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Movable Snipe: The Koran Endorses Bloodshed (And New Yorkers Love To Gab About It)

[Note: Movable Snipe is a week-long feature wherein two writers read and evaluate five blogs, sending each other one letter a day. This week's Snipers are Michael Helke and Fiona Maazel. Michael's first letter can be accessed here; Fiona's response to it, here. Day Two: Michael; Fiona.]

Hey, Michael. You read the paper today? At Yaddo, there’s always much talk about which house gets the Times and how best to leave it for others once you are done. Me, I read it online. And today I was reading about Iran—Iran is supplying weapons to the insurgency, here is the evidence, here are the serials—let’s start another war. Because that’s what this is, right? Prelude to war? Or maybe I’m just a cynic. 

Yes, yes I am. And so is our good man Drezner. His bit on Barbara’s Slavin’s USA Today piece—the Saudis love us and aren’t afraid to say so!—made me laugh.

I mean, I had to read it a couple times because there’s something weirdly incoherent about the man’s prose style, but once I got with it—the ultimate endorsement of pleonasm—I laughed. He’s a cynic. So the Saudis make nice with us, so what? It’s only a gesture. Or: they’re just getting in bed with the winning side. Or: they’re getting in bed with the lesser evil. We’re doing good! We suck. You get the feeling he thinks we suck. And he’s right. Especially now that Bush wants to bleed even more money from the arts, ostensibly to fund his New War. Because when I need money, the first place I turn is the arts. Jeeze. Does anyone read anymore? I’m serious.

Tonight at dinner, someone was telling me the average novel sells 4-6 thousand copies. How grim. Grimmer still is that a lot of these novels are kick-ass. Collections of short fiction, too. Like The Dead Fish Museum by Charlie D’Ambrosio. Such a good book. Featured on Elegant Variation, which is always stumping for books people are not reading but should. It’s depressing. Sarvas has impeccable taste, and just not enough people are caring. Course, I think I liked the site better before he wrote up what you and I are doing. We’re reviewing blogs? I didn’t realize that’s what we were doing, and now I feel like a lowlife for it. I thought we were just talking about stuff of interest. 

E.G. Hooray for David Markson! I didn’t know some of his early books were hopping back into print until the EV told me. Need book news? Go to the EV. Need to save your life? Not a bad place to start. I saw Markson recently, in New York, and we talked about whether the Koran actually endorses bloodshed and martyrdom, which I rather think it does, though in the same way the New Testament sees Jesus encourage everyone to kill the Jews. I like how in New York there’s such a concentration of writers and artists, you can actually run into one of them and get talking, spontaneously, about bloodshed. I appreciate the city, but I can’t really deal with these bromides about what is New York and who’s got the right to call a spade, and so on.

I’ve been reading 3 Quarks and I like these guys, but there’s still got to be something else to write about. Fuck you, Adam Gopnik? Should talk of New York, in all its irascible and protean glory, really incite this kind of passion? I sort of prefer ye old Crooked Timber. For one, it’s got eye appeal. I’m all about the serif font and feng shui arrangement of text, and the CT pleases me well. Plus they are writing about things that are a little off the beaten path. 

Putin on election monitoring? Most interesting. I have been waiting for him to rewrite the constitution so he can be reelected, but I see that’s not happening. I guess he’s going to take over a large conglomerate someplace, from which he can oversee illegal elections in neighboring countries.

Next post: embodied energy. What the hell is that? I have to go to some other website to read about this thing—energy consumed in creating one unit of product X, wha?—and then back to the CT to read more? I don’t have time for this. Do you have time for this?

Part of what stuns me about the ubiquity of blogging is that people find the time a) to post and b) to read. My life is replete with niggling obligations and tedium—it’s not like I’m saving the world instead of blogging—but still, I have scant room in the day for all this. How do other people manage? My best experience of the Internet continues to be the piffle collected on Nerve’s web trawl. Just a bunch of stupid shit to brighten my day.

I am still looking at the kangaroo man, though he’s old news. He’s been surpassed by eleven gems of culture, like Christina Ricci’s retractable breasts.  Wish mine could do that.

F. 

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