- To Win a Presidential Medal: Harper Lee has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Publishers Weekly describes as "America's highest civilian honor."
According to the citation, Lee is being honored for "an outstanding contribution to America's literary tradition. At a critical moment in our history, her beautiful book, To Kill a Mockingbird, helped focus the nation on the turbulent struggle for equality."
It also works as a "get out of Guantanamo free" card if one should ever find oneself imprisoned as an enemy of the state without just cause or trial. And if you land on Free Parking on the way out... KA-CHING!
- Enter Satyr: Slate's Stephen Metcalf wonders what we should think about Philip Roth's alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman (whose swan song is allegedly Roth's new novel Exit Ghost), in his declining years.
There is Good Zuckerman and Bad Zuckerman. Good Zuckerman is a Keatsian superhero, capable of entering deeply into the suffering of others. Bad Zuckerman is a vainglorious satyr who finds much of humanity tedious. Good Zuckerman, like Good Roth, buys our respect, even our awe, with a command of the American idiom that rivals Bellow or even Melville. Bad Zuckerman cheapens our awe by trading on it for chicks — always with the chicks! — and vanity-stroking clichés about "the primacy of the imagination."
Makes sense. I know for a fact that there is Good Brockman and Bad Brockman.
Good Brockman is a Stan Lee-ian superhero, capable of punching through walls with his steel-rimmed eyebrows and spitting faster and farther than a bullet train.
Bad Brockman is a literal satyr who prances about in cloven hooves with his harem of nymphs, rocking his electric pan flute at 2 a.m. like Zamfir on a crack binge.
When the fateful day comes that Good and Bad Brockman should meet, worlds will tremble — mostly from an eighteen-minute electric pan flute solo that will make Styx bury their prog-rockin' heads in shame.
- Life's a Bitch: What happens when an infamous memoirist decides to go straight?
Ms. Wurtzel spent this summer working at the Manhattan firm WilmerHale, drafting legal memoranda about intellectual property and jurisdiction, and was offered a full-time position there upon graduation.
“I thought they would think twice before they made me the offer,” Ms. Wurtzel said. “Not because I did anything wrong, but because I was such an unusual candidate.”
Indeed, when Ms. Wurtzel met with various firms last fall, she found that her reputation had preceded her. “One person I interviewed with said, ‘How can we overcome everything we know about you and come to hire you?’” she recalled.
Maybe it helps that no one saw the movie based on her book.
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
Books mentioned in this post