Gah! Ego-googling (egoogling?) will get you everywhere. I just did a massive, manic 2-hour interview with YA New York on the phone, and after popping in every day, suddenly, I'm away from the world for 3 days and it's up. Well, the preview. I feel a little bit humbled: there's a preview to the inter-. I really need to make the Losers site prettier, but I'm actually keeping it running, which I never really expected. W00t.
On my work blog, I wrote a whole rant about Rosh Hashana. And then I dove straight into the holiday. It was so good to surround myself with non-book stuff for two days, and so good to dive back in. Especially during this fast day. I'm lightheaded, sleepy, and working in about six different directions, and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have to redo pretty much everything I do today. But, for some reason, that just makes me motivated to do even more of it.
09/29/2008 happy new yearses
Courtesy of Jewlicious. First, best Rosh Hashanah shout-out ever, courtesy of the ever-lovin' Tanya at JL Russia:
And then a little me-and-Yalta show.
09/27/2008 you can't buy publicity like this
From: Ms. Marie Date: Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 12:24 AM Subject: my life with the thrill kill kult
i told my life with the thrill kill kult tonight that one of the characters in your book is wearing one of their shirts within the first few pages. And they asked me "what's the name of the book?" and I said "Losers" and they said "oh great, that just about sums it up" and i said "oh, but the character isnt a loser, he's a gay metal head" And they found it a compliment.
09/25/2008 the anti philip roth novel
A friend just wrote to ask if Losers has any Jewish content. Weird question, considering my first two books were both hit-you-over-the-head Orthodox and Candy wasn't overtly Jewish at all.
This is what I said:
oh! i forgot to tell you -- there is jewish content in losers. not religious, but it's pretty damn jewish. it's about russian jewish immigrant geeks -- there are only a few scenes with the jewish federation, and where he's like "i wasn't at no fucking shabbat service" (actually, no, he doesn't say that) but the whole thing is jewish -- just, not orthodox at all. it's kind of an anti-philip roth novel because it's all very jewish, rarely overtly jewish, but is not nebbishy and anxious -- it's just awkward and flamboyant.
09/22/2008 guest star
My friend Alex -- whose record you can find below -- just asked me to guest-blog on his site about my new novel and I just did.
Okay, I'm NOT jealous of Alex getting to grow up on the single hottest block of Center City Philadelphia. I just think it's something about each other that we can't totally relate to. Like being black (him, not me). Or having fashion sense (him, not me). Or knowing how to shoot classic photo shoots....okay, you get the point.
Just in case you thought that I didn't get around. Look for more guest blogs just as soon as I get off of this one.
09/19/2008 glam doilies
Confession time: I grew up a Conservative Jew, and although I'm Orthodox now -- or Hasidic, or Biala, or hairy, or whatever you want to call it -- I have more than a passing tinge of nostalgia for old-school Conservative services. Those slow jams where we all tried to chant like Barbra Streisand. The barrister's robes that the rabbi and cantor wear. The fact that there was a cantor in the first place.
But there's one thing that totally outranks every Orthodox tradition there is, and that's doilies.
Yesterday, just to the left of where you're reading, I saw an ad for GlamDoily.com, and you know I had to follow it. It led me to an amazing -- amazing -- collection of classic and seasonal doilies. There's even a mantilla collection.
Yes, I'm serious. Chalk it up to my Kim Novak fixation (she used to date a Jew -- Sammy Davis, Jr.), or just call me old fashioned, but I think doilies are a sign of decor, sophistication, and elegance. Nothing says "proper" like "tea party," and nothing says "tea party" like a die-cut paper coffee coaster straight out of spring 1956. Orthodox women cover their hair like pros -- and the turban chique of Sephardic Israeli woman that Rav Ovadia Yosef advocates is stylin' as anything, and gravity-defying, tying them meticulously tight, so as not to reveal a single strand -- but I loved the feeling of having a yarmulke in my back pocket, slipping it on as I slipped into synagogue just like Clark Kent and the proverbial phone booth, and the move in Conservative Judaism toward people wearing yarmulkes either all the time or none of the time kind of dampens the transformation. I'm totally in favor of women wearing yarmulkes, if it helps put them in a holy or devotional mood....but nothing says "Quell those unholy thoughts, I'm in synagogue" like a straight-up doily.
Audrey Hepburn would wear a doily. Nora Charles would wear a doily. Madonna would wear a doily....although let's not think very hard about how she would wear it, or where on her person it would go.
GlamDoily even has a juniors section. In my synagogue growing up, only married women had to wear doilies (my sister wore a yarmulke for her Bat Mitzvah, which gave some of the elder members a conniption or two), and so this got us in the office talking. Was it for people who held according to the Rambam that all Jewish women of any age have to cover their hair? Despite one naysayer who insisted that it was trying to tap into the Bat Mitzvah gift market, I'm thinking positively. And proactively. Whoever's in charge of GlamDoily.com, I salute you for attempting to cover all the bases....except for the base of bad style.
Children's author Eoin Colfer has been commissioned to write a sixth instalment of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series. Mostly Harmless, the last Hitchhiker book, was written by its creator, the late Douglas Adams, 16 years ago.
Now Adams's widow, Jane Belson, has given her approval to bring back the hapless Arthur Dent in a new book entitled And Another Thing...
I memorized the first half of Hitchhiker when I was a kid. I always thought that the finity of the series was a good thing, even though it was only assured by the sad and untimely death of Mr. Adams. But who can even remember how many Foundation books there are now? Or which Star Wars novelizations are canonical and which are hogwash?
But Mr. Colfer looks like enough of a quality geek to pull it off. Maybe.
09/17/2008 save b!tch!
Bitch magazine is amazing. They've printed me a lot, and they print a lot of my favorite people, as well -- even when they sometimes rattle the security of Feminism As It Is. Two years ago, their "Men" issue got more hatemail than they ever have. People protested the idea of two dudes interviewing each other about what masculinity means in relation to feminism. (They also got more love-mail than ever -- but that didn't stop people from
And, when someone said that a mechitza was sexist and I wrote in, they didn't blink an eye -- which, not to brag too much, but might be the first defense of religious fundamentalism in a feminist magazine.
So there it is -- my subscription cry. You can see how close they are to their goal in the bitchometer above. Here's to crackin' it the rest of the way.
09/15/2008 reading! reading!
by the way -- this Tuesday and Thursday (what? like, today?), I'll be reading in support of Men Speak Out. Tuesday's at Bluestockings, the awesome women's bookstore in the City, and Thursday is at VoxPop in Brooklyn. (Get to the Thursday one early: I've got my baby and she will get cranky pretty fast.)
09/15/2008 free music mondays: de las flores
My friend Alex just posted his new album online and you can download it for free. He calls it an EP -- actually, he calls it EP, because, he confesses, he couldn't think of another title -- but it's got nine songs, and they're all pretty good.
Don't get thrown by the staticicity of the first song. It clears up pretty soon after that. And I question the choice of starting off an album with that sort of thing, but I don't doubt it -- those are the moments you always want to hold onto, the ones that are as inspired as they are imperfect.
Anyway, kudos to him for putting the whole thing together on his own, and for making something that sounds totally new and totally cool. And that I can listen to on my strange new phone.
09/12/2008 my new, stumbley hero
Sarah Palin might look like Tina Fey and have a 17-year-old daughter with problems I can relate to, but this is a man who I can identify with.
The Times calls Joe Biden a "human verbal wrecking crew," saying that he stumbles into one vocal blunder after another, and questioning his ability to offer a straight-spoken sentence.
"Chuck, stand up, let the people see you," Biden shouted to State Senator Chuck Graham, before realizing, to his horror, that Graham uses a wheelchair. "Oh, God love ya," Biden said. "What am I talking about?"
The guy who, on the day Obama announced him as his running mate, referred to his party's presidential nominee as "Barack America" and noted that his own wife, Jill, a college professor, was "drop-dead gorgeous" but who, problematically, possessed a doctorate. The guy who, reading his vice-presidential acceptance speech from a TelePrompter, [Biden] bungled McCain's name, calling him "George" ("Freudian slip, folks, Freudian slip," he explained).
09/10/2008 Ego the Size of a Book
My copy of The Autobiographer's Handbook arrived today. Edited by the illimitable Jennifer Traig, with an introduction by Dave Eggers, it's a how-to manual for the art of writing memoir. With a Jewish religious memoir canon that still reeks of newness, theentriesare already piling up. Traig has two amazing memoirs of her own...and this is probably where I should name-drop my own book Yom Kippur a Go-Go, which...yeah. The title kind of says it all.
Yes, I know there have been Jewish memoirs...well, ever since the Book of Prophets. And the idea of finding meaning in your life, and writing it down, is certainly nothing new. But I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that quality memoirs are going through a renaissance right now, and the People of the Book -- who also happen to be the People of Let's Talk About Me -- are staking their territory.
Toby Young, a memoirist himself, disputes the idea of memoir as artifice in the Wall Street Journal -- "A memoirist may be driven by less than honorable motives, such as the desire to settle scores, become famous or get on the best-seller list," he writes. "I've written two memoirs and those three goals were certainly uppermost in my mind." But Dave Eggers preemptively disarms that argument in his introduction:
When a manuscript detailing life during the Holocaust was first discovered and submitted to publishers, its interest to the general public was doubted. "Very dull," a reader at Knopf sniffed. "A dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions...Even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject was timely, I don't see that there would have been a chance for it." This book was Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. No one, not this editor, not Anne Frank herself, thought that it would become the best-known narrative of the six million souls lost in the Holocaust.
Yeah, that's right, buster. You just slammed Anne Frank.
I have a story in the new anthology One Step Beyond, from the upstart publisher Subatomic Books. It's a collection of imaginary realist and science fiction stories about rock music. They're a new indie press in Portland, and their website makes it look like they're up to great things. I have this recurring fantasy in which Losers sells a zillion copies, gets made into a movie, and I'll be able to only release books on tiny little presses like this, and help them take over the world. J.D. Salinger almost did it a few years ago with his reprint of "Hapsworth 16, 1924," which you can read here -- but, anyway. First I've got to sell a zillion copies.
You can read two stories from the anthology -- That Smell by James Stafford, and Burnin' Love by Rhonda Eudaly -- on the Subatomic site. Not mine, though -- you gotta track down the book for that one.
09/07/2008 New Losers Site!
Okay, yes it is like 3:30 in the morning but I couldn't sleep -- procrastinating on this 3000-word article I'm supposed to already have finished writing about the locale of my new novel -- but I finally put up a halfway-decent website for Losers!
Go check it out. Send in some requests for the DVD bonus section. And don't forget to buy a copy or few....
09/05/2008 song of the week
It's not a secret that I'm a huge fan of the band Stereo Sinai. There are a lot of folks appropriating Jewish songs and making their own versions, but Alan and Miriam manage to be consistently creative, whimsical, and amazingly danceable, dabbling in everything from tribal rhythms to folk-pop to '80s new wave.
Their newest track, Hafachta Mitzpedi (Dance), comes out today, and features me doing a verse in the middle. You can listen to it for free -- just click on the title -- or, if you want to put it on repeat and get down with it all Shabbat long, it's only 99 cents...
09/05/2008 Learn Poetry with Elvis!
So my friend CAConrad, author of the wonderful Deviant Propulsion and the soon-to-be-released memoir advancedELVIScourse, is starting to teach poetry classes in NYC! If you're interested -- and you aren't one of those weird Jews with a Sabbath to observe -- check them out:
(Soma)tic Poetry with CAConrad SaturDAYS AT noon: 10 SESSIONS BEGIN october 11th
In this frantic, routine-driven world we need freedom from regimented poetry writing, and a healthy dose of walking the space between Soma (spirit) and Somatic (body). Using gemstones, trees, and the city itself, we will create deliberate, sustained physical manipulations to generate language to write our poems. Every thing is new every time we embark, and opening our minds to having that freedom in our lives everyday to write poems is what these workshops are about. Poetry is for everyBody, therefore everyBody is welcome! CAConrad's book (Soma)tic Midge (FAUX Press) was written after eating and living with a single color for a day. Poem samples, as well as a link to his monthly (Soma)tic Poetry Exercises can be found here. THERE ARE OTHER WORKSHOPS FOR FALL AND SPRING. The workshop fee is $350, which includes a one year Sustaining Poetry Project membership and tuition for any and all spring and fall classes. Reservations are required due to limited class space, and payment must be received in advance. Caps on class sizes, if in effect, will be determined by workshop leaders. Please send payment and reservations to:
The Poetry Project, St. Mark's Church Attn: Workshops, 131 East 10th St. NYC, NY 10003
For more information, or to pay by credit card, please call (212) 674-0910, or email [email protected].
All workshops will be held in the Parish Hall at St. Mark's Church on the corner of 10th St. and 2nd Ave.