Remember Kenneth Tomlinson? The guy who launched a $10,000 study to look into the purported liberal bias of Now with Bill Moyers. Well, it seems that Tomlinson himself broke federal law by bringing in more conservative voices to tilt PBS’s programming to the right, violating the ethical standards set forth by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Apparently, Tomlinson couldn’t practice what he preached.
Interestingly enough, Tomlinson resigned as a board member earlier in the month shortly after all this chicanery was unearthed by Corporation for Public Broadcasting Inspector General Kenneth Konz. While there are no criminal penalties for Tomlinson’s unethical conduct, if there is any justice in the world, I sincerely hope that Tomlinson will be found working at an Arby’s somewhere.
The Whitbread shortlists have been announced. While Rushdie received no love from Booker, he might just be making a comeback with Whitbread. I’m mystified, however, why Nick Hornby was nominated, given that one of the judges is a bit fastidious. But we’ll see how this all plays out.
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie
the accidental by Ali Smith
The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher Wilson
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
26a by Diana Evans
The Short Day Dying by Peter Hobbs
Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel Zadok
Haw-Haw The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce by Nigel Farndale
Nature Cure by Richard Mabey
Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters
Matisse The Master by Hilary Spurling
Legion by David Harsent
Cold Calls by Christopher Logue
Lucky Day by Richard Price
Marabou by Jane Yeh
(via tse Tung)
Looks like San Francisco Chronicle reporter Edward Guthmann has been caught plagiarizing the New Yorker. I’m truly sorry to hear this, as I had several great conversations with Guthmann back in the days when I practiced film criticism and though him a decent person and a decent writer. Knowing what little I know about Guthmann, I’m truly shocked that he did this.
[1/25/06 UPDATE: I’ve been in touch with Edward Guthmann. There are a few things that should be noted:
1. According to this SF Weekly piece, Guthmann confesses that the so-called plagiarism was unintentional, “During the months I worked on the piece, I gathered a huge amount of research and interview transcripts that I stored in computer files. At one point, I read about the 1,000th suicide in the New Yorker article and pasted two sentences in my text as a ‘flag’ — a reminder to myself to mention the fact. But when I went back to the piece, which may have been days later since I had other work during that time, I forgot those weren’t my words. I should have set them in boldface or larger type, or not moved them at all. Huge mistake — and especially heartbreaking, since I worked so hard on the piece and, apart from those two sentences, I think it’s my best work.”
2. During the course of the online investigation, nobody (including myself) thought to contact Guthmann himself. While the Vidiot’s coverage was quite fair, hopefully this will serve as a reminder to bloggers that it’s important to hear multiple sides of the story, particularly the persons who are accused of the charges.
I leave all the results here for readers to make up their minds.]
[1/25/06 UPDATE 2: Vidiot informs me that Guthmann was cc’d in his email to the Chronicle ombudsman. So there were some efforts to contact Guthmann.]
Bush going nuts? Confirm sources please.
The British literary scholar, Christian ap0logist, and children’s-book author C.S. Lewis is one of sixteen figures — Churchill is one, Gibbon is another, and there are fourteen more that I will leave you to find within the bulk of this silly essay — whose reputation in Britain is so different from their reputation in America that we might as well be talking about twenty-eight (or is that fifty-six?) different men. When one factors in red states and blue states, coastal towns and inland cities, naked people and clothed people, women and men, liberals and conservatives, the number of potential different men we are talking about quickly spills over into the hundreds. In this way, Lewis and Churchill may represent a literary mitosis that is sui generis. Both men were writers. Both men were British. Both men had the letter C in their names. In America, Churchill was a god for those who loved the letter C, in part because the Americans are taken with referring to authors by last names. In England, the C’s importance is emphasized with the Christian name. And Lewis (or C.S. as he preferred to be called on his book spines) was, of course, an ardent Christian.
The British, of course, are no strangers to authors with fancy initials. There is E.M. Forester and, more daringly, W. Somerset Maugham. Whereas in America, there is T.S. Eliot, who might easily be mistaken for an Englishman and the considerably more eccentric figure of H.P. Lovecraft, who is the hero of the horror fan. In fact, the general trend against initials has begun to pervade the British Isles, save the iconoclastic writer A.L. Kennedy, who, unlike Paul Simon, would never want you to call her Al.
It is generally believed that, like most married adults, Lewis had sexual relations with his wife. The Americans certainly believe this, but the British couldn’t reconcile the image of a children’s writer engaging in copulation. We can blame William Nicholson for all this, since he has pushed through endless adaptations of the same play for multiple formats. Our fact checker here at the New Yorker had to watch them all.
None of this would matter so much if there wasn’t a tie-in with a movie that seems to think it’s as big as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.
The six hundred and forty-two Lewises — too many to list here, really — we are left with could very well be a fictitious army inside our head. We were encouraged to set the number at 1,042, but David Remnick thought we were going too far. So we’ll just start slinging rhetoric. Is Narnia a name that sounds like a type of English marmalade? Unquestionably. As one reads through the copious press releases, skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner, one begins to hunger for the bowls of Turkish delight that are offered to the children. The simple truth is that Lewis was likely a man (or perhaps six hundred and forty-two men) who was too intricate to keep track of. Now, if you’ll excuse us, our evening repast awaits.
David Hudson passes along this list of books that notables fell in love with in college. While Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s plaudits for Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead are preposterously predictable (“I don’t know how many times I have read it, but it got to the point where I had to stop because I would get too fired up”), but it’s interesting that George Saunders was such a big Thomas Wolfe fan.
Surpisingly, however, there’s no Orwell for Hitch.
As for me, the writers that blew me away when I was a lad of twenty-one (and that I discovered in the library almost entirely by accident) were John Cheever (which I liked for his attention to manners), Erskine Caldwell (which I liked for the sex), Guy de Maupassant (which I liked for the sex and the twist endings), the stories of Somerset Maugham (who led me to de Maupassant) and Thomas Wolfe (which, like Saunders, I enjoyed for his heartiness).
What authors did you discover or read in your undergraduate days?
[UPDATE: Jenny D lists her choices, a far more impressive selection than mine.]
The Times reports that Lewis Lapham is retiring as editor of Harper’s. He’ll be retiring in the spring. Lapham’s been mum on naming a successor, but these are going to be some hard shoes to fill, since under Lapham’s tenure, Harper’s has had a really great run.
Part of me, however, wonders if Lapham’s involvement in the recent Roman Polanski lawsuit (which Polanski won) might have factored into Lapham’s decision. Polanski’s win meant not just a $90,000 verdict, but an estimated $2.6 million legal bill for Conde Nast (which published the Vanity Fair piece penned by Lapham). Lapham was the source for the 1969 article written by A.E. Hotchner.
One unfortunate thing: Lapham’s “Notebook” column, which, with rare exception, is pretty much the same anti-Bush rhetoric every month, will continue. Although perhaps with Lapham concentrating on a bio of William Taft, Lapham will mix his subject matter up a little more.
Interestingly enough, Lapham also has a book out from Melville House about the two weeks he spent with the Beatles.
M.J. Rose conveys several stories about how some authors can be dismissive of both publicists and journalists. While 95% of the authors and publicists I have dealt with have been nothing less than amicable and accommodating, even when an author cannot be produced for an interview, I have, nevertheless, experienced a few variations on these tales myself.
I also wanted to followup on Ron’s item from this morning. While I did not receive a return phone call back from the publicist, I think it’s likely that the September 28 interview in the Washington Post may have been set up already, and that the “all interviews are cancelled” line may have applied to any interviews that had not already been set in stone. Again, I don’t blame anyone here, nor do I take it personally. I’ll be the first to confess that I’m not the Washington Post. As an online outlet, I am pretty low on the totem pole. And as long as I’ve written for online outlets, even as a professional, this has always been the case. Some publishers understand websites and blogs and podcasts, and some don’t. Or simply won’t.
- More proof of the Gray Lady’s literary irrelevance: a two-page profile of Nicole Richie — not in the Style section, but the Books section. (via Moorish Girl)
- The National Review talks with James Ellroy: “What shocks people is when they find out that I’m not a liberal. When you don’t hold to the liberal orthodoxy in publishing and films, people are shocked. And they take that oh-how-can-you-be-that tack. Or they may take that how-can-you-be-so-uncool tack.”
- French literary prizes may be difficult for Houellebecq to nab, but Orham Pamuk picked up the Prix Medicis without any problems.
- 34 Japanese novels are being translated into English.
- Proving once again how little poetry is regarded these days: this terrible typo.
- Meeting Tom Cruise Helps Chinese Writer Fulfill Her American Dream. You’ve got to be shitting me.
- Alex Beam takes on Amazon Pages, pointing out that buying select pages is an effective way to avoid dogearring pages.
- An audio report of the 50th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” in Cambridge.
Gerard Jones writes in with the news that he’s recorded the greatest single chapter in all literature.
Here’s a nifty map of my neighborhood in ASCII, based on the Rolling Stone “Pilgrimage Places in the Haight” map in 1976.
While the Brownie Watch may be on hiatus (I expect to revive it in December), I decided to analyze the ads in relation to the content. Here then is a rundown of the ads in the November 13, 2005 NYTBR issue:
PAGE 2: Full-page ad — HaperCollins.
PAGE 3: Half-page ad — Miramax Books.
PAGE 4: Half-page ad — Foucs Films.
PAGE 5: Full-page ad — Hyperion Books.
PAGE 6: Third-page ad — Norton.
PAGE 7: Full-page ad — iUniverse.
PAGE 8: Eighth-page sliver — Tor.
PAGE 9: Eighth-page sliver — Norton.
PAGE 13: Full-page ad — Bauman Rare Books.
PAGE 18: Third-page ad — Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
PAGE 19: Full-page ad — Penguin Young Readers.
PAGE 25: Full-page ad — Scholastic.
PAGE 26: Third-page ad — Random House Children’s Books.
PAGE 27: Third-page ad — Random House Children’s Books.
PAGE 29: Full-page ad — Disney Book Group.
PAGE 31: Half-page ad — Charlesbridge, Roaring Brook and Peachtree Atlanta.
PAGES 32-33: Two-page ad — HarperCollins Children’s Books.
PAGE 34: Eighth-page sliver — Minnie Dix.
PAGE 35: Eighth-page sliver — Tilly, a Deer’s Tale.
PAGE 41: Quarter-page ad — Tuxedo Blue, LLC (with a mispelling of Dr. Seuss).
PAGE 43: Half-page of column inch ads (Spirit of the Forest, Brown Barn Books, Alexie Books, Snicker Doodle, Times fillers).
PAGE 47: Eighth-page sliver — HarperCollins
PAGE 48: Full-page ad — Candlewick Press.
PAGE 53: Quarter-page ad — Nelson Current, column inches — Osprey.
PAGE 54: Half-page ad — Dr. Hisatoki Komaki.
PAGE 55: Full-page ad — The Great Courses.
PAGE 56: Quarter-page ad — Unviersity of California Press, quarter-page ad — Alyson Books, Eighth-page sliver — Bloomsbury.
PAGE 57: Full-page ad — Diabetes Danger.
PAGE 59: Half-page ad — Mysterious Press.
PAGE 61: Full-page ad — Bose.
PAGE 62: Quarter-page ad — Barnes & Noble, column inches devoted to Book Exchange.
Back Cover: Full-page ad — The Folio Society.
Now here is where things get interesting. Here are reviews that are more than a page.
PAGES 10-11: Two-page review devoted to Norton title The Rise of American Democracy. (Norton ad can be found on Page 6.)
PAGES 14-15: 1 – 1/3 page review devoted to Random House title The Lost Painting. (Random House ads can be found on Pages 26-27.)
PAGES 30-31: Page and a half review of FSG book The Baby on the Way and G.P. Putnam book Show Way. (No advertising conflict.)
So essentially if you’re a publisher that’s advertised in the NYTBR, you have a 66% chance of getting a review that lasts more than a page (at least this week). Of course, I’m sure that this is all just pure coincidence. The fact that a small publisher can’t get that kind of coverage, I’m sure, means nothing at all.
Overall, the NYTBR‘s advertising doesn’t profile any specific titles that have been reviewed in its pages. However, there is one egregious spot where editorial and advertising merge. Gordon Wood’s review of The Rise of American Democracy is more of a summary than a response to the book’s scholarship. It is uncritical in the extreme, declares the work “monumental” and it is in every sense a puff piece. Interestingly enough, an ad for the book can be found on Page 6. The first blurb underneath the book? William Grimes of The New York Times. Quid pro quo? You make the call.
Maud points to this New York Times item on Gawker. David Carr criticizes blogs (and specifically Gawker) for being “remarkably puerile to make jokes…[when Fairchild Publication] has posted guards in the company’s office because [Peter Braunstein] is suspected of drawing a target on people working there.” Gawker editor Jessica Coen may revel in bad taste (certainly Coen’s ridiculous identification of Laila as a “Muslim-by-way-of-Portland blogger” has been deservedly taken to task by several parties). But who is to suggest that Gawker, as tasteless as it might read at times, should be criticized solely because Carr finds it offensive? Is it possible, perhaps, that in finding gallows humor in the verboeten (even through Gawker’s decidedly tawdry timbre), Coen may very well be discovering another mode to express “the vocabulary for genuine human misfortune?” Or maybe she’s alerting six million readers that yes, Virginia, contrary to the safe ‘n’ sane overlords who hold the keys to the castle where none are offended, tea is served at noon and the happy little elves dance a harmless waltz, you can indeed find a guffaw in the forbidden.
I haven’t been all that much of a Gawker fan since the halcyon days of Spiers and Sicha. But it’s truly unsurprising that we have another telltale sign here from an outlet which, on a daily basis, fails to stand by its dubious credo “all the news that’s fit to print” because they fear offending subscribers. One indeed that has suffered credibility problems of its own and that would publicly denounce anyone daring to push beyond the threshold into issues unseen and unexamined. First off, there’s the possibility that the image-obsessed world of the Condé Nasties or the sordid and duplicitous subculture of gossip journalism may have had a hand in pushing this sociopathic personality over the edge. Further, why was such a man employed, even after he exhibited stalking tendencies? Surely, any company who regularly sends reporters into the field would not want to face a costly harassment lawsuit from one of its employees.
That’s interesting from a human behavior standpoint and, as far as I’m concerned, ripe for comedy. Or as Mel Brooks once put it, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.”
Coen’s tossed off posts may be unfunny, but only because they are poorly phrased or lack a specific association. This is not to suggest the topic of rape, as hideous and as awful as the subject matter is, is entirely devoid of comic value. Mostly unfunny, sure. But did we learn nothing from Lina Wurtmuller’s ingenious cinematic satires of the 1970s or, more recently, Catherine Breillat’s films or Pedro Almodovar’s Kika, which have employed rape sequences to make audaciously satirical statements about how women are regularly subjected and humiliated? The Lenny Bruces, the Richard Pryors, the Lina Wurtmullers, the Onions and the Terry Southerns of our world all understood that comedy designed for audiences who are easily offended by studs which mismatch a country squire’s cufflinks is never revolutionary and, for the most part, quite dull.
One of the reasons blogs have thrived is because they combat stiffs like Carr, columnists who exist on the Gray Lady’s payroll solely to bang out 1,000 words pointing out the bleeding obvious. Blogs dare to employ tones and write about taboo subjects that elude a profit-driven newspaper. They eschew the American newspaper’s prudish tone and have no full-page advertisers to answer to. In the best of cases, they combine wit, irreverence and an original idea. Perhaps the six million people are drawn to Gawker because they want to see what Coen will come up with next. Or perhaps they wish to take a trip down a dark road to discover the sordid alleys that mainstream outlets fear to tread.
Sure, it may be “more adult” to look the other way, avoiding some of the more deranged realities of our world, whether through disgust or willful ignorance. But such an approach also means siding with the newspaper-reading Babbitts of the world, those who would remain unchallenged and trapped within the obligations of crippling mortgages they must meet, children they must raise, and bosses they dare not cross. Humorless miens indeed.
Snarkwatch: 404 File Not Found, a mere two years later.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Slightly hoarse but nostalgic for trains.
Subjects Discussed: The mania of poets, poetic meters, the prejudice against Spenserian stanza, the difficulties of getting a poetry collection published, writing while driving, husband poems, masturbation, clandestine encounters, educating a native Californian about Tyringham, Mass., Horace, the use of first-person voice (both singular and royal), Aimee Bender, the personality of numbers and letters, the dubiously romantic appeal of rocks (from Marlowe on), names, pronunciation, online identities, blogs oriented around eavesdropping, Paul Auster’s film adaptations, the ethics of writing about people, the title of The Pagoda in the Garden, Coim Toibin’s The Master, novella collections as novels, Michael Cunningham, the importance of fiction, anonymous protagonists, basing fiction on real experience, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Harry Thomas as editor, U.S. Presidents as reference points, historical cycles in fiction, Philip Klass’s 1975 statement on freedoms, women’s freedoms, profanity, Samizdat, love, an unexpected answering machine message, playing with perspective, Gilbert Sorrentino, the influence of literary criticism on writing fiction, postmodernism vs. traditionalism, mysteries, and plotting.
The Apple: The lyrics “It’s a natural, natural, natural desire / To meet an actual, actual, actual vampire,” a production number devoted to speed or (as, Catherine Mary Stewart sings it, “Speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!” which, as foreshadowed, is apparently “what America needs”), a man on a scooter who circles around a secretary pool (all of them wearing see-through plastic and white) for no apparent reason at all, audience reaction measured in heartbeats, a musical number in an apartment where the singer stands in one place and consciously sings the cue cards for the vapid lyrics off camera, and weird Orwellian orders with a mandatory Bim Hour (part of the National Fitness Program where even doctors put down their tools in the middle of the surgery and begin moving their arms up and down singing “Hey hey hey”).
This movie is awful, but strangely mesmerizing in its badness. Who was the insane studio exec who green-lighted this thing?
[MORE HERE: “The Rise and Fall of Cannon”]
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “A 33-year-old Grafton woman was fighting for her life Thursday night after she drank concentrated drain cleaner given to her by a man who then videotaped her violent vomiting for his sexual gratification, Milwaukee police said.”
The fool dissed my hometown.
O’Reilly can say whatever he wants about San Francsico. I don’t give a shit. But when he advocates the destruction of the Coit Tower by terrorists and the resultant loss of life, I have to wonder what O’Reilly fans see in such a man.
Even Roger Ebert has his WTF moments.
It’s taken me several listens of Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better to figure out why it rubbed me the wrong way — what Trent Reznor recently suggested, “All the cool people say they’re good, but it sounds like I’m getting bullshitted by somebody.”
The strange thing was that I didn’t really get this sense with the first album. I rocked out to “Take Me On” and “Michael” as much as the next guy. But with this “Do You Want To” hit single, which is essentially “My Sharona” with a droning drumbeat on repeat, I have to ask: what’s so revolutionary about keeping the signal in the center and then expanding it out to the left and right? These guys have nothing on Pink Floyd’s directional pyrotechnics (or, hell, even Of Montreal’s) and I strongly suspect that anyone listening to this song stoned would be extremely disappointed.
I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong. Franz Ferdinand is Johnny Cash sped up, with a little bit of stark tempo changes for the hipsters in “What You Want” and “Evil and a Heathen”‘s roadhouse feel, in case you weren’t convinced of their streetcred. Alex Kapranos, like Cash, has no voice to speak of. Every one of these songs could be effortlessly growled by someone almost immediately after a lengthy throat surgery session. The unfortunate thing with Franz Ferdinand is that the speed comes at the expense of the soul.
The sterterous snares (louder than Lars Ulrich’s overleveled drums on the Metallica albums; that’s saying something) and the predictable bass work (seemingly unaware of anything other than eighth notes that subscribe strictly to a rhythm line that is not so much meant to be discovered, but is intended as a predictable trope to be memorized and mindlessly danced to) bury whatever melodic inventiveness lies at the root of the songs. This production choice is particularly irksome with “This Boy,” in which some interesting guitar work on the hard left and right channels is buried by a repetitive bass line and drums that are not so much played, but banged in a masupiral-like manner. In fact, I’ll go on record here and suggest that, of all the music released in 2005, Franz Ferdinand’s “This Boy” is probably the worst song anyone could ever fuck to.
But back to Cash. Everyone knows that Johnny Cash is not meant to be sped up, because the idea of a tempo restricted by a savage and langourous feel is one of the things that made Johnny Cash the great performer that he was. It was this quality that allowed him to stretch out his limitations and tap into the audiences at San Quentin and Folsom Prison. Cash’s self-imposed approach, I suspect, was instantly identifiable to the prisoners. It allowed Cash to tap into some rugged outlaw quality that eludes Franz Ferdinand. (Okay, Kapranos, so you went down on a guy and you’re happy to MDMA your sentiments. That doesn’t make you brash or daring. It makes you no different from just about any asshole at a club on a Saturday night.)
The question now is how long will this repetitive Johnny Cash homage will keep these Glasgow interlopers off the dole? There is no question in my mind that Franz Ferdinand is capable of good stuff, but this album is nothing more than a lackluster collection of forced fun and it makes me long for Pavement’s purity or the Fantomas’ bizarre playfulness.
Of course, if Franz Ferdinand’s management wanted to throw the band into a state penitentiary just to see how long that might last, that might be a quick fix too.
- Bush and Alberto Gonzales have now come out for greater coyright laws. Gonzales wants serious jail time for intellectual property offenders. But what he isn’t telling you is that, in light of the fact that he advocates torture, he wants to throw all teenagers who downloaded last week’s episode of The O.C. into a CIA-funded gulag. We all know who the real criminals are, don’t we?
- A.L. Kennedy didn’t exactly kill at the comedy club. (via ElegVar)
- For fuck’s sake, please stop giving Danielle Steel money.
- So are these folks in Reno really turning to self-publishing because they can’t wait two years? Or because they are amateurs who fear rejection?
- Chinua Achebe has called for Nigeria to speak in its mother tongue, preaching against “language colonialism.”
- Proving that the Welsh often come up with batshit crazy ideas, there is now a 3D talking head of Dylan Thomas reading “Do not go gentle into that good night” on loop. It was employed during the Dylan Thomas Festival. The idea apparently was that a bigass talking head would somehow get young people more excited about poetry. However, great attention was paid to Thomas’s facial niceties. Too bad that there isn’t any video online.
[2010 UPDATE: Please note that the below list has become outdated. In May 2010, I prepared an updated list of literary podcasts that is more reflective of the present landscape. I’m leaving this post unmodified so that anybody who wishes to track the podcast scene in 2005 has a resource.]
Like Maud, I’m finding it difficult to keep track of all the literary podcasts. The latest publishing company to enter the fray is Penguin, with the Penguin Podcast. This makes Penguin the second big publisher after Simon & Schuster. (And of course, there’s also Moby Lives Radio.) Personally, I’m waiting to see if Richard Nash will throw his hat into the podcasting ring.
Here’s a rundown of all the literary podcasts I’m aware of — some of them culled from The Millions. If anyone has any to include, please feel free and let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
- Agony Column, The: Rick Kleffel was here before all of us and runs a great show. Predominantly science fiction and literary interviews.
- Air Out My Shorts: Short fiction is submitted and the hosts read it.
- Average Mortal Radio.
- The Bat Segundo Show: Pretty worthless interview program, if you ask me.
- Collected Comics Library: Comic book themed podcast.
- Dead White Males: A student shares his analysis of many literary classics. (Currently on hiatus.)
- Drinks with Tony: Tony DuShane talks with writers and filmmakers. Also broadcast on local microradio.
- Death of the Author: An awful writer hopes to get published.
- Engaging the Word.
- Librivox: “Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain.”
- The Literate Loser: More public domain literature read aloud.
- Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast: (Thanks, Gaunt!)
- Mister Ron’s Basement: Random stories and more.
- Nextbook: Jewish life, with many authors represented.
- Pete’s Candy Store: They’ve started offering podcasts of their reading series.
- Pinky’s Paperhaus: An excellent podcast that involves writers mixing playlists on the air.
- The Public Domain: (Thanks, Eileen!) (Link does not appear to be functioning, will check again later.)
- SF Site Reviews: Reviews of science fiction books.
- Weird Deer: The deal is this. You call the number, they read your story on their podcast.
- Who Said?: A literary podcast game show.
- The Word Nerds (found by Carrie)
- The Writing Show.
- Hotzbrinck Podcasts: A podcasting consortium with FSG, Henry Holt, Picador, St. Martin’s and Tor/Forge.
- Moby Lives Radio (Melville House info, author interviews and Moby Lives news).
- The Penguin Podcast.
- Raincoast Books (Thanks, Monique!)
- Simon Says Podcast (No direct link other than XML feed, but it’s there on the main page.)
- Cory Doctorow: Thanks to the Creative Commons license, his works are now available in podcast form.
- Scott Sigler: Sigler reads his novel-in-progress, Earthcore.
- ABC Books and Writing: Weekly Australian radio program.
- BBC Arts and Drama (Thanks, Bryce!)
- BBC Listen Again (Thanks, Bryce!)
- KCRW Bookworm.
- KCRW Overbooked.
- Lannan Readings & Conversations Program: RealAudio only, but lots of writers for this KLMN/KSFR show.
- Word by Word: Bimonthly KRCB literary show with Jordan E. Rosenfeld.
- Writer’s Voice Radio: Local show broadcast on KALW.
If you have any more, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.
I Love Books: Discussion of post-apocalyptic literature. Submit your choices.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Malcolm Gladwell and Traffic writer Stephen Gaghan. You’d think these three would have little in common other than Christian names with at least two syllables. But Hollywood, being a batshit crazy place, smells a hit. $1 million has been shelled out by Universal to Gladwell for the rights to Blink. Gaghan’s getting $2 million to write the screenplay. Never mind that the book isn’t a work of fiction and that there’s no narrative thrust to speak of.
No word yet on how much the hair stylist is getting to shape Leo’s hair into Malcolm’s badass fro.
The New Yorker‘s Dana Goodyear chats briefly with war poet Brian Turner. Turner was a one-time Army sergeant with an MFA, but he kept this secret amongst his PFCs because he didn’t want them to know that he was writing about “flowers and stuff like that.” While I certainly understand that a sergeant must keep his recruits disciplined, I still can’t understand why the writing poems and the appreciation of poetry is considered somehow to be flowery or a debilitating feminine trait, much less derided as a sissy’s labor.
Indeed, the notion of “poetry is for sissies” has a long stigma:
Javon Jackson: “I thought only brokenhearted girls and sissies wrote poems, but then she gave me works of other poets.”
Daniela Gioseffi: “There was this pressure, upon young men, to be baseball, football or track stars, and on the girls to be cheerleaders or baton twirling majorettes– and to feel like they were sissies, nerds or geeks if they cared about things like poetry.”
Jacques Prevert: “If I had a pound every time I heard someone say ‘I don’t like poetry’ I would not be writing this from the cold climes of Camden Town. Invariably, the same person sings along to the lyrics of pop songs apparently unaware that they constitute the stuff of poetry. Like me, such people were reared to believe poetry is for sissies.”
This notion is preposterous when one considers that, as Modern Poetry in Translation pointed out, in Turkey, men can write poetry without fearing being labeled a “sissy.” (The article goes into another fascinating issue: the lack of women poets in Turkey. And this does not discount the more serious problem of violence and enslavement of Turkish women. But I digress.) It is interesting to see that even within a nation that might be considered to be male-centric, poetry is considered to be neither particularly feminine nor particularly sissy-like.
So why the American stigma? Why does Turner continue to perpetuate the notion of poetry as “flowers and stuff like that” after he has left the Army?
I suspect that the problem runs much deeper, even among so-called champions of literature.
Academic Louie Crew wrote an essay where he noted that he got into trouble because he allowed one of his students to have a look at his colleagues’ personal libraries and the student noted that poetry books were severely lacking in the stacks. What was interesting is that, instead of trying to understand why poetry received no love from these academics, the head of Crew’s department attacked Crew, suggesting, “This kind of assignment undermines student trust of the faculty.” There were no efforts by the department to create poetry awareness, nor presumably any suggestions
Further, poetry has remained largely unmentioned on many of the litblogs (just some of the so-called alternative media outlets) you may read on a regular basis (to be fair, this blog has also been egregious on this score). When was the last time, for example, that you saw a poet mentioned at Maud’s, Jessa’s or Mark’s? And I’m not talking about mere news items (such as this helpful link about translated Korean poems from Mark), but the same long-form discussion and commentary we often see devoted to novels, the publishing industry, or Ayelet Waldman’s latest hysterical outburst. Why are there no lengthy posts about the Spenserian stanza? Or poetic metaphors? Or even the influence of alcohol on Dylan Thomas’s work?
What we have here is a problem goes well beyond exposing scandals. Outside of the hip venues of slam sessions that are doing a great job of keeping poetry alive, the poetry medium itself is still trapped in a secondary position, often subjected to silence among those who should be its champions. A poet is regarded less than a novelist. And that’s saying a lot, considering how little a novelist is regarded among your average Joe.
So what can we do to make Kenneth Koch as hep as Jonathan Lethem? Why aren’t poets given the kind of author tours afforded to midlisters? Who says poetry can’t sell?
Most importantly, what can we do to make poetry a medium that transcends gender and the fallacious association with so-called sissies?