Reluctant Habits

Memorial Day

Posted by in Politics

An Early Finalist for the 2010 Bad Sex Award?

Posted by in Bad Writing

The following passage is from a forthcoming novel: A navigational beacon in ___’s black Levi’s, a long-dormant transmitter buried by a more advanced civilization, was sparking back to life. Where he ought to have felt guilt, he instead was getting hard. Oh, the clairvoyance of the dick: it could see the future in a heartbeat, leaving the brain to play catch-up and find the necessary route from occluded present to preordained outcome. Can you name the author?

The Saddest Hard Drive YouTube Video I’ve Ever Seen

Posted by in Technology

The video’s title is “Hard Disc – NEED HELP – Can this be fixed?” Um, no buddy, I’m pretty sure it can’t. [6/24/12 UPDATE: Here is a classic case of a ghost entry. The original video has been pulled from the Internet. It cannot be located. There is a little to do in this redesign but to note that this entry caused at least one person on Facebook some amusement, regret that all known context has disappeared, and move on -- assuming, of course, that anyone even finds this entry.]

Delay in Affairs

Posted by in Technical

Due to a tremendous setback — namely, a 500 GB Barracuda hard drive, which looks to be stuck in the BSY state, containing all the raw Bat Segundo data and only intermittently detected by my BIOS and that I can’t seem to access for more than ten seconds (thus being unable to copy) — a drive that contains irreplaceable data, along with a number of interviews I haven’t posted — this site is going dark for a while while I attend to finishing up professional duties (yes, the show must…read more

BEA 2010: Bananagrams

Posted by in BEA

(Thanks to Levi Asher for production help.)

BEA 2010: The US Department of Commerce

Posted by in BEA

(Thanks to Levi Asher for production help.)

BEA 2010: The CEO Panel (“The Value of a Book”)

Posted by in BEA

Moderator: Jonathan Galassi (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Participants: Bob Miller (Workman), Esther Newberg (ICM), Skip Prichard (Ingram), David Shanks (Penguin), Oren Telcher (ABA), Scott Turow (Authors Guild) It didn’t take long for Tuesday morning’s CEO panel to dredge up the same tired tropes about eBooks, which is just as nauseating whether you hear it from the tech-oriented libertarians or the old codgers who continue to pretend that the Kindle never came out. Moderator Jonathan Galassi, failing to provide a sufficient balance between these two extremes, opted to pretend that eBooks…read more

Conned by Lost

Posted by in Lost, Television

On Sunday night, Lost concluded its six-year run with a nausea-inducing smorgasbord of meet-cutes and hackneyed dialogue, securing its place on the mantle occupied by The Sopranos and the Battlestar Galactica remake. Here was a once great program — a formerly fine creative offering that had once juggled philosophy, intricate human relationships, and quantum theory — reducing itself to poorly contrived romance. You almost expected a dying Barbara Hershey to show up, with Bette Midler singing to a packed Hollywood Bowl crowd. But the bar was perched much lower with…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Daniel Okrent

Posted by in Bat Segundo, History, interview, Prohibition

In this radio interview, Daniel Okrent discusses the history of drinking.

The Bat Segundo Show: Joseph Wallace

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, wallace-joseph

In this 40 minute radio interview, novelist Joseph Wallace discusses Diamond Ruby and gets grilled on historical details.

Galleygate: Open Questions to Stephen Elliott

Posted by in elliott-stephen, ethics, Galleys

A call for transparency about The Rumpus Book Club.

BEA 2010

Posted by in BEA

Since there have been some inquiries, here’s the deal. Due to a number of ongoing projects that require my vital attention (along with this tricky little thing called life), my BookExpo America participation will be severely reduced this year. But I will be offering some modest coverage of an amusing and vaguely informative nature. I won’t be attending the Book Blogger Convention. But feel free to email me if you’re in town and interested in meeting up.

Long Live Nothing, Built From Nothing: A Manifesto

Posted by in shields-david

Both of my parents did not exist. My mini-rebellion was to exist. There was no sperm, no egg. To this day, I survive by visiting Loaves & Fishes, where they throw me scraps. And yet here I am. I won’t go away. Even after you secured the temporary restraining order. I defied all human biology, but remain strident and humorless. I am neither dead nor alive. The fact that I exist, that I occupy such a prodigious portion of the collective human mind and that the entire world revolves around…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Barry Gifford

Posted by in Bat Segundo, gifford-barry, interview

Radio interview with crime writer Barry Gifford on the occasion of the Sailor and Lula omnibus edition.

Why Does Michiko Kakutani Hate Fiction So Much?

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Kakutani, Michiko, New York Times

The New York Times‘s Michiko Kakutani has rightly earned the wrath of fiction authors for her scathing reviews. But until now, nobody has thought to collect some loosely quantifiable data with which to demonstrate just how much Kakutani hates fiction. So here’s a breakdown of Kakutani’s last twenty-seven fiction reviews, written between the period of May 2009 and May 2010. May 11, 2010: Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow called “a remarkably tedious new novel.” Verdict? HATED IT (0). Aprl 28, 2010: “Suffice it to say that the fans of Presumed…read more

Literary Podcasts

Posted by in Podcasts

Back in 2005, I prepared a list of literary podcasts. Five years later, the original list has become outdated, with many of the previously listed programs biting the dust. (There were many more that appeared and disappeared, including the Washington Post Book World podcast, which folded with scant notice not long ago. This was too bad. Because Ron Charles hammed it up in a manner all too rare in a mainstream books podcast.) Literary podcasts, while nowhere nearly as abundant as they should be, are still around. And this updated…read more


Brontë Sisters! Activate!

Posted by in Bronte Sisters


The Bat Segundo Show: Julie Orringer

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, orringer-julie

Radio interview with the author of The Invisible Bridge.

“We Don’t Say That in America”

Posted by in Ignorance


Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project #9

Posted by in Dramatic Readings, Hate Mail

A few days ago, a writer emailed me, hoping to be on The Bat Segundo Show. I responded quite politely, as I do with all those who pitch me directly — pointing out that the show was heavily booked. But if he wanted to send me his book for consideration, he was more than happy to. However, due to the fact that I receive more books than I can possibly read, I couldn’t promise anything. He responded. Therefore, my audio series — Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project — must continue….read more

The Dead Writer’s Almanac: Clifton Hillegass

Posted by in Cliffs Notes, Dead Writer's Almanac, hillegass-cliff

The Almanac’s staff has long wondered why Cinco de Mayo doesn’t get the proper respect it deserves. You see, a little more than a century and a half ago, 545 people died during the Battle of Puebla. The Mexican Army secured an unexpected victory against Napoleon’s forces, in large part because General Charles de Lorencez was arrogant enough to believe that the villagers would be sympathetic to the French military. Which is a bit like believing that a rape victim and her attacker will become BFF mere minutes after the…read more

The Dead Writer’s Almanac: Jane Bowles

Posted by in bowles-jane, Dead Writer's Almanac

It has been suggested by at least one prominent mortician that the Almanac’s staff has been dead for the past week. Well, the moribund undertaker in question was partially correct. Hans Campbell, our lead researcher, passed away on April 30, 2010, the victim of an unanticipated embolism experienced while putting together that day’s entry. He died at his desk — the way that any good researcher should. And it isn’t every day that you can claim to shake hands with a man who has the bad luck to die on…read more

RIP Lynn Redgrave

Posted by in Obits

Pico Iyer: A Critic Calling for the Pissboy

Posted by in iyer-pico, New York Times, Vollmann, William

Calling out Pico Iyer on his anti-intellectualism in the New York Times.