Literary linkage

If you devour every issue of the New York Review of Books, have I got the webcomic for you!

Even if you don’t, you’ll probably recognize a lot of the characters in Art Imitating Lit, a handful of comic strips by Patricia Storms that skewer chick-lit-crit, big-box bookstores, Oprah’s book club, and pretentious writers named Jonathan.

Storms got some extra notice this week when GalleyCat came up with this arresting tidbit: Writer Jonathan Lethem told an interviewer for Wired magazine that this cartoon that paired him with Michael Chabon was the closest he had come to starring in slash fiction, adding that it was “just an inch away from being Kirk and Spock.”

Storms’ cartoons, drawn in an energetic, cartoony style that would be at home on a greeting card, are humorous takes on literary topics. She particularly enjoys picking on Jonathan Franzen, who raised eyebrows a few years ago with his churlish response when Oprah picked his novel The Corrections for her book club. The Story of O captures that episode. In The Stepford Jonathans, an evil genius tries the brain-swapping with three chick-lit authors and three Serious Writers Named Jonathan (including Franzen). This comic is way funnier than that premise would suggest.

Special bonus: Storms’ blog, Booklust, pointed me toward the cartoons of novelist Margaret Atwood, which chronicle the horrors of the book tour in a scribbly but surprisingly consistent style. The Blind Assa, which takes on critics as well, is my favorite.

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