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Friday High Five: Dalkey Intern, Newtown and Dave Eggers

In our last Friday High FIve for 2012, we collect five of our favourite articles and items of interest from the internet this week.

Adam Mansbach’s F_ _ king Weird Year on the Bestseller Lists

Adam Mansbach is famous for combining swearing, cute animal illustrations and rhymes about children’s bedtimes to create the worldwide surprise bestseller Go the F _ _ k to Sleep. In a very funny article for Salon, he writes about what happens after your unpublished book hits the Amazon Top 100 bestseller lists. Just some of those things? Collaborating on an Obama endorsement video with Samuel L. Jackson (Wake the F _ _ k Up for Obama), being trashed in public by controversial childhood expert Richard Ferber, hearing Today show host Kathie Lee Gifford call your daughter ‘a little bitch’, and surviving an onslaught from Family First New Zealand, with the help of our own Noni Hazlehurst.

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Noni Hazlehurst ‘told Family First New Zealand that the book was providing real relief and catharsis to thousands of parents who felt isolated and exhausted and bad about themselves – just like she had as a young mother – and that they should shut the fuck up.’

Literary Death Match: A reality TV show about writing has filmed a pilot

Jokes about a kind of Author Idol have abounded since reality talent quests first took off – but now it looks like it just might become, well, a reality. Two pilot episodes have been filmed of Literary Death Match, a program where writers showcase their work to a panel of judges – typically mixing up an author with actors, musicians and the like. The judges on the first episode included Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, Jonathan Lethem and This American Life regular Tig Notaro. In the absence of confrontation, there were clever bells and whistles: sexy librarian–styled ring girls and elaborately quirky tiebreakers involving a game of “pin the mustache on Hemingway” and a vegan cupcake toss.) Flourishes include sexy librarian–styled ring girls and elaborately quirky tiebreakers involving a game of ‘pin the mustache on Hemingway’ and a vegan cupcake toss.

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Literary death match judges Tig Notaro, Michael C. Hall and Jonathan Lethem

Jeff Sparrow on the Dalkey Archive intern debacle

Last week, boutique high-end literary publisher Dalkey Archive Press published a job ad for a number of positions, all to be performed by unpaid interns under the kind of conditions that even Anna Wintour would find a bit rough. There were no instructions about not looking the bosses in the eye in the elevator (though ‘giving unsolicited advice about how to run things’ is grounds for dismissal), but pretty much everything else was covered – 24/7 hours and total commitment required, on the off-chance a paid position might come up once the boss is satisfied. Unsurprisingly, it went viral – and has even spawned a joke Twitter account.

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The avatar for the Dalkey Intern Twitter account. A sample tweet: ‘Today, my boss gave me the best Christmas present ever! How did he know I love paper clips?’

The publisher, John O'Brien, has since protested that the ad was a joke – satire – though most have found this hard to swallow. Especially as the conditions are all real. Jeff Sparrow has written on New Matilda about why the ad rang all too true for creative workers who often find themselves doing exactly these kinds of jobs and counting themselves lucky. The joke, it seems, is simply that O'Brien stated exactly what he wanted upfront, rather than coat it with a veneer of gentility. Hilarious!

Dave Eggers, Zeitoun and the real story

Dave Eggers' *Zeitoun tells the story of a kind, devoted family man wrongly imprisoned after Hurricane Katrina due to racial profiling. But the real Zeitoun is now in jail, following beating his (now ex) wife with a tire iron and ordering a hit on her from behind bars. Did Eggers miss the real man when writing his story, or did Zeitoun change after the book was written? An essay in the LA Review of Books explores the story.

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Abdulrahman Zeitoun and ex-wife Kathy in happier times.

Newtown and the New Yorker

Of course, the big news story of the week has been the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary – and the debates it has sparked on mental illness, responsible parenting and gun control. Some of the best coverage has been in the New Yorker.

Adam Gopnik wrote movingly and directly about the moral dimensions of privileging the consitutional right to bear arms over the need to stop the repeated gun deaths in the US. ‘ The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children.’

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‘Obama told the nation that he reacted to the shootings in Newtown “as a parent,” and that is understandable, but what we need most is for him to act as a President.’

Obama biographer and New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote on the urgency of political action on gun control. ‘Obama told the nation that he reacted to the shootings in Newtown “as a parent,” and that is understandable, but what we need most is for him to act as a President.’



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