Roundup

  • Schedules being strange and wills being obdurate, the roundup comes the night before. In this week’s Los Angeles Times, the lead review is William T. Vollmann on Oliver August’s Inside the Red Mansion, a biography of Lai Chang-Xing, who Vollmann succinctly describes: “Here is someone who worked hard, took risks and knew whom to bribe.” There’s also a review of Tito Perdue’s new novel by Antoine Wilson. And Ed “I’ll Have a Better View of the Chrysler Building Collapsing Than the Other Ed If Matthew Sharpe’s Dire Predictions Come True” Park has a new column.
  • And what do we have on the other coast? Roy Blount, Jr. and Kathryn Harrison. But, alas, it’s all severely undercut by the obnoxious Joe Queenan, a lout who wouldn’t know euphoria even if he were surrounded by a million smart and shapely women.
  • And speaking of journalistic institutions, Scrivener’s Error, his views perhaps colored by an inveterate text message junkie, opines that Roger Ebert has lost it.
  • Never let it be said that Borders didn’t kowtow to the politically correct. The bookstore chain has moved the Tintin books from the children’s section to the adult graphic novels section, because the Tintin books feature racist stereotypes, but they also feature introductions alerting the reader to these stereotypes. But thankfully Borders has assumed that parents are incapable of making their own decisions, ensuring that their consumer base will remain a thoughtless herd and children will remain attracted to books that offend nobody. No word yet on whether Clement Hurd’s books will be placed behind the Borders counter, with a large sticker reading “SALE OF BOOKS CONTAINING AUTHOR PHOTOS WITH CIGARETTES TO PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE IS PROHIBITED BY LAW.” (via Quill & Quire)
  • Robert Birnbaum talks with Thomas Mallon.
  • Needless hysteria doesn’t get any sillier than this. The Gowanus Lounge reports that some parents are declaring Carroll Park “unsafe for families” with “an increasingly unruly element” of kids. The police won’t do anything about the problem. What are these kids’ crimes? Three teenage boys were slapping each other around with some wet T-shirts and were getting a little too close to the mothers. The boys “pursued us and started snapping their wet shirts over the fence, spraying our children with the water and threatening me.” You know, this is the kind of stuff I usually experienced growing up. If this is the kind of over-the-top hysteria to be found within the five boroughs, I think I’m going to have to do a little bit of investigation here.
  • Is current wi-fi a problem?
  • Harry Potter hubris? “In the past few weeks, Warner’s London legal office has sent e-mails to booksellers and party organizers around the country, warning them against unauthorized celebrating, under the threat of legal action. ‘[Your event] appears to fall outside our guidelines,’ said one e-mail. ‘Therefore, HARRY POTTER cannot be used as a theme for your event.’ It should also be noted that some of these events actually benefit charities. (via Bibliophile Bullpen)
  • Well, if the folks at Warner Brothers are going to be such assholes about this, I call upon Return of the Reluctant readers for a plan! Why don’t we all set up Harry Potter-themed events around the country for next Saturday and see if Warner sends out emails to us? The Harry Potter-themed events must involve drinks, debauchery, BDSM sex parties (with everybody dressed up in leather or Hogwarts costumes), passing around a bong — pretty much anything guaranteed to be adult and well “outside guidelines.” It doesn’t have to be about Harry Potter, of course. Hell, you can all just get together in some bar and call it a “Harry Potter-themed night” for all I care. But if anyone wants to throw a “Harry Potter-themed” drinking session next week, feel free to email me or leave a comment and I will collect all the “Harry Potter-themed” drinking binges and keg-chugging contests in a future post!
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