Roundup

  • A new Bookforum is out, and there’s some considerable thought to feast on: David Ulin on Kerouac, Jenny D on Proust and brain science, James Gibbons on Denis Johnson, too much to list. Really, you can get lost here.
  • Alex Ross on Pavarotti. Speaking for my uncouth self, the Three Tenors certainly did considerable damage towards any developing appreciation I might have of opera. Several kind and intelligent people — and certainly James Cain’s great interest in the subject didn’t hurt — have attempted to get me hooked on opera over the years, and I have tried to remain open-minded about this antipathy. I have responded ecstatically to Bizet’s Carmen (which I have never tired of listening, a performance of which I was once greatly delighted by in San Francisco), Rossini (which I used in many of the films I made as a student), and Mozart’s more playful operas (I’m more of a Magic Flute kind of guy than a Marriage of Figaro kind of guy). So on some of the basics, I’m doing quite all right. Opera has, as Ross very keenly observes in considering the Three Tenors’ reception, always worked for me in the form of theater, and I responded rather poorly to the “big man hitting high notes with a smile.” Understand that I have no problem dealing with more abstract and recital approaches to art. But the kind of ego often celebrated in lieu of the human spirit has caused opera to often rub me the wrong way. So I openly confess that I am a cultural thug on this point. While Pavarotti was certainly a great singer in his early years, I didn’t particularly care for the way his grandstanding got in the way of his talent. (And apparently Bryan Appleyard is on the lookout for an interview he conducted with Pavarotti. Let us hope he finds it.) (via James Tata)
  • James Rother: “The problem with most asseverations seeking to sever poetry from prose is that they are so finely granulated that they preclude the posing of certain basic ontogenetic questions without whose input the problem of just what (rather than where) poetry proceeds from, or how its operating system accommodates itself to the passing phenomenological scene as something parsable rather than a mere eidolon which meaning courts with little but flirtation on its mind dissolves into a plethora of survey-course evasions.” Indeed. Does anybody know what the fuck he’s talking about? I ask in all seriousness. I may be a long-winded bastard sometimes, but this takes the cake. (via Sharp Sand)
  • The Man Booker shortlist has been announced.
  • Is Gwen Stacy a whore?
  • If you want to write like Carl Hiaasen, the trick is to move to Florida.
  • Junot Diaz seems to think that he sucks at dialogue.
  • If you’re tracking magazines about to die, some guy named The Reaper seems to think that Tango, Hollywood Life, Radar, TV Guide, Sound & Vision, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Portfolio are close to the death knell.
  • Jeff VanderMeer on LongPen: “Upon reflection, this Frankenstein invention from Margaret Atwood strikes me as a kind of lunacy, the deranged dream of a person who just doesn’t have the fortitude for the litanies of the book tour: long, cramped plane flights, endless hotels, too much crap food, not enough sleep. It sounds, in fact, like a Bad SF idea, the kind of gimmick that might satisfy the techno-geek in some but that would hardly nourish more tactile readers. After all, if people just wanted the signature, they wouldn’t need the author’s presence at all, just the signed copy. Or they could write in for a personalized signature.”
  • By the way, sorry for the intermittent server over the past few days. I’ve talked with my hosting provider. It was fixed. And now it’s acting up again. So hopefully this will be cleared up soon.
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