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Portland Weather: We’re All Going to Die. Or Not.

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Snowpacalypse Now! Snow Country for Old Men. February Flakefest. Snomageddon!

These are just a couple of ways residents of Portland, Oregon now it’s really not going to be all that bad outside.

Through the fault of no one in particular, weather forecasters across the city have been predicting doom and gloom on and off most of the winter and, as is typical in Portland, the result has been a lot more gloom than doom.

It’s hard to be mad at them though one woman wrote to a local station saying she thought it was typical that a man would promise seven inches only to deliver two.

It’s worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be any truth to the rumor that the weather guys were all paid off by Les Schwab or one of the other tire shops looking to clear their inventory of chains and snow tires.

And given the fact that Portland, despite being in the shadow of several mountains more than 10,000 feet tall, is unable to deal with snow on any sort of logical level, it’s important to let people know what might happen.

At the supermarket the day before the last “storm” people were lined up at checkout with carts full of supplies as if they weren’t going to be able to get out of their house for weeks once the storm set in. Even under the worst case scenario, it wasn’t going to be that bad.

But living in Portland with snow in the forecast is like living in a city filled with Jewish grandmothers: You never know… better safe than sorry.

But that’s what life is like in the city where there seems to be just a little bit of rain pretty every day. Certainly during those glorious days of summer (roughly July 5-13) when there is nary a cloud in the sky.

The rest of the time there is rain in one of its various forms. Forecasters in Portland seem to have as many words and phrases for it as Eskimos apocryphally have for snow. Rain. Showers. Scattered showers. Thunderstorms. Sprinkles. And, my favorite, filtered sunshine.

It’s often so wet in Portland that seagulls fly inland from the Columbia and Willamette Rivers only to find themselves disappointed. I don’t get it, the gulls say, if it’s this wet there really should be fish.

The thing you have to remember about rain in Portland can be summed up by looking at how Groundhog Day is celebrated.

While the rest of the country uses it as a barometer indicating whether or not it will be an early Spring, in Portland, it’s different.

In Portland, they take out the groundhog and if the little guy doesn’t drown, it means five more months of rain.

If it does rain, it also means five more months of rain.

And you have to buy a new groundhog.

Mike Pence’s Modest Proposal

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm

“Mr. Speaker. The time has come to deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America. The largest abortion provider in America should not also be the largest recipient of federal funds.

“The Pence Amendment – which I’ve named after myself so I would not forget that it was my idea – would simply prevent any funds from going to Planned Parenthood. It would not reduce the total amount of funds available for family planning.

“The nation’s leading abortion provider is also currently under investigation in multiple states including Indiana, California, Alabama, and Tennessee for allegations of fraudulent use of Federal funds. Additionally, I have a strong hunch they are guilty of numerous other crimes including speeding, grand theft auto – the crime, not the game – and jaywalking.

“If global warming did exist, it would be their fault.

“Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not about eliminating Federal funds for family planning. There are a number of federally funded clinics across the nation that offer beneficial services including patient counseling, breast cancer screenings, HIV prevention education, and many more.

“I think family planning is an essential part of restoring the greatness of this country. Not only are we facing a moral crisis we are facing an economic nod and to get out of this mess, I think we need to look to Ronald Reagan who had a vision for this country. A vision rooted in fantasy, yes but a vision nonetheless.

“He wanted to restore the sanctity of human life to the law and return power to the United States.

“Even though our economy is struggling and America seems at a low point, I believe we can fulfill Reagan’s vision, restore our economy and our moral grandeur but it will take vision and courage to do it.

“The new Republican majority in Congress must embrace a bold agenda for economic growth built on timeless free market practices and reform.

“So what are the building blocks of an incentive-based, growth agenda? I submit they are the following:
Sound monetary policy;
Tax relief and reform;
Access to American energy;
Regulatory reform;
Trade

“In other words S.T.A.R.T. You could call it a prescription for a fresh start for the American economy. Some of these are new ideas. Some are timeless. Taken together, they will put us back on track for job creation and prosperity.

“Start what you may ask. And I will tell you. This is a plan to end abortion, solve the immigration problem, make liberals happy and restore America to greatness.

“We need to do s better job of letting immigrants in to the country. This way we know who is here, where we can find them and, when necessary, put them to work at jobs Americans no longer want to do. This will free Americans up to do what they do best – come up with brilliant ideas such as these.

“Another thing is that many foreigners want to come here and have anchor babies. I say that we encourage that activity. But instead of allowing them to be the anchors for their parents they will become the new anchors of our economy and food supply.

“And this is something that should make the liberals happy because it I’d about sustainability and cutting down on carbon emissions.

“My experience is that many of these foreigners like to have children so we can use these kids to fill open jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.

“And the rest of the kids could be used as food for the rest of the country.”

Palin on Parenting

In Entertainment, Politics, Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

“And that is why the Mamma Grizzly had to kill the seemingly sweet, adorable bunny rabbit. As always, thank you for coming to the Sarah Palin Institute of Parenting. Does anyone have any questions?”

“Um, Governor?” says a woman sitting toward the front as she gathers up her notebook.

“Yes?”

“Well, I read that you gave an interview on Long Island where you said that the First Lady is telling people to breast feed because the price of milk is so high.”

“Oh, gosh, yes. Milk is just so expensive these days. That’s why I ask my Todd to go out and hunt pregnant, female elk, wound them and take all of their milk before killing them. Milk is just way too expensive.”

“Well, um, yeah,” says the student, a little disarmed. “A couple of things about that, I guess. First, aren’t babies supposed to get either breast milk or formula? I mean, I’ve never heard that you’re supposed to be giving them cow’s milk.”

“Where are you from?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“What does it have to do with anything? Everything. I would bet you’re from somewhere on the East Coast.”

“Ohio, actually.”

“Exactly. So you’re one of those East Coast intellectuals who probably gets most of their parenting tips from The New York Times. You probably think that your precious little child will be too good for cow’s milk. Let me ask you something. Do you think baby cows drink formula?”

The woman looks a little dumbfounded.

“Of course not. And do you think your baby is somehow better than a baby cow? A baby is a baby and we are all Mama Grizzlies looking to care for our young. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

The woman shakes her head.

“Good, because it is very important that we never lose track of the importance of the things that are important to us. Sure, you can listen to some person using Kenyan parenting techniques to raise a child who will grow up to be a Marxist revolutionary looking to overthrow a government and upend all that is sacred to Mama Grizzlies looking to protect their young, and eat them if necessary, or you can do what generations of women have done for generations and make sure that the price of milk isn’t so high that people are forced to consider using their babies as anchors.”

“Anchors?”

“It happens all the time. People need to wake up and tell this administration that their ideas of parenting, ideas that they picked up in places like Cuba and Russia – which I can see from my house – are not the kind of ideas we want to use when it comes to raising our American babies.

“Anyway, I want to thank you all for coming. Next week we will talk about how to make sure you’re not secretly raising a Muslim baby. You betcha you’re going to want to be here for that one.”

Shopping for a New Democracy

In Media, Politics, Uncategorized, World on February 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm

“Welcome to Bed, Bath and Beyond Democracy,” says the impossibly cheery sales clerk. “What can I do for you today, Mr. President?”

“Well,” President Obama says, checking out the price tag on a set of flatware before moving on to a set of the collected writings of James Madison. “Egypt is getting a new government and Michelle and I thought it would be nice to get them a democracy-warming present.”

“I’m sure we can help you find something,” says the clerk. “Do you know if they’ve registered?”

“It all happened fairly suddenly,” President Obama says. “I don’t think they had a chance.”

“Not a problem. We have many great things for a fledgling democracy. If you would just follow me.”

The clerk leads the President over to a wall of rolled-up parchments.

“This is what we call Constitution Corner where we keep all sorts of founding documents to help a nation set up a government. We have everything from the U.S. Constitution to the Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown also known as the English Bill of Rights to the rules governing the Soviet Politboro to Robert’s Rules of Order.”

President Obama looks at a copy of the Magna Carta. “I think the constitution is something people there are going to have to come up with on their own. What else do you have?”

“Oh, plenty. Our free press starter kit is very popular with new democracies. It helps them transform a state-run media operation into privately run system and you can get attachments so they can have a public broadcasting component and social media network.”

“That could be interesting,” the president says. “Does it come in any other colors?”

“We also have — and this has proved very popular in Central America and Chicago — a rig your own election kit. Though it does tend to work better for more advanced democracies.”

The president looks at the box. “Recommended for countries 100 and older as well as military dictatorships pretending to be governments of the people,” he reads. “Yeah… I think this is what they’re trying to move away from. Let me look at the free press kit again. Does it come with freedom of information laws or are those sold separately?”

“They’re included.”

The president keeps walking through the store, finally stopping at a very large display case with people inside. “What’s this?” he asks.

“Oh, these are political consultants. We have all sorts of political persuasions and you can even get a sampler box that comes with one of each.”

The president looks at the price tags. “Kind of expensive, no?”

The clerk smiles. “Political campaigns aren’t cheap. But I guess I don’t have to tell you that.”

The president efforts a half-hearted smile. “No. You don’t.”

At that point, Michelle walks over and joins them.

“Did you find anything,” her husband asks her.

“All sorts of things. They have that internet kill switch I know you’ve been wanting.”

“We’re not here for me. Did you see anything for Egypt?”

“There were a couple of budget-balancing kits that I thought were nice but you know what I really liked?”

The president waits.

“Cuisinart has a really nice new mixer.”

“How much?”

She whispers in his ear.

The president smiles.

“We’ll take it,” he tells the clerk. “Do you ship?”

Remembering Mailer

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

This was a piece I wrote just over four years ago for The New York Sun (it can be found here) and was a delight to report and write. I met him in his townhouse in Brooklyn. I was supposed to have about 15-20 minutes with him and we ended up talking for two hours. Mailer was having trouble getting around. and frail physically but mentally – sharp as can be. What I really like was his comments about Obama, who had just announced his candidacy.

Norman Mailer didn’t set out to write a novel about Adolf Hitler.

“I was finally going to do the second volume of “Harlot’s Ghost” [his novel about the CIA] that I had been promising all these years,” he said, sitting on the top floor of his brownstone in Brooklyn with its expansive views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.

“I had an interesting notion that Harlot was going to be very interested in Carl Jung and that was going to be the intellectual vibration of the book. And then a week or two before I was going to start writing, it was as if another muse appeared in the doorway, crooked her finger, and said, ‘No, no, no. You come with me.” And I suddenly realized I wanted to write about Hitler.”

It wasn’t that the topic was new to Mr. Mailer, whose novel “The Castle in the Forest,” comes out this week.

“My Mother, who was fairly smart, was obsessed with Hitler,” he remembers. “Ever since I was nine she was talking about Hitler and how he was going to try and kill all the Jews. Even when the so-called experts were talking about how Hitler would mature, she knew otherwise.”

Mr. Mailer, who was nine in 1932, says that the work of one man deserves credit above and beyond for spurring him on: Ron Rosenbaum, author of “Explaining Hitler.”

“The book,” Mr. Mailer said, “stimulated the hell out of me, absolutely knocked me out when I read it. My mind began to race with all the possibilities about Hitler and at a certain point, I finally realized I had a lot to say about Hitler.”

Mr. Mailer points out that there hasn’t been a lot written in English about Hitler’s youth, which gave him an opening.

“There was some real room to write a novel there,” he says. “And then I got the real happy notion to have a devil write it. And, after that, it was just a matter of writing for a couple of years.”

One part of the book that has attracted attention Mr. Mailer hadn’t expected is the bibliography he includes at the end.

“I don’t know what got everybody so upset about,” he said. “It seemed like the perfectly decent, natural thing to do. You’ve read all these books why not give the people who wrote them, if they happen to come across the bibliography, the pleasure of seeing their name in print. What’s so terrible about that?

“I wasn’t saying, look at me, I’m a serious writer. I take it for granted that I’m a serious writer.”

As for other serious writers, Mr. Mailer knows they are out there (“I hear Dave Eggers is wonderful,” he said), but doesn’t read nearly as much as he used to.

“I almost don’t read anyone anymore,” he said. “The older I get, the more sensitive I’ve become to good writing. It stimulates me immensely, and then I go off in all sorts of directions thinking about how I would’ve done it. And my mind races and it distracts me from my own work. And so I rarely read a good writer anymore.”

As Mr. Mailer talks, he is faced away from the window with its stunning views: a concession, he said to old age.

“My eyes are giving out, one of the reasons I don’t read as much,” he says. “And the light bothers me tremendously.”

While Mr. Mailer isn’t able to enjoy the view as much as he used to — he now only spends about 20 days a year in New York and considers Provincetown his primary residence — he still thinks of himself as a New Yorker.

“Spiritually, I’m a New Yorker,” he said. “I always have been, I grew up in Brooklyn, after all. If you grow up in Brooklyn, you’re a New Yorker ipso facto.”

Mr. Mailer said as much as he loves New York, it’s no longer the best place for him.

“It’s a two-sided issue. On one hand, I absolutely miss New York,” he said. “On the other hand, I’m too old for it. It used to be that my wife and I could go out for dinner, stay out, and I’d get up the next morning and work. If I’m out at night these days, I’m no longer ready to work the next morning.”

Not only does Mr. Mailer describe himself as a New Yorker spiritually and historically, he once ran for mayor with columnist Jimmy Breslin as his running mate.

“Looking back on it, there was something highly comic about the whole thing,” he said. “Not at the time, of course. Breslin and I worked as hard as we ever worked. One of my favorite remarks at the time was that my mother didn’t raise me to work this hard. The press thought it was a lark, but it wasn’t a lark. It was a bone-depleting journey.”

“What is comic about it, what I find comic about it, was how little political sense I had compared to how much political sense I thought I had. What I didn’t understand was that a freshman doesn’t run for president of the fraternity.”

Mr. Mailer said that Senator Obama of Illinois shouldn’t read too much into that.

“While I was very proud that I came up with that after the election, of course, soon after, Jimmy Carter comes along, and he’s a freshman, and he gets elected president. “So, of course, one of the rules of politics is that there are no rules.”

As for Senator Obama, Mr. Mailer said that he hasn’t followed him too closely but that since “everyone is so enthusiastic about him, my feeling has been just to sit back and wait. He might be very good. He might not. The true test is going to be now that he’s going to run he’s going to have to make statements and people are going to be coming to him and going away from him.

“And that’s where the art of the politician comes in. Can he make statements in such a way that more people come to him than go away from him.”

As for one of Mr. Obama’s anticipated major rivals — Senator Clinton — Mr. Mailer said “she’s probably earned the job as much as anyone on the Democratic side.

However, he adds, “She has that funny publicity problem. Personally, she’s charming, but that’s not the public perception of her. And I don’t know how you overcome that.”

One the Republican side, Mr. Mailer sees Senator McCain as “formidable” but warns Mr. McCain to expect to see what he calls the “ugly, very ugly” picture of him embracing President Bush used widely against him. But, Mr. Mailer says, he doesn’t know if the Democrats would use it.

As for Mr. Bush, Mr. Mailer does not have kind words, referring to him as “nasty and stupid.”

Mailer also said that Mr. Bush, whom he believes is “not deep enough to be evil,” is a “social phenomenon,” the product of a shopping, marketing-oriented society.

“People believe that buying things is one of the most significant acts they can take, and that is the handmaiden to stupidity. The country has become more and stupid over the past 15 to 20 years, and George Bush is the fruit, the flower, of that tendency.”

Despite his misgivings on the country’s intelligence, Mr. Mailer is not entirely pessimistic. After all, he does dedicate his new novel to his grandchildren, an optimistic sign.

“I am a pessimist with occasional optimistic tendencies,” he said. “I tend to be a pessimist. That way when I get good news, I’m more uplifted. If you are start off as an optimist, you find yourself more easily disappointed.”

Mr. Mailer — whose life has included an incident in which he stabbed his wife and a controversy over a person he helped get out of prison who then committed a murder — said that while he has regrets “they are not something I discuss publicly.”

One regret he does not have is losing the race for mayor in 1969.

“The city went bankrupt soon after, and if Jimmy and I had won, they would have blamed us,” he said. “It’s like we had a guardian angel watching over us. While at the time, we thought we were walking into bullets, it turns out we were dodging a big bullet.”

And, for now, Mr. Mailer has his work to keep him busy.

“Work more important than anything,” he said. “It’s onerous in one’s middle years but a blessing when you’re old.”

Mr. Mailer said one project he once very much wanted to finish was a trilogy of books, of which only the first one ever got written.

“Ancient Evenings” was supposed to be part one of a series that dealt with the past, present and future. It was the third book that brought an end to the idea. It was to be set on a spaceship with a few select humans, with Earth no longer around, looking for a new planet.

“I realized I no longer had the mental equipment to tackle science fiction.”

In the meantime, Mr. Mailer says, he hopes to write a second novel about Hitler.

“I’m not going to promise it because at my age you can’t. If I last long enough there will be a second volume.”

As for the sequel to “Harlot’s Ghost,” the book he promised to write but from which he got diverted to write about Hitler?

“I’m afraid that’s one promise I won’t keep,” he said.

Welcome to Wylie World: An Agent's Bold Move Makes Sense

In Entertainment, Media, Technology, Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm
Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

When I originally heard about Andrew Wylie’s announcement last week that he was partnering with Amazon to create “Odyssey Editions” — 20 special e-book versions of modern classics by writers whom he represents that will only be available for Kindle and devices that support Kindle software such as the iPad, I thought:

This is bad news.

After all, at its face it seems to be exclusive deal with one retail outlet.

Here’s the thing, though.

As I like to point out, Kindle’s not just a device, it’s software that works on many devices.

What Wylie has done is take 20 great books that have not been available electronically and made them available to a pretty large audience.

Sure there are some people who are upset.

For instance, I suspect Wylie won’t be getting any holiday cards from Random House this year. And there’s a book store in Mississippi that’s making a big deal of this.

The only ones who seem to be taking a balanced, sensical approach to the whole kerfuffle is The Author’s Guild.

Is there any real difference between what Wylie has done and say, special editions for The Franklin Library or the Library of America?

Well, yes.

Wylie has created a series of affordable editions for a very wide audience.

Good for him.

Amazon Says Print is Dead, Long Live the Kindle (Not so fast…)

In Entertainment, Media, Technology, Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 9:27 am
IMG_0096.JPG

Image by Yoshimasa Niwa via Flickr

So, earlier this week Amazon put out a press release singing the glories of the Kindle.

It has been a tough few weeks for the Kindle as things have looked up for the iPad while they’ve been caught in a bit of an e-reader price war.

So, you really can’t blame Amazon for putting out a release that trumpets their device.

“Kindle Device Unit Accelerate Each Month in Second Quarter; New $189 Price Results in Tipping Point for Growth” says the release’s headline.

Well, geez. Wow. That’s great, huh? They must be selling gazillions of Kindles by now. How many? Well, let’s look at the release again. Hmm. It’s not there.

How about in The New York Times story about Amazon’s announcement?

Wait. It’s not there either though the Times does repeat Amazon’s claim that “the growth rate of Kindle sales tripled after Amazon lowered the price of the device in late June.”

The problem is that unlike Apple — which regularly touts how many iPads it’s selling — Amazon has never released exact sales figures for the device. paidContent.org has quoted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying they may never release those figures.

So, when they say that growth has tripled… from one to three? Seven to 21? One million to three million? Who knows?

Now, let’s look at the rest of the release: “Amazon.com Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Hardcover Books.”

Again, wow. The previously mentioned New York Times story refers to this news “as a day for the history books — if those will even exit in the future.”

And reading the release, you can’t blame them.

Amazon claims that “over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.”

Again, wow.

But…

Since they don’t give us actual sales figures (other than the fact that James Patterson has sold 867,881 Kindle books, one of five writers to sell more than 500,000 KIndle books; the others being: Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephanie Meyer and Nora Roberts), we really don’t know what that means.

Yes, it’s a lot — based on those five writers alone — but how much? And what does it really mean?

Is it that — as Bezos claims — “the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format.”

Is it that e-readers, whether they be Kindles or iPads, are the way things are going?

The second is more likely.

At the same time, as great as the devices are, as I’ve pointed out, e-readers will only really be the future when we figure out how to get them to everyone. Otherwise we need to keep helping libraries and schools make sure they have regular, old, printed books for kids.

Print may not be quite as robust as it used to be but it’s far from dead.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and Irony

In Media, Politics, Technology, Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 8:56 am

Where would we be without Mondays?

Today’s life lesson in irony comes from The New York Times and The Washington Post. Actually it’s from Politico but it’s thanks to a New York Times story.

(maybe you should buckle up)

The New York Times had a story yesterday, In a World of Online News, Burnout Starts Younger.

The focus is websites like the hyperactive political website Politico and gossip site Gawker and the conclusion:

“Such is the state of the media business these days: frantic and fatigued. Young journalists who once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story are instead shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh thought or be first to report even the smallest nugget of news — anything that will impress Google algorithms and draw readers their way.”

There’s talk of high turnover rates and frantic obsession with page views and that we live “in a media environment crowded with virtual content farms where no detail is too small to report as long as it was reported there first.”

What isn’t there is a lot of talk of long-term projects and in-depth reporting. Not to say that there isn’t in-depth online reporting, it’s just that the emphasis is fast fast fast. It’s as if suddenly everybody’s a wire service reporter.

Except Dana Priest of The Washington Post.

Bless her and her ability to report the hell out of a story.

In the past five years, Priest has won two Pulitzers — for her exposure of the CIA’s secret prisons and for her series on the lousy treatment Americans veterans were receiving at Walter Reed.

Now she’s back with a hell of a story running in installments in her paper.

Top Secret America is the result of more than two years of reporting, breathtaking in its scope and an amazing example of not only why newspapers are important but how effective they can be when embracing changes in technology.

At its heart, the series explores how “the government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.”

Priest, her colleague William Arkin and nearly a dozen other Post staffers have put together what appears to be an astoundingly well-reported, well-written series. And not only have they written some great articles (part two is live today), they’ve created an interactive website with a searchable database, a Facebook page, a Twitter account. There’s going to be a special on Frontline (won’t be airing until the fall, watch the seven-minute teaser video here).

So, on a day that The New York Times reports on how the world of online journalism is leading to burnout, The Washington Post comes out with a great series that reminds people of why newspapers are important — essential — and shows the potential of in-depth reporting on the web.

Brilliant.

Read This: A Middle School is Still Trying to Recover from Katrina

In Media, Politics, Uncategorized on July 8, 2010 at 9:15 am

Now that I’ve written the headline, I’m thinking it’s a little misleading because it really wasn’t Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans, it was the failure of the levees after the fact that caused so much destruction.

Anyway, that’s another argument for another time.

Today we’re talking about one of the most fabulous organizations on the planet — Read This. I’ve written about them before and feel I could never really write enough about them. They solicit books for school libraries and other places that need them. They make sure that kids have something to read.

They’ve helped kids in the Bronx and Brooklyn and the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is truly noble work.

Among their current projects is helping collect books for the library in the soon-to-reopen Andrew Jackson Middle School in St. Bernard Parish. (for those of you who don’t know, Jackson is huge down there because it was in New Orleans that he defeated the British during the War of 1812).

Their goal is 1,400 books by September. As of July 1, they had collected 605 and had 795 to go. They are not the only ones helping the schools down there, which really need some assistance.

So, take a minute, head to either Read This or the website of the Garden District Book Shop, an independent store down there helping in the effort and buy a book.

A kid will be thankful.

I guarantee it.

My Conflicted Feelings about Bree Tanner

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2010 at 9:47 am
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24:  Author Stephenie M...

Image by Getty Images North America via @daylife

Here’s the thing. I don’t think Stephenie Meyer is a very good writer.

I know I’m not her target audience but, in my own defense, I am a voracious reader as happy with a fun, well-written young adult book as I am with an engrossing Russian novel; as happy with JRR Tolkien as I am with Lorrie Moore.  I love reading.

So, when Twilight first came out and shot up the best seller lists, I was curious. And I really wasn’t all that impressed. But, I figured maybe it was just me, maybe it was my mood at the time. And as the subsequent books came out, I gave them a chance.

And each time, I found them — eh.

Now she’s out with a new novella in the same series, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and I also found it, eh.

And I’m not the only one.  The Guardian said the book is “woefully, leaden-footedly pedestrian throughout.”

Indications are that even Meyer may be close to having had her fill of vampires.

It’s really all besides the point, though.

As The Washington Post pointed out: “The satisfaction of “Twilight” novels cannot be measured by such terms as “good” and “bad.” This goes double for “Bree,” which was not originally intended as a stand-alone novel and which all fans will read and all haters will skip regardless of the reviews.”

And the numbers back that up.

“Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight Saga, has yet another smash hit on her hands,” the Associated Press wrote earlier this week, reporting that Bree Tanner had sold more than one million copies since being published June 5.

And really, that’s the important thing. Meyer has written a series of books bought by millions, which means that millions have been reading. And I think that’s great. Maybe she’s not the world best writer. Big deal. She’s got people reading and, as far I’m concerned, for that she deserves a medal.

Because maybe those people reading her books will then move on to other (and hopefully better) stuff.

After all, it’s the reading that’s fundamental.