Broadcast Television and Required Summer Watching

[I]t’s a different television landscape than we would have seen even ten years ago, and the traditional television seasons now find their borders challenged. We can thank many massively-popular reality television series with lower production costs for largely creating a genuine summer TV season.

Today in the Spectator Tribune, watch me throw television recommendations at you while I muse on the changes in the broadcasting process which have led to a an entirely different artistic landscape for the medium.

Waiting for Books in the Era of Instant Gratification

The nice thing about reviewing books is, in those rare cases I’m really feeling, shall we say, antsy about an upcoming book release, I can almost certainly get a copy weeks, if not months, before its actual release. It’s the literary equivalent of a backstage pass, except not being really like that at all.

Frankly, aside from the long-worn off novelty, this doesn’t usually matter in any case. I’m always behind in my book reading, so what’s the rush to add to the pile? There are a few titles, however, that I genuinely am impatient for, and you know what? Sucks to be me, because I still have to wait, and wait good.

William H. Patterson wrote an excellent biography on Robert Heinlein, and even though it approached 1000 pages and had lots of end notes, I immediately wanted to jump into Volume Two. The problem, Volume Two was still in manuscript form and far from its publication date. So I’ve waited, and waited, and waited. Every few months I pop over to Patterson’s seldom updated blog to see the progress, if any.

And now? Finally we’re at a point where an actual publication date might be settled on in the next couple of months. The book will probably be out in 2014. Yes, I’ll be going after an early copy. But they haven’t even copy-edited it yet. I’m not getting that early of a copy.

On the fiction side of things? Lev Grossman wrote a book called The Magicians that I heard a little something about and thought sounded kind of interesting but it wasn’t enough for me to actually seek it out, especially as the particular review I first saw was a little mixed (though a good reviewer gives the reader a sense of what the book is like and allows for a prospective reader to recognize if there’s something they might like even if it wasn’t to the reviewer’s taste).

It came up for review along with its newly-released sequel, which was even better, and I devoured both. Extremely readable, fresh, and with the hallmarks of true classics. Two or three years have gone by and I think Grossman has just now started writing the conclusion of the trilogy this year. Hurry up, won’t you? But also, make sure you take your time and don’t screw it up. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

Then there’s Murakami, the Japanese writer with an English fan-base most native speakers wish they had. It’s great being a fan of a foreign-language author, because you get to hear about his latest Tokyo book launches and how great this new novel is and what the critics are all saying and you get all jazzed up and then you wait two years for the translation. Awesome.

See you in 2014, English version of 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年. Unless I die before then.

Tuesday Links (06/04/13)

This 27-year-old repaid $28,115 in debt – in under two years: A lesson in austerity and belt-tightening.

Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills: Aaannnd here’s the bad news. Is it a surprise they call economics “the dismal science”? You just can’t win.

Bosses more likely to be psychopaths, study says: I know, right? Actually this is nothing new, studies about the higher incidence of psychopathy in certain fields have been around for years, and it’s not surprising that someone with minimal empathy and maximal manipulative abilities would rise to the top in certain workplace cultures (if not most). But the top ten lists for careers that attract the highest and lowest numbers of psychopaths are new to me. It seems I make both lists. So which of my two major careers represents the “real” me?