Links: That Settles That

Peter Matthiessen took the fiction prize at last night’s National Book Awards….

…at which Maxine Hong Kingston announced that she’s on page 173 of a poem.

College kids love Chuck Klosterman, would appreciate if he would stop chewing cough drops so they could hear him.

Ross Miller is nowhere near done with his biography of Philip Roth. But he knows his subject well: “Philip Roth probably knows as much about his own life as I do,” Miller said. “Possibly even less. He cannot remember what’s invention and what’s memory.”


I’m a fan of a lot of Chuck Klosterman‘s reporting–his piece on Latino Morrissey fans is an instant classic, an inheritor to Susan Orlean‘s best, quirkiest stories, and his Billy Joel profile is as close as this heavily PR-spun age will get us to “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” But I’m usually wary about his essays, and the ones in Chuck Klosterman IV bothered me so much I didn’t try to tackle the novella that closed it. I’m rooting for him, but I have mixed emotions about the news of his first novel, Downtown Owl, which comes out in September. From Scribner’s catalog:

This is the story of Owl, a fictional town in rural North Dakota–where the successes (or lack thereof) of the local high school’s athletic teams, the weather, and the personal business of everyone in town are the primary topics of discussion….As high school principal Walter Valentine puts it, “People always say that nothing changes in a small town, but–whenever they say that–they usually mean that nothing changes figuratively. The truth is that nothing changes literally: It’s all the same people, doing all the same things.”