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September 08, 2011



Have there been any good "Why can't fiction writers adequately capture 'The Meaning of 9/11'?" articles recently?

There have been thousands, and I've long suspected that the answer is the blunt but obvious "Because 9/11 had very little 'meaning' at all for fiction writers to explore, at least in the way that the question was intended".


I see US cable TV is following suit.


Oh but it does have meaning for novelists, FR. Its a THEME. And a THEME, means the Great American Novel. And the Great American Novel means prizes and endowed chairs.

In fact there's a new one, which is apparently very meaningful. Brimming with meaning.

Barry Freed

I heard one bit on NPR's Fresh Air a few days back on how Amy Waldman's Submission could be the great 9/11 novel we've been waiting for (I can't believe I just wrote that, someone kick me) and it didn't sound half bad (not that I'll be reading it, mind you.)

It's been pretty bad over here, building steadily since the last Sunday of August. TV is mostly unwatchable and radio unlistenable. I've laid in a supply of DVDs but it's proving to be inadequate, perhaps I should have started rewatching Buffy or something.

And I think it's going to be all I can do to restrain myself from wishing people a "Happy 911" on the day in question.


I'm not sure women are allowed to write the Great American Novel, Barry; you might want to double-check that.


Amy Waldman was the one. It sounded pretty terrible to me. Filled with significance.

TV is mostly unwatchable and radio unlistenable.

And this is different from normal how exactly? I think I'll know I've been in the US too long when I start to think of NPR as quite good...


And the Great American Novel means

A boom in the logging and paper mill industries of maritime Canada and northern New England, going by the typical size of the fuckers.


And I think it's going to be all I can do to restrain myself from wishing people a "Happy 911" on the day in question.

For a happy 9/11 you could do worse than Barcelona. It's also the Catalan national day, so there's an air of general festivity with lots of fireworks, flag-waving, cheering, carhorns and so on. Probably a bit disconcerting for visiting American tourists.

Barry Freed

Filled with significance perhaps but still the kind of message that unfortuately needs to be heard over here (set up is about an anonymous "submission" to a juried competiton for a 9/11 memorial being won by someone who turns out to be a Muslim architect and the fall-out when this is found out, the biggest booster of his design being the 9/11 widow on the jury, and of course the title literally translates "Islam." Maybe too clever or cute but unfortunately still a necessary message to signify over here these days, I still won't be reading it though and there are worse things to deplore).

And this is different from normal how exactly? I think I'll know I've been in the US too long when I start to think of NPR as quite good...

It's worse. Much much worse. I can't turn on the TV for local cable news for the weather without seeing the towers burning. And the NPR stations where I am have some half-way decent local programming. Now it's 9/11 24/7.
Also the once great NY Pacifica station WBAI has gone down the rabbit hole with a whole lot of truther conspiracy bollocks(and a while ago they inexplicably axed Doug Henwood's great Behind the News radio show, possibly the best one hour public affairs show anywhere though I think he's still producing it for KPFA in SF; but we do have George Galloway on the air in the AM, thanks for that. OTOH I'm sure someone, Amy Goodman perhaps, will do something on the anniversary of the coup in Chile.)

Barcelona tomorrow sounds wonderful wish I could be there for that tomorrow, or just there any day at all.


Behind the Grain might give Doug a run for his money, but I agree its excellent (as is his magazine). Both available as podcasts, so all hope isn't lost. Add some of the BBC stuff, and you can do okay.

There's also This is Hell, which is a show run out of Chicago which demonstrates what a left wing talk radio should be like. Their podcast is a bit erratic, but it's usually smart and entertaining.

The main NPR station in S. Carolina sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch. All the voices sound the same, the tone is narcoleptic and reasonable and the topics are what well educated, but incurious, people think of as worthy. God its terrible. The local PBS affiliate mostly plays middlebrow British television, or concerts. Seeing a second rate cop show on something called "Masterpiece Theatre" almost killed me.

Barry Freed

Would that be "Against the Grain"? It sounds familiar and I'll definitely give that a listen as well as This is Hell which I hadn't heard of and for which suggestion I thank you.

Do you listen to Ian Masters' program from the LA Pacifica station KPFK? He's a BBC trained journalist. I think he does two separate programs "Background Briefing" and another one "Daily Briefing" but I think it used to be called something else. Good interviewer with a similar guest list as Henwood's. (DH has good taste in music too).

Counterspin by FAIR does decent media crit. Also Between the Lines from WPKN isn't bad for a news weekly.

NPR is nothing if not soporific. Another reason to hate on them and never ever give them a dime is they were instrumental in killing the Low-Power FM initiative (and they lied in the process too) which would have given rise to thousands of small local radio stations run by local community groups (I'm sure a fair share of them would have been run by right wing evangelical churches but it would have been a great opportunity for all kinds of that deep weirdness that's one of America's few remaining redeeming virtues to get on the air).

The Masterpiece Theatre thing is funny. What was the cop show?

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