When you begin to think the advances of doled out to writers by major corporations possess anything but an accidental correlation to artistic worth, you are finished. Everything becomes publicity. How many writers now refuse to be photographed? How many refuse to sit for idiotic "lifestyle" pieces? Or to write supplemental reading group "guides" for their paperbacks? Everyone along the chain of production compromises a tiny bit and suddenly Jay McInerney is a guest judge on Iron Chef….In the age of BookScan, only an unpublished writer is allowed to keep his dignity.

Gee, I think sad young literary man Keith Gessen’s feeling kind of bad about inviting the New York Times Styles section along to watch him play touch football. (Also, Jay McInerney is not only a novelist, he’s the wine columnist for House & Garden, so the idea that he’s judging Iron Chef does not exactly prove Gessen’s point that all publishers are pimps and all writers are whores).

Anyhow. Apologies for the anemic posting. I blame the baby. She has figured out how to roll from her back to her front. She can also roll from her front to her back. She will demonstrate her gross motor proficiency on any day of the week, except Friday, because she’s shomer Shabbos, and she doesn’t roll on Fridays.

All of this is great, except sometimes she’ll roll from her back onto her front, decide she doesn’t want to be there, forget that she actually knows how to reverse it, and then squawk and wave her arms until somebody flips her back over and reassures her that the world is not cruel and unjust. At least, not all the time.

In between the not-sleeping, and the working on the next thing, I’ve been reading a lot. Daughters of the North is more convincing in its description of landscapes than characters, but its vision of the future is Handmaid's Tale-level chilling.

Janet Maslin’s review of James Frey’s latest eradicated every bit of desire I might have had to read the book (plus, the excerpt on Amazon struck me as a classic example of telling, not showing). I bought Andrew Vachss' latest instead. Conversely, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s pan of Barbara Walters’ bio made me run out and buy it: okay, Walters was the death of serious journalism, but! Dishy!

Jen