Tuesday Morning Roundup (Devised on Monday Evening)

  • Who will take over the UK division of Borders? It doesn’t appear to be doing so well! I don’t understand. UK sales have been up 6-7% each week over the course of the summer and yet these big boxy stores don’t seem to work. Several potential purchasers are now contemplating precisely what to do about this predicament. Will they stand arms a-kimbo to one side while Borders becomes more desperate and the asking price goes down? Will there be maniacal laughter involved? Is there a maximum amount of smugness that the Borders executives will reach? Or will they adopt humility? Will we find them on the dole? Or is this one of those business stories that litblogs are not supposed to follow? (Well, this one does and probably will.) (via Paul Collins)
  • The apparently semi-literate Joseph Ridgwell hasn’t heard of Stephen Crane. He wrote a masterpiece called The Red Badge of Courage. Never observed war, but you wouldn’t know it from the battle scenes. Wrote it when he was 23. And if Ridgwell truly doesn’t see great emotional depth in Hunger, one of the most emotional books I’ve read in the past decade (and it hit me in the gut three times), one must indeed wonder if he is belaboring his point. Why does the Guardian continue to feature so many imbecilic arguments about books for its blog? (via Stephen Mitchelmore)
  • Elizabeth Crane on Cashback: “Arty filmmaker, whoever you are, I’m sorry to harsh your mellow, I often save my negative reviews for my private life, but you lost me at beauty. Give me Russ Meyer any day.”
  • Hey Western readers, there’s a blog for you!
  • Henry Kisor responds to the Wasserman essay.
  • Jonathan Franzen is apparently so desperate for attention that he’s trashing Tony-award winning shows when he isn’t translating. Hey, J-Franz, it’s been six years since The Corrections. You can bitch all you want and translate all you want later. But for now, you’re not allowed to whine until you cough up another novel, okay?
  • At the Observer, several authors name underrated novels. Peter Ho Davies picks an LBC nominee, The Cottagers.
  • Rasputin contemplates dead blogs: “That former bastion of quality, The Minor Fall, The Major Lift, has been lost to history, as its former URL now goes to an adult marketing site; which is rather the internet equivalent of the fate of those poor souls in a John Carpenter zombie movie who get their brains ‘et.”
  • Big Brother was watching Orwell.
  • Is Foreword Magazine cribbing from Clarion?
  • There are now far too many reading challenges for me to keep track of at A Life in Books. I’m going from memory here. But here’s what I think happened. First there was the Chunkster Challenge. Then there was the Read 26 Books With Titles Beginning from A to Z Challenge. Then there was the Read Books Written by the Literary Jonathans Challenge. Then there was the Read Books That You Can Barely Lift Challenge. Then there was the Read 100 Books While Participating in a Triathlon Challenge and the Read All of Proust in Total Darkness Challenge. I’m amazed at these folks. Not only are they involved in multiple challenges, but they can somehow keep track of them all. I’m amazed, I tell you. Amazed.
  • Doctor Who is to have a gap year. No Who in 2009, except for three specials. And all of them will be written by…shudder…Russell T. Davies.
  • Here’s the first review of the Brian DePalma Iraq film.
  • What kind of news do people really want? Culture, incidentally, is not on the list.
  • Well, how about that? Cell phones in Europe are unlocked. Meanwhile, here in the States, you have to hack your iPhone if you don’t want AT&T.
  • It’s the Summer of Sante.
  • Jay Rosen on the journalism that bloggers do. And here’s more from Scott Rosenberg. (Latter link via Books, Inq.)
  • Nice to see gender generalizations applied to blog. What good is it to apply a 1940s false assumption to a 21st century medium? (via Evil Genius Chronicle, who also has quite an ebullient podcast)
  • The Sexual Relationship Database. Christ, this is a creepy idea.
  • Annalee requires more dragons vs. helicopters in contemporary cinema.
  • And, incidentally, PEN America has a blog.


  1. It’s not so much that the UK division of Borders has hit trouble – you’ll notice that the Guardian story you linked says nothing about their performance outside of textbooks and CDs – it’s that the US one has, and it decided to get out of Britain as part of its “we’re lean, mean, focused businesspeople” package back in the spring. They’ve been a relatively good thing over here, on account of bringing with them practices that are more or less standard in the US but rare with us – evening opening! Putting some effort into stocking magazines! – and, given that almost all the British bookselling chains have been swallowed up by the none-too-creative Waterstone’s, their disappearance would not be a cause for celebration here. (This is me reacting at the time of the announcement in March.) I’m hoping that the assisted management buyout repeatedly tipped by Joel Rickett comes off.

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