Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Bedtime Will Never Be The Same

The nightly climb up the stairs to Bedfordshire is supposed to be a time of parent-child bonding and sleepy tranquility. The little darlings dress themselves obediently in their pyjamas and clutch hot water bottles dreamily to their chests murmuring: "I love you, Mummy and Daddy."

In reality they want "just one more" repeat of Come Dine With Me. When they have already watched three. And, despite it already being several hours past the time they are supposed to be asleep, they now want you to read to them. You intone the words of Peepo, The Gruffalo or The Smartest Giant in Town as if you were a mass murderer.

Now comes the backlash – in the form of children's bedtime books designed for adults. Goodnight Keith Moon by Bruce Worden and Clare Cross published in the UK this week, is already a cult hit in the US. "Morbidly funny," according to the New Yorker, it's a spoof of the children's classic Goodnight Moon, told through the eyes of the Who's late drummer. A trashed hotel room replaces the sleepy child's bedroom. Instead of the bowl of mush featured in the original, there are pills everywhere: "And some whiskey and fish and some more in a dish, And the ghost of Cass Elliott whispering shhh."

It's already a trend with Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes, on its third print run in the US.

We can expect more of this stuff. There's already Porn For New Moms: photographs of beefcake guys feeding babies in the style of a children's picture book. And there's the "Baby Be Useful" series: Baby Mix Me a Drink, Baby Fix My Car, Baby Do My Banking. My favourite? All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen: "If you're a dinosaur, all your friends are dead. If you're a pirate, all your friends have scurvy." Genius.
- Viv Groskop, The Guardian

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Tiger's Wife: Orange Prize 2011 winner

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Obreht, the youngest of "The New Yorker's" 20 best American fiction writers under 40, spins a timeless novel about a young doctor who confronts the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death.

"... highly original, funny and frightening ... Her writing is remarkable, but she doesn't show off, nor does she ask too much of our imaginations. Like the characters in the story, we are easily drawn to the unbelievable elements of this tale because they sweep us away from the real world" - The Economist

Paperback is available for only R99 from Pulp Books.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Man with a Pan

“Man With a Pan,” edited by the cartoonist, writer and New Yorker editor John Donohue, is a rangy, toothsome, timely and occasionally wince-inducing collection of essays by kitchen dads, men who do most of the cooking in their families.
“Man With a Pan” contains essays (and recipes) by marquee names including Stephen King — isn’t it time he set a scary novel in a Hardee’s? — and Mario Batali. But the best pieces here, the line-caught beauties, are by people you’ve probably barely heard of.
 "Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, delivers a piercing essay about his insecure need to give lavish dinner parties, as seen though the prism of his failing marriage. “Cooking had become a distraction and a source of solace in a marriage that no longer offered its own consolations,” he writes. His painful piece is also funny. When he begins dating a vegetarian and becomes one himself, a friend calls this shift a “sexually transmitted eating disorder.” 

 "Wesley Stace is best-known as a singer-songwriter who performs under the name John Wesley Harding, but he’s also written three novels. If his flinty essay here is any indication of what those novels are like, I need to pack one for the lake this summer. He nails the idiotic gender division of labor at some meals, observing about his family: “The men carved what the women cooked (a remarkable piece of last-minute scene-stealing), as though sharp knives were too dangerous for women outside the kitchen.” 

- Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.