Monday, November 26, 2012

Quotable: Magus-Mania, Twitter hatred, and Whether Books Can Be Twits

Tom Adams' artwork for The Magus, which is not a kind of sandwich.
 It’s that time again. My slim laptop’s fat collection of bookmarks is bursting its seams, so here’s a selection of nifty things I’ve read about books, writing, and publishing in the last few months that you may have missed, and that I feel are worth documenting. Though I’ve singled out the quotable lines, the whole articles are worth a read. Give them a shot, and don’t be afraid to tell me what you think by leaving a clever comment that is itself worth quoting. (Or not. Say whatever, really.)

  • “One way you can tell you’re getting old is when the good girl in the Gold Medal novel appeals to you more than the femme fatale.”

-- Mystery writer Ed Gorman, reviewing Bruno Fischer’s “sleek, dark whodunit” House of Flesh.

  • “I’ll read The Hunger Games when I finish the previous 3,000 years of fiction written for adults.”

-- Joel Stein in the New York Times, explaining why he thinks adults should read adult books. (While this one’s from several months ago, I actually just stumbled across it, and reading the explosion of outrage in the comments section is a pretty good way to while away some time.)

  • “...When I first encountered the book at 20, I disappeared for a week. A quick scan of the morning paper showed no Magus news, so I threw it away. At lunch, my sandwich didn't taste like Magus, so I spit it out.”

-- Writer Nick Dybek talking about John Fowles The Magus on NPR. You don’t have to have read the book to get what Dybek is talking about. You just have to have been obsessed, at least once, with any book, ever.

  • "Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose," said Franzen, according to Attenberg. "It's hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters … It's like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it's like writing a novel without the letter 'P'… It's the ultimate irresponsible medium. People I care about are readers … particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves."

-- Jonathan Franzen, never one to shy away from controversy, in The UK’s Guardian. Needless to say, his remarks provoked some heated responses from Twitterphiles. Lipogram devotees have remained silent.

  • Ulysses is a twit.”

-- Brazilian writer Paul Coelho, who seems to blame Joyce for the downfall of English literature. Many bloggers were perplexed by his stance, including one at the University of Rochester, who wondered “Can a book even be a twit?” (For the record, in the same interview, Coelho takes an opposite stance from Franzen, re: Twitter (where he spends several hours a day, calling it his “bar").


  1. On the Gorman quotation: Being of an age in which the young, sexy, “smart, funny, winsome, clean cut” female protagonist appeal to me, I too, may very well end up reading the Harlequin romances.

    I wish I could finish “Ulysses” but since I’ve never been able to get past page 10, I don’t know it is a “twit,” but English literature is doing very well, “Ulysses” not notwithstanding.

    1. Well, if you do end up reading Harlequins, I look forward to the reviews!