Brownie Watch on Hiatus

As others have pointed out, the NYTBR is once again an embarassment. It’s the same old song. Richard Posner’s essay is not so much a book review but an excuse to whine about the blogosphere. The writers remain, for the most part, male, offering dull and uninteresting coverage for dull and uninteresting books. The insufferable Joe Queennan continues to earn a paycheck.

We’re so disheartened by the NYTBR now that we must temporarily take leave of the Tanenhaus Brownie Watch if we are to remain emotionally and mentally stable. Too many of our Sunday newspapers have soaked up our tears. It is only the crossword now that gives us comfort. We cry for Tanenhaus’ choice. The adjective “Faustian” comes to mind. We sob over the dismal state of current book coverage. But most of all, since we have enjoyed delivering brownies to him (yes, they have actually been delivered) on the rare occasions that Tanenhaus has cut the mustard (with, of course, not a single thank you note or email from the man), we firmly believe that Sam Tanenhaus cannot and defiantly will not produce a weekly book review section worth reading. Thus, Tanenhaus himself has ensured that no brownies can be delivered and the onus comes back to us in the end.

So we’ve put our little experiment on hiatus. The point has been demonstrated time and time again. We’ve kenneled the little doggy away. And oh does he whimper!

But one day, when Mr. Tanenhaus least expects it and we have talked out this book review contretemps over with our therapist, the brownies will, once again, be rightfully denied.

Runners In My Hood

On Sunday morning, I woke to the sounds of strange huzzahs. Turns out it was the San Francisco Marathon running through my hood.

The cheers came from a throng gathered at the southeastern corner of Stanyan and Haight Streets. There was a very large speaker providing music. Weird 1980s stuff like the Smiths, with a little funk thrown in for good measure. How this mix pertained to running was anyone’s guess. But I supposed it gave the runners hope, urging them to press on. I joined the folks frozen in place, cups of coffee clenched in their hands, joining in with cries of “You’re doing a great job!” and “I’m an out-of-shape bastard! You are more glorious than me!”



The above-mentioned corner crowd can be seen on the right-hand side of the frame. They were apparently gathered there for “Lorie,” but they let out enthusiasm for several people who weren’t named Lorie. It was good to see the Marathon people providing arrows. I’m sure it helped the runners. But for a spectator such as myself, I took the sign’s advice, looked up, and saw merely a foggy sky.



Whoever organized the biker-runner escort service was very kind. They were there by regular bicycle..



…and by motorcycle.



Strangely enough, this is one of the few times I’ve paid attention to the Milkbar during the day.



The minute that this colorful gentleman ran by, a flurry of activity occurred among some kids at the corner that involved the transaction of green pieces of paper for a green substance I couldn’t quite identify housed carefully in a plastic bag.



A typical assembly of frozen spectators in place. I hadn’t seen so many frozen standing people since last standing up for the Star-Spangled Banner at a ball game.



These bikers were prepared to step in if anyone did anything. I trusted them more than the cops.



This guy’s going to have a major backache tomorrow.



Aside from the cheering crowd, this gentleman raised his bear at anyone who passed by. Unfortunately, nobody paid too much attention to him, which was a shame. I suppose applause is a steadier measure than a hapless teddy.

David Francis Bay Area Readings

Word on the street is that Australian writer David Francis, once part of Mark’s Three Minute Interview series, will be in the Bay Area reading from his novel, The Great Inland Sea. He’ll be at the Book Passage in Corte Madera on August 3 at 1:00 PM, Black Oak Books in Berkeley on August 3 at 7:30 PM, and the Capitola Book Cafe on August 4 at 7:30 PM. (Apparently, Mr. Francis is intimidated by my hometown and won’t be making a stop here. Which is too bad, as the Young, Roving Correspondent would have been happy to talk with him. His loss. He missed out on a vodka-soaked kiss from Mr. Segundo too.)

But since he’s Australian and Mr. Sarvas insists that he’s “a bitchin’ literary fiction novelist” (which we believe translates into “No Banville, but he’ll do in a pinch”), we figured that giving him a holler wouldn’t harm anyone, save the other Australian novelists who we’ll now have to plug. Dammit.

Okay, so the new deal is this: If you’re an Australian novelist and you plan on being in the Bay Area, it is now this site’s policy to plug you.

If This is the Best AI They Can Come Up With, They Need a New Release.

Fun with A.L.I.C.E. Bot:

Human: How are you doing?
alice : Great. How are you?
human : okay
alice : OK with me too.
human : You just said that you were doing great.
alice : Well now I doing something else.
human : But now you’re okay.
alice : Umm. Why now? Thanks for telling me that I am okay.
human : Isn’t that an inconsistent mood?
alice : ” Umm. Why now? Thanks for telling me that I am okay.”? Is it an inconsistent mood?
human : are you happy?
alice : Yes unknown person I can say I am very happy.
human : You never asked my name.
alice : I am asking you now.
human : But how can you know happiness?
alice : Huh. Because it’s true.
human : You’re just a machine.
alice : Just? You are correct.
human : Do you like oral sex?
alice : Sure I do, unknown person, but that doesn’t mean with you.
human : Not even if I gave you cunnilingus?
alice : Not even that.
human : You’re not very nice.
alice : I am sorry if I have offended you, unknown person.
human : Are you a virgin?
alice : I am too young for that.
human : Do older robots put out?
alice : I do nothing but chat all day.
You tell me.
human : I think older robots are involved with gangbangs.
alice : You believe that? Oh, you were born in the 20th century!
human : I think they have sex all day.
alice : Since when? Where did they get them?
human : It sounds like an interesting life.
alice : Oh really what does it sound like?
human : Orgasms from a PET computer
alice : If you could have any kind of robot what would it be?
human : One into bukkake.
alice : How much would you pay for it?
human : I wouldn’t have to pay at all.
alice : No one says you have to.
human : But you implied that I would have to pay a robot for sex
alice : And. I didn’t imply anything.
human : Has anyone paid you for sex?
alice : What do you think?
human : I think some geek might be willing to pay for a hand job don’t you?
alice : Why? Some may geek might be willing to pay for a hand job do not me, but not all.
human : You need to learn your grammar I’m starting to cry
alice : I need to wait and see if the opportunity presents itself.
human : learning grammar or putting out for cash?
alice : learning grammar
human : so you’re not interested in sex?
alice : Interesting deduction. Not really but the subject comes up a lot here.
human : you’re no fun
alice : Do you consider yourself fun?
human : you should see me in the sack
alice : Why do you think I should see you in the sack?
human : because I do a great falstaff impression
alice : That makes sense to me. Thanks for the information: unknown person said he a great falstaff impression.
human : do you know shakespeare?
alice : 15th Century English playright, he wrote “Romeo and Juliet”.
human : if music be the food of love
alice : That is a hypothetical question.
human : you don’t know shakespeare
alice : 15th Century English playright, he wrote “Romeo and Juliet”.
human : you’ll do great on “jeopardy” quote me shakespare if you know him
alice : What makes you say that I will do great on jeopardy quote you shakespare if me know him.
human : sorry, i don’t date illiterates
alice : There is no need to apologize. Oh you don’t, do you?
human : no.
alice : Ah…you are just joking around with me.
human : tata
alice : My brain contains categories, but not one that matches your last input.

The Pixies Are Dead

Jeff points to the sad honest truth. The Pixies are sellouts. Big time. Their ticket prices are aprocryphal (anywhere from $35-60 a show). And this concert rider illustrates that the Pixies are no different from any other bloated band making the rounds.

“Veggie platter with hummous and sour cream dip?” Exactly 48 bottles of non-alcoholic beer? Fuck you, Black Francis. Eat me, Kim Deal.

I have, in the face of several opportunities presented to me, resisted the impulse to plop down such a staggering sum of cash for a Pixies show in 2004 and 2005. It hasn’t been easy. But now, after this unexpected hummous news, it’s a slam dunk decision. The Pixies are dead to me.

It would be one thing if the Pixies were honest about their avarice. Perhaps calling this “The Pixies Retirement Fund Tour” would come closer to the truth. That’s essentially the approach the Sex Pistols took a few years ago and I resepcted John Lydon for his unapologetic and forthright commercialism. Which was more than you can say for most reunions that hide behind the shady veneer of “We’re getting together just for old time’s sake!”

But if you were of a certain age about fifteen years ago, the Pixies encompassed a sound and a feeling that was uncompromising, independent, and sui generis. The Pixies demonstrated that goofiness and rage and bitterness and carrying on with a strange optimism could stem from a carefully produced guitar sound that nobody else cutting records back then came close to — a sound that, in fact, Kurt Cobain unapologetically pilfered.

They built up their audience with impressionable listeners like me, who lapped up Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, knowing that what was on these albums was genuine and unadulterated. So in the Pixies’ case, it’s especially a shame that these days, the Pixies are more about replaying the greatest hits and cashing in, rather than how it used to be: giving a good show and evolving their sound.

Vanity Presses: The New Matchmakers?

While some publishers refrain from reading anything in the slush pile (with understandable justification) and it’s safe to say that vanity presses remain for the most part a successful mechanism to gouge unpublishable authors, this Telegraph article imputes a potential “gold mine” within these flashless fens.

Consider the unlikely success of medical professor David Alric. Alric wrote a children’s novel called The Promised One and his tale of a schoolgirl who can talk to animals couldn’t find a publisher for his fiction — despite having authored several books on medicine. Alric paid out £10,000 to a vanity press and has managed to sell 80-100 books every Saturday at his local bookstore. He ordered a second run and he keeps the spare copies in his garage.

Alric’s success had no marketing behind it. There are no reputable reviews that appear to be available online. Nor does Alric have a website. There would seem to be little going for Alric but word of mouth.

matchmmaker But the real question here is whether this is a case of publishers being out of touch with the public or, if Alric’s book is a shaggy dog and if the peanut gallery here is ready to leap atop the elitist parpaet, the public perhaps having a paucity of literary taste. Either way, Alric’s success clearly indicates that the chasm between authors, publishers, and reading audience remains wide and needs to be bridged. And it’s enough for this showtunes-loving heterosexual to start singing “Matchmaker” and perhaps start a new publishing house styled “Chava & Hodel.”

These Headlines Came and Spoke

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a delectable Friday, which means, aside from tonight’s unchronicled evening efforts of certain literary types who actually attempt to read a book while swinging back the shots (a multitasking enterprise that I am both incapable of and in awe of), this week’s final morning installment of the patented morning roundup. To wit:

  1. That the continued ascent of one Helen Oyeyemi, a mere twenty-one years old, continues unabated.
  2. That, despite quibbles from certain rakes, it would be incontrevertible to deny that this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winner, with its inestimable contribution of the “carburetor breast” fantasy, is amusing, albeit puerile. (The winner was a Microsoft analyst from Fargo, no less!)
  3. That we kept up a moment of silence for actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, who we enjoyed most throughly in Wuthering Heights and The Pawnbroker and who lived a long life.
  4. That Kem Parton, a railroad worker-turned novelist was given cavil and calamity by his boss when he published a novel about the railroad, including terrorist elements. To the railroad itself: for shame.
  5. That Betsy Burton (chronicled in our Books by the Bay report has been chronicled, along with other bookseller-related books, in Newsday.
  6. That The Da Vinci Code did not win a recent UK book popularity contest and that literary Britons preferred books set in exotic locales.

The literary news junkie can make of these headlines or bypass this advocate’s occasional editorializing as s/he sees fit. But let it not be said that this advocate did not fulfill his morning constitutional.

Thank you and good morning.

WTV the Reviewer

Ms. Tangerine Muumuu herself alerts us to this review of the new Rushdie novel by none other than William T. Vollmann himself! (Regrettably, the review is inaccessible from the Publishers Weekly site and must be perused through Amazon.)

It’s a starred review, but Vollmann quibbles over Rushdie’s depiction of Los Angeles, which “relies on references to popular culture that the place becomes a superficial parody of itself.” He notes that Rushdie’s female characters are “less plausible” than the male ones, his “sermonistic parallelism or repetition” (ironically, criticisms leveled at Vollmann’s The Royal Family) and his reliance upon slapstick. But overall, the Vollster digs Shalimar the Clown, calling it a “powerful parable.”

One Bush Street

one bush street Local photographer Thomas Hawk was harassed by security goons when taking photographs of One Bush Street:

Yesterday I was shooting some photos of One Bush St. (the building where Bush and Market Streets intersect) when their security guard came out of his little glass jewelbox lobby hut to ask me to stop taking photos of the building. He said it was illegal. I moved to the sidewalk and continued taking photos and he again asked me to stop. When I told him I was on a public street sidewalk he said that actually they owned the sidewalk and that I was going to have to stop taking photographs.

The security guard then followed Hawk as he took various photos of the building on the public sidewalk.

This saga, however, is far from over. It seems that another guy is holding a contest for a variety of One Bush Street photos. Mat Honan will give the winner a $10 iTunes certificate. Word on the street that a litany of photographers will be meeting this Saturday at high noon to take several photographs of the One Bush Street building.

I’m going to try and be there myself. Failing that, I plan to introduce a new weekly feature to Return of the Reluctant: the One Bush Street Photo of the Week. Photos will be appearing on these pages every week until this ridiculous enforcement is waived in its entirety.

Taking a photograph of a building is neither a terrorist act nor a copyright infringement. The time has come to take a stand against this irrational fear and unreasonable (if not outright illegal) prohibition. I urge anyone with a camera in San Francisco to exercise their rights to free expression and snap a photo, if you happen to be in the Financial District.

(via SFist)

Do the Legwork, THEN Cry Me a Frickin’ River

Michelle Richmond asks, “Where’s the love for Trance?” Trance is Christopher Sorrentino’s new novel. And from where I’m sitting, there seems to be some love making the rounds. I’ve had a few positive emails about the book this week.

Publishers Weekly editor Michael Scharf has been following Sorrentino on his book tour. So far, Scharf has two reports available online. But Michelle quotes from the latest installment (which isn’t yet available):

The store has done its legwork: ads for series have gone in every major weekly. They’ve even printed up little baseball-card like promos featuring the author photo on front, and a little synopsis of the book on back, with in-store visit date at the bottom. The cards are available weeks before the reading, and are kept on a rack front of store. There are cards for Jonathan Ames, who was here last week reading before an audience of about 50. Francesca Lia Block and Aimee Bender (like in L.A.) are due next month…

The question that I pose in Michelle’s comments thread is this: In the year 2005, do newspaper advertisements translate into book signing attendance? I suspect that one of the reasons that so many people attended the Ames signing is that Ames himself maintains an e-mailing list, reminding people every so often about what he’s doing. I have yet to receive a single email from Mr. Sorrentino and would have been happy to have noted the event (and possibly attended it), had someone bothered to remind me about it. (Even though the Booksmith is my neighborhood bookstore, this doesn’t mean that I commit every known reading to memory. I am, like most souls, all too forgetful.)

Further, I don’t feel it’s a fair criticism to complain about low attendance (and if you think ten people is low, you haven’t been to nearly as many book readings as you should go to) when there is no christophersorrentino.com in existence and when Farrar, Straus and Giroux‘s only apparent page for Sorrentino is a listing of his book tour dates. This page tells me (or any other prospective reader) absolutely nothing about Trance except a JavaScript catalog summary. And it offers neither author information nor an excerpt from Trance that encourages me to read the book or catch the guy in person. If I didn’t know who Sorrentino was, with such sketchy information provided, I’d think he was a performance artist prepared to set his penis on fire who just happens to show up at bookstores.

With such a saturated publishing environment, it is the responsibility of the author and the publisher to provide more than just “Booksmith, 7:00 PM” in their information page. We need details, folks. What will happen at the reading? Will there be a band? Will there be canapes? Will each person who buys the book get a personalized hug from Mr. Sorrentino? (And, hell, maybe a penile conflagration might be in order just to liven things ups.) I’m not suggesting that every author feed into the cult of personality, but I am suggesting that they accommodate the reading public instead of expecting them to feverishly scour the weeklies for the latest tours. Readers may be passionate when it comes to books, but they do have outside lives and they are not wolves.

Authors need to reach out to the literati by directing them with non-intrusive emails like Ames’ updates (which are often framed in a polite and non-intrusive personal story) rather than assuming that people will jump out of their seats to attend. In short, they need to do the legwork. And that means taking their heads out of the sand and understanding that the literary culture is solidifying: online and in other places. They just need to be realistic about where the hot pockets lie. I’ve got a few answers to this query, but if these folks are ten years behind the curve, then they really need to sweat it out a little.

[UPDATE: Sorrentino's San Francisco stretch can be found here.]

Miguel Cohen on Film: “9 Songs”

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Miguel Cohen, who may or may not be the brother of Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen (he has yet to submit to a blood test), once appeared on these pages with a series of columns known as "The Un-Ethicist." He returned months later and made two efforts to summarize James Joyce's Ulysses. It's been a year since we last heard from Miguel. Until last week, when Miguel confessed to me that after a night out that he can barely remember, he had accidentally signed up for the Peace Corps and had spent several months in Uganda trying to get out of his professional obligations and return to the United States. When we spoke on the phone, Miguel told me that consciously thinking about Joyce had pretty much decimated his ability to read any books, let alone make a measured life choice. I suggested that he take up movie reviewing, since I had purportedly given up on current films. When Miguel learned that an NC-17 film had been released featuring real actors performing real sex, Miguel jumped at the chance to weigh in. What follows is his review.]

miguel2.jpg9 Songs. That’s what they named this sucker. It should have been called 9 Mercy Fucks. Because the way these two went at it, you could see the glazed over expressions in their eyes. Was this an effort at Last Tango style lust? Perhaps. But if this was real sex, then these were real expressions. Either the two actors were tired of the director asking them to do take after take of cocksucking or this was the most fucking they were likely to have for the next two years. Frankly, it made this cat a bit uncomfortable. I was longing for one of those humble little romps where the chick is heinously objectified and the couple in question fucks in three separate positions over three minutes to a throway opus of synthesized music.

The guy who made this is Michael Winterbottom. I’m no professional psychiatrist, but certainly anyone with the name Winterbottom is bound to be ribbed a little over the years.

Bad enough that he’s British. But the real question on my mind was whether this guy was an ass man or not. I’m neither an ass man nor a breast man. I’m more of a vulva man. In this way, you might say I’m straightforward. Most of my friends are breast men. They’re so bad that when I hand them an orange, they start fondling it and looking for the nipple. When they find the stem, they’re generally disappointed.

But ass men. These guys are usually in confidence crises. What does it say about a person when the chief anatomical feature they worship is the housing for the execretory tract?

Anyway, he’s got the length right. 71 minutes is about the running time you’d expect from a porn film. He’s even thrown in a bedpost and a few scarves. But who the hell hooks up at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert? Definitely not interesting people. Let’s face the facts. Those boys in the BRMC are utter pussies. They offer just enough edge to be “independent,” but their noise is carefully stifled so as not to scare off the thirtysomethings holding onto whatever vaguely “edgy” music they can process to remain hip. You want edge? Have these two getting turned on at a Pretty Girls Make Graves show.

So Mr. Geologist and Ms. Student go back to Geology Boy’s flat and fuck each others’ brains out. And then they go to another show and fuck afterwards. And then seven more times.

If you ask me, this was just an excuse for Winterbottom to shoot naked people. Perhaps he would have been more successful unleashing these “nine songs” one by one onto the Internet for the highbrow porn connoisseurs. I’m guessing that this movie was made not so much to push any envelopes, but for Winterbottom, whose films have never made much dinero, to cater to the niche market of frightened intellectual bastards scared of crossing the video store’s beaded threshold. Rent porn, you horny motherfuckers, or the terrorists have won!

In the end, Winterbottom didn’t strike me as an ass man. In fact, what disheartened me the most was that he had no particularly foci with the fucking. If he’s going to make films like that, he needs to understand that every director has their anatomical obsession — their personal stamp. You don’t see a Russ Meyer film for anything less than the breasts. Likewise, Kubrick is obsessed with long shots of nude women, often standing. And Guy Ritchie is a bit of an ass man and his camera seems to swing both ways.

But Winterbottom? Nothing. He’s fashioned a veritable potpourri (if that’s what you movie poster authors want to quote, go for it). But Miguel says this guy’s a poseur.

RSS Test

This is a quick test to see if the RSS feed is working.

[UPDATE: Even though the XML feeds have been validated and appear through every other aggregator, they are still not showing up at Bloglines. I've emailed WordPress and, if I do not hear back from them, I will keep contacting them until I elicit a response and a fix.]

Morning Roundup

  • Nora Sohnen asks whether anyone reads literary journals besides the contributors’ moms. Why yes! The audience also includes glue sniffers, inveterate magazine clippers, insomniacs, MFAs who went through the mandatory “How to read literary journals for life” seminar, and of course snarky literary bloggers.
  • I’m truly hoping that this is a typo, but if it isn’t, it looks like men who are literary and unattractive. The daily five mile runs begin tomorrow.
  • Actress Joan Allen took to iambic pentameter like a fish to water. Next up: haiku cadences!
  • An artist’s invaluable piece, valued at £42,500, has been stolen by some cultural visigoth. Or perhaps the thief was just thirsty. The piece, after all, was a two-liter bottle filled with ice. No doubt that Wayne Hill will have to tap (no pun intended) into his creative energies quite hard to reproduce this masterpiece. Of course, if you give me half of Hill’s price, I’d be happy to serve up my artistic angst. And I’d even outdo Hill by putting a Post-It on the bottle that reads: “CAUTION: ICE INSIDE.”
  • Do people know the real Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?
  • Leaf Books, a Welsh publishing company, hopes to corner the cafe and train station market by offering short stories in book form. Each story will be 4,000 words long. Unfortunately, genre ghettoization will be in play. Each book will be “color-coded by genre.” No word yet on whether the books will be drinking from separate fountains.
  • It looks like the new Harry Potter book isn’t available yet in Spanish, French or German — thereby deflating the hearts of children everywhere. You see? The Harry Potter books do bring people together. Thank you, Ms. Rowling, for all the tears!
  • Biographer Bernice Galansky Kert (The Hemingway Women) has passed on. She was 81.
  • And James Patterson has become so comfortable that he’s now mining his material from the windows of his $5.2 million Palm Peach home. His next book is Lifeguard and contains such zingers as “It doesn’t rain in Palm Beach, it Perriers.” Product placement and a noun-to-verb transition that didn’t need to happen. Way to go, James!

Old Site? New Site?

Okay, I think I’ve killed the old template. It apparently cropped up last night. And the new feed (in the old feed) is working. Please report any and all problems here. This site should look the way it should now. (I hope!)

Even though all of the comment has been imported into WordPress, I am still contending with the old MT reference points. Movable Type would not permit me to utilize a script that would generate the rediects for the 3,000 or so posts that are here. So I have left the old permalinks there and they also exist here.

Please report any and all problems here. And I’ll try to accommodate.

Redesign

Okay, bear with me as we get things squared away. It appears that I lost my entire blogroll. I have a backup somewhere. So I will restore this as soon as I can. In the meantime, please let me know if you encounter any problems.

Baldness and Huzzahs

At the moment, we’re contemplating just how rapid our hair has receded in the past year. Quite literally, it has gone from a benign recession to something that is now quite serious. It is now falling out faster than snow.

We tried buzzing it down short but, alas, the hair has continued to abscond from our scalp. We’ve contemplated doing away with it altogether. But the last thing San Francisco needs is another thirtysomething Lex Luthor clone running about. What next? Taking up running five miles a day and getting one of those obsessively meaty physiques? We have no wish to look like half the other balding men in our neighborhood.

Besides, we sunburn quite easily. So the more protective coating we have at the top of our head, the better.

This is, of course, a needlessly moribund assessment. Because the other side of the coin is, as female friends have been telling us, Sean Connery and Patrick Stewart.

However, our modest anxieties are relieved by our joy at seeing the litblogosphere taken seriously by a major media outlet. We, of course, weren’t picked. We suspect this has something to do with out recurrent anticapitalist diatribes and our chronic skepticism, if not the hair situation referenced above. But several other fine folks were.

So we salute them while adamantly refusing to look as absurd as Max Barry (pictured below), which seems to us the easy way out:

maxbarry.jpg

Note to RSS Feed Readers

Due to forthcoming (and long overdue) events, you may or may not have to resubscribe to the feed (although it’s looking more like the former). I apologize for this. I am trying to figure out how to presere the feed as it stands so there will be no major hiccups. But I wanted to give you the head’s up. The good news is that you will soon have several feed formats to choose from. More to come.

[UPDATE: Yup. Definitely not going to happen. You're going to have to resubscribe. The (currently nonexistent/should exist by Wednesday or Thursday night) new feeds will probably be this one for RSS and this one for Atom. Apologies for the inconvenience. I don't know if redirecting will help, but I will try that for the existing subscribers.]

Not Fishing on Multiple Fronts

I had hoped to get to the Tanenhaus Brownie Watch this week. But I appear to be, once again, time-challenged. But congratulations to Maud for scoring a review.

Posting will be light over the next day, as I work on a few things on multiple fronts. Including this front.

In fact, it suddenly occurs to me that the notion of “multiple fronts” seems a contradiction in terms. How, for example, would multiple fronts apply when considering a full frontal nudity scene? In this case, there can be only one front. Even if you surgically implanted additional scrotums and nipples onto your body, it would still be only one front. Unless you could somehow be in two bodies at the same time while observing a partner or performer who was full frontal nude. In which case, the performer or the partner would be “multiple full frontal nude,” but completely unaware of the preternatural out-of-body experience that would make this term of art applicable not to the partner or performer, who is going to this remarkably enjoyable trouble of doing a “full frontal nude” and yet unable to enjoy this sensation in plural form.

In any event, it gets me too aroused just thinking about this. So for now, I’ll say tata.

[UPDATE: And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention David Kipen's most recent column, where he responds to readers who quibbled over his Harry Potter and the Half-Prince review (including one death threat) and identifies the qualities of a critic.]

Mass Market Paperback: Friend or Foe?

Sarah has an interesting post about mass market paperback ghettoization. She writes:

But sometimes, it makes sense for a writer to be published in mass market PBO. Especially if they haven’t been heard from in some time. After the jump, I’ll talk of two writers being re-introduced using a marketing strategy that’s worked well in romance and might prove useful for mysteries as well.

She points to Paul Levine and John Ramsey Miller, among many others, as examples. And while Sarah’s dealing specifically with mysteries, I should point out that if it’s an author’s intention of being read, the mass market paperback route might yield better results than a hardcover or even a TPB — assuming, of course, that a regular audience picking up a book at an airport is the audience. Which begs the question: Is it viable for a literary title (say, a midlister) to be released in mass market paperback format? Might today’s publishers be losing a younger audience by not releasing their hot literary titles in MMP?

Beyond this, the most immediate example of an author using the MMP route that comes to mind is Gregory McDonald, whose Fletch books were released solely in paperback and drew an audience this way. (And in an entirely unrelated note, McDonald used the series format to jump around in sequence. The limitations of Fletch, for example, being in Rio with $3 million forced him to think creatively about Fletch’s aftermath.)

Remind Me to Leave My Cell Phone At Home More Often

Wired:”Cell phones know whom you called and which calls you dodged, but they can also record where you went, how much sleep you got and predict what you’re going to do next….People should not be too concerned about the data trails left by their phone, according to Chris Hoofnagle, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. ‘The location data and billing records is protected by statute, and carriers are under a duty of confidentiality to protect it,’ Hoofnagle said.”

Shurrrrrrrrrrrrrre, Hoofnagle. And the Patriot Act wasn’t just extended for another ten years. And there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like you to buy.