February 1, 2006

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State of the Union Address
I stopped listening to the President’s State of the Union address about half-way through. He and I agree on little, but I stopped listening because of his abuse of semantics and rhetoric. I stopped listening for his lack of euphony and rhythm. I could not bear the creation of logical arguments based on presumptions more fragile than the peace in Iraq. Rather than elevate the level of debate and step up into an atmosphere for civility, he ensured divisiveness. He created an environment where emotion, provincialism, and parochialism–not logic–cloud the already obfuscated perception of the executive branch. He borrowed, albeit indirectly, from Mao: You are either with me or against me. He did throw down the gauntlet. In one hour-long sophomoric stroke, he struck down civility and logic. Although last night I felt as if I were ranting, I discovered this morning that I am not alone. David Cone, the Washington editor for Nation, wrote, “Bush led with his weakness–the Iraq war–and stuck to the un-nuanced and bold (if misleading) assertions he has used to justify the war and to argue for staying the course, his course.”

A Missed Point in the Frey Debate
In a Guardian essay, Niki Shisler takes an insider’s view of James Frey, his lies, and his book. Shisler has endured recovery and has written a book, Fragile, which Ebury Press will publish this March. Shisler writes, “Addicts and alcoholics are desparate vulnerable people; if you’re going to offer them a way out, you’d better be certain it works. But how can you be, if you haven’t walked the path?” I presume her you addresses Frey or any writer who wishes to pass off a semi-autobiographical novel as a memoir. Meanwhile Frey’s literary agent, Kassie Evashevski with Brillstein-Grey, told Publisher’s Weekly‘s Editor-in-Chief Sara Helson: “’I have purposefully chosen not to comment on the controversy until now because I felt it was important to let James speak for himself. I also needed to sort out for myself what was happening.’”

Writer Gets Advice from Pros
In a recently posted Guardian story, “aspiring author Mark Vender describes his attempts to find a publishing deal at one of the industry’s biggest gatherings: The Hay Festival in Cartagena.” In the process, he talks with Vikram Seth and Peter Florence.

Bookstore Report
In her London Telegraph column, Claudia FitzHerbert provides her weekly report from a small Oxford “bookshop.” She writes, “I resolved, after that [you need to read the column to discover the meaning of ‘that’], to do my best to provide pens, pencils, directions, somewhere to pee, weep, hide, etc., without making anyone feel too uncomfortable about not buying books or even browsing the shelves. But there si something about the woman who comes in asking…”

Piecing Together Elizabeth Bishop’s Notebooks
In a new posting for Atlantic Unbound, Alice Quinn reveals the task of putting together the unfinished work of poet Elizabeth Bishop.

Wasserstein’s Works Remembered
The New Yorker published a short play about apartment hunting, a casual about her rooms, and an article about pregnancy—all by Wendy Wasserstein, who died on Monday.

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