On the secrecy and challenges around producing and releasing the Salinger documentary:
Mr. Weinstein snapped up “Salinger” quickly after Mr. Salerno showed it to him at an unusual 7:30 a.m. screening on Feb. 24, the day of the Academy Awards, according to people familiar with the film, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. On his way to the ceremony he sealed a deal for the film that is part of a three-prong strategy, including an “American Masters” TV segment on PBS in January and an oral history in book form that Simon & Schuster is to publish in September in tandem with the film’s theatrical release.
It should be noted that Matthew Salinger, J.D.’s son, claims no one in the inner circle for the last 40 years has cooperated with the film. Should be interesting to watch how this unfolds. Read more at the NYT.
Ernest Hemingway’s tips for writing fiction: “Don’t describe an emotion–make it.”
“Besides books immediately relevant to Sagan’s work as a scientist and educator in cosmology and astrophysics, he took great care to also touch on history, philosophy, religion, the arts, social science, and psychology.”
“…my 30-second plot summary manages to exclude everything that puts The Brothers Karamazov among the world’s great novels (such as the fact that the butler did it, in part, because of an argument about the moral implications of the non-existence of God). But sometimes summaries, even the most reductive and unfair ones, can be revealing. And what a plot synopsis reveals is how Dostoevsky managed to hang a book of profound questions on some of the most hackneyed conventions of fiction: the murder mystery, the love triangle, the courtroom drama.”
One can hardly overstate the importance of Beckett’s decision to begin writing in French, but it’s interesting that he wrote his first French poems at almost exactly the same moment that he identified critical flaws in his character—the moment he decided he should try to be a nicer guy. The importance of all that soul-searching cannot be discounted, and a striking illustration of what it meant for his art can be found in a series of letters written early in 1938, after he was stabbed by a pimp named Prudent. The wound was serious, but from the first Beckett was determined to avoid any thought of vengeance. The worst he said of Prudent was that he seemed “more cretinous than malicious.” Later he reported that the two of them had “exchanged amiabilities.” Prudent apologized and Beckett said, “Not at all.” Later still he wrote, “Prudent got off with 2 months, to my relief. He was ably defended, the plea of blind drunkenness skillfully advanced, and I represented as the aggressor.”
“I have got to the stage now with mr toss that I have only reached with Chaucer and Dryden, not even with Milton, that of VIOLENTLY WISHING that the man WERE IN FRONT OF ME, so that I could be DEMONIACALLY RUDE to him about his GONORRHEIC RUBBISH, and end up by WALKING ON HIS FACE and PUNCHING HIS PRIVY PARTS.”
You might have seen this 1996 clip from Charlie Rose, featuring a particularly smooth David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen, but I’d like to focus on Mark Leyner here for a moment, in order to encourage you to check out his new book, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack. Back in 1996, they were talking about the future of fiction in the entertainment age, and in many ways, that conversation hasn’t aged one bit. Luckily, Leyner is emerging again as one of the preeminent satirists of our day, and Adam Sternbergh’s NYT piece on him is a great primer if you’re not already familiar. An excerpt:
“It’s strange, of course, to watch that clip now, knowing what we know. One of these authors ended up committing suicide. One ended up on the cover of Time. And one of them — Leyner, the most intense and, in a certain sense, significant young prose writer in America — published one more novel in 1997, then stepped away from novel-writing altogether. Now, after a not-entirely-planned 15-year-hiatus from fiction, he returns this month with a new novel, “The Sugar Frosted Nutsack.” But he’s re-emerging into a very different culture; one that in his absence has become, oddly, even more grotesquely Leyneresque — so much so that you might wonder (he certainly has) if there is a place left in it for Mark Leyner.”
Watch the video, read the book, read the article. Happy Monday.
As you sift through the collection, you will find 70+ clips, including a segment of DFW’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, his first and second appearances on the Charlie Rose Show, his reading from “Consider the Lobster” at UCLA, and the author contemplating the play of Roger Federer.
“Hubbard’s thoroughly dumb letter wouldn’t even deserve comment if it weren’t such an irritating example of a sort of attitude regarding noise and music and freedom that seems pretty widespread at this college. People seem to think that it’s their right not only to listen to whatever music they wish (which they could do at low volumes), not only to listen to it as loudly as they wish (which they could do on headphones), but to subject others to their particular choice of music and volume, too. (This sometimes gets as extreme as sticking their silly speakers in their windows.) Corresponding to their fascinating theory of loudness-as-inalienable-right is the idea that people who don’t want to be subjected to their choices are spoilsports or tools who want to deny loud-music lovers their “freedom.”"
Can never hurt to have this bookmarked somewhere.
“Is being quick enough to construct a pleasing self for whomever you’re talking to actually a liability for a writer? If we adopt a mental modules approach, we might hypothesize that certain parts of our brain construct a pleasing self for whomever we’re talking to, while another module supplies us with the illusion that this “self” is us — perhaps it was the latter module that malfunctioned in Wallace. The constant horror of the simulacrum throughout his oeuvre makes him unsettling to read.”
Penguin has published an updated version of Kama Sutra as part of the Graphic Deluxe series, featuring illustrated letterforms by Malika Favre. Just gorgeous.
Thanks Open Culture, I’ve got some fun listening in the next week or so. Free Michel Foucault lectures from 1980-1983. They’re also on YouTube.