"What could be worse than our culture right now? The eighties has nothing on us": New York talks to one of my all-time favorite talkers, Jonathan Lethem (tied with Martin Scorsese for the top spot) about They Live, his entry about the 1988 John Carpenter/Rowdy Roddy Piper vehicle in the new Deep Focus series ("Look at what it does to people, look at how it emboldens and provokes. It's just not a classy or comfortable or ennobling experience to watch it. It's disturbing and ridiculous and outrageous and uncomfortable, but I think it's the kind of great movie that doesn't really need defense, it just needs to be given the air") and moving to SoCal to take his new job (and David Foster Wallace's old job) as writing professor at Pomona ("I've spent my life as much running away from New York City as I have spent it embracing it.").
I'm sorry, I just didn't love this rejection: At the Millions, novelist Bill Morris (who's received a few, some of them helpful) laments the unsurprising decline of the rejection letter in the electronic age: "Three decades ago I received typewritten rejection letters that were thoughtful, insightful, sometimes even beneficial. The electronic burps I’m getting today are, for the most part, shallow, cursory and absolutely useless to me as a writer."
Best in biz: Raghuram Rajan, the former chief economist at the IMF who warned of the financial crisis well before it happened, won this year's Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award for Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World's Economy. (No mention of what Goldman Sachs would say about his suggestions to reform Wall Street bonus pay.)
10 x $50K: This year's 10 winners of the $50,000 Whiting Writers Awards (for "writers of exceptional talent and promise in early career") were announced yesterday:
- David Adjmi (plays, Stunning)
- Elif Batuman (essays, The Possessed)
- Michael Dahlie (fiction, The Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living)
- Matt Donovan (poetry, Vellum)
- Rattawut Lapcharoensap (fiction, Sightseeing)
- Amy Leach (nonfiction, working on her first book)
- Lydia Peelle (fiction, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing)
- Said Sayrafiezadeh (nonfiction, When Skateboards Will Be Free)
- Jane Springer (poetry, Dear Blackbird)
- L.B. Thompson (poetry, Tendered Notes)
Moving and shaking: Announcements that Mad Man Roger Sterling's collection of wit and wisdom, Sterling's Gold, as featured in Mad Men's fourth season, will become a real book have sent it up this morning's Movers & Shakers list.