes, a 34-year-old contributing editor at Vogue and the more dramatic sister of a nineties ?It?-girl twin set??Lucy and I were Paris and Nicky without the sex tape??received a $625,000 advance for her novel from Miramax Books in 2002. Bergdorf Blondes turns out to be a Devil Wears Prada where everyone is an angel. ?I say, if you are lucky enough to go on gorgeous trips abroad, take your girlfriends something fashionable back,? reads one line. Early reviews are lukewarm (?Tacky? Absolutely,? said Publishers Weekly). (via Emma)

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Hey, We May Be More Paranoid Than We Think

Posted by in Fundamentalism

You’ve sold more than 40 million books. Number 12′s about to come out. What do you do to keep your readers hooked? You throw in the Messiah himself. Yes, Glorious Appearing, the latest entry in the Left Behind series is almost due. And this time, it’s personal. Jesus himself shows up. And for those who can’t wait for the Literary Event of the Millennium, there’s an excerpt up for die-hards: Mac’s magnified vision fell upon colorful, metallic pieces glinting in the sun, perhaps a mile from his position. Oh no….read more

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Dublin Shortlist

Posted by in Awards

The Impac Dublin prize has been whittled down to a shortlist of ten. The final nominations are: The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster Any Human Heart by William Boyd Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry The White Family by Maggie Gee The Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun Balthasar’s Odyssey by Amin Maalouf Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi House of Day, House of Night by Olga Takarczuk The prize, set at €100,000, is one of the richest literary bonanzas…read more

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About the Redundant Writer Who Couldn’t Stop Repeating Himself

Posted by in Silliness

When he met her he met her and he liked her as much as she liked him yes, he heard things better, meaning better than before and quite possibly better before he met her, and in his eyes those powerful bright blue orbs that had taken in her presence when he met her the lines of the physical world meeting up at that point where they had met each other and he had liked her, she liking him as much as he did, both standing on these lines signifying the…read more

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Ustinov Gone

Posted by in Obits

Peter Ustinov has passed on. He was one of the few actors who could write. He made a grand Poirot, and he was so incredible that I foolishly believed he would be around forever. Ustinov’s Billy Budd was a personal fave of mine. He’ll be missed.

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Fourth Amendment Decimated in Three States

Posted by in Politics, Prison

The Associated Press: “Acting on a Baton Rouge case, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that police do not need an arrest or search warrant to conduct a swift sweep of private property to ensure their own safety. Any evidence discovered during that search now is admissible in court as long as the search is a ‘cursory inspection,’ and if police entered the site for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and believed it may be dangerous.”

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Scaleback

Posted by in Technical

A hard April 1 deadline stares back at me on the play, which is doubly interesting given that a character’s gender switched over the weekend (thanks to a very simple and obvious observation from my producer, which explains all the homoeroticism that found its way in). So while I contend with this madness, you won’t be hearing much from me this week, except via the usual afternoon subterfuge. But I will have more on the Academy of Arts contretemps very soon.

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Laura Miller Pushed for the “One Imagines,” I’m Sure

Posted by in Tanenhaus, Sam

The Hag hits the NYTBR again. That’s two tangos with Chip before the handover. It’s a good review. However, I suspect that the copy desk mangled clarity into a genteel timebomb: “One imagines it’s difficult to capture eloquently the horrors of a baby being thrown out with the bath water, but that’s probably why most first-time authors don’t attempt it.” And, as Ron observes, that’s not even the half of it. Come on, Tanenhaus. Play ball.

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A DAY IN THE GODDAM LIFE OF …Horace Krum

Posted by in Author Publicity, Satire

A Day in the Goddam Life (with apologies to Lenin and all other despicable leftists who object to modifiers like “goddam”), a new feature that will run periodically on Return of the Reluctant, follows local residents through their daily routines. But rather than dwell upon the obvious success stories, it is this publication’s hope to profile those who do not have the security blanket of an expendable income. The first installment is about Horace Krum, an aspiring writer living in poverty. Mr. Krum doesn’t enjoy being used as a yardstick,…read more

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Brass Balls

Posted by in Film, Music

The Glengarry Mix: the Ultimate Abuse Mix makes life worth living.

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I’m All for Donating One’s Body to Science, But…

Posted by in Sex

When in doubt, go fuck yourself. (via MeFi)

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The Latest Celebrity Blogger

Posted by in Blogging, Politics

Noam Chomsky has a blog.

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Book Babes Watch

Posted by in Book Babes

It has now been eight days since we’ve heard anything from the Book Babes, with the last column featuring Margo alone (with an almost Stalinist exclusion of Ellen). Have the Book Babes been canned? Did someone actually pay attention to Mark’s petition? Inquiring minds want to know. To be clear to the Poynter Institute (if they are indeed watching), the collected hope was to raise the level of discourse, not eviscerate it completely. I certainly hope that Poynter isn’t foregoing book coverage altogether. But if they’re looking for replacements, there…read more

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Storming the Gates

Posted by in Awards, Field Reports

The event is free and open to the public. It happens every year at the San Francisco Main Library. The Northern California Book Awards. Timed early enough to keep the happy hour crowd away. The library shuts its doors at eight. Get out and go home to your books. And buy some on the way. This is an awards ceremony, but you won’t find spouses, friends or family. This is a tableau vivant. Support your local indie bookstore. Support your local gunfighters. Walk in, away from the dying sun. You…read more

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Northern California Book Award Winners

Posted by in Awards

Novel: Old School Short Story Collection: How to Breathe Underwater Poetry: Notes from the Divided Country Non-Fiction: River of Shadows Children’s Literature: The Day the Babies Crawled Away Translation: Head Above Water Detailed report to follow tomorrow morning. The biggest surprise was Orringer beating out Packer. Also, it was probably a mistake to introduce myself to Waldman and say, “Hey. How’s it going?” There were reasons for this — among them, a bad memory. More tales of inept literary adventures tomorrow.

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Let’s See Teachout Pull a Pirouette

Posted by in Author Publicity

I’d be damn remiss if I didn’t point out that Terry has a Balanchine excerpt up. (Thanks, Laila, for reminding me.)

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Bill Gates Tries Frightened Defense Against EU Antitrust Charges

Posted by in Photo Headlines, Technology

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Always Look on the Bright Side of Mel

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Passion of the Christ? Screw that. The real theatrical gem is The Life of Brian, coming again to a theater near you.

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Raines Speaks His Mind

Posted by in Uncategorized

Shocking allegations from Howell Raines will soon appear in the Atlantic — part of a planned memoir called I Was Master of the House, But Jayson Kept Playing With the Zippo. Among some of the highlights: 1. Raines secretly coveted the drugs and alcohol, and kept Jayson Blair on the payroll so that he could “relive his twenties again.” 2. Not once did Raines call Jayson Blair “boy.” 3. Raines once asked Blair to sit on his lap. Blair declined. Raines claims there was nothing sexual involved. The lap-sitting incident…read more

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Who’s the Real Bitch?

Posted by in Uncategorized

Rake points to this Birkets column and the potential conflict of interest. Birkets, as we all know, was the last man pummeled by Dale Peck. No one’s entirely sure how the fight went. Because frankly the house wasn’t full. But given Birkets’ new offering, we hereby revise our initial assessment of Birkets and demote him.

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Hasty Snippets

Posted by in Roundup

Cathleen Schine’s new novel is (no surprise) about a woman leaving her husband for a woman. But that’s not all. Schine will also be appearing at the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival on a panel with the man she left, David Denby. The festival organizers have tried to get Denby and Schine to sing “I Got You, Babe,” but Denby can’t carry a tune. Complicating things further is the fact that Schine doesn’t own a leather jacket. She also reports that she saves her provocative undergarments for the bedroom. A…read more

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Only One of the Holy Trinity Can Be Counted On

Posted by in Uncategorized

When in doubt, rely upon Dan Rather to defy common sense. Whether it’s the 1968 Democratic Convention or Gunga Dan, the very likely possibility that Dan Rather will go nuts is why I will be glued to CBS on Election Night. Only eight more months.

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