Collected Miscellany: Now with even more links!

Ok, I exaggerate. I only have a couple of links to share:

– Megan Bashem at National Review Online discusses John Stewart’s America (The Book):

Last week, Publishers Weekly threw more than a few politically minded bibliophiles for a loop by naming not our 42nd president’s protracted, excruciatingly detailed autobiography, My Life, book of the year (perhaps they’re reserving for it the honor of “Book of the Decade”?) but rather The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s first literary offering, America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy in Action.

So, out of the approximately 175,000 books published this year, this was the work chosen by the self-described “leading publication” in the industry as the most deserving of the public’s consideration and currency. What, one wonders, were the criteria?

– Robert Birnbaum has apparently cloned himself and is now cranking out interviews double time. This time it is Cynthia Ozick. I don’t always appreciate the tangents that Robert takes his authors on or the perspective of said authors but what comes through is his passion for literature and his insights into each author’s work. This particular interview (Ozick) is a prime example. It is simply fascinating. here is a taste:

RB: I was more interested in how you decided that you were going to write a fiction or an essay.

CO: That’s more than a question, that’s an insight, because if you are going to do thought and write about ideas overtly as ideas, you should write an essay. Or a sermon or a tract. If it’s going to be didactic, it’s going to be intellectual. But you write a novel, you have to use your head, as Philip Roth said in a wonderful interview in the Guardian—they asked him to define novel writing and he said it’s problem-solving. So in that sense your intellect is incorporated into it. But it’s basically chaotic imagination. So that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. If you are going to write an essay you make discoveries—you know, mental, conceptual discoveries, as you write an essay, but at the same time, you have something in your head to begin with. Say you are going to write an essay on Henry James, you know that. You know it’s on Henry James. You have something to start with. But in a novel you have nothing. You don’t know where you are going.

– I may not be reading Tom Wolfe’s latest but I am reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. Ross Douthat at the American Scene is a bit skeptical of the thriller writer’s latest concept:

With that said, and without having read the book, I think the plot of Michael Crichton’s latest sounds uncommonly silly — and the eagerness with which conservatives are jumping to praise it bespeaks an all-too-typical right-wing response to any cultural effort, however mediocre, that somehow sticks it to the Left. If Crichton wants to write a book puncturing global warming panic, that’s great . . . but to have the plot revolve (if Ronald Bailey is to be believed) around a cabal of radical eco-terrorists, led by a Ralph Nader clone, who create killer weather events in the hopes of scaring the world into reducing CO2 emissions seems just a little bit — what’s the word I’m looking for? Ah yes: Stupid.

All the fuss over Crichton’s right wingedness peaked my interest. I am not a avid Crichton reader so I will only be able to judge this work as I read it, but I will give you my take when I am done.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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2 Comments

  • I just finished it. As a novel, it starts off slow and has too many speeches, which you will find interesting if you agree with them and annoying if you don’t, but they don’t belong in a novel.

    This was the problem I had with Atlas Shrugged. I had to skip her 50 page screed that was smack dab in middle of the book because it was so boring.

    If you want to make a political point in a novel, subtle is better.

  • I just finished it. As a novel, it starts off slow and has too many speeches, which you will find interesting if you agree with them and annoying if you don’t, but they don’t belong in a novel.

    This was the problem I had with Atlas Shrugged. I had to skip her 50 page screed that was smack dab in middle of the book because it was so boring.

    If you want to make a political point in a novel, subtle is better.