The novel The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, which is out today, is narrated by the 11-year-old pop star known for such bubblegum hits as "Guys vs. Girls" and "U R Kewt." The novel tracks Jonny, who speaks and thinks in a mash-up of tween grammar and music-industry lingo, on his "Valentine Days" tour across America. As he chafes under the control of his manager-mother, Jane, he attempts to reconnect clandestinely over the Internet with someone claiming to be his long-lost father. (In a review last week in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani had nice things to say about it.)
In this scene, Jonny has escaped [...]
New York University, Manhattan 11:44 A.M.
Nate "Shirky" Stryker looked over the NYU courtyard beneath his office balcony. There were 32,000 cobblestones in that perfect rectangle, or a thousand for each of the 32 degrees of Islamic-Rite Masonry, an organization that officially didn't even exist.
Stryker ran his left hand through his graying, dignified temple hair. Beneath him was a galley copy of his next book, Strangled Theories: Why Everything You Know About Memeology Is A Lie. A hot-pink Post-It on the title page said, "Another Million Seller! Fondly, R.M."
Perhaps it is, Stryker thought. Or perhaps it isn't. Time would tell, if Time continued its present lateral [...]
Eric Berkowitz's new book Sex And Punishment, out today from Counterpoint, is a fascinating survey of how legal systems over the millenia have attempted to regulate and police sex. In this excerpt, a discussion of the once-wide acceptance of same-sex unions between men in Europe of the Middle Ages.
Despite the risks, devotional relationships between men were common in Europe at the time, at least among the literate, and many of these affairs must have included sex at some point. Knights, aristocrats, and especially clerics left expansive evidence of their intense passions for male lovers, relationships that often ended in side-by-side burials. A letter from a respected monk–scholar [...]
How to Be: North Dakota – A Guide to the Plains is out now (and psst, costs only $8.95). The book, which features illustrations by Amy Jean Porter, would make a great holiday gift for anyone "who has looked at the vast expanse of Ole and Lena jokes and asked, 'Is that it?'"
HOLIDAYS, CUSTOMS AND UDDER STUFF
Naugahyde While its use peaked in the rest of America in the early 1970s, the tanned skin of the wild nauga remains popular in North Dakota.
Bison vs. Buffalo Buffalo, home to terrible pro-sports teams, is an industrial wasteland in New York State. A Bison is the mascot of a [...]
Dignity, a new book by Ken Layne, is a novel composed of found letters, set in the post-housing crisis California wasteland, when people must learn again how to make food.
My friends in Goleta Meadows,
I think about you always and honor the sacrifices you make for our community.
How is our little group? Are people from the area still showing up for the weekly suppers? Keep your gates open to neighbors, and hide nothing from the honestly curious. We are living without the three poisons by choice, to show the world a new path, in fact a new map of the world. Don’t be weary. [...]
In the spring of 1925, a 16-year-old Jackson, Mississippi, schoolboy named Richard Wright wrote his first story. He took it to the new black paper in town, the Southern Register, showing it to the editor, Malcolm Rogers, who promptly published it. Shortly thereafter, Wright, who worked as a local paperboy for the Chicago Defender, graduated from eighth grade at Smith Robertson Elementary School as valedictorian. He would go on to attend the new local black high school for only a few weeks before dropping out to work. On his way to school, Wright and a friend would bicycle through the white section of town and dig through the garbage cans [...]