Reluctant Habits

Alive

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In lieu of email responses: I’ve now been awake for almost twenty-one hours straight, and I just got back from Chicago (public apology to OGIC: the flight got delayed, I wrote down your number wrong, and I plan to plunge my head in a vat of boiling water when either an abundance of spare time or inveterate idiocy comes my way). Managed to squeeze in a Ferris Bueller moment at the top of the Sears Tower (which involved suffering through a Chicago propaganda film before getting access to the elevator)…read more

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Bonus points for squeezing in a mention of “The Breast”

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Superfriend CAAF here, to say, as one might of the dearly departed, “Ed would want this mentioned.” In this weekend’s NYTBR, Tom Bissell writes a wonderfully smart review of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. It is not unheard of for a novelist of exceptional talent to write a deliberately difficult book. This urge does not necessarily result in novels with nameless characters, mutating typography or unpunctuated attempts to explore the aphotic realm of human consciousness. It is also not an urge unique to modernism or experimentalism. Some novelists just seem to…read more

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monday morning theatrics starring Wilton Barnhardt

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This is Superfriend Bond Girl poking my head up on Monday morning with a surprise for Ed. Last year, Mr. Bond Girl received Wilton Barnhardt’s novel Emma Who Saved My Life for Christmas and I immediately snatched it and read it in big gulps. I read it again. Then we went out and bought Wilton’s other books — the Biblical thriller Gospel (DFW wishes he footnoted like this!) and the brutally hilarious satire on D.C. and L.A. Show World. Wilton is one of those writers who offers something different but…read more

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Surprise Move from Bush Planned for RNC: President to Ask Supporters to Feed Him Gerber

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Kerry Gets Posture Tips from Lady Liberty, Plans Stiffer Gestures for October

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Wrestling Update

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One of the original ideas behind the Wrestling site was to include a blog, thus allowing the public a look into our glorious fishbowl. Time, however, has prevented this from happening. Since Return of the Reluctant has remained sadly devoid of any new material, I thought I’d use this space to post updates on the play. (For those seeking literary-related content, look elsewhere until mid-September.) The updates will also be mirrored over at the Wrestling site, thus eviscerating two birds with one kidney stone. First, the good news. The show…read more

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damn bad, Svet

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I confess that I still delight in piling the incoming submissions high on my office table and regarding the stack — and then each envelope — as holding the possibility of the new. Is this the voice, the sound, the unexpected spark-making combination that will start something going? Reading and sifting allows me to see myself as an agent in the literary culture — which I have to believe impinges at least somewhat on our common lives. It helps me sustain some bit of that just-around-the-corner feeling that makes the…read more

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note to the master of the house

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Jeff Turretine reviews Cloud Atlas in this week’s Book World, and it’s followed by a fascinating q and a with David Mitchell. BW: What did you learn in the process of writing it? DM: I learned that art is about people: Ideas are well and good, but without characters to hang them on, fiction falls limp. I learned that language is to the human experience what spectography is to light: Every word holds a tiny infinity of nuances, a genealogy, a social set of possible users, and that although a…read more

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Tanenhaus Watch — August 22, 2004

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This week, it’s very hit-or-miss at the NYTBR. However, Tanenhaus should be commended for taking a few risks (he scores by throwing in de Beauvoir and Persepolis 2, but Klosterman is a serious mistake). Suzy Hansen’s article on plagiarism is a nice journalistic piece, but it belongs in the magazine. All in all, we’re disappointed that we couldn’t put on our oven mitts, because we were definitely in a brownie-baking mood. We’ll let the statistics stand alone. Total Full-Length Reviews: 5 Full-Length Fiction Reviews: 3 (While the fiction-to-nonfiction ratio still…read more

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Zorro he was not

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Recently, I wondered aloud about the seemingly substantial number of Great Writers who suffered brothel-related misadventures/trauma in pubescence. Someone appropriately named “tlon” simply replied “Borges,” and sure enough, here it is in this month’s Harper’s (and elsewhere, no doubt) in a review of Edwin Williamson’s Borges: A Life: Williamson has Borges caught between the noble sword of his heroic grandfather and the gaucho knife. His mother enforced the one; his father, the other. Borges went off to his first day of school with a knife his father gave him for…read more

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Gone for Weeks

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Show being prepped. Not enough sleep. Barely enough time to change socks and comb hair. Read my lips: no new content (until first week of Sept.). Interested parties (i.e., all 2 of you) may venture forth to the Wrestling blog (soon to be added) if you care, where inside dirt (of an amicable sort) will be dished. Superfriends? [UPDATE: And yes, we know we can’t spell. Thank you for noticing. Forgive us. We’ll fix it soon. We’re looking more and more like Keith Richards. And the hell of it is,…read more

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That’s Fine. We’ll Stop Capitalizing wired When Sourcing Them.

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Wired shall no longer capitalize the Internet in their articles, along with the Web and the Net. Which is a shame, because this nation was built on initial caps, dammit!

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Reason #132 Why the Olympics Suck

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The ASININE 2004 Organizing Committee has introduced a hyperlink policy that is laughably bureaucratic at best, and a deterrent to bonhomie at worst. What next? Policies dictating the manner in which spectators can point at the five rings? Mandates when you take in an opposing sponsor’s meal? Oh, wait.

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They Just Don’t Understand Vincent Gallo’s Genius!

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Some solid hoots from the Times: Mr. Gallo argues that the whole episode was exaggerated by the press and points out that the movie received a standing ovation at its official Cannes showing. In any case, it is coming to American theaters with some of the worst advance word in recent cinematic memory, almost daring moviegoers to go see it. Denial’s a bitch, ain’t it, Vince? After making “Buffalo ’66″ Mr. Gallo said he had all but decided to leave filmmaking because he hated working with stars (he publicly insulted…read more

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Wrestling Relaunch

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We’ve relaunched the Wrestling an Alligator site. Character bios, actor bios, a revised excerpt, and a coherent design are some of the fringe benefits (no pun intended). More’s coming this week. Stay tuned. Please also note that if you’re interested in catching the show, advance tickets will be available starting on August 25.

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RIP Czselaw Milosz

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Czeslaw Milosz has passed on. He was 93. Sam has links o’plenty.

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Tanenhaus Watch

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This week’s New York Times Book Review features a review from Margaret Atwood on Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk (along with an interview), a measured essay on John Kerry from Hitch, a poetry roundup, a Breslin profile, and a healthier ratio of fiction-to-nonfiction coverage. With the exception of this digressive review of Robert Olen Butler’s Had a Good Time, this is a very nice rebound from last week’s Wieseltier catastrophe, finding a suitable balance between Tanenhaus’s nonfiction interests and the fiction coverage long promised. However, sustained fiction coverage is the operative…read more

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the beautiful and the banal

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Superfriend butting in here to say: Let’s have a Tom Shales kind of morning, shall we? He’s in rare form — and believe you me, I don’t say that lightly, still not having forgiven him for not understanding why Jon Stewart is funny. He takes on last night’s NBC coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Athens Olympics. And he is dead on. Mostly. He isn’t quite as impressed as I was by the pageantry of it, which is truly some of the most amazing theater I’ve ever seen on…read more

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Operating on the Edge

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Tom Shales has an interesting column on character assassination, when television shows, often fueled by desperation (and in HBO’s case, the imprimatur of the edge), beat up on their characters. Specifically, he points to Six Feet Under and its recent carjacking episode (which I also ranted about). Shales suggests that the edge is as much of a blessing as a curse. On one hand, it can give us genuine moments into subcultures that Standards & Practices would fly into a ridiculous uproar over. But Shales also implies that the edge…read more

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Review? Check! (Point, That Is)

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Forget Wiseltier’s bombast. Mark’s got a sizable and thoughtful review up (to the point where he’s blown his limit by 1,500 words).

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Moby Lives Again!

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Melville House has unleashed a new series of politically themed books: Irreparable Harm by Renata Adler, The Road to Illegitimacy by Mark Danner, and The Big Chill, a piece of journalism on the Bush inaugural protest penned by Uncle Moby himself, Dennis Loy Johnson. The books are small, attractive, and reasonably priced at $8.95/piece. As to their content, my hope is to get around to covering these sometime in the next few months.

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RIP, Julia Child

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THIS is News?

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Guardian: “Naked women, cars and sports help doubles sales of mens mags.” Really? Who knew?

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Rashomon

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Maud has the scoop on the Crouch-Peck affair from Crouch’s lunch companion, ZZ Packer. Packer’s story closely matches Yablonsky’s. Even if Crouch is genuinely sorry, it still doesn’t excuse his boorish behavior, which is inexcusable in any context, much less the fact that an apology to Peck is long outstanding. The more I hear about this, the more this whole thing reminds me of the thrown drink episode in John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra.

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Complimentary Eggers Titles

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The new Eggers book is called How We Are Hungry, which comes hot off the hells of You Shall Know Our Velocity. Since titles denoting unseen plural entities seem to be Mr. Eggers’ forte, we (that is I) proudly offer him some titles for his next eight books: We Shall Pay Your Traffic Tickets You Know Us When We Lean Against Me How We Are Thirsty Your Pet Panda Was Taken For a Walk Why You Know We Know You Are Naughty How You Understand Our Kazoo Playing Buy Us…read more

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Hit ‘N Run

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[Paul Ford Turns 30] [Happy Two, Lit Saloon] [Birnbaum v. Charles McCarry] [Congrats, Sarah] [Dan Green Makes Good] [Cornel West on Chekhov's 100 (NPR)] [Goethe had a forbidden fling?] [Steinbeck's son: enfant terrible?] [Get off Faulkner's lawn!] [Obscenity still on the books?] [Bye bye Booknotes] [Walden's 150. Updike's penned a new intro.] [Me-moirs now big in Canada?] [Buzz on The Calligrapher?] [Chick lit penned by dude?] [Stunning Teachout Development]

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An Idiosyncratic Contribution

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Hi folks, well I suppose there’s some degree of irony that I’m hanging out at Casa Ed when I’m not even blogging at my own site for the rest of the week, but when your mind dovetails into mindless parody, one has to find an outlet for it somewhere. Besides, now I can fulfill my true calling as the Court Jester of the Superfriends Kingdom. And so, I present…. CHASING DUBYA From Kevin Smith, acclaimed writer-director of Clerks, Dogma and Jersey Girl and the most original filmmaker of his generation,…read more

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Kerry Unleashes New “You’ll Only See My Back” Strategy

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Explanation? Mailer Likes His Jubilee Ice Cream Maker

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Norman Mailer: “If the media covers nothing but a protest that becomes violent, if they ice out so much dissent, how do you reach? My point is they can ice it out for a period. They cannot keep icing it out. We are a force of outrage. I’m just saying that this force – I’m just hoping that this force waits four months to express itself and then has its jubilee.”

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French Kissing Hitch + Writing = Better Amis Novels?

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The LNR Diary takes a look at Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog and concludes it’s not as bad as everyone made it out to be, although Paddy Bullard’s more mystified by why it isn’t more impressive more than anything.

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