Summer reading: Still Drinkin’

Posted by Lizzie on 06/28/10

Carolyn Kellogg was kind enough to feature me in the LA Times Summer Reading series on their blog Jacket Copy. I recommended the collected stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, Katherine Anne Porter, and Katherine Mansfield, all of which I read the summer of 2000 on a fellowship in Prague (fancy):

LS: I didn’t notice it particularly at the time, but when I look back, I see that almost every story in each of the collections was about some alienated young woman alone in Europe, or some other foreign-seeming outpost. Turmoil and deprivation: Weimar Germany, Vichy France, etc. (I still can’t forget the one where a girl spends the summer on a farm with German immigrants, and the wives all stand behind their husbands and serve them from the back while they eat.) There’s also, of course, Katherine Anne Porter’s “Theft,” in which a mother steals a purse from a single woman who’s not quite able to connect with men for her daughter, who is younger and is. I can’t remember exactly what she says as she walks past her in the hallway — something like, “You don’t need it,” in this very intense way that indicates she knows what she’s doing is technically wrong but also philosophically right. It’s horrible.

JC: Have you returned to that place?

LS: I haven’t. I sometimes wonder what’s happened to it. I read all the books in this bar called Pod Lubim that had just opened next to the university, and this waiter was always bringing me Becherovka and asking me to tell him about what was in whatever book I was reading, which was difficult considering he spoke three words of English and I spoke no Czech. It was sort of a bizarre place — very sleek and modern, with very “arty” pictures of naked women all over the walls etc., but 35 cent Pilsner and surprisingly good food.

Okay, I literally found a pic of me and the waiter! I think his name was Milosz? He was very much with the pushing of the plum concoctions. As you can see I am reading Pat Conroy there, and NO ONE FANCY.

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Fine Lines Plotfinder Returns!

Posted by Lizzie on

It’s so weird to crosspost w/Shelf Discovery and Old Hag. It makes me feel a bit Tara, but both sides seem perfectly at ease with each other, if their host body is not. Point: I’m bringing back Plotfinder from Fine Lines, and I wrote about it on the Shelf Discovery blog, but now that Old Hag is open is seems I should point to it here. Alors, here’s the whole post too this time, and we’ll work out who lives where in the near future:


One of the great sadnesses about leaving Jezebel’s “Fine Lines” series behind is that I also had to retire the Plotfinder series, in which you all sent me your mysterious queries — “Girl on a bus who eats bean sprouts and peanut butter sandwich?” “The Divorce Express!” — and we all solved them.

Plotfinder was one of those weird items that sprang up organically almost from the first column, and I’ve often wondered if it’s because strange details and covers are so much more likely to endure — “Blue dress, orange dress, girl who says Avenue of the Americas instead of Sixth Avenue?” from “The Trouble With Thirteen” are especially persistent with me — than actual titles at that age. Someone could probably do a neurological study on it, and I am not that person! I am just the person in possession of about 100 unsolved queries who was always like “I’ll add it to the queue” and then let it languish for an unacceptable period.

Yesterday I found yet another trove of used YA — this one in Seaburn Books, in Astoria — and was like WAIT — why am I not posting a cover and a Plotfinder with some regularity so we can all enjoy the mystery and wonder thereof? In any case, I am now going to do so. Since I literally have 96 I should probably do one once a day but we’ll space them out. I’ll also see if I can get my publisher to donate some “Shelf Discovery” copies for the winners. For now it is all for the honor and the glory.

Feel free to answer HERE, or to friend Shelf Discovery on FB and answer there. You can also send me an email at

These first two come from Betsy P. and Ashley T.:

The book was set in Maryland. The heroine was a cheerleader/all around good girl who gets auctioned off, in a charity auction, to the school bad boy (drag racer) who gets her to skip school and help clean his car. They start to go out and her horizons get broadened by seeing that he is smart, etc. A secondary plot line is her trying to get into Mt. Holyoke and getting wait listed. She also has a brother at Yale who is becoming a hippie and questioning the family’s values and lifestyle.

The book ends with a pregnancy scare and the girl deciding to go to a small school in VA. She and the boy break up and she moves on with her life, but not the one that she took for granted she would have.

My guess is that it was published in the early 70′s. The cover of the book showed a Peter Max bedspread and a princess phone. How I can remember these arcane details and not the character’s names is a mystery to me.

The books are about a girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. In one book, she goes to school barefoot and is shamed by her teacher, whom she later learns to appreciate and who learns to appreciate her. In another book, she goes to the mainland for high school and decides against accounting in favor of the college course. Perhaps also In that book, she saves her money to buy “the book of knowledge” that she sees advertised in a magazine and desperately wants.

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Will Work for “Like”

Posted by Lizzie on 06/26/10

If you missed either of my pieces this week, I reviewed Justin Cronin’s delightful The Passage, and also recommended three books to NPR you can use to feel better about failing immediately out of the gate after graduation. I even responded to a piece in which I was quoted because I disagreed with the conclusion! Now I am off to write yet another piece for the fledging, underpaying web culture monster, the landed gentry of which I was hanging out with on a well-stocked roof in Soho last night, wondering how this all had HAPPENED. Is anyone else weirded out how quickly every publication installed that Facebook social app? Is anyone under the impression the site can’t pull all your info when you’re logged in, for the most part? I did just want to put that out there as a warning before I badgered you yet again to click all the recommending options nonetheless.

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Note: I just told another journalist that what I thought contemporary YA was missing was “guileless masturbation,” so grain of salt

Posted by Lizzie on 06/24/10

Though my thoughts on this have now now been unproductively percolating, like an increasingly viscous pot of coffee, for an entire two days, I did want to make sure I responded to Ruth Graham’s Slate piece on Christian YA novels, which argues, ”If you look past the Bible-study scenes, young-adult novels from evangelical authors and publishers are offering their young Christian readers a surprisingly empowering guide to adolescence,” concluding that “Amid all of this piety…are explicitly positive—even feminist—messages like positive body image, hard work, and the importance of not settling for just any guy—that present a grounded alternative to the Gossip Girl landscape.”

Those familiar with my reading history will not be surprised to see I disagree, and not only because I think reducing literature to a tool for lifting the self-esteem of strangers must be the most maddening crime to have been visited on authors in this century.

My point of greatest disagreement with Graham runs along the question of morality. This to some extent is my fault, as I used the word myself when I told Graham that I think we live in a very moral era. Graham — not without reason — uses this to wonder if Christian YA not only embraces our moral era but is in some part the cause of it.

I don’t know if that’s true — possibly — but I brought up the word “moral” as an explicit pejorative, and maybe I should have said “uptight,” which is what I really meant.  (And by uptight, I really mean that, in the Ice Castles of my youth, the heroine could happily have sex with her boyfriend and an older newscaster, and now no one can do that anymore. I can dig up some other examples if you need them.) Because, while you can find a number of YA novels from L’Engle to Blume to Paterson that struggle with religion, morality and, for lack of a better word, what we can call the soul, contemporary Christian fiction doesn’t explore morality so much as define it. And in this, it’s worse than Gossip Girl, because while that series revels in its tarty vacuity, Christian fiction is equally sex-, boy- and status-obsessed, but it cloaks these concerns in an aura of uplift.

I’m just going to go through some of Graham’s examples and conclusions and sketch out my disagreements therewith, as it is BROILING and I’m not sure integrating my reactions coherently is a suit in my deck at this juncture. Which is to say, I think I say “bespeaks” 18 times below — I’m sorry:

In the newest books, old-fashioned values are embraced for newfangled reasons. Modesty is endorsed, not because of shame, but because of self-respect and practicality: Protagonist DJ in Spring Breakdown opts for a one-piece swimsuit over a teensy bikini because, “I like to swim. And I like to move around.” Besides, another character reflects later, “Sometimes subtle is sexy.

I’m all for the moving around part, but I must say, the need to smugly defend suiting up for maximum movement at all indicates a different underlying imperative. (Unlike this pack of whores near this body of water, I, really and truly, not only like to move around but have conveniently accomplished this while not looking like a whore. You whores should try it sometime.) The second comment truly nails it. Yes, sure, subtle is sexy. But wait — if we’re being moral, aren’t we not supposed to be focused on BEING SEXY? And if we are, for God’s sake, let’s not hamstring ourselves with one-pieces.

Work matters, too…Protagonists spend a lot of time contemplating “God’s plan” in their lives, a message that reinforces long-term goals. Cindy Martinusen-Coloma’s sensitively written 2009 novel, Beautiful, features a high-schooler who hopes to go into international law. When her father tells her that her parents worry about seeing her head off to a war zone someday, she replies, “I’ll tell Mom it’s what God wants me to do.”

Okay. Call me a bad person, that just sounds to me like she’s going to lie.

Even in matters of the heart, these Christian books are encouraging girls to have personal agency. Take Candace Thompson, the protagonist of Debbie Viguié’s 2008 novel The Summer of Cotton Candy. “We’re not kids forever,” she tells her summer fling, discouraged by his aimlessness. “I may not know what I want to do with my life yet, but I know I want to do something. … Sooner or later you have to take responsibility for your own life, and I’m trying. What are you doing?” When he asks what this means, her answer is “I want a guy who values the same things I do”—a pretty excellent guideline for teens of any religious background.

I think it’s fine not to want to date a big lox — Um, I want a guy who gets off the couch — but wanting a guy who values the same things as you do, at that age, bespeaks a certain parochiality that mistakes certainty for knowledge. Engaging with people with conflicting values is one of the joys, privileges and challenges of adulthood, ones you miss when you shack up with someone who agrees with you on every point. What the hell do you  know, anyway? You’re a teenager. Talk to Mr. Aimless in 5 years — you’ll probably see him differently.

…the larger takeaway from the Christian books is not that girls should imagine themselves as subservient wives, but that they should prepare themselves for adulthood. Certainly heroine Candace Thompson sees marriage as her ultimate goal when she is choosing a boyfriend. But she also wants someone “who valued what she did, would take her seriously, would help her grow as a person, and would love and respect her.” That’s not a girl preparing for a life as a doormat; it’s a girl learning about the importance of emotional strength. It’s a girl who refuses to settle for a so-so boy who is not on track to be a good man. As far as girlish escapism goes, it’s better than holding out for a Prada purse.

In this sentence may lie the seed of a future nightmare, but I’ll strike out anyway and say, I hope to hell my daughter, as a teenager, is dreaming of Prada purses, not respectful husbands. Of course dreaming of a Prada purse is silly — but what are your teen years for if not to be vain, unrealistic, impractical, self-obsessed, and silly? (I STILL would love a Prada purse.) And while a purse may be a craven, gold-digging goal, it’s a goal in support of one’s self, ultimately enriching and enjoyable — one in which you desire, not one in which you worry if you are being correctly desired.

It’s also a goal without enormous consequences. “Emotional strength,” shmength — ask a married lady:  a husband, good or not, is not ultimately a vehicle for validating one’s respectability but a whole other human, a project, a partnership. Yes: if you compare the values behind wanting a respectful husband and wanting a purse, of course, a nice husband wins. But in both cases, when you’re a teenager, an object of desire is but a representation of an aspect of self — and as a talisman, a purse is more appropriate than a person. It’s far more escapist — and disempowering — to pretend that’s not so.

I don’t think Christian YA should be snatched out of girls’ hands any more than I do copies of Twilight, but let us accept its bubble-gum nature, acknowledge that its stabs at modest sexiness, moral ambition, co-conscious exploration and marital liberation are as unrealistic as the dream of Prada — and as unlikely to give a girl pleasure. In short, it’s hard enough to be a teenage girl without object lessons around swimwear. Let’s help them get through it in one piece.

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One Little MetaFilter Response

Posted by Lizzie on 06/14/10

Metafilter posted my post! I love Metafilter*. However:

I actually make it a practice to never respond to comment streams just because…well, I feel like the article is the place where you got to speak your piece, and the comments are where commenters get to speak theirs, and if you wish to observe the integrity of your article, don’t treat it as an ongoing conversation.

Also, comment streams have their own weather, and if you don’t like it, wait a minute — which is to say, someone else winds up posting the thing you meant to say, anyway.

But since I did just start actively blogging again, I’m feeling a little manic, and I was interested in how my little desideratum about blogging was received by those who are not paid to love me, I will respond, if only because the aggregate response seems to illustrate how thoroughly the world I was talking about has vanished.

1. This is a piece by an author who is annoyed at not getting more attention for her blog from the big game.

Okay. Say what you will — that is explictly the opposite of what my piece is about, and even if you misunderstood my own narration of the events in question, I am eminently Googleable, you know, in all my big-game glory in that room of dozens.

My piece was about how it’s nice to be a blogger and be plucked from your blog to write for different media, but also odd. First, it’s odd because you’re asked to write for that medium, not to blog for it, but yes, as flexing your muscles in a different space is to some extent the story of all freelance writing, that’s not that interesting.

But what is singular is that in 2003, when my blog began to attract notice, I was asked to write for a media that also made snide comments about bloggers and their ability to write with great regularity. Now, that media has fully incorporated blogging as a medium, but not bloggers as an expert class. It’s weird, and annoying, to old-school bloggers who were beaten and pampered, and despite blogging’s ubiquity continue to be.

2. This is a piece by a writer who cannot write.

a) Well, what do you want me to say? It’s baroque. It’s filigreed. You like it or you don’t. You’re not into Thackeray, I get it. It’s not agrammatical, though, and a run-on sentence and a LONG sentence are absolutely not the same thing, something I will observe to my dying day, both asked and unasked, as one blogger, under God, drinking my coffee in relative peace on this cold gray day, etc., etc.

b) You are correct that it is RIDDLED with errors, though. I should get my sister and a friend to proof everything I do. My BOOK is riddled with errors! So embarrassing.

However, as master of big-game media!!! I can say this is not a function of laziness, but really a function of writing reams and reams of things, constantly, for a living, under a deadline. I used to copyedit and proof for a living as well, and I’ve learned it’s just impossible — for me, at least — to do both. Once my writing emerged error-free and fully formed and it just doesn’t anymore.

In my old age I have found I really like it when I get a chance to do a massive second or third draft, particularly when I’m reviewing. Blogging is quite different though, and there is a hummingbird effect you may or may not like. It was a voice VERY MUCH IN VOGUE when I began, not so much today.

However, even with a copyeditor, and I love copyeditors and proofers, love love love, errors always get through. O magazine just changed a subject in a piece of mine to a He from a She three times, and the error went through, even though that writer is eminently Googleable. O is like the MOTHERSHIP of copyediting and proofreading. So blame me if you like, and I would love it if any of you would like to give my posts a read. The part of my brain that used to prevent “plane” from becoming “plain” is out of service.

I will correct those errors you pointed out though. I’m also losing my eyesight, and my hearing. Have pity.

3. That was a lovely little artic–


And thank you all — it’s very nice to be back, and very nice to see MetaFilter paying attention to my return at all. God, I see standards have risen since the days when I could just patch together my Cry List. Oh, I can’t find my Cry List. It was popular, in its day. Those of you worried that internet items you’ve written will haunt you until the end of your days, don’t.

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Monkey Business: Or, When Headlines Write Themselves

Posted by Lizzie on

My Dear Human:

Under normal circumstances, I would never be asking you for money. We monkeys

consider this an act of coarseness, a vile human quality. But extreme circumstances have forced my hand, and now I must appeal to whatever spirit of charity nestles in your so-called soul.

I’m not sure how much you know about time travel. I will assume next to nothing and not confuse you with time dilation and the twin paradox. In any case, during routine maintenance of the temporal deflector console, I found myself transported from the future and landing in a place you call New York City. You may wonder what the future holds for humanity. The short explanation is: you will all be dead. A peaceful, civilized society is ruled by monkeys. If it’s any solace, please know that evolution has done its proper work.

with Wind-up Monkey, my dear friend Irina Reyn has joined Significant Objects.

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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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Briefly coming up for air to tell you

Posted by Lizzie on 12/03/07

smallish_summeroffear2.jpg… that the kindly ladies at Jezebel have allowed me to begin post a column, Fine Lines, on the love of my life, YA literature. Yes, it is literature, mofos. It will have all the best books in the world. Please check it out–obvs you should be reading Jezebel anyway.

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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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Pen World Voices, Move Along, Folks

Posted by Lizzie on 04/24/07

Pen World Voices starts today. We’re too busy to even post a good post here, much less attend, so we’re going to be awful and just swipe Maud and Mark‘s links. Pace!

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….the problem with young folks today

Posted by Lizzie on 04/19/07

Dave Eggers the person is all right with me. Dave Eggers the writer is another story. The very distinction, you feel, would exasperate Eggers, since he has staked his creative life on an identification of decent living with good writing. The conviction that good-intentioned people necessarily make good art is… [via Ed]

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Here, Bullet

Posted by Lizzie on 04/18/07

So any of you who see me on gmail know I’m a little obsessed with the PBS series America at a Crossroads, airing this week. I missed Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime (learn more about the program here) on Monday night, which I would have especially liked to see, but here’s the poem “Here, Bullet,” from the eponymous work by Brian Turner:

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap…

Read the entire poem here. It doesn’t look like the series will be rebroadcast anytime soon, so try to catch it this week if you can.

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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.

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Ducking at Birdsong, Elsewhere, etc.

Posted by Lizzie on 03/23/07

timescouplets.gifDue to various exigencies of life and our possession of something like 18 jobs of late, we think we have remembered to mention to approximately none of you that we have been doing these over here for the past few months or so–viz, fucking around with Friday’s Times headlines because God in his infinite wisdom did not see fit to give us actual skills of any kind. In any case, you’ll find today’s official poem by clicking here by five-ishy today, but today we had some overflow poetry that was too gnomic and plaintive to inflict on New York magazine’s online readership. Not too gnomic and plaintive to inflict on you, though, dear reader! We have no idea what it all means, but feel free to offer analysis. We just liked the ducking at birdsong thing.

A Relaxed Approach to Life, Up for Sale

Duty Wears on the Soul.
Citizen of the World,

You Can Call It the Little Easy,
A Road Trip Back to the Future,

New Coin of the Realm
When the Snow Begins to Fall

He May Not See It Stop.
Does Soprano Get Whacked? Does He Get a Banana Split?

Expert on Bird Talk,
When a Bird Sings an Aria, You’d Be Wise to Duck.

Walking Out to Sea
The Only Constant Is Change,

Lands You Can’t See in a Guidebook.
Who Else but an Old Buddy Can Tell How Lost You Are?

* Logo courtesy of Daily Intel. One hopes.

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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…)

Filed under: General, in it to win it, Lit-ish, Teaser | Tags: | Comments (18)

Something about “Cause” here, we’re busy

Posted by Lizzie on 02/28/07

The Rebel Issue is up!

Filed under: blog in the day, Lit-ish | Tags: | Comments (0)

[Your Joke Here; We're Tired; This Was a Long Post]

Posted by Lizzie on 02/14/07


(Click to enlarge…and be enlightened!)

So the results of our first offical Old Hag Reader Can You Even Handle This Action Survey are in and….wow! You guys absolutely do not have enough to do. You should get on that. But we were unsurprised to find that, in planning the rest of our year, a) most of you wanted us to do reviews for which we do not get paid; 2) pretty much the same amount of you were perverts, lazy, in love with Leonardo Dicaprio, or poetry-seekers (hard to choose, right?); 3) Podcasts and Pride & Prejudice people insisted on being tediously alliterative, 4) almost the same amount of people wanted more real-world reviews as didn’t know who we are. That’s fine; the people who read the reviews don’t know who we are either.

Since you apparently have nothing better to do than hang around here and click on things, you won’t mind if we take these one by one.

1. Speedreaders
Coming; we have a few real-world reviews first and then it’s going to all happen for you.

2. Real-World Reviews
See “Speedreaders”

3. Podcasts
Coming; don’t care if you want ‘em

4. Poetry
Incoming shortly; check out our porn haiku in the meantime.

5. More Leo fakeouts


Duh. Done. DIRTY LEO. Grrrrr.

6. Who is Old Hag?

7. Pride & Prejudice

Fucking done….most ardently!

8. Seriously, who is Old Hag?

9. We avoid working

10. Porn? No porn?
We’re the only pervert around here, sorry. But here’s that Old Hag/Young Woman picture all the rest of you are looking for.

11. More pics of adorable nephew (Write-In)
We’ll do you one better. Three things to note: a) This might take a sec to load; b) yes, that is Marketwatch; it’s never too early, and c) seriously, you might die. DIE!

Filed under: blog in the day, Lit-ish, poesie, polls, the hottness | Tags: , , , , , | Comments (3)

We wish a blog could actually make a “schnap” sound

Posted by Lizzie on 02/12/07

She might as well have written a few thousand words about how she’s just noticed that young people seem to be wearing strange padded beans in their ears everywhere they go, touching tiny, space age-looking pods that light up and seem to respond to their touch, oblivious to the daily noises of life around them; that she’s heard these devices contain digital music, and how shocked, appalled and saddened she is that these young fools are not at home cranking the Victrola, doing the jitterbug and listening to real music.

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