Roundup

  • Ms. Skurnick had the BOOG. Mr. Sarvas has Mrs. TEV. And now Ms. Stockton, flush from her recent honeymoon (and again congrats!), has the ALP. Acronyms, of course, are how we litbloggers celebrate our loved ones. So I henceforth refer to my own as ILWYDFM (quack quack quack quack), leaving the explanation a strange mystery.
  • Experimental collective autobiography? Ron Silliman points to three volumes of The Grand Piano, an ongoing title he is involved with.
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Kugler badly miscalculated the public’s mood when he assumed viewers would want to see O.J. Simpson films after the ex-football star was acquitted in his double murder trial in 1995.” I should say so.
  • In an effort to take all the salt and vinegar out of the English language, Random House has introduced a dubious method of avoiding insensitive and offensive language in their latest lexicons. The new Random House Webster’s College Dictionary now has an “Offensiveness Quotient.” I find it interesting that, in Random House’s examples, “queer” is noted as “a positive term of self-reference” in the gay community, whereas “nigger”‘s use along these lines in the African-American community is not. This suggests that oversensitive and sheltered Caucasians represent the ideal audience for this family friendly dictionary. The problem with dictating an “Offensiveness Quotient” (and what’s the OQ for “fuck” or “niggardy?”) is that, considering the social and ethnic context, one would have to take each word usage on a case-by-case basis. And, of course, there are only so many pages. So I must ask what words will fall by the wayside as these new OQ items occupy needless space? Is it not more valuable for the student of English to get out in the world and get into a few unexpected multicultural fistfights? Or must our dictionaries now reflect our regrettable hand-holding culture without a single reference to the famous Lenny Bruce routine? (via Quill and Quire)
  • Not everyone is excited about Catherine Texier’s David Markson review. As Carolyn rightly points out, NYTBR grammar often leaves much to be desired.
  • Bad enough that we’re seeing hipster librarians, but, because some folks insist on resorting to aesthetic generalizations, will we start seeing hipster comic book guys?
  • Justin Theroux: “New York chicks, girls who are really from here, are the fastest women around.” He says this like it’s a bad thing. Prude.
  • It’s been decades since I read the Berserker books. Bummer. RIP Fred T. Saberhagen.
  • I’ll have more to say about Roy Blount, Jr.’s very funny book, Long Time Leaving, once I finish it (as well as a few other books from other Southern writers I’ve been enjoying). But in the meantime, here’s a Star review.
  • Guardian: “For almost the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.” This foolish lede must be the British answer to “Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation.”
  • Between that and Freeman’s article, that’s two extremely silly Guardian articles within days. What the hell’s going on over there? Is the books editor asleep at the wheel? But I like the Guardian. Really, I do. So if they happen to be reading this, here’s how to do a provocative 700 word article right.
  • Question for the Times. I like Ian Rankin just fine, thank you very much, but how is this serial “funny” exactly? Or are there really that many humorless people in the Times building? Since I’m known from time to time to consult with dubious individuals, I think the only way to cure this problem is to get David Orr and Joe Queenan into a conference room, with each talking for ten minutes. Every Gray Lady employee must then decide which of the two gentlemen is funnier. Should the Gray Lady employee recognize the former as “funnier,” then management should promote them to a higher editorial position. Should the Gray Lady employee recognize the latter as “funnier,” then they must enlist in a six-week comedy camp retreat, where they can then return to the Times offices with a full understanding of the Marx Brothers, Dorothy Parker, Richard Pryor, and Chris Morris. This is the only remedy I know that will solve this regrettable problem.
  • Joyce Carol Oates on amnesiac novels, but I’m sure she’s forgetting something.
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