Friday Night Lights all the long weekend long

Dang, y’all. I started streaming the first season of Friday Night Lights at 11 o’clock Saturday night and apart from sleeping and eating haven’t done much since but keep selecting the next episode on Netflix.

I hear it’s great TV even if you don’t like football. What with the Dallas, Miami, and Gainesville in my background, I can’t speak to that — one of few things my parents agreed on during my toddlerhood was that we rooted for the Cowboys — but I do know I haven’t been so taken with a show about high school since Freaks and Geeks.

Miranda Popkey’s praise at The Paris Review Daily for, among other things, the way Friday Night Lights “expertly … dramatized those moments when adolescents, almost unconsciously, begin to act like adults,” is what convinced me to watch. I’m just hoping to forget everything she says about season four by the time I get there — which, at this rate, should happen in about three days.

Anyhow, I’m in that jittery, new-love stage and feel like talking about it. Conversion anecdotes (see, e.g., Nancy Franklin’s) are welcome, but no spoilers please.

Judging Salon’s Good Sex in Fiction Contest

Salon chose eight novel excerpts for its first Good Sex in Fiction Contest, and asked Louis Bayard, Walter Kirn, Laura Miller, and me to judge and discuss them. I ranked the Franzen highest, and also outed myself as a total pervert.

The problem with these excerpts is — and I didn’t entirely realize this until I started reading for the contest — that the sex I respond to most in fiction is really fucked-up. It’s definitely not that I want to experience the anonymous sexual assaults of Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata (though I confess, I did think that book was hot, in its autistic way), or get involved with a porn-obsessed televangelist as in A.L. Kennedy’s Original Bliss, or abduct a man and use him as my sex slave, as in Rupert Thomson’s The Book of Revelation, but those stories stay with me because they reveal something incredibly dark and twisted and, to me, true about desire and obsession. I like fiction, whatever the subject, that exposes the surprising longings its characters harbor in their heart of hearts. Mary Gaitskill’s “The Other Place,” in the latest New Yorker, is a perfect example, though it’s not actually about sex at all.

You can read the contenders, the winner (from my pal James Hynes’ Next), and our discussion over at Salon. For more distorted sexuality in fiction recommendations, see The Paris Review Daily’s latest advice column. I also love my friend Alexander Chee’s fabulously disturbing and complex Edinburgh. And finally, I re-recommend James Hynes’ piece on “The Dreamlife of Rupert Thomson.”

The mess, begging your pardon for

Please excuse the ugliness. I need to update WordPress, and once that’s done the remainders will be back in the middle column where they belong.

It’s still quiet here, I know, and that’s because, yes, I’m still working on my novel. 73,500 words, eight of ten chapters revised, nearing the end but not there yet. I find myself relating a little too much to Emily’s battles with her old enemy, the golf ball in the plastic ring. This time you’ll be defeated, ball!*

Anyhow, if you can’t live without me, you know where to look.

* Max’s photo. That’s right, I’ve just posted a picture of my cat. Really hope I finish this thing soon, or who knows how I’ll embarrass us next.