Digital Evangelists Form E Party

Tired of having their publishing speculations ignored by the general public, an angry group of digital evangelists have formed a new movement known as the E Party. Led by Peter Brantley, the E Party is expected to march on Capitol Hill in full force this afternoon, protesting against the public’s failure to understand that ebooks are the wave of the future.

THE PRINTED BUK IS DEAD read one of the many misspelled signs being prepared in a heavily secured bunker. Another sign compared Random House to Hitler, with a crude mustache painted over a blown-up photograph of Markus Dohle. To get the E Party worked up for today’s events, Brantley led the throng in frightening shouts directed at anyone reading a paperback on a park bench, with those who still enjoyed reading print books accused of being socialists.

But things got ugly very fast when a graduate student carefully studying a fat copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest was spit on by several E Party protesters. The student, who still hasn’t been identified, was reportedly trying to explain that Infinite Jest‘s many endnotes weren’t easily rendered by an e-reader. But the E Party wouldn’t listen. They proceeded to beat the poor student over the head with their Kindles and used this violence to demonstrate just how sturdy the Kindle was. The student was rushed to Washington Hospital Center, but is expected to pull through.

The E Party has appealed to FOX News to serve as a propaganda arm for a future series of protests. And Brantley has invited Glenn Beck and Jon Voight to appear at this afternoon’s rally. But FOX News, Beck, and Voight have remained uncommitted.


Paris Review and Granta Merge Due to Tight Economy

With both literary journals facing financial difficulties in a tough economy, incoming Paris Review editor Lorin Stein announced this morning that his quarterly would be merging with Granta to form a new publication called The Grantaris Review.

“We figure that most people subscribe to both.” said Stein. “So why not give our readers one big fat quarterly instead of two skimpy ones? It’s less embarrassing for everyone.”

Asked about the transition, Stein reported that The Paris Review would be absorbing most of Granta‘s staff. Granta editor John Freeman will be given a new role as Stein’s personal assistant. Freeman’s new duties will involve giving Stein regular foot massages, as well as making many trips to Starbucks to ensure that Stein and his staff remain fortified with chai tea lattes.

The unexpected move emerged when Granta owner Sigrid Rausing surprised the literary world earlier this week by filing for bankruptcy protection, the apparent victim of one of Bernie Madoff’s bad investments. To ensure that the Swedish publisher maintains some dignity after her fall from grace, Stein has ordered several paintings of Ms. Rausing to be hung around the Paris Review offices. Subeditors will be expected to supplicate before the paintings and perform daily prayers.

Former Paris Review editor (and current editor of A Public Space) Brigid Hughes expressed distaste for these surprising religious practices, pointing out that A Public Space would still be a happy home for “the atheistic pagans of the literary world.”


“Clash” Producers Sue Classics Professor

Classics professor Noel Johnson, the acclaimed author of Perseus and Andromeda, was surprised to find herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit on Thursday morning. She’s being sued for copyright infringement by Clash of the Titans producer Jon Jashni, despite the fact that Ms. Johnson has taught dozens of graduate classes on Mycenaean myth since 1985.

“I don’t understand,” said the University of Virginia professor. “I thought Apollodorus was in the public domain. I know they made that lame Ray Harryhausen movie in 1981, but this is ridiculous.”

Jashni’s office would not return phone calls. But in a legal battle that will almost certainly raise new questions about copyright, several legal experts now believe that Warner Brothers owns all rights to every character from Greek mythology. And because the studio remains jittery about whether the forthcoming Clash remake will rake in cash this weekend, Warner has been filing lawsuits and issuing C&D letters to protect the characters that it now claims to be its property. In addition, all copies of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology have been removed from bookstores, replaced by a special Clash of the Titans tie-in that features glossy photographs of Sam Worthington.


Electric Literature Announces One Word Fiction Contest

Hot off the success of its Stuff My Muse Says Twitter contest, the innovative literary journal Electric Literature has announced an even briefer fiction writing contest that confines a story to one word.

“Fiction isn’t concise enough,” said Electric Literature editor Andy Hunter. “We want to prove that you can tell a story in less than 140 characters.”

To add sauce to the goose, Electric Literature has offered several prizes and arranged for the famed editor Gordon Lish to personally berate any fiction writing aspirant who dares to write a story including two or more words. But this second part of the contest, called Stuff My Lexicon Says, has proven problematic. There have been numerous reports of Lish running around New York, setting fire to unabridged dictionaries in libraries and bookstores and screaming at confused kids staring at laptops in cafes.

“We were glad to get Gordon to do it,” said editor Scott Lindenbaum, “but if we’d known how much of a closet nihilist he was, we probably would have asked somebody else.”

Asked if one word could sufficiently convey a narrative, Hunter and Lindenbaum both pointed out that you got a little story every time you looked up a word.

Added Lindenbaum: “And if you stare at a word long enough…”


Borders Sets Up Innovative Slavery Program

Shortly after securing $42.5 million to repay its loans and taking on additional credit to stay alive in a particularly troubling economy, Borders Group Inc. announced that it will be issuing a payroll freeze, enrolling 90% of its employees into an innovative Slavery Program. The program is legal, thanks to a little-known clause contained within the Borders Employment Agreement that none of the workers thought to read.

A memo from the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company, intercepted by The New York Times, revealed that the Slavery Program would begin in mid-April. Borders stores are now being remodeled to provide slave quarters in the back. Several ringlets will be placed in convenient locations to shackle up employees at various points within the store. Clerks will be lashed if they don’t restock shelves fast enough.

“We had to cut costs somewhere,” said interim CEO Michael Edwards, “and this seemed the best way to secure a profit. After all, didn’t Aristotle say that slavery was a natural part of civilization?”

Asked if the slaves would prove unsettling for regular customers, Edwards pointed out that the employees were never noticed anyway.

Edwards pointed to several tall piles of job applications to buttress his viewpoint, observing that several desperate people had offered to work for free after a long and unsuccessful job search.

“So you can see it’s a win-win situation,” said Edwards. “And if other corporations follow, we can keep up a very good slave trade.”

Borders managers have begun a grueling fast-track Slavemaster Training Program, presently taking place in Arizona. Here, they will learn how to issue corporal punishment whenever a Borders employee gets uppity. Thankfully, employee behavior has proven infinitely adaptable. The new slaves have already started bringing glasses of lemonade for the managers without being asked.

Edwards expects to face legal resistance to his plans — in large part because nobody has thought to challenge the 13th Amendment for quite some time.

“You say ‘slavery’ like it’s a bad thing,” said Edwards. “But we’re more civilized than we were in the 19th century. At least they now get healthcare.”


Sinatra’s Corpse Disinterred for BEA Keynote

Facing considerable indifference shortly after the announcement of has-been Barbra Streisand as a headliner, Reed Exhibitions announced that they had disinterred Frank Sinatra’s corpse to replace Streisand as BookExpo America’s opening night act.

“We recruited some mob guys in Hoboken to dig up the corpse,” said BEA spokesman Lance Fensterman. “They were very helpful and worked for a reasonable price, but there were a few other agreements we reached that I can’t discuss on the record.”

Sinatra, who has been dead since 1998, will be asked to perform a series of rousing numbers to awaken the increasingly dwindling booksellers and publishers who will be attending this year’s event. It is not yet known precisely how Sinatra will perform before this crowd, given that Sinatra has spent the past twelve years being chewed on by the maggots. But an expert team of touchup artists has been recruited to make Ol’ Blue Eyes look a little less like a corpse. But efforts to clear out the stench of death on Sinatra’s corpse haven’t started yet.

“They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them,” elaborated Fensterman. “But we remain confident that Sinatra will be in fine shape before the end of May. If we can’t reconstruct his face, we’ll simply replace it with a large watermelon.”

Fensterman’s audacious publicity move has attracted hostility from the Sinatra family, who have expressed a strong desire not to undergo a second round of bereavement. Nancy Sinatra has entered negotiations with Reed, offering to perform a version of her famous song called “These Books Were Made for Reading,” in an effort to keep BEA’s opening night tasteful.

The April Fool’s Collection

April Fool’s Day has come and gone. But for those who missed the fun, here’s a list of links to the entries:

Samantha Power to “Give the People What They Want”
Adam Kirsch Tests Out New Sense of Humor
Love in the Air for Gessen and Sarvas?
NBCC Plans “The Month of a Thousand Panels”
Daniel Menaker Branches Out Into Motion Pictures
Rachel Donadio Continues Transformation Into Younger and Stupider Curtis Sittenfeld
Litbloggers Agree That Blogging “Takes Too Much Time”
Neal Pollack to Write Dad Essays Until the End of Time
William Vollmann Turns in Uncharacteristically Slim Children’s Book
Orange Unveils Male-Only Banana Prize
“Pretentious Literary Fiction” to Get New Section in Bookstores
Border Protection to Ban All Foreign Writers from Entering States
Michael Bay and Bruce Willis On Board for Flann O’Brien Film Adaptation
Lone Literary Geek Decides to Hate Sloane Crosley
Harriet Klausner Gives Three Star Amazon Review

We now return you back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Harriet Klausner Gives Three Star Amazon Review

Harriet Klausner, known to the literary world as Amazon’s #1 reviewer and known for her generosity towards every book that she reads, stunned the literary world when she rated a book three stars, instead of the accustomed four or five.

“She was probably having a bad day,” said Penguin’s Yen Cheong.

Publishers are now debating whether they should send Klausner any additional books in light of this critical solecism. They had counted on Klausner for a steady stream of uncritical raves and began to express some concern that there could be two-star reviews. Or even a one star review.

Klausner responded to these charges by pointing out that three stars was still “a decent rating, nothing to be worried about,” and had merely wanted to shake things up to see if anybody was still reading her reviews.


Lone Literary Geek Decides to Hate Sloane Crosley

As reported this morning by Slunch, it has become almost impossible to hate Sloane Crosley. Until now. Josie Harris, a 34-year-old paralegal, has decided enough is enough, and has decided to commit her energies to hating Sloane Crosley.

“There is nobody in the literary world I despise more than Sloane,” said Harris. “Nobody can be that fucking nice all the time.”

What’s considerably astonishing is that Harris came out as a Crosley hater despite being on a considerable daily regiment of antidepressants.

But is Harris simply being contrarian?

“No. I read two sentences that Sloane wrote in the Village Voice and I was so angry that it caused me to place my pet hamster in the microwave and watch it explode. This is not a common reaction that I get from writers. But Sloane’s words caused me to do this. I was depressed for weeks. And I blame her for running me over the edge.”

Harris plans to advance her protests further. Mass book burnings of I Was Told There’d Be Cake, followed by a giant Sloane Crosley effigy in front of the Random House building. She has also issued an open challenge to enter into a kickboxing match with Crosley. Crosley, however, has not responded.


Michael Bay and Bruce Willis On Board for Flann O’Brien Film Adaptation

Hack Hollywood director Michael Bay informed friends and colleagues that he was “sick to death” of turning out crappy films and announced that his next project would be a film adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds, mainly because, as Bay put it, “the Lost writers may be onto something with this fucking literary trend.”

Bruce Willis is now in talks to portray the book’s main character: a college student who writes a novel and spends time shooting the shit with his pals. Some O’Brien enthusiasts have expressed reservations about casting Willis, who is bald and 53, in the role of a character some three decades younger.

“Fuck you. I’m Michael Bay. And he’s Bruce Fucking Willis,” said Bay, who cited Sylvester Stallone’s recent septuagenarian turns as Rambo and Rocky Balboa. “You get John McClane and David Madison in one package! Plus, there aren’t many action stars these days who like to smoke in bed.”

Bay would address the age difference through CGI effects that he pioneered with his live-action version of Transformers. Bay was also considering hiring an additional actor who Willis could “transform” into between scenes.

Dalkey Archive’s Chad Post has distanced himself from these developments. He had no comment, but is reportedly “not sleeping very well.”


Border Protection to Ban All Foreign Writers from Entering States

US Customs and Border Protection, galvanized by their successful efforts to prevent Sebastian Horsley from entering the United States, have decided to take things further in an effort to protect America from itself. Starting on January 1, 2009, all writers who look or sound even remotely foreign — and that includes those pesky Canucks who don’t know how to pronounce “about” correctly — will be prevented from entering the American homeland.

“Frankly, these foreign writers all sound a little faggy,” said Cletus Dorrell, a 44-year-old director who rose up the ranks quickly because of his commitment to stubbing out moral turpitude. “And we have plenty of writers here in America. Just look at John Grisham!”

How this would effect such events as the PEN World Voices Festival remained to be seen, but PEN America was considering renaming their annual event the “PEN America We’re #1 Voices Festival.”

New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus welcomed the move. “All the damn bloggers keep complaining about how little we cover translated titles. Well, I’ve always been a company man who never asks questions. And this policy certainly explains why things have been the way they have been on the Review’s pages. Frankly, I’ve been munificent under the circumstances.”


“Pretentious Literary Fiction” To Get New Section in Bookstores

This morning, booksellers finally figured out what to do about the massive influx of pretentious literary fiction that has taken over the “Fiction” section in bookstores. Starting next month, “Pretentious Literary Fiction” will get its own section in bookstores, in an effort to hinder confusion for today’s customers. Nearly all books published by Ecco would be part of this new reorganization.

“It was really getting out of control,” said Thelma Rhustein, manager of a Barnes & Noble in Peroia, Illinois. “These New York people actually believed that these mutant books were fiction, and tried to ram them into our stacks.”

Of course, there is only so much space. Since other genres — such as science fiction, mystery, YA, comics, chick lit, and romance — have become less pretentious and are now more acceptable to the reading public, the elaborate plan calls for these genres to be integrated into the main Fiction section.

Many newspaper book review sections have begun adjusting their sections accordingly. Now that “pretentious literary fiction” is a lesser genre, many plan to begin ghettoizing “pretentious literary fiction” to capsule reviews while moving previously little-regarded genres up to full-length reviews.

“It’s purely a business decision,” said a spokesman for Tribune Newspapers.

Ecco spokesman Michael McKenzie could not be reached for comment. He was reportedly too busy playing an addictive Flash game. But he did pledge to a co-worker that he would cut down on his pedicures in an effort to figure out what it was that average people found pleasurable about books.

Psychiatrists have also been enlisted to make many pretentious literary fiction publishers less douchey.


Orange Unveils Male-Only Banana Prize

In response to recent criticisms from A.S. Byatt, the Orange Broadband Prize announced that it would begin handing out an all-new male-only prize called the Banana Prize, which will hand out awards to male-only writers. Prizes would be awarded to “red-blooded tales” that celebrate masculinity, male swagger, and sexist offerings in contemporary fiction.

“We had hoped to offset the literary world’s tendency to give too many male writers money,” said project director Harriet Hastings. “We were wrong. And we wanted to send a message. We like cocks too.”

The future of the Orange Prize remains in jeopardy. But “lad lit” authors remain very excited about reaping the benefits of this new outlet for writers.

“I was beginning to get worried that we weren’t dominating literature in the same way we were dominating film and music,” said Nick Laird, who, upon hearing the news, began modifying his novel-in-progress to read more like a book-length version of Maxim. “I now have my protagonist hating women. This should counter the wrong-headed notions set forth by the Orange Prize. There can never be enough celebration of manhood in literature.”


William Vollmann Turns In Uncharacteristically Slim Children’s Book

National Book Award-winning writer William T. Vollmann stunned the Penguin offices when he submitted a 22-page children’s book to Viking editor Paul Slovak this morning.

“It’s the shortest manuscript I’ve ever seen from Bill,” said Slovak, who also told reporters that editing this “would be a breeze.”

The book, entitled Shooting Guns at the Gnus, is also illustrated by Vollmann. Vollmann hoped that the book would encourage young children to start firing guns early, so that they could get a sense of “what it means to be free” at a very early age.

Parents bristled at Vollmann’s plans, claiming that he was taking advantage of his literary reputation to sully the pristine nature of the children’s book market. One organization, The Society for Safe Books, plans to picket the Penguin offices this morning, demanding that Penguin not publish anything even remotely offensive. None of the activists, however, had read the book in question.


Neal Pollack to Write Dad Essays Until the End of Time

Writer Neal Pollack, who found considerable success with his book, Alternadad, has decided to write nothing other than father-related essays through the end of his natural life.

“They keep paying me for this,” said Pollack. “So why spoil a good thing?”

It was previously thought that the demand for dad essays would run out sometime last year. But like the Hubbert peak theory, nobody really knows when it will happen.

The news came as James Howard Kuntsler announced that he was beginning work on a new polemical book called The Dad Emergency, which suggests that America is spiraling into an age where dad essays will run out and America will be left helpless, looking for reading material in the suburbs.

“There will come a time when people will be shooting each other in the parking lots of malls and roasting babies over a spigot because there aren’t enough dad essays to go around,” said Kunstler. “And not even Neal Pollack will be able to fill the demand.”

At the present time, there remain enough dad essays. Although the price of dad essays seems to be going up. Some gas stations have begun installing vending machines next to pumps to take these rising costs into account.

“On some days, the dad essays sell more than gallons of gas,” said Tony Primera, the 42-year-old owner of a Shell station outside Wyoming. “I’ve been toying with the idea of shifting to a dads-and-gas style business, but I’m beholden to the forces at Shell.”

Indeed, Shell has started to commission writers to write more dad essays, believing that selling dad essays with gas will make people forget that the price of gas is going up.

“Pollack was ahead of the curve on this,” said a Shell spokesman. “But we’ll smoke him out of the supply. Conglomeration is our specialty. And I think that we have a track record to back this up.”


Litbloggers Agree That Blogging “Takes Too Much Time”

Hot on the heels of the Litblog Co-Op’s disbandment, litbloggers decided to combine their collective malaise and stop blogging.’s Gary Hesmith was the man who came up with the idea after experiencing peer pressure shortly after reading Remainder, which other litbloggers had gone crazy over. “I just wanted to type ‘Tom McCarthy is cool’ into Typepad, and even that sentence seemed too much time for me to commit to.”

Many litbloggers who stopped blogging had long wondered when the money would start showing up. They had remembered the magical dot com days, when cashes of money would often saunter into offices unannounced and someone would have the professional courtesy to deposit some of this into random bank accounts. These litbloggers figured that by sitting on their asses doing nothing, the dinero would arrive just in time for dinner.

But 1999 was a long time ago. And the dollar was in poor health against other currencies. So Hesmith decided that the only thing anybody could agree upon was that blogging was almost as hard as assembling a piece of IKEA furniture.

The moratorium on litblogging will remain in effect until someone gives these litbloggers money. Many of them moved into basements in Terre Haute.

“They laughed at me when I first said that,” said writer Richard Ford, who had made litbloggers very angry with remarks delivered to Motoko Rich. “But I was right the entire time.” Before I could ask Ford additional questions, he then cut the interview short, because he needed to find another talented African-American writer to spit on.


Rachel Donadio Continues Transformation Into Younger and Stupider Curtis Sittenfeld

This Sunday, Rachel Donadio continued her regrettable declivity into the morass of embarrassing personal essays — the kind of writing once penned by Curtis Sittenfeld, before Sittenfeld wised up and stopped writing for the New York Times Book Review for good.

But this has not prevented literary experts from asking why Donadio, who is in her mid-thirties and really should know better, would bang out such remarkably judgmental tripe. (Sittenfeld was 31 when she wrote her essays.)

There is a sad but certain answer. Hard-pressed to answer this question, this hastily formed literary committee decided to take some initiative. They knocked on the door of Ms. Donadio’s apartment and discovered a woman — half-Sittenfeld, half-Donadio — who expressed a half-hearted desire to move to downtown Philadelphia. This committee reports that Curthel Sittenadio was looking around for two partially completed manuscripts: one named Ep, the other named The Man Of. The hope was to put these two books together and finally break out of the New York Times doldrums with a published novel that would sell.

But what happened was a merging of personalities that may prove to be inexorable. Scientists have been commissioned to bring the old Rachel Donadio back — the one who once worked at the New York Observer and who was, every so often, fun. But the physical and writing transmogrification may be permanent.


Daniel Menaker Branches Out Into Motion Pictures

At a press conference attended by only three reporters*, Daniel Menaker announced that he is now slated to star in a new motion picture: The Karate Kid V: Titlepage. This represents the next step in what Menaker calls “the Titlepage evolution.”

“With Pat Morita dead, they’ve been trying to find an excuse to revive the franchise,” said Menaker. “I pitched them on a book-themed martial arts picture, and they went for it!”

Studio executives were taken with Menaker’s consistently black apparel. Menaker informed the executives that he had picked this idea up from Steven Seagal. Menaker took meetings. Contracts were then signed.

Menaker will play a new sensei — “an old war buddy of Mr. Miyagi’s” — who opens a dojo in Reseda and instructs teenagers to sit in uncomfortable chairs while cameras rapidly capture their bored expressions, while only one person at a time talks about books. Those who cannot fall in line with this stern routine will be given the crane kick.

Martin Kove will reprise his role as Kreese, who will take revenge on “all friends of Miyagi” and, in particular, any awkward television he has to endure just before fighting. John G. Avildsen, who expressed problems with the script, has reportedly demanded a minimum of $3.2 million to direct this film.

* — Once again, demonstrating that the newspaper book review crisis has been lost.


NBCC Plans “The Month of a Thousand Panels”

National Book Critics Circle president Jane Ciabattari has revealed that there will be no less than a thousand panels devoted to book discussion during the month of April: with sometimes as many as 112 panels at one time.

“Panels are the only way to address the goals of our organization,” said Ciabattari, who got the idea after reading something about “the German form of life.” “We want to have panels about panels. We want to have panels about panels about panels. Just to go the extra mile. Just to show the other bloggers that we’re more hard-core than they are.”

The panels would be followed by several long reports posted on Critical Mass, the NBCC’s blog. Ciabattari indicated that there would be at least five reports for each panel. Just to be extra sure that every turn of a panelist’s head was dutifully reported so that future literary enthusiasts could know all about it. The panel reports will be written by NBCC members who Ciabattari describes as “friendly bloggers.”

Comments posted to the Critical Mass blog will still take three days to be cleared and may take even longer because of all the time spent organizing panels and panel reports.

“I guess this demonstrates that April is indeed the cruelest month,” said Wilma Atherton, a grad student who lives and studies at Columbia who had hoped that the newly elected NBCC board would concentrate more on books and less on talk of books. “I guess this means I’ll have to mine that pamphlet that the n+1 boys shoved under my door for literary value.”


Love in the Air for Gessen and Sarvas?

Longtime enemies Mark Sarvas and Keith Gessen were seen walking in Central Park, holding hands. There were even peals of laughter and a few hearty back slaps.

“I tried to send the tip into Gawker,” said 21-year-old video enthusiast Holly Brendon, “but they told me that it would get in the way of tarnishing Emily Gould’s reputation.”

Brendon said that she would be uploading her footage to YouTube later this afternoon, so that “readers could decide for themselves, the way they always do on the Internet.”

Several references on Gould’s blog involving “the other man” and John Banville do lend credence to Brendon’s extraordinary claims. And a recent post on The Elegant Variation reports that Sarvas is “brushing up on his Russian.”

Has this literary feud entered into a detente? Stanley Crouch insists that it has not. “I’ll bitch-slap both of those white boys if that’s what it takes to keep this literary feud going.”

But a violent enforcement along these lines may prove difficult for Mr. Crouch. Neither Sarvas nor Gessen have ever been spotted at Tartine.


Adam Kirsch Tests Out New Sense of Humor

New York Sun critic Adam Kirsch stunned a young literary couple in the Upper East Side when he was observed attempting to crack a joke to a Starbucks barista. The couple, knowing of Kirsch’s humorless writing, were especially astonished to see Kirsch actually converse with someone in a class beneath his station.

“He didn’t act as if she didn’t exist. The way he usually does,” said Gloria Reynolds, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother and Caitlin Flanagan fan. “He actually asked her how he was doing, and then he tried out a zinger!”

“It was a knock-knock joke,” said Harold Bentley, a 32-year-old investment banker. “Nothing great, mind you. But it was a start.”

Sources at the New York Sun reported that Kirsch entered into an argument with a copy editor. Kirsch threatened that he would leave the paper if his piece did not include a sentence that began “You might be a redneck if….” The copy editor was then fired without severance pay by New York Sun management.

“There may still be a chip on his shoulder,” said the Sun‘s books editor, David Wallace-Wells. “But at least it’s now a funny chip.”