Friday Five

1. In an uncharacteristic burst of energy I decided to submit my new short story to a few journals and contests. I don’t submit to contests very often. It gets rather expensive – about $15 – $20 per submission – and the odds of winning are equal to successfully pulling off the Bellagio heist in Ocean’s 11. But every now and then you gotta put yourself out there.  I’ve been polishing this story on and off for several months now, so it’s time to send my creativity out into the world.

2. Speaking of short stories, instead of grabbing that Metro on your commute, you Brooklyn peeps get the chance to read some quality prose. The good folks at One Story will be handing out free samples of their journal of short stories on Wednesday, Sept. 8 during the AM rush. Subway stations are listed in the link. It’s a great journal with great editors (insert shameless brown nosing here).

3. My name is Earl. The Northeast doesn’t get threatened by hurricanes very often, so when it does, the media machine revvs up and either A. beats the hell out of the story or B. makes a mountain out of a molehill. New York City will be getting a lot of rain and maybe some thunderstorms today, though I imagine there will be a fair amount of downed trees and some power outages out on Eastern Long Island. Or it could be a non-event.

4. You can only hope to contain them.  I’m completely skeeved out by the fact that NYC is now the bed bug capital of the country.  I wrote about this last year. Knock on wood, I haven’t had them in my apartment. But we did have them at my company. Roscoe, the bed bug sniffing dog, was called in and identified several problem locations on my floor. Apparently bed bugs don’t only hang out in mattresses. A movie theater in Times Square was reported to have them, as was a Hollister clothing store in Soho. Getting rid of them can be tough work. According to a NYT article the only pesticide known to kill them is the same chemical compound used at Auschwitz. So pest control companies that specialize in bed bugs use insta-freeze methods (kind of like the compressed air dust busters that come in a can). Seeing as how I’ll be staying in a hotel next week – where bed bugs are said to proliferate – I’m particularly itchy about it. My mom suggests that I put any clothes I wear in the hotel room into a giant ziplock bag. (#sh*tmymomsays)

5. There’s a lot of hubub in the literary community around Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom (pubbed on Tuesday), his first since The Corrections eight years ago. Franzen, you may remember, was the author who snubbed Oprah when she chose The Corrections as her book club selection. Why would an author turn down selling millions of copies guaranteed? The answers varied in the rumor mill from conceited to artistic integrity to just plain nuts. (The one I heard most often: he didn’t want the Oprah book club sticker on the cover for fear that it would keep men away from reading it. Maybe he had a point since The Corrections ended up selling more than 3 million copies worldwide.) The New York Times has written scathing things about Franzen and his books, but suddenly took a kinder, gentler position. Actually that’s putting it mildly. They’re making kissy noises at him from across the room, calling him “galvanic” and “a sharp-elbowed, apocalyptic satirist.” In the past week, they printed three articles about Freedom, including the cover of the Sunday Book Review and two reviews. The bloggers and tweeters aren’t being so kind, especially women novelists. As book review sections shrink or become non-existent, authors like Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner are a little upset by so much genuflecting at the Franzen altar. Women authors take umbrage that they are often overlooked by critics at the major outlets. Some say the ratio is as high as 3 to 1.  The ultimate question, of course – is Freedom as good as they claim?

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone!

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