FIRST FREEBIE: If you can add 5 more, we’ll have 100! And I’ll alphabetize them too!

Posted by Lizzie on 07/11/10

UPDATE: 10 MORE I MEAN. Taking position here my vast critical capacities have exercised eminent domain over math part of brain. I really did once do physics!

Just to show you the font of taxonomies of ’70s and ’80s YA lit is without limit, 45 MORE options from readers (5 from me; I’m not WITHOUT USE)  for my recent AWL Listicle Without Commentary: The 45 Greatest Teen Titles You Have Never Heard of From the Era When They All Mentioned “I,” “Me,” “You” or Some Other Key Person That Are Not ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’

  1. A Horse Named Peaceable
  2. A Star For The Latecomer
  3. About David
  4. After You, My Dear Alphonse
  5. Anything For A Friend
  6. Came Back to Show You I could Fly
  7. Catherine, Called Birdy
  8. Class Pictures
  9. Deliver Us from Evie
  10. (more…)

Filed under: fine lines, in it to win it, Shelf Discovery | Tags: | Comments (6)

The Ivy Lede: Or, Stop Entering Your Own Contests

Posted by Lizzie on 04/07/08

We had many wonderful entries for our David Samuels giveaway, where the challenge was to find a name for when book reviewers talk about themselves for, like, eight hours before sidling around to the book in question, though generally not before mentioning that they graduated Yale in 1995, Pierson College, no laude but their history teacher wrote them a nice recommendation and so did their English teacher. Say. However, I liked so many of these entries I found myself unable to do more than whittle them down to my three faves. Now it is up to YOU and my POLL PLUGIN to do the rest, readers! Please give a click to the best entry. FYI, there is absolutely nothing to prevent you from voting over and over again. Citizens of Florida and Michigan, I suggest you take maximum advantage of this opportunity.


View Results

Voting ends Wednesday!

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Sticky: If It’s April, It Must Be Giveaway

Posted by Lizzie on 03/30/08

1675cover.jpgWell, I’ve finally emerged from the flu-ish, globally warmed welter of mid-to-late winter– ready, as always, to divest myself of worldly goods as quickly as possible. First up is a lovely giveaway from journalist and author David Samuels, who does not yet have a functioning website! I find that admirable. (In the meantime, you may look him up at Wikipedia.)

Samuels, whose recent piece “Shooting Britney” just appeared on 1676cover.jpgthe cover of the Atlanticwhich has its good points–is releasing two books from the New Press: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (read the title essay here), and The Runner, which began as a New Yorker profile about “con artist, thief & phony Princeton student James Hogue.” (Related: Put your archives online already, Eustace! What is this, 1902?)

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, a “disillusioned love song to the often amusing and sometimes fatal American habit of self-delusion,” was called by the Observer a “thrilling series of counternarratives to our prevailing national fantasies about luck” while Keith Gessen, reviewing The Runner for the NYTBR, declares Samuels “an elite narrative journalist, a master at teasing out the social and moral implications of the smallest small talk, of the way people turn their heads or slide into non sequitur as they try to explain themselves”–also informing us an impressive 10 to 12 times that he went to Harvard.

THE CHALLENGE: To win these two books, I am asking the following: Reader, find the best word or phrase to describe when a reviewer commences with a personal anecdote, generally of dubious relevance, that just-so-happenstancedly manages to contain certain tangential and ill-concealed references to the reviewer’s own achievements/successes. (See: “At the end of our freshman year at Harvard, my roommates and I…“) Listen, I’ll even start you off with a really bad one: The Mede.* Also: I am sure I have done this.

I’m off to improve my immune system by eating some Activia while preparing for Sense!!! & Sensibility!!!. Contest ends Friday! Good luck!

* As someone who was flu’d under for two months, I am hardly of the position to demand anything of anybody. If you want to simply email me or enter in the comments with no entry at all, that’s fine, but I reserve the right to override for cleverer responses. Unless you went to, like, OXFORD, in which case you win automatically.

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VQR Giveaway

Posted by Lizzie on 10/14/07

Men, you snooze, you lose: the all-ladies win goes to Jean, Imani and Sandra. If you haven’t me your address, please do so in the very near future. Congrats to all.


Here’s something I have to admit about the new incarnation of VQR: there were at least two issues that wound up unread for several months because I was like, ugh, another literary magazine with bad essays from people I knew in college. I was confusing it with some literary magazine with bad essays from people I knew in college. VQR is wondrous–journalism the New Yorker used to publish; poetry the Paris Review used to publish; upstart-y like Alaska Quarterly; currently running neck and neck with Granta, my all-time favorite. It’s the new Granta, if you will, although I love the current Granta as well, which confuses things.

Some of the things I have enjoyed there mightily lately: Alan Shapiro’s “Poet“; John McNally’s “I See Johnny“, and really, the website itself, which has a great blog and also crucial access to everything published so you can send it to people and tell them to subscribe.

The folks over there have been kind and generous enough to offer a copy of their just-released South America issue, which also lives entirely online, to three readers. First ones to enter in the comments below or email me at theoldhag AT theoldhag DOT com win. VQR, if you get tote bags and T-shirts, Granta–home of the magical Gazza Agonistes and Unbelievable issues–will officially be the old you.

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More free books, not that you deserve it

Posted by Lizzie on 06/02/07

UPDATE: Who has more alphabetical readers than O.H.? NO ONE, that’s who. There were many wonderful anagrams and reasons (anagreasons) for winning (I’m particularly fond of “Zule’s knicker habit”, because I think I have that), but I was most taken by the flat-out following:

I’m writing you because I’m desperately trying to win a box of mystery books. I was going to try to write something clever and funny. Something about being locked in an old cold house , with only the hope of books for distractions. Then it started sounding kind of depressing and we don’t want that.

Yes we do! I am totally a sucker for that! Congratulations, Kami–your books are on the way. You better not be some fake person who will turn around and sell them on eBay. Everyone else, thanks for entering–believe me, there are about 57 more moves scheduled in the next year.

reallydirtleo.jpgIt occurs to me that O.H. readers have benefited perhaps somewhat unduly from my propensity to change houses more often than an F.B.I. informant. BUT–lucky you–I am changing houses yet again, and I have a stack of new books that, let’s be real, I am either NEVER going to read (1/2), already have in my possession (3/8), or have misjudged and will regret giving you (1/8). That’s 1, right? Anyway, I was going to give you all my itinerary and ask you good places to go along it during the next few months, but then I realized it would be creepy to have my itinerary online. So I simply ask, contestants–why should you get this box of books?* If you are stumped, submit an anagram of my real name. I am always doing anagrams of my friends’ names but I have never been able to do a good one of mine.

Contest ends MONDAY 12 sharp! Or EOD, depending on how far I get cleaning the bathroom. You can put your answer in the comments, but you also MUST email me your address and same comment name separately to so I can mail it from THIS LOCATION. I promise you: your address will not become part of my itinerary. Mauritius, I always enjoy your entries and one day we will figure out how you can win without it costing $6.5 million dollars.

Good luck!

* It is actually a good one: Ferris, Sharpe, Palahniuk, etc.

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Granta 97: Best of Young American Novelists

Posted by Lizzie on 04/23/07

granta97.jpgSomeone who insisted we have a “long and persuasive arm” (you don’t know the HALF of it, honey) has asked that we post the deets on tomorrow night’s Granta 97: Best of Young American Novelists II event at the New School, viz:

4/24 8:30 p.m.
New School/Tishman Auditorium
With Daniel Alarcуn, Nell Freudenberger, Olga Grushin, Gabe Hudson, Uzodinma Iweala, Jess Row, Akhil Sharma, Gary Shteyngart, and John Wray. Moderated by Granta editor Ian Jack.

Totally free, totally fun.

Did you catch the last part? In honor of freeness and funness, we are also offering one free, fun copy to the first reader to email O.H. (theoldhag ATT theoldhag DOTTE com) with “Two Years From Not Being Young Anymore” in the subject line.

Thirty-five. Not 40. 35. Bastards. Freaking out.

Good luck!

Even more deets here.

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Accept Incoming Mail

Posted by Lizzie on 04/15/07

UPDATE: Hi! Okay, Khalil has claimed one. First to email theoldhag AT theoldhag DOT com gets the next copy of Acceptance. G’luck.

UPDATE 2: Congrats, R.J.!

Color us unsurprised with a splash of duh. Because while all of the winners of Margo Rabb’s Cures for Heartbreak have promptly responded to claim their booty, exactly none of the two winners of Acceptance in that mighty comments thread seems at all interested in the fact that they’ve got mail. Which only supports our theory that said seethers didn’t want to ATTEND COLLEGE, they just wanted to GET IN. Or maybe they’re just still spooked by mail. Whatever it is, please come forward, gentlemen/women by EOD Monday, or we’ll have to throw the books back into general circ to go out to the first two lucky waitlisters.

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Thank you very much for your comment. It was a very competitive comments season, and you should feel proud…

Posted by Lizzie on 03/26/07

…that you are such a bunch of heartless bastards. JEEZ. While a full 948 of you are still stewing over the fact that some coffee-starved academic threw you to the bottom of the pile 89 years ago, only 1.2 of you care when people stomp your heart and hand it back to you with an unbelievably insincere expression of regret. We’ve revised all our views. You know what is probably the BEST cure for heartbreak? Obsessing over how you only missed double 800’s* on the SATs because they thought rain:mist was more like wave:swell than hand:fingers. Listen, mist branches OUT FROM RAIN like FINGERS from a HAND. No it doesn’t? Fuck you.


The three lucky winners of a signed copy of Cures for Heartbreak**:

1. lw
Valiant display of despair, erudition.

2. Lisa
Possible variation: Ordering every catalog you can think of and having it sent to the party in question. We’re just saying.

3. Melanie
Congratulations, pen enthusiast, gatekeeper of the card catalog.


The two lucky winners of Acceptance:

1. H Habilis
Actually did laugh out loud.

2. Deepak
Okay, okay. But only because Melanie already won.

Honorable mention: Khalil, for being from Mauritius, which is apparently an achievement all on its own.

Winners, please contact me at theoldhag OF COURSE, AT theoldhag YES, DOT com to claim your prize. And anyone who’ll stew, write me anyway. I’d rather dig up something for you than have you spend the next 20 years in a state of outrage.


* The young people have a clever name for this. Does anyone know what it is? Seriously, it goes in one ear and out the other over here.

** Just FYI, thanks to ALL entrants for sparing us “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone.”

*** Not really.

Filed under: in it to win it, Lit-ish, Teaser | Tags: , | Comments (7)

Teaser and still again Teaser: Margo Rabb

Posted by Lizzie on 03/20/07

hearbreak.jpgOne of the things we have always loved about other writers is that often when they write, we don’t have to. But that is only a small teeny reason we
are delighted to welcome our friend Margo Rabb and an excerpt from her new novel, Cures for Heartbreak, to Old Hag. But before we begin–things you should know about Margo:

1. Her stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Zoetrope: All Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, New England Review, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on National Public Radio (more here)

2. She is the author of a lovely series of mystery novels for young readers (more here)

3. She lives around the corner (more here)

4. She is, unlike some people, able to unselfishly share a freaking cupcake (more here)

Margo has generously offered three signed copies of her new book to three lucky winners. BUT THERE IS, OF COURSE, A CHALLENGE. Margo has posted her own cures for heartbreak on the Random House site. At Miss Rabb’s suggestion, we would like to now solicit yours. The Old Hag, for instance, leans towards sitting on the couch and whimpering, then getting momentarily distracted by the fact that her gmail’s adaptive filter is now filtering spam correctly. This probably shouldn’t fall under “cure”, but whatever.

Excerpt below, as well as Margo’s blog tour dates. Winners for Heartbreak and this will be posted Friday; feel free to strike anywhere in the meantime. Please enjoy!

World History

Four days after our mother’s funeral, my father decided that my sister Alex and I should go back to school. I was reading in bed when he knocked on my door, peered into my room and repeated, as he’d been doing at regular intervals, like a public service announcement, that we needed to go back to the way things were before. On Monday he’d re-open his shoe repair shop, I’d return to the ninth grade, and Alex to the twelfth. Things had to go back to normal.


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Teaser returns

Posted by Lizzie on 03/15/07

acceptance1.jpgUPDATE: We now have two copies to give away! Can you say “waitlist”?

We liked high school. We did well in high school. We like books about high school. So we tried to read that Marisha Pessl book. Well, we didn’t try that hard. We read the first page and a half and said NO WAY, NOT IN THIS LIFETIME, IT’S NOT HAPPENING. So thank God for Susan Coll’s Acceptance, which elbowed the Pessl off the bedside table with a digusted thump.

We could go on and on about how actually fine humorous writing is often discounted and overlooked, as is a deft satire, but then we’d say more things like “deft satire” and you’d be bored. We could also go into the marvelous plot, but it’s been months since we read the galley and excitedly emailed the publicist and were like WE LOVED THIS, so that’s pretty much what we’re left with at this juncture. LUCKILY FOR YOU–FSG has very graciously allowed us to post a bit from the start of the book, and has also offered one giveaway copy to a lucky Old Hag entrant.

We thought long and hard about what the challenge should be for all of you, and decided it was easy: just write us with the school you wanted to get into and didn’t. Then we’d laugh, and give it to one of you, so you’d finally have something you tried for in your miserable life. So that’s the challenge.*

But this book gave me great pleasure, so please enjoy, and if you don’t win, please buy:

Grace reminded herself that she had resolved not to get sucked into this snakepit of parental competition. (more…)

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Nyquil Day or Nyquil Night? Is There a New Nyquil Day Dawning, Friends?; Or, Clearly We Just Took Both

Posted by Lizzie on 02/27/07

Old Hag has a bad cold. She’s sorry, but more specifically, really, really cracked out on cold medicine. She will post the results for the contest very soon. P.S. how AWESOME was that contest! Let’s have it every day!

Also, anyone with intel on why visitorship just tripled in the past few days welcome, by the way. Stats, as usual, reveal nothing.

Filed under: blog in the day, in it to win it | Tags: , , , | Comments (0)

Free Books, Free Books, Kill Me Now

Posted by Lizzie on 02/14/07

UPDATE: So consumed were we with the vicissitudes of Valentine’s Day, we totally forgot about yet another pack of men who apparently need to be the centers of attention at all timePresidents Day. Therefore, in honor of this week’s trip to D.C., we will leave the polls open until the close of Tuesday. (Related: We are fascinated about how only one man has dared to go down into this comment thread. [How about ‘poke around’ or ‘stick his head i–‘ oh, whatever. Just tell them there’s no way to avoid this one, and to keep their hea–WHATEVER–out of the gutter for FIVE MINUTES, for Christ’s sake.–Ed] Are you scared, or have we finally found one topic that prevents you from just blabbing on about yourselves forever and ever ever? Try becoming President; then you get people to blab about you for you.)

die.gifSo, Valentine’s Day. It’s great, right? No it’s great! Fabulous! We love it! We love being single for the first time in, oh, seven or eight years, enjoying the happy ticking of the mid-region. (That clock keeps awesome time.) We love that yesterday, on the phone, we said to our friend, “Omigod, my cats are so cute; you have to meet them!” Yeah, we did! Try it sometime!

Anyway, to add to the general joy, we thought we’d offer a whopping books giveaway and CHALLENGE. We were going to just keep it gold standard and have our challenge be the most annoying thing a man ever did to you, but since the world is pretty much already dedicated to the annoying things men do, we are loath to give over a post to it*. We’ll turn away from the dark side a sec. Your challenge is to tell us:


Men, you can totally enter your best/most successful lines too. If a woman dropped a good line on you, feel free, but understand that technically women are just supposed to sit there and look pretty and let you pay for stuff.** If you’re gay, we guess you can enter like 18 times. Heh.

To start things off, we thought we’d offer our fave line, delivered recently by an extraordinarly dapper old gentleman at a bar who we suspect had pretty much spent the last 68 years refining it. Witness:

OLD HAG: [sitting on stool, turns] Yes?
EDOG: You know, I designed these stools.
OH: Really?
EDOG: Yes, for women like you.
OH: Women like me?
EDOG: You know. With cute bottoms.

We don’t care who you are, NO WAY YOU HAVE A BETTER LINE THAN THAT. (We especially love the DESIGN angle. “I poured the concrete on this sidewalk for women like you!” “Women like me?” “You know. With cute gams.” Etc.) Anyway, hit us with your best. (If you can’t think of anything, put the worst one instead, though intrinsically they’re all worst.) Winner gets free box of brand spankin’ new books, two runner-ups each get book. Contest ends MONDAY THE 19th, 11:59 p.m. EST, not that we care. Enter as many times as you want. And this time, Old Hag readers will choose the winner with our fabulous new polling plugin. Omigod! It’s almost as cute as our cats!

We will leave you with these two videos, mostly because we just figured out how to post YouTube snippets, but also because we feel they somehow symbolize the two sides of woman–the cream versus the nuts, if you will. And also, because we just figured out how to post YouTube snippets. Men, if you want to know what it’s like to be a girl, hit play at the same time on both!

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

*Listen, this is a girly blog, and if we want to talk today about how men are just big annoying raised-in-a-barn animals of the soul, we will. Go bitch about what bitches we are on your own blog. And the next time you call someone to invite them out to dinner and the check comes to literally fifty dollars and you are over the age of 18, omigod just pay it.

** See above

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A Winner’s Tale

Posted by Lizzie on 12/06/06

Once we cleared away all the people with whom we a) regularly break bread , b) grew up, c) have done naughty things, and d) are blog friends, we were left with a lively assortment of the non-nepotistically tainted, the harder to choose among, since we HAVE NOT READ any of the books in question and you’re all so *cute* to help me out, etc., etc., ad infinitum. We finally went with the lady (gentleman?) who had something we want right now, viz a cuppa tea. Please send address, cuppa, and you will receive our fave book of the year! Oh great and powerful Cotton-knower, you too will receive OH’s FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR presently. The National Book Critics Circle also has good recommendations, although, Skloot, Freeman, tag for chrissakes. What is this, 1923?

Filed under: in it to win it, Lit-ish | Comments (0)