1. The Litblog Co-op has announced its Spring 2006 READ THIS! selection: a book of surrealist short stories called Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead by Alan DeNiro. We’ll be discussing this book, as well as two other Spring 2006 nominees, Marshall Klimasewiski’s The Cottagers and Mark Binelli’s Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die in the next three weeks. THEN, I am very excited about the Summer 2006 READ THIS! nominations, because I have chosen one of the three books. You’ll have to wait in suspense for my choice to be revealed, which will occur once the Spring festivities are complete.
2. I’m looking forward to next week’s PEN World Voices festival in New York City. Here’s the very impressive schedule of events.
3. Here’s a fascinating Salon piece by Robert Marshall on the once popular and still legendary Carlos Castaneda, whose publishers are still in a bizarre state of denial over the fact that his stories were not true.
4. Scott Esposito on Cynthia Ozick on James Wood (and on the lit-crit landscape in general).
5. Via Variation, an appealing trailer for the upcoming movie version of an Ian McEwan book I liked very much, Atonement. I hope this movie is as good as it should be, and I will certainly be reviewing it in these pages come opening day.
6. Other movie news: Jindabyne is based on Raymond Carver’s story “So Much Water So Close To Home”. And there’s apparently going to be a movie about a sans-serif font, Helvetica (more about it here and here). The film’s director is Gary Hustwit, who was also the founder of the now-defunct but still memorable downtown New York publishing company Incommunicado Press.
As design-minded LitKicks readers will have noticed, I am personally very fond of Helvetica, which you can spot in numerous places on this site. In my opinion, a song needs drums and bass, an omelet needs eggs and cheese, and a webpage needs Helvetica and Trebuchet MS. Does this mean I’m going to rush out and see Hustwit’s film? No, but I’m amused that it exists.
7. Steal This Wiki.
8. Champion has a point here. Enough with these titles.
9. A whole lot of Charles Bukowski manuscripts and memorabilia are up for sale at an upcoming auction. Whether you are wont to wield a paddle or not, it’s worthwhile just looking through this extensive and well-illustrated online catalog.
10. What more can be said about Kurt Vonnegut? I’ve got a few shovelfulls more to throw.
• Here is a blogger tribute put together by Simon Owens of Bloggasm (I am one of the contributors).
• Fox News, still grumpy after being awakened from their dream of a successful Bush/Cheney presidency, has seen fit to disrespect Kurt Vonnegut at the time of his death, and both CJR Daily and Galley Cat are talking back.
• As my own perverse tribute, it has occurred to me to list four bad movies that have been based on good Kurt Vonnegut novels: Slapstick, Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse-Five, Mother Night. Amazingly, each of these films flopped upon release, giving Kurt Vonnegut perhaps the worst record for book-to-movie translations in all of modern literature. Somebody should really make terrible movies of Cat’s Cradle and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater to complete the set. And if we wait around long enough, I have a feeling somebody will.
• Has anybody else been thinking about Dwayne Hoover this week? This character goes on a murderous rampage at the climax of Breakfast of Champions, possessed by the belief that everybody around him is a brainless automaton, that he is the only living, feeling person in the world. Seems to be a lot of that going around these days.