1. A minor miracle has occurred: I actually love an essay written by Jonathan Lethem. I appreciate the vast range of reference (from Fritz the Cat to The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft), I agree with the article’s general conclusions, and I’m even pleased that he called the article “The Ecstasy of Influence”. This essay stands as proof that Lethem can produce substantial work when he lets his brainier instincts roam free.
I still can’t stand his postmodernism-by-numbers novels or his coy/cute Rolling Stone interviews, though, so don’t get it twisted.
2. Critic John Leonard offers a kindly nod towards the literary blogosphere in this Enthusiast Article, which Literary Saloon correctly notes will be quoted all over the internet by sundown. Well, why not? Nobody ever appreciates us. Even the article’s author Meghan O’Rourke has to follow up Leonard’s remark that “It’s going to have to be the lit blogs that save us. At least they have passion” by disagreeing with him (“passion alone doesn’t produce the essayists of the sort who shape our deepest thinking about our literary culture”). Be quiet and let Mr. Leonard speak, O’Rourke.
3. Here’s me at the PBS blog, talking about a good new documentary on the history of New Orleans that’ll be premiering Monday night.
4. An invigorating read: J. M. Coetzee on Norman Mailer’s new book.