• Within blocks of my apartment, there is a dumpster serving as a veritable buffet for vermin. Last night, while walking home, I observed the most corpulent rat I have ever seen. It was nearly the size of a medium-sized cat with a swirling tail nearly a foot long. Its belly was so large that it could not even scamper properly. It was reduced to a slight kangaroo hop on its hind legs. Its gait reminded me of Leroy Anderson’s “Plink, Plank, Plunk.” A typical New York sight. But what amused me was the unknowing film crew that had set up a craft services table within five feet of this dumpster the next afternoon. Someone — presumably the property owner — had cleaned up this rat haven in the morning, making it look as if the trash was picked up nightly. I also know that a restaurant operates almost adjacent to this dumpster. Nice folks, but they’ve told me that they don’t have insurance. And I am understandably reluctant to eat there. This question of proximity has me pondering just how much we might be sharing our meals with the rats in this fantastic filthy city.
  • Tao Lin wants his next novel to be like a 10-piece chicken nugget meal. There are two novels I’m working on right now. It is now quite a race to see which one will cross the finish line first. If I had to offer a dining metaphor for my own work, one is like a series of hastily made peanut butter sandwiches that are wolfed down under trying circumstances in the middle of the night, with the fridge light flickering and the possibility of the gas being shut off. The other is a collection of variegated brunches that I hope will cause the diners to appreciate the food they’re enjoying and the circumstances they were prepared under.
  • Ian Rankin, what a dick. (via Bookninja)
  • It seems that Jon Krakauer has cracked over his forthcoming book, The Hero. Unhappy with the manuscript, Krakauer is holding onto it, sleeping with it, feeding in formula, waiting for the words to goo-goo back at him and comfort him in the middle of the night. I won’t let you go! We’ll be together FOREVER! I’ll protect you from those foster parents at Doubleday! You won’t end up a latch key kid, manuscript. I’ll be the bestest daddy you ever had! Let the state try and take you away! They’ll throw me in jail before I relinquish you, my darling darling manuscript!
  • It’s fascinating to see that Richard Eder’s review of Albert Camus’s most recently translated final notebook — something you’d think was a shoe-in for the Sunday section — can now only find life in the daily New York Times.
  • If Ian McEwan’s recent outburst is an effort to deflect blows from buddy Martin Amis, it’s a disastrous tactic.
  • There’s an intriguing-looking BBC1 documentary attempting to search for Murakami. But it wasn’t much of a search. Murakami showed up rather quickly and didn’t scamper away. I feel cheated and I haven’t even seen the film. Considering the promise, one hopes for a diligent search, an overturning of rocks, an unexpected insight into the man in question. Could it be that the majority of BBC1 arts producers wish to make the literary equivalent of a hunt for lost keys the stuff of dubious import?
  • The self-published author J.D. Sousa has an odd plan. If he gets his book into Blockbuster stores, enough people will buy it. By some strange magic, it will be turned into a Hollywood movie. I don’t know if Sousa is fully informed of the shift in the last few years to VOD and DVD rentals by mail. And do Hollywood producers really hang out in Blockbuster? But he is selling one or two books a day at various stores. Sousa’s march may not have the gangbusters quality of a Starbucks Book Tour, but I can certainly see a future in which authors and publishers initiate more exclusive chain store distribution methods.
  • Fritz Lanham seems convinced that Hitchen’s thesis about funny women is wrong in Texas.
  • I haven’t read Michael Ian Black’s book, but I’m almost ready to support his campaign to defeat David Sedaris. Sedaris no longer has any interesting personal experiences to mine for his essays, and he hasn’t been funny in years. What prevents me from full partisanship here is Black playing things too safe. I want devastating vivisections of Sedaris’s prose. I want pugilism. If Black wants to do this, then he needs to go whole hog. He needs to earn this. Lukewarm challenges might win points at the PTA meeting. But this is New York, dammit. And if Black must pull his punches, to evoke Axl Rose’s immortal wisdom, get in the ring motherfucker and I’ll kick your bitchy little ass.


  1. From the second article you link on the Amis (now Amis-McEwan) affair:

    “Martin Amis, the novelist whom McEwan was defending, found himself in hot water when he published an essay in which he wondered whether Muslims should be prevented from traveling and even deported.”

    Bearing in mind that propaganda is the art of half-truths: Martin Amis published no such essay; the remarks were made in an interview with Ginny Dougary for the Times Online, Sept. 2006.

    It was an extreme remark that he has apologized for and retracted, but the remark was never about his purported “racial” hatred for Muslims, but his anger at what he perceived as tacit support in the UK’s Muslim community for the 7/7 bombers.

  2. Re: Krakauer (who I haven’t read) — It takes some guts to do that. If only other big-name authors would occasionally do the same when their manuscripts haven’t yet come together. I don’t remember anyone grousing when Michael Chabon took that extra year or so to finish a new version of Yiddish Policeman.

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