Ethan Canin Has a Mentor

Ethan Canin—whose new novel is America America (reviewed)—must be tired of addressing the fact that blogger and novelist Danielle Steel was his high-school English teacher, but he seems to be good-humored about it:

“She’d only published one book at the time and was unknown as a writer. I was not a particularly attentive student . . . But she somehow took an interest in me and encouraged me to write. She gave us the option of turning in a short story instead of an English paper. That made a big impression on me.”


The D.C.-Area Readings page is updated. Of note this week: Get Your War On cartoonist David Rees Monday at Busboys and Poets’ 5th & K outpost; critic Calvin Tompkins Monday at the National Gallery of Art; and David A. Taylor, whose short-story collection, Success: Stories, I quite liked, Tuesday at Busboys & Poets’ flagship on 14th and V.

Links: Below the Fold

You already know how the story ends, but Rolling Stone‘s David Foster Wallace feature still has a heartbreaking ending.

Dennis Johnson‘s point is well taken, though.

Danielle Steel has a blog, desperate writers spot opportunity to plug their books in the comments.

Throwing another log onto the fire regarding the micro-controversy that Peter Matthiessen‘s Shadow Country doesn’t deserve an NBA nomination because it’s not really a new novel: “He began laughing as he read his own words, admitting that he hadn’t read the book for a long time.”

Dennis Cooper is keeping busy with hand puppets.

And Jonathan Franzen doesn’t want you to get off your damn cell phone so much as he wants you to stop saying “I love you” into it. The whole of modern American culture is all about TMI, he says:

[J]ust as I can’t help blaming cellular technology when people pour parental or filial affection into their phones and rudeness onto every stranger within earshot, I can’t help blaming media technology for the national foregrounding of the personal. Unlike in, say, 1941, when the United States responded to a terrible attack with collective resolve and discipline and sacrifice, in 2001 we had terrific visuals. We had amateur footage and could break it down frame by frame. We had screens to bring the violence raw into every bedroom in the country, and voice mail to record the desperate final calls of the doomed, and late-model psychology to explicate and heal our trauma. But as for what the attacks actually signified, and what a sensible response to them might look like, attitudes varied. This was the wonderful thing about digital technology: No more hurtful censoring of anybody’s feelings! Everybody entitled to express his or her own opinion! Whether or not Saddam Hussein had personally bought plane tickets for the hijackers therefore remained open to lively debate. What everybody agreed to agree on, instead, was that the families of 9/11’s victims had a right to approve or veto plans for the memorial at Ground Zero. And everybody could share in the pain experienced by the families of the fallen cops and firefighters. And everybody agreed that irony was dead. The bad, empty irony of the ’90s was simply “no longer possible” post-9/11; we’d stepped forward into a new age of sincerity.

(H/T Sarah Weinman)