Monday, February 28th, 2011
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An Excerpt From "The Late American Novel": The Best Books Will Be Written Long After You Are Dead

This essay is from the new collection The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, co-edited by Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee, of The Millions. In the book, Jonathan Lethem, Rivka Galchen, Nancy Jo Sales and many others consider the landscape as the literary world faces a sudden change in the way we buy, produce and read books.

Say it was 1910, and say on a breezy day you stopped me on Broadway, and say you asked me: “Sir, whither American letters?”

And say that the answer I gave you was fantastically correct. Say I predicted all about Modernism. Say I advised you to [...]

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Reading Sarah Palin Live, with Rudolph Delson: Part Two

Sunday, November 22, 7:34am: Good morning. Today I will read another two hundred pages of Sarah Palin. (To hear about the first two hundred pages, click here.)

But, may I tell you about my dream? Because I just awoke from this dream. There was a broad blue sky, streaked with clouds. And there was a giant head set against that sky. And the head was speaking to me. I have attached an image of it after the jump.

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Reading Sarah Palin Live, with Rudolph Delson.

Rudolph Delson reads Sarah Palin.

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: Spiro Agnew, NSFW

Now that Sarah Palin's 'Going Rogue' is beginning to leak out onto the Internet in advance of next week's publication date, we are wrapping up our series analyzing the canon of vice presidential literature!

If you ever buy Spiro Agnew's novel The Canfield Decision, buy the mass-market paperback edition released by Berkley Medallion Books in March of 1977. For one thing, Berkley Medallion is the kind of publisher that inserts full-color cigarette advertisements between leaves of their books. For another thing, Berkley Medallion is the kind of publisher whose copyright pages include disclaimers such as: "Published by arrangement with Playboy Press." In other words, Berkley Medallion fiction is adult fiction. [...]

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: Richard Nixon's 'Six Crises'

Sarah Palin's memoirs will be released next week! To prepare, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

If you publish a memoir before the age of fifty (as Richard Nixon did in 1962, as Sarah Palin will in 2009), you must live the rest of your life in rivalry with it.

Because you turn fifty, and then sixty, and then seventy, and then eighty (as Richard Nixon did in 1993, as Sarah Palin may in 2044), and like any reflective citizen, like any complicated soul, you modulate your opinions, you undertake works and pleasures, you prove your mettle, you reveal your great self. You [...]

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: The Literary Career of George H. W. Bush

To while away the days until the publication of Sarah Palin's memoirs on November 17th, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

Say you were to make a list of every American who has ever run for the vice presidency. Say you were to take that list to your local library. Say you were to sit at the reference computer, and say you were to type the names on your list into the "author" field of the electronic catalog, and say you were to run a search on each and every one. Among the results would be Doing Business by the Good Book: 52 Lessons on [...]

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: Edmund Muskie's 'Journeys'

To while away the days until the publication of Sarah Palin's 'Going Rogue' memoir on November 17th, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

Here is the quintessence of vice-presidential literature.

It is 1972. It was four years ago that President Lyndon Johnson decided not to seek re-election. It was four years ago that Sirhan Sirhan shot Bobby Kennedy dead. It was four years ago that the sitting Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey, became the Democratic Party's nominee, and it was four years ago that Humphrey chose as his Vice President a dove, an intellectual, a liberal, a native from the distant northern state of Maine: [...]

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: "Standing Firm: A Vice-Presidential Memoir," by Dan Quayle

To while away the days until the publication of Sarah Palin's memoirs on November 17th, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

The paramount question of Standing Firm: A Vice-Presidential Memoir is whether or not Dan Quayle has a sense of humor. On the one hand, Quayle says this: "I've got a pretty good sense of humor."

On the other hand, it is obvious that he does not.

At one point in the book, Quayle describes how he would prepare jokes ahead of time for his weekly lunches with the President. George H. W. Bush "liked good jokes," Quayle reports, but: I'm one of those [...]

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Literary Vices: Special Vice-Presidential Memoir Emergency Update!

To while away the days until the publication of Sarah Palin's memoirs on November 17th, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

There is breaking news about Spiro Agnew.

Now, Agnew was a Vice President unlike any other, so maybe I should have steeled myself before opening his memoir. But it is hard to steel yourself against giants, and Agnew's book, Go Quietly…or Else, is full of them. It reads like the literary equivalent of an exhibit on ice age mammals. Here is the skeleton of President Richard Nixon, that shabby mammoth, who grew his tusks twelve feet long. Here is the skeleton of Attorney General Elliot [...]

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: "An Amazing Adventure: Joe and Hadassah's Personal Notes on the 2000 Campaign"

To while away the days until the publication of Sarah Palin's memoirs on November 17th, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

Campaigns have their rumors.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, there were rumors was that John McCain didn't really want Sarah Palin as his running mate. He chose her because he needed "to excite the right," because he needed "to win the Hillary vote," because he was "a maverick" in search of "a game-changer." But the rumor was: If he had his way, McCain never would have picked Palin. The rumor was: McCain really wanted Joe Lieberman.

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Literary Vices, with Rudolph Delson: 'Ferraro: My Story'

To while away the days until the publication of Sarah Palin's memoirs on November 17th, Rudolph Delson is reviewing the American vice presidential literary canon.

So much of life is ephemera!

So much of politics is kerfuffles!

Consider Geraldine Ferraro's first memoir. She wrote it in 1985, about her 1984 campaign for the vice presidency. Here, on page 62, is how she sums up Ronald Reagan's first term in office: Programs were being cut back or eliminated, ketchup was being substituted for vegetables in school lunches, the President was blaming trees for pollution, and Interior Secretary James Watt was describing the members of his coal commission as "a [...]

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The Literary Vices Project: An Introduction

The chatter started last spring: Sarah Palin was writing a memoir, and it would be published in 2010. I moved my literary terror alert level from blue ("guarded") to yellow ("elevated"), but I figured I had plenty of time to prepare, figured I could safely spend the summer dozing-and then, last week, I awoke to a sudden code red. The chatter had changed: Sarah Palin had written swiftly and devotedly, her publication date was now November 17, 2009, and the title of the memoir would be Going Rogue: An American Life.

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