The Awl : Jenny Davidson

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

JENNY DAVIDSON: Here’s one sentence that caught my eye early on, as your protagonist Joe’s first trial of his sexual-release program for high-performing employees leads him to tweak the product he’s offering: “It meant another head-to-head with Beginning Programming for Dummies, but the thing that separates the sheep from the goats is the willingness to go that extra mile.”

This wild mixing of metaphors is wonderfully characteristic of a certain kind of management self-help book. (I remember watching an episode of “The Apprentice” once and being perplexed as to why all of the would-be apprentices so frequently used the expression “step up,” as in “step up to the plate”—would so-and-so “step up”? So-and-so really “stepped up” in that challenge.) Did you read any books of this ilk as you began working on Lightning Rods, and if so, which are your favorites?

the rest here

boingboing : David Israel

October 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

David K. Israel: As I understand it, you actually finished this manuscript for Lightning Rods before completing and publishing The Last Samurai. Sounds like an interesting story for aspiring novelists. What happened there?

The whole saga here.


Bookforum : Morten Høi Jensen

September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

One of the most exciting literary events this fall is the publication of Helen DeWitt’s long-anticipated second novel, Lightning Rods. DeWitt, a Maryland-born polymath, is best known as the author of The Last Samurai, the story of a boy genius who sets off in search of his missing father. Sam Anderson called that book “the most exciting debut novel of the decade.” Lightning Rods promises to generate even more emphatic responses: It is, among other things, a satire in which a businessman develops a service that will end sexual harassment.

BOOKFORUM: Lightning Rods, your new novel, is not actually new at all—it was completed more than a decade ago. What have been the major obstacles to publication?

HELEN DEWITT: This is hard to talk about. One way and another, The Last Samurai was THE major obstacle to publication of Lightning Rods. . .

The whole thing here

Axiom Magazine : Mitzi Akaha

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Even beyond incorporation of the film, you use a lot of Japanese language—among many others—in your book. Have you studied?

Many years ago, in London, I came across a book by Murakami Haruki whose English title is “A Wild Sheep Chase” (Hitsuji o meguru boken). I loved this book. I read somewhere that Murakami had translated many hardboiled detective novels into Japanese. His translator had translated the book back into hardboiled English. I wondered what this would be like in Japanese (I did not know a word of the language).

I especially liked a chapter in which the narrator, his girlfriend and a driver debate the naming of cats (they are appalled that he has not given his cat a name). I decided I would like to see what some of this book was like in Japanese.

Axiom Magazine, June 13, 2011

the rest here

if:book : Dan Visel

December 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

“Your Name Here is a book that feels profoundly of-the-moment: it documents how we read online in the early years of the twenty-first century. Bertrand Russell praised Stefan Themerson’s novel Bayamus as being “nearly as mad as the world,” which feels entirely apropos to Your Name Here, nearly as mad as the Internet.”

Dan Visel writes for the Institute for the Future of the Book.

[The link for this interview is now dead, so I am posting the text Dan sent me in PDF; it’s possible that this differs in a few details from the published interview.] « Read the rest of this entry »

I am other people (A Softer World) : Joey Comeau

August 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

“A Softer World is a comic that was created by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau so that people would recognize them as important artistic geniuses.”  It is in the tradition of Simenon, not Schultz. EH takes photographs for which JC writes captions with a sting in the tail.

Joey: Suicide is often associated with mental illness. But in your work it’s presented as a logical act. A fiercely rational act. Did you always think of suicide this way? You mentioned that there’s a need for suicide philosophers. One of the warning signs for suicides is a sudden cheerfulness after a long depression, which can be a sign that they’ve made their decision. Is there a freedom that comes with this view of suicide as tool available to us, even if the decision has not been made?

the rest here