• Danielle Torres offers this intriguing guessing game: Which author slept in which house? But I don’t think the game is entirely fair. Where are the garrets? The leaking faucets? The empty cabinets? In short, where are the midlisters?
  • I don’t know what’s sillier: the notion of Bruce Willis appearing in another Die Hard movie or the ridiculous title.
  • Novelist Geoff Nicholson has written an expose on sex collecting. Nicholson couldn’t get an interview with Paul Reubens, but he got a dinner date with the late Linda Lovelace. It is rumored that the book’s original title was My Dinner with Bukkake.
  • If you haven’t had your fill of lists (and let’s face it: after X number of shopping lists, one pines for anything outside the norm), Penguin and The Times present a list of bests pertaining to the Penguin Classics. But I’m going to have to disagree on The Old Curiosity Shop as a “Best Tearjerker.” I’m about as crazed a Dickens freak as they come and when I first read Curiosity many years ago, I admired its interesting parallels with The Pilgrim’s Progress, but even I must side with Oscar Wilde for the book’s ridiculous sentimentalism.
  • Continuous partial attention applied to fiction writing? “But what grabs the attention of unsuspecting passersby is a warm, inviting smile and a sign that reads, ‘I’m writing a novel. If you’d like, please come talk to me about it.'”
  • The Globe and Mail reports that heavy Internet users don’t socialize with their loved ones and spend less time doing household chores. But the difference is only about 30 minutes. In other words, someone who is spending 30 minutes more on the Internet is spending 30 minutes less doing other things. Brilliant detective work, Statistics Canada! Can I buy you an abacus? (via Scribbling Woman)

Dickens Not in Vogue

This morning, I was shocked to learn of the news that Charles Dickens is “not in vogue these days.” While Boston Globe reporter Sam Allis’s statement was brazen, it is, nevertheless, absolutely true. Unfortunately, a 2,000 word section that cited specific examples was cut by the Globe. One of my inside sources, referred to here as “Tina,” explained to me that a part-time copy editor opposed the section, believing that Mr. Allis was somehow channeling his subject. (“Tina” reports that Mr. Allis’s word rate is “unbelievably lucrative.”)

So what we received instead was an unsatisfactory generalization to back up Mr. Allis’s findings (“He is no longer the staple in humanities courses on this side of the Atlantic.”). However, “Tina” was kind enough to forward me a summary of what Mr. Allis’s original draft included:

1. Arthur Quilip, the little-known dwarf actor who was Verne Troyer’s stand-in in Bubble Boy, came very close to landing roles in Bad Santa and Carnivàle. However, he was narrowly beaten out by Tony Cox and Michael Anderson for the respective parts. The casting directors on both productions had read The Old Curiosity Shop and quipped to Quilp that he had, in the words of Oscar Wilde, “a heart of stone.”

2. Oliver Twists, once a popular cocktail at a Ramada Inn bar (“two for one Tuesdays!”) in Louisville, Kentucky, have declined in sales. Customers are now gravitating towards whiskey sours.

3. At an El Torito restaurant in Bridgeton, Missouri, a table for four, reserved in the name of Pickwick, was withheld at the request of the manager. Four elderly gentlemen were left to stand around while others enjoyed their “fine Mexican meals.” A few customers complained at the presence of these men, referring to them as “old, smelly and decidedly not in vogue,” and were thrown out of the restaurant by Boris, short-order cook and salsa preparer, with characteristic pugilism.

4. Back in September, a young boy by the name of David had walked hundreds of miles to Manhattan to escape an unfortunate domestic disturbance. Hoping to unwind his weary feet, and having been given a pass to the VIP room at Club Copacabana by a cheery busker, David showed up at the club and attempted to redeem the pass, only to be told by the bouncer, “No magicians in dis place.” David has since subsisted in a studio apartment that he shares with other orphans, but only by selling his own blood on a thrice-weekly basis.

5. Calvin Klein has called upon all of his underfed models to lead a public burning of the collected works of Charles Dickens. His circulars have had remarkable results. Kate Moss is said to keep her nose up in the air for at least four minutes when she hears the words, “Barnaby Rudge.” Naomi Campbell plans to take full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that read in part, “Thank god that son of a bitch didn’t finish Edwin Drood. Who needs him?”