Archive for November, 2009


Monday notes

November 23, 2009

In case your Monday passing slowly, and you need something to help pass the time:

  • Kim Stanley Robinson explains why dystopia is easy.
  • James White offers insights into the films of Terry Gilliam.
  • Ben Schott‘s readers had fun with drunks.
  • Stephen King on Raymond Carver.
  • David Jolly brings us a morbid moment from France.
  • WNYC’s Studio 360 brings us Darwin in verse, Denis Dutton on The Art Instinct, murder and drama among chimpanzees, and original fiction from Lydia Millet (read by Martha Plimpton).

And as I’m having a hard time coming up with anything else, how about a Totoro bus?


National Book Awards

November 19, 2009

Motoko Rich brings us the winners of the National Book Awards:

Colum McCann won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday night for “Let the Great World Spin,” a novel featuring a sprawling cast of characters in 1970s New York City whose lives are ineluctably touched by the mysterious tightrope walker who traverses a wire suspended between the Twin Towers one morning.

In accepting the award, the Irish-born Mr. McCann, now a teacher of creative writing at Hunter College, said, “As fiction writers and people who believe in the word, we have to enter the anonymous corners of human experience to make that little corner right.” The book was published by Random House.

In the nonfiction category, T. J. Stiles won for “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt,” a biography of the man who fathered a dynasty, presided over a railroad empire and, in the words of the judging panel, “all but invented unbridled American capitalism” ….

…. Perhaps the most moving moment of the night came with the presentation of the award for Young People’s Literature, which went to Phillip Hoose for “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” a biography of Ms. Colvin, who as an African-American teenager in 1950s Montgomery, Ala., refused to give up her seat on a bus nine months before Rosa Parks took the same stand.

Mr. Hoose brought Ms. Colvin onto the stage to accept the award. “My job was to pull someone who was about to disappear under history’s rug,” he said. The book was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Additionally, Keith Waldrop snagged the poetry award for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (Univ. of California Press); Dave Eggers took home the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, which recognized his efforts for 826 National, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young writers. Gore Vidal received the award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and apparently gave a cryptic acceptance speech.



Hard Times

November 17, 2009

Take it from the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist without a newspaper:, David Horsey, November 16, 2009

David Horsey,, November 16, 2009



For the love of the words?

November 16, 2009

Sometimes you look at something and the first thing to strike you simply isn’t the obvious. Or maybe it is. To wit. Or witless. Folks who actually enjoy words might be aware of Ben Schott, over at The New York Times with the Schott’s Vocab blog.

Anyway, Schott’s Almanac 2010 is apparently available now. Call it a plug if you want, but here is what struck me:

Described by The Sunday Times as “a social barometer of genuine historical value,” “Schott’s Almanac” explores high art and pop culture, geopolitics and gossip, scientific discovery and sporting achievement. Above all, Schott’s is an almanac written to be read.

(Sadly, there is no U.S. version of the almanac this year ….

First thing to mind is that the market just doesn’t warrant an American printing of SA 2010. Really, how many copies could a publisher hope to sell?

Second thing to mind: Isn’t that kind of sad?



(Insert Title Here)

November 11, 2009

Fun stuff from around:

  • Short fiction online: Rebecca Lee’s “Bobcat.
  • Book reviews: Ted Wilson on The Bible.
  • Emanuel Faye drags Martin Heidegger back into the news.
  • Lemony Snicket finds a new home.
  • Breakfast serial: Del Rey will publish King/Straub novel The Talisman as a serial comic book.
  • Book review: Speaking of Stephen King, Paul Constant has a few things to say about the newly released behemoth, The Dome.
  • And speaking of Paul Constant … actually, no. You know what? I’m out.

And now, for absolutely no reason at all:

Short story cartoon

(I have no proper attribution for the above frame. If I discover the artist’s name, I’ll definitely include it here.)



What was the last book you loved?

November 11, 2009

Here’s an interesting notion: A book review contest.

Well, it’s not much of a contest, but:

We’d like to know the last book you loved. Send us a writeup of the last book you truly loved, along with a short bio. We’ll publish our favorites in The Rumpus blog. No length requirements.

And no deadline, either. At least, none that I can see in the appeal to readers from Stephen Elliott.

Contact information available through that last link. Dust off your favorites. I have no guesses on the deadline; Elliott ran one of these last month, too.

Maybe in the long run we can organize some SCWC reviews penned by any of our unconventional conventionists. No promises yet; I’ll have to figure out how to work that. In the meantime, if your review of the last book you loved makes The Rumpus, let us know.



Science Fiction: Looking forward back

November 11, 2009

So what is the state of science fiction in the twenty-first century?

Unfortunately, the newly-reimagined V series for ABC television is meeting an unenthusiastic response from pretty much everyone I know who watched the premiere. So, hey, let’s hop in that magic time machine known as YouTube and check back some twenty-six years to encounter a thoughtful-looking Charlie Rose interviewing Faye Grant about the 1983 miniseries:

An interesting quote:

    Rose: Does this somehow represent—because of the ratings success of the miniseries, and now they’re making it into a regular series—a comeback for science fiction?

    Grant: I think so. Not only is it a comeback for science fiction, it’s a new kind of science fiction. What— The science fiction that was portrayed in the past on television and so forth was something that was beyond what our technology could even fathom. And what we’re doing now is combining what we know does exist, or is possible, with the reality of the human aspect—how human beings would respond to this actually happening.

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