Recent Articles

February 4, 2008

Link Bomb 1

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The “Bloggies” are back. Looking at this year’s nominees, our thoughts from last year still hold true. We try not to rag on the NBCC too much around here, but inadvertently giving your big book recommending initiative the same name as a wildly popular reading-focused social network just smacks of cluelessness. People are still ripping […]

February 4, 2008

The Blank Page On The Silver Screen 1

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Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I’ve always been a sucker for films that offer glimpses, no matter how superficial, into the working life of a writer. When it’s a real literary figure, say Truman Capote as embodied by Philip Seymour Hoffman, I marvel at how the actor, faced with the impossibly daunting task […]

February 3, 2008

Blood, Oil!, and the American Way 2

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I guess it’s not giving much away to say that, in the new film by writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood, there is blood. Blood, oil, and baptismal water, symbolizing family, profit, and religion, are the humors that course through this story, inspired by Upton Sinclair’s 1926 novel Oil!. There will be exclamation […]

January 31, 2008

Big in Japan: A Cellphone Novel For You, the Reader 23

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A week ago, an article in the New York Times created a mini-furor in literary circles. As the resident Japan expert in my circle of friends, everybody was asking me, “So what’s the deal with these cell phone novels?” The NYT article was the first I’d heard of them. I did a quick Internet search, […]

January 31, 2008

Will This Be the Most Profitable Super Bowl Ever? 1

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The WGA writers’ strike (should that all be capitalized? has it been trademarked yet?) has hit the economy of Los Angeles in a big way, hurting everybody from the top down. Some idiot actually predicted that the strike would be over by Christmas (D’oh!). Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and LA has really suffered. But will […]

January 30, 2008

Link Bomb 1

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The Columbia Spectator is about to embark on “a list of 50 books that we think capture the essence of each state.” Daniel Menaker, former head of Random House, is set to host a new internet literary talk show called “Titlepage.” It will be modeled after “‘Apostrophes,’ a popular French literary program; ‘The Charlie Rose […]

January 29, 2008

Parrots, Pirates, and Prostheses 6

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A friend who has long since gotten out of the literary scholarship racket was once, briefly, quite intent on writing a dissertation entitled “Parrots, Pirates, and Prostheses.” I have a vague recollection that the argument was to involve something about how pirates seem often to lose hands, legs, and eyes, and that along with their […]

January 29, 2008

The Oracle at Google, or Bible Dipping for a Disenchanted Age 5

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As anyone with a Gmail account knows, to send or receive an e-mail through Google’s electronic mail service is to have the impression that someone else is reading your mail. Mention the military in an e-mail – even disparagingly – and you will see, in the sidebar, beside the composition window, an ad for GoArmy.com. […]

January 28, 2008

Trading Ideals: A review of Edward Gresser’s Freedom From Want 0

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With the prospect of a Democrat in the White House, paired with a continued Democratic majority in Congress, many old and new ideas on the liberal agenda are poised to come to fruition in 2009. One item likely to be on the to-do list is the future of international trade. In Freedom From Want: American […]

January 27, 2008

Inter Alia #7: Up, Obama, or Deja Vu in South Carolina 1

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This weekend, as part of a recent David Foster Wallace kick, I decided to revisit “Up, Simba,” an 80-page essay on John McCain and postmodern politics. On assignment for Rolling Stone, Wallace spent the final week of the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary embedded in the McCain campaign. McCain ended up losing to George W. […]