• In a Newsday article about Philip Roth and his new novel, The Plot Against America, several younger male writers fondly recall Portnoy’s Complaint:

    Jonathan Safran Foer remembers that “the book passed around ‘my crew of pseudo-intellectuals’ like pornography.”

    Nathan Englander “discovered it ‘stuck behind a row of books in my religious home.'”

    Gary Shteyngart “describes reading it when he was a teenager as a ‘cathartic’ experience.”

  • I mentioned recently that Kirkus plans to allow self-published authors to pay $350 for Kirkus to review their books. The reactions in the book world have been, to say the least, a bit skeptical. “‘Who’s going to take The Kirkus Bribe List seriously?’ asks Donna Seaman, associate editor at Booklist.” (Via Bookninja.)
  • William Burroughs demonstrates the “cut-up” method of inventing new words. Says Rake’s Progress: “Kinda hypnotic, French New Wave, if yer into that kinda thing. Goes great with a huge bag of smack (I’d guess).”
  • Email alleging that liberals want to ban private possession of the Bible inspires John Holbo to consider apocalyptic evangelical fiction like the Left Behind series. See also, for a different perspective, Chris Lehmann’s excellent article for The Revealer on books like Left Behind.
  • From an interview with William T. Vollman, journalist and writer of mammoth novels: “I think it’s very important in journalism, as in literary fiction, to treat all characters as round characters, to see all points of view and respect them.”
  • Dave Eggers was asked by Independent readers which authors he’d like to commission for McSweeney’s. He named Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Lorrie Moore, and (if he weren’t dead) Donald Barthelme.
  • PETA launches an anti-Kentucky Fried Chicken poetry contest inspired by Alice Walker. (Via Galleycat.)
  • James Patrick Kelly’s latest column for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine is about ebooks. Originally “one of those saurians who disliked reading for pleasure from a computer screen,” Kelly was converted after reading on his PDA. (Via Boing Boing.)
  • The proprietor of Languor Management tries to read in the park, but ends up witnessing a urination conflict. I can relate.


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