1. Sam Savage, the enigmatic author of Firmin
, dropped by this week at the Lit-Blog Co-Op
, which picked his novel as its Autumn 2006 Read This selection. I enjoyed asking the author a few questions (my interview style is completely random and ad hominem, of course, since I asked him about everything but the book itself). We've also been exploring the question of whether or not the lonesome rat who narrates Firmin
might actually be a deluded human
, but I find the novel most appealing for its unflinching focus on an essentially ratty soul -- a stunted, desparately limited brain with literary pretensions. That's how I read this wonderful book, anyway.
2. About ten litbloggers beat me to this one, but David Rakoff's surprising article about the novel that inspired the Disney movie Bambi
(by a Vienna author named Felix Salten, whose writing has "not a trace of anthropomorphized cuteness") is so interesting I don't mind mentioning it too.
3. I had a few unkind things to say in advance about the soon-to-be-released Thomas Pynchon
novel here recently, and I enjoyed Darby Dixon's
counter-argument at Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks
. Dixon says:I can't truck with the assertion that underlies a statement from Levi Asher about the kind of reading he prefers: "I want reading to be fun, not exhausting." It's not that he prefers one type of reading over another, that's fine, I certainly prefer literature over psychology textbooks, deconstructionism be damned. It's the assertion that fun and exhaustion are mutually exclusive. Reading can and sometimes ought to be both at once.
I think this is a good point. I actually have enjoyed some painfully long and exhausting novels, such as Ulysses
or Don Quixote
(which I still haven't finished, but every page is great and I don't wish it to be one page shorter). I also had no problem at all with Richard Powers' hefty Echo Maker
, though I'm surprised to hear Powers sometimes compared with William Vollmann or Thomas Pynchon; his prose is clear and refreshingly linear, and Pynchon's and Vollman's just isn't. I guess my dislike for long and structurally convoluted novels is entirely practical. I just don't have time to read and decode them, and I feel these authors are writing for an audience with a lot more free time than I have. This annoys me and I consider it inconsiderate. Yo, Tom -- kids? day job? other books I have to read? If I thought a Pynchon novel would someday be regarded the way Don Quixote
is today, maybe I'd dive in. But I don't and I won't.
4. Via Syntax
, this Francis Ford Coppola production of a William S. Burroughs
story looks quite promising.
5. I know everybody is dying to hear who LitKicks is favoring for president in 2008. I like a few prospects right now. Hillary Clinton? Why not? I've liked her style from day one, and I think she's a practical and hardworking politician. Howard Dean? HEYYYEAAAH!!! He architected the recent House/Senate victory, and I just plain straight out like the guy a lot. But let's not forget John Murtha, who has an odd habit of speaking the plain and simple truth. That's something we don't get a lot of over at Animal Farm. I like all three of these prospects. And for now, I hope all three of them keep their heads down and work hard. There's a lot to do.