In this week's edition of the New York Times Book Review, things seem a little...tame? No anal, no huffy Queenan, no sexed-up Safran Foer — just a big bucket of letters, Harvard musings, and a dash of Paglia. After the jump, Intern Alexis (also known as the East Village punkin who wants to blog about bedbugs) gives her weekly report.
In response to Stacey D Erasmo s claim that Victoria Glendinning avoided the obvious Sapphic [ed: muff-diving] currents in Bowen s life, Glendinning writes in, I dealt with her Sapphism [ed: carpet-munching] candidly and straightforwardly. Bowen s literary agent, Spencer Curtis Brown, writes Glendinning abused me by telephone 'You are a horrible, horrible woman' and threatened to withdraw all permissions if I did not, as he saw it, clean up my act. Unlike a lot of author's letters gracing the Book Review these days, Glendinning doesn't whine, grovel or blame everyone but herself. "Today," says Glendinning, "such behavior would surely be unacceptable as would the biographers compliance." Nicely put.
I may be an eye-on-the-chance nouvelle Yale graduate, but even I am bored by Rachel Donadio s two-page, no confidence-in-Larry-athon. Well, maybe that was because we already read this essay on March 17th when it was posted in the New York Times online edition But in all seriousness, the whole Harvard isn t a university it s a brand name, they aren t students, they re actually pre-programmed robots, well, this is nothing we haven t heard before. We did, however, appreciate Rachel Yale Donadio s little passive-aggressive jab at Harvard though And hence Summers's efforts to crack down on grade inflation at Harvard, where in 2001 about 90 percent of students graduated with honors, compared with 50 percent at Yale that year. Safety Schooooool, safety schooool.
Jane Stern writes: Anyone who grew up fat (and please include your reviewer in this group) will find himself the chapters that follow We learn how it feels to wear clothes that don t fit, sweat too much, smell bad, become winded walking up stairs and be unable to do the simple things of childhood, like a somersault. There are so many things that thin children take for granted, such as being lifted up effortlessly on the shoulders of their fathers.
We imagine the editor s email to Ms. Stern went something like this: Hey Jane, Hope all is well. We understand you are fat. Since we like reviewers who can relate personally to the authors, subjects, etc would you be interested in reviewing Fat Girl? Let us know — thanks.
We basically zone out during any discussion of poetry, and our eyes certainly did that thing where they sort of close, but not all the way, during Clive James s review of Camille Paglia s poetry anthology Break, Blow, Burn — until we got to the part where James Google-searched Paglia for half an hour:
And what is Paglia doing, writing that an actress as gifted as Anne Heche has "the mental depth of a pancake?" How many pancake brains could do what Heche did with David Mamet's dialogue in "Wag the Dog?" And what about her performance in "One Kill?" No doubt Heche has been stuck with a few bad gigs, but Paglia, of all people, must be well aware that being an actress is not the same safe ride as being the tenured university professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
First off, did Clive James just spend 17 lines discussing Anne Heche in a review of a poetry anthology? Secondly, did Clive James just backhandedly compare Camille Paglia to Anne Heche? Thirdly, was Paglia just served ? Fourthly, is it now on ? And Fifthly, who should be more offended - Paglia or Heche?