Reluctant Habits

On the Cannibal Film Genre

Posted by in Film

There’s some more content coming (indeed, there will be a good deal of content published tomorrow). But in the meantime, I feel compelled to direct your attention to this morning’s Barnes & Noble Review, where my essay on the cannibal film genre has just run. What happened here is that my editor had me review a film. Then, knowing very well of my tendency (indeed, one could more accurately style it a full-blown obsessive commitment) of performing serious background research, I began watching a good deal of cannibal films. And…read more

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Exclusive! Cover for Franzen’s Newest Novel!

Posted by in Franzen, Jonathan

(UPDATE: Ellen Wernecke also has a cover. Should there be a Photoshop contest or something?)

The Bat Segundo Show: Marisa Meltzer

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, meltzer-marisa, Music, Women's Issues

Radio interview with Marisa Meltzer, author of Girl Power.

The Bat Segundo Show: Chang-Rae Lee

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, Lee, Chang-rae

29 minute radio interview with the author of The Surrendered>

James Wood on DFW

Posted by in Wallace, David Foster, wood-james

It seemed strangely fitting to get punched by a hideous man in the solar plexus as I was on my way to see James Wood discuss David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men at the 92nd Street Y on Monday night. The man was bald, with a sebaceous sheen having long replaced any wet shaved droplets from that morning, in his late thirties, walking fast, iPod buds piping what I detected as bland corporate tunes (perhaps David Gray) into his ears, looking to be fighting down, as Bret Easton…read more

The Dark Side of Healthcare

Posted by in Health Care

The present wisdom being circulated — that the healthcare reform passed on Sunday night is “a step in the right direction” — blindly assumes that a public option bill rectifying HMO avarice (among other consolidations of power working against the commonweal) is forthcoming. It assumes that healthcare costs will remain the same between now and 2014 — the year in which all individuals who can’t get healthcare from their employers (including the unemployed, the self-employed, and those working for a business with less than 50 employees) will be required by…read more

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The Bat Segundo Show: David Shields

Posted by in Bat Segundo

David Shields recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #326. Mr. Shields is most recently the author of Reality Hunger. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Settling for a quesadilla or some reality for lunch. Author: David Shields Subjects Discussed: The origins of the novel and the pretense of actuality, Shields’s dismissal of Myla Goldberg’s forthcoming novel based solely on a catalog description, the creative possibilities that emerge from mishearing, Sherman’s March, the mutability of text, Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence, whether a truer creative impulse comes from misappropriation, common reality and…read more

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The Bat Segundo Show: Sam Lipsyte

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Lipsyte, Sam

Sam Lipsyte recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #325. Mr. Lipsyte is most recently the author of The Ask. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Looking to ask someone for something. Author: Sam Lipsyte Subjects Discussed: Milo Burke as the obverse to Home Land‘s Lewis Miner (and common personality qualities), Lipsyte’s early draft of The Ask getting trashed by his wife, the importance of knowing a character’s job, Stanley Elkin, descriptive dichotomies within The Ask, oscillation between extremes and forward motion in the narrative, digressive impulses, movement by painting yourself into…read more

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New Directors/New Films: Beautiful Darling (2010)

Posted by in darling-candy, Film, New Directors/New Films, Transgender, warhol-andy

[This is the second in a series of dispatches relating to the New Directors/New Films series, running between March 24, 2010 and April 4, 2010 at MOMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.] “You must always be yourself, no matter what the price.” — Candy Darling’s diary Candy Darling — born James L. Slattery — was arguably the most intriguing of Andy Warhol’s fearless thespians. She was not only talented enough to dupe The New York Times‘s critical acumen (“this is the first impersonation of a female impersonator I…read more

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New Directors/New Films: Amer (2009)

Posted by in Film, New Directors/New Films

[This is the first in a series of dispatches relating to the New Directors/New Films series, running between March 24, 2010 and April 4, 2010 at MOMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.] Young filmmakers must start from somewhere. But if an excitable yeoman merely copies his masters (or “lesser” artists openly admired), can the new film be called original? It’s a question I’ve been pondering after seeing Amer, a feature-length homage to giallo with an aggressive sound mix, a commitment to crazed closeups and Ginsu-style cutting, and a…read more

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RIP Mark Linkous

Posted by in Music, Obits

Rolling Stone: “Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous has committed suicide…Linkous’ dramatic, lush music often came from a place of pain. In 1996, Linkous actually died for two minutes after ingesting a dangerous mix of Valium and antidepressants while on tour in the U.K. behind Sparklehorse’s 1995 debut Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. He recovered, but the incident left him crippled — he laid unconscious for 14 hours, cutting off circulation to his legs. He suffered a heart attack when medics attempted to straighten his legs, and underwent seven surgeries to save his damaged…read more

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Interview with Lorin Stein

Posted by in Paris Review, stein-lorin

On Friday, the Paris Review announced that Lorin Stein, a noted editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, would become its new editor, succeeding Philip Gourevitch. But the impact of Stein’s departure from FSG remained curiously unexamined. For one thing, was Stein definitely leaving FSG? Or was he staying on in a part-time capacity? And who were some of the other candidates? (Moby Lives has put forth Meghan O’Rourke as one of the contenders.) This correspondent contacted Mr. Stein in an effort to determine answers to some of these questions, putting…read more

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The Bat Segundo Show: Marilyn Johnson

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Libraries

Marilyn Johnson recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #324. Ms. Johnson is most recently the author of This Book is Overdue! Condition of Mr. Segundo: Hoping to avoid being arrested by Rusty the Bailiff. Author: Marlyn Johnson Subjects Discussed: Why libraries are little regarded by the American public, the preservation of blogs and websites, Josh Greenberg’s efforts at digital preservation, the Firefox extension Zotero, the rickroll video’s removal from YouTube, the Barnard Zine Collection, the reliance upon private entities to preserve information, the lone guy archiving Hunter S. Thompson’s…read more

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Benjamin Linus’s Early Days

Posted by in Lost

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Jonathan Jones: The Entitled Hack

Posted by in Critics

I can’t say that I sympathize much with Jonathan Jones’s suggestion that the world needs more critics — in part because of the self-importance oozing from his smug pores, the cocky wink and triumphant knuckle-to-chin inviting even the most pacific souls to lacerate the man’s halitotic face with an X-Acto rather than raise a hearty toast in commiseration. Granted, it’s possible Jones didn’t plan it this way. I’m almost certain that someone at The Guardian played a sick joke with that photo. Perhaps Jones rudely berated some unpaid intern and…read more

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The Healthcare Debate Continues

Posted by in Health Care

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Oscar Villalon Abruptly Leaves McSweeney’s

Posted by in Eggers, Dave, McSweeney's, villalon-oscar

The SF Weekly‘s Joe Eskenazi reports that former San Francisco Chronicle books editor Oscar Villalon has abruptly left his position as publisher at McSweeney’s. Villalon has not returned calls to comment upon what happened. McSweeney’s has tersely responded, “Oscar doesn’t work here any more.” Villalon’s abrupt exit occurs only a few weeks after Villalon and Eggers sat together on a Berkeley School of Journalism panel discussing the San Francisco Panorama project — specifically, responding to remunerative controversies brought forth by Choire Sicha and this correspondent. Villalon’s primary role at McSweeney’s,…read more

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Bizarro Fiction: An Interview with Patrick Wensink

Posted by in Bizarro Fiction

Bizarro fiction, an exciting genre devoted to “high weirdness” and a sense of fun, has eluded the frightened editors humorlessly holding the keys to their fragile literary castles. But it remains very much a prolific force, written and read by people who still possess a sense of glee about books and taken up by the good folks at Eraserhead Press, which has published such titles as Ass Goblins of Auschwitz, Shatnerquake, and Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere. I had intended to investigate…read more

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RIP Barry Hannah

Posted by in Obits

A major loss to the literary world: the Associated Press has reported that Barry Hannah has passed away.

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