December 9, 2017
Saturday bells ring, are you Saturdayin’?
by Melville House
Good news! You’ve survived another week of ubiquitous public Christmas music, political depravity, social exhaustion, and the thousand natural shocks 2017 is heir to. It is now Saturday, and friend, life is going to get better.
Before we go further—and oh, oh we have further to go—some big news: our 2017 Melville House staff holiday recommendations are now available. No joke! We, the living, breathing humans of Melville House, have come together to spread the word about the books we’ll be wrapping in colored paper for our favorite fellow humans this holiday, and we invite you to 100% steal our ideas. We’ve also got all kinds of gift bundles—great stuff for the cook in your kitchen, the feminist in your foyer, the fiction scenester at your farmstand, and more—and all of it is marked down by at least twenty percent. Glorious madness!
And speaking of madness — good lord, it’s been a week. Here were some of the highlights:
- Dennis Johnson, our co-founder and co-fearless co-leader, weighed in on Publishers Weekly’s decision to name Carolyn Reidy its person of the year, considering the announcement in its full complexity and providing what must be described as the absolute final word on the subject.
- Ryan Harrington checked out the beginnings of what promises to be a long investigation by Jon Christian into various shadings of pay-for-play in online journalism, and the consequences that may follow.
- Nikki Griffiths revealed her secret knowledge that a cabal of shadowy British lawmakers have been… writing books. And that, worse yet, in strange, wintertime rites, they actually give each other awards for them.
Ian Dreiblatt said a few words about Paris Review editor Lorin Stein, who’s been forced to leave his post after a number of women described his wildly inappropriate and extremely fucking gross behavior toward them. Bye bye.
- Stephanie DeLuca covered this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards, where women won four-fifths of the prizes. Mansplain that, jerkwads.
- Peter Clark urged you to bid on a personalized postcard from a famous author, to help keep The Common going.
- Taylor Sperry wrote about how online publishers are porning up their headlines to draw more web traffic. Kids, don’t try this at home.
- Susan Rella was really excited to drop some bathroom humor, and her moment came in the form of a character named Professor Poop, who helps kids in Japan learn Kanji, a crucial aspect of what may be the most complex system of writing in the world.
- Simon Reichley sang the sad, true tale of Giuseppe Castellano, a Penguin Workshop art director who was forced to quit when comedian Charlyne Yi went public with stories of his sexually harassing her.
- Alex Primiani took a look at the far-right loons who’ve recently taken over LA’s second-biggest newspaper. These things have a habit of ending badly, especially lately.
- Grace Larkin checked out the posthumous final release from beloved playwright and actor Sam Shepard, somewhere between a novel, a memoir of debilitating illness, and a mysterious stone of American grief.
We were also delighted to publish:
- A look at the techniques Ross Simonini employed in writing The Book of Formation, his dazzling and darkly hilarious debut novel. (“For me, this process helped to dim my nagging sensitivity to language. I bypassed all the awarenesses I had carefully developed through schooling and living and discipline, and arrived at a manner of writing that I couldn’t have conjured with my working mind.”)
As ever, there were a couple stories we just didn’t get to:
- James Patterson, the mega-author who is to novels as Ronald McDonald is to knobs of fried poultry, is working on a series of books for middle schoolers about the discoveries of Albert Einstein. He’s collaborating with Einstein’s archivists, which is nice.The Associated Press writes, “Patterson even worked in an innovation of his own. The young protagonist, Max Einstein, is a girl.” This is officially the lowest bar for “innovation” in the history of literature, news reportage, and rich people doing stuff to be nice. He’s not a Patterson, he’s a patter, son.
- Hong Kong has gotten this seemingly lovely, vending-machine-style self-service library machine. It so far houses only about 300 books for 65,000 or so residents—a “drop in the bucket,” one local official said—but it’s a start. The nearby mainland city of Shenzhen has 240 such machines.
- Donald Trump doesn’t read — something he’s said proudly in public many times. Still, and like other morons before him, he knows what he likes, which is presumably why he still found time to recommend Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade’s bad new book about Andrew Jackson, who also was garbage.
- Remember Avatar? Well, somebody does, and soon it’ll be more than just a movie by the ex of the director of The Hurt Locker, the theme for a series of straight-to-video DVDs, and the subject of a touring Cirque du Soleil show: it’ll be a series of books. According to unconfirmed rumors, the idea was taken from a rerun of Parks and Recreation.
- In one of the most intense moments of mansplaining ever to hit poetry Twitter, Poets House, a New York-based poetry non-profit, tweeted out a few lines from Lynn Melnick’s new collection Landscape with Sex and Violence, and — actually, you kind of have to see this one for yourself.
We published one book this week:
And, finally, you worked hard all week, and you’ve earned yourself a little sweet cartoonage. Here it comes now. Pour yourself some corn pops, and settle into the transcendent and rather far-out pleasures of René Laloux’s Gandahar (make sure to switch on the subtitles!):
Ok then! Take good care, do some shopping, get a little sleep, and we’ll see you back here Monday.