Reluctant Habits

BSS #81: Mary Gaitskill

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Feeling triumphant over hepatitis. Author: Mary Gaitskill Subjects Discussed: Emotional mood and writing, Marin County, horticultural details, decomposition and decay, dichotomous characters and the gray areas of life, unusual character relationships, the conscious design of Veronica‘s environments, office environments, the modeling world, maintaining a consistent vision over ten years, rumination vs. urgency in the writing process, Gaitskill’s placid demeanor, distractions, word processors, Francine Prose’s review, ordinary vs. extraordinary narrative, sympathy and didacticism, the text as sympathetic medium between writer and reader, responding to Benjamin Strong’s assertion…read more

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Easy Dinero for a Good Cause

Posted by in Eggers, Dave

The Rake has called for Eggers to offer an explanation for his critical flip-flop on Infinite Jest and, having failed to hear back from Pynchon for $49, he’s pledged to send a $49 check to 826 Valencia if Eggers responds (the check is pictured below). In fact, I’ll go one step further. I’m in San Francisco. Eggers is in San Francisco. I will be happy to facilitate Mr. Eggers for an appearance on The Bat Segundo Show to talk about his book, What is the What, for a polite and…read more

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75 Books, Books #49-55

Posted by in 75 Books

Book #49 was Tom Tomorrow’s Hell in a Handbasket. This was an entertaining volume of Tomorrow’s This Modern World strip, particularly since these strips were written and illustrated during the Dubya Administration. Of course, with Tomorrow, you’re not really going to laugh at this if you’re not a lefty. Even so, Tomorrow’s trusty four-panel setup, with snarky text often spilling across the top end of the squares and its adept use of repeating imagery from panel to panel, has been a dependable strip for years. Tomorrow’s strip serves as an…read more

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BSS #80: Edward P. Jones

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Author: Edward P. Jones Condition of Mr. Segundo: Feeling oppressed by MySpace. Subjects Discussed: Jones’s instinct for precision, specifics, city streets, details within minor characters, family lineage within fiction, Squirrel Nuts, penny candy, handicapped characters, gifted students, avoiding recurrent motifs and repeating stories, characters who appear in Lost in the City and All Aunt Hagar’s Children, selecting historical settings, Washington D.C. as magnetic nexus point, throwing the reader off guard, flash-forwards, mathematical metaphors, how Jones became an English major, double metaphors, having a writing philosophy, violence in fiction, crossword puzzles,…read more

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When Music Journalism Goes Horribly Wrong

Posted by in Uncategorized

Eurotrash: “Dean starts off quite puzzlingly, in my opinion. ‘What do you get if you cross a festive cookie snack with a 70′s rock sound and some punk-punk-punk vocals (it has to be stressed)?’ Due to my inability to picture a ‘festive cookie snack’, I’m kind of stumped, but I suppose my answer would be: Dazzlingly bad writing, Dean.” Personally I had thought two “punk” modifiers would be enough. It is either an intrepid or foolish man who dares three.

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Writers With Drinks

Posted by in Uncategorized

A slight change in plans, through no fault of my own: I’m going to be at the January Writers With Drinks instead of the December one, where I’ll be reading literary fiction penned by…well, me. Or is it raunchy comedy laced with esoteric references? Or is it experimental poetry? One thing I can guarantee is a high-octane performance by yours truly, reading outside his traditional genre, with an element of absolutely essential audience participation. I may even be wearing a funny hat. But there are far more compelling reasons to…read more

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Everyone Wants a Pony, Ben. Everyone.

Posted by in Uncategorized

Ben Stein: “People ask how I can be a conservative and still want higher taxes. It makes my head spin, and I guess it shows how old I am. But I thought that conservatives were supposed to like balanced budgets. I thought it was the conservative position to not leave heavy indebtedness to our grandchildren. I thought it was the conservative view that there should be some balance between income and outflow. When did this change?”

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75 Books, Books #43-48

Posted by in 75 Books

Book #43 was Harvey Pekar’s The Quitter. As Pekar keeps a great prolificity in his post-retirement years, it’s been fascinating to see him investigating millieus other than the immediately contemporary and the immediately personal. In The Quitter, a book chronicling Pekar’s boyhood, there is no madeliene tea per se, but there are certainly specific incidents, presented without adornment, which explain a good deal about Pekar’s rage and misanthropy. The book’s unflinching attitude towards 1950s racism and Pekar’s efforts to fit in are puncutated by Dean Haspiel’s sharp lines and the…read more

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75 Books, Books #33-42

Posted by in 75 Books

Okay, a version of this post (going through Book #90) has been languishing in my drafts folder for many months. But since I did lay down the gauntlet early this year, it seems only fair to serve up my part of the bargain. I’m going to try and update the 75 Books series as time permits. Unfortunately, due to accidentally knocking over my bookpiles, I have no idea what order I read Books #33-90 in (I have yet to log the books this year after Book #90; I only hope…read more

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Nike Is NOT, Repeat NOT Sponsoring the New York Times

Posted by in New York Times

New York Times Corrections: “A front-page article on Friday about the board-sports gear businesses run by hardcore practitioners misstated the given name of the chief executive of Quiksilver, the largest board-sports brand. He is Bob McKnight, not Phil.”

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Roundup (2 of 2)

Posted by in Roundup

Pitchfork talks with Tom Waits. (via Anecdotal Evidence) I wonder what the ACLU will have to say about Jesse Jackson’s politically correct fascism. Guess we’ll have to remove Faulkner & Co. from the libraries. Has it ever occurred to Jackson that racial slurs might be used against racism? Margaret Atwood, cartoonist. (via Bill Peschel) The Whitbread shortlists have been announced. (And dammit, I’m calling it Whitbread. I can’t bring myself to associate a literary award that reminds me of a certain smug NBC commentator from the 1980s.) Matthew Tiffany reveals…read more

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Roundup (1 of 2)

Posted by in Roundup

How did I not know about the Body Heat: Deluxe Edition DVD? This great Lawrence Kasdan film pretty much galvanized noir into cinematic action over the past twenty-five years, paving the way for Blade Runner, John Dahl’s fantastic pre-Unforgettable films and Curtis Hanson’s understated offerings (of which I would include The Bedroom Window, which manages to work despite the dreaded Steve Guttenberg presence). I’m not sure, however, if so-called “neo-noir” is really all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when you consider this dubious list. Good noir has a hard…read more

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Personally, I Always Thought the Name “Parker Brothers” Sucked Ass

Posted by in Uncategorized

ZeFrank on Scrabble

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Bat Segundo Goes MySpace

Posted by in Bat Segundo

I’m not sure how this happened. Mr. Segundo is hardly savvy with computers, but he’s somehow nabbed a MySpace page.

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Television: Polluting Your Tongue One Catchphrase at a Time

Posted by in Television

For those who enjoy mangling their native vernacular with pop cultural one-liners, TV Land has released the top 100 television catchphrases. Too bad that Ricky Gervais’s “Are you ‘aving a laugh?” didn’t make the cut.

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Roundup

Posted by in Uncategorized

Daphne Merkin profiles Tom Stoppard. Jerome Weeks reveals the astonishing exorbitance of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The Star serves up an interesting article on the ethics of reviewing. (via Bookninja) Matthew Tiffany raises some important points on why Eggers shouldn’t be pilloried for his Infinite Jest flip-flop. Marianne Wiggins reveals the inside dirt on selecting National Book Award finalists. But I’m wondering if it’s entirely fair to Dana Spiotta and Ken Kalfus to reveal to the world that they were last-minute replacements. An ethical slut would never tell…read more

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I Was So Into Radiohead When I First Heard “Kid A” (Because My Friends TOLD Me It Was Cool!)

Posted by in Uncategorized

Leave it to the Rake to uncover a very interesting shift in opinion from Mr. Eggers.

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Al Sharpton Goes Home Without Cookies Or Bloomberg Handshake

Posted by in Uncategorized

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

Mr. Sarvas talks with Jonathan Lethem on all matters Daniel Fuch. Ian McEwan is now fighting another plagiarism rap. RIP William Diehl. I’m sorry, but 1,500 words is not a novel. And what kind of life experience does a six year old have? Until this kid coughs up a gripping 75,000 word mystery about an icky girl trying to spread cooties to first graders, I remain unimpressed. Raul Guerra Garrido has received the Cervantes Prize. But if you ask me, Spain doesn’t throw nearly as much money around as New…read more

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Post-Thanksgiving Solutions

Posted by in Uncategorized

What is to be done? I have spent the past week gorging like Tip O’Neill at a buffet table and I have spent the morning sobbing into an empty cup of coffee, realizing that I no longer have the metabolism of a twenty-five year-old. How did this happen? Did I gain weight? Do I dare step onto the scale? Are these pants tighter or am I hallucinating? There are, of course, solutions and I produce them here for the benefit of all parties: 1. Starvation. Advantages: Dramatic weight loss, a…read more

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Power to the People

Posted by in Uncategorized

Reluctant will undergo an overhaul by the end of the year. If you have any features you’d like to see, please let me know in the comments and I will work to accommodate your request.

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The Rachel Papers

Posted by in Uncategorized

Rachel Cooke: “I’ve written before about the importance of critics. I said, in essence, that they were useful because they know a lot (also, you know who they are, unlike so many faceless bloggers and internet reviewers who hide behind the anonymity the web provides). Soon after, I found my name on a bloggers’ website called, charmingly, ‘shit sandwich’. I was the focus of a lot of anger and frustration; bloggers didn’t like my argument at all, seeing it as a way of getting at them and their amateur criticism….read more

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Inside the Writer’s Mind

Posted by in Self, Will

Will Self’s writing room in 71 photos. (via The Millions)

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RIP Dave Cockrum

Posted by in Comics, Obits

Sad news from Peter David. Comic books legend Dave Cockrum has passed away. More info on Cockrum’s contributions can be found here.

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Atwood Nails It

Posted by in Powers, Richard

New York Review of Books: “So if [Richard Powers is] so good, why isn’t he better known? Let me put it another way —why haven’t his books won more medals? It’s as if juries have recognized the prodigious talent, the impressive achievement, and have put him onto short lists, but then have drawn back, as if they’ve suddenly felt that they might be giving an award to somebody not quite human—to Mr. Spock of Star Trek, for instance. He’s got a Vulcan mind-meld on the critics, all right, but could…read more

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Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by in Uncategorized

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The “Why the Hell Does Anyone Bother to Work the Day Before Thanksgiving?” Roundup

Posted by in Uncategorized

Top Ten Girl Geeks Scientific American: “Having a word stuck on the tip of the tongue is enough to activate an unusual condition in which some people perceive words as having different tastes, according to a new study.” In a desperate effort to get down with the kids, Burger King now trying out viral Google Video. (via Davis Freeberg) Altman memoir dead? You had 9+ hours of Jackson helming this nonsense. Quit your bellyaching. Clive Owen knows nothing about Sin City 2. This is a bad sign. Bloggers receive immunity…read more

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Rex Reed on Dick Cavett (1971): Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Posted by in Uncategorized

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Ames Alert

Posted by in Ames, Jonathan

Regular readers of this site know that I once made a deal with a mysterious stranger at a crossroads. Mention everything that Jonathan Ames does on this site and I would instantly wake up with a six-figure sum in my savings account. The stranger didn’t say how or when this money would appear and, as of today, it hasn’t. I’m quite surprised. The stranger certainly seemed sincere to me. He even took several dollar bills out of my wallet for “insurance purposes.” But I am a man of my word….read more

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I’m Sure That Gilmore’s Employment at Harcourt Had Nothing Whatsoever to Do With This Deal. NOTHING WHATSOEVER!

Posted by in Uncategorized

From Publisher’s Lunch: Paperback rights to Harcourt publicity director Jennifer Gilmore’s GOLDEN COUNTRY, following the intertwining lives of three Jewish immigrants through the 1920s to the 1950s, to Tina Pohlman at Harcourt, for publication in fall 2007.

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