Reluctant Habits

Nebula Award Nominees Announced

Posted by in Awards

From Gwenda “Don’t Call Me Lazenby, But Daniel Craig is Okay” Bond, comes this year’s Nebula Award nominees: NOVEL: Geoff Ryman, Air Joe Haldeman, Camoflauge Terry Pratchett, Going Postal Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Jack McDevitt, Polaris John C. Wright, Orphan of Chaos NOVELLA: “Clay’s Pride” by Bud Sparhawk “Identity Theft” (available via PDF or DOC) by Robert J. Sawyer “Left of the Dial” by Paul Witcover “Magic for Beginners” by Kelly Link “The Tribes of Bela” by Albert Cowdrey NOVELETTE: “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link “Flat…read more


James Cameron: Not Just Making IMAX Docs

Posted by in Film

The news comes from Harry Knowles, so the veracity here is suspect. But it appears that James Cameron is getting back into the narrative film game big-time. There’s also something called a “Live Video Stereo Motion Image device” designed to capture 3D video images and Cameron’s ego in play with a live spacewalk by Cameron himself (to be filmed, of course!). (via Ghost in the Machine)


The Sony Metreon Scam

Posted by in San Francisco

Expect the area south of Powell Street Station to turn into a consumer-centric nightmare. That’s because Westfield San Francisco has purchased the Sony Metreon complex for $70 million. Now David Lazarus might tell you that the Sony Metreon venture was a sad failure. He might imply that this was a dream that didn’t deserve to die. And he certainly paints a human face in talking with Trevor Bryant, the senior vice president who supervised the development of the Sony Metreon and who claims in Lazarus’s article, “It was supposed to…read more


It’s Not Exactly Like We’re Reading Laurell K. Hamilton

Posted by in Reading

Kevin Kinsella offers an anecdote that represents a type of experience I’ve encountered far too many times myself. Except in my case, it’s generally bankers, lawyers, doctors and other “educated” people who belittle my reading selections. San Francisco is a city of snobs, you see. Not that I give a shit either way, but it still always amuses me when these detractors can’t even remember the basic characters from, say, the current beat-up William Faulkner novel I’m rereading or confuse Sherwood Anderson with (I kid you not) Sherwood Schwartz. Which…read more



Posted by in Roundup

Apologies for the roundup. It’s a very crazy day here. More long-form posts tomorrow. J.B. MacKinnnon wins the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize. Aimee Bender: “The short story is an older form than the novel. Like the fairy tale, you could tell the short story in one sitting. The short story doesn’t go away. There’s no chance of it. It’s part of breathing. It’s like asking, will poetry go away? Never!” Who is that fat novelist bastard? Alexei Sayle, of course! Robert Birnbaum: On Notice. A Pasadena-centric rememberance of Octavia Butler….read more


Of Course, Sometimes an Ass Needs to Be Kicked

Posted by in Archer, Jeffrey, Opportunists

Grumpy Old Bookman has an interesting post on Jeffrey Archer.


So What Does It Take America? Incriminating Photos Involving a Goat?

Posted by in Dubya

Bush’s approval rating is now 34%, now rivaling Richard Nixon’s numbers in May 1973. Short of another terrorist attack, I can’t think of a single factor that will propel Bush’s numbers over 50% in the next nine months before midterm elections. The Democrats need to be on this like as an unneutered cocker spaniel climbing up a Crisco-smeared leg.


Star & Buc Wild: One Year Later, No Consequences

Posted by in Racism, Radio

Return of the Reluctant regulars may remember last year’s Star & Buc Wild episode, in which two DJs verbally berated an Indian call center employee with sexist and racist language. As of this writing, Star & Buc Wild are still employed at Power 99 and Power 105.1. One year later, Kai Yu sends word that the Coalition Against Hate Media has formed to protest the racist programming of Emmis Communications. The CAHM website is still up and there are no protest events planned. But perhaps they’ll get their act together…read more


And Otis Chandler Too…

Posted by in Obits

RIP (via Mark)



Posted by in Obits

Dennis Weaver too? Jesus, what a lousy couple of days. I’ll always remember Weaver’s fantastic performance as the Night Man from Touch of Evil.


Shedding Light on City Lights’ “Fascism”

Posted by in Bookstores

The good folks at the SFist somehow caught it before me, but Catherine Seipp attacks one of my favorite bookstores, City Lights, for not carrying Oriana Fallaci’s The Force of Reason. I call bullshit. First off, Seipp is resorting to hearsay in reporting that “a friend of hers” overheard a clerk snap, “We don’t carry books by fascists.” Hearsay is not permitted as evidence in a court of law and it sure as hell shouldn’t be permitted as a legitimate argument in an op-ed piece. Second, how does not selling…read more


75 Books: Eat the Document

Posted by in 75 Books

I’m still woefully behind on logging my 75 Books Challenge. I hope to get to the ten or so books I’ve read in recent weeks as soon as I can. But in the meantime, to offer some positive thoughts to combat the sad news over the weekend, I must report an astonishing development! I think I may have read the best book of 2006 (so far). Book #? was Dana Spiotta‘s Eat the Document. It’s a stunning novel: taut, deeply perceptive, mysterious, mildly satirical, and wistful. I read it in…read more



Posted by in Roundup

Jeeves is officially being retired from Ask Jeeves, presumably because paying out a licensing fee to the estate of P.G. Wodehouse was too much of a prohibitive cost. The new site is utterly bland without the literary butler. Reports from Comic-Con have trickled in: USA Today, GalleyCat, and many panel reports from Newsarama. Also, a Spawn/Batman crossover is in the works. Jeffrey Archer, a hack novelist known for prison time and pointing out the bleeding obvious, has acknowledged that his political career is over. Betsy Retallack has found an unusual…read more


RIP Frederick Busch

Posted by in Obits

Novelist Frederick Busch also passed over the weekend and Slushpile is on the case.



Posted by in Butler, Octavia, Obits, Speculative Fiction

1987. Sacramento. I was in eighth grade and my best friend was African-American. And he was a handful of African-Americans in a school comprised almost entirely of whites. This made no difference to me. I was simply relieved to meet someone who dug Full Metal Jacket and Doctor Who as much as I did and who liked to contemplate some of the strange observations around us. The girls we blushed over at recess. (Embarassingly, I still blush around women to this very day and I can’t help thinking of my…read more


Octavia Butler Dead

Posted by in Butler, Octavia, Obits, Speculative Fiction

Octavia Butler died on Saturday as a result of a fall from her home in Seattle. I talked with the King County Medical Examiner’s office. They have confirmed that they have an Octavia Butler there. Damn. This is a major loss to American letters and I’m a bit shaken up by this. I’ll have more to say about Octavia Butler’s importance as soon as I collect myself. But I was extremely fortunate enough to talk with Octavia just before she passed away. You can listen to the podcast here. The…read more


RIP Don Knotts

Posted by in Obits

ROBERTA: Who is this, Enid? ENID: It’s supposed to be Don Knotts. ROBERTA: And what was your reason for choosing him as your subject? ENID: I dunno…I just like Don Knotts. ROBERTA: I see…interesting. From Ghost World


More Ames News

Posted by in Ames, Jonathan

The demon who I made the deal with many years ago informs me that I’ve been less than stellar in reporting Jonathan Ames-related activities. So here goes: Steve Rhodes took several photos of Jonathan Ames when he came through. Also, Ames has an account of his Seattle appearance in The Stranger. The identity of the mysterious comic and the artist remains a mystery.


Republicans to Women: If You’re Poor, You’re a Whore

Posted by in Women

As if the recent South Dakota news wasn’t depressing enough, this Nerve article exposes why it’s difficult to get affordable birth control at Planned Parenthood. The answer: not a pretty picture at all, somewhere in between restrictive Title X policy and Planned Parenthood’s inability to subsidize costs. (via Feministing)


Edward Champion: The Internet’s Unsung Prophet

Posted by in Satire

A popular proverb in LOGO says, “FD 200 BK 300 FD 100.” But sometimes you can simply type in “HOME.” That’s more or less how litblogger Edward Champion feels today, as he asks aloud why he isn’t more famous than Kate Braverman. After all, his 2004 San Francisco Fringe Festival play, Wrestling an Alligator, was hailed as a failure, Champion says, by the evil demons who live inside his right shoulder. His less well-known 16mm film, Servant of Society, was shot while he was a film student and never completed….read more


Bring Out Your Undead

Posted by in San Francisco, Zombies


You Are There Moments, Volume 321

Posted by in Gass, William

James Marcus has a great writeup of William Gass’s Wednesday appearance to promote the Dalkey unabridged audio book of The Tunnel. (via Chekhov’s Mistress)


Concert Review (2-23-06, The Fillmore): Nada Surf/Rogue Wave/Inara George

Posted by in Music

It had been a long while (well, only a mere two months, but for a music freak, that’s an eternity) since I had seen a live show. And I suppose this desire, along with the recent discovery that you could escape exorbitant Ticketmaster charges (i.e., $10 for a $20 show!) at the Fillmore by buying tickets directly from the box office, led me to select Nada Surf (opening acts: Inara George and Rogue Wave) as the band to get back into the game with. Agent Tito Perez, who I later…read more


Homeland Security Confuses “Billy Budd” with Billy Wright

Posted by in Fourth Amendment, Terrorism

I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that a has-been assclown is no terrorist threat to the United States of America. Everything after Vauxhall and I, on the other hand, has been utter nonsense and any future offerings by this twit should be seized by customs.


I Used to Buy Her, Now I Had to Download Her

Posted by in Guns N' Roses, Music

Guns ‘N’ Roses leaks!


I Won’t Phone It In For You Folks

Posted by in New York Times

The day is shot, the schedule too impacted for a roundup or a post pulled from my matts. I’ll see you tomorrow. But in the meantime, as Ron and others have pointed out, the Gray Lady has reported some major book news: Sales of Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman are up after the book appeared on Lost. I don’t have the Times‘ resources, but I just might be able to scoop the New York Times by reporting that J.T. Leroy is a fake, James Frey is a liar, and, to…read more


Antjie Krog: Plagiarist or Not Plagiarist?

Posted by in Plagirism

Because fresh plagiarism charges seem to be unfurled more frequently than we replenish our own underwear drawer with scores of freshly laundered boxers (Is it too late to call 2006 the Year of the Plagiarist ?), the time has come for Return of the Reluctant to institute a new weekly feature: Plagiarist or Not Plagiarist ? This Week’s Plagiarist : Antjie Krog Source of Charges: Stephen Watson, writing in The New Contrast Author’s Response to Plagiarism: “Stephen Watson in the annals of Plagiarism” Work in Question: The Country of My…read more


Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Posted by in Vollmann, William

An interesting exchange between Vollmann and Kate Braverman: “If freedom means anything, it’s about being repulsive as well as being able to do flower paintings. I believe that we have to focus on the other. I’m not saying pedophilia is right. But I imagined someone who would be, by our culture’s standards, the most vile and repulsive character, worse than Osama bin Laden. But let’s make him wise and a guide or bridge to the Queen. And it’s through somebody like that Tyler gains entrance to the Queen. He endures…read more


Oh, What Suckers You’ve Been!

Posted by in Hucksters, Internet, Opportunists

One year ago today, I asked readers of to become micropatrons and support my indolent lifestyle. I suggested to you that I would, in fact, be writing more. But what you didn’t know was that the $39,900 that you gave me would be spent on hookers and trips to exotic locales, and that this blog would in fact become less of a passion and more of a half-assed obligation. Not unlike that ship in a bottle I’ve been working on for the past five years. Thanks in part to…read more



Posted by in 75 Books, Birnbaum, Robert, Mitchell, David, Roundup, Self-Publishing

Podbop: Enter your city and listen to MP3 snippets of bands touring in your town this week. (via Irregardless) C. Max Magee, having now shifted to a more RSS-friendly home, offers a thoughtful take on the future of the book and gets a surprise response from George Saunders. Robert “Prolfiic Is My Temperament, Prolific Is My Interviewing” Birnbaum talks with Andrew Delbanco. Well, I guess Jessa Crispin hates such “desperate” works as James Joyce’s Ulysses, e.e. cummings’ No Thanks, Lord Byron’s early poems, Willa Cather’s One of Ours, Waltman’s Leaves…read more