Morning, y’all! Above is a lil bit of Mountain Goats/Aesop Rock to start your day. Clay Shirky, new media prognosticator extraordinaire, turns his attention to bookstores, and his analysis and conclusions hit awfully close to home. Ask the average District dandy for a list of retail complaints, and the closures of Olsson’s and Vertigo—or a general shortage of independent booksellers—will probably make the top 10. Shirky divides the complainers into the three groups: people who generally “dislike change” in the physical makeup of their communities; people who believe “book buying is a widespread activity while internet access is for elites”; and people who are “worried about bookstores in and of themselves.” I’ve always seen myself in either the first or the last group, depending on the day. I hate seeing places close, even though I know that’s how the market works. And I love perusing Politics & Prose, buying coffee there, and listening to people speak there, even though I prefer to make most of my book purchases at used bookstores or online.
– Q: “What children’s book character do Noam Chomsky, Newt Gingrich, and Hugh Hefner share an affection for?” A: Winnie-the-Pooh. Can I get a big “No shit” here? Everybody loves Pooh, even nutters like Chomsky. Read more about the trio’s shared love for honey and the obscene lengths to which wealthy full-on rapists will go to buy children’s books autographed by other full-on rapists.
– A while back, I asked if novelist James Ellroy was a racist. The question didn’t go over well (see: comments). I will officially cease with the conjecture. This two–part Rolling Stone interview with Ellroy addresses the race question directly:
Race and racism are such a huge part of this book.
Oh yeah. You’re supposed to be seduced and shocked by the casual racism in Blood’s a Rover. This book is so full of race shit, it’s fucking hilarious shit. There’s a lot of scene of black people and white people cracking jokes. And as much as the people grandstand about race in this book, they’re driven by racial animus and the idea of racial reconciliation. Because of political correctness we are losing the outrageousness of humor. I always think of Frank O’Connor’s line from a million years ago: “a literature that cannot be vulgarized, is not literature at all and will not last.”
– Amazon reviews suck. They can be gamed. They can be trolled. The latter, writes Andrew Hazlett, can be devastating to an author’s Amazon debut. Hazlett offers up the case of conservative writer John Miller. “Apparently because John is a National Review contributor,” writes Hazlett, “a small mob of politically-motivated posters are trying to poison the Amazon customer-reviews just as the book has come on the market.” Pretty fucking sad, if you ask this Professional Reviewer.
Don’t get scammed, y’all!