Monday, March 19, 2007

Fun with the New York Times

Are you one of the literati who does not get 300? Well, Neal Stephenson has some words for you.

A full kickin' member of the literati, John Banville, has written a crime novel. He has an essay on why he decided to enter the genre world. I was going to say that he was slumming, but that's not really fair, as he argues that mysteries, at their best, are art. He claims that in his crime fiction he tones down his trademark use of obscure words, but he slips "rebarbative" into the essay. And it really is a good essay, read it. (NYT connection: I saw an ad in the Book section)

The new Christopher Buckley novel looks interesting. If you've not read any of his nasty little satires, this one might be a place to start.

The Buckley book is the first effort by the creepily named imprint called the Twelve. They will only publish 12 books a year you see. I am most intrigued by the next one by Christopher Hitchens. Titled God is Not Great, Hitchens is setting himself apart from the tide of atheist books. The title might as well be Fuck All Y'All. A large slice of these athiest books take their biggest swipe at Christianity. By turning around a central phrase of Islamic praise, Hitchens is ecumenical is his disdain. The right will hate it, the left will hate it, for the left cannot abide criticism of non-Westerners. And the developing world is pretty damn religious. Anyway, I expect lots of ugly exchanges on talk shows.

The Terror gets a negative review (there is a major spoiler in the middle, so read the beginning and the end) in the Times. I hope this is another case of the snobs looking down on genre fiction, especially as his principal complaint seems to be that it is long. This last line was pretty brutal: But when a writer as canny as Dan Simmons can talk himself into something as foolhardy as “The Terror,” you know there’s a kind of insanity loose in the world of publishing, and all I really want to say in my one little page is, Stop the madness.

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