EYESHOT'S SPECIAL HOLIDAY HUMBUG INSTALLMENT
Hi. To celebrate the upcoming holiday season, we thought we'd do our best Scrooge/Grinch impersonation and unload our sack of goodies, that is, if you define goodies as things in the lit world that've pissed us off. When someone shows contempt for something, it's usually because it relates to something that person believes is contemptuous re: themselves. Therefore, when reviewing the following collection of humbuggeries, please realize that we express contempt for the below only because something about the comtemptuous things most likely relates to our own writing-related shortcomings and concerns.
First, how is A Visit From the Goon Squad on the year's best fiction list from the NYT? Per the little blurb about the book on the NYT site, it's not a "rock 'n' roll" novel at all. The cover has a Strat headstock and there's a bit of a stereotypical punk show in it and mention of a few classic rock songs, including a misspelled "Foxey" Lady. Second, "Proustian" is not a synonym for "concerned with time." "Proustian" suggests association -- it's about time travel triggered by, for example, that little lemoney cookie in Swan's Way. "Proustian" also suggests langorous, voluptuary, sensual, evocative language. In no way are any of the chapters in Egan's latest book langorous, voluptuary, sensual, evocative, nor are they sufficiently about figurative time travel via associative means. HUMBUG!
Joshua Cohen's review of Adam Levin's The Instructions is a hack job. (A good bad review looks like this at Bookforum, which runs the only book-related blog we're brave enough to look at these days.) We admit a bias against Cohen largely caused by Justin Taylor's harping re: his awesomeness. We also should admit a bias in favor of Levin caused by Eyeshot friend Christian TeBordo's long-time harping re: the awesomeness of The Instructions. Mr. TeBordo has more to say about Mr. Cohen's review, his thoughts accessible should you click the link in the previous sentence. But all this is unecessarily distracting humbuggery of interest only to three or four people who care about such things and probably won't care about them by the twelfth night of Christmas.
Goodreads.com is the best social networking Web 2.0 clusterfuck lit site ever. The opportunity to organize one's future, past, and present reading, to write and revise and make public one's thoughts re: one's reading, to see what writer/reader friends are reading and to read what everyone thinks about such books is an unequivocal technological advancement for humanity. YET what sucks about the site is receiving friend requests from writers promoting books one would never read (mysteries, thrillers, erotica, chapbooks, etc); people dropping five-star reviews without revealing any association to writer people we know are friends of the reviewers; and finally and most importantly writing total idiotic bullshit that reveals why there will never be peace in the world. (As long as such idiots exist, the world will intermittently be at war.) What follows is extremely unkind but such idiocy makes one think that one would sort of be totally right in hoping that Mr. Madore quickly and without much ado eliminates his freakin' map. And also a quasi-humbug in the direction of all users of goodreads.com, including ourselves, for providing so much good lit-related content to a site. Sometimes we think we maybe should work on our posts somewhat, add some plot summary, and submit them places as proper reviews. But then when we read excellent insightful reviews that educate and lead one down new literary avenues, we withdraw the quasi-humbug and say hey alright goodreads, you got a good thing going and we're happy to contribute, humbug withdrawn!
HTMLGIANT used to have a really smooth design/interface but now, to quote Tao Lin, it's maybe kinda "fucked." Content-wise, we (and others) have noticed that once we stopped reading HTMLGIANT we felt much much better about the world -- in part because the pantheon of great writers in the world no longer included Gary Lutz, Brian Evenson, Dennis Cooper, and Gordon Lish, or involved trollish boy-arguments about Bolaño or whoever. We still occasionally peek in to see Jimmy Chen's contributions, which are tops, but otherwise humbug!
Duotrope has probably been the worst thing that's happened to lit in recent years. Hand in hand with the the online submissions manager and/or submishmash, Duotrope greatly increases the number of submissions to all lit sites and journals, thereby increasing the amount of work for editors and their peons, thereby accelerating the burnout rate for everyone involved because for the most part most writers using Duotrope have never seen an issue or read more than the submission guidelines of the sites/journals they're submitting to. Only the smallest, smallest, smallest percentage of submittors ever actually purchase a copy of a journal. Duotrope, there's something wonderful about organizing all the journals and providing recent responses and associating journals in terms of who submits to them and who is accepted by them, but all we can really say is that we sort of wish you'd go away. Eyeshot submissions are, in part, closed now and probably forever because many submittors seem to have come through Duotrope, having no real clue what we've tended to post. Not that it matters, not really. It's just one of those things that overclarifies a world that once had been beautifully murky -- a world in which discovering a good lit mag in a bookstore was exciting, a world that surely wasn't always filled with so many misguided submissions. HUMBUG!
All literary rejection-related sites probably need to close immediately, although I suppose agents et al. need to vent if immersed in NaNoWriMo-produced novel queries (big HUMBUG to NaNoWriMo!). Anyway, we thinks that rejectionary shark has totally been jumped, which is a syntaxical involution of a phrase that shark-jumped long ago.
Humbug to Eyeshot, most importantly, for sucking these last few years.
And humbug to you, dear reader, for reading this far.
And humbug to one and all this holiday season.
And to all a goodnight!
[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/humbug.html]