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August 10, 2010

The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers

I've been bored with contemporary adult fiction for a while now, with a few notable exceptions (DFW, Nicholson Baker). And I'm always eager to read a column where some young turk takes shots at the big names. Anis Shivani: The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers (PHOTOS)
#9 Jonathan Safran Foer Exemplary sentence: "I read the first chapter of A Brief History of Time when Dad was still alive, and I got incredibly heavy boots about how relatively insignificant life is, and how, compared to the universe and compared to time, it didn't even matter if I existed at all." Each of these writers has a gimmick, and gimmick after gimmick is what Foer excels at. Always quick to jump on to the bandwagon of the moment. Debuted with harmless multiculturalism for the perennially bored in Everything Is Illuminated, with cute lovable foreigners and the slacker generation digging lovableness; a more pretentious "magical realist" novel was never written. Rode the 9/11-novel gravy train with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, giving us a nine-year-old with the brain of a--twenty-eight-year-old Jonathan Safran Foer. Having cashed in on 9/11, and seeing no obvious fictional goldmine to plunder, moved on to nonfiction with Eating Animals, hanging on to J. M. Coetzee's coattails. This is his best book yet, his only barely readable one, but without a single original thought. Fatherhood prompted him to give up eating animals (though not consuming valuable paper that could have been put to better uses), just as impending fatherhood prompted memoirist Nick Flynn to recently look into Abu Ghraib in The Ticking Is the Bomb (for all those not contemplating fatherhood, you'll never write a convincing nonfiction proposal!). Had it not been for conglomerate publishing desperate to anoint young marketable stars, he would still be looking into Joseph Cornell's boxes.

August 08, 2010

College is Over

MIT OpenCourseWare: Unlocking Knowledge, Empowering Minds -- d'Oliveira et al....

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August 06, 2010

Mojonaut Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz's story "B.O.B." featured on FictionDaily

This week's fiction at Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz's...

August 01, 2010

Ayn Rand's diaries reveal her to be even nuttier than I expected

“Jane Smith of Seat 4B Once Put A Quarter In A Church Poor Box, So She Deserved To Be Asphyxiated To Death.” : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She called him “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy,” shimmering with “immense, explicit egotism.” Rand had only one regret: “A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough.”

July 28, 2010

Orwell vs Huxley: Amusing Ourselves to Death

Accelerating Future -- Amusing Ourselves to Death It's larger than we like to put on the front page, so please click through or look after the jump for a well done comic comparing Orwell's idea of a dystopian present to Huxley's. For bonus points: Try and guess what modern day America more closely resembles.

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