Links: For Want of a Blurb…

Novelist Robert Girardi, author of Amelia’s Ghost Madeleine’s Ghost, has run into some bad luck of late and is now working janitorial and maintenance jobs in the D.C. area—though I can only work up so much sympathy for a guy who wound up in jail after “he came home bombed on scotch and tried to wrestle [his wife] to the floor.” Girardi fumes that he’s been unfairly neglected by the Washington Post—“You’d think my first book in 10 years, they’d at least give me a two-incher”—but there are some problems even a book review can’t solve.

Independent publisher MacAdam/Cage, which seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth in the past year, is apparently active again, sending out galleys and saying it plans to put out some of the books it had delayed. The MacAdam/Cage website suggests the revival is not yet complete—the homepage is still pushing Brendan Short‘s Dream City, which came out in 2008—but I’m hoping that Jack PendarvisShut Up, Ugly eventually hits shelves.

Southern Methodist University Press isn’t quite saved from the chopping block, but its existence now seems a bit more secure than it did a week ago. Ron Hogan has spent the past week at Beatrice catching up with some of the writers SMU Press publishes.

Annie Proulx sees a bit of her life in Wyoming in the wood sculptures of British artist David Nash.

Lionel Shriver values her life at around $20,000. “They have actually put a literal price on human life in [Britain]; it is worth $15,000 a year… I thought that was a little on the low side. If it were a matter of my life I might throw in an extra five grand.”

Julia Keller sounds a dissenting note about Karl MarlantesMatterhorn, advocating instead for Susan Fromberg Schaeffer‘s 1989 novel, Buffalo Afternoon.

John Waters has some suggestions for a high-school reading list; his heart is in the right place, though it’s doubtful he’d get much teaching work. “You have to give kids books that surprise them a little. I didn’t care about ‘The Life of Benjamin Franklin’; I wanted to read ‘Naked Lunch.’

If Curtis Sittenfeld is going set a book in Wisconsin, shouldn’t she know better than to use a non-word like “Wisconsonian”?

John Updike‘s typewriter will be auctioned next month. A study of the ribbon reveals that he used the machine to inform his typist that “her services will no longer be needed because he purchased a word processor.”

2 thoughts on “Links: For Want of a Blurb…

  1. “You’d think my first book in 10 years, they’d at least give me a two-incher.” With a straight line like that, the guy’s just begging for an insulting comeback.

  2. Hmmm. Matterhorn and Buffalo Afternoon are very different animals. Matterhorn is about a company trying to take and hold a hill, then abandon it, attempt to retake it, etc. (Thus some of the repetition.) There are only brief homefront flashbacks — nearly all of its 560-plus pages are spent with the Marines, and in particular, one Marine, 2nd Lt. Mellas. It’s the best Vietnam novel I’ve read that is centered on combat. It’s not perfect — it might have been tightened a bit, and the dialogue and behavior of the black Marines is cliched at times (race is very important to the novel, and I hope to see a review that gives deep thought to that aspect), but it deserves many of the kudos it’s receiving. Buffalo Afternoon is a very good book, but if I remember correctly (been over 20 years since I read it), it isn’t focused nearly as much on combat.

    For my money, The Things They Carried and A Rumor of War are still the best literary books set in America’s Vietnam war, but the former is a collection of short stories and the latter is a memoir.

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