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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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…)

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Something about “Cause” here, we’re busy

Posted by Lizzie on 02/28/07

The Rebel Issue is up!

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[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!

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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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Pandering to the masses

Posted by Lizzie on

This week on perennial fave Five Chapters: a Blog Laureate.

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Posted by Lizzie on 01/29/07

If they told you I’m mad, then they lied.
I’m odd, but it isn’t compulsive.
I’m the triolet, bursting with pride;
If they told you I’m mad, then they lied.
No, it isn’t obsessive. Now hide
All the spoons or I might get convulsive.
If they told you I’m mad then they lied.
I’m odd, but it isn’t compulsive.

What Poetry Form Are You?

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Posted by Lizzie on 01/24/07

Sacrilege. [Via Galleycat]

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Take Five

Posted by Lizzie on 01/21/07

header.jpgThose of you that ever pay ANY attention to what we do may recall a year or two or so ago–we’re over thirty now; who cares anymore–our trying to get together something called "Teaser" that would print first chapters from forthcoming works. We did, like, two before we were informed that Pride & Prejudice needed repeated watching. Though we still maintain our very wonderful teasers will whup any kind of behind, Five Chapters is attending a little more diligently to a similar project–in a weekly fashion, yet! At this brilliantly simple site, one story is serialized over a work week; a new author arrives each Monday. This week is J. Robert Lennon; you can check out the archives here. (They include Thisbe Nissen, Anthony Swofford and Vendela Vida, just to start.) We actually have a very hard time reading print online (we know, we know, a vegetarian butcher), so we hope the wonderful editor, David Daley, considers adjusting the grayscale text for us old folkspeople who need glasses. The "Print" function is a start–maybe consider a formatted downloadable PDF, or, we don’t know, something with a pretty cover we could buy in a store? Whatever. Live it up, you twentysomething bastards.

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Our Asberger’s needed a feeding

Posted by Lizzie on 01/16/07

It has been a long time, Slate. A long goddamned time! But finally, a goodie from Daniel Bosch:

Would this be ambience, or atmosphere?
I hadn’t expected such an emptiness!
An empty nest.
Do you open up before or after a good pandering?
Book, Web site, infomercial. Edginess must be catching.
So let me be the first to congratulate—
Too late.
What is it people seek in your utterances?
Other answers.
You knew Mozart. Before he decomposed—
He composed.
And Freud was your plumber. Conscious or unconscious?
Kein Anschluss.
But have you ever crossed over? You know, necrophilia?
Celebrities! They run to sarcasm.
Our chasm.
How do you do it? I’m already way off course.
Of course.

Read the rest. Also, try this Jennifer Clarvoe…from many years ago.


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Back to Sloth

Posted by Lizzie on 01/03/07

We’re a little late on this–lust, sloth, gluttony, etc.–but Boldtype’s Deadly Sins issue is up.

Filed under: General, Lit-ish, Sex-ish | Comments (0)

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