Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Where have all the Flowers for Algernon Gone?

The earwig battle rages on, although the casualties are decreasing on both sides of the front. But you know what I have now? Spiders. Spiders the size of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons. Spiders the size of the rainforest in the Amazon basin.* I don’t mind them, however. I just keep my distance. Which means there is a one square-foot patch in the middle of my kitchen that is safe. You’ll find me huddled there most days.

The thing I really want to discuss today is Image. The Image of “Famous Author,” more specifically. The other night I caught the Golden Girls episode where Dorothy befriends famous Miami author Barbara Thorndike. She’s intellectual. She’s statuesque. She’s famous and well-connected with “The Literati.” She’s an asshole.

A self-centered, bigoted, snooty asshole. And with a name like “Barbara Thorndike,” how could she not be?

When I was a kid, this was sort of the stereotype I had of famous authors and their jet-setting, smart ways. I’m sure there are a few authors that MAY fit this arrogant bill. But most authors I know are hard-working, generous, and clad in pajamas longer than recommended by the Surgeon General. They may be a bit neurotic. They bicker with loved ones on occasion. They juggle laundry, email, carpool duties, grocery shopping, and car insurance bills. They sometimes get diarrhea. And they’re watching you, waiting for you to say or do something that perfectly encapsulates the human condition, which they will immediately scribble on the back of a receipt in their purse only to find weeks later, completely devoid of context or meaning.

Or is that just me?

Sure, the more famous a writer gets the less likely he or she will be to respond to the dozens of requests (a blurb, review of a manuscript, publishing connections, a map to the Holy Grail) that zip into his or her inbox daily. But hey, sometimes getting clients and coworkers to respond to email requests can also be a Sisyphusian exercise in frustration.

Anyway, IS there a Literati today, where the Barbara Thorndikes of the world trade insider secrets and indulge in well-mannered poetry … nudges? Where is today’s version of the Algonquin Round Table? Are they at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop? Are they all hanging out at The New Yorker, as Garrison Keillor’s Love Me surmises? (Which, since you asked, has one of the best covers I’ve ever seen on a novel.)

I know, today’s Literati is probably online. Everything is.

But I digress. It’s getting late, and this jet-setting writer is off to battle some earwigs in her pajamas.

Movies seen in the past week: Reno 911. Oh, did I laugh. If you’re a nursing mother with a warped sense of humor, rent this movie. A recent study found that women who laughed more while nursing had breastmilk with higher nutritional value. If you’re not nursing, and perhaps in a somber mood, check out The Painted Veil, starring Ed Norton and Naomi Watts.

Books on deck: Jonathan Tropper’s next outing (How to Talk to a Widower) and Jennifer Belle’s latest: Little Stalker. I’ve only been awaiting Ms. Belle’s third novel since 2002…I'll probably devour it in a day and then be depressed that it's finished.

Happy last week of June!

*What’s that you say? The rainforest is shrinking daily by 200,000 acres? Okay then, spiders the size of the clear-cut, slash & burn soybean fields that used to be the rainforest. Biofuels ahoy!


  1. You made me laugh. The only reason that I am not still in my pajamas is that it is so hot here in Hawaii I sleep in shorts and a tank looks like I have dressed. When you see me for more than three days you realize I am wearing the same shorts and tank...
    The "New York Best Selling" authors who I have met have been down to earth. Very few Divas.
    Not to say they don't exist.
    I have seen them only rarely. Ok my word verification is
    I have SUCH a dirty mind...

  2. You're so FUNNY!

  3. Heh.

    Crack me up, you, every. single. time.

  4. I thought authors slept naked.

    Oh, wait - that doesn't mean they can't still WEAR PJs.

    Note to self: buy some PJs. :>

  5. Um, that "tfmtkaytfo" was me.


  6. Jess honey, WE are the literati - They just don't know it yet...

    and I went to see Reno 911 IN THE THEATER.

    That is how much I love those people.

  7. Wait - you mean we're not the literati?
    I've been wearing my pajamas until noon because I thought it was our weekday uniform...

  8. Anonymous6:44 PM

    We're having flea issues, so I feel your pain. I just can't bring myself to post about it because it feels like I'm admitting I forgot to clean the house or something.

  9. Aw, that's too bad. I was all set to go out and see The Painted Veil, but alas - I'm nursing. Oh well, maybe next year.

  10. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

    Jess, geez, you should have your own TV show.

    The Literati exists, just ask Jen Weiner. I have no time for that mess, much as I told Dwight Garner of the NYTBR. I am going to be WAY too busy selling lots of books.

    (Just like you!)

  11. I love spiders. I capture them in jars and let them go outside. My sister used to eat them...along with dust. What can I say? she's a jackass.

    I would like to tear "Barbara Thorndike's" hair out. May I?

    I have a feeling all those fuckers are at the New Smorker. I have a subscription. But, I'll tell ya, if there's a choice between the Moo Porker and People sitting in front of me, I will HATE TO DO IT, but I'll pick up that People magazine, set it inside the Moo Porker and read it cover to cover. I hate to admit it, but I'll love it while I'm doing it.

    Then, I'll be pissed that I did. That's what I'll say, anyway.

  12. I've got some bling for you over at my place. Who couldn't use some bling?

  13. Anonymous9:14 PM

    Sweet! I'M a nursing mom with a warped sense of humor.
    We love Reno 911 the TV show. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the movie.

  14. Ah, I saw Reno 911 on opening night - and promptly slunked out of the theater. (but you know and I know that I secretly loved it)

    Ditto for Blades of Glory.

    This jetless-setting the table in her pajamas writer lives for this stuff.