For your weekend reading, an essay in the Kenyon Review — “The Ghost Writes Back” — by Amy Boesky about ghostwriting the Sweet Valley High books while working towards her Ph.D. in seventeenth-century literature. It’s a complicated essay about many things, but at least some of those things include sameness and difference, the nature of ghosts and ghost writing, good writing and bad writing. It just a fantastic read.
There was a whole protocol for trying out. I wrote a sample chapter, and the editors must have liked it, because I got hired to write Book 16: “Rags to Riches.” (Given the state of my bank account, the irony wasn’t lost on me.)
Imagine, superimposed on the gray-and-grainy screen of a floundering, slightly depressed twenty-something, the shimmery outlines of an idealized adolescent world. All drawn—I just had to color it in. I could pick any colors, as long as they were pastel! The characters were already invented. They had “histories,” personalities, but I could add nuances. The plots were already there. Who could have dreamed of such adventures? A plane crash in a Cessna. Hysterical paralysis following a bad break-up. The rich posing as poor and the poor as rich. The tennis star that longed to be ordinary, the ordinary girl that longed to be a starlet. Differences smoothed away by the sameness-machine of narrative.
Amy Boesky was a prof at BC when I was there. Never know about her exotic moonlighting.
This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Britt Salvesen and artist Catherine Opie on the occasion of LACMA’s presentation of three Robert Mapplethorpe portfolios: The ‘X Portfolio,’ which features sadomasochistic imagery; the ‘Y Portfolio’ of floral still-lifes and the ‘Z Portfolio’ of nude portraits African-American men.
The manner in which Salvesen installed the show — in stacked horizontal rows — is unusual and smart. On The MAN Podcast, Salvesen explains how she arrived at this installation, and Opie talked about why she liked both the three rows and the color of the walls.
Listen to the program: Download this week’s MAN Podcast or listen in your browser. Subscribe to the program via iTunes, SoundCloud or RSS. See more images of artworks discussed on the show.
An Internet firm like Netflix producing first-rate content takes us across a psychological line. If Netflix succeeds as a producer, other companies will follow and start taking market share. Maybe Amazon will go beyond its tentative investments and throw a hundred million at a different A-list series, or maybe Hulu will expand its ambitions for original content, or maybe the next great show will come from someone with a YouTube channel. When that happens, the baton passes, and empire falls—and we will see the first fundamental change in the home-entertainment paradigm in decades.
Tim Wu explains why the Netflix-produced series “House of Cards” could be the death of cable television: http://nyr.kr/Wo7J8A
Tina Fey’s sitcom “30 Rock” ends tonight, dammit. I haven’t yet seen the finale (I’ll be watching it along with you screener-deficient folks), but I’m genuinely sad to lose my Thursdays with this awesomely dense comedy, which amounted to a grenade made of zingers.
Emily Nussbaum’s farewell to “30 Rock,” from the New York-centric point-of-view: http://nyr.kr/11mufiq
I’ll stop social media-ing about the end of 30 Rock once my beer-buzz wears off. For now, I’ll never forget you, rural juror.