Tuesday March 22nd, 2011

In the Ether

Sammy Hagar’s got a memoir out and, um, like many chronicles of rock n’ roll, it seems to come with an inherent warning about staying off the hard stuff: “I just knew that there were two intelligent creatures, sitting up in a craft in the Lytle Creek forest area about twelve miles away in the foothills above Fontana. And they were connected to me, tapped into my mind through some kind of mysterious wireless connection.” . . . The Caustic Cover Critic discovers James Joyce books designed with a disco-era feel, and also points to some lovely work by a designer named Jenny Grigg. . . . I picked up Sigrid Nunez’s new memoir about Susan Sontag in a store the other day, and it didn’t take long to find some colorful and unflattering quotes flying from Sontag. If I were more interested in her, I might read the whole short book. The Times has an excerpt. . . . Michael Bourne considers a Hunter S. Thompson classic 40 years on: “The first thing that strikes you when you read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in 2011, beyond the rotary phones and the 29-cent burgers, is what a sad story it is.” . . . Levi Stahl compares J. G. Ballard to Conrad: “Ballard’s scientists, marooned on far-flung outposts throughout the galaxy, are merely Conrad’s company agents and traders thrown into the future.” He also asks for sci-fi suggestions, something I can’t really help with. . . . The Reading Ape offers “10 Observations on Male Sexual Violence in the Contemporary Novel,” and asks for additional thoughts on the subject. . . . And lastly, Dan Kois had an essay in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago about novels that writers have abandoned. I’ve been meaning to link to it. Here’s a piece:

Chang-rae Lee said he had spent two years on Agnew Belittlehead, a “bombastic, unfunny, oddly New Agey version of a David Foster Wallace toss-off,” before dropping it and writing Native Speaker instead. Junot Díaz wrote “a whole lot” of Dark America, a science-fiction novel about mutants, before abandoning it 10 years ago because, he said, “it was hopelessly stupid and convoluted.” Jennifer Egan remembered writing, at 22, a “monstrous” 600-page novel, Inland Souls. “I would send this book to people,” she said, “and they would become unreachable. And that includes my mother.”