Deaths, Revivals and Roastings

Historian and one-time Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin has passed on. Boorstin was best known for his American trilogy and his fascinating books on human innovation. (I highly recommend The Discoverers and The Seekers.) One read a Boorstin book for the best of reasons: to ride a journey across human progress with an enthusiastic mind eager to make connections. Boorstin was an American James Burke, adept at showing the strange way in which the world was charted and everyday things were created. He’ll definitely be missed.

T.C. Boyle’s enemies are dying off. Less people hate Boyle now more than ever before. I remain optimistic. There will come a day when there are more Boyle lovers than haters.

Now who honestly expected to see Kate Christensen profiled in the Post? It’s difficult to say whether this is an effort to woo people who are disappointed by the increasing non-literary direction of the NYTBR. Personally, I welcome feverish Post headlines like VIDAL REVIVES BRAWL WITH MAILER or ZADIE SMITH ROASTS CHICKLIT AUTHORS OVER SPIT.

John Lescroart whines that he doesn’t get any respect. Dude, shut up. You’ve sold 10 million books.

So Chip McGrath (and literary coverage) can be found now in the magazine?

Robert Silverburg has received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award. He plans to address the Nebula Awards with maniacal laughter.

Dick and Jane are being brought out of retirement. This time, the books are being mined for nostalgia rather than education. USA Today insists that, “Still, in their day, Dick and Jane were cutting-edge.” I beg to differ. Unless Dick and Jane are supporting a love nest, complete with tops and bottoms, Jane getting the bukkake treatment, and Dick tied up, standing naked against a pilaster, unless Jane ends up in a halfway house and Dick has a heroin problem, unless Dick gets a mohawk, or Jane gets a nipple piercing, they will remain hopelessly unhip by-products of a more innocent time. Which is not to say that I have any specific contentions against Dick and Jane. I love their simple dorky intonations and their carefree concerns. Just don’t go around calling them the new black. That’s all I’m saying.

The Guardian on Garrison Keillor’s latest: “Misogynistic, full of literary in-jokes and unwilling to tackle real emotion, I suspect fans of this novel will be restricted to Larry Wylers the world over, which isn’t such an insignificant readership judging by the number of puffa jackets on the streets.” Ouch.

A sign that creative book coverage isn’t dead: Frank Wilson looks to be positioning himself as a qurkier Yardley. He asks the world why the 1921 novel, Memoir of a Midget, isn’t better known. The great thing is that he’s actually serious.

And Christopher Hitchens spares no words for Mel Gibson. Except Maureen Dowd was there with the association first.


  1. The Guardian’s being kind to Love Me. Picked it up in a moment of temporary insanity and have been compulsively washing my hands ever since. The epitome of bland.

  2. Damn, I’ve tried to avoid GK’s work whenever possible. What kind of meds were you on, Mark? 🙂

  3. I know, it’s sad. The whole New Yorker angle drew me in. On another note, thanks for the Hitchens link. It’s about time …

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