Is that they all suck, apparently. Morning, y’all! Re TV: You got Chris Klimek and Glen Weldon gracefully dropping huge turds on the new Prisoner, and here’s Bill O’Reilly meh-meh-mehing about how the script writers for the alien invasion show V are taking “potshots” at the Obama Administration. Incidentally, Klimek and Weldon are criticizing a not-very-good apolitical remake of a very good political show, while nutters from all over are railing for and against the supposedly political and very good remake of an apolitical and very bad show. How complicated is that? There’s no pleasing these motherfuckers. All I know is that I would love it if my friends would stop accusing me of being a birther every time I mention V.
Further evidence that Tobias Wolff is the only author in existence who doesn’t sound put upon when interviewed for the millionth time, a great piece on Edward P. Jones, the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, and more, after the jump.
– The Bad Sex in Fiction Award, writes the Guardian, was established to “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.” Perfunctory is right: Philip Roth is on the short list this year, included for an absolutely dreadful threesome scene in The Humbling that moves no blood in this body whatsoever. When my mother made the mistake of putting me on a National Book Award diet in high school, the first novel I snagged was Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater, which won the NBA in 1995 and which bookstores were just getting around to remaindering in 2000. The entire book is about sex, and the sex scenes—which were explicit enough that I was able to give my then-raggety 8-year-old issue of Hustler a rest—aren’t just in the narration, they’re also in the dialogue and in the goddamn footnotes. The book is chock-full of fucking, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Perhaps his nomination will spur Roth to return to writing meaningful sex scenes.
– All Our Noise has some awesome footage of Tabi Bonney rocking the mic with DJ Stereofaith at DC9. Cool to see the crowd singing along.
– Sunday’s WaPo magazine contains a stirring feature about Edward P. Jones, author of The Known World, and I should’ve linked to it earlier. Here’s a biographical snapshot, courtesy of the always-dapper Neely Tucker: “[Jones] makes his home near Washington National Cathedral in an apartment so disheveled that he allows only close friends inside. There is no bed (he sleeps on a pallet), no bookshelves, no couch, nor much to sit on other than a kitchen chair. He does not have a car, a driver’s license or any mechanized means of transport, not even a bicycle. He has no cellphone, no DVD player, and his Internet connection is sporadic. Though he loves movies and trash daytime television — in particular, those judge shows — he has only a 10-year-old, 13-inch TV and has never had cable. He has never been to a sporting event. He has no deep romantic attachments.” The whole thing is that good.
– Over the decade that I’ve been aware of him, I’ve read I don’t know how many interviews with Tobias Wolff. I keep waiting for him to be a bad sport about the whole process, but it just hasn’t happened. He’s always gentle and patient, taking every opportunity to teach. This interview conducted by Robert Birnbaum is now one of my favorites. When Birnbaum asks Wolff about “Best of” whatever contests, Wolff totally unloads, calling such contests “bullshit” before explaining why he participates regardless: “[I]f I don’t get my oar in, some book that I don’t like is gonna get picked, because there were people lobbying other writers for votes. Oh, don’t kid yourself. I mean writers lobbying other writers for their favorites, and especially in New York where writers tend to see each other. It’d be done in more or less subtle ways, and nobody really knew who you voted for, but nevertheless people would say things. And I know, I heard a couple. So in the end you vote for something like that because you want to have some control over what is already a preposterous idea.”
For your listening pleasure: