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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, November 13, 2009 1:22 pm
Weeklings: Chelsea, Commas, and Cormac
Posted by: Keir Graff

are_you_there_vodkaIf a third instance makes a trend, then here’s a new trend: book titles that read like the T-shirts sold in spring-break hot-spots.

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler (2008)
I Drink for a Reason, by David Cross (2009)
You Can’t Drink All Day if You Don’t Start in the Morning, by Celia Rivenbark (2009)

Now, if someone will only publish Daddy Drinks Because You Cry. Perhaps we can assign at least part of the blame for this trend to Christie Mellor, whose Three-Martini Playdate (2004) has actually been quite helpful in my own parenting adventures. But, thanks to If You Give a Mom a Martini, by Lyss Stern and Julie Klappas (2009), we’re one book away from another trend.

While we’re having fun with book titles, here’s an instance where a comma makes all the difference. (Don’t click if you’re offended by sexual innuendo–or should I have made the disclaimer before the links?) At any rate, I like to think that particular boner occurred because of the publisher’s focus on more lofty, and less earthy, matters.

And now for something completely different. Our Book Trailer Thursdays blogger, Daniel Kraus, forwarded the Wall Street Journal‘s Cormac McCarthy interview (“Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy,” by John Jurgensen) to me. The author of The Road is in fine fettle, proving, perhaps, that his reluctance to elaborate on Oprah was the result of his being blinded by either stage lights or the preternatural luminescence of the divine Miss O.

His sometimes aw-shucks demeanor notwithstanding, McCarthy has a keen awareness of his investment value:

WSJ: Why don’t you sign copies of “The Road”?

CM: There are signed copies of the book, but they all belong to my son John, so when he turns 18 he can sell them and go to Las Vegas or whatever. No, those are the only signed copies of the book.

WSJ: How many did you have?

CM: 250. So occasionally I get letters from book dealers or whoever that say, “I have a signed copy of the ‘The Road,’” and I say, “No. You don’t.”

He apparently doesn’t think much of mystery readers–or William T. Vollmann, for that matter.

WSJ: Does this issue of length apply to books, too? Is a 1,000-page book somehow too much?

CM: For modern readers, yeah. People apparently only read mystery stories of any length. With mysteries, the longer the better and people will read any damn thing. But the indulgent, 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you’re going to write something like “The Brothers Karamazov” or “Moby-Dick,” go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don’t care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.

And, with remarks such as “Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing” and “I was planning on writing about a woman for 50 years. I will never be competent enough to do so, but at some point you have to try,” McCarthy is a quote-generating machine. Read for yourself.



2 Responses to “Weeklings: Chelsea, Commas, and Cormac”
  1. Book Blog - Likely Stories, by Keir Graff - Booklist Online » Blog Archive » Weeklings: Blyton, Palin, F-Bombs, and Bad Sex Says:

    [...] regard to last week’s query, yes, I did forget something. I forgot [...]

  2. Mary Fran Says:

    Punctuation could play a part in that title in another way. How about “Come-On People,” which could be subtitled “Swindlers, Pick-Up Artists, and Pranksters.” (Though I like the other better, natch.)

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