* Back in November, I was invited to participate in the Significant Objects art project, all the details of which you can find here. In a truly remarkable coda to this endeavor, a group of students from the Savannah College of Art and Design created a number of mock advertisements for some of the significant objects, and a surprisingly large number chose my yo-yo. Their absolutely inspired results can be found here.
* At the Guardian, John Crace looks back at ten years of the Digested Read.
And many authors do seem to "get" the Digested Read. I'm continually delighted – and astonished – by the number of writers who are more generous about my work than I am about theirs and get in touch to say how much they enjoy the column. Especially when it's someone else's books. Some even email to say they've liked what I've done to their own book. That I don't understand. Publishers are also surprisingly complimentary; some authors would be surprised to discover how much their egotism gets up the noses of their editors and publicists. My favourite compliment is this from the New York Times: "The best book-related feature in any of this planet's English-language newspapers." That will go on my gravestone.
* Sam Anderson comes close to making Twitter interesting.
* Fuck Hollywood - it's always the writer who gets dissed, and clearly Walter Kirn is no exception.
A Paramount publicist tells the Post today: "The Academy has a process that we are following and we are respectfully waiting for them to allocate additional tickets. Of course, Walter Kirn is on our wish list for seats, as are producers and executive producers of our film who do not have seats yet."
It's part of the appalling shamelessness of this town that some flack can talk about an executive producer, who might be no more than a star's agent, and the creator of a film's source material in the same breath So again I say - fuck Hollywood.
* A manuscript which was smuggled out of Nazi Germany in a cake is being brought back into print by Faber & Faber.
* Belgium's book writing coma patient appears to be merely a coma patient.
* There's much chatter about Helene Hegemann, the 17 year old German writer who appears to have lifted blog passages for her novel. She doesn't understand what the fuss is all about.
* I'm confused ... I thought James Patterson already wrote comic books.
* Newcomer magazine The Point looks at the novels of Michel Houellebecq.
And yet the best reason to read Houellebecq, the one I would give if I were asked, anyway, is that his work produces the scandalously rare impression of being relevant, of connecting to how life is, rather than how it might be if there were more adventures. Pessimism is unfalsifiable, of course, which is what makes it so often insipid. If someone is genuinely determined to look on the gloomy side of life there is no turning them. The “honesty” of a depressive realist is sapping and tedious in that way. All of Houellebecq’s narrators present themselves as hard-headed men willing to speak unpleasant facts (explicitly, in The Possibility of an Island, where Daniel comments: “On the intellectual level I was in reality slightly above average … I was just very honest, and therein lay my distinction; I was, in relation to the current norms of mankind, almost unbelievably honest”), but their stories would be banal if their author weren’t deft enough to make them plausible—that is, realistic.
* New Yorker poems about writing poetry ... an analysis by Slate.
* NPR has relaunched its Three Minute Fiction contest.
* And, finally, you will want to check out the latest offerings from LAPL's superb ALOUD series, which includes the likes of Ian McEwan, Tim O'Brien, Elif Batuman, Lionel Shriver and Percival Everett.