Say you're some Barnes and Noble wage slave working on a Tuesday night a couple weeks before Christmas. Suddenly, a group of middle class white people start asking you about a book that's not in the inventory, and then they hold an impromptu reading. Chaos!
Mischief and Mayhem, the new publishing collective founded by Dale Peck and Choire Sicha (among others), will stage the happening as a dangerous launch party for its first title, Lisa Dierbeck's The Autobiography of Jenny X
Today, December 6th, 2010: Jonathan Franzen appears on Oprah. And I'm liveblogging it.
3:59 pm: The teaser has a hug! Oprah says they've never met before, but it seems like they have. Nice suit, Franzen!
4pm: Michael Jackson was friends with some unappealing, wan family from New Jersey, which will occupy the first half of the episode.
Julia Child called an elderly French food critic a "didactic meatball." Oh, snap!
I came across this terrific burn while reading Saveur. They published an excerpt of As Always, Julia, a new book that collects the letters sent between Julia Child and lifelong friend / unofficial literary agent, Avis DeVoto.
The title of New Yorker critic Alex Ross’s new book, Listen to This (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux), takes its name from an essay about the discovery by this “classical music purist” of pop music via Sonic Youth and Pere Ubu as a Harvard undergraduate. Programming avant-garde classical music at the school’s WHRB-FM, Ross began hanging out with the noise-punk crowd at the Record Hospital show
Based on an informal survey of local booksellers, I predict that Nicole Krauss' third novel, Great House, is a shoo-in to win the National Book Award. Her Friday reading at the Brookline Booksmith will be the last stop on her U.S. tour.
I finished Great House this weekend while on queasy bus rides to and from New York City.
I just got my copy of Rich People Things from O/R Books, and boy am I excited. Compiled from Bookforum/The Baffler editor Chris Lehmann's series of the same name on The Awl, each chapter begins with a charming illustration from Peter Arkle, then takes on a different marker of class privilege and rips it apart. Targets include Malcom Gladwell (whose illustrated fro is composed of tiny dollar signs), Ayn Rand, and the iPad.
"What an amazing building," says DAVID RAKOFF, gazing around at the historic Trinity Church in Copley Square. "I'm going to besmirch it with filth."
Thus began his reading from "Isn't It Romantic," one of the essays in his recent Half Empty. Perhaps you're not familiar with it, but you should be: an epic, bawdy, and dead-fucking-on takedown of the musical Rent, an "insidious middle class lie" that has somehow became more untouchable than 9/11.
NICK BILTON is one of the people we listen to most closely on tech. Now the Times' lead technology writer, he's a veteran of New York Press (during that publication's golden years) and of the Times's research-and-development lab. In his new book, I Live In the Future and Here's How It Works, he begins by checking in on an industry often credited with pushing digital innovation -- yep, porn -- and discovers that it has suffered a death just as ugly as any entrenched old-media vertical.
Every book festival needs legendary dudes like DENNIS LEHANE and TOM PERROTTA -- the kinds of authors whose stories are famous even to people who don't read books. The awesome thing about Lehane and Perrotta is that they've both given far more than their celebrity to the cause: last year Lehane used his star power to throw some shine on Boston's lesser-known mystery authors in Boston Noir, a compendium whose launch party headlined the inaugural Boston Book Festival.
Neil Gaiman presumably could not be torn away from his young goth bride, and Joyce Carol Oates had already been hired to give the keynote. But the two most famous contributors to My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: 40 New Fairy Tales -- an anthology of "new stories sewn from old skins" -- are not necessarily its best.
Inspiration is seldom as easy as it seems. One of the lessons of STEVEN JOHNSON's Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation is that "Eureka!" moments -- sudden pinpoints of revelation -- are usually myths. Instead of coming like a flash of light, great ideas simmer. They benefit from intellectual incubation And this panel, also featuring one inventor, one surgeon, and one designer, is its own greenhouse of genius.
This program was titled, optimistically, "ISRAEL/PALESTINE: NOVEL APPROACHES." Alas, it turned into "Israel/Palestine: Same Old Shit." Well, what did you expect? Put human canonball Alan Dershowitz on a panel with the Palestinian novelist Susan Abulhawa, a daughter of 1967 refugees, and you've got a new version of the old saw: Boston went to an argument about the Israel/Palestine situation and a book reading nearly broke out.
I was pretty thrilled when this week's installment of excellent NPR rock and roll talk show Sound Opinions (not syndicated on WBUR for whatever reason, but available via podcast) tackled writer/musician collaborations, something I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot reviewed the Nick Hornby/Ben Folds collaboration Lonely Avenue
As promised, the Boston Phoenix will be podcasting every panel from this year's second annual BOSTON BOOK FESTIVAL, yet another smashing success last weekend. (Don't take our word for it -- check the hashtag.) For those of you who were there, it's never too late to fill out your bingo card. And since it was impossible to catch everything, we're kicking things off with a panel we really wanted to see but didn't: a tribute to the late mystery legend Robert B.