Books on Monday

Books bought:
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Perfect Hour by James L. West III
Home Land by Sam Lipsyte
Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

Books read:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Perfect Hour by James L. West III

Jonathan Safran Foer Profile in NYT Magazine

For those of you who don’t have time to read Deborah Solomon’s fun profile of Jonathan Safran Foer in this Sunday’s New York Times Mgazine, here are my favorite quotes from it:

His letters, much like his fiction, are conceived ”as an end to loneliness,” as he once put it in an e-mail message. And while most of the letters in the world — at least the good ones — are similarly written to allay our loneliness, Foer seems haunted by an aching awareness of the probability of defeat. What, in the end, can we really know of one another?

Plans were made to meet outside the main branch of the New York Public Library one Wednesday at noon. That morning, more e-mail messages arrived, the last of which was sent knowingly to an empty desk: ”Writing this from the Kinko’s across the street from the Public Library,” Foer noted. ”It’s 11:41 and I’ve done it again: arrived for a rendezvous more than 15 minutes early. Anyway, I’m assuming you won’t read this until after we meet, which leaves these words hanging in some nowhere time. . . . See you soon, hours ago.”

“Why do I write? It’s not that I want people to think I am smart, or even that I am a good writer. I write because I want to end my loneliness. Books make people less alone. That, before and after everything else, is what books do. They show us that conversations are possible across distances.”

“I always write out of a need to read something, rather than a need to write something.”

Do Blogs Sell Books?

I have finally jumped on the Home Land bandwagon and started reading Sam Lipsyte’s latest novel this morning. The book has received much coverage in the blogosphere, a topic recently addressed in Newsday.

Jonathan Lethem in Feb 28 New Yorker

I flipped immediately to Jonathan Lethem’s essay, “The Beards,” upon receiving this week’s New Yorker in the mail. A series of riffs on art and music and books and movies and loss, I found it intoxicatingly good. I constantly admire Lethem for his unguarded fanatacism about the works of art that he loves, his devotion to those that ultimately dissapoint, can only disappoint.

A couple samples from the essay, from which the title of Lethem’s new collection, The Disappointment Artist is drawn:

[Pink Floyd] was a group that had lost its genius and its spiritual center, and had had to carry on. And, paradoxically, its masterpiece (for that was what I believed “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” to be) had been achieved without his help, but in his honor. Syd Barret wasn’t dead, but “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was memorial art. It suggested that I didn’t have to fall into ruin to exemplify the cost of losing someone as enormous as Judith Lethem. My surviving Judith’s death would in no way be to her dishonor. I’d only owe her a great song.
….
[Bob] Dylan and [Philip K.] Dick created bodies of work so contradictory and erratic that they never seemed to have promised me perfection, so they could never disappoint me. Here were artists who hung themselves emotionally out to dry, who risked rage and self-pity in their work, and were sometimes overwhelmed by those feelings and blew it.