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USA Today runs a list of the Top 100 Best-Selling Books of 2010. I got all the way to #13 before I threw up in my mouth. If any of you can make it to the end in one sitting, you have all of my respect. Outside of the classics like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, there are less than ten books here that I wouldn’t wipe my ass with. How ’bout y’all?

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— Puts me in mind of this scene from Wonder Boys, which Austin Kleon brought back to our attention this week.

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— Chamber Four spots a forthcoming title from the people who gave us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, et. al. The Meowmorphosis. You guessed it: Gregor Samsa wakes to find that he has turned into a kitten. From the jacket copy:

His family must admit that, yes, their son is now OMG so cute—but what good is cute when there are bills to pay? How can Gregor be so selfish as to devote his attention to a ball of yarn? And how dare he jump out the bedroom window to wander through Kafka’s literary landscape? Never before has a cat’s tale been so poignant, strange, and horrifyingly funny.

It’s horrifyingly something.

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— Anis Shivani, who I never, never, ever understand, is soaring to new heights of ridiculousness with his “New Rules for Writers.”

Disregard at least 78% of everything that this gentleman says, dear readers. Ever. Including the following, a few of the highlights from this piece:

The system–from the MFA program to that fat-ass editor sitting in glorious judgment over your manuscript–will never reward originality. So fuck it!

Bullshit, I say, to all the claims made for publicity. The book will find its readers.

Treat every contemporary with dire suspicion. Read no one living with attention and gratitude, unless they’ve proven themselves in relation to your eternal touchstones.

Critics appreciate more than anything superficiality, the familiar, the well-known and predictable. They don’t know what to do with the new.

If this bit of irrelevance had come from someone other than Shivani, I’d probably read it as satire. Andrew Shaffer feels the same way, in this measured response on the same website.

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— Enough bitterness. Let’s brighten things up with a bit of Bookshelf Porn, shall we?

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— And how about a newspaper misprinting its own name on the front page? I enjoy their correction the following day. (Link courtesy of someone from Twitter whose handle I have now lost–sorry about that.)

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— Time’s running out on NPR’s Short Fiction contest, to be judged by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (an incredible talent, by the way. Read her recent story collection The Thing Around Your Neck). Get your submissions in before Sunday night at 11:59 p.m.

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— Pleased to see that The Morning News’ annual Tournament of Books is set to get underway. I have two sentimental favorites, neither of which I would put any real money on: Next by Austin’s James Hynes and Jaimy Gordon’s NBA-Winner Lord of Misrule.

Someone will eliminate Freedom just to make news (“news”), so don’t bet on that one. Don’t be surprised if the Shteyngart or Jennifer Egan novels sneak away with the win, but my money is–with hesitance, especially since I haven’t even read it–on Emma Donoghue’s Room.

(Just awful construction in that last line, no? Awful)

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— For those of you going to AWP, I recommend attending the Literature Party on Feb 4, benefiting 826DC. I’m going to try to be there. Not that that has anything to do with my recommending of it. In fact, I recommend attending despite the fact that I’m going to try to be there.

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— Like to have a lifetime subscription to Black Ocean? It’s easy–just get a tattoo inspired by one of their book titles.

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— Shameless Plug of the Week: Some new short fiction over at Fringe, Corey Chestnut’s “Modern Powers.”

And don’t ever, ever forget to follow WBN on Facebook and Twitter.

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2 Comments

  1. I just looked at the list…Stephenie Meyer??? Seriously??? How DARE they rate her above JK Rowling?????
    The finale to the Harry Potter series was nothing short of brilliant with the possible exception to her epilogue, which, if I had been her editor, would have been deleted.

    As an aspiring writer of YA fantasy, I was pleased to see The Hunger Games up there, but the YA selections for the most part are over-hyped drivel.

    The list is based solely on quantity sold. Literary quality does not factor in. Afterall, there is absolutely no accounting for taste, or lack thereof.

    • Thanks for checking in, Mairin.

      Rowling’s finale came out in 2007, so it’s pretty impressive that it’s even on the list. I’m sure the film helped.

      Don’t tell anyone, Mairin, but I’ve never read a Harry Potter book. Justine is on me constantly to do so, but I just never seem to get around to it. I’m sure I’d love them.

      But this list is pretty gross. As a reader of literary fiction, I’m half amused and half disgusted that the most heavily discussed literary novel of the year clocks in at #39.

      And Stephanie Meyer? Don’t get me started. Please.


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