Reluctant Habits

A Proud Crank

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To the foolish fop who dared to defend my honor at Maud’s, let it be known that I am a proud crank, a consummate dunce, and run such a fever that neither a team of doctors nor infinite cases of quinine can stop me from babbling like a raving loon. There’s no honor denying these silly misinterpretations. I get enough of the jejune (nod to Birnbaum) PC shit when I visit Berkeley. So please: I urge all able Reluctant readers to flurry epithets posthaste! Back to my temporary Bastille.

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Why Walter Kirn Should Take a Vacation

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Exhibit: Kirn’s review of David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion. Number of words in review: 1,399. Number of words quoted from book in review: 186 Percentage of quoted excerpts as part of review: 13% Approximate fair use percentage under dispute in the infamous Gerald Ford/Nation dust-up: 13.3% Number of times “anxious” or “anxiety” is mentioned: 2. Number of parenthetical asides: 6 Number of onerous Tom Swify adverbs (not counting quotes): 17 Number of prefix-laden non-words: 7 (“maladapts,” “decontextualized,” “hyperfocused,” “microtextures,” “superbrain,””hyperarticulate,” “overstimulated”) The Pain Reliver Commercial Homage Award: “Data-dazed. Cybernetic. Overstimulated.” Back…read more

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Hiatus

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Due to life circumstances, we’re pretty much done here until the 4th. We’re also still behind on our email. So apologies to all on that score. We’ll get back to all of you when the DSL kicks in at the new place. (In fact, we’ve already started on the replies.) In the meantime, check out this latest John Barth interview and feel free to visit some of the fine folks on the left. [UPDATE: And before I poof away completely for a week or so, I’d be remiss if I…read more

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You Didn’t Hear It From Me…

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…but Maud’s story is up at Swink.

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Just Tell Them You’re Kilgore Trout, Assuming the Fuzz Has a Sense of Humor

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Wired: “The Supreme Court ruled Monday that people do not have a constitutional right to refuse to tell police their names. The 5-4 decision frees the government to arrest and punish people who won’t cooperate by revealing their identity.”

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We Are Them

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The Guardian: “Detainees held in Afghanistan by American troops have been routinely tortured and humiliated as part of the interrogation process, in the same way as those in Iraq, a Guardian investigation has found. Five detainees have died in custody, three of them in suspicious circumstances, and survivors have told stories of beatings, strippings, hoodings and sleep deprivation.”

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My Culture: High and Low

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In light of moving and all, I wasn’t able to attend the California Book Awards. But now I’m regretting it. Jeff points out that the awards ceremony turned nasty: “His view is that art is elitist. He’s wrong.” At this, one San Francisco author stormed out, causing a slight breeze. (Word spread quickly that she is a friend of King’s, and they are both members of the all-author rock band, the Rock-Bottom Remainders.)

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Wenclas Responds, Reluctant Rebuts

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King Wenclas has responded to the criticisms hurled his way. He writes (in the first of two comments): Well, I’m going to defend my organization and myself. It’s called free expression. There is nothing wrong with debate. It’s healthy for literature. Before the ULA arrived on the scene there was too little of it. The truth is that literature is marginalized in this culture, because for much of its recent history it’s been the property of stuffy professors genteely drinking tea in faculty rooms. (The tea to keep the enervated…read more

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We’re Not In This for the Money or Anything

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In a bid to avoid the real purpose of this blog, we decided to catch the wave and try harder to cater to our readers. While we decided what it was you wanted, figuring out what good things to bring into your mailbox and calculating what you might be interested in buying, we felt sort of hollow giving into this commercial impulse. Therefore, we leave others to maintain the subterfuge.

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Sadly, Terri Schiavo Won’t Be Able to Join the Fun

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In Florida, Jeb Bush has unveiled a program called Read Together Florida, essentially a statewide version of Oprah’s Book Club. The first book chosen was Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. The Golden Gate Gazette reports that early meetings at the Collier County Public Library had people discussing the storyline.

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Miguel Cohen’s “Ulysses,” Part 2

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TEXT: He peered sideways up and gave a long low whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there with gold points. Chrysostomos. Two strong shrill whistles answered through the calm. – Thanks, old chap, he cried briskly. That will do nicely. Switch off the current, will you? MIGUEL: First, we had peering down and calling up. Now we have sideways up. Is Joyce suggesting that Buck’s pining for multiple positions? The other day, I threw several quarters on the ground and…read more

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The Latest Hitchens Dust-Up

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Christopher Hitchens has posted a longass essay tearing Fahrenheit 9/11 to shreds. I have no comments one way or the other. The wholesale dissection of the film either way before its release leaves me with a bitter aftertaste.

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And You Thought Your Email Backlog Was Unmanagable

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AP: “While it’s long been part of the culture of the romance-novel business to accept unsolicited proposals, some publishers are making the process easier. News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers, for instance, accepts e-mail pitches on its romance Web site — and gets a mind-numbing 10,000 online queries annually. ‘We’re starting to get them from other countries, sometimes in broken English,’ says Morrow/Avon Executive Editor Carrie Feron. E-queries have arrived from Italy, eastern Europe and Asia. At least a few top editors are frankly irked. Diana Baroni, an executive editor at Time…read more

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He’s Even Got the Contractions Sans Apostrophes Down

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TMFTML has obtained first serial rights for My Life, which has a curious Faulkner ring to it.

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Miguel Cohen’s “Ulysses,” Part 1

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Miguel Cohen, brother of Randy “Ethicist” Cohen, has expressed a desire to come back to Return of the Reluctant. After several rounds of therapy, he confessed considerable guilt to me in an email about the Unethicist column. He was ashamed that his offerings weren’t literary. He was bothered by the fact that he had to compete with his brother. More importantly, he offered me five bucks. Inspired by the recent Ulysses blog and the Bloomsbury anniversary, Miguel has decided to offer his interpretation of what it all means. So long…read more

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Someone Give Wenclas & Co. Hugs

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Dan Green has weighed in with a thoughtful post about the Underground Literary Alliance, that ragtag bunch of frustrated writers-cum-Yippie wannabes that I have, until now, remained silent and nonpartisan upon. I have not exactly sanctioned this “organization,” but, because I am sympathetic to alternative and underground voices, I have at least tried to acknowledge them to some degree. However, after watching the ULA antics for several years, I must now conclude that, unless they change their tune, these folks are no longer worthy of my attention or yours. The…read more

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Update

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I’ve been in the middle of packing (books — too many books), so I have no idea if the photocopies of Norman Mailer’s Xeroxed butt, which have caused at least three heart attacks and one epileptic seizure, have finally been released to the Internet. But Lizzie reports that there’s a new column in this month’s Poets & Writers in which Laila, Maud and myself were referenced. I haven’t read the column, but I appreciate that Poets & Writers has started to not only pick up on the stories and developments…read more

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When Good Roommates Go Bad

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The roommate who doesn’t get along with his fellow living mate will either address his grievances to his living mate or amicably part, working out the nature of his departure through courtesy and discussion, and ideally without resorting to pistols at dawn. Assuming that the two roommates are rational people, there will often be a discussion, if not a common ground where these two roommates agree to live out the remainder of their lease with the same easy adult skills that one puts to task when balancing one’s checkbook. In…read more

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The Fiction Writer’s Get Rich Quick Not As Quick as Non-Fiction (And, In Fact, in Forty Years or So) Scheme: Write About Desert Camps

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Ben Jelloun has won the world’s richest fiction prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Nothing more to report today except utter depression about world events and those duplicitious deviants in Washington. Real hiatus again. As usual, check out the fine folks on the left.

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If Not Tangerine Muumuus, Then Some Shade of Orange…

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It’s a sure bet that we were informed, but we’re so behind on email that we learned it only just recently from Maud. Tingle Alley, Carrie AA Frye’s fantastic new blog, goes live tomorrow. We remain sensitive, of course, to Ms. Frye’s hue and garb contretemps, but we’ll let forth a color and cry if she does not find a suitable sub for the tangerine muumuu. This may or may not explain our obsession. And did we mention that Halloween is our favorite holiday?

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The Case for Marquand

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I don’t know how I missed it in the May Atlantic, but Martha Spaulding continues the ongoing fight to reinstate satirist John P. Marquand into the American pantheon. Regular Reluctant readers may know that I am nothing less than crazy about Marquand. If you can find any of his books in used bookstores, I recommend starting with The Late George Apley or Sincerely, Willis Wayde, which are my two favorites out of the seven or so I’ve read (not counting the Mr. Moto books). Right now, I’m reading So Little…read more

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The Nonfiction Writer’s Get Rich Quick Scheme: Write About Postwar Life

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Anna Funder’s Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall has won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the world’s richest non-fiction award.

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Better — The New Buzz Word for “Slightly Tolerable”

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The third Madonna children’s book has been declared “better” by the Canadian Press. Other reviewers have insisted that the reported increase in quality has been an orchestrated ploy to keep Madonna from writing further books after her five-book series.

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Next Up: Tolstoy in 15 Minutes

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A North Carolina theatre is offering an abridged version of the complete works of William Shakespeare (in less than 90 minutes, in fact). The comedy has apparently been making the rounds since 1987.

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Expert to Dunce in Ten Minutes

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“Crime expert” John L. Stanley was arrested in Kansas City minutes after robbing a bank. What’s even more surprising was the amount of incriminating evidence on his possession.

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Rosenbaum Rivals Old Faithful for Violent Gushing

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Ron Rosenbaum has nabbed the new Philip Roth novel, the alternate history novel in which Charles Lindbergh beats FDR in 1940, and devoted some 4,000 words to it. The precis: the article reveals key plot elements, and Rosenbaum is as ecstatic as an aging Marin County New Ager slipping into his Birkenstocks. The more specific quibble: Ron, did we really need to know about the Lakers-Piston game?

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We’re Looking for the Hidden Jokes in Homer

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David Kipen: “That’s the Joyce I recognize. Not the mandarin classicist who finds slang and pidgin “frightful,” but the omnivore who knew dirty jokes in 30 languages. My Joyce knows that the punchiest remedies are mixtures: of high and low, of songs and of tongues. Just you try it on.”

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AudBlog #17 — A Special Message from Dave Deluxe-Diner

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audio post powered by audblog

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Rummy Demonstrates New “Cop-A-Feel” Foreign Policy to Powell

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Apparently, Deb Schwarz Didn’t Have the Walls for the Fitzgerald Homage

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Rejection letters from various literary magazines, as collected by Deb Schwartz. (via Moorish Girl)

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