This is a really terrific essay by Alex Shakar, who was set up to be the Hot New Un-Sad Literary Young Man ten years ago with his first novel, when Bill Clegg got him $300,000 (or more?) from Robert Jones at HarperCollins. Pub date: September, 2001. Guess what happened! That's right: Jones died and Clegg, soon enough, went MIA in a crackhouse. Oh also some other stuff I guess.
Part of the purpose of a large advance, I understood, was to gain a book publicity. But I told nearly no one. Instead, for weeks, I did math in my head. I subtracted my agency’s cut and divided the [...]
His name is Ed Balls, and his candidacy for the leadership of Britain's Labour party will actually be an important indicator on which direction that nation's opposition wishes to take after a dispiriting defeat (he is identified with the Gordon Brown wing of the party, while his chief rivals are Tony Blair proteges), but that's not what really matters here: If you think I'm passing up something with the headline "Balls expected to enter fray" you are giving me far too much credit for maturity and taste.
Last night had Harvard profs giving 10 minute speeches on "big ideas." And this happened: "Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer Timothy P. McCarthy, who hinted that his days at Harvard might be numbered during his 10-minute presentation, discussed the future of protest-an area in which 'teabaggers and terrorists and other terrible people might have gotten a head start.'" You betcha yer days are numbered, babe, when that Sarah Palin comes on over to Cambridge! Still, we're on his team-he went on to trash Larry Summers, wondering why the guy who presided over Harvard's endowment disaster is helping to fix the federal government's own financial crisis. That is indeed the big [...]
"[T]here are good reasons to embark on a memoir: the world and the self collide in a particular way that only you, or mostly you, can narrate; you would like a preemptive grab at controlling the discourse. For instance: Are you Winston Churchill? Are you Nixon in China? Are you Pat Nixon in China? Did you compose Nixon in China? (Its composer, John Adams, has in fact written an engaging memoir.) Are you connected to a fascinating and underexplored chapter in history in any manner whatever? Are you a professional storyteller with a beautiful prose style and some autobiography begging for reportage? Are you a trenchant thinker with incisive [...]
Here is a mixtape about pronouns and antecedents. (Although, oftentimes, it turns out, in the popular music, "it" stands for sexual intercourse and/or genitalia.) The author notes, regarding the music of today: "I'm sorry, you want it what way? What is the this that's not it? Wait, what exactly won't you do?"
“Hollywood is essentially in the business of not making movies,” said Henry Finder, editorial director of The New Yorker. “They only make a movie when they run out of reasons not to make it.” —That's just an A+ quote.
Anonymous ladies at Slate crunch the number of book reviews by gender at the New York Times over the last two years (throwing their data-gathering "associate editor Chris Wilson" under the bus as they do so-no Times reviews in your future, buddy!). So: "Of the 545 books reviewed between June 29, 2008 and Aug. 27, 2010, 338 were written by men (62 percent of the total) [and] 207 were written by women (38 percent of the total)…. Of the 101 books that received two reviews in that period: 72 were written by men (71 percent)."
This season's winner of Tool Academy, a reality show on VH1 in which awful mostly-male people are tricked into going to couples' therapy in order to make them better mostly-boyfriends, was an aspiring professional wrestler named Jacob, or "J.T. Extreme." In the final episode, we were treated to an apparently sincere ceremony in which Jacob sacrificed, as a sign of his romantic contrition, his leopard-print leotard and banana hammock on a fire, causing an entire nation to mentally smell the worst smell anyone has ever smelled. (I imagined a toaster which has been turned on, smeared with Icy Hot, and stuffed with an large chunk of runny Camembert. What [...]