An effort now, a day after the lovely holiday, to atone for the lack of literary news. Of late, this place has been an unapologetic dumping ground for YouTube videos and decidedly non-literary subjects. The most recent Segundo podcasts have tilted towards more nonfiction authors. I leave loyal readers to speculate as to whether this represents a certain fatigue towards fiction on the part of the proprietor or merely an effort to stretch out. If the former conclusion stands, permit me to register my dutiful plaudits for Jess Walter’s excellent novel, Citizen Vince, which was accidentally purchased a year ago instead of The Zero, thanks to a certain devious bookish person who led me astray in the right way. Vince has lived up to its accidental promise. (Let this be a lesson for all of us. Too often we are mired in the latest contemporary titles and the collective foci views “contemporary” as “the last six months.” But there are plenty of great titles extending well before!)
With Halloween in mind, I had intended to offer an audio reading of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls.” Alas, time and deadlines got the better of me, and I was unable to finish this in time for October 31. Nevertheless, in considering the many horror writers who have thrilled and tingled, you can do no better than this archive of H.P. Lovecraft’s work a day later and a fun-size Snickers bar short.
Scott is correct to point out that the latest issue of the NYRB has only one fiction title under review (unless you count Eugene O’Neill) and that it is — yawn, he yawned — Alice Sebold’s latest title. That one of our most seemingly august publications would abdicate its fiction coverage for wonky wankage, obvious choices, and, to douse the bleeding mess with copious salt, hire the perspicacious Larry McMurty to squander his acumen on an eccentric Hollywood actress’s photography is indeed a sign that the NYRB is, at least with this issue, neither seeming nor august. If this is the NYRB‘s new way, then it would seem that Bob Silvers may be an even greater fiction-reviewing offender than Sam Tanenhaus in running a publication with both “New York” and “Books” in the title. Further, one must ask where all the women are? Eighteen pieces here and only two women. It seems that Tanenhaus isn’t the only one interested in stag clubs. Okay, Silvers, you’re now on watch.
Jim Thompson’s lost Hollywood years. Let us not forget that it was Jim Thompson’s ear for dialogue that helped Kubrick immensely in his early days. Thompson was the co-writer of the great films, The Killing and Paths of Glory. The latter film isn’t often associated with Thompson, but I have a feeling that it wouldn’t be hailed as a classic without Thompson’s input. Aside from the story structure devised by Thompson, consider the line: “See that cockroach? Tomorrow morning, we’ll be dead and it’ll be alive. It’ll have more contact with my wife and child than I will. I’ll be nothing, and it’ll be alive.” Can you imagine anyone but Thompson writing that? (via Sarah)
A hot new issue of Hot Metal Bridge. At auspicious times like this, I wish I were a sexy woman with a white Marilyn-like flowing skirt strutting my sinuous legs dangerously across a metal bridge to draw greater attention to the offerings inside. Alas, I’m merely a balding thirtysomething in Brooklyn with an odd voice. Of course, if someone can offer a sufficient argument that me wearing a white Marilyn-like flowing skirt will draw greater attention to Hot Metal Bridge, I might be persuaded go forward. Halloween may be over, but that won’t stop me from dressing up. Although I’d need an hour to get the lipstick right.
And your pal the Rake wonders whether Denis Johnson talks real talk. I’ll have to agree with the Rake that the quoted exchange sounds like a bunch of macho types planning to contemplate a foot massage. I likewise don’t mind stylized dialogue along these lines. But I will say that Johnson’s dialogue is more real than the breathless dialogue (thank you, Aaron Fucking Sorkin, for spawning this regrettable trend!) that one encounters on television with troubling frequency these days, which leads me wondering if the real-life antecedents for these characters are cokeheads, chowderheads, or people terrified of revealing their mistakes or insecurities. You know, the way real people do. But I have every faith that the beats will go on. One of these days.