January 28th, 2009



It snowed all night. I was blearily doing my e-mail and drinking my first cup of coffee when my secretary called from the other side of Bloomington. Highway 46 (a main artery) is barely passable, she said. So, we canceled everything this morning. Very cool. I get to goof off for a while.

But then, Jordan came to the back door, wanting to get his backpack out of the church. I got my socks and shoes on and took him over there. The back door had trouble opening because of the snow drift piled up against it. There must be eight or nine inches of fluffy whiteness out there, up to a foot and a half in the drifts. The main drag in front of my house is beaten flat, but you can't see the pavement for the snow.

It's lovely.

In other news, James Hansen's old boss at NASA disavowed his whole global warming schtick. "The debate is over," said Al Gore. Sure is, Mr. Goracle, and you lost. Which just makes all the snow even prettier. Maybe we'll see a woolly mammoth lumber by today.
junior woodchuck guidebook

Literature rant

John Updike, author of more than fifty forgettable novels, has died.

I don't mean to sound snarky or disrespectful here. I've got nothing against Updike, who by all accounts was a very nice man. My comment is on his position in American "letters."

Updike was a major part of "official literature," the authors who roam the NY Times Bestseller list, make the Book of the Month, become what "everybody who's anybody" is talking about, and are the first choice for the commencement speaker/seminar/panel/booking on Oprah. No matter what they write, it is reviewed, bought, hyped, commented upon, assigned in class...

And most of what they write is drivel.

Now, not all the Big Names write drivel. Michael Crichton wrote a lot of very good books (along with some that needed a good bit of further work before seeing publication). But I don't think that Crichton is considered a Major Writer, just a very, very successful one.

To be a Major Writer, you must write what Those Who Know like and approve of. Mere fiction -- for (gasp!) entertainment's sake -- is not enough. You must be Serious. Weighty. Full of the right sort of Angst. Progressive. You must expose how dead and inauthentic American life is. And all that sort of thing.