Reluctant Habits

Ancillary Materials

Posted by in Uncategorized

While I contemplate just what the new version of this site will entail, sans Reluctant, here are recent articles, essays, podcasts, and other strange things I’m involved with that you can find at other places. I’ll update this post as the output propagates. Recent Reviews, Essays, and Articles: “The Perils of Literary Biography” (Chronicle of Higher Education, December 21, 2007) Bat Segundo Podcasts: #160 — Will Self #161 — Stewart O’Nan #162 — Ken Kalfus #163 — Jess Walter #164 — Peter Fernandez and Corinne Orr (Speed Racer)

0

Return of the Reluctant, 2003-2007

Posted by in Uncategorized

This morning, I filed for divorce from Return of the Reluctant, citing irreconcilable differences. It was an amicable parting. No children, no property to squabble over. No embarrassing deposition testimony read to the jury. No alimony. Reluctant and I have had ourselves a good time over the years. But I’m a different person now. And I finally confessed to a good friend on the phone that I really had nothing more to say about books or the literary world in the Reluctant format. And I laughed for ten minutes over…read more

66

The Magic Highway

Posted by in Traffic

(via MeFi)

0

Dave Itzkoff: The Laziest Columnist Ever Hired by the NYTBR?

Posted by in Tanenhaus, Sam

Andrew Wheeler: “Blowing off half a year and then not doing the reading is what a layabout does at a minor state college, not the expected behavior of a columnist for The New York Times Book Review. Itzkoff has always been embarrassing, but this is his worst behavior so far.”

1

Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

Ah, the folly of youth! College journalist William Sindewald had the funny idea that attending a Chris Dodd rally would reveal a limitless avalanche of hot young women hanging onto the political blowhard’s every words. And why not? Chris Dodd even has a MySpace page! He’s gotta be hip! What Sindewald found instead was a boring speech and fewer girls there than a Rush concert. Here’s a hint to aspiring young lotharios on the political trail: The hippies were the ones who got laid during the 1960s, not the Leo…read more

2

Nick Denton Proclaims Himself Emperor of Gawker

Posted by in Gawker

In an act of hubris recalling Napoleon’s activities during the Hundred Days, Nick Denton has proclaimed himself emperor of Gawker. Apparently, Denton wasn’t impressed by any of the job applicants and deemed himself the only fit man for the position. Among Denton’s first acts as Managing Editor was the First Agrarian Blogging Reform. But let us give Denton the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the job pool was unpromising, if only because being paid to be publicly humiliated on a blog was really no different from working for more pay…read more

3

Twelve

Posted by in Uncategorized

Whirring wind, the whistling of asthmatic ghosts, the clinks of cans and other detritus thrown out windows by careless neighbors and left to pick up in an unpredictable gust. Spooky and grandiloquent gestures in lieu of snow. The slush well melted. Two inch puddles evaporating before tomorrow morning. Footfalls beyond walls. Eight days before the unfulfilled promise of a wintry wonderland. Mere weeks before year’s end. Party poppers and streamers and the clinks of champagne flutes, but not today. The phones are dead at this zero hour, batteries left to…read more

2

RIP Dan Fogelberg

Posted by in Obits

0

Jonathan Ames Pilot on Showtime

Posted by in Ames, Jonathan

Longtime readers know that many years ago, I opened an envelope in my mail that contained a hastily handwritten letter and a small, poorly Xeroxed photograph of Ed McMahon. Unlike other mysterious envelopes that came in the mail along these lines, I was not promised millions of dollars. Indeed, money was never one of the promised options — at least not immediately. But there was the promise of a mysterious potato salad recipe and guitar lessons. Both of these promised to be of a very special nature that would win…read more

0

Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

Laura Huxley has died. Also, I missed this but Anthony Burgess’s widow died a few weeks ago. Speaking of Burgess, it appears that some Northwestern artists are having a laugh concerning Warhol’s Vinyl. Will Self makes a cameo appearance in today’s Los Angeles Times. Who knew that Kubrick was once interested in adapting Foucault’s Pendulum? Some recommended reading back to Dave Itzkoff: the collected works of John Clute, or, if that’s too dense, Science Fiction for Dummies. If you are a writer, you do indeed need other creative outlets. (And…read more

0

O Lucky Man! Revisited — Part One

Posted by in Anderson, Lindsay, Film, O Lucky Man

This is the first in a series of posts on Lindsay Anderson’s masterpiece, O Lucky Man! The other night, I revisited O Lucky Man!, courtesy of the recent DVD release, seeing it for the first time in its proper aspect ratio. While it isn’t so readily apparent in pan-and-scan versions of the film, Anderson’s subtle and very specific framings — which are often composed of medium and long shots — are as integral to the film as its many outrageous moments among its side characters. The coffee salesman and former…read more

2

They Call Him Bruce

Posted by in Film

1

My Bologna Has a Second Name: It’s M-Y-E-R-S

Posted by in Book Reviewing

When the last words of a litblogger’s post are “Fuck you, B.R. Myers,” and the rest of the litblogger’s argument is ignored by a bunch of trolls who scarf down critical animosity towards anything remotely divergent from hard-core literary realism with the same relish one finds in a stern Calvinist happily sitting upright in a hard cushionless pew, and the commenters fail to observe that the guy who caused all this nonsense was the same shit-stirrer who wrote a manifesto that called out Proulx, DeLillo, McCarthy, Auster, Guterson, Moody, and…read more

21

Email

Posted by in Uncategorized

If you are receiving email replies from me from several months ago, do not be alarmed. I’m simply very thorough about the email backlog. Many replies still forthcoming.

0

Harcourt and Houghton Sitting in a $4 Billion Tree, M-O-N-E-Y and Glee?

Posted by in Publishing Industry

Publishers Weekly reports that Houghton Mifflin’s purchase of Harcourt has been effected for $4 billion. The new company will be called the “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,” with Tony Lucki serving as Chairman and CEO. The collective workforce is currently scattered across offices in Boston, San Diego, and New York. It’s unknown how the integration will be effected or whether this will entail pink slips before the New Year. But Lucki promises that the new conglomerate will “be particularly robust in the first 90 days.” Which presumably means that those…read more

0

If Richard Grayson Thinks I Lack Class, He Hasn’t Read the New York Post

Posted by in Uncategorized

New York Post: “Ike ‘Beats’ Tina to Death.”

4

New Guardian Blog Post

Posted by in New Reviews

In today’s Guardian, you can find a blog post by me on current author correspondence volumes.

0

The Case Against Xmas

Posted by in Music

0

Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

Diana West’s The Death of the Grown-Up, has received a handful of notices: William Grimes mocked it and The New Criterion‘s Stefan Beck was less dismissive, pointing to the Grimes Defense (“If an argument has been exaggerated a little bit for effect, we can throw it out—baby, bathwater, and even the soap scum of lingering doubt.”). Beck appears to be unaware that Grimes’s diluted form of reductio ad absurdum has existed long before Grimes. Indeed, it’s in use by many of today’s critics. And while many bemoan this rhetorical tactic,…read more

3

Ethical Transparency

Posted by in Journalistic Ethics

In response to the NBCC’s ethics survey, Quill & Quire‘s Derek Weiler observes that Carlin Romano and company missed out on far more interesting questions like, “Is it ethical to review a book by an author who’s written negatively about you in the past?” But he also points to these reviewing guidelines publicly available to all Quill & Quire readers. I think that Quill & Quire has performed a valuable service here. Quill & Quire readers can see precisely how the publication operates, what is to be expected of its…read more

1

Sudden Death Overtime?

Posted by in WGA Strike

People Paula: “I’d like to know why you have abandoned the problems we’ve had for 10 years (the reality and basic cable issues) in favor of a situation we cannot possibly understand yet. Why not wait a year to fight for the internet residuals, since we just might find – if we waited a goddamn minute – that they are really worth more to the studios than we currently assume? Why not hold off until they figure out their means of distribution, before we rob ourselves of even more income?”

0

Short Story vs. First Chapter

Posted by in King, Stephen

Stephen King’s editor Chuck Verril demonstrates the parallels between the first chapter of Duma Key and a story called “Memory” which appeared in Tin House.

0

George Saunders Interviews Bill Clinton

Posted by in Saunders, George

GQ: “Well, as you may have heard, I’m mainly a fiction writer. So I apologize in advance for my ineptitude.” (via Erin)

0

A Foolproof Statement

Posted by in Airlines, Alcohol

AP: “A man nearly died from alcohol poisoning after quaffing a liter (two pints) of vodka at an airport security check instead of handing it over to comply with new carry-on rules, police said Wednesday.”

0

Sad News

Posted by in Uncategorized

Terry Pratchett has early onset Alzheimer’s. (via Bill Peshel)

0

Chimes at Midnight

Posted by in Uncategorized

Orson Welles has made appearances in four dreams I’ve had over the past week. And I don’t know why. Either old-time radio is very much on the mind or Mr. Welles’s spirit has found a way to collect residuals from Morpheus.

2

Edward Champion for NBCC Board Member — Platform

Posted by in NBCC Campaign

Today, the National Book Critics Circle ballot was issued. And as previously announced on these pages, I am running for Board Member. Even though there are eight slots and twenty-two fine candidates, I thought it might be constructive to outline my platform for anyone who might be on the fence. Make NBCC Board Meetings transparent: I’ve been an NBCC member for almost a year and I haven’t a clue about what goes on during an NBCC Board Meeting. For all I know, these fine minds get together to play Parcheesi….read more

4

Kashmir Last Night

Posted by in Music

0

Nice Try

Posted by in Uncategorized

Sorry, eNotes, but any list of ball-busting women writers without Dorothy Parker, who had the glorious effrontery to tell Norman Mailer, “So you’re the young man who can’t spell ‘fuck,’” is woefully inadequate.

2

The Latest Meme

Posted by in Memes

I’ve been tagged by Pete Anderson for a meme that involves listing the first sentence from the first post from each month of the previous year. So here goes: January: “In case you were wondering, my New Year’s Eve was just a tad more wilder than this.” February: “I am operating on a prepossessing paucity of sleep and still have many things to do today. ” March: “Robert Birnbaum talks with Martin Amis for the fifth time.” April: “Richard Grayson alerts me to the Coney Island Reporter, a blog chronicling…read more

2