Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I could use half a million dollars

Short story writer and poet Stuart Dybek is one of this year's MacArthur Fellows. (Click here for the full list.)

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of my "pick a MacArthur Fellow" pool, which, as of today, has no entrants other than myself.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Changes on the best-seller list

The NYT Book Review's "Up Front" column this week notes that the Review has tweaked its design a bit—most notably, it has moved the block of text listing the reviewed book's title, author, and other publication information below the first few lines of the review itself, which is a bit bothersome—and added a new component to the best-seller list: a "paperback trade fiction" list. (Previously, Trade or large format "quality paperback" and Mass-market paperbacks were listed together, which favored books released in both formats, since the sales numbers were combined, and also meant that mass-market-friendly genre fiction dominated the list.)

This is a fairly interesting change, since the Review's editors state upfront that the new list "gives more emphasis to the literary novels and short-story collections reviewed so often in our pages (and sometimes published only in softcover)." As the sort of person who, should I ever write anything publishable, would likely fall into the "literary," trade paperback camp, I think it's kind of cool, but is it weird to create a whole new list for such a purpose, or is it just an admission that the best-seller list is really nothing more than a promotion tool anyway?

While it's nice that the new list co-exists with the mass-market list (instead of replacing it), I have to admit that the old bookseller in me would be a bit annoyed that yet another crop of books will be able to put the words "New York Times Bestseller" on their covers. Everybody's a bestseller these days.

Oh, and in unrelated but noteworthy news, Paul Muldoon is taking over as The New Yorker's poetry editor.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

This is big news for those of us who live within spitting distance of Windsor

From today's NYT:
The [world currency markets] dumped the dollar today, pushing it to an all-time low of $1.40 against the euro and to parity with the Canadian dollar for the first time in three decades as currency traders around the world digested the full implications of the Federal Reserve’s new course for interest rates. (emphasis mine)

I've got a loonie in my pocket right now. I'm really not comfortable with the fact that it's worth a full US dollar.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Where has he been? or: Didn't I warn you?

So it's been a little while since I posted on the Paris Review Interviews. "What has Gavin been up to?" you might ask. (I believe I did actually cover this in an earlier post. . .)

You may take comfort in the fact that I have not been neglecting my duties. I've been reading a great deal of poetry for class, and, as is perhaps appropriate, I have a collection of my own poetry in the queue over at Revelator. (Even though the collection is nothing like the stuff I'm reading for class. Maybe that'll come later.)

Yes, that's right! Gavin poetry! And interestingly enough, almost none of the stuff that was printed in The Offbeat! (At least while I was editor.) And thus does my unnecessarily ambivalent relationship with my own writing find expression. (This post is getting way too emotionally self-indulgent. I should cut it off.)

I'm also working on an "experimental prose" collection, which hopefully will stand as more of a centerpiece, but I need one or two additional pieces to complement and supplement the older stuff. (Yes, I plan to include "The Required Reading List for the New Revolutionary," and hopefully a new piece to comment on it.)

So that's what I've been up to. How about you?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Something cool that's not so cool

The new book on my shelf is The Paris Review Interviews, vol. 1. (Volume 2 comes out in October.) It is, of course, fabulous. Starting off with Dorothy Parker, the book also includes Capote, Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Saul Bellow, and Jorge Luis Borges. I might normally complain about the newsprint paper stock, but it just feels right. Even better, I got my copy free by renewing my Paris Review subscription for three years. (There's a just about zero chance that I'd let the subscription lapse, so I'll take my free book, thank you very much.)

There is, interestingly enough, a downside to this fabulous book. Before Philip Gourevitch took over as editor, The Paris Review received a grant from the NEA to make PDFs of all of the Paris Review interviews available for free download. Now that the interviews have been collected (at least partially) in book form again (the old Penguin Writers at Work collections are out-of-print), the interviews included in the book are no longer available online.

Don't get me wrong. I love my book, but a free, universally accessible archive all of the interviews would have been an incredible resource. It's a shame that project seems to have been abandoned.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The year of poetry

Even if it wasn't planned that way, this is quickly becoming "the year of poetry" over at Revelator. (And having worked up this momentum, part of me is inclined to try and keep it going.)

Our new set of poems is Pure Pop by Lansing poet and painter Tim Lane. As always, it's a free PDF download, so check it out and tell your friends.