The New York Sun has more news on the forthcoming statue devoted to George Plimpton. As previously reported here, and, yes, this is actually serious, there’s been some controversy on whether to portray Plimpton atop a horse, with his bicycle, or carrying literature and boxing gloves. What the Sun uncovers is that a mere $4,000 of the required $200,000 cost has been raised. It’s clear that Toby Barlow, the man organizing this project, is going to have to do better. Maybe the only way to foot the bill is to have the National Boxing Association sponsor the statue, although I’d hate to see a placard cemented to Plimpton’s sculpted left buttock reading “SPONSORED BY THE NBA.”
Book review cliche of the week: “Michael Gruber does a bang-up job incorporating it into his breathlessly engaging novel, The Book of Air and Shadows.” Am I the only person who sees the words “bang-up job” and imagines an author participating in an orgy? I promise to all who enlist my services that I will never use the words “bang-up job,” unless it relates to a viable copulative practice, and I shall never use the words “breathlessly engaging,” because if one is denied of oxygen, whether literally or metaphorically, one is not actually engaging with the world. One is, by dint of suffocation, coming close to expiring.
In Malaysia, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is calling for “a nation of readers.” I look to my own nation and ponder whether such noble words can come from any of the politicians who purport to represent my interests.
I’m about to crack open A.M. Homes’ The Mistress’ Daughter, as I do with any A.M. Homes volume that finds its way into my hands. Maud offers a few early thoughts. The memoir is expanded from a New Yorker essay that appeared in January 2005.
Hey, New Yorker! If you’re going to devote a paragraph to a book as compelling as Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World, do you think you can offer more than a condescending series of rhetorical questions? You are a magazine of great style and distinction, but I read this paragraph and I wonder if you have Radar or Entertainment Weekly employees on staff. Surely, this was a novel to farm out to Updike, yes? Oh well, at least Updike’s making the rounds on Isaacson’s Einstein bio.
Philly Inquirer: “For a paper book to work the same way as the Internet book, readers have to sit by their computers and, whenever they come across a bold-faced word or phrase, click over to Walterkirn.com and hit the corresponding link. It’s a disruptive process. If you’re buying a physical book, you’re probably not the kind of person who wants to read long passages of text while sitting at your desk. It would be much easier to read the novel as it was originally presented.”
Scott comparesThe Yiddish Policemen’s Union with Roth’s The Plot Against America and Marc Estrin’s Insect Dreams. Scott has some interesting thoughts, but I must ask, without singling anybody out in particular, why so-called literary people fail to account for Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Harry Turtledove, or Philip Jose Farmer (to name only three authors) in their comparisons. The hard line seems to be that parallel universes all started with Roth and Chabon. But there were plenty of writers dabbling intelligently in parallel universes well before these two authors-come-lately.