Posts tagged lit
Posts tagged lit
Next month marks the 13th anniversary of the “Darkness in Paradise” conference hosted by Club Med, aka the greatest American crime fiction gathering I never went to, and possibly ever. Among those who attended: Harlan Coben (tasked with organizing) Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, James Crumley (left, gesticulating), George Pelecanos, Peter Robinson, Ed McBain (his arm around his wife Dragica, hidden behind Marilyn Stasio, grinning in the blue shirt), Nevada Barr, and Steve Hamilton. This would make for the most perfect oral history, even if Crumley’s take will, regrettably, have to be cobbled from earlier interviews. In the meantime, here’s what Lippman had to say about it back in 2007.
(photo via the defunct website of specialist publisher Dennis Macmillan, wearing the red Hawaiian shirt.)
Every few months, a Twitter account bearing the name of somebody famous in the literary world pops up. The syntax is constant. The opening tweet goes something like, “I join Twitter today. Interesting!” People who should know better, and a great many who shouldn’t, fall for it. A few more tweets that cause a ruckus, perhaps announcing the death of another author or some other famous figure, follows. And then, once it’s clear the account is fake, because some PR person had been badgered by gullible or cynical media people about its veracity says so, there is a final tweet that goes something like this: “This account is an [sic] hoax created by Italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti.”
Debenedetti, as he explained to the Guardian in 2012, is unrepentant about his Twitter-hoaxing: “Social media is the most unverifiable information source in the world but the news media believes it because of its need for speed.” But his fabrication roots run far deeper, as the New Yorker’s Judith Thurman discovered in 2010, reporting on Debenedetti’s penchant for making up interviews with authors like Philip Roth.
He was not amused then, and likely was even less amused when Debenedetti created a fake account in Roth’s name in December 2012. But being unmasked hardly matters when you have no shame, and revel in other people’s stupidity. Which is why we’ve also had fake Don DeLillo, fake Thomas Pynchon, fake Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and just tonight, fake Alice Munro.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Debenedetti will be back it under a new Twitter guise some months from now, when the collective Twittersphere has loosed his last hoax from its memory. But I suppose I am the proverbial elephant. I don’t forget, I know the tells. Unless he changes them. I doubt it: sociopathic hacks always have a signature.
ETA, 10/9/13: Well, that was fast. So fast that after I retweeted it, the message — and an earlier one — disappeared. I was expecting Debenedetti’s unmasking to hold out until at least after tomorrow’s Nobel Prize for Literature announcement. He really need to find some new shtick. But don’t worry. He’ll be back.
ETA, 10/15/13: Apparently Tommasso rebounded even more quickly than I expected — better to brazen it out, I suppose? In any case, let’s “enjoy” fake EL Doctorow for its short-lived life and perhaps he’ll even start taking requests (Total Request Tommasso?)
I picked up this mass market paperback at a used bookstore in Toronto last week. It’s Toronto-based suspense author Joy Fielding’s second novel THE TRANSFORMATION (1976), and it is, along with her first (THE BEST OF FRIENDS, 1972) and third (TRANCE, 1977) novels, out of print and will likely never be republished. As Fielding comments on her website, “I don’t recommend searching for them- they’re early efforts and nothing like what I do now, so I think you’d be disappointed. Please stick with everything from KISS MOMMY GOODBYE on.”
For multiple reasons, I have to agree with Fielding. It’s good trashy fun to start, one of those “Hollywood excess” novels that owed a great debt to Jacqueline Susann’s THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. As such there is plenty of ridiculous sex (orgies are basically “all hands and tongues, male and female, and after a while she stopped noticing”) and catfights mixed in with some depictions of the film business that ring true because Fielding herself was a young actress in Hollywood in the mid-1960s (a small part on Gunsmoke was as good as she got.)
But it is cringingly dated thanks to ill-placed homosexual slurs and lines like (I’m paraphrasing) “what good is it if you can’t even rape your wife” when marital assault in Vegas is thwarted by the lack of an erection. Oh, and then almost immediately afterwards, would be rapist and victim get hitched. (But don’t worry, the marriage is terrible!) Also the Manson-like character is pretty unconvincing, his “We are all one” satanic cult trying to be all serious but, sadly, more in the spirit of THE ROOM.
Still, except for the ending, THE TRANSFORMATION didn’t bore me, as it was batshit enough for a long enough period of time to hold my interest. I kind of feel like more novelists should immerse themselves in semi-embarrassing 1970s trash novels to lose some of their desultory, middling spirit and cut loose. But even I might not quite venture as far as another Playboy Press “gem” by one Ken Edgar….
Uh yeah, I’d say I am pretty damn over the moon about this collection. Thanks to Jason Diamond for putting this together!
ETA: Doesn’t the guy on this paperback cover for THE JUDAS CAT kind of look like Jude Law?
Yeah, I think I’ll be tracking this book down. This, Naomi Hintze’s first novel, was nominated for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1970 and was the basis for the 1972 movie of the same name, which sounds astoundingly batshit and stars Patty Duke as the aforementioned pregnant damsel in domestic distress.
Hintze (1909-1997) wrote five suspense novels in the 1970s; a couple of paranormal novels in the 80s, and this weird 1975 book (collaborating with Joseph Gaither Pratt) that was “a comprehensive introduction to parapsychology.” And that’s about all I know about her, for now.
From Barbara Hoffert’s prepub alert for LJ last month:
Powers, Richard. Orfeo. Norton. Jan. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780393240825. $26.95. LITERARY FICTION
Once again, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Powers combines an elegant appreciation of music with the examination of crucial social issues. When composer Peter Els’s home microbiology lab sets off alarms at Homeland Security—never mind that he’s using it only to find music in unexpected places, a lifelong interest—Els goes on the run, visiting the people he’s met on his long journey through music. Dubbed the Bach bioterrorist on the Internet, he decides to fight back, plotting to turn his head-on collision with state security into a work of art that will truly make people listen to the sounds around them. Bravura stuff; with a six-city tour to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Portland (OR), Seattle, and Chicago.
Seriously, @wwnorton, send a galley over here ASAP. Or yesterday. Whichever is easier!
The anthology publication date is less than a month away! So that’s understandably preoccupying a lot of my time. But I’ve still managed to write about other things for other places as well in the last few weeks:
My latest “Crimewave” column for the National Post features reviews of new and recent books by Simone St. James, Sean Slater, and S. P. Hozy.
For Maclean’s, I reviewed J. Courtney Sullivan’s newest novel THE ENGAGEMENTS.
I wrote an essay for the Forward on my near two-decades of singing in choirs, why I’ve gotten to know a disproportionate number of churches, and Stacy Horn’s marvelous treatise on the joys of the chorus, IMPERFECT HARMONY.
Finally, my review of Boris Kachka’s HOTHOUSE, which was originally behind the paywall at Publishers Marketplace, has been reprinted at VQR Online for all to read, should they choose.
A few days ago Emily Witt’s profile for ELLE of Marisha Pessl and her second novel NIGHT FILM, which I liked quite a lot, was posted online. I didn’t see it till earlier today and was amused and perplexed to see that I had apparently “sneered” at Pessl in something I wrote on my now-defunct blog eight years ago.
Emily, whom I knew more when she still worked for the Observer, didn’t contact me for further clarification, but since web writing is supposed to stand alone I can accept that, having also likely characterized other people’s web writing a certain way for my pieces without asking for additional context. Still, the way the blog quote reads, it seems like she grabbed it from Dinitia Smith’s NY Times piece on Pessl in 2006, around the time SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS was published, instead of going back to the source, where the quote reads in full as follows, in a parenthetical that closes a satirical piece I wrote when Pessl’s book deal was announced in February 2005:
(Btw, for the humor-impaired, it’s not that I am mocking Ms. Pessl’s appearance or writing ability, just the publishing world’s almost masochistic desire to let attractive packages, so to speak, dictate their buying guidelines — even if the prospect of earning out is rather limited, to say the least.)As it turns out, I’m fairly confident SPECIAL TOPICS did end up earning out, but at the the time, it seemed a reasonable prediction since tons of other high-six-figure book deals don’t. The moral of the story: apparently satire now means you’re sneering, instead of trying to lampoon particular human behavior. Who knew?
Dorothy Salisbury Davis, ca. 1956. The author photo for her fourth novel (her first mainstream work) MEN OF NO PROPERTY, taken by Lotte Jacobi.