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Book News for Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Oregonian had a headline in yesterday's edition wondering if it's time for Americans to "get over" the events of 9/11.

Beyond the stupidity of the piece as a whole (I guess it's better than marking the anniversary with, say, an important-yet-frowny-faced article about the horrendous health problems suffered by Ground Zero rescue workers), what struck me most was the notion that anyone could "get over" that day.

First off, I can't believe it's been six years already.

Secondly, we're so many light-years away from "over" it (remember those U.S. soldiers dying every single day in that one country we started fighting while the 9/11 flags were still flying?) that it's ludicrous to even suggest the idea.

Even when I write the words "September 11" in the title line for this innocuous blog post, I feel a chill. I cannot imagine that will ever go away.

If you're one of the Americans described in the Oregonian puff piece and you're afraid you're actually "getting over" 9/11, reread The 9/11 Commission Report or Lawrence Wright's award-winning The Looming Tower, or watch United 93, which was absolutely the best film of 2006 even though most people didn't seem to realize it at the time, and it will all come back to you. I promise.

I'm supposed to go and make snarky comments now, and I will, but it's been six years and I still don't feel like laughing today.

  • Plan Your Pilgrimage: Taylor Clark, whose book Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture will be published in November, writes in Slate about why Portland is America's indie rock mecca.

    From [Modest Mouse leader singer Isaac] Brock's house, drive...up Southeast Belmont Street for a bit and hang a left and you'll run into the residence of James Mercer, lead man of the Shins. Go about six blocks north of there and you'll see the palatial home of Stephen Malkmus, whose former band, Pavement, created today's incarnation of indie rock with 1992's Slanted and Enchanted. A few blocks west stands Beulahland, a bar where for years a team made up of Malkmus and the members of the all-girl punk group Sleater-Kinney thoroughly (and irritatingly) dominated the weekly trivia challenge. Follow East Burnside Street for a mile or so and you'll land at the Doug Fir, the club where newly minted Portlander Britt Daniel of Spoon recently unveiled his critically lauded new album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, at a secret show. Or, alternatively, you could follow Northeast 28th Avenue up toward the Alberta Arts District, where Death Cab for Cutie guitarist and producer Chris Walla lives. His place is just a few short blocks from the lovely home of singer-songwriter Laura Veirs, where I attended a party a few months back and met her boyfriend, Tucker Martine, who — aside from being responsible for the sound clip you hear every time you start up Windows Vista — produces records for Portland favorite sons the Decemberists.

    Looks like Clark stumbled across the same realization I did one day last spring when, reading an article in Paste magazine, it hit me that I live about fifteen blocks from the lead singers of both Modest Mouse and the Shins.

    And I suddenly felt guilty that I hadn't bought either of their new albums. Then I checked my bank account online and that eased my aching conscience. (Anyone want to burn a copy for me?)

  • Film Clips: According to Entertainment Weekly, the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement is picking up big buzz at this year's Toronto Film Festival, after its highly praised debut at the Venice Film Festival last month.

    EW also reports that actress Kate Bosworth (whom I've never seen in any movie that I can recall, but evidently she played Lois Lane in the most recent Superman flick) will play the title character in a film version of Paulo Coelho's bestselling novel Veronika Decides to Die.

    The screenplay was co-written by Larry Gross, who very capably adapted Andre Dubus's novella into the film of We Don't Live Here Anymore a few years ago.

  • Patriot Games: If you've ever wondered how it feels to be an author whose book has been truly and maliciously slammed in a review, Portland writer Greg Rucka offers some insight on his blog.

    The author of the new Atticus Kodiak thriller Patriot Acts, Rucka returned home to Stumptown from a visit to Seattle and was greeted with some, er, interesting news:

    Got home around midnight and got to catch up with Jen, who all-but blurted out that the Willamette Weekly [sic] had panned the novel, and then advised people to not attend my event at Powell's in Beaverton on the 10th. This may be hearsay, as I haven't read the review (and I'm not going to), but when Jen blurts, it's because she's been carrying something around and building up steam with it, so I'm inclined to believe what I'm told. Apparently, the review is so off base, there's some question as to whether or not the woman who wrote it actually could be bothered to read the book in the first place.

    Nice to get respect in one's own town.

    In the comments section Rucka gets some unexpected love from Tamora Pierce (author of Terrier: Beka Cooper #1), who writes:

    As to telling folks to stay away from your appearance, that's plain irresponsible. People get to judge for themselves. Intelligent readers will know that — and I have yet to meet anyone in that area who will stay away from a Powell's for any reason, including Apocalypse.

    Stay strong. And tell yourself, All bad reviews are wrong. All good reviews are right. One of these days I'm gonna do that one on a sampler and hang it over my desk.

    I hate to quibble, but I'm pretty sure that in the event of Apocalypse there would still be a cadre of die-hard book lovers huddled in our stores.

    I couldn't find the entire review on the Willamette Week website, though I recall reading it in last week's print edition — but they have a choice excerpt in their calendar section:

    Patriot Acts is the newest thriller in the life of Atticus Kodiak (groan), Rucka's creation and "suspense fiction's most dangerous hero" (double groan). Are you kidding me here? Why not just title this "Yet another dick-lit testosterone fest to be turned into a movie starring Harrison Ford"?

    Anyone who wonders about those Incredibly Shrinking Book Review sections in our nation's newspapers, I point you to Exhibit A.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the 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

  1. The 9/11 Commission Report: The Full... Used Trade Paper $4.50
  2. The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the...
    Used Trade Paper $7.95

  3. Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of...
    Used Hardcover $7.50
  4. Atonement
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

  5. Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of...
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  6. We Don't Live Here Anymore: Three... Used Trade Paper $5.95

  7. Patriot Acts Signed Edition Used Hardcover $9.95
  8. Terrier: Beka Cooper #1 (Beka Cooper...
    Used Hardcover $8.95

3 Responses to "Book News for Tuesday, September 11, 2007"

    manwith7talents September 11th, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Do I think we should get over 9/11? No. Do I think we should stop letting 9/11 be used as an excuse for disastrous wars and destruction of civil liberties? Yes.

    Miss Gretchen September 11th, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    09/11 8:48 AM; Documenting America's Greatest Tragedy

    Portraits 9/11/01 : Collected "Portraits of Grief" From the New York Times

    I'm sorry you don't have a copy of here is new york: a democracy of photographs but it can be ordered from the publishers. This gut-wrenching photography exhibit is being mounted again, this time at the New-York Historical Society.

    Terry Powers September 24th, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Get over 9/11? When did The Greatest Generation get over Pearl Harbor? When the war was over.

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