Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Your face is your fortune.

I'm writing this just after listening to a Fresh Air interview with the actor Jon Hamm. An interview where Hamm, in response to a very direct question from host Terry Gross (1), claimed to not be one of the beautiful people.



Hope life isn't too crowded under that bridge Hamm.

Hamm's made-for-radio modesty might not have hit me so hard were it not for the fact that my other big radio moment of the day was Gross's interview with author David Rakoff whose new collection of essays, Half Empty, is getting the kind of attention I think all of Rakoff's work deserves.

Rakoff is, after all, one of the writers on my "wouldn't it be fun to hang out and have 125 anchovy and onion pizzas delivered to Curtis Sittenfeld's house?" list.

In fact, and somewhat ironically, I recently assigned Rakoff's essay on plastic surgery from his last book, Don't Get Too Comfortable. In it, Rakoff visits two surgeons and gives them free reign...telling them to spare nothing in their assessment. To his surprise, neither suggest all that much in the way of changes.

Rakoff may not see his face as his fortune but, it appears, he's not running up any overdraft fees either.

And so, as I sit in this coffee shop that has inexplicably been taken over by an ungainly horde of field tripping teenagers (2), I will shed a silent tear for Jon Hamm, Plain and Tall and excitedly plan to add another book to the shelves.

1. Or, as direct as Gross gets. I sometimes wonder if, when out to dinner, Gross plays a few clips and quotes several classic rock songs as she prepares to ask the waiter, "Do you have anything on special tonight?"
2. Seriously, what adult stops and thinks, "Hey, I have a tour group of 60 thirteen year-olds. I think I should bring them into a small space and top them off with sugar and caffeine." Trust me guy. George Washington never did anything here. Move along.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Piece Work.

I tend not to use the book covers of authors that I'm writing about to illustrate my posts but, c'mon, how great is this cover?


Scribner is going to make individual essays by writer Chuck Klosterman available for just 99 cents each...just like some of the songs that the pop culture observer writes about.

Even as a die-hardcover-type person I'm kind of intrigued by the idea. What I particularly like is the fact that the author at the center of the experiment seems the perfect choice in terms of the subject matter he focuses on. Download "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" and "Dancing Queen" and then grab a copy of Klosterman's essay "ABBA 1, World 0" while you're at it.

The essays will be available individually, packaged in e-book fashion as they originally appeared in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs**a pop culture manifesto, Eating the Dinosaur or Fargo Rock City, or resampled by theme in a kind of Pandora approach to reading.

So, I'll admit it. I'm intrigued. Which is to say, I'll periodically put down my hardback edition of Eating the Dinosaur to check in and see how this piece work idea is coming together.

Rock on.