Over at Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz talks about his new book Mad Men Carousel and why audiences felt such a profound attachment to the protagonists. Despite their flaws, Seitz argues that it is the consistency in their behavior that endeared us to characters like Don and Betty, literal misfits though they were. Still having trouble admitting the show is over? This may help.
Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Chris Adrian, James Frey, and Peter Nádas are all in the running for the 19th annual Bad Sex Award. The award will be presented by the UK's Literary Review on December 6th. Last year's prize(?) went to Rowan Somerville for his work(?) in The Shape of Her. If you'd like to read snippets of the sex scenes in question, check out the publication's Twitter feed.
[Editor's note: This week we've invited Megan Hustad, author of How to Be Useful: A Beginner's Guide to Not Hating Work, to dissect our contributors' first-job follies.]Garth writes:My first job out of college was writing for what was essentially a dot-com. In ways I wasn't really aware of at the time, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. This delusion was encouraged by a mildly "fun" corporate culture and the fact that I could churn out a good chunk of the publication in about five hours of concentrated work, to general hosannas from my editors. I was working a lot faster than my predecessors. This left me with about three hours to kill every day; I didn't want to take on added duties for the same paycheck.This is a fairly common predicament in American office life, I'm pretty sure; we become victims of our own efficiency. The problem was, I wasn't into Solitaire or Minesweeper, blogs didn't really exist yet, and part of my job involved reading four newspapers first thing in the morning, so that wasn't an option for camouflaging my long periods of inactivity. I tried to read novels at my desk, but had a hard time concentrating with the computer screen right in front of me.Here's what I came up with (ah, the callow brilliance of the 23-year-old!): I would work like a mule from 8:30ish to 1:30ish, print up my work, and carry it off to the office cafeteria to edit. Around 2:15, after a quick sandwich (eating on the clock), I'd go to a nearby park and sit in the grass and read a book until 3:30 or so. At which point I'd come back to the office to publish.I think I thought of work as a fee-for-service model. I completed my duties, I got paid. And okay, maybe I was stretching lunch just a little bit. Of course, I was away from my desk for two solid hours, and to anyone who saw me lolling in the park, I'd look like a student or trustafarian. Then again, I did get some great reading done that year. I got paid to read War & Peace!Megan Hustad responds:You're weird. Minesweeper is a great game. Anyhow, the fee-for-service model works fine if superiors are oblivious and you aren't hoping for a future in the industry. Trouble is, it's hard to tell whether anyone is noticing. If your superiors are passive-aggressive or otherwise chickenhearted, they'll mumble about you behind your back for months but never say anything to you directly. If they did notice, your callow brilliance probably worked their nerves. This is just one reason why business success books written throughout the twentieth century advocated acting smart, sure, but never too smart. “Excess intelligence,” wrote Peter Engel in The Overachievers (1976), "is a very sly asset." Indeed.More importantly, people who take on added duties for the same paycheck tend to go on to have the most interesting careers. I was surprised -- but perhaps shouldn't have been -- to discover that Helen Gurley Brown (1962's Sex and the Single Girl and 1964's Sex and the Office) went on and on and on and on about this. She believed exploitation had its uses. Uselessness rating: 3For more information, please see these related posts:Welcome to the Working Week: Megan Hustad Analyzes Our On-the-Job FoiblesWelcome to the Working Week 1: MaxWelcome to the Working Week 2: EmreWelcome to the Working Week 4: Andrew
Riffing on R&B singer Ernie K-Doe’s one-time statement, Chris Rose writes in the Oxford American, “I’m almost positive that all music, at least all American music, comes from Louisiana.” The essay appears in this year’s OA Southern Music Issue, a reliably excellent source of tunes and writing. Indeed, as Dwight Garner put it in The New York Times, the CDs that accompany each annual issue “practically belong in the Smithsonian.”
Hey look, several pieces of ours are in the running to win 3 Quarks Daily Arts and Literature Prizes! On their voting page, you can cast your ballot for James McWilliams’s piece on Faulkner, our own Hannah Gersen’s appreciation of Friday Night Lights, or our own Nick Ripatrazone’s essay on teaching English, among other nominees.