Roundup

  • The Bay Area Intellect, a website that I was regrettably unfamiliar with when fog-drenched weather was a regular part of my daily life (as opposed to a Somerset Maugham-like tropical humidity), offers a report on the Katherine Taylor reading. Howard Junker, however, is surprisingly absent from this report. I do not know if last week’s controversy was ever resolved. Did Junker and Taylor submit to pistols at dawn and resolve this issue with the appropriate satisfaction? And can we believe that the Howard Junker now blogging at ZYZZYVA Speaks is the real Howard Junker? If Katherine Taylor was capable enough to devise a fictive Katherine Taylor, then I contend that it is equally possible that Taylor actuated a Howard Junker alter ego. Whether this Howard Junker surrogate has been programmed to tip well is something I leave the blogs to speculate over.
  • A Valve correspondent investigates how descriptive language leads to personal disgust. The interesting question is whether one’s personal reaction is joined at the hip to a larger groupthink response. For example, if you or I see a steaming pile of shit being whipped up on a hot plate (and as the twisted bastard concocting this example in the early morning, I could probably go a lot further in disgusting you), then we might both agree that this is disgusting. But at what point do our individual responses relate to some conformist impulse? And is there some responsibility of the author to balance a reader’s judgment of a disgusting image with that of how far one goes in describing it? Discuss with class.
  • The weather as comic strip. Another missed opportunity in perception: any real-world view of windows from another building. (via Darby Dixon)
  • Reading in a Foreign Language.
  • John Krasinski reads one of DFW’s “interviews.”
  • Jennifer Weiner: “It took a little longer than five days, but the Times’ book blog has finally belched up its completely gratuitous Gary Shteyngart reference (if his book is just now being reviewed in England, it’s new to you!).” In defense of Garner, however, regular gratuitous references to authors (which reminds me that Matthew Sharpe’s Jamestown is much funnier than its idiot detractors* give it credit for) are what litblogs are all about.
  • The Rake has some additional thoughts on the J.T. Leroy madness.
  • I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess that there is an unfortunate part of me that is quite curious about what the Spice Girls might effect with their reunion. Yes, dear readers, I’m coming out as a closeted Spice Girls fan. It takes some astonishing moxie to pen lyrics like “Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want / So tell me what you want, what you really really want / I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want / So tell me what you want, what you really really want / I wanna I wanna I wanna I wanna really / Really really wanna zig-zag ha!” By my count, that’s eleven uses of “really” in one stanza. Name me another song in the history of pop music that dares to immerse itself so boldly in high school vernacular.
  • Rodney Welch offers a dissenting view on The Savage Detectives. (via Dan Green)
  • An ebook reader for the iPod?
  • I’m not sure why this doesn’t surprise me exactly, but it appears that Michiko and Andrew Keen have locked lips. (via The Millions)
  • It’s sitting in my vertiginous pile of books. So I can’t quite comment on Edward P. Jones’ editorship on New Stories from the South 2007 (and I actually have a lengthy post about Southern writers and a number of recent books I’ve read that I hope to write eventually), but Maud has an excerpt from Jones’s introduction.
  • Elizabeth Hand on Rebecca Curtis.
  • J. Hoberman on the CIA and the 1954 film adaptation of Animal Farm.
  • To respond to Mr. Orthofer’s complaint about American coverage of Günter Grass (or lack thereof), I don’t think the fault can be leveled exclusively at the newspapers. I left about eight voicemails to set up an interview with Grass and had planned to hole up with thousands of pages of Grass before talking with him. (I did, after all, have no wish to waste the man’s time.) Not only did the publisher fail to return any of my calls (the least that could have been said was “No”), but the publisher never sent me a review copy of Peeling the Onion. Now granted, I don’t harbor any illusions that I’m entitled to any of this (and, indeed, never have). But I have a feeling that other media outlets may have received similar treatment. Ergo, the paucity of coverage.

* — By Susannah Meadows’ logic, we should discount Shakespeare’s comedies. After all, Measure for Measure is not funny in that ha-ha way and is therefore inured from exegesis. This is the attitude espoused by someone incapable of understanding the novel as nothing more than a bauble that amuses her. Which begs the question: if Meadows cannot comment properly on Jamestown‘s thematics or maintain a cogent and convincing argument, why then is she not working as a film critic for the New York Post?

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2 Comments

  1. you betcha i’m pissed that The Bay Area Intellect didn’t acknowledge my good work interviewing Katherine Taylor. that’s the last time i go myself to do an interview in the east bay. next time i’m sending my alter ego.

    as for Katherine Taylor, i’d go anywhere for her. i asked her where she had prepped (since the book begins with a girl leaving fresno for some eastern boarding school), and she said: Groton. she was a couple years ahead of Curtis Sittenfeld, whom i once asked if she had read The Rector of Justin. She had not. But Katherine had. She is bright, funny, edgy, and serious. and a good writer, which is more than we can say for Sittenfeld.

    Katherine and I hugged on meeting and on taking leave.

  2. We wish to acknowledge Mr. Junker’s good work interviewing Katherine Taylor. We did not mention Mr. Junker’s role in our report in The Bay Area Intellect because we try to keep our articles as short and crisp as possible. While Mr. Junker’s questions were excellent, we believe, as a general rule, that a blog reader might lose interest if we do not focus exclusively on the author and what the author says.

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