* Last week was Slate's Fall Fiction week, which of course I'm slow in noticing. My favorite article in their "Book Blitz" is this one on Overlooked Fiction, with comments from bloggers (including Bookdwarf) and booksellers (including my former coworker Carol at Three Lives, a voracious reader and supporter of the underdog if ever there was one; hi Carol!) Lots of other interesting stuff in the Slate lineup, too; I'll have to read through some of it before I can link and recommend.
* And the winner is: FIRMIN! The Litblog Co-Op's Read This! Selection has been announced, and Sam Savage's literate rat takes the field. Click over for nominator Ed Champion's brief but thoughtful take on why he picked this book, including this great summation:
Firmin challenges our narrative assumptions by presenting us with a tale told by a rat, signifying perhaps both nothing and everything, about the relationship between reality and fiction. It can be read as a literal entertainment or a multilayered parable about gentrification and the palliatives and pitfalls of imagination.
* Speaking of Ed Champion, today the man is hosting what you've all been waiting for: the Richard Powers Echo Maker Round Table. Today is the first of five installments, containing the rambling thoughts of nine readers (including yours truly) riffing off of each others' musings on the novel, followed by a response from Mr. Powers himself on Friday. This will serve in lieu of a review of this Book #39 for me, as I found myself writing and thinking more deeply about this book in this format than about any I've read recently. (Yes, I'm still a fan!) I'm totally hooked on the roundtable as a kind of virtual book club, one where you have room to really develop your opinions. And of course I'm totally star struck that Richard Powers now knows my name (if only virtually, in order to comment on my crackpot opinions). Hope you enjoy the exchange!
* Last night I wore my CBGB T-shirt to a screening of INDIES UNDER FIRE at Steve Colca's place in Harlem (which I'll write more about later), totally unaware that last night was the last hurrah for this legendary rock fortress. I gotta admit I never actually went to a show at CBGB proper (I did go to the CB's Gallery next door, which had more folky and indie stuff), but it seemed important that it existed as an emblem of all things down and dirty and New York and punk rock. Now its legend will only grow, unimpeded by a concrete existence. Firmin would understand. Here's what Patti Smith said:
"Kids, they'll find some other club," Ms. Smith insisted during her set. "You just got a place, just some crappy place, that nobody wants, and you got one guy who believes in you, and you just do your thing. And anybody can do that, anywhere in the world, any time."
* And if you feel like continuing to bask in the sweet misery of nostalgia for places that are no more (a sentiment always easy to conjure up in this changeable city), the Times also has a piece on Bookstores That Live Only In The Mind: all the great NYC bookshops that have closed in the last 10 or 15 years. I think it's pretty amazing how long some of these guys lasted, from the 'teens to the '90s in some cases. Me with my militant optimism, I'd love to see a piece someday on stores that have opened and are succeeding. But it's also important to pay attention to what's come and gone. These were bookstores where dusty old print media could live and breathe, and we respect them as they respected books and readers.
So go ahead and indulge in a little Monday moping; I'll be back on Wednesday with a review of the new documentary and hopefully some new books, to help us face forward again. Happy reading!