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April 5, 2011
[books] James Ellroy Signs Off From Facebook‘Sayonara Motherfuckers!!!’

James Ellroy's Facebook Sign Off

April 1, 2011
[books] Why People Love Stieg Larsson’s Novels‘Another consideration that would seem to deflect charges of misogyny is simply the character of Lisbeth. She is a complicated person, alienating and poignant at the same time. Many critics have stressed her apparent coldness. In the scene of her revenge against Bjurman, her face never betrays hatred or fear. When the rape is over, she sits in a chair, smokes a cigarette, and stubs it out on his rug. (He is tied up.) Accordingly, some writers have called her a sociopath. Larsson, too, said that once, but elsewhere he described her as a grownup version of Pippi Longstocking, the badly behaved and happy nine-year-old heroine of a series of books, by Astrid Lindgren, beloved of Swedish children.’
March 24, 2011
[books] Counting H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Words‘One of the things any fan of Lovecraft discovers early on is that Lovecraft was very attached to certain words. We either laugh or groan every time we hear something described as “indescribable” or called “unnamable” or “antiquarian” or “cyclopean.” And sometimes we wonder how many times he actually used the words…’ [via As Above]
March 23, 2011
[books] A Book Everyone Should Read? … another great book list from Ask Metafilter … ‘Another vote for “Catch 22”. It captures the essence of the twentieth century: ideology, war and the folly of bureaucracy.’
March 5, 2011
[books] The Hardy Boys The Final Chapter … interesting look at the life of the original writer of the Hardy Boys …

So her father was a hack?

“My father,” she said, “was a literate, sophisticated, erudite man.”

He was?

He loved Dickens, she said. “He was a great Joycean.”

He was?

“He corresponded with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He had aspirations to be that kind of writer.”

She seemed uncertain where to go with this.

Finally: “He hated the Hardy Boys.”

February 25, 2011
[books] The Bobby Fischer Defense … Garry Kasparov On Bobby Fischer … ‘[Fischer’s] paranoia was far beyond the more calculated, even principled, “madness” of his playing years, well described by Voltaire in his Philosophical Dictionary: “Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagancies; and, forget not to be excessively opinionated and obstinate.” That is, purposeful and successful madness can hardly be called mad. After Fischer left chess the dark forces inside him no longer had purpose.’
January 26, 2011
[books] How Novels Came To Terms With The Internet‘It is what the internet lures out of us – hubris, daydreams, avarice, obsessions – that makes it so potent and so volatile. TV’s power is serenely impervious; it does all the talking, and we can only listen or turn it off. But the internet is at least partly us; we write it as well as read it, perform for it as well as watch it, create it as well as consume it. Watching TV is a solitary activity that feels like a communal one, while the internet is a communal experience masquerading as solitude.’
December 9, 2010
[politics] Dictator-lit: Kim Jong-il’s political philosophy‘I count at least three lies in the first sentence, and another three in the second, although there could be more. Multiply that by a couple of thousand and you will get a sense of Kim’s pathological language machine, the Omega Point of totalitarian communist propaganda, a nightmare matrix of deceiving nouns, adjectives, prepositions and verbs, from which there is no escape.’
October 11, 2010
[future] A Radical Pessimist’s Guide To The Next 10 Years … many depressing predictions from Douglas Coupland … ‘You may well burn out on the effort of being an individual — You’ve become a notch in the Internet’s belt. Don’t try to delude yourself that you’re a romantic lone individual. To the new order, you’re just a node. There is no escape.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
September 13, 2010
[books] The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women by James Ellroy Reviewed‘This is not really a book about women, or any sort of physical or emotional connection at all, whether love or sex. It’s a book about obsession. Between the relentless crowing about how “brilliantly” he performs at this reading and what a “sales smasheroo” that book is, you sense a lonely and baffled man, repeatedly floored by anxiety, hypochondria and a still-raw response to a long-ago violent loss – none of which are likely to be solved simply by demanding that women line up to love him. Does Ellroy himself know this about himself? Can he see what we see?’
September 10, 2010
[books] Charlie Higson’s Top 10 Horror Books‘There has been a lot of fuss recently about the film of this book. But the book – which is every bit as extreme and upsetting as the film – has been around since as long ago as 1952. Amazing how you can get away with so much more in books without people really noticing. “Oh, it’s a book, it must be good for you.” Well, this book is certainly not good for you.’ (Higson on the Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson.)
September 6, 2010
[space] Stuart Clark’s top 10 approachable astronomy books‘Understanding the celestial objects and our place within them has been a passion of mine for my whole life. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t consumed with curiosity about the universe. These books span the entire history of mankind’s fascination with space. All of them capture the fascination of astronomy and the human stories behind this most noble of sciences.’
September 3, 2010
[books] Digested read: Tony Blair A Journey‘You know, I had a tear in my eye when I entered No10 for the first time in 1997, though it wasn’t, as the Daily Mail tried to claim, because I was choked with emotion at how far I had come since I was a young, ordinary boy standing on the terraces of St James’ Park, watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle. It was because Gordon had hit me. Ah, Gordon! He meant well, I suppose, in his funny little emotionally inarticulate way.’
August 22, 2010
[people] Jackal novelist blames NSA for wife’s laptop hack‘Novelist Frederick Forsyth has accused heavy handed US cyber-spies of destroying his wife’s computer in an attempt to tap into copy he was filling for the Daily Express from West Africa.’
June 14, 2010
[books] Great Literature Retitled To Boost Website Traffic‘7 Awesome Ways Barnyard Animals Are Like Communism’
June 12, 2010
[books] The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers‘When I stopped plagiarizing Hemingway, I plagiarized Tolkien. It wasn’t the old master’s fault, and I got over it. But thousands of others created a literary Mordor: mass-market industrial fantasy, where the orcs, elves and dwarves march past like the North Korean army.’
June 6, 2010
[books] What books are in the “MeFi Canon”? … interesting post on what books are mentioned regularly on the Metafilter blogs … ‘Twilight gets mentioned a lot. I’ll see myself out.’
March 18, 2010
[books] The Little People – the best book cover ever … A horror novel about evil Nazi Leprechauns with whips? WANT! [via Moreish]

EVIL NAZI LEPRECHAUNS WITH WHIPS!

February 22, 2010
[books] Hare-brained: Kit Williams’ Masquerade … The long and engrossing story behind the creation of Kit Williams’ Masquerade treasure hunt and it’s eventual solution … ‘The national newspapers followed up the Thomas story all week, faithfully repeating the version of events he’d given to Williams. They were particularly pleased with the notion that all these eggheads could have been defeated by Masquerade’s puzzle, only to see the hare finally discovered by a dog who stopped to pee on a random stone. This was the single aspect of the story which every newspaper emphasised, and it’s still the one thing which most casual readers know – or think they know – about Masquerade today.’ [via Metafilter]
February 18, 2010
[books] Henry Sutton’s top 10 Unreliable Narrators … On The Killer Inside Me: ‘It was Jim Thompson, not James M Cain, who put the hard into hard-boiled, the noir into roman noir. He was also one of the first crime writers to take us into the heads of seriously twisted killers, if not out-and-out psychopaths. Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is regarded as a pillar of the small Texan community he serves. Yet he’s in possession of a secret he doesn’t even admit to himself. When the bodies start to appear, the net slowly tightens.’
January 29, 2010
[books] Dave Eggers on J. D. Salinger: ‘I wish I’d met the man. I hope he was happy. I worry sometimes that he wasn’t a happy recluse, but I like to think he was. Wouldn’t it be ­wonderful if he actually felt like he said all he needed to say and then just called it a day (for four or five decades?). The strength of his convictions, in any case, serves as a model for us all.’
January 20, 2010
[books] James Ellroy and David Peace in conversation … On his life between 1968 and 1972: ‘I have a very dim social sense. I recall the time. I recall the specific events. But I didn’t give a rat’s fucking ass. I was self-absorbed. All I wanted to do was drink, use drugs, perv around after women, unsuccessfully. And read. I didn’t give a shit. I was never leftwing. I was never a war protestor. I would just steal and hole up in libraries and sleep in parks and act like an asshole, in a minor way. But I read and nurtured notions of being a great writer. And I sensed history bombing around beside me. I knew I was living through tumultuous history.’
January 18, 2010
[books] James Ellroy On Desert Island Discs … (available on BBC iPlayer for the next seven days).
January 13, 2010
[books] I’m Not That Peter Robinson … Internet Hate Mob GO! … ‘Many thanks to all of you who have offered me your support in my time of difficulty – especially the person who said my wife was a homophobic slut who needed a good slapping around, and the other who suggested that I turn to Jesus Christ as my Saviour – but I must stress that I AM NOT Peter Robinson the politician, Northern Ireland’s First Minister.’
[blogs] Look At This Fucking Idea For A Blog-To-Book Deal … generating ideas for the blog-to-book market one post at a time: Famous Architect Or Early 20th Century Pedophile Dandy?Dinosaurs Dealing With MortalityEverything As A Vintage PaperbackReboxing. [via Metafilter]
January 11, 2010
[books] Kurt Vonnegut Reviews Joseph Heller’s Something Happened‘The book may be marketed under false pretenses, which is all right with me. I have already seen (British) sales promotion materials which suggest that we have been ravenous for a new Heller book because we want to laugh some more. This is as good a way as any to get people to read one of the unhappiest books ever written. “Something Happened” is so astonishingly pessimistic, in fact, that it can be called a daring experiment. Depictions of utter hopelessness in literature have been acceptable up to now only in small dose, in short-story form, as in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” or John D. MacDonald’s “The Hangover,” to name a treasured few. As far as I know, though, Joseph Heller is the first major American writer to deal with unrelieved misery at novel length. Even more rashly, he leaves his major character, Slocum, essentially unchanged at the end.’
December 31, 2009
[funny] The Perfect Billboard‘My God, it even has a watermark.’
December 28, 2009
[motivational] Kurt Vonnegut Motivational Posters

Kurt Vonnegut Motivational Poster

December 21, 2009
[tv] Thomas The Tank Engine Attacked For ‘Conservative Political Ideology’‘In one episode, Thomas whistles impatiently at a police officer and is replaced with a different engine as a punishment for showing dissent.’ [via Graybo]
December 15, 2009
[history] The Magnet … a mostly-complete archive (scroll to the botton of the page) of the famous weekly boys story paper that featured Billy Bunter along with many other similar papers. [via Metafilter]
December 1, 2009
[bdj] Yes, the bozos who claimed I was Belle de Jour were completely deluded! … Stewart Home’s reaction to Belle de Jour revealing her identity … ‘One thing I am absolutely certain of is that I didn’t write the Belle de Jour blog and books despite the claims to the contrary made by various conspiracy nuts.’
November 29, 2009
[books] In Cold Blood, Half A Century On … revisiting the senseless murder of four people, Kansas and Truman Capote …

For Truman Capote the outcome of his sojourn in west Kansas was decidedly mixed. In Cold Blood, which he immodestly heralded as a new form of non-fiction novel, was received with delirious approval; Norman Mailer dubbed Perry as one of the great characters in American literature. The book earned its author more than $2m, which he used to buy homes in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Palm Springs and Switzerland. But by all accounts such heavenly success also went to his head, and contributed to his downward spiral in a haze of lavish parties, drink and drugs. He failed to write another substantial work, and died in 1984.

November 25, 2009
[books] Is James Ellroy The Best Judge Of His Own Novels? … James Ellroy on The Cold Six Thousand‘Ellroy was already there, sitting on a dais, dressed casually – khaki jumper with suede elbow pads, chinos and surprisingly fashionable shoes – more geography teacher on a field trip than “the demon dog, the foul owl with the death growl”. But there was nothing ordinary about Ellroy’s voice. Deep, rhythmic and gruff, his voice imbued the opening passage from American Tabloid with such ferocity and menace it was pure visceral theatre.’
November 8, 2009
[twitter] Nigel Molesworth is on Twitter: ‘sunda wot a dredful da it lede to kontemplasion of ones MORTALITE o how werey stale flatt & unproffitabel seem to me all the uses ect ect’ [link]
October 30, 2009
[books] Meet Stephen King’s Gore Specialist‘Dorr has consulted on classics like The Shining, Pet Sematary, Misery, and Cell. (For Misery, Dorr told King how to cauterize a wound with a blowtorch and which body parts can be surgically removed without killing the victim.)’
September 29, 2009
[movies] Philip K. Dick on Blade Runner‘As for my own role in the BLADE RUNNER project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions.’ [via @girlonetrack]
September 28, 2009
[books] Excerpts From An Interview With James Ellroy‘My dad had another stroke the first week I was at Polk. I got flown home to LA, in my uniform, on emergency leave. Two weeks later, he had yet another stroke. I got flown back again, just in time to see him die. His final words to me were, Try to pick up every waitress who serves you.’
September 4, 2009
[comics] Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves … can anybody spot where the comics are in these photos? (click on them for high resolution pics.)
August 22, 2009
[books] Dan Brown Oxfam’s ‘Most Donated’ — BBC News‘Dan Brown’s works are being offloaded to second-hand shops faster than anyone’s. Oxfam named him the “most donated” author at its chain of charity shops. John Grisham, Ian Rankin, Danielle Steel and Helen Fielding were the other high-profile authors to achieve the dubious honour of making the top five.’
August 21, 2009
[books] Unearthed Again – Golden Hare That Obsessed A Nation … what happened to Kit Williams author of Masquerade and his Golden Hare?‘The hare was later bought by a mystery buyer for £31,900 at a Sotheby’s auction in 1988. Williams had tried to buy it but was outbid, and it has remained unseen in private hands for more than 20 years.’
July 31, 2009
[books] Forgotten Bookmarks‘I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people everyday. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books.’ [via MetaFilter]
July 21, 2009
[comics] After Watchmen, What’s ‘Unfilmable’? These Legendary Texts … Wired looks at some susposedly unfilmable comics and books … On Sandman: ‘Too long. Spanning 74 issues and more than a decade, if you count spinoffs and standalones, Neil Gaiman’s decorated mythopoetic fantasy starring Dream, Death and other revered, abstract personifications is stuck in film limbo. “There is talk of an HBO Sandman,” Gaiman told Wired.com in March, “because no one quite knows what to do with it. But the truth is, if anybody is going to make [it] a movie, it will probably be a kid in film school right now to whom The Sandman was the most important thing ever. It will take the amount of commitment, dedication and madness that Peter Jackson brought to Lord of the Rings to get it on the screen…”‘
July 20, 2009
[comics] Stephen Frears drawn to Tamara Drewe‘Tamara Drewe, Posy Simmonds’s comic strip about a journalist who ruffles feathers in a rural writers’ retreat, is to be turned into a film by Stephen Frears. The director of The Queen and The Grifters is reported to have cast former Bond girl and St Trinian’s graduate Gemma Arterton as the title character, a newspaper columnist whose recent nose job transforms her into a seductive flirt, to the chagrin of the quiet village’s womenfolk.’
July 16, 2009
[books] An Interview With Michael Lewis

‘When I write a long magazine piece that gets attention I feel like it’s more widely read now than it was ten years ago, by a long way. In fact, it feels excessively well read. Twenty years ago I might get a couple of notes in the mail and I’d hear about it maybe at a dinner party. And that would be the end of it, and it would go away very quickly. Ten years ago it would get passed around by email, and it would seem to have a life to me that would go on a little longer. Now the blogosphere picks it up and it becomes almost like a book: it lives for months. I’m getting responses to it for months. And I don’t think the journalism has gotten any better. It’s just the environment you publish it in is more able to rapidly get it to the people who are or might be interested in it.’

July 12, 2009
[apollo] Haynes Owners’ Workshop Manual To Apollo 11 … fun idea – a Apollo 11 manual done as a DIY Car Maintenance Guide … More on the manual from the Register: ‘Of course, the book doesn’t actually invite you to wander down to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and pop the spark plugs out of the original command module, but it does offer “an insight into the hardware from the first manned mission to land on the moon”.’
June 30, 2009
[books] Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Iain Sinclair … notes from a talk the three writers gave in London last night … ‘Alan Moore discusses deadlines, and the frenetic life-style involved in popular writing. To be a periodical writer becomes your life. [..] Alan Moore says “Stuff leaks in from the future.” Alan Moore talks about sleep deprivation. Alan Moore says that craft becomes less conscious.’ [via Moleitau]
June 29, 2009
[tweets] Jon Ronson (posted on Twitter): ‘dennis neilson did the Braille translation of my book, Them.’
June 26, 2009
[1984] Caught On Cam: Here Lies Eric Arthur Blair‘There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.’ [via a Smursh of Pete]
June 14, 2009
[books] Ask MeFi: What books do people proselytize about?‘I think these books are types that suggest a single, clear lens through which the world and all life experience can be viewed. When certain, perhaps impressionable or at least eager people read these books and take the theses as gospel,’getting religion,’ as it were, that this author has hit on the EXACT TRUTH about things, they can’t stop talking about them to others.’
May 14, 2009
[books] Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London ‘…at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait. Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework.’

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