Next book . . . ?

It's been a week since anyone's commented on Netherland (and I'm happy to continue checking in on that conversation if it gets revived). Maybe we could kick around ideas for another book. I have a couple more normal ideas (I've never read anything by Dan Chaon, and I'd love to hear people's thoughts on 2666) and a very goofy one (Stephen King's new novel?), but as I've invested in these ideas about ten seconds of consideration, anything would be good.

(I'm happy to slow down the discussion, too: I was chomping at the bit too much last time, I'm afraid. Too excited to talk to adults! About books! What fun!)



PhD fiction programs?

Say, hypothetically, someone were interested in finding out about PhD programs where the novel you're writing becomes your PhD thesis.  Any recommendations for programs like that?


From the Onion --

Soon, it will come to this --

New 'Noveller' Allows People To Post Novels They Write During Course Of Their Day

SAN FRANCISCO—Noveller, the online macroblogging service that lets users post their impromptu narrative ruminations on modern life, society, and the nature of existence itself, celebrated its millionth post late last week, officially making it the world's most popular prose-sharing tool.
A Noveller user "novels" out his latest thoughts on the inherent frailty of man.
Social media experts said they're not surprised so many people have subscribed to the exciting new site, as it's the only online service in which users can post a major multivolume epic in the morning, and have it read, critiqued, and reNovelled by thousands of other people around the world before lunch.
"You know, before we came up with Noveller, we had all these friends creating these great 75,000- to 300,000-word works of fiction, but there was no quick, easy, fun way to share them," cofounder Chuck Gregory said. "To be honest, we were stunned there wasn't already anything like it out there. It seemed so obvious"
At 10 a.m. Pacific time on Mar. 13, Gregory and his team of programmers launched Noveller. By 10:03 a.m., the first-ever Noveller post—a primitive but vigorous account of an insurance salesman who becomes obsessed with his father's boyhood on a Philippines naval base—was put up by user johnnyK_67.
Within an hour, more than 300 user-generated "Novels" had been posted.
"I love it," said Sheena Wulf, a Novellist from Kansas City, MO. "If I'm ever sitting in a coffee shop and my sense of alienation and utter detachment from contemporary life provides me with sudden insight into the world that helped shape my family, I just grab my phone and Novel it out to people."
These days it seems as though everyone is constantly checking to see which of their friends came of age in a tenuous time and discovered their mentors and role models were not who they thought they were.
Added Wulf, "It's so simple."
Just months after its release, Noveller has become a cultural touchstone, despite countless jibes from critics who claim it has broken no new literary ground and oversimplifies the narrative form. Those who Novel on a daily basis claim to love the challenge of the utility's 140-page minimum, and popular Novellists such as TheRealJayDeeSalinger, no_i_am_not_thomas_pynchon, and aplusk soon boasted hundreds of thousands of followers.
"It makes me wonder how I ever kept track of my friends and their symbolic prose examinations of universal human experiences before this," user Joyce Carol Oates said. "I'm like, did we really ever actually go to libraries? Weird, right?"
But not everyone is so taken with the intricate-social-allegory-networking tool. In July, a University of Iowa graduate student died in a car accident while Novelling and driving, and Time magazine's "Death of the Noveller?" cover story last month cast doubts on the medium's long-term prospects.
"Nobody wants to go to their computer and read about what you had for breakfast and how it called to mind your boyhood, which morphed into a meditation on the relationship between life and art and, by extension, a metaphor for all social interaction," said Sam Alger, 24, who claimed to be "disgusted" by his friends' constant Novelling. "But some of them, it's all they do. It's like no one just talks to you for hours and hours on end any more."
"We get it: It's not just your story, but through its striving to explore basic human commonalities, it's everyone's story," Houston gas station manager Angie Ordway said. "That doesn't mean I want to go through hundreds of them whenever I open my phone."
Some, however, like MIT computer networking expert Rod Baines, argues that Noveller, which has been growing at a rate of roughly 10,000 users a day since its introduction, seems to have tapped into a previously undiscovered human need to take one's thoughts and feelings and transmute them into full-length narratives for hundreds or thousands of others to instantly see.
"I think everyone has at least one Noveller post in them," said Baines, who noted that he had just posted a sprawling, nuanced, multigenerational family saga while shopping that afternoon. "And half the fun is just following other people's Novels. Of course, that can become a problem if your employer ever finds out that he figures heavily in your satirical roman à clef."
"I've got to be especially careful," Baines added. "Mom follows my Noveller posts, and she just hates my use of the second person."




Spoiler alert!

Impressions after 19 pages are entirely negative. But I'm admittedly quick to dislike things, and I hope the book improves and also that you'll all steer me right.


-- the narrator is to this point dull, even dumb. The scene with the gun is an easy example, but his melodramatic pauses during conversations (some version of "I don't immediately answer" happens five times in three pages) are forced and annoying. Maybe he's a well-informed idiot like many Nabokov characters, which I'm hoping for, but so far the portrayal seems sincere, lacking irony. I'm worried.

-- the 'hook' is melodramatic . . . but at least it's dramatic. There's not much tension anywhere else, sadly: I'm waiting to see what happens with the hook: that's it: after 19 pages. No character development, either. Rachel is a complete blank. And I've discussed my feelings about the narrator.

-- the research about cricket is shoe-horned in and the speech about the civility of cricket rings false (somewhat the giving of the speech, but absolutely the reception. No one snickers?). ((Edit: I looked again and people do laugh. I can't tell if they're laughing 'with' or 'against' him, though. Clarity, Joe.))

-- the structure is clunky without any yield that I can see (a quick brief flashback within the larger flashback seems entirely unnecessary).

--the prose has enough vague evocations and lapses that I distrust the author. Two examples:

1. " . . . I find it hard to rid myself of the feeling that life carries a taint of aftermath." (That just makes me cringe -- not only 'taint,' but the vagueness is so blah. We're supposed to be interested in a guy who talks like this? Ugh.)

2. And this exchange:

"Oh," I say, "I'm sure I've told you about him. A cricket guy I used to know. A guy from Brooklyn."
She repeats after me, "Chuck Ramkissoon?"

(Um . . . maybe I need to look up 'repeat'?)

Yeah, I'm being nitpicky but just for spiteful fun. I'll keep going with the novel. Disagreement and revelations about my stupidity/impatience are entirely welcome and even hoped for.


For the stuck

Assume many goats saw this in the NYT. Much delightful skewering.