• I figured that ignoring the LongPen(TM) was perhaps the best way to avoid getting too excited about a pedantic and rather preposterous invention that (a) is something of a satirical assault upon the author junket — alas, they think Atwood humorless and without machinations, but the way I figured it, she cooked up this thing and didn’t expect anyone to take it so seriously and so rolled with it — and (b) is of no benefit to the reader at all, contra claims made by the Atwood clan, febrile functionaries, et al. Thankfully, the Rake has provided the LongPenis(TM) its appropriate context. If the LongPenis authors start commenting upon their business cards or praising Huey Lewis, I won’t be surprised.
  • Mike Harrison on novel writing: “As long as you foster an incomplete relationship with yourself, & depend on an interest in form to show you what you could say (rather than learning ways to efficiently say what you already think you know), maybe you don’t need to worry about that. The implication being that I don’t want things to get easier. I want to avoid what I see as a superficialising methodicalness or rationality. I hope I mean it. It’s so important not to know who you are after all these years.” Which, given this rather interesting description, evocative in some ways of the famous passage from American Pastoral, makes one contemplate just how confident one is while simultaneously not completely knowing one’s self. This is likewise a form of anarchy I find comforting.
  • Tayari Jones has some significant words upon this whole “hot young author” business. I’m hoping for a substantial response to all this nonsense myself. But in the meantime, I point literary snobs to the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award, which sets the criteria not upon whether an author is under 40 or under 35, but whether a writer’s first piece of fiction has appeared in a professional publication over the past two years. This seems to me more of an equitable criteria for determining who a “new” or “young” writer is. In fact, after John Scalzi won the Campbell Award, he did the math and found that they were as “old” as 52!
  • Dzanc Books will be publishing a Best of the Web anthology series.
  • Russian journalists aren’t the only one facing persecution (and, in some cases, mysterious murders). It seems that Russian writer Pavel Astakhov has faced libel charges — now dropped — for daring to depict corrupt cops in his novel, Raider. What’s quite interesting about the charges is that Astakhov appears to have been pursued not for naming specific cops, but for sullying the image of the Russian police. One wonders if this will encourage the Russian authorities to go further.

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