Yelping With Cormac

A Tumblr collecting Yelp reviews by a fake Cormac McCarthy. From the review of a Taco Bell in San Francisco:

The priest asked the man why he lay there in the square and if perhaps he could be convinced to leave. The man said he had eaten a thing which he should not have and he could not move because the world was revealed to him in its evil and in its beauty. That if he moved he might fall into the sky and never return. The priest assured him that it was not possible to fall into the sky and that an earthly cure of ginger and peppermint would surely calm his digestion. The man asked could God make a taco so terrible even He could not eat it. The priest considered this and said no this was not possible and to think so was a sin. The man was silent for some time. Then he said that he had eaten such a taco and that it tasted of bootblack and horsefeed. That if this taco was under God’s dominion then surely all other great evils must be as well. And then the man took the halfeaten and greaseblackened taco from his coatpocket and thrust it at the priest like a broken sword. Eat it, he said. Eat it or be damned.

11.09.2011Tagged with:    

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library opened last week in Indianapolis, where Vonnegut was born in 1922 and lived until returning from World War II.

The library items on display range from the ordinary to the intergalactic, many of them donated by his children. They include the author’s typewriter and an unopened box of his Pall Mall cigarettes, alongside a painting devoted to the Tralfamadorians, the green aliens Mr. Vonnegut wrote about in books including “Slaughterhouse-Five.” Several of Mr. Vonnegut’s drawings are also displayed, including one of a gravestone that reads “Life is no way to treat an animal.”

11.22.2010Tagged with:    

Newly Published Mark Twain Essay, ‘Concerning the Interview’

Essay by Mark Twain on being interviewed, published for the first time by PBS NewsHour.

No one likes to be interviewed, and yet no one likes to say no; for interviewers are courteous and gentle-mannered, even when they come to destroy. I must not be understood to mean that they ever come consciously to destroy or are aware afterward that they have destroyed; no, I think their attitude is more that of the cyclone, which comes with the gracious purpose of cooling off a sweltering village, and is not aware, afterward, that it has done that village anything but a favor.

07.08.2010Tagged with:    

Happy Bloomsday

In addition to the Joyce and Becket video in the previous post, here’s a couple more things in celebration of Bloomsday.

I once heard that James Joyce wrote to his wife Nora that he could pick out her farts in a room full of farting women. Today I finally got to read the entire thing, as well as others of his dirty letters. Filthy, filthy stuff.

Also, check out Eve Arnold’s photo of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.

06.16.2010Tagged with:    

Pitch ‘n’ Putt with Joyce ‘n’ Beckett


Mark Twain’s Autobiography

For the last decade of his life, Mark Twain was at work on his personal memoirs, but he left handwritten notes expressing his wish that they not be published until a century after his death. There is some debate as to why the author wanted to let so much time pass.

“He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He’s also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.”

In other sections of the autobiography, Twain makes cruel observations about his supposed friends, acquaintances and one of his landladies.

Twain died in 1910, so whatever the reason Twain had for the delay, his complete autobiography is finally going to be published. The University of California, Berkeley, will publish the work in three volumes, the first of which will be released in November.

06.02.2010Tagged with:    

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

05.11.2010Tagged with:    

Salinger reviews Raiders of the Lost Ark

Letters of Note has a letter written by J. D. Salinger to a friend in 1981 in which he mentions a certain action-adventure movie out at the time. He doesn’t sound like a fan.

I got hooked into seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, which might be excused for its unwitty, unfunny awful socko-ness if it had been put together by Harvard Lampoon seniors.

03.01.2010Tagged with:    

Dave Eggers Remembers Salinger

In a brief piece on the late author, Dave Eggers touches on the idea that J. D. Salinger had been writing for the last 50 years, as some have hoped, and just hadn’t published anything. He doesn’t sound hopeful.

To me the question of whether or not he continued to write strikes at the heart of the nature of writing itself. If he indeed wrote volumes and volumes about the Glass family, as has been claimed, it would be such a curious thing, given that the nature of written communication is social; language was created to facilitate understanding between people. So writing books upon books without the intention of sharing them with people is a proposition full of contradictory impulses and goals. It’s like a gifted chef cooking incredible meals for forty years and never inviting anyone over to share them.

01.31.2010Tagged with:    

Bunch Of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger

“There will never be another voice like his.” Which is exactly the lousy kind of goddamn thing that people say, because really it could mean lots of things, or nothing at all even, and it’s just a perfect example of why you should never tell anybody anything.

The Onion honors J. D. Salinger.

01.30.2010Tagged with:    

J. D. Salinger Dies at 91

But writing in The New York Review of Books in 2001, Janet Malcolm argued that the critics had all along been wrong about Mr. Salinger, just as short-sighted contemporaries were wrong about Manet and about Tolstoy. The very things people complain about, Ms. Malcolm wrote, were the qualities that made Mr. Salinger great. That the Glasses (and, by implication, their creator) were not at home in the world was the whole point, she said, which said as much about the world as about the kind of people who failed to get along there.


01.28.2010Tagged with:    

On Arthur Koestler, Genius and, Uh, Rapist

From Bookslut, on a new biography of Arthur Koestler by Michael Scammell.

So you’re writing a biography, and the guy is a genius. Wrote a masterful book, and is underappreciated for a lot of the rest of his career, something you’d like to see changed. But there are a few weird personal life details you have to overcome in the biography. Like, say, how the guy had a slight rapey habit. How do you deal with that?

01.06.2010Tagged with:    

Guenter Grass’s Stasi files

Whenever Guenter Grass was in the communist German Democratic Republic after The Tin Drum came out in 1959, the East German secret police went to great lengths to track his every move.

“Grass was completely surrounded by spies when he came to the GDR. All his official interlucutors were IMs, ‘unofficial employees’ (spies), all of them,” said Schlueter, who went through over 2,000 Stasi files to compile his book.

“Whether they were from writers’ associations, publishers’ representatives, state representatives, theatre people … he was completely surrounded.

01.04.2010Tagged with:    

Ulysses: Fast Track to 1934 Best Seller

While James Joyce was still writing his novel Ulysses in 1918, the journal The Little Review began serializing it for the American audience. When they got to the episode that portrays the novel’s protagonist Leopold Bloom masturbating, an obscenity charge was leveled at The Little Review, and Ulysses was subsequently banned in the United States. Random House was committed to publishing it, though. They went so far as to have a French edition of the book imported, and then informed customs of its arrival so that it would be seized – all so they could contest the ban in court.

Imagine you’re a big American publisher, and there’s a book infamous for its subject and language that you want to publish — but first, you have to go up against the US government to prove it should no longer be banned. And, given the publicity of the court case, you want the book in the bookstores as soon as it’s legal.

This describes the situation facing Random House in 1933 as they waited to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses, which had not been allowed into the US for 12 years. How they got the ban dropped and delivered the book at just the right moment is a short tale of legal, design and production choreography.

Don’t miss the slide show. I’d love to get a closer look at this spread published by Random House in Saturday Review of Literature:

12.24.2009Tagged with:    

David Foster Wallace: All That

Speaking of Wallace, The New Yorker has published a short story of his entitled All That.

Bad Sex Award

The Literary Review has awarded the 2009 bad sex in fiction award to Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones.

The Kindly Ones, which tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of one of the executioners, beat off stiff competition from a stellar shortlist that included entries from Philip Roth, John Banville, Paul Theroux and the literary rock star Nick Cave.

Har har.

The judges paid tribute to the novel’s breadth and ambition, calling it “in part, a work of genius”.

“However,” the citation continued, “a mythologically inspired passage and lines such as ‘I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg’ clinched the award for The Kindly Ones. We hope he takes it in good humour.”

There’s more from the winner, as well as passages from the other nominees, on the prize shortlist.

New David Sedaris Audiobook on Vinyl

The new David Sedaris audiobook, a collection of the author reading his essays on stage, will be released on vinyl – an old-fashioned record album, complete with old-fashioned album artwork.

Albums are enjoying something of a renaissance, posting $57 million in sales in 2008, more than double the previous year and the best for the format since 1990, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The format is so rare for audiobooks, however, that the Audiobook Publishers Association has never even tracked its sales.

But Maja Thomas, senior vice president for digital and audio publishing at the Hachette Book Group, said she was drawn to the idea precisely because it was quirky. Mr. Sedaris’s “audience is very attuned to irony and is going to find this funny,” Ms. Thomas said.

The album version will only contain 2 of the 5 essays that will be on the CD, but a code will be provided with the album to download the entire thing.

11.23.2009Tagged with:    

Slaughterhouse Five

The excellent Letters of Note has a scan and transcript of the letter Kurt Vonnegut sent home in May 1945 to inform his family of his capture, imprisonment and survival of the firebombing of Dresden. As a prisoner of war during the bombing, he was held in an underground slaughterhouse known as Slaughterhouse Five, which would save his life and lend its name to his famous 1969 anti-war novel.

From the transcript:

It was our misfortune to have sadistic and fanatical guards. We were refused medical attention and clothing: We were given long hours at extremely hard labor. Our food ration was two-hundred-and-fifty grams of black bread and one pint of unseasoned potato soup each day. After desperately trying to improve our situation for two months and having been met with bland smiles I told the guards just what I was going to do to them when the Russians came. They beat me up a little. I was fired as group leader. Beatings were very small time: — one boy starved to death and the S3 Troops shot two for stealing food.

On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the R.A.F. their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden — possibly the world’s most beautiful city. But not me.

After that we were put to work carrying corpses from Air-Raid shelters; women, children, old men; dead from concussion, fire or suffocation. Civilians cursed us and threw rocks as we carried bodies to huge funeral pyres in the city.

Letter home from Kurt Vonnegut, 1945

(via 3 quarks daily)

Cormac McCarthy – Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy

There’s a really good interview with Cormac McCarthy in the Wall Street Journal. The movie version of his novel The Road will be released on November 25.

People apparently only read mystery stories of any length. With mysteries, the longer the better and people will read any damn thing. But the indulgent, 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you’re going to write something like “The Brothers Karamazov” or “Moby-Dick,” go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don’t care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.

(via df)

11.18.2009Tagged with:    

Famous Authors Narrate the Funny Pages

From McSweeney’s, Virginia Woolf does Cathy:

A rain fell over the city, streaking the office window. Cathy looked up from the computer screen with its instructions on how to knit a brown sock. “My God, to be a stereotypical woman makes me feel as though I have no nose!”

Love the Hemingway, too. And the Faulkner. And… well, they’re all pretty good.

11.17.2009Tagged with:    
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