LITERARY GOSSIP

November 30th, 2005

Well, I'm very relieved. Many of you turn out to be bird watchers, or know ornithologists, or even ARE ornithologists (or used to work in zoos), and you all have done a splendid job reassuring me that the gigantic bird that has taken up residence in my backyard is an osprey, and that osprey's don't eat cats, only fish.

Furthermore, you all helped clear up the mystery of the dead birds I have been finding in my yard: migratory falcons and hawks, who are here in Key West for the winter, are the culprits. I actually witnessed the brutal slaying of a dove by a peregrine falcon yesterday, right next to my pool.

Frankly, this is all way more nature than I can take, and I can't wait until all the foliage grows back (it all died due to the salt water from Hurricane Wilma), and I won't have to see it anymore.

But thanks to all of you who wrote in to reassure me. I am letting Gem outside again. Although when I did she immediately stalked the peregrine falcon, who is approximately the same size she is. But I figure they'll work it out between them.

In other news, I finally finished 1-800-WHERE-R-U #5, also called MISSING YOU, which will be out next summer (or thereabouts) [OOPS: This just in from my editor–“Incorrect blog detail alert: 1-800 #5 is scheduled—and has always been scheduled—for January '07.” Sorry, my bad]. I am seriously going to stop waiting two weeks before a book is due to start it. It's true it's not due till December 1st so I still technically have one more day to finish it. But I think my agent is getting tired of me sending her books with only one day to read them before having to submit them.

Actually, I have a short story due December 1st that I haven't started yet, either. But I'll work on that later today. Because, whatever. It's short!

I really feel like I've been blogging a lot about what is happening in the entertainment business, and neglecting the literary world, so I thought instead of talking about Paris Hilton and her new kinkajou–which is a type of raccoon that according to the New York Post “can cost up to $3,000, grow to 25 inches, live about 20 years, and primarily eat(s) fruit, honey, eggs and insects…unlike dogs, they're nearly impossible to train, which means housebreaking isn't an option” which you know means Paris is going to be spending a lot of time cleaning up kinkajou poo…like off her shoulder–I would blog about actual literary stuff for a change. So here goes:

First off, congrats to Bobby Henderson, one of my favorite authors. The following is from New York Magazine: Villard is paying an $80,000 advance to the creator of a religion designed to make fun of intelligent design. This summer, Bobby Henderson, 25, an unemployed slot-machine engineer, posted a much-forwarded open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education declaring that “there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design” on his Website. He contends that a huge, invisible beast made of spaghetti and meatballs created the world about 4,000 years ago (pasta of that vintage has been found in China, he points out). The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which will codify Pastafarianism, is set to come out on Valentine's Day. “My hope is that readers won't know if I'm trying to make a point about pseudoscience or if I'm a complete nut,” says Henderson. “I'll be really disappointed if it doesn't spawn a cult.”

Go with God, Bobby. Or should I say, Go with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bobby.

In other news, Joan Didion and William T. Vollmann won the National Book Award. I have never met Ms. Didion, but I grew up in the same town as Bill, and was friends with his sisters. My mother still receives a Christmas newsletter from his mother, so I have been able to follow Bill's career ups and downs for many years. I'm happy to see that someone who loved science fiction SO MUCH as a teen has won a National Book Award. This should give hope to parents who worry that their child reads too much genre fiction and not enough classic literature. The point, parents, is that your kid reads: who cares WHAT he's reading? He could still win a National Book Award someday, even if all he reads is manga.

Meanwhile, Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of a book called PREP. I didn't read PREP, but I did read Curtis's review in the New York Times of a book called THE WONDER SPOT by the author Melissa Bank. In the review, Curtis called Melissa's book chick-lit, and I'm pretty sure also inferred that Melissa is a slut (the exact quote goes: “To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut — doesn't the term basically bring down all of us? And yet, with ''The Wonder Spot,'' it's hard to resist.”)

Anyway, a lot of feminists were angry with Curtis for calling Melissa a slut (which she definitely isn't, because I met Melissa once at a party in New York back when I was writing under the name of Patricia Cabot, and Melissa was barely even published, and she was wearing a turtleneck, and, as we all know, sluts don't wear turtlenecks).

Since I was, as usual, on the periphery of everything, I did not throw in my two cents, but as someone who writes chick-lit and considers herself a feminist (and who wouldn't pick up a literary novel unless you paid me…literally, like to adapt it for a screenplay), I think you can guess whose side I'd be on if someone DID ask my opinion.

So you can imagine my surprise and delight yesterday when I put the words KATHY GRIFFIN in Google News, as I do daily, desperate for some answers as to why one of my favorite comediennes and reality TV stars is divorcing her husband, and Curtis's name came up, as the author of a piece she wrote for Salon.com on her great angst over–Kathy Griffin's divorce from Matt!!!!

Only Curtis took her angst a step farther than I did—she tried to CALL Kathy, to get some answers. And when that didn't work, she went to some sociologists for help in trying to analyze how this marriage could have broken up (answer: we will probably never know, unless one of them comes forward with a tell-all book), and, more importantly, why we all care so much about it (answer: because they invited us into their home and shared seemingly intimate moments with us, and so we relate to them and fear that, if it happened to them, it could happen to us, because THEY'RE SO MUCH LIKE US).

Well. You could have knocked me over with a feather. An answer, at last, as to why I feel the way I do not just about Kathy, but about Jessica and Nick, and Brad and Jennifer, as well–and from a so-called literary author, as well! Thank you, Curtis. Your piece just goes to show there is a little good in everyone–even literary authors.

That's it for now.

More later.

Much love,

Meg