• The Writers with Drinks event went very well. My hazy memory involves the mike stand, the words, wild gesticulations on my part, and an onyx expanse of faces and laughs. The far clearer memory: I will never think of erotica quite the same way thanks to the gloriously scatological Justin Chin. You can get the full scoop on what went down from Ms. Anders, the hostess with the mostest.
  • When any other employee doesn’t do his job, he’s shitcanned on the spot. But if you work at Newsweek, if you don’t finish a book under review, you can write an explanation why. You don’t have to read the article. All you need to know is that the dog ate Malcolm Jones’ homework and that it’s clear that Jones forged a sick note from his parents, but somehow Jones isn’t serving detention for it. (via Orthofer)
  • Salman Rushdie believes that “extremism will die a natural death.” Of course, given that it often takes artificial tactics such as war, terrorism, and assorted military interventions to stub out extremism, I find it difficult to believe that extremism will die of natural causes.
  • The Columbus Dispatch chats with Alice Hoffman.
  • Chris Abani refers to MLK as “Martin,” because he wants people to understand that King was a man. I was unaware that there were some scholars out there who understand King as a woman, but I would be curious to discern their findings. I feel uncomfortable referring to someone I haven’t met by their first name. Come on, Abani. It’s not as if you had dinner with the guy.
  • Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai has been called “a damned Paki.” Perhaps the solution to the UK racism problem, which I understand also creeped up during a recent installment of Big Brother, is to simply call the entire population “damned Pakis.” Why not initiate a Ministry of Human Understanding? An institution that will hire government-hired men to go door to door and call each and every citizen a “damned Paki,” whether they like it or not. Then people will begin to see the absurdity of identifying someone by ethnicity or skin color (and damning it), and perhaps there will be less of this uncivilized nonsense.
  • Apparently, 2007 has been declared “the year of Vonnegut.”
  • Thanks to DNA sampling, scholars have detected a lost work from Coleridge.


  1. That Malcom Jones item is infuriating. Let’s hope that behind it there’s a desperate editor who needed to fill that space and let Jones get away with that crap, but delivered a serious ass chewing, fail to finish a book again and you’re shitcanned leacture.

    Let’s hope, but let’s not bank on it. I don’t know why he couldn’t read the whole book (as he was being paid to do) and then simply spoken frankly about the quality and his reaction. I.e., I finished this because I was obligated to. I liked but did not love the first 100 pages and would have put it down if finishing the book wasn’t part of my obligation as a professional.

    I’ve already written an email and told them to replace Malcom Jones with Ed Champion.

  2. The Abani comment seems a little harsh. It’s clear from the context that he referred to the Reverend Doctor as Martin to emphasize his humanity, not his y chromosome. A little cheeky, maybe, but not as offensive as the way tennis broadcasters used to always (may still?) refer to women players by their first names and male players by their surnames.

  3. Just to point out that the article in question does not (despite misleading headline) refer to the use of DNA testing to identify a new Coleridge text, but to the distinctly fishier practice of stylometric analysis. I remain unconvinced…

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