It’s Been Awhile

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. There was a head cold, a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (which I will write about later, I promise), and my son’s birthday party to plan and execute.

So here are a few links to keep you busy,

Amy Edelman is out to help writers do what indie bands have been doing for decades. She asks, “Why Is Indie OK for Musicians and Filmmakers…But Not For Writers?

RIM is jumping into the tablet game with what it will call the “PlayBook.” Next year will be crowded with tablets.

BlackBerry’s PlayBook the latest challenger to Apple’s iPad, which launched in April. Apple has sold more than 3 million iPads so far, while rivals have been slow to meet the challenge. Dell and Samsung have announced their own tablets, though Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet has yet to hit the market. Meanwhile, Microsoft and HP have both canceled planned tablet projects.

Not to mention Notion Ink’s Adam…

The Guardian has provided its Digested Read of “Freedom,”

The biographer might have convincingly left it at that, but the GMAN demands a more forgiving, less realistic ending. So Patty and Walter got back together and stayed friends with Richard, Joey stopped being a Republican, Connie was miraculously transformed from being a doormat and they too lived happily ever after and were reconciled with his parents. And even Jessica was allowed back into the book.

Here’s of one of The New Pornographers’ best songs, “Myriad Harbour.” It has one of my favorite lines, “I said to John do you think the girls here ever wonder how they got so pretty?”

They recently had their invitation to play at Calvin College rescinded. Apparently, certain people in the school’s administration did not want the college associated with a band that called themselves, “The New Pornographers.” As one commenter put it on The New Pornographers’ Facebook site, “Calvin College can rest easy knowing it was predestined to make such a boneheaded decision.” Thankfully, the show will go on at another venue in Grand Rapids…This is one of the reasons Michigan’s Hipster Factor is rather low.

If You Have a Few Extra Dollars/Pound/Euros…

you can bid on John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” and a First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays at an auction being held by Sotheby’s.

One of only 100 or so remaining copies of “Birds of America” is valued at between 4 million pounds and 6 million pounds ($6.2 million and $9.2 million), while a Shakespeare First Folio from 1623 is expected to fetch at least 1 million pounds ($1.54 million).

Sotheby’s books expert David Goldthorpe said the two tomes are “the twin peaks of book collecting.” The books come from the estate of the 2nd Baron Hesketh, an aristocratic book collector who died in 1955. The auction house is selling them in London on Dec. 7.

Yet Another Blog Post On Franzen’s Freedom

Alan Jacobs, a professor who blogs at Text Patterns, has this review at The American Scene,

So, the last three books I have read: Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace; Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen; The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon. It’s interesting to think about these novels in relation to one another, since their authors are all approximately the same age — roughly my age, as it happens: the youngest, Chabon, is four years younger than me — and represent three interestingly different takes on The Novel As A Genre. Franzen these days works wholly within the realist tradition; Chabon likes to experiment with the conventions of genre fiction; Wallace does . . . well, his thing, his blend of metafictional play and moral seriousness.

Of the three, Freedom is the least satisfying to this reader.

The rest of the review is worth reading. I’ve been following Jacobs’ blog for some time now. He’s a thoughtful, critical, and fair reader of books.

Back to Franzen. He wants to create Literary Art; he aims to write books that do not have a Sell-by Date. This is an extremely difficult thing to do and one that takes a strong and balanced mix of talent and ambition. In his review, Jacobs seems to be answering the question not asked or answered in many reviews of Franzen’s book: how does it measure up to the great ones? Jacobs’ answer is that it does not.

Which does not mean that Freedom is not a good or even great book. But a book that should sit on the shelf with Song of Solomon, The Sun Also Rises, Waiting for Godot, Pride & Prejudice, or Invisible Man? That’s a different issue, one I wish more reviews would address. I think if more reviewers asked themselves instead of whether a book is good but is it capable of standing with the Great Ones, they would find that much of what gets sold as “literary” really isn’t.

For another take on Franzen’s latest, one that is balanced but also quite funny, go watch Ron Charles over at the Washington Post.

Note: I promise that this is the last post I will do on the whole Freedom from Franzenfreude Cage Match of 2010.