Studs then asked the doctor, "How long do you give me?"
"I'll give you to 99," said the doctor.
"That's too long," said Terkel. "I think I want a nice round figure, like 95."
Studs Terkel died today at 96.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Rolling Stone has posted David Lipsky's recent profile of David Foster Wallace.
He was six-feet-two, and on a good day he weighed 200 pounds. He wore granny glasses with a head scarf, points knotted at the back, a look that was both pirate-like and housewife-ish. He always wore his hair long. He had dark eyes, soft voice, caveman chin, a lovely, peak-lipped mouth that was his best feature. He walked with an ex-athlete's saunter, a roll from the heels, as if anything physical was a pleasure. David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live." Readers curled up in the nooks and clearings of his style: his comedy, his brilliance, his humaneness.
Posted by escapegrace at 12:49 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
An American graduate student doing research on her master’s thesis in Iran has been arrested and is being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where she is at risk of torture and other ill treatment, Amnesty International reported.
The student, Esha Momeni, who is enrolled in the School of Communications, Media, and Arts at California State University at Northridge, traveled to Iran two months ago to visit her family and to do research on her thesis project, a video documentary of the Iranian women’s movement.
On October 15, Ms. Momeni was stopped while driving in Tehran by people identifying themselves as undercover traffic-police officers. They said they were arresting her on suspicion of a traffic offense, and then took her to her parents’ home, which they searched. They seized her laptop and video footage of the interviews she had conducted. She was taken to the section of Evin Prison run by the Ministry of Intelligence.
Ms. Momeni, who was born in Los Angeles, has not been charged with any offense. Her family members were told she would be released quickly if they did not make her arrest public. But when they were not allowed to visit her and were told that no details of her case would be revealed until an investigation was completed, they went public.
Posted by escapegrace at 6:16 AM
Sunday, October 26, 2008
- John Updike weighs in on the election: Sarah Palin is a "bird-brain...all brightness and gloss...[and] McCain himself is worse. You know the way he grits his teeth? Mine grit too as I watch him."
- Everyone has an opinion on Palin, even John Cleese.
- The New York Review of Books asks writers, including Joan Didion, to comment on the election. (Spoiler: They're all for Obama.)
- Should artists have the right to file a copyright lawsuit to prevent the political use of a song?
- It is amazing that Amy Poehler had a baby a week after doing this Palin rap.
- Wonkette offers a children's treasury of wingnut reactions to cut-nut Ashley Todd confessing her racist fantasy. Spoiler: Obama's behind it. (Seriously, the backwards 'B' is retarded.)
- Does Sarah Palin think we are living in the End Times?
- The New York Times has an obituary for the anti-Bush book.
- Wassup 2008
- The organization Conservatives for Change has some amazing testimonials from Republicans voting for Obama.
- George Packer looks at "The Hardest Vote" - Ohio's working class.
- Ms. Palin, give these poor boys some love.
- Send in your submission to The American Center for Sarah Palin Inspirational Limericks.
- Vote for Hope
- Even though Powell endorsed Obama last Sunday, this is still a remarkable statement from a remarkable man.
Posted by escapegrace at 11:25 AM
- Visit 1904 London for one minute and four seconds.
- Today's LA Times takes a trip back in time to profile the LAPD Gangster Squad.
- Today's New York Times offers "Shelley's Daughters," a discussion of women who carry the horror torch.
- Good news: City planners have finally recommended granting Griffith Park cultural-historical monument status.
- A Japanese woman has been jailed for killing her husband's avatar.
- John Hodgman's guest blogging on Boing Boing this week occasioned a return to his TED talk: A Brief Digression on Lost Time
- Also from Boing Boing: Tales of Cranky Book Sellers
- It turns out psychological stages are just another attempt to drum up a good story.
- August Strindberg befriends a small helium balloon.
- Work in a Silverlake basement turns up letters written from Jonestown pre-massacre.
- David Ulin tells publishers: enough with the vapid hype.
- Margaret Atwood reflects on the financial crisis.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:24 AM
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
An unpublished work by Stanislaw Lem has been discovered, a "quasi-opera" Lem had been trying to find for decades.
Lem mentioned the missing piece in numerous interviews, including those given to Stanisław Bereś and Tomasz Fijałkowski. 'We've turned everything upside down here. I still hope it surfaces somewhere', Lem told Bereś.
Also the writer's secretary, Wojciech Zemek, for years searched for the piece. 'From time to time Mr Lem would ask me whether I'd already found it, and I'd reply regretfully that I hadn't', remembers Mr Zemek. 'And yet I held the folder containing it so many times in my hands!'
The folder, an old-style grey cardboard, ribbon-tied folder, was inscribed 'Botched crime story' and contained an unfinished Raymond Chandler-style crime novel that Lem started writing in the mid-1950s. It has now turned out he used that typescript to create a hiding place so perfect the text went missing for five decades - he simply slid the Stalin opera between the pages of the crime novel typescript.
'I always knew that every one of Lem's pieces has a second bottom - even a botched crime story can hide an opera about Stalin!', commented Mr Zemek.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:22 AM
Sunday, October 19, 2008
- Terry Gilliam has released a trailer (of sorts) for the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
- The world's longest bug lives in Borneo.
- Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise is now a website with audio files galore.
- Aravind Adiga has won the 2008 Man Booker Prize for his debut novel The White Tiger.
- RIP Safari Sam's
- Sarah Weinman reviews Leonard Cassuto's Hard-Boiled Sentimentality, which looks at "the hidden connection between crime fiction and 19th century sentimental novels."
- Get yer domestic nuclear shelter here.
- Get yer science tattoo here.
- The Money Meltdown has everything you wanted to know about the global money crisis but were afraid to ask (via VSL).
- If you're more of a visual learner, just visit The Brokers with Hands on Their Faces blog.
- Toni Morrison will appear as part of the Central Library ALOUD series on November 19.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:41 AM
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Did a young Milan Kundera play informer for the Czech police?
The allegations could diminish Mr. Kundera’s moral stature as a spokesman, however enigmatic, against totalitarianism’s corrosion of daily life.
The reclusive Mr. Kundera vehemently denied the account.
“I object in the strongest manner to these accusations, which are pure lies,” he said in a statement released by his French publisher, Gallimard.
In a rare interview on Monday with the Czech CTK news agency, Mr. Kundera also accused the news media of committing “the assassination of an author.”The story is the most dramatic recent episode in Eastern Europe’s fitful reckoning with its Communist past, an era that Czechs, with their soft Velvet Revolution against the Soviet system, have been loath to explore deeply.
Posted by escapegrace at 7:06 AM
Sunday, October 12, 2008
- At I guess you don't want to talk to me anymore, Kelly Shimoda tries to create a text message archive (via VSL).
- After you receive the "Yeah, it's over" text, reflect on the Stuff That's Left Behind.
- Banksy strikes again.
- I adore this article headline in an irrational way: People love angry-faced cars. Like I want to name my band after it.
- Have you been to Palate yet?
- Do ya think I'm sexy?
- Best Ad looks at the evolution of logos.
- Just the other day I was wondering what would happen if I ran into a bobcat while hiking and then this happened.
- Join Dzanc Books' Write-a-Thon on Saturday, November 15. (Be forewarned that you may be hit up for sponsorship.)
- Garbage Palin kids!
- Listen to Ralph Stanley's radio ad for Obama.
- boingboing tv has an interview with Robert Plant and Allison Krauss.
- I missed this Steven Millhauser essay on the short story last Sunday: “I’m not a novel, you know. Not even a short one. If that’s what you’re looking for, you don’t want me.”
Posted by escapegrace at 10:22 AM
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Don't let Bruce Weber write my obituary:
Charles Wright, who wrote three autobiographical novels about black street life in New York City between 1963 and 1973 that seemed to herald the rise of an important literary talent but who vanished into alcoholism and despair and never published another book, died on Oct. 1 in Manhattan. He was 76 and lived in the East Village.
That hurts. You can get all three books in one volume here.
Posted by escapegrace at 12:38 PM
Monday, October 06, 2008
The Telegraph has amazing photos from Albert Kahn's attempts to create "a photographic inventory of the planet as it is inhabited and managed by humanity at the beginning of the 20th century."
Posted by escapegrace at 8:31 AM
Last week, a Nobel Prize judge obnoxiously deemed all American literature to be "too isolated, too insular" to "really participate in the big dialogue of literature."
American writers were "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture," he told the Associated Press. "Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the centre of the literary world."
Literary cruise missiles immediately blasted off from the United States. "Put him in touch with me and I'll send him a reading list," said Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the US National Book Foundation.
David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine, suggested it was the Swedish Academy which had been convicted by literary history of ignorance and bad taste. Some of the greatest, and most admired, writers of the past century were denied the Nobel Prize, he said – including several Europeans.
"You would think that the permanent secretary of an academy that pretends to wisdom but has historically overlooked Proust, Joyce and Nabokov, to name just a few non-Nobelists, would spare us the categorical lectures," he said.However, in an intriguing twist, Gawker reported the following from a "tipster": "I work for PEN in Britain, and there is a rumour here that [the above comments are] an attempt to cover up J.D. Salinger's being on the shortlist for this year's Nobel."
The winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced this Thursday.
Posted by escapegrace at 8:23 AM
Sunday, October 05, 2008
- Damn it feels good to be a banksta!
- Winning the Most Disturbing Story of the Week award, Australia may have just encountered a monster in the making in time to do something about it.
- 26 Actors Who Deserve Better Careers (This was 27 earlier in the week - who doesn't deserve a better career anymore?)
- More awesome abandonments...
- Félix Fénéon's Novels in Three Lines joins Twitter...via Condalmo, who also links to the Times Online, blogging excerpts from the 1785-1985 news archives.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:56 AM
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Is it too much to hope this is her last day as a nominee? It is, isn't it?
Posted by escapegrace at 5:47 PM
At Slate, a grammarian tries to parse Sarah Palin's sentences:
Granted, diagramming usually deals with written English. We don't expect speech to reach the heights of eloquence or even lucidity that the written word is capable of. In our world, politicians don't do much writing: Their preferred communication is the canned speech. But they're also forced, from time to time, to answer questions, and their answers often resemble the rambling nonsense, obfuscation, and grammatical insanity that many of us would produce when put on the spot.
Yet surely, more than most of us, politicians need to be able to think on their feet, to have a brain that works quickly and rationally under pressure. Do we really want to be led by someone who, when asked a straightforward question, flails around like an undergraduate who stayed up all night boozing instead of studying for the exam?
Posted by escapegrace at 8:55 AM
Days later, I am posting photos from the West Hollywood Book Fair. (I'm using the excuse that school started this week.)
I was trying to show the presence of the park underneath the festival. (Note the basketball hoop in the background.)
“Not So Secret Agent: Literary Agents Speak” Panel
“The Changing Face of Book Culture in Los Angeles” Panel
Carolyn Kellogg and Erika Schikel
David Ulin, Louise Steinman, Andrew Tonkovich
I think the LA Times Festival of Books needs couches.
Posted by escapegrace at 8:21 AM
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
20. Best of the Web 2008
This first entry in a new series from Dzanc Books features the best fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction appearing in the wide wide world of web in 2007 (according to series editor Nathan Leslie). My LA Times review is here.
21. Tin House: Fantastic Women
This 2007 special issue of Tin House features women writers who are fantastic both in style and content. Including many of the writers from the Women of the Slipstream panel at this year's Festival of Books, the collection can serve as a valuable introduction to the "genre" that resists characterization or a sweet indulgence in other worlds.
22. Dirty Snow by Georges Simenon
It's been awhile since I've read something so bleak and misanthropic, and I forgot how much I love books like this. Even though the second half of this story of soullessness under German occupation didn't satisfy, the atmosphere is irresistible. Stabbed a man in undetermined European country just to see him die.
23. My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampikeby Joyce Carol Oates
Despite reading lukewarm reviews beforehand, I enjoyed this fictionalization of the Jon Benet Ramsay story. The narrator - brother of the murdered child star - rambles and rambles, but it's part of his charm and makes sense for the character. I am sure the story could have been told more succinctly, but I didn't mind Oates taking her time.
24. A Fraction of the Wholeby Steve Toltz
I can't remember the last time a novel made me laugh out loud so often. Steve Toltz has a gift for observation and a strong sense of narrative pacing. At times, it seems as if an episodic tale is included more because Toltz wanted to share it than have it serve as character or plot development, but there's much joy here.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:06 AM