1. AOTW. It's been a bad week--rather, a good week, I guess: I have not encountered a single human being whose behavior would merit the low honor of an AOTW award. Oh, sure, there were the customary crazies in traffic, in line at the grocery, showering at the health club--but nothing especially demeritorious (probably not a word, but I like it). (Oh, but it is a word, says the OED, dating back to 1593, when a Certain Someone was a young playwright in London.) In fact, if I may return to the subject, this week I probably qualify for the award as much as the next person. After all, if we're honest, we all no doubt deserve fetid prizes now and again. (Joyce could probably give it to me every week.)
2. Friday night, we saw True Story, the based-on-actual-events film starring James Franco (as an accused murderer of his family--wife, two little girls) and Jonah Hill as the actual disgraced New York Times journalist Michael Finkel, who, after losing his job for conflating characters in a magazine story, was swept up in the murder case. Franco was about as good as I've ever seen him, but I just never bought Hill as a driven journalist: He looked too--what?--comfortable? We both liked the film--lots of talking (yes, Old Guys like lots of talking in films)--a film which raised questions about journalism and ethics and morality. And our own conceptions of who we are. (Link to trailer for the film.) The Sunday Times had a piece that dealt with the film (and others) (link to Times piece).
3. On Friday morning, I drove over to Hiram (where I attended school, Grades 7 - college; 1956-1966) to visit/have coffee with former Hiram College classmate Dorothy Munson Steele, who graduated a year after me. She is now a trustee of the college and was on campus because Hiram inaugurated its first woman president last week--Dr. Lori Varlotta (link to newspaper story about her). Anyway, Dorothy and her husband, Claude, were great friends at Hiram--and long afterwards. He was one of the ushers at our wedding. And when I was doing all my Jack London research out in the Bay Area in the early and mid-1990s, they welcomed me into their Stanford home (both were on the faculty). Claude is currently the provost at the University of California, Berkeley. Great talk with Dorothy--and (as many of you have surely found) with true friends, the conversation never ends; it just goes on Pause.
5. Didn't finish any books I can tell you about this week. (For Kirkus Reviews we're supposed to remain anonymous--the Kirkus reviews are unsigned, though our names are listed in the publication. I read/review at least one book a week for them.) I'm also working on a review (Plain Dealer) of a fat new bio of Saul Bellow (vol. 1 only is to be published soon), and to prepare I've been reading the author's other fat biography--this one of Kingsley Amis, whose Lucky Jim I remember reading/enjoying in grad school. About to finish Sue Grafton's latest--and Richard Price's, too. Will write more about them when I'm done.
4. A strange word-of-the-day from the OED this week. Dates back to 1599 and is "rare" now, says the OED. I would say so!
5. As I type, I can hear a mourning dove right outside. A sound I've always loved--and used to be able to imitate (when I was yet a boy soprano).