The Publishing Industry is All About Time Management

It seems that Windstream Publishing, who berated Stephanie Perry for giving Richard Bothelho’s Leah’s Way a bad review, can’t refrain from sending rude emails to anyone who dares to suggest that book reviewing is entirely separate from being a “liberal” or even being “religious.” Now poor Ron Hogan, one of the litbloggers who ran with the story, has been stung with further nonsense. Of course, if the book is as bad as Perry says it is, then the fact that multiple Windstream employees spend all of their spare time sending inflammatory emails to random people rather than devoting their time to quality control on their titles might suggest why.

Upton Sinclair, Soon to Appear in a Spring Break Video

The San Francisco Bay Guardian takes a long look at Professor Lauren Coodley‘s almost single-handed Upton Sinclair boosterism. She’s prepared a new anthology, The Land of Orange Grove and Jails, of Sinclair’s writings for Heyday Books. What’s interesting is that Coodley discovered Sinclair almost completely by accident, while substituting for a political science class. And apparently, the Huntington Museum turned down a collection of Sinclair’s papers.

If It Isn’t Art, It’s Memorex

Ian McEwan has said that “life imitates art.” In the last year alone, McEwan reports that he witnessed a balloon accident and was stalked by a mentally ill man, published a tawdry photo in a newspaper, lived with the consequences of playing a prank as a child, and began sleeping with his siblings when both of his parents died. McEwan hopes that he can fix things so that “art can imitate life,” because this might make his novels more interesting, in light of the mixed reviews for Saturday.

[RELATED: How Critics Got Saturday Wrong]

Equal Opportunity Mocking

We won’t comment on the blogger wars. We already defended the right to mock literary figures a few weeks ago and have nothing further to say. We plan to earn our black sheep stripes the right way (at least for today, largely because we’re feeling exceptionally immature), by moving onto mocking non-literary figures in the most tasteless manner possible, beginning with the Governator himself (as pictured below):


Cookie Monster Saddened By Recent “Sesame” Sellout

WASHINGTON D.C. (AP): This morning, in front of reporters, Cookie Monster revealed shocking allegations that his love for cookies was being curtailed against his will by the producers of Sesame Street.cookiemonster.jpg

“Me so sorry!” said Cookie Monster in front of a mob of reporters. “Me still like cookies all the time. But Cookie Monster needs money to buy more cookies.”

Three journalists, trying hard to remain objective, broke down almost immediately upon learning that a pivotal character from the long-running PBS children’s program had sold out. Kleenex was offered.

The 36th season of Sesame Street will respond to the growing crisis of obesity. Characters will now sing the praises of vegetables and nutrition. But as TV critic Tom Shales recently noted, “If the Cookie Monster can’t have cookies all the time, it’s clear that Sesame Street has jumped the shark.”

Sesame Street producers were asked whether such a dramatic change in Cookie Monster’s diet would have adverse effect on Cookie Monster’s metabolism, which scientists believe involves an exclusive diet of cookies. Calls were not returned.

The slimmer Cookie Monster showed a noted loss of vigor at the press conference, the result of a sharp reduction in his cookie diet. He said that he was sadder than usual and that the sudden introduction of carrots into his meals had made him sick. Even the news that his sudden weight loss had earned him People‘s “Sexiest Monster Alive” offered no solace.

“Me can only eat cookies,” said Mr. Monster. “Why they no understand that me like cookies and cookies are for me?

Linklater’s Omnipotent Narrative

As Dan Green notes, Long Pauses has a very good post up about Richard Linklater’s films. Darren points out that all of Linklater’s characters are represented in an egalitarian light, but if one is to judge these characters, it is the behavior that is the culprit, not the social status or the circumstances behind it. Life’s the thing, whether it’s the cruel hazing by Parker Posey in Dazed and Confused or even Giovanni Ribisi’s slacker, reduced to living in a pup tent and unable to come to grips with a singular decision, in the underrated SubUrbia (a film that also has the interesting distinction of merging Eric Bogosian’s savage wit with Richard Linklater’s cheery joie de vivre).

I’d like to take Darren’s idea one step further. First off, it’s worth noting that Linklater generally tends to favor long takes, whether it’s Richard Linklater himself rambling on in a cab about the four different roads at the beginning of Slacker or the fantastic shot without dialogue in Before Sunrise, where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are secretly looking at each other in the record store. Endless comparisons have been made between Linklater and Eric Rohmer because of this deliberate stylistic approach. And certainly letting the camera roll affords Linklater the opportunity to show life unfolding at its own pace — a cinematic idea remarkably subversive in today’s environment of quick cuts and easily digestible tales.

But where Rohmer allows his characters to get lost within the fine art of conversation (also a laudable goal), unlike Rohmer, there’s a casual concern for narrative in Linklater’s films, almost as if narrative’s the very veneer between audience and characters, existing to offer meaning not even remotely graspable in five lifetimes. If Linklater’s goal is to portray a nonjudgmental view of American life, then there’s the added problem of finding a narrative to tie into, whether it be the titular twist of Waking Life or the dangling question of whether Hawke and Delpy will stay together in the Before films. With Before Sunset, Linklater found a fantastic way out by insinuating fate with a final fadeout.

But I would suggest that what makes Linklater’s films additionally interesting is the way in which his narratives function as omnipotent barriers to unraveling the mysteries of life. It’s taken Linklater a few films to develop this, but his films can now be viewed as bright beacons for multiple subjective reactions instead of a unilateral, preprogrammed response. One can emerge from Before Sunset and start questioning a gesture, a specific pause, or a single line of dialogue and use these to form a working theory about what happens to the characters. The behavior presented is not so much nonjudgmental, but, if we ruminate upon the characters (as most people seem to do), it says more about our judgments of other people.

Insomnia-Charged Roundup

  • Radio host Paul Kennedy is trying to win Leonard Cohen a Nobel Prize. “He’s different from a celebrity; he’s almost God,” says Kennedy. You can make the same claim about mescaline, but you’d never nominate a drug for a distinguished honor.
  • It certainly isn’t news that laughter is good for you, but I didn’t realize that Anthony Trollope died laughing. Apparently, it was F. Anstey’s Vice Versa which was the culprit and has Orwell’s admiration.
  • Ayelet Waldman describes her day.
  • If Tom Wolfe’s slithering wasn’t enough, Natalie Krinsky’s new book, Chloe Does Yale, hopes to steam up the Ivy League. A telltale excerpt (“Every time I move, the bikini bottoms wedge themselves a little higher, and I am stuck trying to extract them from their chosen crevice.”) suggests that this novel has a lock on this year’s Bad Sex Award.
  • It’s the 200th anniversary of Victor Hugo’s birth. The Suntory Museum Tempozoan in Osaka has an exposition lined up.
  • My heart bleeds for the wealthy Irish artists soon to lose their tax-free status. Particularly when they include such dubious figures as Def Leppard. “Women to the left, women to the right, there to entertain and take you thru the night.” Yup, today’s answer to “No Second Troy” right there.