Recommended viewing: Tobias Wolff tried to convince Stephen Colbert that The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger’s best book. “Do we need to be reinforcing our kids’ bad behavior as teenagers with the idea they could be a character in a great novel? Dad, I wasn’t disobeying you, I was exploring modes of alienation,” Colbert joked.
Does being a writer make you a bad father? Matthew Norman ponders his fear at Salon. “As a fiction writer, I’m perpetually in some state of preoccupation. At any given moment, I’m suffering over people who don’t exist—who will never exist.” Maybe he should try Polly Rosenwaike’s tactic and read fiction about the opposite parent.
The New York Times gives Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch a well-deserved profile. I’ve mentioned before that his take down of the NCAA’s corruption is astounding, but now’s a good time to mention that his e-book, The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA, is even better. Branch also appeared on Wednesday night’s “Colbert Report” to discuss the book.
“Armand’s characters all seem both hugely present and in life’s juice and simultaneously dead, as if rent of brain, nerves, chest, stomach, intestines … Without gods and devils these patients feel that only fire can save them, existing eternally unless burned away.” Australian novelist Louis Armand’s newest, Abacus, is reviewed by Richard Marshall at 3:AM Magazine.
A new anthology out from Da Capo Press, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, includes an essay by David Foster Wallace’s widow, Karen Green, on how books helped her cope with his death: “I’ll try not to use the word survive. I think I’ve determined, by trial and error, that certain underlined, highlighted, and dog-eared books, in conjunction with pharmaceuticals, are beneficial after a trauma. What was it the realtor called it? ‘The Incident.’ Books can be helpful after an Incident.” (Thanks, Diavanna)
“The rest of the morning went like that. We did synchronized clapping. We did active listening. We did a role-play exercise in which I was a girl waiting for a bus and Karloff was a masher, but when I started flirting back, she didn’t like it. I got four more cups of coffee and felt brokenhearted when my bottle gave up its last drop.” Philip Marlowe attends a court-mandated women’s studies workshop.