Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Don't try this at home

"For it must be remembered that at the time I knew quite nothing, naturally, concerning Milo Payne, the mysterious Cockney-talking Englishman with the checkered long-beaked Sherlockholmsian cap; nor of the latter's "Barr-Bag" which was as like my own bag as one Milwaukee wienerwurst is like another; nor of Legga, the Human Spider, with her four legs and her six arms; nor of Ichabod Chang, ex-convict, and son of Dong Chang; nor of the elusive poetess, Abigail Sprigge; nor of the Great Simon, with his 2163 pearl buttons; nor of--in short, I then knew quite nothing about anything or anybody involved in the affair of which I had now become a part, unless perchance it were my Nemesis, Sophie Kratzenschneiderwümpel--or Suing Sophie!"

—Harry Stephen Keeler, THE RIDDLE OF THE TRAVELING SKULL (p. 3)

And I still think that there can be no neater way of putting in a nutshell the outcome of the super-sticky affair of Nobby Hopwood, Stilton Cheesewright, Florence Craye, my Uncle Percy, J. Chichester Clam, Edwin the Boy Scout and old Boko Fittlesworth—or, as my biographers will call it, the Steeple Bumpleigh Horror.
—P.G. Wodehouse, JOY IN THE MORNING (p. 2)

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Saturday, March 02, 2013


The Believer turns 10 this month—incredible! 

I'm honored to be in the 10th-anniversary issue, now on the stands/in your mailbox, with a piece that took me years to write. It's not even that long. It's about Borgesian aspects of beloved children's books like Pat the Bunny

Slate has published the piece as well, which is thrilling for me—I've never been published by Slate. There are some nice comments amid the clueless ones; best of all, the great John Crowley has weighed in!

Those metafictional devices that remind us that a book is not the same as life may bring on existential angst for you. It made me laugh in delight -- like the infinite progression of little cats in "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" ("It is fun to have fun but you have to know how," as the Cat says.) I think most kids are on the delight side not on the dread side. How do you feel about songs like "The Tennessee Waltz" that are about a song that has the same title and often tells the same story as the supposed titular song? Do I make your flesh creep? The inserted pictures from other books are doing what Russian formalists call "baring the device" -- telling us frankly that a book is not the world and can have the same book inside it..

I meant this must be the John Crowley, right? 

I mean...right?


Among his early dispatches was a multipost account of the time John Franco and Bret Saberhagen tied him up, covered him with bread crumbs and left him outside on the pitchers’ mound. A dozen sea gulls feasted upon him. —"Mets Publicist Embraces Social Media With Fervor and Occasional Typo,"Andrew Keh, NYT

(Via Jane)

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