announcement

Some Annoucements

Due to my inability to secure a reliable broadband connection after a recent move (a lengthy Kafakesque tale that is currently without end) and an apparent spate of mental fatigue that friends and loved ones have had the kindness to help me identify (I believe the question “Are you out of your fucking mind?” is what encouraged me to come to my senses), there are a few things I need to announce.

1. My coverage of the New York Film Festival will continue, but at a reduced clip. With so many enticing films on the schedule, I had initially envisaged a Herculean commitment, where I might write essays for the lion’s share of the titles. What I failed to account for in my enthusiasm was my involvement with several other projects. I do have a great deal of energy, but everyone does have an omega point. And it became quite evident that hitting nearly every press screening while working on these other things was akin to fighting a two (or three!) front war. So I’ve decided to sit out more days than originally planned. But there are a great deal of reviews in the works, screenings to attend, as well as a few interviews. (I’m especially excited to talk with one director.)

2. I’m going to be slowing down Bat Segundo production in the next month or two. There will still be new shows. I’m sitting on six interviews and I have a few more scheduled over the next few weeks (including some in relation to The New York Film Festival). But the upshot is that, between all this and my other activities, I don’t want to burn out. So to preserve my sanity, I’m not going to adhere to a weekly schedule. So expect at least nine or ten new shows before the year is up. I anticipate returning to a regular weekly schedule at the beginning of 2011.

3. Todd Pruzan, who edits the freshly launched consumer finance site Get Currency, enlisted me to write a little article on video-on-demand. Check it out.

4. Eric Rosenfield has enlisted my co-participation in a new reading series called Wold Newton, named after Philip Jose Farmer’s famed universe. As far as I know, this is the only reading series in Brooklyn devoted to speculative fiction. The first one is set to go down this Sunday, September 26, 2010, at 6:30 PM, at Word Bookstore. And it features the amazing combo of Charles Yu and Brian Francis Slattery for its debut. There will also be live music, poetry from Jonathan Berger, and Eric and I performing some rather silly interstitial material. Do check out the site to find out more about it. It looks to be a very fun time, and I’m especially excited about it. (We’re already planning a second Wold Newton reading in November, and there are more we’re working on for 2011.)

5. Due to the present DSL nightmare, my ability to respond to email is extremely limited. Please have patience. If you really need to get in touch with me, you can do so through friends and loved ones. I’m doing the best that I can to work without a Net, and I hope to reply to everybody once my Internet connection is operational again. In the meantime, new content is being uploaded to this site through various wi-fi signals, some legitimate and some stolen.

announcement

Delay in Affairs

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 go on), make desperate attempts to retrieve the data, and expend a good deal of needless venom to the vile cretins at Seagate, who will pay very dearly for their failure to manufacture an acceptable product.

What this means is that the Bat Segundo episode I had planned to put up this Friday, along with a few other video interviews I conducted at BEA, won’t see the light of the day. You can thank Seagate for this. Seagate — the hard drive manufacturer that can’t even produce firmware that solves the problem. The bumbling interloper that, with casual incompetence, now threatens to permanently destroy the origins of five good years of work and that does not appear to take responsibility for its great sins.

To say that I am pissed off about all this is a severe understatement. But I remain determined to fix this — even if I have to get all geeky. Hope to see you on the other side with data intact.

[5/29 UPDATE: The main Seagate drive has been sent away. But because I mirrored some of the drive, I have managed to recover all the production data from Shows 101 onward, along with about half of the Bat Segundo raw data. Will have news sometime next week on the three interviews and the remaining info.]

Regretting the Error

Early this morning, a piece appeared on these pages that took to task Neely Tucker’s article in the Washington Post. I used a historical example from 1766, but neglected to point out one minor but pivotal detail — indeed, one that I had forgotten, until two readers pointed it out to me — that pretty much destroyed my thesis. Therefore, I have removed the piece from these pages and apologize for my error. I thank the readers for pointing out this indiscretion and I will endeavor to pay closer attention to prevent such mishaps in the future.

[UPDATE: Due to popular demand, I will find some time later today to rewrite and revive the post.]

[UPDATE 2: The article has been revived.]

Bleak House

This morning, my video card committed suicide, shooting out a very impressive burst of orange flame that I was thankfully able to extinguish. No other components were harmed during the making of this conflagration. The video card was not a suicide bomber. I suppose it had come to know the other components it shared the case with over the past three years, and had decided that it was too depressed to live. All this is a pity. But this explains the computer display problems I’ve experienced over the past few weeks. The video card has been replaced (and I have had a heart-to-heart with the new video card, persuading it that there are plenty of reasons to live and that there will be love for it guaranteed by me) and the display is much better. But between this unexpected technical snafu, and getting unexpectedly caught up in a very fun novel (of which more anon), the podcasts I had intended to complete this afternoon will have to be postponed another day. There are lessons to this story: Nurture the components in your computer or they may spontaneously combust. And be sure your computer case is not a bleak house!

New Policies

For all future posts, whenever I make a claim, I plan on emboldening my efforts to get related individuals on the record.

Likewise, because there has been a slight uptick in comments left by people pretending to be other people, or people who cannot be bothered to leave real names (or, if they choose to remain anonymous, specific blogs, websites, or email addresses where they can be contacted), as of today, I shall enact a new policy.

All commenters must now leave a real name or, if they wish to remain anonymous, a website or an email address where they can be contacted. (I will, of course, keep your email address confidential. But if you can’t be bothered to return an email, or the email attached to your comment bounces, then your comment will not appear on this website.)

This does not mean that I am curtailing my satirical assaults. Nor am I attempting to enact censorship. My feeling is that everyone needs to be held accountable for what they say, and that goes for me too.

You can say anything you want about me or what I write, and I will continue to approve your comments, as I have in the past. But since I have put my name on everything I have ever written for this website, it seems only reasonable that commenters are held to the same standard. Getting into arguments with individuals who want nothing more than to fan the flames and who do not possess a set of virtues that they are simultaneously standing for is a waste of time, and it certainly doesn’t promote healthy and spirited discussion. So let’s all try to do better.

Temporarily Out of Service

Over the next day, I will be shifting this website over to a new hosting provider. If this site is down, well, you now know why. But I assure you that it will go back up again. If you need to get in touch with me by email, try the Yahoo address or DM me through Twitter. More geeky details TK.

[UPDATE: Okay, so it looks like we’re switched over. Not 100%, because the DNS records still need to kick in. I am gradually tweaking things. If you observe any problems, please let me know.]

Technical Difficulties

The LCD inverter board on my laptop is dead. I am in the middle of nowhere and cannot find a replacement. Not at Fry’s. Not anywhere. Efforts are still being made to find a replacement part, but I have learned that inverter boards are generally ordered through mail. What this means is that I’m more or less out of commission until Tuesday. So blog updates and emails replies will happen sometime next week. Bear with me.

Filthy Habits: An Introduction

“Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.” — W. Somerset Maugham

Welcome to Filthy Habits (working title, possibly subject to change), which isn’t really a blog and isn’t really a online magazine, and may not even be about literature all the time. But it does reflect the inevitable continuation of this site.

logo.gifWhat you will find here are long-form entries on a wide range of topics: some involving strange journalism, some involving cultural commentary, some involving personal experience, and some involving bizarre satirical exercises. Eventually, the plan here is to offer one new story each day, five days a week. I’ll still be appearing here on a regular basis, writing at least two to three posts a week (and considerably more during the opening weeks). But the difference this time is that this website will also be a place for other writers to offer unusual and idiosyncratic perspectives. This is a place that will retain its whimsical iconoclasm, but the new emphasis involves a more thoughtful approach. We also have editors on board, all kind enough to volunteer their time, who will be helping to shape the pieces that will appear here. Levi Asher, Eric Rosenfield, and Sarah Weinman represent this Grand Army of Associates. (And if you’re interested in writing something here, feel free to drop me a line.)

As things move forward, we’re hoping to offer more than just a site. We’ve been kicking around the idea of a monthly reading series, which would involve this site’s contributors bellowing their work in front of a crowd and maybe carrying forth a discussion on a particular piece in front of an audience. And if you have any ideas, by all means, don’t hesitate to let me know.

The Bat Segundo Show will continue. But in addition to authors, I’m hoping to expand the podcast’s emphasis to other cultural figures who may not be explicitly literary. The radio drama project is still alive, as is the novel I’m working on. (In fact, I have also started writing a bizarre noir tale that is either a novella or a novel.) Written depositories for these ancillary projects will eventually find their way to these pages.

What you won’t find here anymore are link roundups, YouTube links (unless pertinent to a piece), and one sentence throwaway posts. I’m not really sorry about abdicating these elements. There are plenty of other places where you can find that sort of thing.

I’ve made these changes for several reasons:

(1) For a long time, one of my goals for this site was to offer a place where those who are denied or overlooked by the mainstream media could receive the kind of encouragement and editing that they deserve.

(2) The litblog, if this website can still be categorized as one, is here to stay. Thus, the time has come for litbloggers to do more than provide just links and commentary, and to devote their attentions to more original content. As newspaper book review sections are cut and there are less conduits for literature, we have a responsibility to do better and, where necessary, take up the slack.

(3) As my freelancing responsibilities have expanded, I wanted to ensure that I could carry on writing for this website without burning out. This is not to suggest that you’ll be getting day-old leftovers here. I plan to tackle my daily duties with the same gusto as before. But I also required any work committed here to be a tad more ambitious.

I have, for the moment, folded all of the Reluctant pages into this site, which you can revisit through the archives.

This remains very much an intuitive and instinctive experiment: one that I intend to give at least six months. But I do hope you’ll join us for the ride. And thanks, as always, for reading.

The Sidebar

In light of the redesign, I’ve received a few emails from folks who are upset that I didn’t include them on my blogroll.

Let me explain the situation.

First off, the blogroll on the right hasn’t been touched in two years, meaning that it doesn’t really account for the sites I now read. Redesign-wise, the only thing I did in relation to the blogroll was remove sites that had not been updated in the past year. And I have every intention of one day going through the blogroll with a fine tooth comb. But this is the least of my priorities right now. Because such a task involves an entire day that I don’t have. And I’d rather spend this time meeting deadlines, generating content, turning out podcasts and otherwise being a verbal wiseacre. Sorry, but staring at code is about as appealing as suffering under a Nazi dentist’s chair. Which brings us to a corollary.

COROLLARY: Since I do not have the time to tweak the blogroll, I have attempted to atone for this by trying to link to any posts I find interesting. And, rest assured, I do read you, if I know about you. And if you have found a link that I find interesting, something that I have not found, I accredit.

I assure you that I am not consciously trying to hurt or exclude. In fact, I even accredit to sites that I don’t particularly care for. And has it ever occurred to you that I may not even be aware of you? Of course, if you want to make me aware, send me an email with an RSS link and I’ll happily add you to the hundreds (thousands?) of blogs I have in Bloglines and, if your stuff is interesting to me at some future point, link you accordingly.

I assure you there is no grand conspiracy. I am not interested in link exchanges or reciprocal links. I simply don’t have time for this. But I am interested in the exchange of information across multiple blogs, which I will happily track and link to.

If this makes me an asshole, so be it. I’m genuinely baffled that people pay attention to my prattle. I try to respond to emails. I try to be equitable about the breadth of my linkage. I’m doing the best that I can.

Pardon the Shifting Design

In testing mode.

[UPDATE: Okay, I’m going to play with this design for a while, seeing as how there hasn’t been a drastic overhaul in more than a year. If you have any specific requests, please let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate.]

[UPDATE 2: As an experiment, I have added BlogAds and a donations button to this site. This was not an easy decision for me to make, because, despite turning down many offers from advertisers over the years, I have tried to keep this site ad-free. But if even small literary quarterlies can ask for advertisers or donors, I have begun to wonder if my own diligent labors constitute a service.

I realize that some of you might view this as “selling out,” but I would rather be perfectly transparent with you. When I revived this website in December 2003 in an effort to track literary news, I had no idea then that, years later, it would transform into a second full-time job. I had no idea that I would be producing podcasts.

Now granted, I greatly enjoy doing all this. And I’m perfectly happy to carry on doing this, whether you contribute or not. But with newspaper book review sections dying and the media ecology changing, I figured that the time had come to take a chance. If the newspapers lack the resources to cover literature, then the burden shifts to us.

I’ve been footing the bill now for over three years, paying for extensive bandwidth so that people can listen to the many podcasts without interruption, spending at least twenty hours per podcast arranging interviews, carefully reading books, doing my best to ask the best questions I can under the circumstances, tweaking audio to the best of my ability, often staying up to an ungodly hour so that these podcasts are turned out on a weekly schedule.

If any of this has been of value to you, then feel free to donate or display your ad. If not, or you don’t have the cash, that’s okay too. The site, as it exists, will continue to operate for free. The only difference will be the advertisements in the top right corner.

I can assure you that any advertisements will not hinder my muckraking proclivities nor will they prevent me from pursuing tough questions. I can also assure you that, should this experiment prove somewhat successful, with even meager monies flowing in, I will work my hump off to give you additional content and track down unexpected individuals for future podcasts. If anything, my work ethic on this point is strong.

However you decide, I’d like to once again thank you for reading and listening.]

[UPDATE 3: Okay, I’ve discovered the culprit for IE users. I’ve temporarily disabled the top graphic, so that IE users can peruse this site with the content at the top of the screen. More enhancements to come. Thank you for your patience while I sort out the snags here!]

Open Policy

I meant to point to this last week, but Frank Wilson, editor of the Philly Inquirer, has provided an inside glimpse of what happens on the inside of a newspaper book review section. As Terry observed, stripping away the secrecy is beneficial for all parties: editors, readers, and reviewers. Of course, it will be a cold day in hell before we see such openness practiced by a certain book review editor in New York.

But to throw my own hat into the ring, I can tell you that I receive around ten books a week (sometimes as many as thirty) and that there is absolutely no way that I can read them all. I feel very bad about this, but I am only one man and I do the best I can to read far and wide, when I’m not reading other books for professional obligations.

The books that arrive are sequestered from the main library into a set of stacks in the hallway that I refer to as “the long-term TBR pile.” Books that I must read in the next month are placed in “the immediate TBR pile.” Right now, that immediate pile contains about twenty-five books. I’m halfway through about twelve of them.

Because this scenario is a nightmare for publicists, and I respect and appreciate their position, I try to make up for this by responding to all e-mail within a week (or two, if there’s something else brewing), particularly any pitch that is personally directed to me. (I often discard the others. One recent pitch invited me to some soiree in Southern California to interview an author. And they wanted me to do this in two days on a weekday. A cursory examination of the blog will tell you that I live in San Francisco. I’m not in the habit of throwing around airfare money for an author I haven’t heard of.)

I made a pledge two months ago to get better about the email backlog and, thankfully, my recent switch to Thunderbird has facilitated a meticulous organization of my email and the way I respond to the many readers of this site.

Like Frank Wilson, there are some books that I will read immediately — simply because there are major literary titles that I must read to have even a remote understanding of the literary world. Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions and Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker are two that come to mind.

I subscribe to almost every literary news feed that I can find, provided the contents aren’t total rubbish. And I am committed to learning about fiction developments that I am unfamiliar with. I try to operate in a genre-blind atmosphere.

I have become more selective about who is interviewed on Bat Segundo, simply because each show takes anywhere from fifteen to twenty hours to produce and I do have a life. While there have been a few exceptions, I am disinclined to interview subjects when a publicist cannot get me the book at least a week before the interview. It is highly disrespectful to the author for the journalist to enter an interview without any knowledge of what she has written, much less a careful reading of the text.

While I can read in a close manner fairly fast, if you think that I am in any intelligent position to talk with an author when you’ve sent me the book a day before and if you think that I can set aside my life (of which literature is just one part), then you’re living in a dream world.

Publicists who do get their authors on the show are kind enough (and most of them have been a pleasure to work with) to send me a book weeks in advance, approach me with an author who is unique or fits my interests, and to check up on what’s happening in a non-intrusive manner.

Hiatus

Folks, I have officially burned out. Five days, four interviews. No sleep, bad dietary habits. Two more podcasts from me before some weekend R&R, but you’ll (likely) not hear from me until next Monday. Do check out the fine folks on the right.

In the meantime, Paul Koretz is my new favorite California Assemblyman.

One other thing: I had meant to say this last year, but the finest moment of Doves’ Some Cities, which I’m listening to right now, comes at 2:04 on “Sky Starts Flying.” But I suspect I’m the only one who feels this way.

Also: For those in the San Francisco area, one of my favorite bookstores, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books, has had its domain hijacked. I called the bookstore to find out what happened and they told me that they’re aware of the problem and that they’ve taken steps to remedy it. The new URL is http://www.acwlpforbooks.com. They should have a new website up and running eventually, but they have Edmund White, Gay Talese and many more people coming through in May. You can get the scoop by picking up a flyer at the bookstore.

One more thing before we depart: 120 Questions with George Saunders (via Mark). Okay, with the exception of an LBC podcast, I’m done. I’ll clean up any messes next week.

Elizabeth Crane at the LBC

This week, at the LBC site, you’ll find the gang discussing Elizabeth Crane‘s All This Heavenly Glory. And for Segundo listeners, there’s a podcast interview with Ms. Crane and C. Max Magee.

And speaking of forthcoming podcasts, The Bat Segundo Show #19 is taking more time than expected to finish, in large part because one of the microphones malfunctioned, resulting in severe audio defects. I’m working on this as time permits and hope to get it finished soon.

Fortunately, Show #20 didn’t feature any severe technical issues (save a battery that went kaput, strangely enough at the same table at the same hotel the last time this happened) and is perhaps the funniest 25 minutes we think we’ve ever recorded. The guest remains top secret. But you’re going to love this show.

Developments

There have been some developments on the Guthmann plagiarism front. Also, I have been following up with several people to find out what has happened with other stories that have been tracked here over the past two years. Should any major revelations be uncovered, I will give them brand new entries. But for the obsessives, you can check the archives for any of the minor developments. (There are new jokes too, but you have to hunt for them.)

Recategorization

The word sounds vaguely Orwellian, reminiscent of a major shift in current events. But it is necessary, given that categorizing the content here is the only way that anyone, least of all myself, can make sense of it all.

As of today, I’ve written around 2,600 posts – 1,600 posts which remain uncategorized. For any other blogger, this may seem a ridiculous sum to collate into a taxonomy. But since I’m known to be somewhat zealous and anal about setting my ducks in a row, and since the categories offer a valuable method of tracking the development of my thoughts (such as they are) and associations, it has become essential for me to get them all set up once and for all during the first quarter of 2006. (I should note that this is part of a general self-imposed regimen to get my shit together. I still consider myself to be a very lazy man, but then the indolence standard I apply is comparable to 19th century labor.) It helps immensely that WordPress 2.0, with its DHTML “Add” box, has made it especially easy to categorize things. And 1,600 posts, at 20 posts to recategorize a day, is not as arduous a figure as one might expect.

My goal then is to provide a kind of uber-meta context for everything so that readers can participate more fully in the discussions and call me on my shit if I end up striking the same chord far too many times. A mini-Wikipedia with more ruthless standards, if you will. I’m hoping that some of the topics and obsessions here can flesh out into something more concrete, possibly becoming entirely new entities separate from this blog. And for the extremely bored reader determined to sift through the 2,600 or so posts (at an average of 500 words per post, that adds up to easily over a million words I’ve written here in the past two years, a tally that truly astonishes me), I’ve added little updates and annotations noting changes in information that seem pertinent or slightly entertaining.

All this probably means nothing to 99.99% of you. But I suppose what pushed me over the edge was some email correspondence with a few people about Peter Greenaway’s Tulse Luper project. Apparently, I’m the only Yank excited about it, much less aware of it, even if I can’t get my hands on any of the films in question. What I admire greatly about Greenaway’s project is the way that he has dared to throw information out there in an uncompromising way and that perhaps only he and a few people will understand it. Much like the novelist William T. Vollmann, Greenaway is one of the few prolific artistic visionaries out there producing a disparate body of work that grad students and artistic appreciators will spend years sifting through long after Greenaway’s death.

While I wouldn’t dare put myself or these efforts in the same pantheon as Vollmann or Greenaway, I am nevertheless hoping that this blog, which I apparently spend more time on than I realize, can serve a similar purpose. For the past two years, I have been working on various projects (limitless false starts and hundreds of pages of dialogue that have been painfully written and painfully thrown away), hoping that I can find a way of applying the brio that seems to come naturally here to that form. If experience serves as a guide, hard diligence and an open mind eventually leads me closer to the direction I need to be wandering in.

Recategorization then is partly a personal quest, to see exactly how frequently I am writing about certain topics and to drop kick the diffidence I apply to others and pursue them further. Only an information-obsessed geek will understand this impulse. But hopefully a few readers might find something of interest along the way.

Do Not Adjust Your Set

Okay, I’ve updated to Word Press 2.0 (many thanks to Matt Mullenweg & Co. for extremely clear and detailed instructions; something I never really experienced from the Six Apart people) and the place hasn’t exploded.  If anyone experiences any additional problems, please let me know.  For those who have written in, I’m still working on the Segundo/iTunes issue and hope to get it resolved in a few days.

Mabuse Fatigued

Ladies and gentlemen, the brain is thoroughly fricasseed, we can’t seem to sleep (hence 4:00 AM audio engineering jobs) and we’re on the verge of total collapse. We’ll see you on the other side once we’ve rested. Happy holidays.

One last thing (with a shift to first person singular):

As for this (yeah I know he wants attention with all the recent Maud-bashing but what the hell), the true nonsensism at work here lies with those who continue to believe that “you-are-with-us-you-are-against-us” dichotomies exist within literature. For the record, I read the New Yorker and enjoy a handful of the stories. But I am also a strong proponent of what Bill Buford has called “dirty realism.” However, the notion that reading an establishment story automatically makes you an establishment thinker (or, for that matter, “an intellectual liberal,” which I am, as Marxist as I can be at times, not always) is about as ridiculous as suggesting that because you immerse yourself in one perspective or world view, you are irrevocably attached to it. (And how fucking George W. Bushian is that, Mr. Lin?) I think it’s the duty of any serious reader to read as widely and as disparately as they can. The snobberies or reverse snobberies we attach to refusing to pick up something because it’s science fiction or because it’s popular or because it’s “chick lit” or because it’s too experimental or because it’s poetry or because it was published in The New Yorker or because it was endorsed by Dave Eggers or someone at n + 1 or because all the hipsters are reading it really pisses me off. It is nothing less than an extension of genre ghettoization. It is, let’s get right down to it, a kind of literary racism. A book is a book is a book, mothafuckahs. And if lazy thinkers are going to badmouth a title or a genre without reading it, why don’t some of these cretins so quick to condemn actually cite a few fucking examples from the text to back up their shit, yo? To do otherwise is to offer meaningless cocktail banter to make people feel smart and good about themselves but to essentially encourage their descent into the cerebral charnelhouse. To wallow in labels or dichotomies without actually delving into the text, providing examples and telling us why New Yorker fiction is bad, to not consider that sometimes a rose grows on the dunghill — in short, to imply on a regular basis that the whole expanse of literature is without a single grey area is to remain a clueless and inveterate moron.

To Do List

  • Finish the Naughty Reading Contest.
  • Three Segundo podcasts.
  • Reinstate the Tanenhaus Brownie Watch.
  • Get Secret Project #24B started.
  • At least six installments of The Neurotic Chronicles.

I have not forgotten about this stuff, but I wanted to address these failings publicly for all who have asked. Also, this gives you a great opportunity to publicly shame me. Go nuts, kids!

Pulling the Plug

Just for a while. Our posts haven’t been stellar, we can’t even answer our email, and life is too damned busy. Something is certainly wrong when Weezer lyrics suddenly start to make sense. Brother, can you spare a few hours? Visit the fine folks on the right, look at least one way before crossing the street, and avoid lima beans at all costs.

Meanwhile, this is some pretty funny shit (via Tito).

Behind

Here at Mabuse Cental, we are inunundated beyond compare. We’re sitting on four Segundo shows (yeah, we know, but we’re really trying to clean up some audio for the next show without it all sounding trebly sans midtones), we’re trying to create (read: steal) a feasible script for the Naughty Reading finalists so that you can all vote and the almighty Powell’s card can be awarded, we’re trying to finish up a lengthy post on The Rainbow Stories that we’ve been tinkering around on during sporadic moments, we’re trying to somehow squeeze in cogent thoughts for this week’s LBC dialogue, and we’re in the early stages of organizing a major regular addition to this site that should prove quite exciting and should solve the bookpile problem in one fell swoop. All this while we’re working on something major (read: MAJOR) that we seem to be kicking ass on but that we’re notoroiously retentive about.

Also, we’re terribly behind on our email backlog. We apologize.

Because of this, posting will be light, following by occasional showers and thunderstorms. Be sure to wear a porkpie hat and coat. Good stuff is in the works. We’re just not sure when we’ll be able to get to it.

In the meantime, please feel free to check out Sam and Gwenda‘s additions to the ol’ Auctorial Offerings motif. Perhaps as we push ourselves to brain rot, we’ll offer a few more installments ourselves.

Book Reviewers Wanted

Situation: There are more books here than I can possibly read. I would like to give all of these books a fair chance, given that the publishers have gone to great lengths to send them my way. But I am one person and, in order to exist in this world and have something of a life, it would be completely unrealistic for me to read them all. I can read three books a week, but not fifteen.

Now I am far from a trust fund kid, but here’s what I propose as a solution: If you would like to review these books that I cannot read, please drop me a line at ed @ edrants.com. Tell me a little bit about yourself and the authors you dig. And I will hook you up with a book that works within that template. I cannot pay you, but what I can do is offer my services as an editor and I can ship you the book. I’ll help you hone your voice and I’ll work with you to find a kickass tone. We can take a firm whack at these books that warrant coverage and, together, we can ensure that this heinous backlog is, to some small degree, abated. So what do you say?

Hiatus (Sorta)

We’ve been working our keisters off here. Two Segundo shows in the works (one we hope to get up tonight with a very special guest), with a third one on the way. So literary news and the like are going to be slow for the time being. Bear with us.

In the meantime, please enjoy:

  • Mark Sarvas talking with John Banville, Part I.
  • Bud Parr’s response to A.O. Scott’s NYT article comparing The Believer and n + 1.
  • Laura Miller’s humorless response to T.C. Boyle’s excellent new short story collection, Tooth and Claw. (Yes, Scott, I know, I told you it was “a mixed bag,” but that was on the basis of reading the first three stories, only one of which was so-so. Since then, the collection has picked up remarkably and I recommend it to all RotR readers looking to restore their faith in the short story, if not for the deliciously caustic finale of “Jubilation” and the near perfect “The Swift Passage of the Animals” alone, the latter being a witty depiction of dating loaded with nuance and quiet metaphors that are apparently quite invisible to Ms. Miller.)
  • Laila Lalami reviews Desertion in The Nation.