To paraphrase Sam Tanenhaus, who profits if Bill Watterson doesn’t write it? Clearly, not the NYTBR. The WSJ has coaxed the reclusive Bill Watterson out of retirement for a review of the new David Michaelis’s Charles Schulz biography. Meanwhile, the Schulz family has cried foul. Although now that I’m almost finished with the book, I can tell you that Michaelis’s portrait of Schulz, while certainly interesting, is hardly the devastating portrait one finds in a Robert Caro biography.
Michael Hirschorn, momentarily surfacing above the Atlantic paywall, asks if we are suffering from too much quirk. Which makes me wonder if “quirk” is the new postmodernism and whether the current spate of articles hostile towards those writers (John Barth was responsible for the abandonment of sentiment in literature? Really?) who dare to walk to an idiosyncratic beat represents the latest trend by critics to take all the fun out of literature. (via Wet Asphalt)
Speaking of Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor has been thoroughly messing with Darby Dixon’s head. Darby is right to point out that Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle would have been infinitely improved had Stephenson taken himself less seriously. In fact, the next time an author comes out with a big fat Historical Novel of Significance, I think the Sot-Weed Comparison Test might be the apposite yardstick.
Jason Boog talks with author Allen Rucker about becoming paralyzed at fifty-one. (Which is not to say that Boog himself is paralyzed or fifty-one, unless he has been pulling a fast one on us or looks very good for his age. But he does get some interesting answers from Rucker on the subject.)