THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST
Not everybody hearts AMY SEDARIS (particularly reviewers of her latest film, Strangers with Candy), but we’ve been glued to the trajectory of her career ever since reading about her bizarre lifestyle in brother David’s essays. Amy’s first solo book project, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, harks back to the days when a hostess’s duties were “charmingly old-fashioned, like courtship or back-alley abortions.
AMONG THE BELIEVERSIn the vibrant San Francisco literary scene, you haven’t made it unless you can play six degrees (or less) to David Eggers. HEIDI JULAVITS can do it in just two. She edits the Believer with author Vendela Vida, who’s married to Eggers, the force behind McSweeney’s and the student writing center 826 Valencia
Given that sequels have become almost more common than originals, it’s no wonder that MICHAEL TOLKIN is attempting to get back in the game with a decade-late follow-up to his satire The Player. In The Return of the Player, old Griffin Mill is down to his last $6 million. He’s also got erectile dysfunction and the hots for his ex-wife, and he’s paralyzed by his fear that the world will end before he can escape to his very own private island.
Morgan Spurlock did it with Super Size Me and later 30 Days on FX. Now, rather than gorging on McDonalds to see if it has adverse effects, Seattle public radio commentator JON MOE decided to hang out with a bunch of Republicans for a month straight. Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky is the result of his month-long immersion in Conservative Country.
A long time ago, when we were temping in an office that reduced us to a trained data-entry monkey, the only way we could halt the onset of a mental breakdown was to stream archived episodes of NPR’s This American Life off the internerd. It was in this way that we discovered the delightfully snarky DAVID RAKOFF, who not only dresses better than like-minded contemporary David Sedaris but often delivers the acidic wit with 10 times the panache.
Mark Z. Danielewski’s debut House of Leaves – with its unsettling text patterns (scrunched letters, upside-down words, sentences that ran diagonal, blank pages, black pages), its unsettling narrator interaction, and, most of all its unsettling – no, terrifying -- image of an ever-expanding blackness -- ranks as one of the most psychically haunting books I’ve read.
Read This Now
In Jennifer Egan's first novel, Look at Me, it was difficult to identify with 35-year-old Charlotte Swenson, a bitchy, beautiful Manhattan model who’d been disfigured in a car accident, and whose unnerving sense of entitlement was outdone only by her unmendable emotional fractures. That didn’t stop it from being short-listed for the 2001 National Book Award: Egan has a knack for keeping your rapt attention even with the most unlikable of narrators.
Gloom patrol: Every Visible Thing lures The Crow fans with its jacket art
Girl next door: Lisa Carey doesn't need black lipstick to write dark
No matter how you cut it, somewhere between ages 12-18, you’re guaranteed to enjoy at least a couple of “Hell years.” Emotional breakdowns are unavoidable, parental conflicts are routine, and the opposite sex is a confusing, terrifying force to be reckoned with.
Marisha Pessl: Hot & High-Rollin'
Book critics and the lit bloggers are all a-buzz over the huge cash advance Marisha Pessl was paid for her debut, Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
Despite what most agree is a disappointing, rocky start, the novel
blooms into an addictive, Nobokov-esqe (and god knows Word Up will sink
its teeth into anything Nabokovian--seriously, anything) thriller about a boarding school with a sinister past.
"When people start writing there is this idea that
you have to get everything right first time, every sentence has to be
perfect, every paragraph has to be perfect, every chapter has to be
perfect, but what you're doing is not any kind of public show, until
you're ready for it. There is a kind of mysticism to writing.
Full disclosure: we’re obsessed with Scotland. Truly, what’s not to love? Bagpipes, sheep, rolling green hills, brawny dudes who wear short plaid skirts with more flair than we ever could. Of course, that’s not quite Irvine Welsh's Edinburgh -- in 1996, he gave us Trainspotting, a blistering black-humor account of the capital’s seedy underbelly, complete with stylish junkies, heroin addicts, raging psychos, and foul-smelling toilets.
WBUR may have just idiotically yanked their arts coverage, but public radio is still what the brainy boys and girls like to listen to. Lisa Phillips,
a former radio reporter-cum-SUNY journalism professor, is as passionate
about talk radio as commercial stations are about their pre-selected
Top 40 playlists.