Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 743055 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #890 on: June 11, 2014, 10:39:22 pm »
OK, I read it and thought it was genius. It was barely about The Brady Bunch. But it really cleverly used its relationship to the BB to express ideas about fate and chance and who gets to be "stars" and who stays in the shadows, and why some people are better as couples, etc. etc. If the BB references weren't woven into it (often pretty subtly), it would stand on its own. It did a good job of capturing its era, and also what it was like for people who were just a little too old to be hippies (my parents, for example, who were just a little older than Mike and Carol Brady). There was even an element of suspense.

Although, as you pointed out, it's not particularly flattering of Mike and Carol, those nonflattering portraits are entirely seen through the other characters' perspectives, so you get that the two might be OK people -- in fact, they didn't seem inconsistent with their characters on the show -- in another context, with other partners (i.e., each other!).

Like Lee, I was pretty busy in the years The Brady Bunch was on and never saw much of it. I would estimate I've seen, cumulatively, maybe two to three episodes. Maybe four. But that's certainly enough to get the gist of the show, and to understand the allusions in this story.

But I wonder what it would have been like to read it without having been clued in first. Frankly, I'm glad you told us, Jeff, spoiler or no, because I think the appreciation of it is greater when you do know than it would be if you had to wait until the end (or, if you were really clever, figure it out en route). So thanks for pointing the story out, Jeff. I'm fairly certain I would never have read it otherwise; I used to read all New Yorker fiction but I rarely do nowadays.

Well, I'm being snarky in calling it "Brady Bunch fan fiction," but if somebody else, an amateur writer, wrote a back story or prequel to the TV series, I think that's what it would be, fan fiction.  :-\ And they might even have the lawyers of the show's producers, or their heirs, after them for copyright infringement.  ::)  I assume this guy got any necessary permissions, or The New Yorker wouldn't have published it.

That's an impossible hypothetical, though. An amateur writer couldn't have written this. Would an amateur writer's backstory/prequel to a TV series get into the New Yorker? No, for the same reason amateur writers' stories about anything don't get published there, because they generally aren't good.

The question is, would this exact same story get into the New Yorker if it came over the transom and they'd never heard of the author and his agent didn't probably submit it in the first place? I suspect not. So that's another problem.

As for the legal issues, I'm sure they're well within their rights to mention widely known fictional TV characters in another context. But you can bet the New Yorker would be all over it if they weren't sure. I once saw David Sedaris speak, and he said he wrote something about a past boyfriend -- unnamed, but riding on the same train as him or something like that -- and the New Yorker fact checkers traced the guy to verify!



I finished the article about David Green, whose novel was turned into the movie The Fault in our Stars, coming out this month.

I'm reading this one, also. I think the movie might be already out. It's funny, I'd never heard of John Green until maybe a year ago, but apparently he's been hugely famous for years. And I've always been kind of baffled at how he can be both a YouTube celebrity and a YA author celebrity, but this piece helps straighten that out.






Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #891 on: June 12, 2014, 09:04:58 am »
I finished the article about David Green, whose novel was turned into the movie The Fault in our Stars, coming out this month. And I also read several of the My Old Flame short pieces. Now, I'll delve into the Brady Bunch prequel. I never saw that series, and in 1967 I was just starting out in high school and didn't have time for TV, what with schoolwork, dating and such. At first place it seems to be a paean to late 1960s pop culture and there is an awful lot about Don Drysdale.

Drysdale was Big back then, and I think he may have made a guest appearance on the show--I'd have to look that up--as did, famously, Davy Jones of The Monkees.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #892 on: June 12, 2014, 09:20:46 am »
That's an impossible hypothetical, though. An amateur writer couldn't have written this. Would an amateur writer's backstory/prequel to a TV series get into the New Yorker? No, for the same reason amateur writers' stories about anything don't get published there, because they generally aren't good.

I disagree, but only in the sense that I might better have said unpublished than amateur. I was thinking in the sense that everybody is an amateur until he or she has a book published and the book is a success. Then the amateur is a professional. I agree that the story as published is a bit too sophisticated for most amateurs.

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As for the legal issues, I'm sure they're well within their rights to mention widely known fictional TV characters in another context. But you can bet the New Yorker would be all over it if they weren't sure. I once saw David Sedaris speak, and he said he wrote something about a past boyfriend -- unnamed, but riding on the same train as him or something like that -- and the New Yorker fact checkers traced the guy to verify!

Well, as for people being "within their rights to mention widely known fictional TV characters"--when I wrote that part about the lawyers I was thinking about the writers of Brokeback Mountain fan fiction who got "cease and desist" letters from Annie Proulx' attorneys, so I beg to be skeptical about them being "well within their rights."

David Sedaris' experience is interesting, and I wonder how long ago that was? These days The New Yorker would do well to invest less effort in fact checking and more in copy editing. The number of typos and missing articles and prepositions and so forth that I notice is very depressing. Mr. Shawn must be weeping in his grave.  :(
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #893 on: June 12, 2014, 09:43:19 am »
I disagree, but only in the sense that I might better have said unpublished than amateur. I was thinking in the sense that everybody is an amateur until he or she has a book published and the book is a success. Then the amateur is a professional. I agree that the story as published is a bit too sophisticated for most amateurs.

Right, that's what I was trying to get at with my "over the transom" scenario. My understanding is that New Yorker stories these days are typically agented. Years on years ago, I used to write fiction, and I submitted things once or twice. I got the sense they read them before rejecting them, but I think you're right that it would be hard for an unknown writer to break in.

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Well, as for people being "within their rights to mention widely known fictional TV characters"--when I wrote that part about the lawyers I was thinking about the writers of Brokeback Mountain fan fiction who got "cease and desist" letters from Annie Proulx' attorneys, so I beg to be skeptical about them being "well within their rights."

I know. But first off, I think the stories Annie Proulx went after were more focused on BBM characters, weren't they? This story barely mentions the Bradys, and then only kind of glancingly. It really could be referring to any California residents who happen to have those fairly common names (as opposed to Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar). It relies on readers' cultural literacy to fill in the so-called "real" identities, which is another interesting aspect of the story.

Second, Annie Proulx may be particularly litigious. Anyone can issue "cease and desist" letters, can't they? It's up to a court to decide whether copyright laws have been violated. It's hard to say what a court would do with fan fic. On the one hand, writing whole stories about characters that someone else created does seem an appropriation of intellectual property. On the other, if you're not making any money from the stories and basically just sharing them with like-minded people, where's the harm? But then I suppose AP could argue that a proliferation of BBM stories dilutes the brand or something ... Hmm, the more I go back and forth on it, the more I suspect she might have a solid case -- if a sort of silly one.

But I don't think "Here's the Story" will put much of a dent in the monetary value of Brady Bunch residuals. If anything, it made me kind of want to watch an episode (though not enough to actually do it).

Copyright laws allow others to reference the work up to a certain number of words. That's how reviewers can get away with quoting passages from a book verbatim. I'm not sure how this exception applies to other creative works as opposed to reviews, but "Here's the Story" is certainly well under the word count.

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Mr. Shawn must be weeping in his grave.  :(

Over the swearing, too! Here's an interesting factoid from the John Green profile that Mr. Shawn wouldn't like: The Norwegian edition of Green's YA book "The Fault in our Stars," which is about teenagers dying of cancer, is titled "Fuck Fate."



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #894 on: June 12, 2014, 10:31:40 am »
Over the swearing, too! Here's an interesting factoid from the John Green profile that Mr. Shawn wouldn't like: The Norwegian edition of Green's YA book "The Fault in our Stars," which is about teenagers dying of cancer, is titled "Fuck Fate."

Right. I forget which article I was reading recently, where someone was quoted using the F-bomb, and I thought to myself, "Mr. Shawn would never have allowed that."
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #895 on: June 12, 2014, 11:48:16 am »
Read David Gilbert's "Here's the Story" and glad I did. There were probably one gazillion references to the Brady Bunch and other pop icons of the '60s-'70s that I missed, but it was still a good story although chock full of brand names. Some virtuoso writing there. Check this out: "he hitched deliverance to a smile, in the mode of athletes and actors who squint at the light that glows from within" "the diamond might as well have been a classroom clock on the last day of school" "much of the pleasure of being here was walking with the spectre of his wife, defining himself in opposition to her attitude." As to whether it should be called fan fiction, I don't really think so. It seems to me like fan fiction is written for the benefit of the author, not the readers. It's a kind of therapy. IMHO.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #896 on: June 12, 2014, 01:11:15 pm »
It seems to me like fan fiction is written for the benefit of the author, not the readers. It's a kind of therapy. IMHO.

Totally agree about the therapy, though from what I've seen  think readers get that benefit out of it, too.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #897 on: June 12, 2014, 03:39:11 pm »
I think we're really straying into territory better covered on the old Fan Fiction thread, but I have to say, I was under the impression that Louise's stories started out as Brokeback Mountain fan fiction until she got her knuckles rapped by Annie Proulx' lawyers. I could be wrong about that--I only know about it second or even third hand--but if I'm not, I doubt her stories were "therapy." (They may have been for some of her readers.)

Meanwhile, I wish I'd kept The New Yorker issue where I found a to missing from a sentence, but I've already passed that issue on to the friend at work to whom I give all my New Yorkers when I'm finished with them.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #898 on: June 12, 2014, 05:11:33 pm »
Don't worry, I bet every time they do something like that they get flooded with tearsheets marked up in red and scrawled with reminders of what Mr. Shawn would think.  :laugh:




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #899 on: June 12, 2014, 05:29:19 pm »
Don't worry, I bet every time they do something like that they get flooded with tearsheets marked up in red and scrawled with reminders of what Mr. Shawn would think.  :laugh:

 :laugh:  I should do that, too. I started a file, but I didn't keep up with it.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.