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November 28, 2009

Convicted for vehicular homicide, Pulp Fiction writer lies about being in jail

And, as a consequence, he gets to really get his cavity searched in a real jail. Good show! Via Waxy Screenwriter Roger Avary moved from work furlough program to jail after tweeting episode | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times
"Pulp Fiction" co-screenwriter Roger Avary is behind bars at the Ventura County Jail today -- several days after what is believed to be the writer/director's tweeting revealed that he was serving his sentence for a fatal car crash in a furlough program rather than in jail. In September, Avary was sentenced to a year in jail for causing a car crash in Ojai that killed a passenger and injured Avary's wife. Earlier this week, Times technology blogger Mark Milian discovered some tweets coming from @avary and speculated over whether Avary was tweeting from jail. But Avary wasn't in jail. Rather, he was serving his time in a Ventura County work furlough program, which allows him to go to his job during the day. He reports back to the furlough facility -- a modified former Air Force barracks at Camarillo Airport -- at night and on weekends. It's unclear when officials decided to allow Avary to enter the furlough program, or how that decision was reached. It is also unknown where the screenwriter spent his days, but inmates in the program are not allowed to work at home. Today, however, officials said Avary is in full-time custody. He reported to the Ventura County Jail for incarceration on Thanksgiving Day for "security issues," said Sheriff spokesman Ross Bonfiglio. ... But you wouldn't get that impression from what are believed to be Avary's tweets, which chronicle life inside amid heroin smuggling, lockdowns and strip searches. "#34's new roomie, EZ, takes Yeyo's old bunk, locker, AND number. He regales awesome tales about his former life as an Oxnard gangbanger," @avary tweeted Tuesday at 9:17 a.m. Two weeks earlier @avary tweeted: "'It's your birthday! announcing that #34 is to receive a random strip-down and cavity search to be performed by a leering, rotund officer."

November 27, 2009

Is there a thematic bias in American literary criticism?

What’s Best and What’s Sexist -- Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes After reading this (and some of the linked pieces) I'm persuaded that the answer is YES. There is a bias for novels that feature a male protagonist fighting against a culture/world where the rules are defined by women.
A week or so back, Andrew Seal spent some time testing an argument by literary scholar Nina Baym that critics’ favorite works of American literature tends to adhere to a particular theme: Men struggling against a society whose rules and limits are defined by women. To celebrate such books, the argument goes, is to bolster a particular American myth. (At least, that’s how I understand the argument; I haven’t read the Baym essay that Seal discusses.) To investigate the matter, Seal picks a few consensus favorites from the past ten years—The Corrections, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Netherland, The Road—as well as Keith Gessen’s All the Sad Young Literary Men, I suppose just for the sake of slapping it around a bit more. The whole post is worth reading, and intuitively it feels correct. Lists of the best books of 2009 are starting to make the rounds, and it wouldn’t be too hard to see this theory at play in some of the year’s critical favorites: Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin (man arrives from Ireland to make a better life for himself, only to be stuck in a house full of prostitutes); Richard Powers‘ Generosity: An Enhancement (a happy woman is strange, a problem that demands investigation and repair); Philip Roth’s The Humbling (look out—lesbians!); and Paul Auster’s Invisible (young man tries to make his way in the world, but seductresses get in the way). Seal’s post discusses only male authors, but acclaimed female writers can play into the same themes; central to Joyce Carol Oates‘ Little Bird of Heaven are two men whose lives are made worse for their relationship with an almost prototypical “loose woman.”