Tom Wolfe Lays Down New Book Signing Rules

  1. No jokes about the white suit or my hired minions beat you up.
  2. You must refer to me as “Charlotte Simmons” rather than “Tom Wolfe.”
  3. For every autograph granted, you must sign an agreement in which you will never utter a bad word about my novel. Failure to utter hosannas about my genius will involve expensive litigation through Farrar.
  4. Bonfire of the Vanities? There was no Bonfire of the Vanities, nor was there A Man in Full.
  5. I invented gonzo journalism and you didn’t.
  6. Don’t ask for an unnecessary exclamation point from me. The book speaks for itself! It’s just “Tom Wolfe,” not “With love, from Tom Wolfe” or “To my dearest Bertha, Tom Wolfe.” Stop adoring me, buy my book and leave me alone!

RELATED: Rejected Titles for Wolfe’s Latest.

“Real Life” Fiction

Maud points to “literature from the underground” from the ULA, everybody’s favorite group of Knut Hamsun/Henry Miller flunkies. One suspects that the ULA’s problem is their aversion to editing. So as a service to the ULA’s genius writers, I’ve decided to help them out with the first two paragraphs of Emerson Dameron’s “Uptown Valhalla”:

Thursday evening, 8:34 PM. I jerked awake on my brother?s couch in Uptown. [How does one jerk awake on something as uncomfortable as a couch? A couch will deaden your back muscles and hinder the waking process.] ?At least I don?t have a hangover; that?s a goddamn miracle,? I thought [Why express this as a thought? Shouldn’t he be feeling this or the omniscient voice expressing this?], right before the railroad spike went in one ear and out the other. [Who the hell are you? Pheinas Gage? This makes no sense whatsoever.] I glanced at the coffee table. I shoveled my hands in my pockets. Wallet and keys were not forthcoming. [To shovel is to dig and unearth some sediment. One cannot shovel and produce nothing. It is like applying a shovel to air.]

Fortunately, my sibling [Your brother? Your sibling? Does he have a name? Is this even relevant?] had a few twenties stashed in a Pokemon Stadium cartridge [Aren’t these unnecessary pop cultural references what you’re damning Dave Eggers about?] on the bookshelf. I left the apartment and plodded toward a local jazz club, rubbing the fresh, acne-like bumps on my scalp. [Did you recently shave your head or is this supposed to be metaphorical? This sounds more like eczema rather than “acne-like” description that fails to tell it like it is. Clarify.] It felt like a TB test was coming up wrong. [Yeah, and I feel like a simile tossed out in desperation.] A nest?s worth of defiant hornets buzzed ?round my circulatory system. [Make up your damn mind. Does his head hurt? Is he suffering from a condition? This is incoherent rubbish.] These weren?t coke bugs. I know what those feel like. [Too bad that we don’t, becaue you’re incapable of clarity.] They look for escape routes, whereas these li?l fellas seemed to be on some sort of reconnaissance mission. [Ho ho ho!]

Now if I were a literary editor, the above bracketed statements would be racing through my mind. I’d toss this story out in an instant. This isn’t “real” writing. It’s junk. I’m sorry to be rough on Mr. Dameron. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. But the ULA has yet to offer a compelling reason why we should subsidize people who put together this kind of drivel in one draft while others spend years starving in rat-infested garrets actually developing their craft. Like it or not, there are some people who can write, and there are others who can’t.

You want real life, Wenclas? I’ll show you rooms of starving writers (and patient spouses) turning out novel after novel, receiving rejection slip after rejection slip, and continuing despite the fact that 90% of everything is crap and that bleary-eyed editors are beleagured by “aspiring writers.”

The simple truth is that when a story has so many foolish inconsistencies embedded within its first two paragraphs, even the most experimental editor won’t have the patience when the piece is competing against a vertiginous slush pile of manuscripts. And I say this is a good thing. As readers, we only have so much time in our lives to devote to the neverending amateurs and incompetent moonlighters who pester like self-entitled whiners. And even then, we have to choose from what’s published.

The ULA wants to “overthrow” the literary establishment. Well, that’s silly. Because, for the most part, these people know what they’re doing. They read perhaps more than any of us. Granted, money plays a sizable role in their decisions. But then money plays a sizable role in everyone’s decisions. Even the wannabe Bohemian writer who spends hours of his time railing against the machine rather than writing a novel.

I’d have more respect for the ULA if they were actually promoting something of value. But they are a first-class literary sham. They’re the assholes you encountered in high school who wanted divisiveness for the sake of divisiveness, fools who would spend a whole lifetime making enemies, rather than truly “fucking up the shit from the inside” like the best of subversive novelists. And as such, they deserve no respect: not from you, not from me, and certainly not from anyone who seriously cares about literature.

White Bread

So listen all, peeps. We got this here Whitbread dope piquing crosst the pond. My boy David Mitchell got jacked, dig, but there other choices instead. Add some shortening to them cookies, biatch, and you get a list so simple that my ditch-dirty cuz could bake youze some mean pumpernickel blinded.

Dwellin’ on da fiction:

So we gots us a clear favorite with Alan Hollingshurst. Wasn’t enough for The Line of Beauty to scarf the Booker, now it needs Whitbread too. Sheet, book’s got bigger appetite than my libid. Leave the boy alone. Bee-effin-seiged by ‘views, he is. Cat can’t stop answering dubyaass questions. So he out, cause we all tired of his Thatcherism-ramblin’ ass.

Kate Atkinson has nice name and tome titled Case Histories. No doubt ever’one’s main forens-fixated folk is pleased by this. Still, the girl’s favorite books are hackneyed as hell, and I ain’t talkin’ taxi. So she out too, cause we like influences spiced, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Annie Levy’s got that Small Island, smart, sassy and cerebral. We like that and nice curves in a hot momma. But more postwar posturin’? We sick of the Gravity’s Rainbow offshoots, dig? Maybe ’cause we drinking 40s and revisiting the mack daddy who started all this — who is a lot clearer than these messy folk. No, Levy’s out, just cuz we be chillin’ through year’s end.

Then there’s this freedom-soundin’ author named Louis de Bernieres with Birds Without Wings. Boy’s humble with the Tolstoy comparisons. Sounds like a right cat. Our horse is on him. Go Louis go! We may be movin’ on up to Paris if that Penn Ave. bad lay push us in da slums.

Iowa Yin-Yang

Tonight, at Modern Times, two University of Iowa grads read from two books issued from University of Iowa Press. Both books were remarkably compact (both around 135 pages) and both authors had won several awards. It is here that the similarities end between Marilyn Abildskov and Merrill Feitell. (Although, you see? They also have similar first names!)

Both read for about twenty minutes: Abildskov from The Men in My Country and Feitell from Here Beneath Low Flying Planes. Abildskov’s book is a highly personal memoir set in Japan about her days as an English teacher, while Feitell’s book is a collection of short stories (and winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award).

After their readings were up, the two answered a handful of questions, before Marilyn took the mike and began interviewing Merill and expressed how astonished she was at Merill’s output, before Merill confessed that writing her California-based novel was an uphill battle.

Even so, the two ladies demonstrated that there’s one heck of a demand for Iowa writers here in San Francisco. It was SRO by the time I got there, but I somehow managed to find a strange seat watching the two authors in profile. I felt a bit like Tom Landry, which is a strange sensation to feel at a reading.

Incidentally, I’ve read The Men in My Country and I’ve been trying to talk Marilyn (a friend of mine) into a Segundo interview. I made an impassioned pitch to her that she did indeed have things to say, but we’ll see.

Status Report

  1. I am badly in need of a vacation. I have been waiting for Thanksgiving to roll around, but alas even two weeks away is an eternity.
  2. Because of the general fatigue, my reading speed has dropped to an all-time low. A mere 75 pages a day, if that. It’s not the books I fault, but a certain malaise that nags at me. Why does literature matter? It does, don’t get me wrong. But in prioritizing reading and responding above other things, am I not the apolitical parvenu remaining blissfully ignorant in Stalinist Russia?
  3. November’s election: oh, how to fight off the bitter aftertaste! And why is the right so angry? They won this motherfucker!
  4. Writing is pathetic. We’re talking 400 words or so a day and that involves staring at a screen for about two hours, putting a ZoneAlarm Internet Lock on the comp. And even then, none of it matters. Not the poetic descriptions of vagrants fading into urban colors, not the dialogue involving choices. We’re talking earnest questions that nobody wants to answer. Understandable.
  5. I have been trying to avoid all political news. Fallujah, rigged elections, mandates, tax code readjusted for the rich. But this, apparently, is an impossibility. My moral concern about my country has eaten away hours of my time — reading news stories, replies, angry bloggers, the like. Before I know it, it’s 2 AM. The sad thing is I haven’t a clue as to how we can win. A few general ideas, sure. But nothing within my current existential purview. What a waste!
  6. Invariably, people want to talk politics in social clusters. And I’m sick sick sick of it. Somehow, everything else seems trivial. You can’t talk about a winning restaurant or a fantastic feeling someone had last week without coming across like a complete and utter cad. To resist social discourse is to be Donne’s island, but it all leaves me feeling spent and secluded these days. And so I’m reluctant to chatter or socialize, even when I force myself to. Plus, I am now very cognizant of stupid people and I don’t like these elitist impulses.
  7. There are strange people taking away the solitary time I need during my weekday lunches to remain a happy and sane person. And apparently I’m not alone. The strange people in question have sensed the dip in cheeeriness and have brought in their efficiency experts and their positive values programs and their Leo Buscalgia rhetroic (accompanied by milky New Agers who resemble the palette of Cream & Wheat and cherub-cheeked bald guys who haven’t smiled convincingly since 1986), and it all makes everyone feel uncomfortable. And they are rebuked in whispers.
  8. There is a general feeling of defeat in the Financial District. People are overworked, nobody’s hiring. This is the new American way — at least for the next four years. And while one can complain, the general sense is that one should not if she expects to keep her job. It is much like the mentality behind the Great Depression. Guilt for having to settle within a socioeconomic archipelago of overqualification.
  9. There are surely better ways to eke one’s existence than this.
  10. I have no shame about how these points are interpreted.
  11. I’m a cheery soul and I’m fighting every impulse that resembles that moment in Happiness where Ben Gazarra willingly applies the salt to his meal. As long as I exist on this planet, I will not throw in the towel. But I weep at the growing batallion of Gazarras who have seemingly infiltrated every urban hot pocket.

Beating a Dead Horse

This morning, several conservative litbloggers weighed in on the Red States vs. Blue States business.

Well, when you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.

Really, I haven’t seen such vitriolic political nonsense in this nation since the Baltimore Riots of 1812 and 1861. (And if Baltimore is the place that the shit starts stirring, I expect the Hag to offer a Daily Riot Likelihood Report.) Let’s not make that mistake, shall we? The election’s over, the nation’s divided. Depending upon where you sit, the country is either (a) going to hell in a handbasket or (b) moving in the direction the people want it to. How about this: Can we move on now? You have your side, we have ours. You’ll have a cakewalk, we’ll have a fight. Blah blah blah.

But in the end, we’ll kick your asses. We always do.


  • Mark Sarvas has cemented himself as the roaming reading attendee of the blogosphere. In addition to checking out David Foster Wallace (against his will! and with a rollicking backblog to boot!), he also has the skinny on Vermin on the Mount. We don’t believe San Francisco is the center of the literary universe, in part because the pronouncement was handed down from the mountain by Sam Tanenhaus, but we’ll be doing our best over the coming months to offer similar reports here, as time permits.
  • Some of our favorite litbloggers will be on the Round Table, a WAMC radio program, this morning.
  • Adobe Books, home to frenetic art shows and a great place to nab rare books has their books organized by color. If you’re in the San Francsico area, check it out.
  • As predicted by nearly everyone, Suite Francaise, the long-lost novel written by Holocaust victim Irene Nemirovsky has taken the Renaudot. This is the first time that the esteemed French prize has been awarded posthumously. Foreign rights were garnered at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
  • In what may be another sign of changing literary priorities, North Carolina Central University has withdrawn funding for its literary magazine. It was just $7,000 on the budget, and the money will now go to “student leadership and women’s issue programs.” The remaining $6,000, no doubt, will go to more perqs for the football team.
  • Alice Munro gets another writeup — this time in Newsday. Fortunately, this time around, the article concentrates more on her writing (and her love for William Maxwell) rather than wasting column inches on her “thinnish” weight.
  • Jonathan Rose has an intriguing article about the working class’s relationship with reading over the years.
  • Nevada has a poet laureate?
  • A film is in the works on the life of Sir Walter Scott.
  • And Gerard Jones has gone Hollywood on us (via Moby).

You Dirty Rat

There is a rat in the apartment. I discovered him making an escape tonight after investigating some sounds in the kitchen. The rat is small and scampers through a small hole that I found near the stove. Even though the rodent may be tiny and spurious, the simple fact is that he scares the bejesus out of me, as rats seem to do. There’s the disturbing possibility that he could run like the devil in the post-midnight hours and take a bite out of my flesh. Or something worse. I didn’t read H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” lightly.

The timing’s about right, given that I end up dealing with a rat perhaps every four or five years. The last time, the rat emerged as I was whipping up my trademark pasta sauce. I was a foolish twenty-six back then. And I immediately freaked out. This time around, there’s slightly more maturity, in that my reaction doesn’t involve jumping onto the closest countertop like some housewife in a Warner Brothers cartoon. So my manhood’s on the line too.

But this sort of thing is to be expected. It’s getting to be the wintertime. Which means the rats are coming in from the cold.

Of course, when humans in the Western world deal with these sorts of things, they, of course, go all out. Certainly in my case, obscenely so. I’m now the proud owner of three boxes of rat poison, several traps, and a barrage of truly masochistic devices that will kill this dreadful beast. I feel like Wile E. Coyote ordering from Acme.

Part of me sees the hypocrisy in demonizing the rat. Part of me would like to be friends with the rat. But because I’m terribly afraid, because I detest its presence and its mentality (which is, primarily, to scavenge upon what it might find, which isn’t much, given that my food’s all packed away), I want the rat dead. I want it out of my life. Go bother some other bachelor. The NIMBY principle was never more strernly (and justifiably!) applied than it is for rats.

So I have declared war. Chances are the rat’s just as frightened of me as I am of him. (He certainly skedaddled fast when I turned the light on.) Granted, if the bookies were to put a spread on this, I’d win by leaps and bounds. I have a bigger brain. I’m larger than the rat. But it moves much faster and the rat’s interests and existence aren’t as complicated as mine. Even so, does the rat have brothers or sisters? Or is it simply vermin prepared to spread a new wave of bubonic? Even if I defeat the rat (as I suspect I will), who’s the real winner in this battle?

Thought of the Morning

Six years ago, the American public saw one of the most brutal battle scenes in film history. Despite the fact that Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan reached across several audiences, left and right, and was much talked about and led to a very public reconsideration of going to war for the right reasons and what our boys were in there for, the American people still voted for Bush.

Ergo, the American public has no memory in cases of exemplary artistic influence.

Also: head hurts.

#9 — the male mind

8:50 PM: I am officially on Screwdriver Five (I think). I am also colliding iinto walls and it is heinously arduous for me to type in a fucking post. I hope for B’s sake that this isn’t considered “moderate.” It sure as hell doesn’t feel that way. My head is beginning to throb. In my defense, I should say that drinking copious amounts of alochol is no longer a reality for me. At least, it hasn’t been the case since my mid-twenties. So I’ve had to force the stuff down my gullet, with the caveat that I should last to some degree. I’m a man of my word, as some folks here know.

Anyway, fair is fair. And I’m happy to address Lauren’s point concerning “the end of the relationship.” From my standpoint, at least, the female anatomy has been of more pressing interest since the end of the relationship. The value of a relationship involves rampant sex and intimacy that stymies the male resolve to some degree. But when it boils down to a solitary existence, the male is prone to download porn and to drift his eyes towards the fantastic tits bundled beneath a tight and revealing upper garment. This is comparatively normal, I’d say, as males go. We really can’t help ourselves. It’s biological. But in our defense (or at least my defense), we are also interested in the brains behind the machine. Except that this concern is revealed later in the game. Surely, my explicitly stipulated “putty” clause from the post in question was clear enough. But if it wasn’t, let me be the first (if not the umpteenth) to suggest that males are inherently visual and that, ostensibly, there is nothing wrong with this. We love your anatomy. We love to take it home with us. But, as was the case with this afternoon’s “let’s swap the material objects we left in each other’s apartments” meetings with my ex-gf, we males, I suspect, take the end of a relationship harder than the female hoping to become steadfast friends at the drop of a hat. It bothers us to enter some domicile in which we were previously intimate, precisely because we are inherently visual procrastinators.

Does this sort of answer your question, Lauren? If not, please advise and, as the drinks continue to pour down my larynx, I’d be happy to clarify. Kiss kiss.

#8 — further

I’m very impressed with Richard Powers’ The Time of Our Singing. He is concerned with virtue in wholly unanticipated ways. Whereas, I want to beat the hell out of Tom Wolfe’s cartoonish depiction of humanity in I Am Charlotte Simmons. I’ll have more to say on the latter, probably at January. But for the moment, I ask what’s worse? Deluding yourself into Balazc/Zola realism or coming to terms with your own intellectual limitations and taking a few risks. For my money, Richard Powers kicks Tom Wolfe’s ass any day of the week.

[UPDATE: Chance Morrison is also participating. Woo!]

#7 — tipsy?

It occurs to me that I should probably be drunker. I should point out that, despite several screwdrivers, whiskeys and Pilsners, I am still unfortunately coherent. I’m doing the best that I can. But there is this thing called an evening in which one must endure.

Even so, I suspect that National Drunken Writer Night, to most people, involves keeping on the safe ‘n sane. The question here is whether you want endurance or the immediate cum shot. If desirable, please advise in the comments as to how you’d like me to proceed with drink.

[Note: I should point out that typing is becoming harder. So perhaps I’ve fulfilled some of the dicta behind this exercise. B will know for sure. But if there are any independent judges, please fire away. Also check out Gwenda, who is doing a more remarkable job than I am at this. She, alas, has an understanding husband, whereas I have the remarkable savior of Kazaa Lite-downloaded pornography. The porn, I should point out, is disappointing and hardly as valuable as, oh say, a significant other. I doubt my capacity to go into the world on the prowl, but stranger things have happened. You want interactive? This is it, baby!]

#6 — comstock lode

How many Gordon Comstock’s are there out amongst us? I speak, of course, of the protagonist in Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Comstock was an ad man who willingly ostracized himself from his heinous profession with the idea of being a poet pursuing truth, as opposed to sticking as an ad man. Circumstances eventually brought Comstock back into the advertising fold. But I evoke Comstock because, as I was shamefully trying to light up a cigarette (a habit that, regrettably, comes with drink), I was recently recognized on the streets by a neighbor. The neighbor introduced me to a friend of his and then proceeded to roundly mock me for producing a “highly literate play” called Something an Alligator written by a guy that’s “read too much.”

The neighbor, I should point out, had criticized me for daring to make the next play “more accessible.” I replied at the time, What’s wrong with this? I was a guy who dared to challenge an audience and learned from the results. Bombard the audience with too much and they will draw blood. Thus, behavior should be crystal-clear. Hence, my current research efforts to make the next play right.

So this neighbor, who collects books and moonlights as a sedentary book collector, hopes to draw my blood. But he makes me think of Comstock because, like Comstock, I’ve remained idealistic, but, unlike Comstock, I’ve learned from my results. And I’m determined to presevere just to spite the bastards.

How you like them apples?

#5 — parallel park

In San Francisco (at least), there is sympathy for the parallel parker. Even when the vehicle appears to have been owned for some time, San Franciscans will dutifully instruct a parallel parker who just doesn’t have the shit to get his/her vehicle thoroughly ensconced in one of our rare parking spaces. I just got back from talking with folks outside of a neighborhood dive. The empathy was commensurate with, perhaps, a child unable to find the proper sexual configurations within a Barbie Dream House. We were all there, encouraging the driver to make a hard left and a hard right, and get her remarkably sized vehicle into a spot that was, I’m sad to say, capacious enough for two vehicles.

But she did it. With our guidance. She was able to squeeze her SUV into her spot because we challenged her to apply extra drive. Perhaps there is a chapter in the book, The Wisdom of Crowds, which covers this. Needless to say, the aforementioned SUV was still far from the curb — but not as far as the small vehicle inhabiting the space in front of it.

This is what community is all about.

[In other news, Gwenda’s got a mean piece about clowns. Bless our loyal originator. But where the hell is Sarvas?]

#4: already women are immensely desirable

6:46 PM: The truth is I didn’t expect to be smashed so early. Something about vodka does this to a man. I feel as if I should be wearing a babushka or at the very least dancing a Russian jig. The sky is dark and this, of course, creates the illusion that it is somehow night when it is, in fact, barely early evening. So it goes.

I should perhaps put in some words of wisdom about how the male perceives women after the end of a relationship (no stranger here, given that it went down recently for me). The truth is that males are despicably obvious when it comes to fawning over the almighty female anatomy (which is quite sublime, I assure you). And this affliction only worsens as one gets older. Speaking for myself at least, I find that I am more of a perverted bastard at 30 than I ever was at 25. I love women in all of their manifold forms, and I would, of course, be happy to bang and love each and every one of them. It is not equal opportunity that motivates these interests, but a je ne sais quo obsession for women in all of their manifold and beautiful forms. They are all good, really, if men would only give them the chance. (And I certainly do.) Or at least take stock in the human heart.

Men, of course, won’t confess this. Because, for whatever reason, they consider it a matter of pride over who they lust after. Never mind that their fantasies are completely incompatible with reality and that, in the end, they would sooner fuck a hairless pig than cop to an unsuccessful Saturday night. In this way, men remain barbarians and it is truly a tragic affair. But, in fact, reality offers some considerable surprises when one rides on impulse.

#3 — time for some fiction

He figured what the hell. It was time to set fire to the library. The books had taunted him, yes. But the cruel overdue fees had disturbed him more. Those ruthless librarians, which he had found sexy since his first erection, had let him down. There was no way he’d be able to finish all the books. Every branch that had been set up had been designed to completely diminish his hopes for remaining a smart, erudite young thing. At the age of 19, he had hoped that he’d be some majestic galvanizer. Some hot young stallion who could quote Baudelaire while pounding into some blitzed naif and giving her the orgasm of her life. Better yet, maybe his super smarts would be commissioned to ransack some jaded hack working for a lesser New York paper. Starfucking his way to a blurb on the latest Nora Roberts or, at the very least, servicing one of those beautiful fortysomething career women that turned his insides into sweet lime Jello. They were underrated, those super-sharp slightly older ladies. And even if they were facing an unfair race on the gender circuit, particularly in light of the November election and its consequences, he appreciated them.

It was a base existence, and he had managed many rolls in the hay. The time had come to take his convictions to the next level. To indeed invoke an act that was wholly irrational and really had no explanation to anyone outside of his arrogant shell.

So he pulled out his dogeared copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook and flipped through for a recipe for a Molotov cocktail. Unfortunately, no one had informed him that The Anarchist’s Cookbook wasn’t nearly as accurate as the black helicopter wags thought it was. But that didn’t matter. Because he was a very clumsy mofo and he often conducted these experiments naked. To say the least, this was a colossal mistake for a clumsy person to make. So while in the process of shaking and stirring the goods, he dropped the lit match upon his crotch. It was an accident. But then so many aspects of his life had been accidents. The big questions was whether he’d learn to adapt to this most recent contretemps.

His pubic hair lit into a glorious conflagration. He yelped and he hollered and he tried to put it out. But the fire spread down his legs. It should be noted that he was a hairy guy. He had so much hair on his body that it was really a matter of a few years before he anonymously went into a laser hair removal clinic and finally calibrated the appropriate hair-to-flesh ratio to an acceptable level for the mighty brains who wished to hump him.

But since there was a major strand of hair (a fey form of kindling, as it were) connecting his pubic regions to his legs, it was (so the pundits remarked in the next day’s newspapers) only a matter of time. Soon his entire nether regions and his legs were being lapped by majestic flames. Unfortunately, he was alone. Which meant, of course, that no one was around to capture this exciting moment on video.

So he decided to run naked in the streets. The excitement got several strangers’ attention. And he was whsked by an ambulance to a hospital. He spent the next six years paying off the bills.

The unfortunate consequence was that the journalists refused to fuck him as frequently as they once did. The scars of second-degree burns, alas, didn’t have quite the same sex appeal as a wonderfully unwrinkled youth revealing his nakedness to a woman of note.

But if there was a positive aspect to this tale, he soon developed the greatest respect for libraries. And he was able to encourage several young twentysomethings hoping to land a lay that books were far sexier than those hot op-ed mommas who weren’t nearly as populist-minded in social surroundings as they claimed to be in their columns.

#1 — and so it begins

3:41 PM: Fuck it. I’ve started screwdriver one. Eastern time counts, doesn’t it? The screwdriver, I should point out, is about as close you can get to that perilous threshold between straight shots of absinthe (name your testosterone-charged elixir of choice) and the decidedly unmanly category of girlie drink (mai tais, pretty much anything having to do with fruit, and of course the classy manhattan) while retaining some semblance of manhood. Or, even better, I walk the wild gender-neutral line between. Take that, eleven states! I’m almost willing to change my sexual orientation just to spite the bastards. But, of course, I’ve never found the penis, the gym-toned ass, or the male developed chest even remotely sexy. More my fault than anything else. Plus, women are just too damned sexy. They have the curves and fabulous anatomy that, if we were less civilied, we would rip endless bodices over. Smooth legs, their wonderful smell, breasts, even their shoulders and noses are fantastic. And if they’re smart, acerbic and take no prisoners, I am nothing more than putty.

Archive’s “Fuck U” plays in the background. Suitable.

I fear that tonight’s drinking (and writing) will put me in an aggro mood. So be it. Rather than attempt the impossible (namely, applying some Photoshopped graphic of reference with each entry), I’ve decided to simply number the fuckers and apply the usual e.e. cummings/livejournal crap.

Drink up, America! You’re fucked (well, at least temprarily).

(UPDATE: Holy hell, is Gwenda in on this? Too fucking cool.)

Roeper Slash Ebert Fiction

Ebert spread banana oil over Jonathan Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum was spread-eagled across the popcorn booth, his bulging cucumber growing beneath the overturned extra large popcorn bucket carefully placed there by the management. Rosenbaum felt Ebert’s gentle fingers caress him, bristling across his piebald chest hair. He knew that those fingers had typed all those glowing reviews for Woody Allen. They had even given Celebrity two and a half stars. Would Ebert show him the same generosity?

rogerebert.jpgRosenbaum hesitated as Ebert’s loving touch eased in, putting him at ease. Yes, he knew indeed how those hands had won a Pulitzer. Gene Siskel must have been a lucky guy. Rosenbaum had to confess.

“I always liked your pudgy bottom,” whispered Rosenbaum as Ebert tightened the blindfold. “Do me.”

Ebert smiled. He suddenly had an idea for his Video Pick of the Week. But this time, it was a Video Pick for one.

“You’re just saying that because of the recent stroke,” Ebert replied. “The good news is that you’ll be my love slave for the weekend.”

Rosenbaum’s eyes widened.

“Don’t worry. We’ll sit through Dekalog together. It will be like a nice little picnic. The wife, you see, is out of town.”

Ebert puncutated this last sentence by taking off his glasses and licking the banana oil, applying his tongue in a soft loving curlicue around Rosenbaum’s left nipple. Rosenbaum liked it when Ebert did that. J. Hoberman wasn’t nearly as good.

Suddenly, Ebert’s head bolted up from Rosenbaum’s torso.

“Richard!” he screamed down the art deco lobby.

Ebert clapped his hands. Merely a second later, Roeper, the weasly little hunchback, scampered across the theatre lobby. He dragged the corpse of Vincent Canby, now well-used. Roeper, the beady-eyed necrophile, had jismed into Canby’s nostrils twelve times that morning. When Ebert saw Roeper’s gaping maw, he tried to stare away.

Still, Roeper was a trusty servant. And you had to give Roeper props when, during the legendary ten-day orgy, he had pleasured Janet Maslin while simultaneously boffing David Denby in the ass.

Oh, there’d be some hot action this weekend all right. First, a little bit of intimacy with Rosenbaum, followed by a delightful threesome with Elvis Mitchell and Rex Reed, Ebert’s longtime nemesis. Fortunately, Ebert knew that love would bring everyone together.

(inspired by Cinetrix)

Pollack’s No Working Class Hero

Neal Pollack: “That would quickly find me at the wrong end of a fist or a beer bottle.”

“Pal, I’d rather have a cup of coffee with my next-door neighbor every day for the rest of my life than share one ‘hazelnut latte’ with you. He thinks I’m going to hell but helped me fix my lawnmower last weekend anyway. ”

Blah blah blah.

Lately, Neal Pollack seems to be operating under some illusion that he’s the blue-collar voice of reason (complete with Star Trek references!). I hope the new schtick wears off. Of course, I have no worries. I’m sure his post-Nov. 2 ravings are just a temporary affliction that came with the six figure check he got from Bill Gerber, which should last him very handily during the next four years while the tax code gets uprooted.

Next thing you know, Pollack’s going to be making documentaries and telling us that he’s a factory worker from Flint, Michigan.

But no matter. Maybe he should just follow his own advice and shut the fuck up.

See? Satirical genius! I’m recused from responsibility! In your faces and pocketbooks, foolish readers! Such courageous writing! Why, Terry Southern would give me a rim job!

Where’s the realism and the attention to details? What’s needed among the blogs in this turbulent time is a batallion, a brigade, of Zolas marching from here to Montgomery uniting the two Americas: the Real America and the Pretend America, if you catch my drift. Neal Pollack is a bag of bones. His work is no longer relevant. He is the one stooge in a sea of self-indulgent bloggers trying to comment upon the current situation. And he is a friend of Dave Eggers! It doesn’t get much lower than that.

The time has come for bloggers to concentrate on the tiny important details of the world around us rather than be funny. That involves going to colleges and watching the world around us helplessly while the sorority girls ignore our erections.

I hereby renounce the use of satire. Life is too austere and heartbreaking. The white suit is in the closet. Blame the liberal elite. They haven’t got a clue. I haul my colostomy bag in their general direction.

Volunteers Needed

I’m currently researching the next play.

If you are in a polyamorous relationship (meaning: more than two people), I’d be interested in talking to you — ideally in person, but, if desired, email or phone works too. Sexual persuasion and gender do not matter. However, I hope to concentrate on relationships that have been going on for at least two or three years.

If you have an hour or two to spare and you’d be interested in a confidential chat, please feel free to drop me an email at ed AT



Round Robin

  • Okay, how about some cool things coming out of the U.S. government next year, such as some nifty stamps, including Marian Anderson in February (to counterbalance the odious Reagan one), Jim Henson and the Muppets in March, Robert Penn Warren in April, a Masterworks of Modern Architecture set in June, and a Greta Garbo stamp in September. The Garbo stamp is rumored to be the first talking postage concocted by the U.S. Postal Service. It will not be sold in sets and the stamp will remind you to mail it through repeated entreaties to “be alone.”
  • There’s a rollicking debate going on at Tingle Alley about migrating within the United States. Carrie suggested that instead of moving to Canada, bluestockings might better serve this nation by moving to a red state. Several lovely people have made some fabulous cases.
  • I was remiss in noting the Complete Review’s incredible coverage of Checkpoint. It seems more pertinent now, somehow.
  • James Patterson’s ex-girlfriend has sued him for breach of contract and copyright infringement. One only hopes that the legal battle prevents him from gluttoning the bookstores with more tripe. Perhaps Karen Valby might want to be called in as a character witness.
  • The bad reviews for I Am Charlotte Simmons keep on coming. David Kipen suggests that “Wolfe needs a cold shower in the worst way.” Meanwhile, Bob Minzesheimer demands a Wolfe embargo on “loins.”
  • And the Guardian First Book shortlist has been announced: Matthew Hollis’ Ground Water, David Bezmogis’ Natasha, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, and Armand Marie Leroi’s intriguingly titled Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body.

War & Peace, Randy Canadians & Unknown Poets

  • Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi can’t get his memoirs published in the States. Why? There’s an embargo in Iran. Ebadi has responded by suing the United States. Her memoir, it should be noted, is the story of “a woman, a mother and a lawyer living and working in a country that confronts many human rights problems.” This may be the first flagrant example of, as Moby Lives recently asked for ideas on, poltiics having a definitive influence upon literature.
  • At the Vancouver International Writers Festival, Natalee Caple declared that one of her desires is to excel at “literary sex: better, more accurate sex scenes in Canadian novels…written by stronger, more difficult, troubled, kick-ass women characters.” Caple also felt bad about one of her characters losing a leg. So out of sympathy, she decided to give him a hand job. If this is the kind of generosity we can expect from Canadian writers, perhaps this isn’t such a crazy idea after all.
  • Literary scholars are reassessing the influence of Louis Zukofsky. Several professors, who recently received substantial checks from Zukofsky’s heirs, have declared Zukofsky “the best poet of his generation.” In response to the overblown plaudits, Heidi Julavits is expected to write an anti-praise manifesto in the January 2005 edition of The Believer.
  • Frank DiGiacomo is expected to “co-author” Harvey Weinstein’s memoir. In preparation for the job, DiGiacomo has begun humiliating lowly interns, smoking and swearing like a motherfucker, and exclaiming “Ben Affleck is my bitch” throughout the Conde Nast building.

Putting the Heart into Heartland

Janet Sullivanmakes a strong case for the real “heartland”: “To me, the heartland of this country is anywhere that people work their asses off to make their lives better for their families. They stay true to their better angels no matter how miserable things get or how much easier it would be to succumb to hate and irrational fear. They read, and listen, and look for the truth and stay informed about what’s really going on, no matter how grim the news. They don’t live in Fox News cocoons, they don’t blast Rush Limbaugh from their pickups, and they don’t vote blindly for the guys whose prejudices most neatly line up with their own. Their concerns are genuine, their values are consistent, their principles are rock-solid, and their hearts are true. ”

With all this talk of Jesusland, it’s worth considering that the Dems who are currently beating a steadfast retreat (you know who you are) instead of rebounding as their hearts are recovering from a bad relationship are no better off from the unilateralists who go out of their way to avoid an opposing viewpoint. It is our duty to fight and to march on, even when the chips are down. That’s what this nation is all about. The next four years are going to be tough, but we can begin putting a plan into play to get the two houses in our hands in 2006. If the Dems control the two houses (and, in particular, the Senate), this should at least bungle up the White House’s unilateralism (or at least slow it down) and open up some bipartisan solutions.

The questions that the Left must answer are:

(a) Does it have the courage to broaden its base and build up the antiwar and anti-Bush coalition?
(b) Can it find a hep way to bring in the 18-24 vote? Even if we can spike this up from 10% to 40% turnout, that’s 8.1 million extra voters who can make a difference (enough to handily give a Democratic candidate 52% of the popular vote in 2008).
(c) How do we mobilize a fearless “true heartland” bloc to stand against the fundie herd?

And with the idea of moving forward just to spite the bastards in mind, please allow me to apologize to my readers for the recent political fulminations. I pledge to get back to literary news and the like, but not without a vigilant eye on other topics.

[UPDATE: Dan Green rightly rallies lit bloggers against the gloom.]