:: Buzzwords Archive: March 2011. Click here for the latest posts.

Tandeta: White, Coe, Dyer, DFW, Night & Day, Kubrick (published 24/03/2011)

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Tony White‘s ebook, A Porky Prime Cut / “Fiction offers us one of the few honest spaces left in a compulsively dishonest world.” Jonathan Coe / Geoff Dyer‘s sex-and-hotels essay [via @maudnewton] / David Foster Wallace on literary rebels & those who back away from “ironic watching” [via @adbusters] / Literary magazine Night & Day is officially relaunched / Kubrick et le Web, a visual celebration of Stanley Kubrick‘s work [via BibliOdyssey]

Walk on the wild side (published )

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Fitzrovian historian, author of North Soho 999 and Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Biography of Julian Maclaren-Ross, as well as the recent biography of Paul Raymond, Members Only, Paul Willets will be joining Cathi Unsworth alongside the curator of Fitzrovianoir Art Trails Garry Hunter to lead a walk into the shady streets of North Soho. Explore the passage where a Peeping Tom lurked, visit the scene of the notorious murder that inspired The Blue Lamp, probe the shady circumstances of a beloved boxer’s strange suicide and follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Julian Maclaren-Ross and Derek Raymond. The walk will end at 4pm at the upstairs room of The Wheatsheaf, Rathbone Place, for a chance to buy books and slake a thirst. This event is part of the inaugral Fitzrovianoir Intervention Art Trail.

Fitzrovianoir Guided Walk, Saturday 2 April 2011,
Meet outside The Marquis of Granby, Rathbone Place, W1 @ 2pm
Walk lasts 2 hours, free

Fail better (published )

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Triple Canopy and Dalkey Archive Press present an afternoon of failure to celebrate the release of The Review of Contemporary Fiction‘s “Failure” issue, guest-edited by Joshua Cohen. The program will include attempted readings from the issue by Eileen Myles, Helen DeWitt, Sam Frank, Travis Jeppesen and Keith Gessen; a botched tribute to the classics of American literature by John Collins and Scott Shepherd of the theater group Elevator Repair Service; mangled covers of pop songs by US Girls; and an effort to resurrect William Gaddis.

MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY
April 2, 2011
3–5 p.m., free admission

3:AM Cult Hero: George Barr McCutcheon (published )

By Robert O’Connor.

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George Barr McCutcheon was born in Indiana, and spent his childhood moving around Tippecanoe County, as his father took on many jobs. His father had little formal education, but stressed the value of literature and encouraged George and his younger brother John to write. John later became an influential political cartoonist and a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.

They both attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where George was roommates with George Ade. He eventually became the editor of the Lafayette Daily Courier and wrote The Wired End, a serialized novelette that satirizes life on the Wabash river.

His first novel was Graustark, published in 1901. It’s the story of how an American accidentally meets the princess of Graustark. He travels to its capital, Edelweiss and becomes mixed up in the political drama between it and its neighboring state Axphain.

It may have been inspired by Anthony Hope’s similar tale, The Prisoner of Zenda and its fictional country Ruritania, published seven years earlier. Like Ruritania, Graustark is placed in an ambiguous spot on a map – and its location moves as the books go on. Graustark was a huge success, just as Zenda was. McCutcheon wrote five more sequels, but was always frustrated by its success, since the books overshadowed his other works.

However, his second book, which is not a Graustark novel, has become famous due to its adaptation to the stage and later to film. Brewsters Millions, which came out a year after Graustark, is about an ordinary man who inherits a million dollars from his grandfather, but is offered seven million by an eccentric uncle. However, to get the seven million, he has to spend every cent of the million he earned from his grandfather and have no assets or goods except the clothes on his back by the time the year is up. Lawyers are present to see that the letter of the will is followed.

The book was adapted into a play that premiered in 1906, and has been adapted into a film nine times, with one version directed by Cecil B. DeMille and another with Richard Pryor in the title role.

McCutcheon’s books were about ordinary people stumbling into extraordinary circumstances, and through their good character are able to succeed. He was not above gentle satire and general silliness, though.

MORE: Article, “Our Land, Our Literature” series at Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, Muncie, Ind. // Works, Project Gutenberg // “SERIAL SYSTEM HURTS OUR NOVELS; And Too Many American Writers Want to Own Automobiles Says George Barr McCutcheon” by Joyce Kilmer, New York Times Magazine, Aug. 1, 1915 // Inventory of papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas – Austin // McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #31 (2009) had a Graustark story in it, “Feast and Villains” by John Brandon

ampere’s and (published 23/03/2011)

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This week’s visuals:

Alasdair Gray‘s handwritten, hand-doodled manuscript for Lanark [via]

& How to draw a Golem

& Where the cover of your favourite novel comes from [via]

& Subverting romantic fiction

& Folded in Place

& Why Eric Gill wasn’t much of a stamp designer

& Ivan Brunetti, Jordan Crane & Travis Louie tackle the Penguin Classics

& More mid-century album covers from Aquavelvet

[Image: Richard Beymer's (Benjamin Horne) shots from the set of Twin Peaks]

Tandeta: Nabe, Melville, idleness, HST, Bolaño, Pound (published )

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“Although no oil painting, Houellebecq is Dorian Gray to Nabe‘s picture – the acceptable face of controversy. Or at least this is Nabe’s spin on events.” 3:AM‘s Andrew Gallix on Marc-Édouard Nabe / The Sopranos discuss Melville‘s Billy Budd / “In idleness is the salvaging of the inner life.” / Fear and Loathing at 40 / 16 Poems by Roberto Bolaño / Hemingway on the mental state of Ezra Pound [via @maudnewton]

3:AM Cult Hero: Dorothy B. Hughes (published 22/03/2011)

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“If you act unafraid, you are not suspected of being afraid.” – The Blackbirder (1943)

Dorothy B. Hughes (1904-1993) didn’t publish her first crime story ’til she was well into her thirties (she started out as a poet and journalist), but between that story, ‘So Blue Marble’ (1940), and her retirement from the genre in 1952, she penned ten cracking novels, including three that were adapted into films: The Fallen Sparrow, Ride the Pink Horse and In A Lonely Place (filmed by Nicholas Ray in 1950 and staring Humphrey Bogart).

In A Lonely Place is her masterpiece. Told from the killer’s point-of-view, her tale – of serial killer Dix Steele, demobbed and listless in postwar L.A. – holds no punches (Bogart’s classic film is softened), her spare prose pre-dates Thomspon and Highsmith, even. It’s a fine film, but her book is better.

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She stopped, though, at the peak of her career, though she continued to review films and fiction for the L.A. Times and a critical study of Erle Stanley Gardner:

“My mother was very ill and lived with me. The children were in that state of getting started in marriage, with grandchildren for me to care for. And I simply hadn’t the tranquility required to write. I wasn’t frustrated because I was reviewing mysteries, and reviewing has always been very important to me.”

Further: A brief biography / ‘An Unsung Heroine’, Sarah Weinman in Bookslut / Hughes at Persephone Books / A review of Hughes’ In A Lonely Place / Hughes at the Feminist Press.