Way Cool Media, Way Cool News

It’s Thurs­day morn­ing, I’m in New York to do a series of events that I’ll blog about—a book club taped for Long Island TV, two book­store appear­ances, and a ben­e­fit for The East Hamp­ton Library—but in the mean­time, I wanted to direct read­ers to sev­eral inter­est­ing pieces of media about the novel.

First, my inter­view with Ed Cham­pion from The Bat Segundo Show is up, and I highly rec­om­mend it. Cham­pion read the novel twice before we spoke, and given the inter­views I’ve lis­tened to on his site, this isn’t out of the ordi­nary: he brings a metic­u­lous, deep level of prepa­ra­tion to these talks, which led, in my case, to the most in-depth dis­cus­sion of the inter­tex­ual use of Hitch­cock in Mr. Peanut that I’ve had the plea­sure of par­tic­i­pat­ing in so far (and which still is only a start­ing point). If, per­haps, the inter­view seems at times eso­teric or high­fa­lutin, it is, but it’s also unapolo­get­i­cally so, and what Cham­pion does here is treat the novel as a whole, giv­ing its for­mal strat­egy a great deal of respect, wrestling with it as opposed to break­ing it down into its con­stituent parts and com­par­ing them to each other. (It’s worth not­ing that Cham­pion found the Shep­pard sec­tion far too long, for instance, but he never men­tions this in his inter­view. He sim­ply wants to get at what the novel is try­ing to say, and what more can a writer hope for?) Con­se­quently, we’re able to talk about what it might mean, for instance, that the Has­troll sec­tion is so short; or it might answer why David has no his­tory, seems at times a cipher, with a far less rich inner life than Mar­i­lyn or Sam Shep­pard, for instance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the guy is a trea­sure to the book world, just as Robert Birn­baum, Stephen Usery, Leonard Lopate, or Bill Edwards are as well. They give books and writ­ers their due.

Another ter­rific talk about the book just appeared on Slate’s Dou­bleX audio book blog. The dis­cus­sion is lively, the obser­va­tions by the participants—Hanna Rosin, Emily  Bazelon, and Mar­garet Talbot—are bril­liant, sym­pa­thetic, syn­thetic, humor­ous, crit­i­cal, glow­ing, occa­sion­ally obtuse (it’s a novel, not a self-help book), off base (misog­y­nist?), and spot-on, but always, again, respect­ful, espe­cially of the book’s ambi­tious­ness. I’m thrilled and flat­tered that they decided to include it on their pro­gram. Although my response to the show pre­ceded its air­ing, that response is worth read­ing, but only after you’ve read Mr. Peanut, because it con­tains numer­ous spoil­ers, as does the book talk.

Last but not least, Mr. Peanut was short­listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and what can I say? It’s thrilling, hum­bling, and means that there’s a one-in-seven chance that they like me, they really, really, like me…