If you can read a couple of sentences such as "The success of viral geniuses like Zimmerman shouldn't be dispiriting to more traditional outlets, though. Rather, it's evidence that social media is something that actually can be figured out — and, given the traffic at play, there's a tremendous reward for those who figure it out" without needing to take several deep breaths and a walk around the block in an effort to restrain [...]
• "[H]e went home and asked his mother for a big piece of cardboard. She gave him a dress box from the Bon Ton Store, which she had been saving."
• "Encyclopedia did not lift his eyes from his book, How to Build a Nuclear Reactor."
• "The Tigers were busy racing garter snakes."
• "The [egg]-spinning field was the smooth marble slab under the statue of Thomas Edison."
• "The Browns were having left-over meatloaf for dinner one night when the telephone rang."
Writers by definition spend a lot of time on the inside of books, which is why what happens on the outside—namely, cover art and blurbs—can feel precarious and daunting. Often these elements are beyond an author’s control or expertise, which can be painful to admit, particularly when the "expertise" of graphic designers and marketers seems so subjective or at odds with an author’s “vision” for a book.
To get some advice on navigating these issues, we asked a handful of writers—including Kate Christensen, Bennett Madison, Stefanie Pintoff, Mark Jude Poirier and Tom Scocca—who have been through the process these questions:
- How important are covers in terms [...]
Oh, guess what exists? TOM SCOCCA, THE SLATE BLOG. Come for the logo of the hobbyhorse, stay for the way his child makes fun of Mickey Kaus! Surely there will be recipes too.
Tom Scocca: "It once did not matter if editors had all of their facts straight at the morning news meeting; there was plenty of time for reporting and editing. But with the world looking over their shoulders, things are different. Editors are dressing better, speaking in complete, sound-bite sentences, and mistakes are embarrassing."
Choire Sicha: Uh oh.
Tom: I'll let you go ahead and watch the TimesCast program for me.
Choire: Oh no. You're not getting off that easy.
Tom: My browser is cloggy. Too many tabs! I am therefore Old Media.
"Fuck!" the kid said, from the back seat of the car. They pick these things up from everywhere, the two-and-a-half-year-old children do. The child is like a runaway threshing machine rattling across the landscape of language, ingesting and scattering everything in its path: grain, chaff, string beans, feed buckets, chopped-up bits of mailboxes. How much of what your child says is understandable? the developmental survey form asks. You mean articulate? Or comprehensible? "The greens are taking care of the eights," he says. Or: "Welcome to Metro." Or: "I want a toaster in my ear."
This barely is a recipe at all, which is the reason for it. Who is interested in cooking a side vegetable? But if you are feeding yourself, you need to include side vegetables or you will eventually develop chronic ailments. If you are feeding other people, they will be gratified by the variety and will feel properly cared-for. Multiple dishes! A balanced meal! Here is a way to do that with as little effort and attention as possible, and with only a minor amount of danger. You need: garlic. Salt. Cooking oil. One head of romaine lettuce.
12. Manischewitz matzo crackers
11. Candy corn
10. Candy canes
9. Cranberry sauce
8. Leg of lamb
Tonight, at PowerHouse Arena, it is the Brooklyn Launch Party for Tom Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You, a nonfiction chronicle of what Beijing has so recently become. As China is now (well, as usual) so much in the news, we asked him some questions!
Choire Sicha: Tom Scocca, as you have written a book called Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future, which is brand new and good and also a book I have read, you are the only expert on China.* (*That I personally know.) Is this a great week for China or what?
Tom Scocca: If you set aside the fact that all [...]
"My parents raised me with rules and standards, which I gradually learned to break over time. I can remember my mother remonstrating with me, probably in the middle-school years, for my overreliance on 'holy crap.' It was no doubt a relief to my father when I devolved into full foul-mouthed teenagerhood and he could go back to saying "dog-fucking son of a bitch" during Eagles games or whenever. But he didn't try to speed up the process."
These Everybody's Nuts brand pistachios were on sale at the Giant, right by the regular pistachios, and I was feeling cheap and in a hurry so I bought them. They are terrible.
I should have known not to buy pistachios that come in flavors. Pistachios should taste like pistachios and salt. But so I tried to get the most normal-sounding flavors I could: one bag of "European roast" and one of "salt & pepper." Pepper's pretty inoffensive, right?
From time to time, The Awl offers its space to normal, everyday people with a perspective on national issues. Today, we're pleased to bring you this report by Tom Scocca, who at this time has some thoughts about high school football.
Hurry up and enjoy your rugged NFL action while you can, America! Also your willing soldiers and what's left of your competent builders, hard-working truckers, and anyone else who applies guts and effort to get through adversity. The Washington Post brings a report from the high school football fields where the character of the next American generation is being molded-or rather, not molded, because who wants [...]
There was a loud but muffled scream, and when I looked up, the kid was gone.
It wasn't that scary for me; I did know where he was, more or less. But this was what I was leaving my wife with, on the other end of the phone:
[Child's screaming.] Fuck! Shit. Uh, I gotta call you back- [Screaming continues in background.] [Call disconnects.]
I was standing by the elevator bank, all by myself. The screaming was coming from the other side of a closed elevator door.
Tom Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future has just come out in paperback. This distinctive American's-eye-view of China's capital is bracingly cerebral without didacticism, intimate and touching without the slightest trace of "self-realization." I loved it.
Maria Bustillos: There is so much I want to know about your book, and about China. How long has it been since you were last there? How has the book been received? How old is [your son] Mack, [who was born in China], now?
Tom Scocca: We haven't been back since I was doing the epilogue, in May 2010. The book's been received pretty well, I think. Or [...]
"The mystery of political conversion narratives is why claiming that you used to believe the wrong thing, because you were stupid, moves you to the front of the line to talk about the new, correct thing that you believe, now that you are smart."
It is astounding that this even needs to be said: "If Charles Krauthammer and Newt Gingrich think there is any comparison between what happened at Auschwitz and what happened at Ground Zero, then they are Holocaust deniers. Build 400 sets of Twin Towers, force an entire population into them at gunpoint, and then crash 800 airplanes into them-airplane after airplane, loaded with women and children, with the goal of exterminating their entire race-and you might begin to have something like Auschwitz.
Lower Manhattan is not Auschwitz."
Choire Sicha: I have just received in the mail the galley of an anthology, released today, about reality television, which is called "Reality Matters" and which has a foreword by James Frey.
Tom Scocca: You have never.
Choire: I have so! (And Will Leitch and others are reading from it tonight in New York!)
Tom: What have you learned from it? What does James Frey have to say about reality television?
Tom: "Even with requisite journalistic care (including round-robin meetings with editors), it would seem that a [David] Paterson story should have been ready to be printed by Friday morning, especially since any yet-to-be confirmed charges against the governor could always run in a later article. Instead, the Times has yet to publish. While there may be extenuating factors, we have reached the point when the Times' care at being journalistically responsible has become irresponsible." Choire: I mean. How do you even come to that conclusion? Tom: It is crackers.