April 17, 2012

No Fiction Pulitzer for You!

For the first time in 35 years, there was no Pulitzer Price awarded in the fiction category. The Pulitzer fiction board, made up of jurors Susan Larson (former editor of The Times-Picayune), Maureen Corrigan (book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air), and novelist Michael Cunningham who won the 1999 Pulitzer for The Hours couldn’t reach the necessary consensus  to award a winner to one of the three fiction finalists.

The three finalists were Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russel.

In an email that she wrote the Associate Press (AP), 1992 Pulitzer Prize fiction winner, Jane Smiley, wrote:

“I can’t believe there wasn’t a worthy one. It’s a shame. But sometimes a selection committee really cannot agree, and giving no award is the outcome. Too bad.”

While I don’t know the logistics behind choosing a book for the prize, I can imagine it must feel like a slap in the face to the finalists (except Foster Wallace who is deceased) or to anyone who wrote a noteworthy novel in 2011. What gives?

April 11, 2012

Who Said It? James Joyce or Kool Keith?

My husband sent me this quiz. You must guess if the quote was by James Joyce or rapper and former Bellevue mental patient, Kool Keith.

I only got 6 out of 10 right!

April 7, 2012

What Does Your Bedside Table REALLY Look Like?

Berlin-based illustrator Christoph Niemann, who has cartooned for The New Yorker and Wired (among others)  has recently had his work anthologized in a book titled Abstract City. To celebrate the launch of the book, he drew a very funny cartoon for The Huffington Post of what he’d like his bedside table to look like and what it really looks like.

When I saw it, I laughed.


Let’s just say I can relate.

March 31, 2012

Mario Vargas Llosa Will Donate His Library to Peru

In a gesture of love for his Peruvian homeland, Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa said last Wednesday during a press conference on his 76th birthday, that he will donate his personal library to his hometown of Arequipa Peru. The author of novels including Conversation in the Cathedral and The Time of the Hero stated that his collection of 30,000 books (trying to imagine his library right now) will be a variety of books spanning from his collection of history, literature, and politics. Vargas Llosa says he will gradually begin donating the books beginning with his birthday next year.

March 26, 2012


The Hunger Games hit theaters Friday and rabid fans lined up for hours to get in. The film is based on the wildly popular book by Suzanne Collins. The post-apocalyptic novel’s popularity  has the dystopian novel on the rise again and Good Reads has charted it out in a clever way.

It also asks the question, Could The Hunger Games become more widely read than Orwell’s 1984? And, while we’re at it, where’s a mention of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin? His book was the  grandaddy of dystopian literature!

March 23, 2012

The Grass is Greener at St. Martin’s Press

Someone wanted to get the staff at St. Martin’s Pres really stoned. The Smoking Gun reported that over eleven pounds of marijuana were mailed to St. Martin’s Press by a mystery sender. The pot was intercepted by postal workers after one noticed a “suspicious odor” coming from the package.

The package o’ pot, which is estimated to be worth about $70,000, was addressed to “Karen Wright”, someone that St. Martin’s says doesn’t exist at their company and the return address read “ATB Books”, which is also nonexistent. Galley Cat asks the important question: Who is Karen Wright?  Her name apparently has no literary connotations that anyone can think of.

Now that the story has broke, a #PotLit hashtag is creeping up on Twitter. Oh the fun people can have with that! Makes me want to read some Richard Brautigan right now!

March 20, 2012

My Reading Hang-Ups

I’ve often said that life it too short to drudge through books that don’t grab you. I already I have a pile waiting to be read and can’t be bothered forcing myself through a book if it’s not making me feel something. Then there are those books that make me feel too much, in a bad way. Over at The Guardian UK book blog, Imogen Russell Williams writes about the books she’s ashamed to admit she just couldn’t finish because the subject matter was too painful. These literary hang ups include the rape of Tess in Hardy’s classic and the injustice delivered in To Kill a Mockingbird.

While I don’t have exactly the same reading hang-ups (To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of my all-time favorite novels), I do have my own. Anything that targets animals or children turns me away. Before I became a mother, I was able to read a lot of books that included child abuse like Maxim Gorky’s My Childhood (I loved it) and the horrific, twisted, and incredible The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks that involved burning dogs and tortured children.

There was one book, however, that I could never get through, before I was even a parent. That would be The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kozinski. It’s hard to believe the man who wrote the wry, witty, and often hilarious Being There wrote this book, filled with such brutality aimed at a little orphan boy that it still makes me shudder. And I get it – the book is a metaphor for humanity’s cruelty, war, etc. but I just couldn’t finish it. I tried though, because Kosinski is a fantastic writer. I even got about fifty pages in, but then had to put it down. I think it was when the ravens started pecking at the boy’s head when I decided enough was enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dark, but there’s a line for me and Kosinski crossed it. Now as a parent, I’m a lot weaker. I have a harder time than I did before with innocents being harmed, namely children and animals. Of course, it’s all in the way the writer tells the story, crafting it so it’s palatable (hence Gorky). However, it’s a matter of taste and there are always those weak spots that some of us possess.

The can be said for films. I still marvel that my husband loved Wolf Creek and Battle Royale. I’d rather sweep the kitchen with a toothbrush than go near either one of those.

March 18, 2012

Boozing it Up on the Page

St. Patrick’s Day was yesterday and I nearly forgot unti I saw a guy wearing a green balloon hat and green suspenders. Had it been 12 years ago, my sister and I (who are something like 1/16 Irish) would be throwing a rager, complete with Bushmills, Guinness, green cookies, and dry ice pluming out of the toilet (we actually cracked the tank once. Yeah, not a smart move). These days, I boil some red cabbage if I even remember St. Patrick’s Day and look at my green dresses in the closet, then slip into a pair of jeans instead. Whatever.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day benders, The Huffington Post published a piece on getting smashed in literature. Very entertaining. Highlights include Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton, and Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis.

My personal favorites would have to include The Great Gatsby, and possibly The Dharma Bums by Kerouac, but mostly John Cheever comes to mind,  particularly O Youth and Beauty!which remains one of the most tangible and touching stories on getting ripped I’ve ever read. Cheever wrote about booze like no one else.

March 4, 2012

Breakfast at Capote’s For $12 Million

Truman Capote’s former house at 70 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights has sold for $12 million. The author penned Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the massive yellow house, built in 1839, that includes 11 bedrooms, a 2,500-square-foot garden, and a massive wine cellar.

Sotheby’s published some beautiful photos of the house. Check them out here.



March 3, 2012

Haruki Murakami Fan

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