paper trail

Jul 13, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Harvey Pekar

Splendid Americans: Harvey Pekar and Tuli Kupferberg—a pair of radical nonconformists whose literary output was perhaps a mere by-product of their grander refusal to fit in—both passed away yesterday. Pekar's death at the age of 70 put us in mind of his most famous public exit—his last appearance on the David Letterman show in 1988, when he ranted at an exasperated Letterman, ending his tenure as a late-80s regular on the show. Pekar also made an appearance in the pages of Bookforum in 2003. Reviewing Peter Kuper's graphic adaptation of Kafka's tale of self-recrimination, "Metamorphosis," he wrote that the book was "no match for the original yet offers the eye pleasures galore." Kupferberg was a poet and performer who began as a Beat, played in the legendary proto-punk band The Fugs, and became an all-star bohemian and prolific YouTube denizen before he died at the age of 86.

The Awl sifts through the history of the term "slush pile," and the findings are slushy—it’s a phrase "loaded with numerous shady insinuations."

A look at Granta magazine, from its days as a Cambridge University student publication, through its relaunch as a paperback sized lit magazine in 1979, to its latest issue. Also, a chat with artistic director Michael Salu about designing the new issue's cover, on the theme "Going Back." It's a fitting topic for a magazine that is currently digitizing its archives; for those worried that something will be lost in the transition, Granta's Ted Hodgkinson writes, "Pixels do not sully a finely sculpted phrase, they simply illuminate it. The gift of digitization, in fact, is that for the first time ever it is possible to view the entire sweep of Granta’s history in a few clicks."

Zizou nostalgia: With no World Cup left to watch, Paris blogger Lauren Elkin remembers the 2006 World Cup, when French soccer star Zinedine Zidane headbutted an opponent, inspiring Jean-Pierre Toussaint's story "The Melancholy of Zidane."