In this very special issue of the Times Book Review, editor Sam Tanenhaus' gang tackles the difficult issue of denim. How to wear it? Where to wear it? How much is too much? Why would someone pay $160 for Joe's Jeans? And what sort of Times editor would let this business make it into the Review? After getting over this formidable issue of fashion, the Review goes with silly author websites, the trouble with erections, and a super-nasty slap across Irvine Welsh's face. After the jump, Intern Alexis puts down the pipe and gives you your semi-educated crib notes to this week's review.
Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon
By James Sullivan
Reviewed by Caroline Weber
Here's the review in a nutshell: Caroline Weber has Joe's Jeans that cost her at least $160. Jeans are important. Culturally. In case you forgot, Caroline Weber has Joe's Jeans.
Related: When will the denim bubble burst?
TBR: Inside the List
By Dwight Garner
We were tickled by Dwight Garner's little blurb about author Mark Childress's website, on which he apparently dumped a list of keywords in an attempt to fool search engines:
Mark Childress, Crazy in Alabama, novelist novelist novelist, Tender Tender Tender, Gone for Good Gone for Good, A World Made of Fire A World Made of Fire A World Made of Fire V for Victor V for Victor V for Victor Southern novelist Southern novelist Southern novelist Southern writers...
Ha! We just had to see these crazy shenanigans for ourselves, so we paid a deliberate visit to www.markchildress.com. Alas! Childress must have removed his list in shame after reading Garner's piece, cause it wasn't there.
Hey, there's no shame in that game! To wit: Gawker Gawker Gawker Paris Hilton Paris Hilton Hilton Family Sam Tanenhaus Tanenhaus Tanenhaus Lohan Desparate Housewives Blowjob Asian Teens Teens Teens Slut.
The Bedroom Secrets of Master Chefs
By Irvine Welsh
Reviewed by Robert Macfarlane
From the review's mild HED ("Pain Spotting"), harmless DEK ("Irvine Welsh's new novel is set in depressed Edinburgh") and informational PQ ("Welsh's fiction has won notoriety for hits episodes of sex, violence and self-abuse, and for its adventures in the Scottish demotic") one would never know that this was one of the nastiest reviews we've seen in our R-about-R tenure.
Writes Macfarlane of the newest novel from Welsh, who also penned "Trainspotting" and a slew of others:
Although it fails at every imaginable level — metaphysical, ethical, technical, thematic — it is at the stylistic level, the level of the sentence, that Welsh's novel is most wanting. The prose throughout is lazy, clich -ridden and exhaustingly repetitive.
He goes on, mercilessly:
Nor is this what George Orwell fondly called good bad writing. This is bad bad writing. There are tautologies (offices that are "unobtrusively tucked away"). There are mixed metaphors (the "bull of a man" whose frame was "going to seed"). There are mistakes — the use of the word "diligently" where "carefully" is meant. And there are unfortunate ambiguities, as when Welsh describes Kibby's erection as "poking through the material of his trousers." We must assume either that Welsh means "showing through," or that Kibby has an unusually sharp phallus.
OK, OK — we get it, but pray tell: What's wrong with an erection "poking through the material of his trousers"? An erection "showing through" does not sound that much better... sometimes penises really do poke and it's fine. Hell, we like it that way.
Essay: What I Did at Summer Writer's Camp
By Rachel Donadio
Backpage essays are generally like those kids in class who "talked most said least," but, hey, nothing wrong with a blowhard. This week's essay is no exception really. Though it didn't really say all that much, Donadio's piece on the phenomenon of the cushy artists' colony was amusing. There were quotes from fun folks like Michael Chabon, Jeffrey Eugenides and A.M. Homes and it made us want to go to a writers' colony and do not much of anything and maybe meet our husband and maybe have that husband be Jonathan Franzen. Oh, New York Times Book Review, always taunting us with false hopes!