Howling Along/Cut but Stupid/Cut but not Stupid

May 6, 2006

Howling for Half a Century
Some things survive time better than others—the Pyramids versus ice sculptures. Howl by Allen Ginsberg is a poetic Pyramid. City Lights, founded by no-poetry-slouch himself Lawrence Ferlinghetti, published the Ginsberg landmark poem 50 years ago at the height of the Beat movement, fermenting the anti-establishment movement that overwhelmed the United States and Europe during the last 1960s. (City Lights also publishes the works of Rebecca Brown [Annie Oakley's Girl, The Dogs, The End of Youth], whom Dale Peck [Martin and John, Drift House, Hatchet Jobs, Law of Enclosures] called the greatest living American novelist.) So
David Barber in Boston.com asks: “The Poem That Changed America? Never mind that there's no parsing such a blunderbuss hypothesis—the startling thing is that any poem at this late date can still have the kind of potent half-life in the collective imagination usually reserved for platinum pop hits.”

Cute but Stupid—the Last Thing the Publishing Industry Needs
A computer technician named Phil McArthur came up with an idea: an a series of individuals contribute 250-450 words to create a novel called “Novel Twists.” Cute. When it is completed—if that state could ever be reached and if anyone would want that state reached—the book will run between 62,000 and 112,000 words with a plot beyond any one's imaginings. He said, “After a while, I started thinking about perhaps writing my own book [there's a reason to write], but knew that it was always difficult to get published [master of the understatement]. So I thought I would just do it myself on the net.” Just what the world need. Read more in
The Herald. I presumed that Hollywood had the cute but stupid market cornered. But alas, no more!

Cute but not Stupid
If you want cute but not stupid, try reading The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Book You'll Never Read by Stuart Kelly. In this relatively short work, published by Random House, Kelly looks at books that were lost, burned, misplaced, abandoned, suppressed, never finished, or never started. Read more about the work in
Michiko Kakutani's New York Times review. Or go right to the first chapter.

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