After the jump is, as promised, the exchange in full, where Southern discusses making Easy Rider with Dennis Hopper, and the missing pie-fight scene from Dr. Strangelove:
declared June 2010 “Terry Southern Month,” a pronouncement that was greeted with even more excitement and enthusiasm than we had anticipated. (“Hell yeah. One of my faves. Bring on June,” tweeted a reader. Southern “makes me want to go out and do things,” wrote another.) We ran an excerpt from an interview Mike Golden conducted with Southern that appeared in the spring of 1996 (issue 138).Last week, Lorin
Chapeau! to the Parisians among the newly announced New Yorker 20. Chris Adrian, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nell Freudenberger, Nicole Krauss, Yiyun Li, and Wells Tower—we salute you!
Further chapeaux to our colleagues at The New Yorker for assembling the thing. We can hardly imagine a more thankless task. Here on White Street each of us can name writers we think should be on there, and aren’t, and others who leave us scratching our heads. (And yet, weirdly, no two of us name the same people.) Multiply that by a million subscribers, or whatever no-doubt-large fraction reads the stories … that’s a lot of Monday-evening quarterbacks.
Even on a normal week, it’s got to be tough finding stories that could conceivably interest a million different readers. In this case, there’s no falling back on household names, since with the exception of Mr. Foer, our micro generation hasn’t produced one. For reasons that may have something to do with writing programs, or Microsoft Word, or Grand Theft Auto, or just three generations of TV, we thirty-something Americans tend to languish in a protracted adolescence on the fiction-producing front. The pool of really bankable youngsters gets smaller with each passing decade, even as book and magazine publishers get more and more desperate for a bona-fide literary star. (No wonder Team Eustace has drafted a ringer from north of the border. Congratulations, Bezmozgis! The flag pin’s in the mail!)
Most of the New Yorker 20 are at work on their second or third book. It is, as David Remnick told The New York Times, “a group of promise.” May their greatest achievements lie before them, may the Muses light their way, and may the winds of fortune remain at their backs!
What is on an ideal bookshelf?
The books that made people who they are, that changed their lives.
How long have you been painting bookshelves?
Do you ever spot repeats?
There’s a cookbook called The Silver Spoon—I’ve painted that silver spoon so many times! A Confederacy of Dunces, Catcher in the Rye, The Little Prince, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Wrinkle in Time, Bird by Bird.
Do you ever find new reading while on the job?
Totally. I just bought I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. A friend had an early edition on his bookshelf, and it had this really cool black-and-white tiger-striped spine. I looked it up, and Johnson sounded fascinating. I don’t know if I would have picked it up if the spine hadn’t had the stripes!
—S. Johnson, New York City
Elmore Leonard, Rum Punch. Or really Elmore Leonard, anything. When I was a kid and convinced of the genius of Raymond Carver, I tried to get my father to read What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and my dad responded by giving me Leonard’s novel Glitz, explaining that Leonard had a better ear for dialogue—plus in his novels stuff actually happened. This of course was not fair to Raymond Carver. My father might also have pointed out that Leonard’s books are funny. The one trouble with Leonard, and the reason I no longer read his novels, is that I have real trouble putting them down. Also I never remember anything about them. All I remember about Rum Punch, for instance, is the title and that it kept me up all night.
Post script: a friend who knows his way around reality TV suggests Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected as a sort of halfway house on the long road back to the novel. Judging from my one brush with The Real Housewives of New York, this is an excellent recommendation—Ramona and Kelly are Dahl characters come to life.
This is the second installment of Sarah Crichton’s culture diary. Click here to read part 1.
7 A.M. Morning edition. The New York Times. Kagan, oil spill, crushing debt. Market’s going to hell in a hand basket. Leaving late today because I’ve put off a mammogram long enough. Kill time with Architectural Digest. Jean Strouse has an article on a house in Costa Rica. These days, fewer magazines send fewer writers to fewer fab spots on their dime. Good on you, Jean Strouse! Tear out pages with decorating tips I’ll never use. Killing more time, turn on Morning Joe. Tired of the banter, go to YouTube and watch the Lady Gaga and Beyoncé video people have mentioned, “Telephone.”
9 A.M. Wander back to kitchen where the radio is still on. BBC World. Bangkok is preparing to explode, and expats are calling in with observations in real-time. Very exciting. Hard to pull away to leave for mammogram. In fact, decide to pretend I have a ten-thirty appointment, when I know full well it was ten.
10:45 A.M. Have brought Janet Malcolm article to appointment with me; I’m almost done. (It’s very long.) She’s visiting the Bukharan part of Forest Hills, and has just accidentally spotted the little girl who has, in essence, been orphaned by the murder: “A child on a tricycle, pedaling vigorously and laughing in a forced and exaggerated manner, preceded [the couple]. It was Michelle. Gavriel recognized me from the courtroom, and paused to exchange a few words. Walking to the subway, I swore at myself. Had I stayed in Khaika’s garden another minute, I would have had the chance to observe Michelle in the heart of her feared father’s family. But perhaps my glimpse of her face distorted by mirthless laughter sufficed for my journalist’s purpose. I thought I got the message.”
11:00 A.M. The View comes on. In the doctor’s. I try hard to stay focused on my magazine. I lose the battle. The show is too weird to ignore.
11:45 A.M. Back on the No. 4 train to Union Square. Manage to finish Malcolm piece, and mourn the fact that it’s over.
6:40 P.M. Home. As I cook, All Things Considered. Marketplace—they’re playing “Stormy Weather,” which means another bad day on Wall Street. I have shameful plans for the rest of the night. I think, Yes! At eight, American Idol: we’re getting to the finish. And when that’s over: Glee. Fine, mock me. But I love that Matthew Morrison; loved him as a love-struck Italian boy in Light in the Piazza, and as a love-torn lieutenant in South Pacific. I love a song-and-dance number. I have an hour before AI (as they say), so I put on an old Segovia LP (I love the pops of the vinyl against the warm strings), and read a large chunk of a surprisingly good manuscript. At eight, I forget my plan and put Joni Mitchell’s scratchy For the Roses on the turntable. The vinyl pops pop pop. I stage my own song-and-dance number. If this were Shindig!, they’d give me a cage.
10:50 P.M. Damn. Missed all shows, but catch a few final moments of Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife. She is so beautiful.
11:00 P.M. Jon Stewart is very good tonight: Release the Kagan.
11:30 P.M. Dip around in Jules Feiffer’s memoir.
After the jump, a recap of last night’s softball game against Vanity Fair.