New Books and ARCs, 9/21/18

As promised, here is the second half of a big haul of new books and ARCs at the Scalzi Compound this week. Some excellent choices here — do you see anything in particular you like? Tell us in the comments!

1998/2018: Whatever 20/20, Day Twenty-One: New York

I’m actually writing this in New York; I’m currently loitering at a hotel near Penn Station, in room that looks like the nicest dorm suite at NYU and can hear the street noise rising up to my windows. It’s surprisingly nice white noise, although history reminds me that sometimes it’s just noise, and loud. It’s New York. Whaddya gonna do.

I picked New York as a subject for this series not just because I happen to be in it today but also because in many ways it’s an emblematic town for me, one that especially in the last twenty years is tied intimately to my professional life. When I was a freelancer a lot of my gigs came from a marketing company rather pointedly located on Madison Avenue; now as a novelist Tor books is currently located at the iconic Flatiron building, although not for much longer, alas. I come here regularly on tour and to do events like Book Expo America and New York Comic Con. I have a ton of friends here, as well as compatriots in publishing. More than any other major city in the US — even LA, in whose suburbs I grew up, or Chicago, where I went to college — this town has a direct influence on my day to day life.

Also, weirdly, it’s still a town that doesn’t feel completely real to me. Unlike LA or Chicago, I’ve never lived in New York; I’ve spent at most three or four days in it at a time. That’s enough time in aggregate to start to get a feel for a place but not enough time for it to become a place that feels grounded. I’ve never had a daily life here — I’ve never had to pay bills or do grocery shopping or deal with plumbing here. For those reasons (and others like it) New York still feels like a special, different, place to me. Magical? I don’t know about magical. Too much vague urine smell for magical. But as they say, there’s no place like it.

It’s also the city people think of when they think of writers; for good reason, since most of big-league publishing is here and I suspect roughly half of Brooklyn lists “writer” as their profession on their tax forms, and another quarter are probably editors, agents and other citizens of the publishing world. When I visit I feel like I’m visiting the home office, as it were. A place where if you say you’re a writer you get a look that says “well, obviously you are, we all are” instead of “how do you manage to eat?” or just a polite blank stare that suggests the person never considered it a profession at all.

I’m not sure that means I would ever want to actually move here, however. I kind of like having NYC be a special “sometimes” place for me, a place to visit and be familiar with, but never bored of or irritated at. A place where it’s still exciting to come out of Penn Station, look down 34th street and see the Empire State Building and go, oh, hey, it’s actually a thing that exists in the world. I’ll let my friends who live in NYC be blase about it. I’m happy to go the other direction. And I’m happy to still be happy to be in town.

(That said: New York style pizza? Eh. It’s okay, I guess. There, the requisite fighting words have been said. We can move on to other things now.)

The Whatever Digest, 9/21/18

I’m at the airport with two and a half hours before my flight boards. Enough time for a digest!

***

So apparently the big attempt to defect from Kavanaugh’s allegedly sexually assaulting past was for a key Republican operative to launch a conspiracy theory Twitter thread saying it was actually someone else who attacked Ford, and she got confused because all jock-y white male teens look alike? Two things here:

1. Kathleen Parker’s “maybe there was a doppelganger” column in the Washington Post yesterday now looks even more embarrassing, because clearly she was drafting off this particular juggernaut of idiocy, and perhaps the Pulitzer committee might want to think about rescinding her award;

2. This truly is the stupidest timeline possible. I mean, I wasn’t really doubting that, given the preponderance of evidence, but it’s depressing to be reminded with such frequency.

What’s particularly horrifying is that Ed Whelan, the mastermind behind this particular wodge of bullshit, actually named someone else as the potential sexual assaulter, a dude named [deleted because on second thought it doesn’t do any good to spread his name around], who currently teaches at a middle school and who is the very definition of a private citizen. This is essentially an open-and-shut defamation case, and I expect [defamed person] is neck-deep in lawyers wanting to represent him, because this is some easy money right here. Ford has flatly said that it wasn’t [defamed person] who attacked her, so this one conspiracy theory which has fallen with a splat.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall makes the point that it’s unlikely that Whelan moved forward without at least some sort of coordination with the Kavanaugh camp, which if it’s true is yet one more reason Kavanaugh shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Supreme Court. Someone who would countenance throwing an innocent person under a bus in a (mixed metaphor here) Hail Mary pass attempt to clear his own name is not a moral person, or a good person. In fact, if it’s true, he’s complete shit.

***

Also, at this point, after last’s night hugely embarrassing Twitter fracas, one has to wonder how there is still any support for Kavanaugh among Senate Republicans, other than sheer myopic cussedness. He’s an astounding liability, someone credibly accused of sexual assault nominated to the bench primarily to overturn Roe v. Wade, and if you don’t think women aren’t already pissed off, just you wait. They would be better off at this point simply telling Kavanaugh to pack it in and then picking someone who could actually stand up to vetting (if they can, who knows with this clown car of an administration). Nearly anyone else would be better at this point. Any one of my cats would be better.

But of course they won’t, because we have stupid people in charge, and a president who can’t ever back down from anything because he’s weak and a bully. So here we are.

***

Why am I at the airport? I’m off to NYC to do a little business and to see some friends, basically. Also it’s a nice time of year to be in New York. Before anyone asks, I’m not doing any public events, sorry. Just work stuff and a little personal time. Also maybe to go in for a slice, say “You call this pizza?!?!?” and pull out a Chicago deep dish from my backpack and eat it in the shop, never breaking eye contact with the horrified pizza shop employees. Okay, maybe not that last one. I don’t actually have a death wish.

***

Congratulations to the Cleveland Browns, who last night not only didn’t lose, but actually managed to win a game, their first since Christmas Eve in 2016. The fact that much of Ohio went a little nuts about that one win says a lot about the state of Browns football, and maybe a little about Ohio. Meanwhile the Bengals, 2-0, wonder what the big deal is. Stay cool, Bengals. Stay cool.

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That’s it for the Digest this week. It’ll be back on Monday. To get you through until then, here’s Smudge on my luggage this morning. Have a great weekend, the last of summer and the first of fall.