The Los Angeles Times’ book blog, Jacket Copy, lists 61 essential postmodern reads. Lists are designed to be argued over, so there’s no real point in interrogating all the selections. One thing, though: Reading Percival Everett‘s I Am Not Sidney Poitier a few weeks back, I didn’t think for a moment about whether it was “postmodern” or not. At the risk of invoking some ungainly term like “post-postmodern,” it may be that the postmodern novel is just something that happened, not something that’s happening—a method of wrestling with an increasingly mediated existence in the years before mediated existences became commonplace, before a ten-year-old kid could embed video and songs on a MySpace page and make virtual friends with some stranger in Bali. A lot of the stuff on the list, like I Am Not Sidney Poitier, seems more like metafiction than postmodernism, which aren’t synonymous terms. At any rate, I’m sure one of those ten-year-olds will grow up to write a novel that sorts it all out for us.
Scott McLemee considers the new biography of Saul Bellow‘s ill-fated colleague, Isaac Rosenfeld.
A book on Flannery O’Connor‘s Catholicism is in the works.
And a film based on Jhumpa Lahiri‘s Unaccustomed Earth might be.
Also in the works: A documentary about bad writing. The trailer features George Saunders delivering one of the smartest and most succinct explanations of what bad writing is that I’ve heard.
The Ransom Center has an online exhibit of artifacts from Norman Mailer‘s coverage of Apollo 11.
And Ted Gioia considers whether the moon landing was science fiction writers’ finest hour, and one from which it never quite recovered.
There’s too much damn fiction from Montana writers coming out. (Though I did enjoy Kevin Canty‘s new collection, Where the Money Went.)
“I am a man in my mid-50’s and starting to feel the weight of the years. I am wondering if there are some good books for me to read that address my station in life. I have never read any Updike or Roth, but I have the impression these authors address the concerns of the aging male. Do you have recommendations?“
The Elegant Variation has just wrapped up a four-part interview with Joseph O’Neill.
H.L. Mencken once inscribed a book for Carl Van Vechten with a list of the kinds of alcohol he drank during the three years he was writing it. It’s a long list.