The Literary Life
“There was something about the invitation that made me wear a jacket,” the novelist Sam Lipsyte deadpanned last Friday night at a magazine launch in an apartment on West 10th Street. Yes, some usual suspects were there—Jeffrey Eugenides, Ben Marcus, editors from The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, and writers from The New York Times and The New Yorker—but aside from that, this wasn’t your average literary party: the attire was more art-world chic than MFA tweedy.
The American Reader isn’t your average literary magazine. The Princeton grads who run it have barely closed their second issue, and already it is being hailed as the next Paris Review or n+1.
Jennifer Weiner, the bestselling author of Good in Bed who coined the term “
Woe betide our republic of letters! The shadowy culture arbiters who serve on the Pulitzer Prize board have withheld their favor from the field of American novels published in 2011. Booksellers, writers and critics have been up in arms ever since news of the non-award broke in mid-April. In a cri de coeur published in the New York Times’s op-ed pages, novelist Ann Patchett—who also runs an independent bookstore in Nashville—decried the committee’s abstention as a cause for “indignation” and, indeed, “rage.”
“I can’t imagine there was ever a year when we were so in need of the excitement the [fiction Pulitzer] creates in readers,” Ms. Patchett wrote.
It’s easy to miss, amid Ms. Patchett’s vehemence, the patent condescension that prize-dependent marketing visits upon American readers. In her distinctly arid account of readerly engagement, news of a prestigious laurel is what’s needed to generate “the buzz,” as she puts it, “that is so often lacking.” But the question is far better turned on its head: If an entire industry must rely on aloof prize boards to gin up sustained interest, then the trouble would seem to be the industry itself, rather than the prize boards or the consumers.
Now A Major Motion Picture
Scott Rudin has bought the film rights to Jeffrey Eugenides’ bestselling novel The Marriage Plot, reports Deadline Hollywood. That’s right: not HBO! So who will play which part? James Franco as Leonard Bankhead, right? And Jeffrey Eugenides’ vest as Mitchell.
“I am a vest who has appeared on a Times Square billboard and many other fine photos that have included Jeffrey Eugenides,” says the Twitter description for @EugenidesVest, the outlet for the most ignominious item in the wardrobe of the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides. The vest gained national prominence after being featured in a billboard in Times Square, where it is shown flapping in the wind as Mr. Eugenides strides forth.
The Wall Street Journal has followed up on that crazy Jeffrey Eugenides billboard in Times Square, first brought to our attention yesterday. We learn that the dashing photo of Mr. Eugenides was styled by no other than his wife, sculptor Karen Yamaguchi. FSG publicist Jeff Seroy says it “looks like the Marlboro Man, Read More
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux pulls out the big guns for Jeffrey Eugenides: a billboard in Times Square, with the author purposefully striding forth in a manly vest. “Swoon-worthy.” [via @PeterLattman]
Speaking of Jeffrey Eugenides, it turns out Leonard Bankhead was supposed to be more Axl Rose than David Foster Wallace. [WSJ]
An excerpt from 50 Cent’s young adult novel Playground: The Mostly True Story of a Former Bully. “Living life on the edge has taught me a lot, like the fact that being mentally strong will get you ahead in life,” writes the rapper 50 Cent, who confesses he once was a bully himself. “But being a bully won’t get you anywhere. Some kids don’t figure that out until it’s too late. Does Butterball? You’ll have to read the book to find out.” Butterball is the main character. He’s a bully. [Shelf Life]
Don DeLillo speaks on the anniversary of “the shot heard round the world.” [Grantland]
Retracing Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 40 years later. [The Daily]
The creative class is melting! [Salon]
Every novel by Jeffrey Eugenides reads as if it were repudiating the one that came before. His second book, Middlesex, published nine years after his first, was a sprawling, intergenerational tale told in the capable and likable voice of a hermaphrodite named Cal; whereas The Virgin Suicides, his 1993 debut, was a dark, compact novel narrated in a highly stylized, formal register by a chorus of neighborhood boys turned middle-aged men. A sample size of two is hardly enough to indicate a pattern (or the lack of one), but with the publication of The Marriage Plot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 416 pages, $28.00), one notices immediately how much it differs from those earlier novels, both of which suggest the story and the tone up front, on the first page, in the first sentence.
The Eight-Day Week
Wednesday, August 3
The Ultimate Art Machine
Is the Guggenheim the Shake Shack of museums? Locations, locations, locations! Not content with outposts in the Basque Country and the United Arab Emirates (as well as the now-shuttered Las Vegas outpost, which seems in retrospect a bit of an overreach…to Read More
The Daily Transom
Last week, The Observer discovered that before Middlesex writer Jeffrey Eugenides got socked in the face on NJ Transit, he enjoyed a $520 meal – complete with wine, cocktails, and deep conversation — from celebrated Central Park seafood spot Marea. His partner for the night was Farrar, Straus & Giroux head honcho Jonathan Galassi. Read More