Quick Hits

1. Newsweek’s book critic Malcolm Jones recently turned in a review of Vikram Chandra’s 928-page Sacred Games in which he frankly confessed to not finishing the book. Scott Esposito and Ed Champion don’t like this one bit, but I have to stand with Michael Orthofer, who finds the offense understandable.

I’ve always stood against the idea of literary criticism as a lofty or accredited profession. I like to think of critics and “regular readers” as similar animals in the literary ecosystem: we all talk about books we like and dislike, but some of us have bigger audiences than others. Going by this theory, since regular readers can and do spout opinions about books they haven’t finished, I don’t see why I should begrudge a writer for Newsweek the right to do the same — as long as it’s a good article, and as long as the writer tells the truth.

Also, Malcolm Jones is dead on when he pleads with writers like Vikram Chandra to stop punishing us with ridiculously lengthy books. I feel the exact same way about Sacred Games. 928 pages? Go away.

2. Valerie Trueblood, author of Seven Loves, is visiting the Litblog Co-op today.

3. I haven’t made my way into a Carl Shuker novel yet, but this interview increases my motivation.

4. Here’s Richard Nash of Soft Skull in a superb 3 a. m. Interview about the financial realities of indie publishing. A must-read if you run a small press or are thinking of running one.

5. George Plimpton has hit the web in high fashion with a hyperactive but undeniably impressively designed new website. I’ve always liked Plimpton, and my interest increased recently after I watched the 1968 film version of Paper Lion. I hope this website is an indication of much Plimpton-based activity to follow.

6. Bud Parr has a new blog, dedicated to social networking! One blog just isn’t enough anymore.

8 Responses

  1. Soft SkullI like the 3 a.m.
    Soft Skull

    I like the 3 a.m. interview with Richard Nash. You’ve got to admire someone who works that hard on a project.

  2. Long books consideredTwo
    Long books considered

    Two observations —

    In the wonderful documentary The Stone Reader, an English professor perks up at the mention of Moby Dick. ‘I wrote my disseration on that book,’ he says. ‘I still haven’t read it all the way through.’

    I recently began to read Mann’s Dr. Faustus. It’s intimidating physically – over 500 pages of small type and long paragraphs. But everything works and one is drawn along, hypnotized, relishing the detail, the tapestry of the times and its people …. god, i’m getting aroused just thinking about it.

    My point – quality and readability trumps length.

    What other long dense books to people here love?

  3. Well, I love Moby Dick — but
    Well, I love Moby Dick — but even Moby Dick wasn’t any 928 pages!

  4. Levi – so what’s your take on
    Levi – so what’s your take on Proust? (I love it; still trying to get through it for the second time, however.)

  5. Dare I mention Atlas
    Dare I mention Atlas Shrugged? Depending on the edition, this book clocks in at somewhere between 1,000 to 1,200 pages. I read it during a time when I had no TV.

    And no, I’m not a fat-cat, big-business, keep-the-little-man-down fascist. I just like the story.

  6. Dan, I’ve heard people rave
    Dan, I’ve heard people rave about Proust, but I don’t get it. I read the first few pages of “Recherche” and didn’t see what the big deal was. Not for me.

  7. I guess it always comes down
    I guess it always comes down to individual taste. I could never get past the first pages of Atlas Shrugged … aargh … (sorry, Bill). I recommend, however, a slim volume called How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel by Alain De Botton. It’s available cheap on Amazon and is a delight.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!