By November 20, 2009 0 Comments Read More →

Weeklings: Blyton, Palin, F-Bombs, and Bad Sex

In regard to last week’s query, yes, I did forget something. I forgot flarf.

So Enid Blyton, author of those fabulous Famous Five books I so adored as a callow youth, wasn’t much of a mum (“Why Enid Blyton’s greatest creation was herself,” by Garry Jenkins (Telegraph):

The drama reveals how Enid exploited even her own family to bolster the Blyton brand. Her two daughters from her marriage to Pollock, Gillian and Imogen, were routinely wheeled out for publicity purposes as Blyton portrayed herself as a devoted mother. But when the photographers left, the reality was different.

And Sarah Palin, who has also been said to use her children as props–is also being accused of neglect: not her children, but Lynn Vincent, her cowriter on Going Rogue (“‘Going Rogue: An American Life,’ by Sarah Palin,” by Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times):

It’s customary for politicians and celebrities to collaborate with a professional writer on books like this . . . However, the name of Palin’s collaborator — the evangelical Christian writer and pro-life activist Lynn Vincent — doesn’t appear on the cover of “Going Rogue.”

Palin herself told Oprah that “I have a journalism degree, always have loved writing, have journaled all my life”–and, therefore, had plenty of primary-source documents on hand. Hardly needed a cowriter, did she?

Using the theme of secrets and suppression as an opportunistic way to link to the next item . . . James Jones’ From Here to Eternity, which so shocked the world with its use of the word fuck (even the Daily Beast still can’t quite bring itself to use the “F-word”) could have been still more shocking–if Scribner’s hadn’t been afraid to publish Jones’ depictions of soldiers supplementing their pay by working as male escorts! (“Was a WWII Classic Too Gay?” by Kaylie Jones, The Daily Beast).

And, since we’re already talking about sex, I may as well mention that my favorite literary award, the Bad Sex Award, has released its shortlist:

Paul Theroux for A Dead Hand

Nick Cave for The Death of Bunny Munro

Philip Roth for The Humbling

Jonathan Littell for The Kindly Ones

Amos Oz for Rhyming Life and Death

John Banville for The Infinities

Anthony Quinn for The Rescue Man

Simon Van Booy for Love Begins in Winter

Sanjida O’Connell for The Naked Name of Love

Richard Milward for Ten Storey Love Song

According to the Guardian (“Bad sex award shortlist pits Philip Roth against stiff competition,” by Alison Flood):

The Pulitzer prize-winning Roth makes the line-up for The Humbling, in which the ageing actor Simon converts Pegeen, a lesbian, to heterosexuality. The Literary Review singled out a scene in which Simon and Pegeen pick up a girl from a bar and convince her to take part in a threesome.

Hmm. Well, I hope Roth isn’t feeling too . . . inadequate . . . about being on the shortlist.

And, finally, feeling bad about not being nominated for any award this year? The remedy is in your hands, friend: buy one (“Vanity book awards,” by Laura Miller, Salon).

And I’ve got a bus to catch. Have a good weekend, everybody.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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