Who made this all so probable

While criticizing Alex Chilton’s mastery of international geography in the musician’s post-Big Star single, “Bangkok,” Rod Liddle notes that “Alex is from North Carolina” and suggests that Chilton’s:

psychobilly Bangkok should form part of an exam question for American schoolkids, where they are asked to debate the appropriate levels of respect and knowledge from which the US should view the rest of the world.

Actually, as any self-respecting Big Star fan can tell you: Chilton is from Memphis, Tennessee. (Via TMFTML.)

Those southern U.S. states. They’re all the same.

May Day readings

Tomorrow night Gary Shteyngart reads from The Russian Debutante’s Handbook at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble. As if his prose weren’t incentive enough, he’s a fantastic reader. You should not deny yourself this opportunity.

Should you unwisely disregard my advice, however, consider dropping by Pete’s Candy Store at 7:30 to see Ben Greenman read from Superbad. Because, well, why not see what all the fuss was about?

If you go to the Greenman reading and like mojitos, order one. Pete’s has been serving ’em up* (with properly crushed mint leaves and actual sugar–instead of that syrup they use in some Manhattan establishments) since it opened its doors back in 1999.

*yes, i know i’ve mentioned pete’s mojitos before. i’m a one-trick pony, folks.

It’s a good life if you’re winnin’

On Sunday, after brunch with Cowboy Sally, I trimmed some shrubs in the new back yard.

We didn’t have hedge clippers. The hardware store was closed. But I was inspired by the appearance of tulips and daffodils planted by an anonymous gardener who used to live here, so I clipped the shrubs with scissors. At the outset, I limited my efforts to a few small twigs. By late afternoon I was working on a small tree. Still with the scissors.

I was, it seems, in the grips of a shrub-trimming mania.

Now the scissors are ruined, my hands look like I clawed my way out from under a very heavy rock, and my nose is still the size of a small lemon because of all the pollen I inhaled. At least the hedges look pretty.

Next time maybe I won’t have the Bloody Mary* with brunch.

*shhh, cowboy sally, shhh…

Looking for Thomas Pynchon

From a brief bit in The Guardian about a German documentary on the reclusive author:

At the launch of Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Mason & Dixon (1997), his publisher staged an unlikely Thomas Pynchon look-alike contest in New York. Unlikely because nobody knows what the reclusive novelist looks like (he was last photographed about 40 years ago).

The Bronx’s Co-op City, 30 years later

In this week’s NY Press, C.J. Sullivan visits Co-op City, the planned Bronx community of the late 60’s, and concludes:

I looked around at the towers and the clear blue sky and thought that maybe Co-op City had caught up with the Bronx. You could certainly do a lot worse than here, so maybe those Great Society warriors had it right back in the 60s after all. Give people a nice place to live and they’ll keep it up.

Novel focuses on Chinese immigrants to Cuba

Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban, is interviewed in this month’s Atlantic about her new novel, Monkey Hunting. (Link via Moorish Girl.)

Whereas Garcia’s previous novels have explored the rifts between Cubans who remain on the island and those who immigrate to the U.S., this latest novel opens with a Chinese protagonist who immigrates to (rather than from) Cuba, is bought into slavery, and toils for years on a sugar plantation. Continue reading…

New translations

In Context‘s most recent “Review of Literary Resources,” Megan McDowell focuses on literary magazines that specialize in translation of Eastern and Central European writing. The article notes publications dedicated to translating Russian writing and writing from Albania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

“Since so little translated literature from any country is published here (around two percent of literary titles published are translations), U.S. readers miss out on much of what’s happening in literature today and end up instead with a false sense that contemporary book culture is made up entirely of what’s being published in this country,” Ms. McDowell says.

Florida court system in trouble

Last week all members of the Florida Bar received a message from Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead of the Florida Supreme Court, in which he asserted that “the budgets now pending in the Legislature cut muscle and bone throughout the state court system.”

I refrained from posting the letter because I no longer live in Florida, and I thought it might be presumptuous of me to dedicate a post to the issue.

But today Johnnie Byrd, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, responded, cc:ing all members of the Florida Bar and accusing the Chief Justice of “inaccurate statements and the use of hyperbole regarding the efforts of the Florida Legislature.”

I side with the Chief Justice.

You can read both letters below. Continue reading…