Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Writer's Voice

In the past we’ve explored the jarring disconnect between the literary voice of an author, and their actual speaking voice (see Hemingway and Woolf, for example.)  Today though,  we see how those two types of voice can meld together and accentuate one another perfectly, as Jack Kerouac reads from his rambling beat classic, On the Road:

I’ve never actually read monsieur Kerouac- something I’ll have to remedy before this novel becomes a movie on May 23rd. But listening to the assonance and rhythm of his writing, one can’t help but wonder if he was influenced by the late, great Dr. Seuss. What do you think?


Friday, March 30, 2012

First Line Friday


MacEvoy and I are both admitted suckers for Metafiction. So, when I recently came across today's first line, I was immediately sold on the premise of the entire novel (that's the beauty of a good first line). Now, I haven't actually read the novel yet, but it's waiting for me patiently on my shelf. Here is the first line:

"The first time that Jean-Claude Pelletier read Benno Von Archimboldi was Christmas 1980, in Paris, when he was nineteen years old and studying German literature. "

The novel is the critically acclaimed 2666 by Roberto Bolano. And Bolano's first line is packed with intrigue. Without having actually read the novel, I can assume that (i) Jean-Claude Pelletier is some sort of intellectual bibliophile, (ii) Archimboldi's writings are going to be central to Pelletier's core experience, and (iii) the setting is Europe. A beautiful literary recipe! Is it not?

Those of you who have actually read 2666 will please correct me if any of my assumptions are completely off-base.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Haiku-ption Contest #6

It’s that time again. In the comments, give us your best haiku for the picture below. Winner to be determined by a vote of the fickle masses.

Three straps and- voila.
Nose Gear, girls. It’s not just for
airplanes anymore.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Lit-Fic Starter Kit: Your Quickstart Guide to the Classics

No sooner do we claim to be dealers of the “gateway drug to literary fiction,” than one of our readers calls on us to prove it. In response to yesterday’s post, ElizabethR writes the following:
“Will you recommend a book for one who has never read any of the classics or contemporary greats? I find the thought of reading literature daunting. I'd need a book that would not send me to sleep by the fourth page. Because I literally fall asleep while reading.What would you recommend as my first piece of great literature? And how would I go about staying awake?”
First of all, you’re not alone in being daunted, Elizabeth. Great literature is almost universally seen as an impenetrable beast. The trick is finding the soft underbelly that will allow you to attack the fierce beast and find your own niche within.

And just so you know, I came late to the game myself. I detested having classics shoved down my throat in school. I scraped by in my high school English classes using a hackneyed amalgam of Cliffs Notes, film adaptations and a lucky knack for turning in-class discussions into serviceable essay answers. I think the only three assigned books I actually read during those four years were Great Expectations by Dickens, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. (All three are fantastic, by the way.)

The turning point for me came years later when it occurred to me that I had really loved each of the “great” books I had taken the time to read. They had all stuck with me in ways that riveting reads like Grisham’s The Firm, or Crichton’s Jurassic Park, hadn’t. It caused me to wonder what else I might have missed by turning my nose up at my schooldays literature syllabi. And as I explained yesterday, I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.

Sometimes a book will hit me like a ton of bricks, and sometimes a revered classic will just fall flat. On very rare occasions I’ll hit the eject button before I’ve even given the book a fighting chance. (I’m looking at you, Homer’s Iliad) Like, multiple times.

The final caveat I’ll share is that I don’t believe in the existence of one perfect book that will captivate every reader from the first page to the last, and inspire a lifetime devotion to literary fiction by force of its sheer awesomeness. If such a thing did exist, it would be entirely dependent on the personal tastes of each reader. But here are ten books that can serve as your Trojan Horse into the daunting world of classic literary fiction. (And I use the word ‘classic’ here as Italo Calvino defines it: “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.")

This isn't meant to be a top-ten list for entry-level classics, but you'll find that all ten books are either extremely short, or extremely approachable works of great fiction. Any of them would be a good place to start.

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormack McCarthy

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

The Stranger, by Albert Camus

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

As for staying awake,that’s for due dates and homework assignments. Hopefully the reading is compelling enough to hold your eyelids apart, but if it isn’t, enjoy the rest. It sounds like you could use it.

How about the rest of you? What recommendations would you make to a hesitant beginner?

Back to the well? Or into the abyss?

We’ve never professed to be literary experts. In fact, the whole thrust behind this site is the belief that regular Joes like ourselves have as much to gain from great books as the career academics and industry professionals who have made good literature the focus of their entire lives.

We hope we can add some unique insights to an unnecessarily stuffy lit culture, and maybe inspire some new readers of good books while we’re at it. In short, the goal is to serve as a kind of gateway drug for literary fiction. But what we’re really doing, more than anything else, is chronicling our own journey of discovery. If I didn’t already realize that, it became pretty clear when I sat down to look at what I’ve been reading lately.

I’ve only been tracking my reading habits for a little over a year. But in that short time, I’ve probably covered more new ground than I had in the previous 30. To wit:
  • The last 15 books I’ve read have been by authors who were brand spanking new to me.
  • Going back to the beginning of last year, I see that 34 of my last 41 reads are the works of writers I’d never had the pleasure of reading before.
  • Throw in the next two books in my To-Be-Read pile, which are both by authors unfamiliar to me, and we’re talking a full 84% of my last 15 months’ reading- all of it a sad, desperate attempt to catch-up on 200 years of classic literary fiction.

Will I ever be caught up? Not a chance.  But I’m having a blast just trying. 

What about you? Are you more apt to go back to well of authors who are tried and true? Or are you blazing a trail through the unknown like me?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Science of Powerful Prose... Revisited

In this previous post, I took a stab at identifying why certain combinations of words seem to explode off the page, while others just sit there, inert and ineffective.

It turns out that much brighter minds than mine are busy delving into the mystery:
"Researchers have long known that the “classical” language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells."
"Last month, however, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands,” did not." 
Very interesting. Go here for the complete article.

So, one way to improve your writing is to fill your metaphors with all the texture and spice of a good, hearty salsa. Who knew?

(You see what we did there, folks? Is your sensory cortex buzzing?)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Stunning Beauty of Books

No, not lyrical  beauty- or the metaphorical beauty of ideas- we cover that crap all the time. What we're talking about today is the beauty of books as physical objects, especially when in the hands of a talented artist.

Regular lurker and occasional commenter READTHE100 pointed us to the work of Guy Laramee, who carves incredible landscapes out of old books. Here's a sampling of his recent oeuvre:

Go here for more. It kind of reminded us of the anonymous book sculptures that began popping up in Scottish libraries last year:

Fascinating stuff. You certainly can't do that with a Kindle...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jhumpa Lahiri: My Life's Sentences

In the New York Times’ Opinionator column last Saturday, Jhumpa Lahiri wrote an excellent piece that relates to a couple of our own regular features. Here’s some of what she said:

 "In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do." 

"The most compelling narrative, expressed in sentences with which I have no chemical reaction, or an adverse one, leaves me cold. In fiction, plenty do the job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates."

Very nicely put. And it echoes what we’ve tried to do herehereherehere and here in our “From the Pen of…” series, originally inspired by this post, and in First Line Fridays, where we give thumbs up or down to various authors’ first attempts to enchant us. Read her entire piece here. And check out Ms. Lahiri’s own books below.


Friday, March 23, 2012

First Line Friday!

And, at long last, the first line of the week is as follows:

"A half hour after I came down here, the rains began."

Hmmm. Now, I'm indifferent to this first line. Clearly, it works. But I am not convinced as to how well it works. It's too bland for my taste, like it's missing an edge. And where is "here?" I think the writer would have done better to replace the word "here" with the actual location he is referencing: the toilet? his office? Baja Mexico? downtown? The first line deserves more specification.

So who wrote this mediocre first line? Wallace Stegner, in All The Little Live Things.

But, to be fair to Stegner, let's read the aforementioned first line with the whole first paragraph, and suddenly we have some serious prose:
"A half hour after I came down here, the rains began. They came without fuss, the thin edge of a circular Pacific storm that is probably dumping buckets on Oregon. One minute I was looking out my study window into the greeny-gold twilight under the live oak, watching a towhee kick up the leaves, and the next I saw that the air beyond the tree was scratched with fine rain. Now the flagstones are shining, the tops of the horizontal oak limbs are dark-wet, there is a growing drip from the dome of the tree above, the towhee's olive back has melted into umber dusk and gone. I sit here watching evening and the winter rains come on together, and I feel as slack and dull as the day or the season. Or not slack so much as bruised. I am like a man so stiff from a beating that every move reminds him and fills him with outrage."
Eh? Thoughts?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

See Africa! Read a Novel!

It’s been a little while since our last "See The World" post (previous entries can be found here and here), and with winter finally coming to a close, we’ve probably all got a touch of cabin fever. In my case, it’s a full-blown case of stage 4 Wanderlust. To set us free I thought we’d kick off the shackles of cities and towns, and strike out into the wilds of East Africa, present-day Kenya and Tanzania. Here are three great books that will take you there:

Out of Africa, by Isak Denisen (pen name for Karen Blixen.) Published in 1937, but set in 1920’s colonial British East Africa (Kenya), this is a book Hemingway called the best he’s read on Africa (fine praise from someone who’s written some great books on Africa himself.) You’ll probably recognize the first line from the 1985 film of the same name:
“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the North, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet.  
“In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.  
“The geographical position, and the height of the land combined to create a landscape that had not its like in all the world. There was no fat on it and no luxuriance anywhere; it was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the strong and refined essence of a continent.”

True at First Light, by Ernest Hemingway- Or Under Kilimanjaro, by the same author. Both were published posthumously, and both were born out of the same 1950s-era manuscript that he had left unpublished:
“It was a clear and beautiful morning as we drove out across the plain with the Mountain and the trees of the camp behind us. There were many Thomson’s gazelle ahead on the green plain switching their tails as they fed. There were herds of wildebeests and Grant’s gazelle feeding close to the patches of bush. We reached the airstrip we had made in a long open meadow by running the car and the truck up and down through the new short grass and grubbing out the stumps and roots of a patch of brush at one end. The tall pole of a cut sapling drooped from the heavy wind of the night before and the wind sock, homemade from a flour sack, hung limp. We stopped the car and I got out and felt the pole. It was solid although bent and the sock would fly once the breeze roze. There were wind clouds high in the sky and it was beautiful looking across the green meadow at the Mountain looking so huge and wide from here.”

Weep Not, Child, by James Ngugi (early pen name for Ngugi wa Thiong’o). This 1964 book is the first English novel to be written by an East African. You can imagine that its point-of view (native African) and its subject matter (the Mau Mau Uprising) provide a pretty interesting contrast to the two books above:
“There was only one road that ran right across the land. It was long and broad and shone with black tar, and when you travelled along it on  hot days you saw little lakes ahead of you. But when you went near, the lakes vanished, to appear again a little farther ahead. Some people called them the devil’s waters because they deceived you and made you more thirsty if your throat was already dry. And the road which ran across the land and was long and broad had no beginning and no end. At least, few people knew of its origin. Only if you followed it it would take you to the big city and leave you there while it went beyond to the unknown, perhaps joining the sea.”


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Short Story Club: "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut

Welcome to Short Story Club. Come on in and pull up a chair. There’s a cheese board on the piano, and there should be a tray of Little Smokies circulating somewhere. Anyway, what did everyone think of “Harrison Bergeron?” It’s a little different than our usual fare, right?

I’m not a regular reader of absurdist, dystopian, science-fiction satire, but I am  an unapologetic sucker for the fiction of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I don’t know many writers who can mix humor and brutality as casually or effectively as he can. This story is unabashedly campy, especially the lame joke at the end, but as is always the case with Vonnegut, the reader is really made to think.

But what exactly are  we supposed to think about this one? The message of this story is not the one I would have expected from an avowed Lefty and lifelong member of the ACLU. He basically takes the fight for universal equality to extremes (some might even say its logical conclusion) and the result is a dystopian hell where you can see your own child gunned down on tv and forget about it a moment later (or miss it entirely because you were too busy making yourself a sandwich.) So it goes, I guess.

What did the rest of you think?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Short Story Club Selection for March

We’re still experimenting with various approaches to our monthly Short Story Club. This month we’ll try to shorten the timeline just a tad. We’ll post the story today, and invite discussion tomorrow, to see if having it fresh in your minds will spur some of you to finally get off your duffs and comment.

This month’s selection is another short one: “Harrison Bergeron,” By Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Here’s the opening:
“THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”  
And in case you wanted some rubric by which to judge the story beyond the simple “liked it/hated it” standard, I thought we’d also share Vonnegut’s philosophy on short stories and what makes them work. Here he is, in his own words, below:

See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dickens' Fruit Corners

Yesterday’s post may have been a little grim for some of you, so why not lighten things up on a Monday morning?

Go ahead and grab a snack, or curl up with a good book. Heck, do both. Enjoy your favorite Dickens' Fruit Corners selection!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Poet's Corner

In this running series we’ve tried to break the shackles of bucolic, pastoral settings and head-in-the-clouds love language that sometimes seem to have poetry in an unrelenting full-Nelson. As you can see in Wilfred Owen's WWI-era poem below, poetry can just as powerfully speak of death on the battlefield, of “froth-corrupted lungs” and “vile, incurable sores.”

By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.*

* This Latin phrase comes from an ode by Horace. It means “It’s sweet and right to die for your country.”
Pretty amazing, right?


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Midnight in Paris: How did Woody do?

In response to this post, reader Jillian22 has asked us to weigh in on Woody Allen’s portrayal of the various literary legends who figure so prominently in his recent film “Midnight in Paris,” the director’s love song to Paris in the ‘20s. Regular readers will doubtless already know that you don’t have to ask me twice to hold forth on that particular time and place. It’s a mild obsession.

So, how did Allen do in bringing these famous writers to life? Behold:

Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway:
Handsome, opinionated, and self-assured, with machismo dripping from every pore, this is the Hemingway we’ve come to know and love. Don’t believe me? I’ll simply point you to this interview he gave to the Paris Review years later. Read the whole thing. It’s spectacular. We’ve thrown the spotlight on Hemingway’s speaking voice here, and I think the film measures up pretty well on that score, as well. My only complaint is that I doubt he was as extemporaneously eloquent, or nearly as bellicose as he is portrayed in the film. Other than that, spot on.

Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein:
I love Kathy Bates to begin with, but by all accounts, she nailed Stein’s role as a widely-used sounding board, art critic and social intermediary for the expat set. The short-cropped hair and husky figure are right out of the photographs of Stein in those days. And her Paris salon was where a lot of the movers and shakers came to move and shake. So it’s fitting that Gil would meet Adriana here.

Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald:
Affable, socially adept, and tragically in love with a category 5 tornado. Sounds about right. In the film, Hemingway clearly has it in for Zelda, warning Scott she’s out to destroy him. Scott finds himself uncomfortably defending his wife. Again, some pretty accurate echos of real life as they knew it. Hemingway tells the story in A Moveable Feast about how he dragged Scott through the Louvre to look at the naked male statues and alleviate the latter’s concern about the size of his junk. 
“Those statues may not be accurate.” (Scott said)
“They are pretty good. Most people would settle for them.” 
“But why would (Zelda) say it?” 
“To put you out of business. That’s the oldest way in the world of putting people out of business.”

Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald:
The only spouse to make the cut in a any major way (Hadley Hemingway was absent and Alice B.Toklas was nearly so.) I thought this was a decent cast. She was charming and outgoing, perhaps a little overbearing- and ready to come unhinged at a moment’s notice- not unlike the real McCoy.

James Joyce:
I have nothing to say here except where the devil was Joyce in this movie? He was the veritable dean of expat writers, and yet he only gets a mention as having been spotted in a restaurant once, eating sour kraut and frankfurters.

Adrian de Van as Luis Bunuel and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali:
Last summer I wasted an hour of my life watching the 1930 film L’Age d’Or on YouTube. This cinematic gem, written by Bunuel and Dali, is all the evidence you’ll ever need, to know that the exaggerated portrayal of those two surrealists in Woody Allen’s film is actually anything but an exaggeration. Dali’s fixation with “the horn of a rhinosceros” in his cafe chat with Gil fits in perfectly with the parade of surrealist non sequiturs you’ll find in l’Age d’Or.

As a courtesy to our cinema enthusiasts, I am embedding part I below:

What say you? Have you seen Midnight in Paris? If so, do you agree or disagree with my take?


Friday, March 16, 2012

First Line Friday!

Charles Dickens wrote one of the most recognizable first lines of all time when he penned the opening to A Tale of Two Cities: 
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
 But as the cartoon below points out, one has to wonder if it would cut the muster in our day. What do you think?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner

One of the best books I read last year was Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning magnum opus Angle of Repose. But even though I loved the writing and appreciated the rare western setting (I may live in the South, but I was born, and will probably always think of myself as, a westerner) I’ve avoided reviewing the book here because I came out of the read with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I absolutely loved the curmudgeonly narrator, retired historian Lyman Ward. Under the guise of this crotchety old invalid, Stegner shares interesting views on history and hippies, and on the tricky marriage and family relationships that almost all of us can identify with. He’s able to weave two tales together- the disastrous modern-day failure of Ward’s own marriage and the improbable survival of his Victorian grandparents’ union on the Western frontier. It is a book that has important things to say, and one that will cause the reader to reflect on his or her own life. I loved the book, but there was one fly in the ointment: I couldn’t stand the main character by the end of the book.

I won’t throw out any spoilers, but the gist of my gripe is that the narrator’s grandmother, and the main subject of the book, begins to grate on me about half way through the story. There’s no question she’s asked to put up with more than her fair share of trials as her engineer husband tries to eke out a meager existence in the rough-and-tumble mining communities all across North America. But the self-righteousness and regret that comes to dominate her world-view really took a toll on my ability to care about her. She increasingly looks down her nose at her husband, and rues the day she ever cut ties with the East-coast salons where she feels she really belongs.

I have a hunch that Stegner spotted the problem, as well, and he looked for a way to tip the scales back in her favor. This would explain why her engineer husband suddenly develops a drinking problem just pages before she commits her most egregious marital crimes. I have to say, though, that this extra justification just didn’t work for me. Had he focused on the more sympathetic character of the husband, and told the same story through his eyes, I might have liked this great book even more.

Still, Stegner’s commentary on marriage and what makes it work will be well worth your time. As his narrator says about his grandparents towards the end of the book:
“What really interests me is how two such unlike particles clung together, and under what strains, rolling downhill into their future until they reached the angle of repose where I knew them.”
I highly recommend the book despite my misgivings about Susan Burling Ward as an unlikeable character. After all, I suppose we can still learn a thing or two from people who annoy us. Check it out:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The books of Mad Men

You may be one of many who are excitedly gearing up for the long-awaited return of Mad Men on March 25th. But are you also one of the few who will be keeping an eye out for any literary references season 5 might bring us?

I am.

There have been a few good books referenced over the course of seasons 1-4. Some, like Lady Chatterly’s Lover and The Sound and the Fury, have received only passing mentions. Others, like Frank O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency and Leon Uris’s Exodus have popped up on Don’s bedside table, and have presumably affected his story arc in profound ways. Then there’s Atlas Shrugged, which seems to be the favorite tome of eccentric senior partner Bert Cooper. The book has come up multiple times as a way for Cooper establish a connection with Don and to show that he values Draper’s considerable abilities.

But I’ll make a confession. The books and stories that I’d most like to read are those that have been produced by the characters themselves:
  • “Tapping a Maple Tree on a Cold Vermont Morning,” by account executive Ken Cosgrove, published in the Atlantic Monthly to the dismay of his jealous peers.
  • Peter Campbell’s rival story which was published not in the New Yorker as he wished, but in Boys Life- a story about which his wife said “I just think it’s odd that the bear is talking.”
  • “Death is My Client,” an unpublished one-act play by Paul Kinsey, performed impromptu at an office party.
  • Cosgrove’s two unpublished novels- one about an oil-rig rough-neck who moves to Manhattan, and the other about a widow trying to keep up her family farm.
  • And of course, who wouldn’t like to take a peek at Roger Sterling’s memoir, his lackluster answer to David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man?

Any other fans of the show? And even if you’re not, do you look up books you see on tv?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


If you’ve got little girls with a birthday coming up, or if you just want to get a jumpstart on your Christmas shopping, I doubt there will be any hotter gift this year than these Brontë sisters action figures (pudding not included):