Terrified of the Inevitable, Impending Sept. 11 Novels
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Feb. 19 2002 1:45 PM

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Katie,

Advertisement

Andrew Sullivan—I'm a fan, too—scares the hell out of me. He's becoming journalism's Joyce Carol Oates, a nonstop commentary machine. (Stop him before he posts again!)

After I filed my first e-mail today (an event that made me feel almost Andrew Sullivan-esque), I zipped onto Amazon.com to see what kind of response Native Speaker has been getting. You should have a look: There's a hilarious posting that's a preview of what a full-scale Chang-rae-Lee-athon would be like. (Here's a sample—the misspellings and mangled syntax aren't mine: "I have to write two essay 3-5 pages on Native Speakers by Chang-rae Lee. IT IS DO THURSDAY … I didn't really understand most of the story … Please help.")

(Katie: I just went back to grab the URL and the posting's gone! Spooky.)

You're right—I am terrified about all the lyrical Sept. 11 novels that are certain to be coming down the pike. This is a terrible comparison to make, I realize, but on some level they're probably going to be a lot like Holocaust novels. There will be some terrific, moving ones. And then there will be dozens and dozens in which a writer tries to smuggle Sept. 11 into the story as a cheap way to stir instant gravitas into an otherwise lame-o book. If only the gravity of an event had some remote correlation to the quality of the art, then we'd be someplace.

About the "Office of Strategic Influence" placing fake stories in the foreign press: I saw that headline this morning and almost spilled my coffee. I thought I was reading the Onion. We're entering Strangelove territory here. I also thought I was reading the Onion when I saw the story in today's New York Post about the "male sexuality" class at Berkeley that turned into an orgy. (The Post story doesn't seem to be online, but here's a report from the Sacramento Bee). Did you see that? It confirmed my suspicion that I went to the wrong college—or, at least, took the wrong classes.

Dwight

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 2:56 PM How Faithful Is David Fincher’s Gone Girl?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.