Roundup

  • And it appears that the Tron followup is not dead. Joseph Kosinski is in “final negotiations” to develop and direct “the next chapter,” which will involve Flynn asking a group of nihilist hackers not to pee on his rug and a manual typewriter that reveals Flynn’s complicity in a Chuck E. Cheese venture called “Star Man’s” that never quite got off the ground.
  • You see, that’s the problem with trying to sum up the history of the American short story in a blog post. Invariably, you leave a lot of things out, while others fill in the details more succinctly.
  • USA Today runs the obligatory 9/11 fiction article. I don’t buy the claim that there are only 30 novels about 9/11. I’ve read far more “9/11 novels” in the past six years. Then again, I suppose it depends on what one explicitly styles a “9/11 novel.” Is not a novel some reflection of our times? And, as such, are not all novels dealing with contemporary issues “9/11 novels” to some degree?
  • So is Inspector Rebus finished? Or is he? Ian Rankin has announced his book for 2016: Inspector Rebus and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Look, I don’t like Britney Spears any more than the next guy. But I must confess that I’m stunned by all the attacks on her figure. Is the media now in the habit of attacking any major female entertainment figure who does not fit the “Auschwitz diet” archetype? And why aren’t more people asking this question?
  • Lee Rourke on Tom McCarthy’s second novel.
  • Is it too unreasonable to ask for a temporary moratorium on how hard it is to get attention as a first novelist?
  • Pinky unearths a sizable chunk of Pittsburgh literary events in the next few months.
  • Prison chaplains are now removing religious books and materials from prison libraries. The idea here — known as the Standardized Chapel Library Project — was inspired from a 2004 report by the Department of Justice, in which it was suggested that religious books should be banned because prisons could then become a recruiting center for militant Islamic groups. I’m not a religious man, but I do honor the First Amendment. If the effort here is to curtail terrorism (which, incidentally, is not always Islamic), banning books of any sort doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop people, inside or outside, from being recruited, corrupted, or otherwise influenced into doing bad things. If anything, might not restricting books demonstrate to any potential terrorist just how inflexible the United States is on this subject?
  • Sure, Knopf turned down a number of authors. But one must likewise ask how many important fiction writers the NYTBR has ignored under Tanenhaus’s tenure.
  • It looks like a Harvey Milk biopic is happening. Directed by Gus Van Sant. Sean Penn as Milk, Matt Damon as Dan White. We’ll see.
  • The time has come to institute a Booker reading challenge: read 110 books in four months.
  • A sensible idea. There are far too many children’s books authored by celebrities.
  • 100 years after limericks swept across Britain.
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3 Comments

  1. David Oshinsky’s article is laughable in places. He speaks of Anais Nin as if her books were still selling like hotcakes. Well….back when Knopf turned her down, every major house in NY was doing so too. She managed to get a couple of books published by EP Dutton in the 1940s only because the junior editor who took them was also her boyfriend….some kid named Gore Vidal. And it’s not like much of her stuff is in demand now. Harcourt published three or so volumes of her unexpurgated diary in the 1990s, bringing it up to 1940, but then abandoned the project because of poor sales; the publisher of most of her fiction, Swallow Press (now run by Ohio University Press) is trying to put together the funds to publish the rest of the diary.

    One amusing story that would be in the Knopf files that Oshinsky missed: I happen to know an elderly retired lawyer in upstate NY who, in the late ’50s, read Polish and Russian books for consideration by Knopf. One day he read Bruno Schulz’s “The Street Of Crocodiles,” the reissue Kultura published in Paris around 1953. He loved it and submitted a report to Blanche Knopf, urging its translation and publication. She told him that first she’d have to run it by “an old friend of mine who knows everything about Polish literature.” A few weeks later she called him into the office and showed him the letter she’d just gotten from the friend: “My dear Mrs. Knopf, I am writing to tell you that I have never heard of Bruno Schulz or his work. Yours truly, Artur Rubinstein.” Yes, the pianist. On the basis of that, Knopf passed and it was almost a decade before Walker & Co brought out Schulz in the US.

  2. Ed–

    Regarding your comment on Britney Spears, I agree completely. Yes she’s in the pit of multiple addictions and so is acting the talentless fool, but attacking her figure?? Before I saw such comments on the web, I saw various pictures from her show and thought, “She looks great. And considering she’s had two kids, she looks really great.”

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