Archive for February, 2003

susan orlean in los angeles

Friday, February 28th, 2003

Yesterday I received an invitation for a cocktail party with Susan Orlean, whose book The Orchid Thief inspired the Spike Jonze movie Adaptation, nominated for multiple Academy Awards this year. The New Yorker magazine is doing it and they’re inviting subscribers… So I call the RSVP line, and there’s a nice message to leave your name and number, and when it goes to the machine, it answers with “Sorry, this mailbox is full.” I tried a couple of times, and then gave up. Oh well.

Addendum: I tried again around 10:30 and got through. I think.

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oprah’s book club back

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

Thank the lit marketing gods! Oprah’s book club will return.

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plagiarism in online fic

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

Yesterday afternoon, Maud posted a very interesting article about a weird case of plagiarism. The basics: According to an article in the Daily Princetonian, Seth Shafer wrote a story that won the Fictionline contest in 2001. A year later, an eerily similar story was presented by Princeton student Ung Lee to a SUNY Stonybrook contest, and it won. The story was part of an entire collection, which was written under the tutelage of Joyce Carol Oates, and which went on to win many awards. Within minutes, the article was being discussed on Zoetrope. Today, MobyLives posted a link to the same article, and even has an interview with the author. I think everyone would like to hear Ung Lee’s side, but he hasn’t popped in anywhere on the lit sites. The evidence is pretty damning, however: Seth’s story vs. Ung’s story.

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crossfire

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Why, oh why did I even bother watching 5 minutes of Crossfire on CNN? The snippet I saw featured Dave Bossie, of Citizens United, a man who was urging Americans to boycott French and German products. He said it was because he wanted the French and the Germans to understand that they were the only thing that stood between the liberation of the Ai-raqi people and the dictatorship of Saddam. Hint to Mr. Bossie: If you’re going to “liberate” them, at least pronounce their name right.
And Tucker Carlson was egging him on, though he admitted he had no idea what Le Coq Sportif was. Hint to Mr. Carlson: In order to boycott, you’d have to be a consumer.
Why, oh why?

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writers on writing

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Joyce Maynard describes how the writing process works for her. I don’t usually link to these kinds of articles, because I’m of the opinion that there are as many “ways” as there are writers, but she’s very articulate. So it makes for a good read.

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stupid white men wins book award

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men has just won the British Book Award for Book of the Year. This was the first time that the public was allowed to vote on the award. I suppose it goes to show what’s on people’d minds right now.

Link via MobyLives.

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sold out

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

It’s looking more and more like the Kurds will be sold out in Bush’s efforts to invade Iraq. In exchange for using Turkey’s bases, Turkey is most likely going to have the right to occupy what has been essentially a self-governing area of Iraq for 10 years.
Nice going. Bush’s “liberators” are paving the way for a colonial enterprise on the part of Turkey. Isn’t it surreal that we are going to go to war with Iraq over its violations of UN resolutions, and in so doing, will ease the way for Turkey, which has violated even more resolutions than Iraq? (FYI, the top violators are, in order, Israel (31), Turkey (23), Morocco (18), all of them U.S. allies). And who knows how will such a move affect Kurds in other nations? (Besides Iraq and Turkey, there are Kurds in neighboring Iraq and Syria.)
Get the duct tape out.

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no dogs, no French, no Germans allowed

Monday, February 24th, 2003

A Danish pizza place owner has put up a sign barring French and German nationals (in addition to dogs) from entering his restaurant. C’est beau, la democratie, non?

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it’s my birthday

Monday, February 24th, 2003

It’s my birthday today. And as if to confirm the fact that I am indeed older, I didn’t know half of the performers mentioned at the Grammys last night. Who the hell is 50 cent? BigTymer? Remy Shand?
And I drank chamomille tea.
And I went to bed at 10:30.
So there.

Addendum: Alex and I went to Chaya for a quiet dinner tonight (but thanks to Neil, Candy, Irene, Drew, Sage, Maria, Keaver, and Carl for a fantastic dinner on Saturday). Ate entirely too much. Ran into an old friend I haven’t seen in almost a year.

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nonsense in a patriotism suit

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

In a continuing assault on our language for the sake of the “war on terra,” some restaurant owner in North Carolina has decided to re-name french fries. The new monicker? Why, freedom fries, of course. And if ya don’t like it, you’re not patriotic.

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best interview ever

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

This is the best author interview I’ve seen in years. The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten talks to Robert Burrow, author of the novel “Great American Parade.” Here is the opener:

“I am on the phone with Robert Burrows, author of the recently published political novel Great American Parade. This book has sold only 400 copies nationwide, and Burrows seems flabbergasted to be hearing from me. The most prestigious newspaper to have shown any interest so far is the Daily Student at Indiana University.
I tell Burrows that if he is willing to submit to an interview, I am willing to review his book at length in The Washington Post. The only catch, I said, is that I am going to say that it is, in my professional judgment, the worst novel ever published in the English language.
Silence.
“My review will reach 2 million people,” I said.
“Okay,” he said. ”

Read on….

Link via Metafilter.

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why poetry? why now?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2003

Between the recent woes of Amiri Baraka and Tom Paulin, the White House cancellation of its February poetry event, and the resulting spate of anti-war poems, it does seem like poets are in the news a lot lately. Joshua Clover asks Why Poetry? Why now? in this Village Voice article. Clover’s answer:
“We are now into the second year of a period when words are being policed with particular vigor, hemmed in by off-the-record advisories as much as by Patriot Acts and Total Information Awareness. But such measures can’t help but suggest that words themselves matter, now more than ever. Poets have been saying that all along.”

Link via Moby Lives.

Addendum: A review of the event “Poems Not Fit for the White House,” by Kelefa Sanneh in today’s New York Times.

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arabamericana

Wednesday, February 19th, 2003

Today’s New York Times includes a piece on Arab American writers featuring, among the poets, the up and coming (Suheir Hammad) as well as the established (Naomi Shihab Nye). The article also mentions novels to look for this Spring by Diana Abu-Jaber and Laila Halaby. Oh, and it “outs” Arab American writers who don’t directly address Arab American themes, like Mona Simpson. The future of labels is safe.

Thanks to Sami for the link.

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snow lit

Tuesday, February 18th, 2003

The East Coast blizzard prompted this piece in the Washington Post today, which looks at Snow Lit:
“Some of the most memorable works of fiction

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harper’s review

Tuesday, February 18th, 2003

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for Harper’s Weekly Review. Too many depressing items to quote (war, self-censorship, human rights abuses, etc.) but also lighter ones like: “The Thai government urged women to enlarge their breasts with exercises rather than plastic surgery; as part of a demonstration, dozens of women wearing shorts and T-shirts squeezed their breasts outside the health ministry in Bangkok.”

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say goodbye to salon.com

Monday, February 17th, 2003

The end is near. Which is a shame. But then again, how does a content-provider rack up $81 million in debt?

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rushdie in crosshairs again

Monday, February 17th, 2003

I can’t quite decide which piece of news is the most surreal: the fact that poor Salman Rushdie is again in the cross-hairs of the wacko Revolutionary Guards in Iran or the fact that Rushdie is reportedly wooing Sophie Dahl, the model/author who is also the granddaughter of Roald Dahl. And in an even more surreal way, the two stories connect in this quote, attributed to the children’s author, that Rushdie “knew what he was doing and got what he was asking for.”
Ay Carumba.

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“the only bush I trust is mine”

Sunday, February 16th, 2003

That’s what one girl wrote on her pink banner at yesterday’s rally in Los Angeles.
Other signs included: Draft the Bush Twins, Stop the Bushit, How did Our Oil get under Their Soil, Saddam Hussein = Unelected dictator, Bush = Unelected dic, One Regime Change Deserves Another, etc.
The rally started at Hollywood and Vine and ended at the recruiting station on Sunset and La Brea. Pictures are available if you click on “More.”

(more…)

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it’ll be over soon

Friday, February 14th, 2003

Thank God it’s the 14th already. That means only a few more hours before Valentine’s Day is over and I don’t have to sit through silly heart-shaped ads or hear any more about this forced celebration of (and concomitant gift-giving to) loved ones.

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world press photo winner

Friday, February 14th, 2003

This picture, by Los Angeles-based Eric Grigorian for Polaris Images, has just won the World Press 2002 award for picture of the year. It was taken on June 23 2002, after the earthquake in Iran that claimed the lives of 500 people. The boy is holding his father’s trousers as he mourns over the freshly dug grave.

grigorian.jpg

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writer’s block

Thursday, February 13th, 2003

Every once in a while, you hear about how a hot young writer has “writer’s block” and can’t produce another work. This time is Alex (“The Beach”) Garland who’s being scrutinized by critics. What’s wrong with taking a break? Especially if you’ve got nothing to say, which he (bravely) admits?
Link via Literary Saloon.

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meet the new Iraqi viceroy

Thursday, February 13th, 2003

Well, what else should he be called? The Christian Science Monitor has a piece on who will be ruling Iraq “after it’s over.”

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doonesbury on our reps

Thursday, February 13th, 2003

Garry Trudeau breaks down the extremely nuanced and principled position of our representatives on the mess with Iraq. It’s particularly relevant for Democrats, I think.

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brontes quiz

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

This one’s for you, Alex. How well do you know your Brontes? Which one wrote Jane Eyre and which one Wuthering Heights? Find out in this lit quiz from the Guardian.

My score? “Acute Brontitis: You’re the classic case – from the outside, no one would suspect you of any intellectual ill-health. But you can suddenly be struck, without warning, with an absolute and wholly erroneous conviction that Charlotte Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights. She’s the famous one, right? And that’s the famous book, so it must have been her. Mustn’t it?”

Heh.

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it’s raining

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

in Los Angeles. Such a nice change of pace. Great weather for staying indoors and getting work done.

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emergency preparedness

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

Someone posted a message on one of the boards I read about how we’re all supposed to be prepared for an attack, have water, duct tape to seal windows, etc. I’m not sure there’s much we can do if there is indeed a biological or chemical attack, though. Remember the days when schoolchildren were taught to hide under their desks in case of an atomic bomb? Or are there precautions worth taking?

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damp gun

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

Yesterday, Powell told the Senate Budget Committee that a transcript of a new Bin Laden taped to be released by Al-Jazeera would demonstrate the link betwen Al-Qaeda and Iraq and that this link could no longer be “looked away from or ignored.” The State Department spokesperson, Richard Boucher, declared to Al-Jazeera that the tape showed that the Iraqi president and the terrorist leader are “bound by a common hatred.”
So the message is: Saddam and Bin Laden are old chums, and, really, we ought to do something about it. Simple enough for you?
Except that’s not the whole story. On the tape, Bin Laden calls Saddam and his Baath party “infidels,” a term we all thought was reserved for us Americans. Bin Laden is no friend of Saddam.
But did this bit make it on the news? I watched a local broadcast, and all that was mentioned was the threat of suicide attacks, Saddam and Osama’s alliance, etc.

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poetry and politics

Monday, February 10th, 2003

The spate of articles, op-eds and interviews from poets and writers about the war on Iraq sparks the usual discussion about whether artists have anything valuable to add to the political debate. See this Boston Globe article for example.
Funny, I never read such discussions when writers were being used for a book put out by Bush’s administration to promote an “American view” of the world.

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intelligence gathering vs. plagiarism

Monday, February 10th, 2003

I guess Downing Street didn’t get the memo about what constitutes “intelligence,” or information gathered on the ground by reliable sources. The “smoking gun” dossier put forth by Tony Blair apparently contains large portions plagiarized (typos and all) directly from one Ibrahim Al-Marashi, a grad student in California who was publishing his own research in a scholarly journal. In addition, some of Al-Marashi’s words were changed in a way that makes the “Iraqi threat” more clear and imminent. Read about it here. And read about Tony Blair’s admission here.

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if judges don’t read, why should reviewers?

Friday, February 7th, 2003

Shocking! A reviewer who may not have read the book she was supposed to review. On a more serious note, if even the NY Times reviewers get this sloppy, what does that say about the rest of them? Here’s the review in question.
Links via Mobylives.

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