"The NBAs are like the Oscars, except the acceptance speeches are longer and no one is attractive," an agent observed as a burbling, mostly elderly crowd gathered for cocktails outside a ballroom at the Marriot Marquis last night. Au contraire! Author-hottie Josh Ferris was looking Hollywood handsome, decked out in a tux adorned with his Finalist medal. He and Jim Shephard, who was also in contention for the fiction prize, stood shoving each other playfully and talking about how thrilled each would be if the other won. "The brutal fact is, I'm not going to win, " Josh said. He was correct: The prize went, as expected, to Denis Johnson for his Vietnam novel 'Tree Of Smoke.' But Josh quite possibly won the prize for "Having and Being the Most Fun at the Pre-Party."
In this month's issue of Duke University's alumni magazine, much-ballyhooed debut novelist Dana Vachon mulls the disjunction between the book he thought he'd written and the book that most everyone else (except one of us!) thought he wrote: "As much as I was tempted to write 5,000-word riffs on greed, it does me no use if you close the book, right? I know I've said it before, but I honestly believe it: Vox populi, vox dei." One wonders, though, exactly what "populi" Dana's referring to here. The 8,405 people who, according to Bookscan (which only tracks about 70% of retail outlets), have bought the book in the five months since its publication? Well, maybe they are the voice of God. Anyway, the article also contains a shocking revelation. You know that Times Night Out With Dana? Turns out, he was faking being a douchebag at his publisher Riverhead's behest!
USA Today has anointed The Tourists author Jeff Hobbs' as the winner in the battle of 80s brat pack protégés, saying that his book is "more impressive and ambitious" than Dana Vachon's Mergers and Acquisitions. Um, sure! Maybe in the same way that Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl was more impressive and ambitious than Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer. Anyway, the rave (yes, the USA Today rave) has thrust Hobbs' literary hand-holder Bret Easton Ellis (as opposed, of course, to Vachon's #1 fan Jay McInerney) back into the spotlight. He didn't go to Hobbs' book party, after all. Has he abandoned his furtherance of Hobbs' career?
Young Joshua Ferris's debut about working at an ad agency at the tail end of the dot-com boom is one of our favorite books we've read in a while, so it pains us to have to acknowledge that he is a pussy. At his book party, he told us in no uncertain terms that Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss "deserve all the shit you guys heap on them." Ok, it was a festive occasion and perhaps the celebratory cocktails had loosened Ferris's lips, but! Here's his current take on whether or not The Most Important, Rich, and Precocious Literary Couple Of Our Time deserve to be mocked: "Whatever shit they may or may not have deserved is far less than the shit I deserve for having said publicly that they deserved any shit whatsoever. I spoke unnecessarily of a very minor matter about which I knew very little, and so despite the likelihood that my comments didn't even reach them, I'm glad you asked, so that I can set the record straight: I'm the shitheel." I'll say!
"Poised for success in the literary community: Not only is Jeff Hobbs dedicating The Tourists to his mentor Bret Easton Ellis, but The Tourists has a plot and depth that makes it comparable to some of today's finest literary fiction," according to the copy on the galley of 27-year-old's debut novel. These statements are not entirely untrue! The literary community, or something like it, did turn out in full force last night to celebrate the book's publication. Jonathan Franzen was there! (Supposedly: we didn't actually glimpse him). And so was, for some reason, Aaron Eckhart!
Pete Wentz: Fall Out Boy. Bar impresario. And now, memoirist! We hear that Wentz is shopping a follow-up to his self-published 2005 debut, The Boy with the Thorn in His Side. While that book was an illustrated compendium of the Ashlee Simpson-dating bassist's nightmares, the new work is a more straightforward autobio from the "logorrheic diarist." In it, according to someone we found who's read it, Wentz "talks about exes, but doesn't name anyone—instead annoyingly refers to them as 'her,' 'she' or 'her.' He does talk about his overdose a bit. He's death-obsessed and also sex-obsessed. Needless to say, most of all, he is self-obsessed. It's among the most self-indulgent whiny trying to be smart and artsy high school creative writing class crap I've ever read." We're reserving judgment til we get a chance to read it ourselves, so PLEASE GIVE IT HERE.
"If F. Scott Fitzgerald had gone to Yale instead of Princeton, set his novel among precociously successful designers and financiers, with a struggling freelance journalist rather than a Midwestern bond dealer narrating, it might have turned out a bit like "The Tourists," a new novel by a 27-year-old Angeleno transplant named Jeff Hobbs," begins Scott Timberg's LA Times mag tongue job about that precocious novelist. "I'm almost embarrassed by the comparison," Hobbs is then quoted as saying. How modest and cute! Also cute: that author photo with a doggie woggie! This book must be great. Hey, look, there's a copy of it lying around our offices! Let's dive right in.