In honor of Halloween, some guy is listing the ten scariest novels. Really, it should just be called: Ten Scary Novels, leaving the superlative out. We’re not particularly terrified. Bonus points for selecting the John Gray book, though.
Being funny is never as easy as it looks and very few women novelists find it possible at all. Almost every week a novel is published by a woman, for women, that we are assured will make us laugh out loud and at which one barely smiles. How many women novelists are capable of high comedy? Jane Austen. Helen Fielding. Who else? Nancy Mitford? Anita Loos? Certainly not the current crop of writers marketed under the title of Chick Lit.
It’s the “women novelists” part I’m finding hard to swallow. Anyhow, I’m thankful for the clarification that the zygomatic muscles aren’t connected to the vagina.
When it started we figured it was just the return of the annual fire season, but it’s getting worrisome. We live close to the beach, almost 50 miles from the fires, and we’ve had hazy weather and falling ashes for three days. We’ve been trying not to breathe. It’s been difficult.
Slate has a slideshow of artist Sloane Tanen’s take on chick lit. Ridiculing chick lit is so, like, 1999, don’t you think?
This weekend brought the usual crop of author profiles. The Guardian has an article on Alison Lurie.
This year she published a collection of essays, Boys and Girls Forever , in which studies of children’s classics are linked under a thesis that the authors have “in some sense remained children themselves”. The book follows on from her 1990 collection of essays, Don’t Tell the Grown-ups, in which Lurie asserted that many children’s classics were essentially subversive.
Lurie cites The Wizard of Oz and even Little Women in that category. The rest of the profile is about her birth and upbringing, and how she started writing.
Poor, poor Woody Allen. You see, the memoir mess was really just another case of Allen being caught in “a power struggle between two women.”
(Link via Publishers’ Lunch)
Today marks the start of Ramadan. The Muslim calendar uses a lunar system, which means that this holiday shifts by about ten days every year, so it’s not entirely surprising that there’s some disagreement about when the holiday starts. Some purists insist on relying on moon-sighting to predict the start of the month while others rely on scientific calculations. At least this year there seemed to be widespread agreement between the two camps that Ramadan starts today. So, Ramadan Mubarak.
Links for those who like to plan early: Eid stamps. Greeting cards.
The Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall opened yesterday. It’s disheartening that Gehry’s work is associated with Disney, but what the hell, this is L.A. We have a Staples Center for crying out loud. The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed Bach, Mozart, and others. The website doesn’t show many photos of the hall, so you’ll have to go here and here. Side note: For those of you who moan about the cult of the young and beautiful in publishing, rest assured that it’s no different in other creative spheres. I remember well the kinds of articles that came out when Esa-Pekka Salonen became conductor for the L.A. Phil.
So everyone’s talking about the new Amazon.com “Search Inside the Book.” Jeff Bezos’ front page memo picks a conveniently low-frequency word to demonstrate the usefulness of the feature: “resistojet,” which, prior to the installation, returned no results, but now gives a nice set of 8 matches. Problem is, most users need to search for higher frequency words. Take for example the innocuous “morocco orphanage.” You’d think this search would give a somewhat restricted result set. But I ended up with 1,200 hits. How do you sort through that many results? Not convenient. There should be a way to turn the feature on or off when searching.