Remainders

  • In an interview with Susan Choi, Francisco Goldman talks about his forthcoming novel, The Divine Husband, and recalls his days working as an Esquire reporter in Nicaragua and Guatemala in the 1980’s. Goldman read from the new novel on The Next Big Thing earlier this year.
  • A Virginia Woolf essay originally written for Good Housekeeping was lost but now is found.
  • Some Japanese cosplayers have staged Alice in Wonderland in costumes that almost make me want to buy a baby blue dress with a pinafore.
  • Maxim, a “hobbyist’s magazine for guys whose hobby is jerking off” (damn, I wish I’d written that description, but it is the handiwork of one Dan Chiasson), is getting into the “serious literary” game.
  • “When Barbet Schroeder released his 1987 treatment of the life of alcoholic skid-row poet Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994), Barfly, The Village Voice‘s Michael Musto bitchily inquired, ‘Is that an adverb?’ Indeed, Bukowski did everything in the manner of a barf: At his legendary poetry readings, he demanded two bottles of wine and a pot to vomit in, and his writing was one long, colorfully pungent streak of logorrhea.” (Via New Pages.)
  • Hallmark card writers strive to be “universally specific,” so that anyone can pick up a card and say, “‘That sounds just like me. How did they know what I was feeling?'” Have you noticed that superlative-laden greeting cards become even more meaningful when the sender underlines random words? (Via Places for Writers.)
  • Several readers have emailed to express outrage over the review of Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint that appeared in the weekend’s New York Times Book Review. One writer “wanted to make a few points regarding the comparisons between Leon Wieseltier [the Checkpoint reviewer] and Dale Peck. The difference between Wieseltier and Peck is that Peck does nearly line by line dissections of books to explain why they suck. From reading Wieseltier’s book review you can’t even get a sense of what the book is about or even why he didn’t like specific things. He’s just ranting that he thinks it’s offensive to write a book about shooting the president. These two reviewers are worlds apart in terms of talent and ethics.”

    Terry Teachout agrees that the review was “inadequately argued to the point of unseriousness,” but argues that Sam Tanenhaus, the editor, was right to run it. Mark Sarvas contends that the piece fails fulfill the assignment: “namely, to review a book.”

    The weekend’s Globe & Mail contains an actual review of the book. Ms. Howard says it “has touched off a brouhaha out of all proportion to its size and merits.”


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