Catchin' up — New Believer! — Free e-Stark — &c.
I haven't been blogging—I was in Taiwan and couldn't figure how to work Blogger. Did you miss me? [Tumbleweed.]
I. The September Believer is out. On the site, you can read a Gregory Kornbluh's wonderful piece on master palindromist Barry Duncan, as well as Ross Simonini's (about whom, more later) interview with Jason Schwartzman. But you need to get the whole print issue in your hands. It's great. THERE IS A CONVERSATION BETWEEN DON DELILLO AND BRET EASTON ELLIS. (One of the many things I learned: DD excised 15 pages from a paperback reprint of Americana. I wonder which 15? I wonder why?)
Marc Katz has a mouth-watering essay on Huysmans' Against Nature (which has been lingering on my bookshelf for approximately 9 million years, and which I really now must read!), Nate Pedersen looks at the origins of the "butler did it" mystery trope, Meaghan Winter gets wiggy with Orthodox Jewish hairpieces...There's the usual Marcus/Pendarvis/Handler/Hornby columny goodness, filthy comics, reviews, and more...Verdict: Great issue!
II. The one book I read while away was Lawrence Douglas's upcoming novel The Vices, which is excellent—just my cup of tea. I was a huge fan of his debut novel, The Catastrophist (and profiled him for the PTSNBN, in one of my last articles there); this one shares some of the themes but seems to me even more successful—exhilarating, even.
Try the first page and see if you can stop. It's about a stalled novelist's friendship with the Bernhardesque Oliver Vice, and the prose is pure pleasure: elegant, comic, wise. There are subtle pleasures, too, that I'm not sure I can do justice to. For example, a brief passage in the first half of the book gently triggered a memory of a scene in Nabokov's The Real Life of Sebastian Knight...and many many pages later, the narrator and his friend talk about that very novel, in such a way that the book itself becomes suggestively and satisfyingly unmoored.
I will have quotes for you soon.
III. Levi alerted me to two free e-books by Donald E. Westlake—God Save the Mark (which I reviewed for the PTSNBN; it's perfect light reading) and (as Richard Stark) The Score.