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Showing posts from July, 2010

inherited vice?

I'm reading Inherent Vice and seeing a lot of connections to The Crying of Lot 49, but I hope this doesn't mean I'm paranoid. Well, perhaps I do have such tendencies, but I'd like to believe I don't need TP to tell me this (the other TP). The novel definitely leaves me longing for Southern California in all of its imagined states. To the best of my knowledge, it's the first time Pynchon has revisited the same time and place for a second novel (although, if I remember correctly, there is some WWII overlap between V and Gravity's Rainbow).

I remember that when I was twelve and my father moved to Marina Del Rey (from Philadelphia), a few of my favorite parts of a visit to Dad's became 1) playing basketball on the Venice Beach courts (early, before the local "stars" arrived and took over) and 2) cheeseburgers from a great chiliburger joint by the beach where Marina Del Rey meets Venice and 3) fishing off the Santa Monica pier, one of the few times…

reality TV in the age of terror?

Atticus: The novel speaks directly—both humorously and dramatically—to the daily challenges of living in a post-9/11, terror-centric age. Nine years after the attacks on our homeland, the aftermath remains impressed onto the collective, pockmarked conscience of our citizenry like a scar that won’t heal. Many folks have grown tired and crazy with (or utterly numb to) a barrage of apocalyptic images rendering us, a post-mortem superpower, sterile. Kind of heavy territory for cheap laughs, no?

Alex: Is this the age of terror? Or the age of information? Or the age of reality TV? Did Lebron drive a white Bronco to his previous owner’s house before catching a flight to Miami where he socked a shoe bomber while apprehending a billion-dollar identity-theft fugitive who held the list of Swiss bank account owners? I don’t know—it seems like King James is an amazing talent but also a young guy taking way too much heat for any move he makes, and the “reality” we watch on TV leaves us disconnected …

philly novel

Hey, half of my interview is up at Here's half of how I dodged the Philly question and tried to spread the brotherly love:

I’m from Philly, and both of my novels are set there. I’m not dead, not yet, but I’m beginning to see that it might be the only region I ever write about in a substantial way. Having said that, there are thousands of different Philadelphias lived by hundreds of thousands of residents of the region. There’s enough in this city to last an army of writers a lifetime.

I’m not the first to take on Philly of course. Several books I know of have a heavy dose of Philly in them. Two of my favorites are David Bradley’s TheChaneysville Incident and a memoir by Jim Knipfel called Slackjaw. Both of these include description of SEPTA in University City and Center City; Duffy isn’t the first to ride the downtown rails in a literary way.

Check out the Atticus Books website for more.

marcia trahan

Every now and then on facebook, freelance writer and editor Marcia Trahan posts an intriguing question that gets my response (along with lots of other writers among her thousands of facebook friends).

This time, she asked why we began blogging and what we feel we've gained from the experience.

I wrote:

it was required for an in-house course on teaching literature online. at the time, i entered a brief entry or two and then forgot about it until the economy fell off the cliff in Feb/March 2009 (this was maybe a year later). then it seemed like there was nothing to lose. now it's alternately addictive, another thing i forgot to do, too easy, too hard, too routine, and the "fake" writing that takes me away from the "real" writing. one thing i've enjoyed is feeling more connected to other bloggers. (the main reason i'm writing this is because i just enjoyed reading the above comments [from other bloggers].) i gravitate toward the quirkier ones and almos…

sympathy for the devil

I was caught deep in the dungeon of The Chronicle of Higher Educations's comments section on the latest "abolish all tenure" op-ed (to sell books) and realized I could in fact publish my findings as an entry. Alas, we strive here at USK to publish only first-time originals but forgive me for making an exception here or there. (Note: this piece may be slightly edited from its original found here as comment 47:

Please pardon any honesty, complexity, complicity with, or sympathy for the d----, or in this case, the tenured.

Well, here goes:

This is conjecture, not the almighty proof that only a billion-dollar research grant could provide me the time to provide, but I suspect that most anyone who is on the "anti-tenure" side in some sense probably:

a) feels very vulnerable at work, does not have tenure or union protection, and resents people with such security


b) does …

lit, liquor, and food

If you enjoy reading and recipes, Chicago and Philly, and liquor or beer, then you might like this Books are Better than Boys blog. You don't have to agree with that statement to enjoy the blog; in fact, based on what I've seen in it, there is not much elaboration on that first principle. The July 1 entry is of course my favorite of all. Oh brother...

fourteen ninety-five

Why yes, now that you asked, and because I doubt you've heard this before from these parts, I can say that the $10.08 deal is still available for a limited time (as in two and a half months or so), and yet, I can also enthusiastically report that the product in question is now also available for a rather consumer-normative price of fourteen ninety-five from another outstanding online merchandiser. Yes, quite so. American dollars. And again, yes, I agree that it is not unlike two drug dealers peddling their wares caddy corner or across the street from each other. Ten O eight or fourteen ninety-five?

Imagine the delight you could have daydreaming about what to do with the four eighty-seven you saved. Or how spending the $4.87 on a book you may or may not ever read could save you from buying an extra pack of smokes or any highly calorified or artery-clogging product. Is there any way we could prove you'd be better off using the $4.87 for a 24 pack of 12 ounces cans of Coke at Wal…

two cents on three dollars of Hollywood comedy

For the sake of full disclosure–it seems critical that you and Chris Bosh’s 2-week unreality camera crew have public access to my life although it bears no relevance to his impending border crossing pour le saison chaud de menage a trois in sunny Florida:

For the first time in months we rented movies, and I chose from our local shiny, red 1-dollar DVD drop box, the anti-tourist Daniel Kalder’s fav It’s Complicated along with a second choice, Youth In Revolt (being out of the film loop and choosing only by the cover displays no less!).

Yes, DK’s points (see his kind words at are well taken (as well as commenter Sophie’s and I do pity the crew, yes I do, who had to stand around beautiful Santa Barbara and point equipment at Alec Baldwin), and yet long removed from this world of Hollywood comedy, we watched It’s C. first and laughed a lot! It was kind of like cathartic, just …