The Weird Week in Writing: Literary fights, Spider-Man reviews, new J.D. Salinger yarns

Freaky Friday—the latest from the often weird and wonderful world of writing
this week (followed, as always, by a prompt). Happy weekend!

EXISTENTIAL PHILOSOPHY FALLOUTS! HEAD BUTTS! The HuffPo polled readers for their favorite literary fights, and the results and brief explanations made for one of the most fascinating reads of the week. In the ring: C.S. Lewis Vs. J.R.R. Tolkien. Norman Mailer Vs. Gore Vidal. Arthur Rimbaud Vs. Paul Verlaine (stabbings + shootings). And, in Ernest Hemingway Vs. Wallace Stevens, Stevens broke his hand punching Hemingway in the face. I blame the legendary beard. 

INSECTICIDE! The reviews for the much-hyped Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are in. The results? Unrecountably bad. One of the main cited reasons in this roundup—the storytelling. “What’s apparent after 170 spirit-snuffing minutes in the Foxwoods Theater—interrupted by the occasional burst of aerial distraction—is that director Julie Taymor, of The Lion King fame, left a few essential items off her lavish shopping list: 1. Coherent plot. 2. Tolerable music. 3. Workable sets.”
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS: By now, you’ve probably heard that AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million. Since writers are still unlikely to be paid, maybe they can reimburse them with the digital Nehru collar that is an AOL e-mail address.

In this short recent video for Save Our Libraries Day, graphic novel genius Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell) riffs on the role of libraries in his personal writing career. Unweird, but important. However, the thing to the left of his face in the video—weird, and a delightfully strange complement to the entire piece.

MAKING A GROWN MAN CRY: The Rolling Stones’ latest tour may not be happening because of a little something Keith Richards included in his memoir, concerning, um, er, Mick Jagger.

A 10TH STORY: A new glimpse into the odd but always fascinating universe of J.D. Salinger, via the tale of a single awesomely strange night.


free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments
section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble
with the captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece an
d the prompt to me
at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and
I’ll make sure it gets up.

The call came in at the newspaper reporter’s desk late on a Sunday. Finally, he wanted to meet.

Want more writing prompts and exercises? Brian Kiteley has packed more than 200 wildly original ones into his 3 A.M. Epiphany. Check it out here.

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7 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: Literary fights, Spider-Man reviews, new J.D. Salinger yarns

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    The Governor’s new changes had just gone through. He had refused interviews for weeks. But now, late on Sunday night, he called the Reporter’s desk. He was finally ready to meet. The Reporter arranged a meeting at his own home in an hour. The Reporter was as angry as anyone else. The Governor’s ideas seemed to come straight from the Totalitarian and Fascist handbook. The National Guard was brought in. It was as though he started reading the history books but didn’t finish them. The Reporter’s wife was one of the workers who took the brunt of the hit. She had followed every inch of the campaign, sent letters and e-mails, and made others aware. But in the end she lost half of her budget, among other things. The Reporter tried to prepare, but his anger shrouded his usual impartial attitude towards stories. His words were failing him.
    When the Governor arrived at the Reporter’s house, he wore an expensive suit and a beaming smile. The Reporter had two chairs set-up in the living room with a coffee table between them. The lights were low, creating a dark shadow upon the Governor’s face. The Governor was in high spirits.
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    Before he could respond, the Reporter’s wife emerged from the back room. They both turned. She walked slowly towards the Governor. He stood up, dug his fingers in his drink and popped another olive in his mouth, smiling. She stood for a moment, then slapped him. The Governor fell backwards, over the chair. He started choking on the olive. With one hand, he grasped his own neck. With the other, he reached out to them. The Reporter ran to him and attempted the Heimlich, but he had stopped breathing. The Reporter’s wife calmly called 911, and grabbed the Governor’s drink.
    “Good scotch,” she said as they waited.


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