Give-or-take, there are 50k book blogs on Tumblr. Searching for a fresh and clever title therefore earned repeated "url already chosen" scoldings.
So we've kicked clever aside and gone with utility: this blog's name should at least give a fair description of its intent. It is simply Another Book Blog.
I normally have several books going at once. At present, one of them is INFINITE JEST. To compliment such a tome, I’d been reading PRIDE & PREJUDICE, finished today, and now BOSSY PANTS. The switch from one to the other had provided a delightful perspective on (let’s call it?) feminism.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
“…are you quite certain that you can be happy with him?”
There can be no doubt of that. It is settled between us already that we are to be the happiest couple in the world. Are you pleased, Jane?”
I was walking home alone from school and I was wearing a dress. A dude drove by and yelled, “Nice tits.” Embarassed and enraged, I screamed after him, “Suck my dick.”
Have I mentioned, perhaps too many times, how much I love Tina Fey?
Both books, by the way, I’d highly recommend if I didn’t already know that you’d read each already.
Late last night I finished Vaclav & Lena. This book is something to (forgive the word) cherish. It is all the secrets we keep growing up. It’s what it’s like to be a kid alone, what it’s like, how exciting, to be a kid finally with a best friend. It’s what it’s like, later, to fall in love. It’s all those things exactly. The story is fabulously told. It is real, not a fairy tale, which makes the tender points only more so.
Haley Tanner will be at Power House Arena in Brooklyn Heights tonight. This is one I wouldn’t miss.
In Which Gawker Walks Back Their Snark on The Social Network
Gawker, 8/11/09: Aaron Sorkin told the website MakingOf that he's never agreed to a project so fast as when he signed on to adapt Ben Mezrich's Facebook book. Sorkin still doesn't know what he was thinking.
Gawker, 7/8/10: Ughh. Here comes another teaser for The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin's too-timely movie about the creation of the most important invention of all time, the Facebook. This one is just as serious as the first one, only now there's typing!
Gawker, 7/27/10: Are you anticipating The Social Network as highly as we are? It's this movie about a deranged psycho who kills people by strangling them with their own small intestines. No, wait. It's about a nerd who founded a popular website.
Gawker, 9/22/10: Well, crap. Now we really want to see it. Like, unironically.
“Only spoiled white people could let something so good get so bad,” a character Verbals in Gary Shteyngart’s dystopian novel, SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY. The book’s about the America we’re creating with News Corp, Halliburton, shallow online media, and exploding debt. It’s an America where youth is coddled and worshiped—a post-literate age where students major in Images and Assertiveness; where American Idol has morphed into (the perhaps more American) American Spender; where a private militia runs the country (poorly), and a starving citizenry is hypnotized by Fox LibertyUltra’s bombastic coverage of gays marrying in New York City. It is, Shteyngart imagines, the America we will be living in 10 years from today.
If this amazing page-turner of a novel is 1984 for the Facebook/Fox News generation, it’s also a huge maturation for its author. Unlike Shteyngart’s past books, where shtick can crowd out substance, SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY enjoys depth and fully sympathetic characters. Woven into this very fun read, Shteyngart philosophizes about the transient nature of life (one narrator works for Post-Human Services where uber-rich clients buy immortality), the burden and necessity of family (both narrators were abused by immigrant parents they can’t abandon to an unaccepting America), the public vs. private self (middleschoolers live-stream homemade porn to boost their online peer ranking), the ever-evolving concepts of both history and value, and (of course) the meaning of life.
There are so many creative and insightful elements of Shteyngart’s future America to talk about, but I’ll not spoil the fun by mentioning them here. Nor will I, as the New York Times Book Review did this weekend, devote most of my space to plot summarizing the novel’s final 40 pages (worst book review ever). Instead, I’ll end on an anecdote: Visiting friends, the conversation briefly turned to Jersey Shore and their 14-year-old daughter took this one opportunity to detach from her iPhone and join the conversation. “Snookie’s great,” she observed. “She likes pickles.” She then returned to the iPhone, where she posted the insight to Facebook. Maybe we’re already living in the world that Styenghart warns us of - and we just don’t see it.
Dystopian seems to be word of the moment in Lit these days. My fellow blogger used it to describe Gary Steyngart newest book - which I suppose makes sense for an adult novel by a cynical immigrant author to which nothing has come easy in life.
But what is the world coming to when ‘dystopian lit’ is also the hottest craze for the YA set? What happened to teens wanting to read about twin sisters who always wear lavender and babysitting jobs that turn into police car chases in Manhattan or far-fetched spooky stories set at baseball practice? Why on earth would teenagers want to read about a dark future in which the human population is decimated by climate change?
The popularity of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (first 2 books in the her trilogy) proves that they don’t just like it, they crave it - and they’re counting down the days till they can get more. Both books have had a firm footing on the NY Times and USA Today Bestsellers lists, and bookstores across the nation are holding midnight release parties on August 23 (Mockingjay Day) in honor of the third book’s release. There’s no doubt teens are digging dystopia right now.
Gary Shteyngart sure has the market corned on…something. Super Sad True Love Story is serious-yet-kooky dystopian lit. The story is uncomfortable but often hilarious, it’s fun and somehow revolting, it’s scary and wonderful. Each time you think he’ll be forced to delve into cliches of the dystopian, he finds a new, creative twist to keep the reader completely off guard. I don’t know yet how I feel about the book, but I do know it continues to surprise me.
For a good sense of Shteyngart’s imagination and perspective, look no further than the book’s trailer…
Once upon a time, our book club gathered and, for five hours, discussed Margaret Atwood’s THE BLIND ASSASSIN. It was the very best book our group’s read and, we both agree, one of our favorite books ever. All bookclub long, we were flipping LPs on the turntable—every Joanna effing Newsom album ever pressed.
The next day we see this Hipster Puppies post and realize we are sad, egregious cliches.
Would you believe these excerpts came from the same exact novel?
When David Pepin first dreamed of killing his wife, he didn’t kill her himself. He dreamed convenient acts of God.
…such afternoons when the breeze blows off the water and leaves a taste of the lake in our mouth, when the tree limbs rattling against the screens become the world’s only sound, when the body rises from sleep and is perfectly warm or cool, made [him] believe in God. And not the god whose son entered history…but rather a god of this moment, an even more generous god who conferred on those who fought through all the obstacles of love…this perfect silence, this tranquility, this bliss.
It should be noted, of course, that the second passage is of a man lying with his wife.
Okay, over at our twitter, we’re celebrating 3,000 followers. But you know what? That’s bunk. The people who deserve prizes are you guys, the ones who’ve been around since day one. (Which was like two weeks ago.) So here’s the deal: if you reblog this image of sad Keith Gessen (the man responsible for one of our favorite magazines, n+1, one of our favorite recent novels, All the Sad Young Literary Men, and the interviewer of the Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager), I’ll send you a secret password that’ll get you 20% off whatever you’re buying. The password will work until the end of next weekend, 7/25.