Reluctant Habits

Happy New Year

Posted by in Awards

Well, that’s it for us. Apologies for the political drivel, but we had to get in our yearly quota before midnight. Regularly literary coverage will continue when we pull ourselves off the floor, determine how we lost our boxers, come to terms with the arsenal of alcohol in the kitchen, check our credit card statements, cry, politely escort people out of our home, and try to begin living up to our barely realistic New Year’s resolutions. If you plan to drink, please don’t drive. Be sure to drink lots of…read more

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Powell Ponders How Kofi Annan Escaped Being Bush’s Bitch, Vows Serious Envy at Home

Posted by in Photo Headlines

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What We Do Now

Posted by in Politics

I was very interested to see that Melville House has assembled a collection entitled What We Do Now. The book is a collection of essay from assorted people: Steve Almond on getting tough, Maud Newton on tax law, and Greg Palast on voting fraud are just some of the interesting people who turn up. But what impresses me about the collection is how it’s collated several disparate responses in reaction to the current political clime. More importantly, with only a few hours left in 2004, flipping through the book has…read more

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Slow News Day

Posted by in Roundup

OPTR has the goods on how to check out the first five chapters of Murakami’s latest, Kafka on the Shore. Carrie has done a fantastic job compiling the overlooked books of 2004. Less than a year after writing a steamy novel, Jimmy Carter has a slim memoir, Sharing Good Times, in the works. After the unexpected titilation found in The Hornet’s Nest, the former President had initially planned to go off the deep end again, largely because Clinton’s memoir was so plodding. But Carter persuaded to change the original title,…read more

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Homer Simpson to Develop Into Middle Management Loser?

Posted by in Uncategorized

Ricky Gervais is writing an episode of The Simpsons. (via J-Walk) Also TV-related: The great Dana Stevens pens a Jerry Orbach obit.

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Statement from the White House

Posted by in Uncategorized

8:37 A.M. CST THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Laura and I were greatly inconvenienced by all this talk of generosity. You see, we could care less about this tsunami mess. We’re busy fighting a war. Can’t you leave us alone? Nevertheless, there were 60,000 people or so who lost their lives and the last thing we want to do is send you mexed missages. I won’t even try to pronounce “Sri Lanka.” I spent three hours this morning trying to wrap that damn three-letter word around my tongue and failed miserably….read more

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Don’t Stop (Writin’)

Posted by in Uncategorized

Just when you thought fan fiction couldn’t get any more specialized comes Perry Tales, devoted to fan fiction concerning “the greatest voice in music” — none other than Journey singer Steve Pery. Thrill to the four-chapter “Lovin Touchin Squeezin.” (via MeFi)

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What Authors Did You Discover This Year?

Posted by in Uncategorized

Carrie’s tackled the underappreciated and the disappointments of the year. I’d like to raise her with an oldie but goodie approach. What authors did you read or “discover” for the first time this year? Feel free to name authors, contemporary or classic. (My own 2004 list includes Paula Fox, Lawrence Durrell, Eric Kraft, Flann O’Brien and David Mitchell — all of whom blew me away: Fox, for her incredibly crisp and compact poetry; Durrell, whose poetic ambition is truly sui generis; Kraft, for so poignantly merging Proust with middle American…read more

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Posted by in Uncategorized

Ron points out how Laura Miller cannibalized a NYT piece for Salon. Colm Toibin covers Booker winner The Line of Beauty for the NYRoB. His conclusion? Style over substance and an opportunity to play the “I knew Henry James and worked with him. You’re no Henry James” card. This should please (and probably not surprise) Sarah. Mysteries are the most sought after fiction by library patrons. Some patrons have tried wearing trenchcoats to stave off overdue fees, hoping that this sartorial hint might make some of the librarians smile. But…read more

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Susan Sontag Dead

Posted by in Uncategorized

Damn. Double damn. Some Sontag resources: WRITINGS: Susan Sontag’s famous essay on camp. “Against Interpretation” One of her last great essays, “Regarding the Torture of Others.” “Real Battles and Empty Metaphors” Excerpt from Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors. INTERVIEWS: Interview with Elizabeth Farnsworth. Sontag & Moyers. Audio interview with BBC Four. Against Postmodernism: an 2000 interview. Australian radio interview. (2/6/2000) OTHER WORDS/LECTURES: Her words after 9/11. Lecture, April 24, 1989 “Literature is Freedom”, October 28, 2003 speech. “The Power of Principle” speech (2003) Overview with emphasis on…read more

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Lede Lackeys Waiting for the Pop of Champagne

Posted by in Uncategorized

It’s slim pickens on the literary news front. For obvious reasons. But we’ll see what we can do: The latest addition to the bookstore? Day care. Birmingham, AL is more literate than New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Alas, not even Birmingham could beat San Francisco. For those who missed the survey, here are the results. Apparently, it was a good year for Canadian writers. Perhaps a little of that edumucation and social program stuff up north might have something to do with it? There’s also a books quiz at…read more

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Barnes & Noble Plans to Add More Candles and Disco Ball on the Sales Floor

Posted by in Uncategorized

A recent New York survey found that Barnes & Noble was the best place to get a date. Together with the 98% Democratic PAC figures and expanded wi-fi access, it looks like B&N is on its way to becoming the new black. At least as chain store behemoths go. The big question here is how can indie book stores compete on the, er, hooking up angle. (via GalleyCat)

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McLaughlin and Kraus: Struggle! Suffer! Straddle!

Posted by in Uncategorized

Apparently getting a $2 million advance involves “struggling.” Of course, back in February, they were “suffering” through a potential sophomore slump despite a revolving door of editors and agents, many of them fired, hired or retired. And let’s not forget how the two labored to cut a deal whereby they demanded hair and makeup services for all of their promotional appearances. Yes, it’s those bright young Nanny things again: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. And this time, the nouveau riche duo of the publishing world are claiming that critics are…read more

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Most Wished For

Posted by in Uncategorized

If you’re interested in demographics, the most wished for books on Amazon (no link provided, due to this site’s policy) is: 1. America: The Book by Jon Stewart 2. State of Fear by Michael Crichton 3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom 4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown 5. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss 6. He’s Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo 7. The Plot Against…read more

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Wet Rebound

Posted by in Uncategorized

Wet, because that’s exactly what it is outside. Not nearly as bad as Sri Lanka, but still resolute weather for this town. The other wet involves some paint applied to a few things over the weekend. But you’ll have to wait for that. Anyway, here we go: First off, I’d like to make a case for the literary merits of Million Dollar Baby. Not only does its visuals harken back to the great boxer noir The Set-Up (complete with its slogan-laden signs), but Eastwood manages to get in some references…read more

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Help Sri Lanka

Posted by in Uncategorized

If you’re still feeling generous, you may want to consider donating to the Sri Lanka Red Cross. Truly a horrible Xmas for many.

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The War on Literary Fusion?

Posted by in Uncategorized

Carrie recently pointed to this Meghan O’Rourke essay. O’Rourke suggested that Munro’s purported realism “is more of O. Henry in Munro than her admirers tend to admit.” Taken together with Lev Grossman’s recent suggestion that Michael Chabon’s editorial duties for his latest McSweeney’s “thrilling tale” compilation are “the promiscuous atmosphere of one of those speakeasies where socialites slum with gangsters in an effort to mutually increase everybody’s street cred,” it seems to me that the fight for fantastic fiction’s respectability is far from over. In fact, it’s extended across some…read more

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Whereby the Good Doctor Helps Those Who Missed Opportunities

Posted by in Uncategorized

I’m almost ashamed to confess it, but the Missed Connections section on Craig’s List fascinates me. What are these people thinking? Why are they spending all of their time regretting a mistake? If it’s a matter of following up with someone, why are they resorting to a bulletin board that only a handful of people will read? With these questions in mind, I briefly emerge from my candy-baking, holiday-themed hiatus to give the gift that keeps on giving: questionable advice. Dan Dan the Mexi Man: Have you considered calling the…read more

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Goodbye Amazon

Posted by in Uncategorized

Like Mark and Maud, we’ve completely obliterated Amazon as a purchasing option. No gifts or random packages sent from there anymore, thank you very much. You won’t even find our wishlist. Those kind and remarkable people lurking behind the scenes will have to stay the course until we get our obscure objects of literary desire tranposed and listed onto safer pastures. Rest assured, we don’t take Amazon’s PAC funding lightly and, as previous actions have demonstrated, we’re adamantly sociopathic in our boycotts. This week’s dartboard cutout? Why, Jeff Bezos, of…read more

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Break

Posted by in Uncategorized

We can’t think of anything particularly compelling to say. And every time we open our mouths, it results in gardyloo. So we’re taking a sizable break. Happy holidays.

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2004 — No Love for Markson?

Posted by in Uncategorized

One 2004 book that seems to have been entirely overlooked by all the end-of-the-year listmakers is David Markson’s Vanishing Point. (Full confession: I’m just as guilty, having only just hit Markson’s latest on my bookpile.) Nevertheless, Markson deserves some special consideration, given how he’s mastered the ability to juxtapose obscure personal tidbits involving artistic figures against the emotional dilemma of the “Author.” (For example, “David Garrick, retiring from the stage: Now I will sit and read Shakespeare.”) This is the kind of cultural obsession that almost anyone who reads thinks…read more

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Man, Are We So Glad We Gave Up Video Games

Posted by in Uncategorized

“It’s saving humanity!” “It’s just like reading a book!” “It’s just like partying!” These and many other excuses can be found in Suzy Hansen’s amusing article on gaming and relationships, a connection that I suspect goes far deeper than anyone cares to admit.

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Carl Hiaasen: Measured Insanity?

Posted by in Uncategorized

Carl Hiaasen acts nuts in the presence of Bob Shacochis and becomes my new hero. Among Hiaasen’s affronts: “because I’m making cell-phone calls in my car and exhibiting an absolute lack of urgency, Hiaasen rearranges the garbage cans.” “Eventually we drag our feet down his dock and load gear onto the boat with icy fingers and half a warm heart between us. “ “‘Do you want people to die? Do you want carcasses floating down Biscayne Boulevard?’ he says. ‘Of course not. But nature’s here to remind us, and it…read more

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Steeler’s Game

Posted by in Uncategorized

Orson Scott Card is slated to get his panties in a bunch over Iron Man, penning a six issue miniseries. Iron Man will become a card-carrying member of the NRA, adjusting the strength of his armor so that Democrats will be incapable of filibustering and blue staters will lick the GOP’s feet during the 2008 presidential election.

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How to Screw Over Tom Stoppard

Posted by in Uncategorized

So let’s say you’re an enterprising young director by the name of Chris Weitz. You have a great literary property at your disposal: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. But the guy who’s penning it is Tom Stoppard, one of the greatest living playwrights and an Oscar winner for Shakespeare in Love. You’re intimidated by his talent. The man shoots out wordplay faster than you can comprehend it. So what do you do? You use pressure to dump him, because, hey, you only direct the scripts that you write, dig? You’re…read more

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One Not-So-Angry Man

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Thomas J. Cahill Courthouse, an edifice erected between 1958 and 1960 that houses the San Francisco Criminal Court, is a stark and, for the most part, featureless seven-story building composed almost entirely of cement and mortar. If I had to name an architectural style, I’d peg it as New WPA Revival. Its outside walls are unpainted and unwashed. There’s nothing in the way of cornices or garrets. No fluted columns. Not even Justice, with her blindfold and her scales, makes a cameo engraving. In fact, there’s nothing remotely Roman…read more

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Newsflash: Bezos Loves Bloated Elephants

Posted by in Uncategorized

The big bombshell across the blogosphere comes from Dennis Loy Johnson, who points to the fact that 61% of Amazon’s PAC money goes to the GOP, while 98% of Barnes & Noble’s contributions go to the Democrats. I could make a comparison here between Ford and IBM’s contributions to certain interests in the 1930s, but I’ll just bow out from Amazon purchases gracefully, while pointing out that this may be the smoking gun to my long-held theory that Jeff Bezos is a chickenhead.

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Jury Duty Update

Posted by in Uncategorized

Tomorrow, I head to the criminal courthouse. Part of me would like to invent a bevy of excuses to get out. Another part of me feels ashamed that I am trying to evade my duties and responsibilities as a citizen. Either way, I go through the jury selection process tomorrow and postings will be light until my return. But I will probably report my jury duty experience. Happy holidays.

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Tom Wolfe Describes the Laci Peterson Murder

Posted by in Uncategorized

Slither slither slither went the mind. But the unborn son was what he had to forget about as he threw her into the otorhinolaryngological depths of the San Francisco Bay. The cement anchors! The cement anchors! Oh God, would his mind trapise outside and his head collide against her mon pubis? Bumping mon pubis with mon pubis as he tried to throw this corpse ::::::STATIC:::::: into the San Francisco Bay, the cold waters! Cold corpse into cold waters! Humiliation! Scott remembered the good stoic words of Zeno, remembering that he…read more

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The Bad Pun Morning Roundup

Posted by in Uncategorized

GalleyCat has one-upped Rex, crossing his tees by collating several major top ten lists, but referring (and rebirching and even ‘oking again) to each title by number of citations and moving violations. The Plot Against America is, predictably enough, in the tops for proper gravedigging. Sean Connery’s ghostwriter needs to watch 65 films and die in the act of writing as part of his work. And, yes, that includes The Presidio and Highlander 2, which means dismarkharmony and shitheads all around. Local boy done good well done medium rare Daniel…read more

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