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Archive for October 26th, 2010


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she read it on her Blackberry, in New York. The first hundred pages. And then she said

in Swedish. We missed on that one. Because we don’t read Swedish

do you understand how the agent gets paid? Do you understand what a commission is

no not a birthday party. The pub’s birthday party. It’s turning two today

plot-driven narratives. I appreciate beautiful writing, I really do. But on the other hand

the buyer for Waterstones will take it in his hands and say “You think I can charge £7.99 for

handling the archive, even though most of it is out of copyright, still has made that place what

three Martini lunches. But the work is social, it’s about networking. People in my home town

the most beautiful words in the business are “first novel by an eighteen year old.” After all

the jacket listed the wrong characters. I mean had their names wrong, all of them. So I

about the death of publishing, about the end of book stores. But twenty years ago

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October 26, 2010 at 11:50 am

Posted in overheard, publishing


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Just in case you missed it:

Exciting stuff there on the lower right, no?

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October 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

Posted in flaubert, porn

slumming and the london literary line

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From Jeffrey Meyers’s Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation:

The Paris-born poet and translator Eduoard Roditi, who met Blair through the Adelphi in 1931, described how his gnawing social conscience prevented them from enjoying a decent meal or a walk through town. When Blair adopted his Jeremiah persona, he became a comically lugubrious companion. As they dined together, Roditi recalled, Blair described, “as if to discourage me from eating, the filthy conditions that he had observed in the kitchens and pantries of so many of the restaurants where he had worked.” After lunch they assiduously avoided the parks and wandered for several hours “in some of the most depressing areas of London.”

Obviously, Orwell didn’t invent this posture (pose?) but he does seem to me to be the trunk-line of its transmission from the slummy wanderings of Dickens and the like in the mid-19th century toward a whole genealogy of descendants, from Ballard through Sinclair and on to Petit, Keillor, Self, and the like. Flaneurerie cut with particularly English class pathology, psychogeography determined in its wandering but the subtle sense that the proles are having more and more gamey fun in the alleys behind their low pubs.

In my continuing efforts to understand London, this is one of those small differences from New York in literary-cultural stance that seems to me softly definitive. While of course I’m sure we can all come up with exceptions, it does seem to me to be the case that this pathologically-tinged practice of literary types has no real analogue in New York. New York writers gentrify, yes, in their real estate decisions and affectual preferences. But despite the fact that I was hanging out in New York with types, who if they were over here, would be likely candidates to drag you out for a walk amidst riverfront wastelands and crumbling council estates, it simply never happened in New York.

There are some practical negative reasons for this, first and foremost perhaps the fact that hipsters hanging out in the open spaces of the Red Hook projects with their digital cameras could well risk coming to an unseemly end. (An unfilmed episode of The Wire – a show which allows us to do our slumming in the safety of our living rooms, and which of course was more intensely loved in the UK than the US….) But it’s probably more than just that. Risking a sloppy generalization here, the difference between the two places does seem to reflect the fundamental psycho-ideological divide between the cultural classes of the two places. On the one hand: the persistent invisibility of class, even for those Americans whose vocation it is to render the invisible visible. On the other hand: the absolutely determinative suffusion of class, which goes well beyond a healthy acknowledgement of its efficacy as a social fiction, and on toward something like an unshakeable belief in its terminal and ineluctable reality…. An unshakeable belief and the distortions and misdirections and parapraxes engendered by such a belief….

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October 26, 2010 at 9:35 am

Posted in london, orwell