Edwardian drama

The fact that John Edwards was a legitimate contender to be President of the United States really makes this tell-all even more ridiculous. His aide Edward Young (the one who pretended to be the father of Edwards' lovechild with Rielle Hunter) spills the beans, and they are juicy, juicy beans. In addition to the dirt on Edwards' affair, this comes up:
Young also goes for some particularly vengeful quotemongering by citing the once down-home candidate as railing against appearing at state fairs and having “fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?”
John Edwards is now officially relegated to my mental camp of former presidential contenders who are terrifying as potential leaders but hilarious otherwise. So it's just him and Mike Huckabee. Worst summer camp ever?

Selena is channeled by someone other than Jennifer Lopez

Fact: Selena was a great pop star. Fact: she is dead. Fact: that has not stopped her from penning a memoir from beyond the grave.

With her publicist, Cristina Castrellón, and the help of medium/psychic Georgette Rivera, Selena has written this memoir in three parts:
The first is Castrellón’s account of her time with Selena when she was alive–Castrellón was a publicist of the artist’s who worked with her from 1993 to 1995. The second part of the book contains [Castrellón's] communications from Selena through Rivera including information about what really happened the night she was murdered....The the third part of the book tells the story of how Castrellón and Rivera met in Mexico at a lecture...
It's clear that Castrellón is dreaming of Selena tonight. Till tomorrow she'll be holding her tight, and there's no where else she'd rather be, than there in her room, dreaming about...er...Selena. In other news, I am not a lyricist, but I am trying.

I wonder if JLo will be available to recreate Selena's message from beyond the grave.

PMN round up time

Check out my weekly round up at Pimp My Novel.


Librarians and comedians: They have some books for you

If you are looking for a good Thursday afternoon read (admit it, you're not working anymore), a bunch of comedians recommend books, and here's a list of the best books by librarians.

Your weekend could start tonight, and the weekend is for reading! And drinking! Sometimes simultaneously. 

This book blog is rated A

The A is for "Awesome."

Tony Buschbaum writes about how he wants books for children to have ratings. He recently picked up a book with a reading level of 14 and up, which he felt was, in content, vastly inappropriate for his 14 year old.

On the one hand, I don't particularly see the harm in putting an "L" for "Language" or an "S" for "Lots of Boning" on the cover. On the other hand, I agree with the criticisms in the comments that ratings for movies do in some way act as censorship--cutting material and content for a more favorable rating is common, because the lower the rating, the larger the audience, the huger the profit. That said, that is a fiscal choice to be made, not necessarily an artistic one.

Having no tiny Ombreviations running around, I don't have much of an opinion on this. Thoughts?

Mark Twain doesn't want your snake oil

Mark Twain wasn't just a writer--he was also a bad ass. Letters of Note reprinted a letter Twain wrote to a charlatan salesman. He writes:
A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned and do so richly deserve.
I think the response to that is, "Oh snap."


Old school, new school, we all cheer for ice cream

Not excited about the Apple tablet? Maybe you'd like to go old school, with a vintage Macbook cover.

Books, people. They're still cool.

The A-Zzzzzs of books

Jennifer Schuessler shines a light on the dirty little secret of publishing: some books are just friggin boring. There. It's out there. She writes:
[B]oredom is woven into the very fabric of the literary enterprise. We read, and write, in large part to avoid it. At the same time, few experiences carry more risk of active boredom than picking up a book....A library is an enormous repository of information, entertainment, the best that has been thought and said. It is also probably the densest concentration of potential boredom on earth.
So don't forget your AED during your next library trip, just in case you flatline. Due to boredom.

Semicolons are our friends

The Oatmeal strikes again, teaching us how to use semicolons. To quote, "Using a semicolon isn't hard; I once saw a party gorilla do it."


Goodness gracious, Cornel West

Cornel West, Cornel West, what is up with your world? He details his Sunday routine, and says he is:
Funky Baptist, which means you focus on the blood at the cross where you find the love and freedom to bear witness to truth and justice. And funky as in George Clinton-and-James Brown funky, as opposed to deodorized.
Love. Him.

He also says, "Downtime is reading; I’m always reading on the plane, whatever the reading is for course work the next week. I’m also always rereading the classics, Plato, St. Augustine."

Aspire to West-dom, people. I don't quite know why he's famous (besides his hoe-down with Larry Summers), but he is a walking soundbite. Chomp chomp.

Haitian history

For those of you who know nothing about Hatian history or politics (read: me), check out this reading list. Knowledge is power!

One is the lonliest of numbers (for book clubs)

But then, if you like to read alone, you probably aren't in a book club. QED, people. Motoko Rich wrote in the NYTimes about lone readers versus the social reader. Rich contends:
The collective literary experience certainly has its benefits. Reading with a group can feed your passion for a book, or help you understand it better. Social reading may even persuade you that you liked something you thought you didn’t.

There is a different class of reader, though. They feel that their relationship with a book, its characters and the author is too intimate to share. “The pursuit of reading,” Virginia Woolf wrote, “is carried on by private people.”
I wonder if there is a judgment call being made here. I. Just. Can't. Tell.


Tricks of the trade: Reading

We all have our little tricks and hacks we use for our reading habits. Lifehacker put together a list of its top 10 tools for better reading, on and off line. Among those tips are "Read while working out," "Speed up your reading," and:
Find your next read. Not all of us have a local book shop staffed by the most knowledgeable and well-read workers on Earth. For recommendations on what you'd like, based on what you've just finished, we can turn to many spots on the net.
Check the original article for different sites and programs that can help you find that next good read.

Writing and drinking and drugs, oh my

Life put together a gallery of famous literary drunks and drug addicts. While the whole is pretty interesting (although some are pretty standard--Hemingway was a drunk!), my favorite is about Stephen King:
In his 2000 memoir, On Writing, King revealed that he'd been so shattered by his alcohol and drug abuse in the 1980s that, even today, he cannot remember working on many of the books he wrote back then. There were times when he'd been doing so much blow that he wrote with cotton wads stuffed in his nostrils, to prevent blood dripping on his typewriter.
That is a new fact for me. And it is kind of messed up.

Like, famazing!

So, like, I was at the mall with my bff Kristen, and she was like, "Oh em gee, that romper is, like, super cute!" and I was like, "Are you for serious?" and she was like, "I totally am," and I was like, "Well, okay, maybe I'll spend my dollarz on it," and she was like, "Like, yea!"

In other news, Christopher Hitchens wrote an article for Vanity Fair about the abuse of the word "like" by the yuts of today, which was sent to me by our fair Rejectionist (sidebar: send me tips! I will acknowledge you in a post!).

Hitchens makes some fair points (even if he's tardy for the party by about 15 years), and I'm with him until he writes:
[Y]ou have to talk well in order to write well, and you can’t write while using “like” as punctuation[.]
I give that a solid "eh." Written English and spoken English have differing conventions. I wouldn't write "like" instead if "said" (erm, expect for above), but I would use "like" in conversation to indicate "something along the lines of this was said, but this isn't a direct quote or anything."

Full disclosure: I am not a huge Hitchens fan, and so tend to look for things I dislike in his writing. I'll be happy to convert to fandom if he will just admit that there is irony in the fact that his breed of atheism requires his militant adherence to a belief system. Just a hint of self awareness, and I'm so on board.


Book accessories, for the fashionable reader

Now, I'm not saying that you need accessories to read, but, as a good American, I believe that consumerism cure what ails you. Powell's book blog put together a list of cute handmade book things, including tiny deer bookmarks! Kate Ward at EW has found some equally cute bookmarks. Hurray useless adorable crap that I won't use but do want.

Happy Friday, spend your paychecks!

Ack, hipsters

The blog "Stuff Hipsters Hate" has a book deal. I'm sorry. Do these things sell? Does anyone buy these? Do people really want to invest money to get a bound copy of something they can get for free? Is this not, in essence, a stupid acquisition? The agent said:
The blog to book projects seem tired because so many of them have been one-trick ponies. They're based around a gimmick: They tell a joke and then they tell it again and again....The ones that have been really successful, and have a chance of making the backlist, have had a clear editorial voice: there's an honest critique or cultural observation built into the ostensibly humorous project....Their humor is not a result of a cheap gimmick (unlike another hipster book out there, LOOK AT THAT F***ING HIPSTER, which is the thinnest concept ever, and has no shot a backlist because of it); they have voice.
Oh, sir, thank God you're here to explain life to me! I was under the impression that most book acquisitions were for the immediate profits, not for the long range backlist potential. I must have been erroneous, good sir! It's not like hipsterdom is a cultural flash in the pan or anything. Hipsterdom, like beatnik culture, mod, and grunge, is here to stay, allowing for this backlist pontential.

And indeed, your product is totally different than "Look at That F***ing Hipster." Sure, both may be by young Brooklynites making fun of hipsters, how they dress and what they think, but your product has more text, and is thus superior.


The wheels on the bus go round round up

Over at PMN (and all around the town).


James Patterson could be Jesus

We all knew this was a possibility, people, and it's time to call a spade a spade: James Patterson is probably not human. He puts out like 3,000 books a week, and he came up with the slogan, "I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid." The man is a bajillionaire and we should all aspire to Patterson-dom. You can feel the jealousy rolling off Jonathan Mahler, the article writer:
It’s no surprise that Patterson loves what he does. What’s not to love? He plays golf most mornings on Donald Trump’s Palm Beach course and spends the rest of the day working on guaranteed best sellers for which he is paid millions.
So here's the plan. Write several bestsellers. Morph into James Patterson. Profit. Anyone in?

Twilight plus manga equals Twanga

EW got an exclusive look at a page of the forthcoming Twilight graphic novel, as well as part of an interview with Stephenie Meyer. And, yea, that's not particularly interesting, but I love love love the comments at EW. People are crazy. Go read the trainwreck!

Dude looks like a lady?

Everyone has a Shakespeare theory, and the new one is that he was really the bastard Jewish daughter of an Italian court musician, Amelia Bassano Lanier. This is meant to explain Shakespeare's musical references, his knowledge of court, his hints of Hebrew and his references to Mediterranean locales. However:
“John's evidence is entirely circumstantial, or depends on quasi-allegorical readings of the texts,” says Kate McLuskie, director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham. “It is elegant and ingenious, but has no documentary foundation – a beautiful story that is not less beautiful for being entirely false.”
The article also contains a list of Shakespeare contenders (besides, you know...Shakespeare).


Reading solves problems, including global hunger and depression

In response to Marian Keyes' recent blog post about her depression, Wayne Gooderham writes about how books can help us deal with the down points in our lives. Jezebel did a great round up of Keyes' history of depression and addiction, as well as her wicked sense of humor. Gooderham writes:
For, while I don't believe that literature alone can cure depression (the importance of therapy, counselling, medication, lifestyle choices and so on cannot be underestimated) I do believe that literature can help one deal with this debilitating illness. At the very least, after a period when even the idea of reading seems an alien concept, to find oneself reading – and enjoying – a book again can come as an immense relief: an indication that one is beginning to emerge from beneath a dark cloud that at one time seemed endless.
A friend told me once her mental health reads were Marian Keyes, interestingly enough. Any happy reads you guys have?

Edgar Allan Poe: Debonair charmer?

A portrait of Poe has been authenticated in which he looks (wait for it) happy! Not morose, not brooding, not steeped in misery.
"It actually represents Poe as he appeared to his contemporaries -- a handsome, sophisticated young man on the rise," said Cliff Krainik, the owner of the portrait and a Poe scholar.
What a dashing young man he must have been, despite his portrayal in The Remarkable Millard Filmore. Perhaps he cultivated a particular image to achieve some sort of notoriety? The article goes on to cite a friend:
“Of course, he wants to become a character,” Stephin Merritt...says. “He’s not Salvador Dali, but he’s not far off. There’s no hard line between his persona and his private life.”
Oh wait, that was from the New Yorker's profile of Neil Gaiman. Well...the same principle applies.

I own your birthplaces, author types

Because I am so interested in you and your histories! Charles McGrath writes:
That we tend to fetishize writers’ residences is a little odd to begin with. By and large the same fuss doesn’t get made over places where artists have lived, and yet you could argue that an artist’s surroundings have more bearing on his work. But birthplaces themselves are an even odder subcategory, certainly less interesting, in general, than the houses where writers have actually worked.
This is one of those things I don't really get, as I'm not particularly interested in author's lives. I like my celebrities and heroes up on pedestals, thank you very much, and the more I know about their lives and habits and drug problems the less I respect their work.

That said, there is something weird about the fuss we make over birthplaces versus adult abodes of writers. Adult homes are where authors chose to be inspired, as opposed to where their parents decided to pop them out. Luckily, McGrath writes:
Nobody is born at home anymore, and who would want to make a literary pilgrimage to a hospital?


A DIY book tour article I actually didn't hate

Don't underestimate how ready I was to hate this article about a DIY book tour, reader types. First, it's in the New York Times, which almost only publishes smarmy New York "trends" and "lifestyles," like vegetarians who have beef with vegans, or Hasids and hipster who learn to live together. Second, it's about publishers trying to push their corporate agendas and someone standing up and saying, "No, I will do something indie and twee instead." Third, this is about something indie and twee.

So hats off to you, Stephen Elliot, for writing an essay on this topic for this paper and actually endearing yourself. The tour worked thusly:
Before my book came out, I had set up a lending library allowing anyone to receive a free review copy on the condition they forward it within a week to the next reader, at their own expense....I asked if people wanted to hold an event in their homes. They had to promise 20 attendees. I would sleep on their couch. My publisher would pay for some of the airfare, and I would fund the rest by selling the books myself.
He talks about the successes and failures of this method, and, while it sounds kind of exhausting, it's at least interesting. And works in sex workers, which always brightens up my reading experience.

The zombies are tweeting, hide your brains

Well, technically, the zombies are being tweeted about. Manvszombies is a Twitter feed that chronicles the zombie apocalypse. Two of my favorites thus far are:
Sometimes when I'm bored I look out the window and imagine a fireball whizzing down the block. I think that actually just happened.
Even the zombies are getting into it. They seem to be BBQing. I could have sworn one muttered, "Oooh, the boob meat is tender."
I almost wish zombie novels and Twitters were not so amazing, because I cannot stop reading them and they routinely scare the crap out of me, and then all  of a sudden it is 4am and I am planning my zombie escape plan (it is very, very detailed. Spots on my survival team are still open). I read somewhere around 100 books a year, and World War Z is the only one I routinely recommend to people.

And so, as someone who is 100% objective, all of the time, I can safely say: zombies are awesome.


Happy birthday, Dr. King

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, fellow Americans (even those from states that have traditionally not been keen to celebrate, and, hey, non-Americans too, if you so desire).

Today we celebrate the civil rights we enjoy, and think about what we will do in the year to come to guarantee access to civil rights for all Americans. We also celebrate a day off work. See you tomorrow!


Avast, book piracy!

An Attributor study has found that, in the past year, publishing has probably list $3 million to book piracy. PW says:
From the four sites that make digital download data available--4shared.com, scribd.com, wattpad.com, and docstoc.com--Attributor found 3 million illegal downloads in the final quarter of 2009 of the 913 books followed. The company estimates those four sites represent about one-third of all book piracy. (Attributor calculated the share of piracy based on 53,000 book takedown notices sent out to various Web sites in the second half of 2009).
While most of these titles were in the business and investing area (very ethical, investors), there was still a considerable fiction contingent. Read the full PDF of the study here, and start to panic: the end is nigh!

Ancient Zelda manuscripte, available in magnet form

An intrepid medievalist, going about the course of his research, has stumbled across an ancient illuminated manuscript that includes the opening scroll from The Legend of Zelda on NES. He managed to copy and upload the image to the internet without damaging the fragile page, so we can all appreciate the talent and wisdom of the ancients.

He goes on to explain some of the conventions of the form. Plus, you can buy it as a magnet.

You like Jane Austen? You are probably wrong

Fran Lebowitz does an interview with the Morgan Library about why people like Jane Austen for the wrong reasons, and learn to read the wrong way. "A book," she says, "is not supposed to be a mirror. It's supposed to be a door."

She says Jane Austen shows us human nature in a true way, she's intelligent, and she uses class structure to her advantage, and that is why she's so successful, not because she's full of lovely romance. Thoughts?


I'll see you in hell (the video game tie-in)!

Pew pew pew pew oh, I'm sorry, I didn't see you there, I was busying shooting the denizens of hell in Dante's Inferno, the video game. Virgil got me past a lot of the circles, but I can't escape Count Ugolino gnawing on my head.

After this, Electronic Arts will be putting out a game based on Boccaccio's Decameron, in which you try to avoid getting the plague by retiring to your country villa and telling stories while the poor die around you. Oh no, watch out for the syphilis!

The dos and don'ts of writing sex scenes

Just kidding, I don't have any dos. But Sonya Chung at the Millions put together a list of sex writing don'ts. My favorite is:
Beware of sensory descriptions which include food analogies – “honeydew breasts” (Styron), “like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg” (Littell), “the oysterish intricacy of her” (Anthony Quinn), “he felt his cashew become a banana, and then a rippled yam” (Updike) – or “wet” verbs like smear, suck, lick, slither, slide.

A do: leave your sex writing don'ts in the comments. Extra points if you can come up with something worse than "oysterish intricacy" (which was oddly reminiscent of the facts of duck sex).

Navigating narrators

I don't know how many of you are audiobook fans (am I alone? I hope not), but I belong to that camp--there's something about being able to listen to someone tell you a story that is completely different from reading a physical book. If you're new to the a-book camp, you might want to check this list of awesome narrators for delicious books. My personal favorites off this list include:
Not Scary Enough: Joe Mantegna reads Steven King’s Thinner
OK, Too Scary: Willem Dafoe reads Steven King’s The Langoliers
Ah, Willem Dafoe, you scare the crap out of me. Especially as a lady.


The world of tomorrow: Book reviews

The NYTimes blog Paper Cuts reports on McSweeney's take on the book review.

Apparently it is very similar to the book review of today. Womp womp.

If only our lives were more Twilight

The Onion brings to our attention a very serious problem: your vampire husband will never live up to Edward Cullen. They report:
Sara's dream husband began spending more and more time secluded in darkened alcoves with his cape drawn over his face. Before long, Andrei—once a stealthy hunter who easily stalked young and healthy prey—started feeding excessively on any slow-moving person who happened to wander by the house, and soon ballooned to almost twice his normal weight.

"When we were first married, Andrei was so dark and mysterious," Pastor said wistfully. "These days, pretty much all he does is sit around swilling blood and watching ESPN."
If only all of our lives were more Twilight.


The books we buy versus the books we love

Omnivoracious has put together a list of the best books of the decade, as well as a rundown of what they consider the best book of each year. Some of these titles may not have been bestsellers, but they were useful or popular or et cetera.

If you're interested in taking a trip down memory lane, I introduce you to my new favorite website, Books of the Century, which lists all of the fiction and non-fiction bestsellers, as well as the critically acclaimed and historically important titles of each year from 1900 to 1999. Take the walk down memory lane, and realize: the stuff we purchase most often is really not very memorable.

Sherlock Holmes: Potentially not gay

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is not pleased with the rumors that Watson and Holmes are homosexual lovers. Now, I haven't seen the new movie (yet!), but I do have to say: does anyone really care about this as an issue? As Nikki Gloudeman writes:
Why does everyone think they're homosexual? From what I saw, they're two guys who are very close, protective, and fond of one another. So were the female leads in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and no one called them lesbians.
Hear hear, Nikki. Plus, Jude Law has impregnated so many women, I would also switch to men if I were him. They are much harder to knock up.

J.K. Rowling saves economy, world

The Economist contends that J.K. Rowling has done more for the economy than just about, well, anyone. And, if you think about it, she wrote seven bestsellers, which became (slash will become) eight blockbuster films, and inspired a freaking theme park. Says producer David Heyman, "When we stop filming next May, at least 800 people will be looking for work."

I think we should all take a page from Ms. Rowling's book, and aspire to create jobs by selling a bajillion copies of a series.


Damnit, e-readers will not democratize publishing

Galleycat posted an interview of Tess Gerritsen, who contends that the e-reader will democratize publishing. She gives all of the usual reasons: people who can't break in through traditional houses will still be able to disseminate their work, which people will then find and read and appreciate, blah blah blah.

This is chronic, terrible, oft regurgitated bullshit (which I will explain in two points!).

First, there is a reason a lot of titles can't get published, and for the most part it is because they are terrible. The last book you read that you thought was horrendous was a) probably pretty bad, yea, and b) better than anything else the agent and publisher could find.

Second, just because a title is out there doesn't mean people will read it. There are about 300,000 books published annually through the traditional model. This means that if you only read new titles for a year, you need to read 34 books an hour for the entire year to read everything put out through traditional publishing, which are the titles that were plucked out from the general morass.* Most of these titles will not sell well or be read by many people, and they will have the benefit of professional publicists and book sellers behind them. Just because a title exists on the internet does not make it equal to a traditionally published book--not necessarily because of quality, but because of exposure and the publicity weight behind it.

Scribd CTO Jared Friedman, wants to increase the number of books published annually from 300,000 to 3 million, saying:
Our thesis is that the limiting factor in the number of books that are published per year is not the amount of content that people are able to write and it's not the amount of content that people are able to read. Rather it's a structural limitation of the publishing industry itself.... We think that if we can cast off the artificial limitations that are imposed by the way the economics of the publishing industry currently work, we could potentially dramatically increase the amount of work that is published.
He cites Harry Potter's temporary stint in the slush pile, saying there are many HPotts just waiting to break out. But if no one is reading the already existing 300,000 titles published every year, who is going to dig through this new e-slush pile? Not me, thank you--I will stick with the handful of traditionally published books I slog through annually.

*Math! 365 (days per year) x 24 (hours per day) = 8,760 hours per year. 
300,000 (books per year) / 8,760 (hours per year) = 34.2 books per hour.

"Dead babies are my thing," say two French novelists

Let me summarize a hairy, angry plagiarism situation for you, friends. In 1995, Camille Laurens published a book that dealt with the death of her baby. In 2007, Marie Darrieussecq published a novel on the same topic, which Laurens termed "psychological plagiarism." This was awkward, because both shared an editor, who ended up siding with Darrieussecq. Last week they both put out books about the feud, of which "[o]ne was a studious analysis of literary theft; the other was a thinly veiled fictional account of a novelist who is dropped by her publisher after accusing a young rival of plagiarism."

Listen, France. I know you're in a rumormill drought, since Sarkozy's multiple divorces and marriage to a model are old news. But literary feuds as tabloid fodder? Really? England is a smaller country and they have, off the top of my head, Amy Winehouse, Jordan Price, and Lily Allen (and that's after losing the Beckhams to LA!).

I think all of us thoughtful Americans should ship some of our more salacious celebrities, who grace our tabloid covers weekly, to France, to educate the French about what belongs in the tabloids. The transplants can do homestays and pretend to go to classes. You're welcome, France.

Reading may or may not improve your sex life

Evan Maloney at the Guardian writes about being a book reader in a relationship. He says we can assign a value judgement to readers:
Reading literature can...give humans a stronger understanding of and empathy for others....Great literature gives us the power to imagine what the world is like for people whose lives are vastly different from our own: it can challenge our prejudices and, if we're lucky, make us a little wiser, offering us a deeper understanding of what it sometimes means to be a living, individual human being.
Er, or maybe not:
On the other hand, there's ample evidence that voracious readers aren't always wise or empathetic characters. Hitler's library contained more than 16,000 volumes.
Maloney also says it's possible to be in a committed relationship with a non-reader, but I'm not so sure. Since everything I do and think and say is absolutely perfect, why would I want someone who didn't do and think and say all of the same things? In other news, I am working on cloning technology, so I can clone and date myself.


What, you mean professional actors are more attractive than writers?

The Guardian has put together a slide show of writers portrayed in film. And guess what? Everyone is way more attractive when played by someone who's job it is to be attractive than in real life.

I mean, except for you. You, dear reader-slash-writer, are just as attractive as the celebrity who will play you in your inevitable biopic.

More dicks, making trouble

The estate of Philip K. Dick is suing Google because the names of the Nexus One cellphone and its operating system (Android) are too close to the Nexus 6 androids of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, also know by the movie title "Harrison Ford you were so handsome when you were young and retiring androids."

The real question is, why isn't George Lucas suing Motorola's Droid cellphone? Because he OWNS THE WORD, and let them use it. And, since he only sues those who flout him, this is not the Droid he's looking for.

Pimp this week out

Round up at Pimp My Novel. Head on over!


Zombies will eat your brains and then your heart

I find this whole premise a little nauseating, and I can't really think of anything cute to say except: zombie love story novel. Gross.

And a book trailer (I friggin hate book trailers):

That's right. He is a feeling, hipster, loving zombie. Gag.

Not kidding about kidneys

Reader-types, it is now time to listen to me push politics. Be forewarned! (Or just skip this one if you are politics averse.)

I saw this post at Alicia's blog, and wanted to add: perhaps you too should consider checking the little "please give my organs to other people once I am no longer using them" box on your license. And if you're feeling especially giving, you can give a some while alive (one kidney and a big chunk of your liver, and I think that's it).

Yes, it's a fraught subject (especially if it's a kidney), and clearly it is understandable if you have thought about it and don't want to donate, but the huge jump between the number of people who donate in countries with an opt-in system (like the US of A) and those with an opt-out (like Amsterdam or Spain) speaks to a general disinclination to check boxes, not to give organs.

Reading things you hate is good for you, I swear

Laura Miller wrote an article in Salon, encouraging us to record what we read and look for our reading blind spots. People are creatures of habit, and we tend to gravitate to the same genre (and to accept the subtle cues of covers in said genres).

And hey, just because you think you hate something doesn't mean you really do. Remember when you were seven and tried brussels sprouts (yea, I looked it up, that is actually how it is spelled), and thought they were terrible, but as an adult realize that they are super delicious? Substitute your own food choice, if you are of the terrible heathen persuasion that b-sprouts are not d-licious.

In the vein of tolerance, I'm going to find and read a thriller and try not to hate it. Suggestions (and similar professions of tolerance so I don't have to be principled alone) are welcome.

"Would you go to the doctor and have him take out your spleen for nothing?"

A wise man once said, "If you're good at something, never do it for free." I know I've been guilty of this sin, but, damnit, no more, thanks to Harlan Ellison and his delicious rant below.

This video is NSFW, based both on Ellison's language and the incredible bubbly feeling you will get as he threatens to burn Warner Brothers to the ground for not sending him a free DVD with his interview on it.

I might make "What is Warner Brothers? Out with an eye patch and a tin cup on the street? Fuck no!" my cellphone ring.


Lost is coming back, thank you America

Lost is coming back in less than a month, and I think we should all appreciate it by watching everything you need to know about Lost.

Oh. Em. Gee. See you tomorrow, lady and gentle-types--Lost is just too exciting to write another post.

The past life of the writer

Jean Hannah Edelstein makes a really great point about the things we choose to remember about authors. The Costa award lists a winner as "Former scooter salesman Raphael Selbourne," which Edelstein tsk tsks at. Selbourne had done a number of other things, but scooter salesman is the most romantic (quirky? Interesting?) thing they came up with.

I don't know about you, but I do not want to known as "Laura who once worked at a Mexican restaurant," unless I am being recognized for being a burrito connoisseur (which, by the way, I am).

Respect people's boring jobs as well!


Jury's in: Vooks are dumb

I have previously made fun of the whole Vook concept, although the cook-Vook sound pretty cool. The staff at eBookNewser took a Vook-esque plunge with some Sherlock Holmes shenanigans, and they did not like, saying, "all the bells and whistles finally distract from the text itself, where the real action still takes place."

I stand vindicated? Oh yea.

Pride and Prejudice and spin-offs

Kate Ward is mad, because there are too many Pride and Prejudice spin-offs, and a lot of them suck. But, to quote Joel McHale, "Our mantra is that 90 percent of all television is bad, and ten percent has never been better. We make fun of that 90 percent." Books are mostly the same: 90 percent crap, 10 percent worth my time (which means every year 30,000 books or so worth reading come out, which clearly is 29,950 more than I can aspire to read).

So maybe we should ban spin-offs. But then we wouldn't have Gregory Maguire's Wicked (book or musical!), or "Clueless," or "Bride and Prejudice," which may be the single most watched movie by me. Hell, even Shakespeare borrowed plots. And, as we saw in the previous post,Shakespeare is the golden standard for modern action.

Grammar lovers beware: People realize language evolves

Stop the presses: some grammar rules do not predate the English language. Once a year somebody pops up and tries to say that grammar rules shouldn't apply because they were different in Shakespeare's day. Apparently, "the grammatical doomsayers had better find themselves some chill pills fast, because the crimes-against-the-language rate is going to skyrocket here in the electronic age."

As a grammatical doomsayer, I say boo, grammar whiners--just because you plan on breaking the rules more often doesn't mean I have to chill out. There are certain standards the English speaking world ascribes to, and to pretend like they're not important because they are somewhat arbitrary is ridiculous. Saying Lord Byron spelled and punctuated differently doesn't change the fact that modern standards do not include replacing c's with k's (even for krazy kars!) or pluralizing with z's. Grammar is for klarity, reader types, and is also just a klassy way to be.


If the Christmas chapbook is back, I would like a Hess truck

Although the holiday season is over, there are still some things we need to talk through. Yes, homemade gifts can be very nice, especially if you are good at doing something (if you're interested, I can knit hideous, hideous scarves, pocket squares, kitty blankets...basically anything ugly and square, I can do). Yet the handwritten holiday chapbook remains one of the things that I don't think needs a comeback, although some would disagree. The reasoning?
It's a hugely egotistical exercise, I admit, but no more so than hoping people you know will shell out hard cash for a properly-published piece of fiction. Chapbooks of this kind are homemade, personal and inexpensive - and have an illustrious literary history.
Listen. Neil Gaiman has a short story in Smoke and Mirrors that he originally sent in Christmas cards, but I'd bet he still gave other presents that year. And I've given my share of crappy gifts (sorry family!), but I think a present should be specific to the recipient, not the spam e-mail of gifts to showcase my dubious knitting and writing talents.

I'd be happy to read a chapbook as an addition to a thoughtful (potentially small and inexpensive) gift, but I'd prefer your re-gifted scented candles from Aunt Myrna or a bottle of Andre from the corner bodega if it's that or a chapbook. Plus, the "my only gift to you is my glorious writing and you damn well better appreciate it" move is one that rhymes with "rasturbatory," and that is an icky thing to gift.

More importantly: for those of you who were worried, yes, I did get a waffle iron during the holiday season (I restrained myself from posting photos only through sheer will. You're welcome!). I now only eat waffle shaped things. Soups are difficult.

Crotch bomber may work for traditional publishing, is also a dick

As we all know, the crotch bomber tried to ruin America and Christmas by exploding a plane, but only succeeded in burning his testicles (one hopes very, very badly) before being jumped by a Dutch film director. The director subsequently made a ton of money off of his story, thus earning his American citizenship through a love of capitalism.

As a result, the TSA, known for its sanity and non-reactionary decisions, discussed banning anything vaguely electronic and standing during the last hour of international flights to the US (and then subpoenaed the bloggers who published the potential policy leak. Class. Act). So what isn't electronic, and can keep someone sitting and entertained for at least an hour? Clearly books!

Thus, books are the result of stopping terrorism. QED, folks.

Resolutions for the new year

Welcome to the new 2010 version of Combreviations, in which the content and quality are basically the same (womp womp, I know). The internet was abuzz in the last week rounding up 2009, and showed us favorite e-readers, the best film adaptations, the things that went down in children's books, and literary stories abounded. Oprah's books dominated the decade, and some people went back into a whole century of writing.

2010, which could be mantastic, may bring us the Apple tablet, the e-reader paradox, and The Babysitter's Club is coming back (but that's a whole separate post).

Do you have any reading resolutions for the new year? Check out some here and here for ideas. I, for one, resolve to read more books and less internet. I am already questioning my resolution resolve on that one.