• David Lynch is launching his own coffee. (via Matthew Tiffany)
  • Mr. Asher also doesn’t think too highly of Donadio’s most recent article, suggesting that Donadio “is just writing like Snoopy in his ‘dark and stormy night’ mode.” I agree with him that Ozick’s article is well worth your time.
  • Jack Butler, whose Jujitsu for Christ you must check out (thank you kindly, Rake and Carrie), offers this tribute to Don Harrington. Word on the street is that Butler’s got another novel in the works, but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to confirm this info. (via Pretty Fakes)
  • It seems that Mel the Anti-Semite is ripping off Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. (via Gwenda)
  • Salon lists the best debuts of 2006. The big question: Will the Pessl haters, who have been showing up at Mark’s place in droves, now call for Laura Miller’s head? Love or hate Special Topics, I fail to understand the knee-jerk dismissals associated with this book. Many literary folks, including Meghan O’Rourke, seem more content to resort to generalizations (Highly self-conscious prose? What writer doesn’t write self-consciously?), hating this book without citing specific examples. Yet to appear from these apparent detractors: detailed or level-headed assessments on why Marisha Pessl is apparently this year’s literary Beezelbub. So the book was written by a hot young talent and received a lucrative advance. So the book was selected by the NYTBR as one of the Top 10 Books of the Year. I don’t see what any of these factors have anything to do with considering the book’s merits or lack thereof (witness Gawker’s superficial dismissal, for example), but I suspect the early wave of Pessl pecking (or perception thereof) spawned this completely unnecessary turbulence. Is a novelist, by dint of her gender, not permitted to pursue a novel of ideas in the 21st century?
  • Chunkster Challenge? I’m reading two books over 700 pages simultaneously right now. 400 pages? 400 pages? I’ll see your 400 pages and raise you 200 more! You want a challenge? I unearth the Super-Chunkster Challenge: at least four books over 600 pages between the time period of Jan. 1 and June 30, 2007! And I’ll do this in tandem with any additional reading challenges sure to crop up during the next year. More details to come.
  • Behold: WKRP on DVD.


  1. I thought O’Rourke provided a fairly cogent argument for why she thought Pessl had failed. Should she have quoted more examples of fancy-schmancy prose covering up a rickety, gimmicky “mystery”?

    And, yes, in a year that saw the publishing debuts of Karen Russell, Jennifer Gilmore, Patrick Ryan, and (my pal, admittedly) Carolyn Turgeon, among others, the selection of Marisha Pessl as the standout debut fiction writer is quite legitimately up for debate. Again, this isn’t to knock her nascent talent, merely to observe that some critics find it yet unfulfilled.

  2. Actually, Ed, the Chunkster Challenge is about tackling whatever the individual reader feels is intimidating. It’s not so much about page count as facing up to the books we’ve delayed reading. What people consider challenging varies pretty dramatically and length does not necessarily equate to quality. Out of the ten books on my personal challenge list, only one has a page count below 600 pages. Regardless, I don’t think less of anyone who has put off reading The Book Thief because it’s 550 pages long than I do of someone who has avoided War and Peace because it’s over 1000.

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