Take a look, it’s in a book

Thanks to the Internet and the diminished attention span it has given me, I don’t read books with as much urgency and frequency as I used to. I read, but it’s mostly ephemeral articles about ephemeral things or memorable articles about memorable things, but either way they are not Books and part of me feels guilty about abandoning one of our most ancient forms of entertainment.  Invisible Man is forever linked to hot summer mornings in our stuffy North Kingstown townhouse, my feet planted on some spot on the bedroom wall as I lay upside down reading the ‘Battle Royal’ scene and feeling my entire worldview shifting irreparably.

So this summer has been interesting.

I’ve bought more books than I ever have before in my entire life*, partly on the principle that I should start owning books that I profess to love and mostly because it’s too late to get a library card here. So I bought Invisible Man and A Visit from the Goon Squad at Busboys and Poets and I bought Freedom this past spring and I bought The Marriage Plot. And I bought Sag Harbor and I bought House of Mirth and I bought Uwem Akpa’s book of short stories when I walked into a used bookstore one Saturday.

As you can see, my literary tastes skew towards ‘The Big Literary Books of Two or Three Years ago.” That’s how I like it though. You read the book and then you read the fuss surrounding them all in one sitting and you can take it in coolly, rationally and see how it all turned out. Each of the books I bought I had wanted to read and I expected them to be good. I managed to get exactly 12/13 through each book before something else, namely the Internet, made me put the books down prematurely. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zadie Smith, London riots and envy

On beauty

I’ve been going through some major English nostalgia the past few days. One Ms. Zadie Smith sparked it all with her sprawling debut White Teeth–the “astonishingly assured novel,” according to Salman Rushdie, that she started writing when she was 21 years old. Yes, 21. Barely older than me. I read the book, which was good, though the last quarter was pretty messy, with her age vividly in the front, back and center of my mind. I was impressed with her obvious knowledge of a lot things. And then, I figured, if I could understand her allusions, maybe there’s hope for me?

Who is this woman anyway?  This tall, light-skinned, high cheek-boned woman with the beautiful melancholy face? (Seriously. In all of her blurb photos she has the same dreary look in her eyes. ) Read the rest of this entry »


The Mysteries of Shitsburgh

Ugh, what a horrid trailer.

I distinctly remember the moment I decided I didn’t like Sienna Miller. She called Pittsburgh  ‘Shitsburgh’ and subsequently created a minor shit storm. Her comment made the rounds on every local newstation, reaching a fever pitch, when a seemingly venerable reporter asked Sarah Jessica Parker on her trip to the city, what she thought of Pittsburgh in light of Miller’s comments. Insecurity is a trait I find repugnant and boy, did the hullaballoo over that comment make Pittsburgh sound so insecure. And I blame silly Sienna Miler for that. Read the rest of this entry »


Summer Reading

Jonathan Franzen was like, 'no way.'

Jonathan Franzen looks suspiciously like Steven King. This is significant because he is only the second living author to ever grace the cover of Time, courtesy of his ‘first great novel of the 21st century’, The Corrections. The first was Stephen King.

I’m not disposed to like someone like Jonathan Franzen. He’s white, male, a Swarthmore graduate and he majored in German. German! He also publicly dissed Oprah in what became one of many great Oprah sagas. He accused Oprah of being schmaltzy. He feared that having that white and yellow circle plastered on the cover of his book would prevent men from reading it. That people would literally judge his book by its cover. And so Oprah decided she didn’t like The Corrections that much after all. Read the rest of this entry »


This is stupid.

What is it about Twitter that makes smart people embarrass themselves publicly?

these free stock photos are hilarious. (Michal Marchol)

Ayelet Waldman, the wife of Michael Chabon,  an author in her own right and the writer of such controversial articles as this one, with its one, oft-quoted line: “I love my husband more than I love my children” went on a random Twitter rampage about another white lady controversial author, Katie Roiphe. Apparently Roiphe wrote an article two years ago that mentions a Chabon book.  Note, I said ‘mentions’. For the article is not concerned with Chabon, in fact, it’s commenting, rather broadly, on changes in male authors’ depictions of sex over time. Read the rest of this entry »