Gilbert Gottfried brings his dulcet tones to the audiobook version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Ladies, this is probably the voice you heard in your heads while reading it.
Remember our enthusiasm for the dark comedy gold of All My Friends Are Dead? Imagine how psyched we are to learn about the sequel, All My Friends Are Still Dead.
Remember the Huckleberry Finn bowdlerizing kerfuffle? Remember the folks who planned to release a “robotic edition” that replaced every occurence of “N-Word Jim” with “Robot Jim”? (Not to be confused with the “Patriot Edition”, which aimed to replace the offending word with “Navy Seal”. ) The book is out and it even has a fresh new book trailer. Check it out:
I’ll admit that I haven’t been keeping up with The Simpsons as much as I once had. I made a point to tune in Last Sunday night to see author Neil Gaiman and laughed non-stop. It was easily one of the best episodes. Ever. The episode hilariously spoofs Ocean’s 11 and blows the lid off the kid lit scene. It is comedy gold. Blow off your Cyber Monday shopping plans and watch the whole episode now:
The episode has lots of great visual gags. There is a blink-and-you-miss-it salute to a Far Side Cartoon (The Real Reason Dinosaurs Went Extinct) and plenty of great gags at the Springfield Book festival. I also had to pause and rewind the show to be sure to catch the titles of Homer’s sister-in-law’s fantasy-laden bookshelf, which includes both Lev Grossman’s The Magician King and Maile Meloy’s The Apothecary.
Jimmy Fallon does Jim Morrison doing the Reading Rainbow theme. Sweet.
I get that there are challenges to being an armchair historian. Writing a “popular” history of a famous President can be a daunting task. There are so many facts to keep up with. I’m generally inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to writers who stumble over a fact or two – unless that “author” makes a career out of calling people pinheads on national television. This is why it brings a smile to my face to learn that Bill O’Reilly’s new book on the assassination of President Lincoln will not be carried by the Ford’s Theatre historical site’s bookstore due to too many historical errors.
And in related news, 100,000 DVDs of Part 1 of the recent film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged are being recalled for, as the article notes, totally “hilarious reason.” Some clown in marketing added the following copy to the cover of the recalled discs: “”AYN RAND’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice comes to life…“ Hilarity! Everyone knows that helping others at your own expense is for chumps. I bet they had a good laugh over that one…
I recently noticed that three novels I’ve read this year contained a similar plot element. Since three occurrences = a trend, I decided to try my hand at a New York Times-style trend piece. Said plot element was actually essential to all three novels, and I am a fan of each of them.
The Absolutely Untrue Story of Fake Indians
Like many young American novelists, Karen Russell explores non-Indians pretending to be Native Americans in her latest novel. Swamplandia tells the story of the Bigtree Family who run an alligator wrestling tourist attraction on a small island off the coast of Florida. The father of the family, known as Chief, is the instigator of the suddenly trendy subterfuge:
Although there was not a drop of Seminole or Miccosukee blood in us, the Chief always costumed us in tribal apparel for the photographs he took. He said we were “our own Indians.”
Karen Russell – A leader of the fake Indian literary movement
Mat Johnson takes a slightly different approach to the newly minted pretend-Indian genre that is sweeping the bestseller lists. Johnson’s Pym includes a meeting of The Native American Ancestry Collective of Gary (Indiana), a group of African-Americans who believe that their heritage is Native American:
Once the community center had been entered it was easy to locate the dozen or so NAACG members. This was not because they looked like Native Americans; to my eyes, they looked like any gathering of black American folks, some tan and most brown. What distinguished the group was their attire. The first man I saw in the room had a full Native American headdresss, a Stegosaurus spine of white feathers that reached all the way down to his moccasins.
Watch out vampires and zombies! Will people masquerading as Native Americans supplant occult romance as the new literary “it” genre. It may well be, if author Chris Gavaler has anything to say about it. Gavaler’s novel School for Tricksters begins at the famed Carlisle Indian School that included Jim Thorpe among its graduates. The novel doubles-down on Native American deception by alternating between the stories of a Black male student and a white female student (who was married to Thorpe) who pretend to be Indians in order to get a college education courtesy of the government.
Sociologists and other observers are uncertain where the beginnings of the faux Indian book craze began. Following the runaway success of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, winner of the National Book Award in 2007, perhaps it was inevitable that the floodgates were opened on a seemingly endless river of novels about identity and Native Americans. The new genre is so red hot that it’s appeal has even begun to spread beyond the shelves of your favorite indie bookseller.
HBO tapped into the First Nations fakery craze with their own pretend Indian, Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux, on their hit show Treme. Lambreaux is “chief” of a group of Mardi Gras Indians that are steeped in New Orleans tradition but, ultimately, not real Indians.
With so many fake Indian stories swirling around, it seems only a matter of time until Hollywood brings a pretend Indian picture to your local cineplex.
On the occasion of Tina Fey’s return to SNL, the show takes a look at great women writers throughout history:
Nora Ephron in The New Yorker:
“I can’t really go on without an umlaut,” he said. “We’re in Sweden.”
But where in Sweden were they? There was no way to know, especially if you’d never been to Sweden. A few chapters ago, for example, an unscrupulous agent from Swedish Intelligence had tailed Blomkvist by taking Stora Essingen and Gröndal into Södermalm, and then driving down Hornsgatan and across Bellmansgatan via Brännkyrkagatan, with a final left onto Tavastgatan. Who cared, but there it was, in black-and-white, taking up space.
The concept: What if classic books were released today? What would their titles look like after the marketing department was through with them?
Then: ‘Gone With The Wind’
Now: ‘Extreme Home Makeover: Confederate Edition’
Then: The Wealth of Nations
Now: Invisible Hands: The Mysterious Market Forces That Control Our Lives and How to Profit from Them
Now: Camping with Myself: Two Years in American Tuscany
Then: Book of Genesis
Now: FLOOD! A true story of heartbreak, heroism, and the will to survive
Then: Romeo and Juliet
Now: The Teen Sex and Suicide Epidemic: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself and Your Family
Then: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Now: Subs and Squids: The Journey of a Madman
Then: Poor Richard’s Almanack
Now: Lifehacks+: Crowd-Sourced Common Sense From Tweets & Blogs
Then: Declaration of Independence
Now: The Pursuit of Happiness: How to get control of your continent and have fun doing it!
(Thanks to Lain and Dr J for the links)
Speaking of Dan Brown, Slate has rolled out a make-your-own Dan Brown Plot Generator. The directions are simple, plug in a city and secret sect, and the generartor does the rest. When you plug in “Atlanta” and “Major League Baseball” you get this:
The Missing Tomb
When renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to the Ebeneezer Baptist Church to analyze a mysterious ancient script—imprinted on a gold ring lying next to the disfigured form of the head docent—he discovers evidence of the unthinkable: the resurgence of the ancient cult of the Baalinati, a secret branch of Major League Baseball that has surfaced from the shadows to carry out its legendary vendetta against its mortal enemy, the Vatican.
Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed when a messenger from the Baalinati appears at Centennial Olympic Park to deliver a deadly ultimatum: Deposit $1 billion in Major League Baseball’s off-shore bank accounts or the exclusive clothier of the Swiss Guards will be bankrupted. With the deadline fast approaching, Langdon joins forces with the lupine and enigmatic daughter of the murdered docent in a desperate bid to crack the code that will reveal the cult’s secret plan.
Embarking on a frantic hunt, Langdon and his companion follow a 300-year-old trail through Atlanta’s most exalted buildings and historic statues, pursued by a pigeon-toed assassin the cult has sent to thwart them. What they discover threatens to expose a conspiracy that goes all the way back to Babe Ruth and the very founding of Major League Baseball.
You can mix and match all day.
David (Green Apple Books in San Francisco) takes on Goliath with a hilarious video series “The Book vs. The Kindle” decathlon.
- Round 1: The Buy Counter
- Round 2: Buying a Book
- Round 3: Sharing
- Round 4: Nap Time!
- Round 5: The Icebreaker
- Round 6: Finding the Right Read
With four rounds to go, the Kindle has already been mathematically eliminated from competition.
I rarely miss a chance here to disparage Ayn Rand, her books, or her “philosophy.” The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Economist have all reported recently that sales of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged have been increasing as our economy worsens. In the book, Rand “…championed selfishness as a positive means of doing business, earning as many critics as she did advocates.” From The Guardian:
Atlas Shrugged tends to inspire either cult-like devotion or sarcastic mockery in readers, who are either thrilled or appalled by Rand’s vision of a world in which the “men of the mind” – inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists – withdraw their labour from a society intent on bleeding them dry with taxes and regulations.
The call for a “strike of the wealth producers” depicted in the novel is being called “Going Galt” by conservatives — after John Galt, the novel’s protagonist. Because what the situation clearly calls for is more greed…oh, irony.
Stephen Colbert has this wonderful take on “Going Galt,” which The Guardian calls “the rightwing equivalent of “moving to Canada”‘: