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You Really Really Like Me

"I really, really like me."

What is it about acceptance speeches that are so revolting (besides the fact that if someone else is giving one it means we haven’t won)? Even actors, trained thespians, can’t manage to pull it off. My theory is two-pronged. First, winning automatically reveals the level of desire and we’re not supposed to be so craven in our desire to win; it’s unbecoming. Second, it’s like watching someone masturbate in front of a mirror. It’s got the James Spader vibe of intense self-love parading as dead inside. (But I will defer to a certain commenter on the subject.)

When I win the National Book Award, here’s what I’m going to say: I have to thank Myra Fassler, high school English teacher, and Jorie Graham, Pamela White Hadas and Richard Howard, poets and teachers. Ugh. Start over: I have to thank the mental health professionals who…scratch that. Start over: My family…waa waa. Start now: I have no one to thank. I wish everyone would go fuck themselves. Do over: I wish to thank my agent, my editor, and my methadone counselor. Okay, enough. Give me your best acceptance speech.

Watcha got?

She Can Turn the World On With Her Smile

“Will book publishing finally get the comic portrayal it deserves? Production of a CBS pilot is moving ahead for agent Betsy Lerner’s sister Gail Lerner’s sit-com “Open Books.” Lerner, who has been co-executive producer on Ugly Betty, said last fall that ‘publishing is a lot like sitcoms. Although both are supposedly dying, that only makes people more passionate about creating the next great novel or show.’ Tony winner Laura Benanti has been cast as the lead, a book editor at a small New York publishing house, and Aisha Tyler has just joined the cast as her best friend. Scott Foley will have a standing guest star role as “a charismatic free-spirited writer who once had a fling” with Benanti’s character.
–Deadline Hollywood

They neglected to mention that the “mother” is played by Patti Lupone, and my “mother” has already graciously volunteered to help Patti prepare for the role of a lifetime. (Evita, Gypsy, Mrs. Lovett, whatevs.) It’s all incredibly exciting; my sister shoots her first pilot next week. Then it’s up to the network gods to choose which anointed few will actually ever see the light of night. The odds make getting a book in print look like child’s play. One saving grace about this industry is that if you write a book, and a publisher gives you a contract, the book will be published unless something completely unexpected happens like that old crack habit. Movies and tv are even bigger, baggier monsters and they are far more likely to get short-circuited than green lit.

We are all pulling for Gail. My Dad always wanted to be a comedy writer. He used to take her to the Museum of Film and Television where they would watch old Jack Benny routines. He took me to see Don’t Look Now and Rosemary’s Baby, which pretty much explains everything.

Anyone else have stardust in their eyes besides me?

This Is Not My Beautiful Wife

Tomorrow, I am driving two hours to Wayne, NJ. Apparently, there is a class of writing students who have all read my book at William Patterson University. I am deeply flattered by this and felt I had to accept the invitation. I hope they know what they are getting into. I told my daughter about it and she asked the one and only relevant question: what was I going to wear. I’d write a better post if I had time, but I now have to ransack my closet in some pantomime of looking for something to wear. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes. Quick true or false: writers are generally crappy dressers.


Or this?

Rubber Chicken

Dear Friends of My Blog:

Today’s post writes itself. At 11:45 I headed down Fifth Avenue on foot. I was wearing my one and only suit, my lucky gold watch, and in my pocket an invitation to the Barnes & Noble 2009 Discover Great New Writers Awards. I think you can see where this is going…Winner of this year’s Discover Award is the handsome and gifted Dave Cullen for Columbine. It was very Oscar what with the nominees and fancy writer announcers and suspense as they called third, second and first prize. I loved it when Dave thanked me. I looked down at the floor, feigning humility when I was really pumped and teary at the same time. I looked up and everyone at the table from Hachette was clapping. And I started clapping. And then I had an out of body moment when I thought for just a second that I was an extra in Rosemary’s Baby. That’s normal, right? Dave got a crystal sculpture that could easily double as a weapon in a pinch. That motherfucker looked sharp!

Dave, for your ten years, for your exhaustive research, for your incredible writing, for never giving up when it was well past time to give up, for your hugely compassionate heart and the integrity with which you told this tragedy: I salute you.

Winner, Non Fiction, 2009 Barnes & Nobler Discover Award