More hiatus links

The Antigeist throws a mean BBQ and can build you some kitchen cabinets in a single afternoon. But wait, there’s more. She also proves that Williamsburg isn’t all electro scenesters and trucker caps:

You know the universal “Whew, it’s hot!” gesture, the one where some fella –usually a range-weary cowboy or pro-ball player–takes his hat off, wipes his brow with the back of his hand or shirtsleeve, spits, and then slaps the hat back on his head?

Well I just saw a guy on Metropolitan Avenue do that…with his dentures.

Tell whichbook what kinds of books you like, and you’ll get some recommendations. (Via my girlfriend and yours, Cowboy Sally.)

I {heart} TMFTML. Today’s gem:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to write a thousand-word article on the literature of Los Angeles without once mentioning the name Raymond Chandler. Impossible, you say? Not if you’re Adam Kirsch.

Later this year, the second generation of Asian-American writers is releasing “a flood of vital, angry, sometimes violent and even sardonic new fiction.” (Via Moorish Girl, who thinks everybody should leave Harper Lee alone, since she clearly does not want to be found.)

Chick lit. Dick lit. Mummy lit? (Via Moby Lives.)

Benjamin Franklin: kite flier or liar? (Thanks to Ed for the link and the question.)

Also in this week’s New Yorker: Hendrik Hertzberg asks why we can’t be more like Canada.

Speaking of Canada, The Globe and Mail moderates a “CanLit” discussion. (Via Bookslut.)

Another link from Bookslut: turns out it’s hard to translate Shakespeare into Japanese.

More on Shakespeare: “the biggest name in literature once again finds himself most at home in smaller cities and towns.” (Via Arts Journal.)

Past usage of the “N” word and current usage of “not for nothing.” (Via Kitabkhana.)

The first half of Twain’s original Huck Finn manuscript has been unearthed. (Via That Rabbit Girl.)

The Reverse Cowgirl is taking guest blogger applications.

This Achewood comic about McSweeney’s is making the rounds. (First seen at Left Pedal.)

Geheimbundler says, screw the Rubik’s Cube, try the Pyraminx.

I sure would like some grapes right now.

A handful of literary links

A new collection by A.L. Kennedy continues to explore salvation and other themes she considered in Original Bliss, D.T. Max says, in a mixed review.

The Independent shares its readers’ selections of the worst books they’ve ever read. Sample blurb:

Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt

“Sentimental claptrap masquerading as social history. A tale of inadequate parenting – drunken, feckless father, stupid downtrodden mother. No wonder they never had any money. Pulitzer prize? Booby prize.”

EM Dwyer, Swaffham, Norfolk

Birnbaum interviews Jane Smiley about her latest book, Good Faith. (Via Kitabkhana.)

A.O. Scott marvels at the accomplishments of Clive James, the literary critic and journalist who in the last 35 years has also been “a pioneering television critic, a popular television personality, a novelist, a poet and a best-selling memoirist, and from time to time, in tandem with Mr. Atkin, who writes the music, he plays the instruments and sings the songs, an ‘assistant rock star.'”

Andrew Reimer asks if Michel Houellebecq has “found something to look forward to.” (Also via Kitabkhana.)

More on writing

My friend Emma turned from the TC Boyle interview to another 3AM interview, with Alain de Botton, a writer she likes. She sends this excerpt:

I have lots of fears as a writer — that what I write isn’t good enough. A huge fear, because mostly, what I write and think about first time is rather poor, and has to be improved upon. I’m not sure if any writer is ever satisfied first time around, but I’m certainly not. So this demands nerves of steel; one has to think: ‘it’s terrible now, but hopefully one day it can be good.’ Writing demands faith.

Moving a story

T.C. Boyle, in an interview with Peter Wild for 3AM Magazine, takes issue with the rise of literary theory:

I’ve thought about the domination of the literary arts by theory over the past 25 years — which I detest — and it’s as if you have to be a critic to mediate between the author and the reader and that’s utter crap. Literature can be great in all ways, but it’s just entertainment like rock’n’roll or a film. It is entertainment.

He also contends that the end stretch of a writing project is “the best time in any writer’s life,” because, until then:

… there’s always the chance you’ll abandon something, that you won’t be able to get through it. Once you get clear and you can see the end in sight, it’s utterly exhilarating. All you want to do is work. Whereas at the beginning or the middle, you might find a lot of excuses not to work.

(For Tess.)

Quick links

Publishing companies are going for size. (Thanks to Ed for the link.)

Chris Suellentrop, writing for Slate, dubs John Steinbeck’s East of Eden the quintessential Oprah book, and argues that this Oprah pick “is likely to confirm the suspicions of those critics who look down their noses at [Steinbeck] as a simplistic writer not worthy of inclusion in the American pantheon.” (Via Bookslut.)

That Rabbit Girl happened upon a list of travel titles to be released later this year:

As I was browsing the list, one title in particular caught my eye: Meat Me in Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York, written by “Mr. Cutlet, who discloses where to buy meat in the city, which are the best steakhouses and more.” As Dave Barry would say, I swear I’m not making this up.

The Burned Children of America, a new collection of short fiction from the U.S., features an introduction by Zadie Smith and provides, according to the Daily Telegraph, “a fascinating picture of the contemporary American short story:”

If we take the work here as representative, there seem to be three distinct styles available: parody, whimsy and, by far the most commonly used, what could be called the Extreme Close-Up.


Yesterday a member of Japan’s House of Representatives stirred up a bit of controversy, with this statement:

Gang rape shows the people who do it are still virile, and that is OK. I think that might make them close to normal.

(Link courtesy of Max, who suggests reading the reader comments that follow the story.)

Kind of makes me want to dig out the Shulamith Firestone and cut off all my fucking hair and buy one of those no contact jackets.

One by one all day

Take Note: “It’s not Michael Savage’s Foucault.”

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” a little ditty by John Prine, quoted in full by Jaap Stijl.

Orwell quiz. (Via Kitabkhana.)

From the proprietress of Lindsayism: “#1 Blog Pet-Peeve: The Ubiquitous Wish List.” I thought it was just me. (Lindsay also points us to Sarah Balcomb’s new site.)

The next New York City mob project. You will not find me there. I do not like crowds, except at concerts and readings and the like. But maybe you do.

The Last Days have another show at LUXX, Sunday June 29th, at 9pm. $5. They are exceptionally good. Here are some MP3s.

The Shins‘ Marty Crandall has a pretty girlfriend. Here they are together. (Via Travelers Diagram.)

For GMB: a brief history of the merkin. (Second item; via TMFTML.)

Send Leonard Pierce, A/K/A “the Gangsta of Love,” an entry for the Ludic Log Vacation Guest Columnist Throwdown. Leonard, incidentally, is not a securities lawyer. Nor was he born in 1828.

Book publishers think math is foxy.

No matter when or where or who

In an astonishing display of fair-mindedness and good judgment, the Supreme Court has struck down a Texas ban on gay sex, ruling that the law is an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the plaintiffs “are entitled to respect for their private lives.”

“When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State,” Kennedy wrote:

that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres. The central holding of [a prior case allowing states to outlaw consensual gay sex] has been brought in question by this case, and it should be addressed. Its continuance as precedent demeans the lives of homosexual persons.

Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer joined Kennedy’s opinion. (Thanks to Andy for the first link to the text of the opinion.)

0’Connor agreed with the outcome but not with the court’s rejection of prior case law. Scalia dissented, and Thomas and Rehnquist joined him.

Some choice sections of Scalia’s dissent: Continue reading…

Fickle and capricious woman

The results of Eyeshot‘s silent reading.

From Ang: “Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University takes the guess work out of acceptable attire with a handy slide show!”

The Columbia Letters, by Kevin Guilfoile & John Warner.

Illuminated Flemish manuscripts. (From Stephany, via Caterina.)

Alleged Scientology Picture Book from the 70’s. (Also from Stephany, via Boing Boing.)

The best and worst D&D monsters, via Crabwalk.

How some of us feel about our jobs these days. (Also via Crabwalk.)

Photograph of “Eminem, the enfant terrible of rap, dangl[ing] a plastic baby over the edge of his hotel balcony in Glasgow.”

New subject line from my mother this morning:

Fwd: Fw: Fwd: Fw: FW: to a child. do not delete (aol is tracking this).


Due to the recent death of a friend, a computer, printer, computer desk, and bookshelves are looking for a home.

The family would like to donate all of these items to a nonprofit organization or a lower-income family with a child in need of a computer. If you know how to make this happen, let me know. Thanks.

Update: A home for the computer and accoutrements has been found.

Token Harry Potter links

In the Washington Post, Lynton Weeks talks about the vast historical import of the Rowling books:

Harry Potter has changed the world.

You just can’t say that about many books. You’ve got the Bible, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Copernicus wrote something or other. So did Newton and Malthus, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charles Darwin.

Oh, sure, Newton, Darwin, Socrates, and J.K. Rowling. A guy named Rousseau once wrote a book that some say inspired the French Revolution, and some say delayed it, but who was that lousy hack next to Rowling?

Here’s a review of the new Potter book. And here’s an article about the marketing of it.

Under the mask

Helen Brown writes for the Daily Telegraph about ghostwriters, most of whom “are broke, young journalists” who “do it once, for the money.” This year, though:

something unusual happened: Roy Keane’s ghosted autobiography was shortlisted for the publishing industry’s “Book of the Year” award alongside such critically lauded works as Yann Martel’s Booker-winning Life of Pi and Sarah Waters’s fêted Fingersmith….

(Link via Arts Journal.)

A phenomenon

Paula Fox, who grew up in the U.S. and Cuba, reportedly has joined the ranks of American literary greats.

….Jonathan Franzen has, notoriously, ranked her above Roth, Bellow and Updike and others have compared her with Kafka, Chekhov and Flaubert….

Reading Fox can be gruelling. Even the novelist Zoë Heller, whose instant reaction to a mention of Fox is “she’s a great, great, great, great, great writer”, admits she can be “crucifyingly bleak” – though, “bleakness done by someone really good can be transcendent. And it is with her.”

Blood but not too much

From “Every One of These Small Things Is A Tooth,” by Stephany Aulenback, in a new online journal called GutCult:

….And here they come. A girl and a boy who’ve paired themselves off. They tend to do that more often at this time of year and that’s why the old man’s been sitting out here waiting, a bottle of beer sticking out from between his legs. He likes to watch the way they paw at each other and dig into each other’s necks and faces with their tongues. And besides, the sun feels real nice on his face. This girl has a rear end on her that moves like a dinging bell. This boy has a puffy pink mouth, like a girl’s….

Also in the debut issue: an interview with George Saunders, in which he says that he envisions his reader:

as being very smart and worldly and cognizant of the fact that he or she has only a short time on the planet in the best case, and so they are looking for a sort of ‘entertainment’ that has to do with intensity and depth and does not have to do with facile kicks or stupidity or denial.