• There is indeed a huge difference between Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Jenny Davidson’s The Explosionist. One is written by a smug man who wishes to preach to the converted and has no interest in treating his reading audience with intelligence. The other is written by someone who does value the intelligence of her readers and doesn’t reveal everything all at once. Guess which of the two is smarter and more fun? Colleen interviews Jenny D and discovers a few reasons why.
  • James Wood on Aleksandar Hemon, comparing Hemon with Joseph Roth.
  • Clay Shirky’s asinine response to David Carr’s article doesn’t sit well with me, largely because Shirky declares War and Peace “not so interesting” without offering a reason why, and uses this generalization about the tastes of the reading public to rail against “know-nothing critics.” Since it appears that Shirky knows nothing about Tolstoy (Uninteresting? Really? In all seriousness?) and is hostile to the idea of literature possessing a cultural status, Shirky’s response is best confined to the parvenu playground. This kind of thoughtless and impulsive essay does not help us reach out to those now perched on the fence. (via Jeff)
  • Am I the only person who finds Dr. Horrible to be overwrought and phony? Granted, I do like some of Joss Whedon’s work and I’m a big fan of musicals. But there isn’t a single spontaneous second in this production. This represents a calculated effort to transform the Web’s mad and gloriously unpredictable anarchy into something not all that indistinguishable from television. And you’ve all swallowed this codswallop without question because Whedon is involved.
  • If you’re feeling disheartened that an editor won’t get back to you, observe that The New York Times has rejected an essay written by John McCain. I don’t buy the crazed speculation about a left-wing media conspiracy, particularly since George W. Bush wrote op-eds in 2002 and in 2001.. Most of the hawks who are hopping mad about this haven’t considered that McCain may have simply written a piss-poor essay. You can read McCain’s piece here. You’ll find such terrible sentences as “Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks” and an inconsistent tense. Conspiracy or copy cleanup?


  1. Ed, I have a theory to the effect that your tastes are very different from the Nielsen Haydens’. Dunno if it’s substantial enough for me to expand into an essay tho.

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