- I was extremely bothered by this piece of wankery from the NBCC. And it wasn’t because my “nemesis” Lev Grossman was involved. The NBCC, you see, is hosting a panel on just how gosh darn hard it is to look at them crazy genre spooks that threaten to drive down the neighborhood property values, when the critic’s goal is to remain high-minded. “High-minded,” of course, meaning elitist. After all, the Grand Wizard told us that NOTHING WHATSOEVER OF LITERARY WORTH can come from mysteries, thrillers, romances, science fiction, comic books, mis lit, chick lit, cock lit, cunt lit, or whatever other bullshit lit label affixed to a book.
For we all know that these books must drink from a different fountain and should do nothing more than carry our suitcases up to our hotel rooms. Thank goodness we all remain liberal about literature, heeding the wisdom of the great D.W. Griffith film classic The Birth of a Novel, as we continue to smile as these books say “Thankya, suh,” after we tip them generously.
I was prepared to respond to the wholesale arrogance and anti-intellectual nature of this panel and the fact that, aside from genre-friendly EW critic Jennifer Reese, John Freeman didn’t have the good sense to, oh say, get a regular mystery columnist on the panel to discuss many sides of the issue. He seemed more content to stack the deck against genre.
Thankfully, Jennifer Weiner has done my work for me. This is a useless panel that practices needless segregation. The NBCC stands for “National Book Critics Circle.” Last I heard, tomes that fell outside mainstream literary fiction were books too.
- Joshua Ferris discovers the Hold Steady two years after everybody else has. Next year, Ferris plans on raving about how great LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” is.
- Colleen Mondor emailed Scarlett Thomas and collected her correspondence into a thoughtful interview with one of today’s most underrated writers.
- I love these kids. (via Gwenda)
- Callie has more on the “to MFA or not to MFA” controversy.
- Jessa Crispin, with typical insouciant ignorance, suggests, “Pick up any other book review section — particular in Chicago [sic] — tear off the header, and you would have no idea where it came from.” Well, that’s just plain wrong. For example, I doubt you’d ever see the sentences, “The drinks mounted frightfully: a pale ale, a lager, a few beers, several gin-and-French cocktails, a double shot of gin (drunk from a toothbrush glass). I began to feel a bit lightheaded myself, and still the river flowed on: wine, gin and lime juice, more beer, whisky,” in the NYTBR (at least not under Tanenhaus’s watch).
I think any person who follows the book review sections can probably guess where the above sentences came from. While I agree that there’s something of a homogeneity in current book review coverage (i.e., an apparent moratorium on fun and enthusiasm, which I’m doing my best to uproot with my own contributions), even an elementary literary enthusiast would be hard-pressed to look at a piece written by Daniel Mendelsohn, Liesl Schillinger, Laura Miller, David Orr, or the ever-thoughtful Ed Park and claim that it came from somebody else.
- RIP Jean Baudrillard. Wow, there are no words. There is no reality. I will post a roundup when reactions come in.
- A.L. Kennedy on the Granta list. (via Bookninja)
- Newsweek asked readers the five books they’ve always wanted to read but haven’t gotten around to. Here are the top choices. (via Classical Bookworm)
- The beginning of the end.
- Who knew that Farnham’s Freehold was so “controversial?” I’m all for this bizarre Heinlein novel, which I first read when I was thirteen, being reissued, but I’m wondering if Heinlein is becoming so passe that publishers will resort to anything to draw attention.
- In Praise of Ethel Muggs.
- Maud conducts a fascinating contest.
- If you’re a writer who needs a day job, Justine Larbalesiter has been soliciting queries on this point.