J.M. Coetzee Will Cut Your Torso In Half With an Icy Glare

J.M. Coetzee came out of the woodworks for the Adelaide Festival of Arts Writers’ Week, only to scare the bejesus out of people. Coetzee insisted that he will never give a lecture again, and that he would snap necks if anyone suggested that his Nobel speech or anything coming out of his mouth was a lecture. Coetzee wieleded a truncheon while speaking, randomly beating empty chairs between questions, and sometimes howling to the moon just before stating a declarative sentence. The Nobel winner can no longer be seen during the day. There are unconfirmed reports that fresh blood could be seen trickling down the corners of his mouth.

Jennifer Graham hates Dr. Seuss, noting facetiously that he was a failed novelist because To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street was rejected 43 times. Although I think the figure was actually 24 times, even 43 times is still par for the course. Alex Haley received 200 rejections before writing Roots. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times. Silence of the Lambs was rejected 28 times. The Naked and the Dead was rejected 12 times. Catch-22 was rejected 21 times (hence, the eponymous twenty-two). And, as an experiment (well before his big scandal), Jerzy Kosinski changed the names of the author and manuscript to see if his book would sell. Thirteen agents and fourteen publishers rejected it.

The moral of the story: Just as one can’t judge a book by its cover, it’s impossible to weigh a manuscript’s merits based on the number of rejections.

Spider-Man 3 is in the works. No word yet on whether Michael Chabon will be involved with this one, though Chabon himself doesn’t know what’s happened to his words on the second film. This confidence does suggest that we might see a continual story arc picked up from the second film, similar to Mario Puzo’s work in the first two Superman films. Variety reports that no director or actors have been signed, and the script has not been finalized. Furthermore, Harry Knowles has not yet bombarded the Web with half-assed rumors, near-lies and “inside sources.” So perhaps it’s premature to report anything before the hype.

Not only is more hip-hop lit being published, but it’s selling.

New NYRoB up. To be read later: Richard Horton’s “The Dawn of McScience”.

Jayson gets petty, claiming that quotes run in the Times broke the embargo and committed copyright infringement. The article quoted a total of 156 words from Blair’s book, roughly half the number of words quoted by The Nation in a precedent-setting 1985 Supreme Court decision. Things here aren’t helped by Bill Keller, when the ass claimed that copies of Blair’s book “have begun to circulate.” Chip McGrath’s review will run on March 14. Given how petty Blair and New Millenium have been with the Master’s House, I hope McGrath gives this little punkass hell.

First, Adam Moss to New York, now Frank Rich?

Sara Nelson weighs in on the Amazon flap. She dishes some dirt and brings up the obvious question of why Amazon is overinflated. But isn’t it a bit ironic that she’s using column-inches to plug her book in a column probing tainted influence?

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  1. I had always read that the original title to Heller’s most famous novel was “Catch-18,” and that his editor, Robert Gottlieb, suggested changing it to “Catch-22” only because it sounded better to his ears. I’m sure the novel was rejected a lot, as many novels are, but I don’t think the title had anything to do with the number of times it was rejected. I could be wrong.

  2. As I understand it, the novel was changed because it was too close to Leon Uris’s Mila 18. But I think you’re right too. Catch-22 did sound better to Heller’s ears, but I also know the number was based on the rejections.

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