Deconstructing Profiles #1

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author profile piece is a tricky and intricate journalistic genre. How do you make an author, who is often mumbling an answer he has uttered a dozen times into a glass of water, interesting? Where lazier journalists might produce a simple Q&A transcript, this is simply not enough for the true journalistic […]

Clarifying the Fruit Basket

David Milofsky recently interviewed me for this Denver Post article about the role of literary blogs. To clarify, the fruit basket was set to Lev Grossman as a gesture of good will and the fruit itself was not intended to be injurious. (See here.)

Genre Bashing

On Thursday afternoon, I encountered a pretentious coffeehouse on State Street. I did not know it was pretentious at the time. It was Thursday. I was existing in a pleasant miasmic swirl and I hadn’t ingested anything narcotic. I needed prodigious oil. The overwhelming need for coffee (red-eye flight, one hour of sleep) overwhelmed my […]

The Literary Hipster’s Handbook, 2006 Q4 Edition

“bad beef”: A literary prize ostensibly designed to assist struggling writers that goes instead to writers who don’t need the cash or the praise. Recent examples of bad beef include Haruki Murakami winning the O’Connor Short Story Award and John Updike winning the Rea Award. The phrase “bad beef” has begun to shift to writers […]

Grossman Accepts Fruit Basket

I’ve been informed that Lev Grossman has refused the fruit basket I tried to send him this morning. The receptionist at Time also refuses to accept it because it means “having to go downstairs,” an ordeal apparently as arduous as climbing Everest. I don’t understand this, because I’m sure Lev would have shared some of […]

Lev Grossman

If you’re coming to this website for the first time because of the Time article, welcome. Please feel free to leave comments, bop around the archives, and, if you have about three days of spare time, check out The Bat Segundo Show, a literary podcast featuring interviews with today’s contemporary writers. Yes, I’m aware of […]


Kevin Smokler introduces “social jet lag” as his word of the day. It’s defined as a condition “when your social commitments reeks havoc on your physical well being.” I know just where Kevin’s coming from, as I’ve been a bit woozy with a touch of the flu over the last few days (as such, postings […]

This Week on “What’s Lev Whining About?”

Another week, another ridiculous Lev Grossman article. This week, the silly man dodders on about which authors represent today’s “generation.” By “generation,” I presume Grossman refers an author under the age of 40 who somehow “speaks” to the 18-34 generation. Bafflingly, Grossman imputes that David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon are […]

Vollmann’s Aesthetic Realism

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Today, Levi Asher offered a provocative and contrarian post (we really should have more of these in the litblogosphere) as part of his Overrated Writers Series, where he bemoans his own lack of time to read Vollmann’s oeuvre and suggests “when William Vollmann writes a straight story, he’s really not that different from […]

Off to BEA

I’m too occupied with BookExpo preparation to be of much use here. So consider this a hiatus. However, rest assured that on Thursday morning, copious BEA coverage will begin. (And if anyone would like to participate in a collective mooning of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, email me.) Until such time, check out the Segundo backlog and […]


The New York Times turns into Salon. Love! Valour! Lack of innovation! Go team! Daniel Green reviews Gilbert Sorrentino’s latest. Reading Middlemarch is still very much active. I didn’t realize that Mark Sarvas actually authored Home Land (you’d think that the Morning News people would double-check the text), but it’s still a brave and interesting […]


Jeeves is officially being retired from Ask Jeeves, presumably because paying out a licensing fee to the estate of P.G. Wodehouse was too much of a prohibitive cost. The new site is utterly bland without the literary butler. Reports from Comic-Con have trickled in: USA Today, GalleyCat, and many panel reports from Newsarama. Also, a […]

Vollmann’s Favorite Books

Here is a list of the best books that Vollmann has ever read (as reported in “Something to Die For,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 1993, Vol 13, Issue 2, p. 25): Tadeusz Konwicki, A Dreambook for Our Time Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses Lautreamont, Maldoror Vasily […]


Soft Skull now has a blog, demonstrating to the world that Dan Wickett may have some competition from Richard Nash in the We Never Sleep Department. If there was any doubt that Lev Grossman was a chickenhead, his status as Chickenhead of the Decade may be confirmed. Judy Blume? Jonathan Franzen? Tolkein [sic]? C.S. Lewis? […]

The Bat Segundo Show #8

Approximate Interview Date: Early September 2005 in a locked hotel conference room. Author: Bret Easton Ellis Condition of Mr. Segundo: Cold and impoverished. Subjects Discussed: The two Brets, finding the voice of Bret the narrator, “ten years on an outline,” metafiction, origins of Lunar Park, Stephen King, the use of brand name description in fiction, […]

BEA: The Publishers, Part Two

I had initially hoped that I could give you BEA coverage in one fell swoop, but I collected so much information that I’m going to have to distribute it on a piecemeal basis. So without further ado: I talked with Suzanne Balaban of Scribner’s. Balaban told me, “We pride ourselves on the readability of our […]

The Chickenhead Sqawks

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the first in a series of brash generalizations and self-serving paraphrasing known as Mabusianism. Proponents of this philosophy must agree absolutely with each and every point, no matter how poorly framed or unfairly stretched the argument. Mabusianism will eventually serve as the philosophical backbone for Zeus Sodomized, Edward Champion’s gripping […]

The War on Literary Fusion?

Carrie recently pointed to this Meghan O’Rourke essay. O’Rourke suggested that Munro’s purported realism “is more of O. Henry in Munro than her admirers tend to admit.” Taken together with Lev Grossman’s recent suggestion that Michael Chabon’s editorial duties for his latest McSweeney’s “thrilling tale” compilation are “the promiscuous atmosphere of one of those speakeasies […]

Lev Grossman: Chickenhead of the Month

Time, one of the silliest magazines that Americas must endure, profiles Michael Chabon and suggests that it’s somehow a bad thing for a novelist to be both literary and genre-centric. Missing the boat completely on the recent McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, Lev Grossman proceeds to decry the collection as “the promiscuous atmosphere of […]

Anne Tyler: Unwavering Instigator of Irritation

Michiko on Joe Ezterhas: “As for the rest of this ridiculously padded, absurdly self-indulgent book, the reader can only cry: T.M.I.! Too Much Information! And: Get an editor A.S.A.P.!” What the F.U.C.K. is up with the A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.S.? A new book will explain the seven most important unsolved math problems. One of them involves working out […]

Tough Talking

Move over, Madonna. James Carville’s entered the kid lit business. The tough-as-nails politico is co-authoring a picture book inspired by his mother Lucille. Early reports indicate that several children have fainted while reading the book. Editors are quietly encouraging Mr. Carville to tone down his prose. Ursula K. Le Guin’s just nabbed a lifetime achievement […]