Author Archives: Mike Moats

Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way

Rhodes Office

When he was working on his MFA in creative writing, Ben Rhodes used to write Frederick Barthelme knock-off fiction. In the tiny office where he works today — almost 15 years after leaving the program — he has shelves of books and binders, a picture of his daughter, some reminders of his favorite baseball team. When asked, he says his life could fit the mold of a Don DeLillo novel. His colleagues compare him to Holden Caulfield.

This is all familiar territory for anyone who has, or knows someone with, a creative writing degree. Except that Continue reading

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Chris Cooper’s Salinger Eyebrows

Cooper BLUR

Today in eyebrow news:  Continue reading

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Rufus Wainwright’s Ten Favorite Books


Here they are:  Continue reading

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Filed under "Non-fiction", Hooray Fiction!

A Super Tuesday Reading List

The presidential primary season, when we pick the candidates who will compete for our nation’s highest office, is inevitably among the dumbest times in our history. And while we’re not historians, it’s a safe bet that 2016 is among the dumbest we have seen. Today is Super Tuesday, when multiple states cast their votes in this spectacle of our shame, so to smarten up the place a bit, we decided to recommend a few books to the supporters of the various candidates.  We want everyone to have an opportunity to tune out the [unintelligible yelling] and enjoy some good reading.

Hillary Clinton


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HITTING SHELVES #28 ½: Infinite Jest 20th Anniversary Edition


The 20th Anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is now for sale. The updated cover is the result of a reader contest, and has been the subject of some controversy.

Unfortunately, David Foster Wallace is not around to celebrate the release, or tell us what he will be doing today. But if your plans today include embarking on one of the most challenging and rewarding reading experiences available to human beings, we’re happy to recommend reading along using “Words Words Words: The Infinite Jest Liveblog.”

We wish you way more than luck.

Michael Moats

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Who’s Afraid of Roberto Bolaño?

Since you can’t get tickets to “Hamilton,” perhaps you would be interested in another unexpected adaptation of an incredibly long but popular book: Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.  The five-and-a-half hour stage performance opened yesterday at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. The New York Times says that it “wins full marks for ambition, but falls short as a work of dramatic art.” The Chicago Tribune calls it “a long, complicated night of theater.”

2666 stage

Watch an excerpt from the play on the New York Times site.

The fact that these are not ringing endorsements should not detract from the crazy fact that this thing exists at all.

The novel that provides the source material, often called Bolaño’s magnum opus (including in the Times review), is not a prime candidate for adaptation. It’s long, for one, clocking in at more than 900 pages. It’s also weird as hell. There is lots of mystery and far too much murder, but there is no clear narrative arc or what you might call a real “ending” — though there is speculation that recently discovered writings include another chapter to add to what has already been published.

Even with three intermissions, sitting through the 2666 adaptation seems like it would be a tough slog. That’s not always a bad thing with great art, and if anyone out there is willing to do it, we’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

For me, the whole concept — an ambitious and possibly insane attempt to adapt the violent, mystical, cryptic masterpiece of a dead author — seems like it would be more interesting as a novel itself.

Michael Moats

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