Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1992. I finished the first book in the two-part series about a month ago in preparation for a visit to Yad Vashem last week. Maus is shocking, tragic, funny, and brutally eye-opening. It's the most beautifully told, gripping account of the Holocaust I've ever read, and I've been reading about it all my life.
Hold your applause! Apologies for the absence, lack of updates, etc. Word Up is still alive and well. We were away on a trek around the Holy Land (srsly) that has left us spiritually enlightened (not like Madonna, so stop judging), exhausted from hiking up and down really big mountains, blissful from days on end of gawking at really old, ancient, awesome stuff, and hysterically amazed at our ability to go nearly a fortnight without Books or Blogz as entertainment.
If our posting schedule seems irregular in the next week or so, it's because we're really busy listening to "Save Ginny Weasley" on repeat and blushing over novel-length Harry Potter fan fiction that involves...naughtiness:
Heavy breathing. Then a sigh. "Why would I stay, Potter? I'm sweaty, I'm filthy, and we have classes tomorrow."
Good thing that whole eBay auction ploy worked out! Yeah, so I'm a few months late on this post, but... after devouring the first couple hundred pages of Chris Adrian's The Children's Hospital, I've decided that reading it is pretty much all I want to do until I'm done. Nina knew what was up back in March
Please stop it.
Now when I recommed Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex to people as one of my favorite coming-of-age novels of all time, they're going to be like, Gag, wasn't that shit on Oprah? Soon you'll put your Oprah Seal of Approval on all the new book pressings. I'll walk into the bookstore and I'll see it.
The NYT's Sunday Business section asked, "What makes a best-seller?" and this three-page musing is their version of an answer. No real revelations, per se. What I found most fascinating was Shira Boss's interwoven explanation of what might have made Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep such a runaway hit:
When Ms. Sittenfeld was writing the novel, she recalled, colleagues said, “The boarding school book has already been written.
Radar's Gutter Report just alerted us to a new media brouhaha revolving around MICHAEL CHABON. The NY Post's Kyle Smith calls out Chabon (who is Jewish) for the supposedly anti-Semitic themes in his latest tour-de-force, The Yiddish Policeman's Unit. It's a 411-page mystery/noir homage/love story/historical mind-bender about the Jews of the Sikta District in Alaska -- a fictional safe haven built after Israel collapsed in 1948.
Yes, well, we were supposed to blog about the Michael Chabon and Howard Zinn readings but we'll get to that later.
Fall Out Boy and Ashlee Simpson man-whore Pete Wentz is shopping around a novel entitled Rainy Day Kids. Gawker's anonymous source reports:
"It's among the most self-indulgent whiny trying to be smart and artsy high school creative writing class crap I've ever read."
Just as soon as we're done pouring over Avril Lavigne's manga, "Make 5 Wishes" Vol. 1, we'll be heading over to TIME. They've got an excerpt of George Tenant's slam-dunking At the Center of the Storm. There's also an interview with Tenant up. Of course, Kakutani weighs in over at the NYT.
It's NOT okay.
We're really grouchy now. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution has fired longtime book editor Teresa Weaver and threatens to eliminate its book review section completely. Demoralizing beyond words? You bet. Sign a petition to protest the AJC's dim-witted move here. The Critical Mass blog has more on the subject.
Check this slightly hysterical rant of a Salon feature: "Oprah's Ugly Secret." Peter Birkenhead's screed is a meaty, 3-page attack of Oprah, damning her support of the best-selling self-help book The Secret. The book is currently No. 1 on best-seller lists and has shot ahead of the final Harry Potter tome in sales.
Didn't get a chance to post about this last week, but better late than never. Straight from Publisher's Lunch:
Children's: Young AdultGrammy-nominated musician Avril Lavigne's MAKE 5 WISHES color manga books, in which an introverted teenager gets a series of wishes granted by a demon go bad and then meets her hero -- Avril Lavigne, who helps her find the courage to conquer her own personal demons, to Betsy Mitchell at Del Rey Manga, for publication in April 2007 and July 2007, by Terry McBride at Nettwerk Management (world).
Otherwise, why would the venerable broadsheet allow this literary fuck up?
Washingtonpost.com is publishing fiction for the first time, serializing the debut novel of Post Business section reporter David Hilzenrath.
The book, "Jezebel's Tomb," is a thriller set in the present-day Middle East. It features a journalist who investigates a bombing and tries to track down a mysterious 2,000-year-old document that may hold a dangerous secret.
If those strict, binding legal contract-savvy folks at the CIA have their way, that is. Newsweek's Periscope reports that the agency blocked the publication of Plame's book by telling her that she can't mention or discuss her employment since she was hired as a "nonofficial cover" officer posing as a private businesswoman.
Today's New York Times books section led with another piece about the slow death of indie book stores. This one, entitled "A Princeton Maverick Succumbs to a Cultural Shift," profiled Logan Fox. He's the owner of Micawber Books in Princeton, NJ, and even though he randomly looks like he's flirting with you in that posed photo, he's actually completely devastated that his store has been forced to shut itself down.