Bite Me, Oprah
Self-respect as a general concept took a nationally televised blow a few months back when publishing doyenne Nan Talese showed up on Oprah to discuss the James Frey debacle. Talese went on the show for an ostensibly friendly debate about “Truth In America.” Instead, she found herself staring down the formidably flared nostrils of a rampaging Oprah, looking around for a tree to climb as the Queen of Daytime Talk beat her about the head with Frey’s deceptions. In a perfect world, Talese would have gotten up and walked off the set thirty seconds into Oprah’s harangue. Alas, however, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live, instead, in a world where a single word from the Oprah can make or break your imprint’s year. And in such a world, Nan Talese or not, you don’t up and walk out on the Oprah — you sit there, you pretend to be contrite, and you take one for the team. Still, though, for Chrissakes, somebody oughtta say something. Who should write it: Jonathan Franzen — he does, after all, have something of a history with this sort of thing.
Forty Days to Jesus-Hard Abs
So I was pumping iron with my bra Pat Robertson the other day down at the Greenpoint Y — just rocking out a few sets, toning up the old lats, the delts, the tris, you know, that sort of thing — when that crazy old bastard gets this glint in his eye and says to me, ‘hey Ad-rock, load up the leg-press machine, I’m gonna knock it out.’ So, I figure, ok, Pat, baby, and I stick a couple-hundred pounds on there thinking that’ll be enough for the old guy to start with, but instead he looks at me like I’m some kind of bitch and says, ‘what’s that Sally, three-hundy? Keep ‘em coming.’ And so I do, like I just keep piling the weight on there, even going to steal some plates from some dudes doing squats down the way. So finally I’ve got like 2,000 pounds on the thing and Pat is laying back on the pad ready to go and he looks up at me and winks and then says, ‘watch this, you pussy.’ And then he does it, just up and does it just like that. And I’m like holy shit, man, how’d you do that? And Pat just grins at me — it’s my energy drink, you little girl — and then he does like 150 more. I swear to God. Who should write it: Jerry Falwell — have you seen that guy? He’s a rock.
Walter Benjamin is In No Way Cited in This Book
Look, I love a brilliant intellectual martyr just as much as the next guy, but this thing with name-dropping Walter Benjamin is getting entirely out of hand. A great writer, granted, but his name pops up in contemporary criticism more than Lindsay Lohan does on LA police blotters (ba-dum-bum… I’ll be here all week folks). Now, I’m not saying we have to drop Walt wholesale, but let’s give him a rest for awhile. Let’s pick someone new as our go-to high-brow reference point. And don’t say Adorno. If you say Adorno, I’ll punch you in the throat. Honest. I really will. Who should write it: Benjamin Kunkel — of the 252 pages in the most recent issue of n+1, I’d say, conservatively speaking, Benjamin was mentioned on about 250 of them.
The 9/11 Widows Are All a Bunch of Money-Grubbing Sluts
Oh, wait, nevermind, someone already wrote that one for us. Thanks Ann Coulter, you filthy, shameless, evil, evil whore!
No, Damn It, This is the Greatest Work of American Fiction in the Past 25 Years!
The New York Times “Best American Fiction” list — a pile of crusty old white dudes with Toni Morrison comfortably atop it. Somewhere in rural Connecticut, Philip Roth is sitting alone and angry and plotting to grab the crown next time around. Who should write it: John Irving. It just seems like it would mean so much more to him than anyone else.
James Frey: The Unauthorized Biography
Imagine it — the lurid tales of early nights, sensible diets, safe sex, careful flossing. Frey would become the first subject to ever sue his biographer for insufficiently libeling him. Not to be missed, the climatic scene wherein our anti-hero gets “all jacked up” on a case of Jolt Cola and stays up really late watching a Real World marathon. Then he did some H and strangled a hooker in the backroom of a Chinatown massage parlor. Or, you know, not. Who should write it: Nicholson Baker — the man wrote an entire novel about a book of matches. If anyone can spin something out of Frey’s nothing, it’s this guy.
A Collection of Slightly Reworked Magazine Columns Gathered Together Under a Single Flimsy Premise
Yes, I’m talking about that Dale Carnegie of the Upper West Side — Malcolm Gladwell. Sure, Blink might have been nothing more than a half-assedly strung together chain of semi-relevant anecdotes, but with sales figures like that, who cares? Plus, it drove crazy old Lee Siegel positively nuts – and if there’s anything we need more of, it’s deranged ranting from Lee Siegel. I’m pretty sure he’s completely insane. In a good way, though, of course. Who should write it: James Surowiecki — not quite Gladwellian, but I’ve got a hunch he could get there.