My review of “Running Away” at PopMatters.

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My review of Running Away by Jean Philippe Toussaint is up at PopMatters. A sample:

In the spirit of Camus and Beckett, Jean-Philippe Toussaint has provided a slice of a character’s life so uncanny and deep that to try to boil it down to its essence is nearly impossible: it already has been boiled down. Running Away shaves off just a few days from the unnamed narrator’s life, yet it cuts to the root of him, and what is peeled away is pressed to the window where dirty light filters through and we get to see how the colors of it sparkle on the room around us. Toussaint, a brilliant and prize-winning French author, dives deep into how we stretch ourselves thin between places in our attempt to be with one another in this stunning novel.

Susan Adrian interviews Nova Ren Suma.

The tremendous Susan Adrian (writer, blogger, all around good egg) has a wonderful interview with Nova Ren Suma, author of Dani Noir, up on her site. Prizes could be yours (YOURS!) if you dare to read, enjoy, and enter.
A snippet:

Interview with Nova Ren Suma and Contest!!
Here it is, peeps! The DANI NOIR interview, with the Most Fabulous Nova Ren Suma!!
Nova is the author of DANI NOIR, a tween novel about noir-movie-obsessed Dani and the lies she uncovers in her small nothing-ever-happens town, out now in hardcover and ebook from Simon & Schuster / Aladdin. IMAGINARY GIRLS, Nova’s YA debut, is the story of two sisters and their bond that can’t be broken. It is due out in hardcover tentatively in Summer 2011 from Penguin / Dutton.
Also, Nova is immensely cool. Just so you know.

And They Said It Wouldn’t Last, or, The Death of the Novel, or, Jeff Somers Owes Me $5

death_of_novel.jpgJeff Somers recently posted a spot-on reaction to Philip Roth’s assertion that the novel will be dead in 25 years. Let’s assume that Mr. Roth is correct, and that the novel won’t last beyond 2034. That would put it ten years beyond the centennial celebration for the first well known claim that the novel was doomed: Ortega Y Gasset’s* Decline of the Novel (1925).
The death of the novel has been claimed so many times that it has it’s own Wikipedia entry, so if you want a summary of the arguments (thin as they are) check that out. And I won’t repeat the arguments Jeff so clearly makes in his post. Instead I’ll take the opposite approach to the issue. To be sure, readership rises and falls (and as Jeff points out, some percentage of the population continues to read), but one other thing keeps happening: people keep writing novels. Would I appreciate having a million readers? Of course. But even if I don’t get that many there will be those who, like me, continue to plug away writing the damn things. And you know what? They’re probably among my first readers.
A lot is made of technology’s “early adopters,” those consumers who jump on new tech because it’s cooler, faster, brand-damn-spanking-new. Think of Kindle buyers from two years ago. We’re just now getting to the point where the early adopter market is done and a wider swath of consumers is ready to jump onto the e-reader bandwagon. Now, we don’t call early readers “early adopters,” but the same principle is at work. When a new author emerges she has to hope for early adopters to pick the book up, read it, share it, talk about it, etc. She has to work to find the early adopters and help them discover her. And who are a writer’s early adopters? People who love and support new writers, people who love to discover new talent, people who love novels and not just classics, people who believe in the continuing dialog of literature. In other words: people who themselves write. Not every reader will be a writer, but you can bet that just about 99% of every writer is a reader (I don’t think I’d want to read something by someone who doesn’t read).
My point is this: as long as people are writing novels people will be reading them. Even if only a small percentage of the population reads, there will always be a percentage that writes. We’ve just entered November, and so NaNoWriMo is upon us, and from what I’ve seen the number of people jumping into that self-flagellistic practice keeps going up year after year.
The novel is dying? It’s hard to claim something is dying when new examples of it keep popping up.