We're All Over the Place Today
A Title Sure to Get Attention. From a recent Publisher’s Lunch, a weekly email newsletter for the book publishing industry, comes word of a project recently contracted for that will bear one of the best book titles ever: Foreskin’s Lament, a memoir by Shalom Auslander of growing up in an orthodox religious Jewish community. It reputedly will deal with the author's life-long struggle with a consistently angry god. From the same source, we learn about the forthcoming Philadelphia Lawyer: A Decade of Cheating, Stealing, & Screwing in the Circus of Modern Law. It’s based on the author's anonymous website, philalawyer.net, where he posts brutally honest stories about his life and career that expose the legal profession's "absurd insistence that lawyers are agents of truth." It’ll be published by the infamous Judith Regan’s Regan Books, which recently moved from New York to L.A.
Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself. I've written before about how one the highest forms of writerly craftsmanship is the ability of the author to get out of the way so that the story almost seems to tell itself. The corollary, of course, is that the subject of the writing is the star and the object of attention rather than the writer. British writer Nick Hornby, who's been called "the European ambassador of goodness," is apparently a devotee of this approach (as, I would argue, are all of the best writers, almost by definition). He had this observation in a piece he wrote recently for the Telegraph (whose website looks an awful lot like the recently revamped NYT online): "I do not wish to produce prose that draws attention to itself, rather than the world it describes, and I certainly don't have the patience to read it." I say a big amen to that.
Feagler Can Still Uncork It. Late last year, I wrote about what I consider to be the abundant shortcomings of PD columnist Dick Feagler. But never let it be said that the old guy can't still write some wonderful stuff occasionally. His column today includes a marvelous passage that's vintage Feagler, a reminder of how he was for many years, before his tiresome rubber-faced TV schtick began infecting his written work. He writes: "This president seems to think he is a sagebrush messiah, spreading democracy like salsa all over the Middle East. If Yale had taught him his history, he'd know better."
The Routinely Brilliant Jack Shafer. Slate.com media critic Jack Shafer, one of the most consistently brilliant writers to be found anywhere on his topic, made yet another interesting point the other day. In a column about a press war conducted more than a century ago, he noted that contemporary cable TV keeps the Hearst tradition of yellow journalism alive. "The Hearst tradition of making everything dramatic continues to live large on cable TV. It disgorges oceans of yellow journalism each week in both its news and opinion slots."
Hillary Is Going to be Squeezed From Both Sides. Hillary Clinton easily coasted to a win in her Senate primary yesterday, but she surely won't have such an easy time of it if she does indeed decide to run for the White House in two years. This piece in the left-wing In These Times, written by a New Yorker who's part of an activist group picking at her from the left, is one of the better reminders I've seen lately of how her triangulating about the Iraq war (a strategy borrowed from Bill) may well ultimately come back to haunt her. I think the money passage is this one:
It turns out that Hillary has done a tremendous job—of getting New York Democrats to assume that because right-wing Republicans hate her she must oppose the war. Most New York Democratic voters also don’t realize that she co-sponsored an amendment to ban flag-burning, is against marriage equality for gays and lesbians, supports the death penalty, votes consistently for Star Wars appropriations and has served on the board of Wal-Mart for six years. Yet, she is consistently touted as the 'liberal Democrat from New York.'