Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Steve Erickson's The Sea Came In At Midnight


Hopefully soon I'll have some time to gather up some of this whole experience and put some of that into words--until then, I imagine, I imagine I'll be having interesting dreams.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Steve Erickson's Our Ecstatic Days





But you know, "can't" is such a strong word...

So I'm now two-thirds of the way through Steve Erickson's Our Ecstatic Days and the fact that I can't stay up tonight to finish it causes me emotional and physical anguish. Though the physical portion of that anguish might be the result of having eaten one too many slices of pizza a couple hours ago. Urp.

I'm tempted to say this book is Cloud Atlas's step-cousin--the evil bad acid flashback funhouse mirror step-cousin, that is. That's not exactly right of course but this book and that book do have me or did have me exploring similar areas of head-space, the kind of areas where the floor has a tendency to tilt wickedly in one direction or the other without warning or obvious cause in the most fascinating and beautiful ways possible. And those times when the floor disappears altogether? Yeah. Let's talk about those times someday. Somday after I peel myself off the ceiling.

Suffice it to say, ye who run the streets looking for your late-night "experimental fiction" fix should--barring immediate collapse of the book's awesomeness in the final hundred pages--get thee hence to a bookstore or your local library. I know I for one will likely be diving backwards into The Sea Came In At Midnight shortly after finishing Our Ecstatic Days.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hello...and welcome to Darby phone! If you know the name of the exciting news you'd like to see, press OMG now...

Uh. Yeah. Hi! If you pressed OMG, I'm sorry, I got nothin'. But, I do got random points of potential interest. These begin in five..four..three..
  • I've finally (thanks to the insistence of my girlfriend) read Brave New World, which, well, maybe I was missing the point, since I found myself occasionally thinking, "Hey! Sacrifice truth and beauty for happiness? That there ain't so right bad an idea!" Thankfully I managed to keep reminding myself that, hey, truth is beauty, and beauty truth, and that's all ye need to know and yadda yadda. So, no fear: I haven't given up my non-existent writing career in favor of hard drugs and orgy-porgies. Not yet at least.

  • Now I've started reading Our Ecstatic Days by Steve Erickson. Me and Steve, we have an interesting history. The guy writes weird experimental surrealist fiction (sort of) which should be totally right up my alley. I actually discovered him in a used book store. (Well, his books. Not Steve himself.) Anyway, I think I thought the cover of Amnesiascope was pretty so I bought like three of his books; I read all of Amnesiascope though perhaps appropriately can't remember a single word of it today. I read part of Arc d'X before I lost track of it some fifty pages into it, and I think I read the intro quotes to The Sea Came In At Midnight but never got into the actual book itself. (One of the intro quotes is from a Bjork song. So.) So I've started this new book by him, because it sounds like it has a cool story line (something to do, I knew before going into it, with a lake appearing in the middle of Los Angeles) and it plays with type layout (somewhat a la The Trick Is To Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway which if you haven't read it you should drop this blog like a bad habit and go read it yesterday) and those are pretty much two things that, when thrown together, means I'm probably going to look at least twice. I read about a third of it today and now I'm not so sure I trust the ground beneath my feet. It's that wild. There's a doctor who listens to the voices of dying houses and the lake itself is a character and a small child who sees the world in the most fascinating ways and it jumps through time and there's lost love and the writing itself is simply stunning and beautiful and he pulls an element of history into the story that I didn't think I'd ever see used in this sort of scenario or way and...yeah it's kind of a trip. I'm tentatively thinking I'll not only finish this book, but I'll remember it when I'm done, and then I'll go on to read The Sea Came In At Midnight sometime soon because I guess this new book is sort of a sequel. Looks like the bizarre is back on the menu, boys.

  • I've pretty much tossed out working on everything I thought I was working on writing-wise this year and now I'm working on a new story and I think it's going to be really damned good, if I stick with it for a while longer. Yeah, that whole churning out a story a month idea I had going on there for a while? Good idea at first, stupid idea today. This story's in third person which usually leaves me feeling like I've brought a golf club to a baseball game, but it seems to be working better right now than anything else had been working for a month or two there, so hey. Why not.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Note to self--realize March ended a while ago

You might remember that, for a while there, I could not shut up about Stephen Dixon. And, while I won't start babbling about his fine, fine books Interstate and Frog right now--I'm still in Frog detox--I will point out that Edward Champion at The Litblog Co-Op recently revealed that his nomination for the Read This! selection was a Stephen Dixon book. Though I haven't read Old Friends I'm sure I will. Someday. Eventually. Then over at his blog, Return of the Reluctant, Ed offers some links of interest about Stephen Dixon, including an "essay" written by Stephen Dixon that should give you a pretty good sense of the guy's style. Let me put it this way: if you dig that paragraph, you'll likely dig his books; if you don't dig that paragraph, then I hope you'll at least still try one of his books, someday. (I suggest, again, Interstate. Mmm. Damn. That there's good readin'.)

While you're over at RotR, check out Ed's take on a James "Who da man? I da man! YOU ALL SUCK!" Kunstler book. (I have a story about Kunstler I'll relate soon. Eventually. Maybe never. It involves him being a dick, if that's any incentive for you to bounce back here again once in a while.)

And, uh, before you run away from RotR, here's a nice post about Angelina Jolie, if you're into that sort of thing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Love is hard. Writing is hard. Loving writing? Hardhard.

That Oprah sapped all my energy. (Don't ever let 'em say that linking things is easy work.)

Updates soon. But, let me note this: I've shied away from "OMG How To Write And Publish Your Mad 1337 Novel Doodz!!" books since I started writing, since, you know, us "real writers" (note the self-deprecating sarcasm there) know that you can't find the secret to writing in books, of all places (note the noted sense of sarcastic ironic self-deprecation there). I've stayed away from the guides and the how-to's because it seemed pretty obvious that in order to write one must write and that spending time reading about writing instead of actually writing was, best case scenario, counter-productive. (Never mind you for a second the amount of time I've spent playing video games, downloading legal MP3s, or staring off into empty space that could have been less guiltily spent actually writing. Never mind you those hours lost forever for a second.)

That said, the whole me and writing thing, it's been rough lately. At the risk of turning into a whiner: I've got no enemy but myself. I don't find the time to write, I can't settle my mind enough on writing when I am writing, I don't finish what I write, I don't submit what I finish--the list of ways in which I actively thwart my own (already, by the nature of the business, long and cruelly difficult) efforts towards fame, fortune, and potential readerships in the double-digits is staggering. In short (short for me, at least): there's a headspace where a young, daft, and almost comedically good-looking novice writer like myself has to be, but of late I can only occasionally catch a brief glimpse of that headspace somewhere over on the horizon as it mocks me by playing hopscotch with the sun. And dammit all if this Charon guy won't accept a wink and a nod for river-passage payment.

In short (almost honestly for real this time): my mind needs a good smackin'.

Luckily, I've been reading Slushpile (not "the slushpile" but rather a good litblog worth your bookmark) and they've run a few features on a book called 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might, for which I put down my above-noted bias in order to pick up from the bookstore today. (Click here for an intro to the book, click here for a review of the book, and finally, click here for part one of an interview with Pat Walsh, author of the book and a founding editor at independent publisher MacAdam/Cage. I'm looking forward to part two.)

So far I've read about a fifth of the book. I had to put it down because it just hurt. so. good. It's a slender little volume and it's written in a very engaging style--I've already read more little gems than I'll ever have the energy or will to quote here--and, well. It's probably about the strength of the mental slap I need right about now. He starts off with the first mistake he sees "writers" making, which is not actually having a book finished. (On the one hand, I can say I do have a finished book. So I was prepared to breathe a sigh of relief--"I'm zero for one! I'm zero for one!" before I checked the other hand, and realized I can't say much for anything that's happened since I finished that first book. And from glancing at the table of contents I can tell that I'm going to soon be told that you have to move on to the next book once you've finished the first one. Bugger!) Once Walsh gets rid of everyone who just talks about finishing a book, he focuses his attention on the rest of us (if I may humbly include myself in the "I do! I do have a finished book!" category) and starts to point out everything about why you're not actually really finished and/or why you totally suck as a human being and should just give up forever because you're never going to make it. You poser. (I think I'm on mistake 15 or 16 or so and, yes, I've cringed a few times, while responding to many other points with tentative gulps of, "I don't do that. I don't. I don't, right? Do I? Aww...") (And no, he doesn't call you a poser. Or suggest that you suck. Just that your book isn't good enough yet. I didn't mean to put words in his mouth. I'm just feeling a little emo about the whole thing, is all. Harumph.)

So, I can't say much about how this book ranks in the overall "Get Published ASAP And Be The Next Dan Brown!!!" category of books, but so far, in examining my own situation and relating the book to my current headspace, I've found it tentatively helpful, though painful. It's tough love, though. That's something. That's a good something. Right?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The truth can't save you now / The sky is falling down

There's all sorts of interesting talk out there about Oprah's selection of three William Faulkner books for her summer reading club. Maud Newton points us towards a New York Times piece on the story ("Mr. Howarth [mayor of Oxford, Mississippi] nevertheless doubted that much of Ms. Winfrey's audience would make it through a summer full of Faulkner. "With a good reading-group leader, they'll make it through 'As I Lay Dying,'" Mr. Howarth said. "And they'll make it through 'Light in August.' But they're going to start 'The Sound and the Fury' and say, 'What is this?' " He feigned throwing a book over his shoulder.") and a somewhat snooty (though constructive) response by Jesse Kornbluth at ("Good luck, ladies.") TD&OC blogger favorite Tod Goldberg chimes in ("I love the classics as much as the next fellow ("I was just listening to LL Cool J's "I Need Love" this morning: "When I'm alone in my room, sometimes I stare at the wall, and in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call." Classic.) but wouldn't it be nice if you talked about a book that maybe could cause a jump in sales for something Middle America really needs to read?"). The Bookslut blog sends us scampering over to Bookninja thread on the topic with--I gather, from a quick skimming--some fairly negative responses to the selection. (Not that--oh, wait, this is me here, not a quote, by the way--not that anybody's saying that Faulkner is bad or that his novels are bad but that if they were Oprah they'd have done things differently. Just to clarify.

That's a quick list of some notable posts from my usual litblog haunts. A quick Technorati search confirms that lots and lots of people have things to say about this pressing issue. (The Book Standard: "William Faulkner may soon replace Wally Lamb on your summer reading list." Of Life, Education, Ebay, Travel & Books: "I read some Faulkner back in college and he's not the sort of writer I'd tuck into my beach bag or bring along to while away a long airplane flight. He writes literature with a capital L." Mind the Gap: "I like Oprah. I like her book club. And this summer she is choosing Faulkner. I couldn't be happier." Er.. wait. That doesn't belong here. Next tab! Jeri Smith-Ready: "I appreciate her attempt to produce a more literate America, but five minutes with The Sound and the Fury may cause readers to gouge out their own eyes, thereby limiting themselves forever to audiobooks and books written in Braille." Localtint: "Reading Faulkner makes me feel hot, sticky, and uncomfortable, which, in its way, is a testament to his genius. But, innocent Oprahites, Amy Tan he ain't." And then there's this Just Another Smithie post which I'll just link to in its entirety, since it's, you know, positive and all. There's plenty more out there, just head back up to the Technorati link and have at it. Jeez, I'm not going to hold your hand through the entire Internet.)

So, you could click all the links I just posted up there to get a taste of the broad-ranging debate that's overtaken the Internet. Or, you could basically get the whole thing in one place. Here's what you do: you go back to The Great Litblog Co-op Debate Of Oh Five and start reading the comments. Except, in your mind, substitute "Oprah" for every mention of the LBC, "Faulkner" for every mention of Kate Atkinson, and "Those Three Faulkner Novels" for every mention of Case Histories. It pretty much works out to be the same thing.

Though it seems like I'm coming down hard on the Oprah haters--really, I pay no attention to Oprah, other than when someone walks up to me in public and points at my copy of The Corrections, which I keep on my person at all times so that when the apocalypse comes I can carry the book straight up to heaven with me, and they start to ask, "Hey, isn't he that guy that Oprah--" and they don't get to finish because I smack them in the head with the book--really, I ain't going so far as to say I'm "taking a side". I'm allergic to taking a side in issues. Someone usually (always) brings up some point that makes my side look, if not wrong, at least immature, and then I wind up feeling bad, and realizing I didn't know as much as I thought I knew, and then I've got no choice but to go home and cry like a baby. Honest, I just suck at debate, so I try not to debate. (I also suck at trivia, so I try not to be in situations where I'm s'posed to know stuff, either.)

But, inability to debate or make good points or know things or walk down the street without falling flat on my face in front of attractive people who will spill their sodas on me then take pictures and post them to the internet to mock me in a world-wide sort of webby way aside, I've got nothing against posting silly things on my web site here which nobody reads because I suck at posting silly things on my web site, so I'll go ahead and do this next thing, and then I'll get outta here and go play with my imaginary cat. And, of course, in conclusion, as always: I'm just sayin'.

Things that, in America, were, until recently, and arguably might still be, more popular than William Faulkner's novels; an incomplete list:

  • The Michael Jackson trial
  • Reality television
  • Sunburns
  • William Shatner
  • McDonald's
  • Paris Hilton
  • Pornography
  • Making fun of French people
  • War
  • Paying taxes
  • Grocery shopping
  • Not reading challenging literature

Monday, June 06, 2005

And, also...

Click here for a photo of a lemur.

76 brief views of Cleveland: #9


For the longest while, you could enter the apartment building's parking lot from either side of the block. Then for a while, you couldn't enter from the north side, because a yellow chain was draped across the driveway between two yellow poles, sunk into concrete under the grass, to prevent people from using the apartment building's parking lot as their own private cut-through. The chain stayed up until one Friday night, Saturday morning, not so long ago, about three in the morning, when someone drove straight through it, at I imagine a speed high enough to be physically impossible, not stopping even when the impact made a sound loud enough to wake the neighbors, not stopping for a second as the car, truck, van, fighter jet, who knows, dragged the chain and one of the poles straight through the parking lot and out to the south. All that was left behind was the other pole, the one that didn't get ripped out of the ground, the pole that I found, when I arrived, five, ten minutes later, bent at a 90 degree angle, to be left parallel with the ground beneath it. Had I driven in to the lot that night those five or ten minutes sooner--the delay of a few minutes conversation with my girlfriend at the end of the night, the delay of random moments over the course of the entire evening--I'm sure I'd have seen it happen, and then I'd have been there to be, myself, a second, much more brutal, point of impact.

I've had problems; everyone's had problems. But when you try to gain perspective, try to put everything in its place, you realize: there's something troubling about living in a troubled city--a city that, it seems, slaps its own chains into place, chains that keep the city from going that way or that other way. And there's lots of talk of the chains. Of what's to be done with the chains. How to build around the chains. Who should manage the chains. What color should the poles be? How much concrete do we need to pour to hold them in place?

I wonder if what this city really needs is someone willing to slip behind the wheel, rev the engine, and say: Fuck the chains. Someone willing to drive through.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I may have mentioned my fascination with search engine terms, namely those that, when people punch them into search engines, they somehow then find my web site, in some cases, I believe, having to dive down into the 40th or 50th page worth of results to find my site. Every now and then some phrase that I use that I never for a second thought anybody would ever search for does rise to the top of the results. Like, for a while quite a while ago, I was the number one hit on Google for the term "bernie bernie lyrics". That right there is a point of pride for a 21st century digital Cleveland boy.

But now I've got one that...oh, just, gosh: I'm currently listed on the first page of search results on Google for the phrase "dildo cycle".


You can check for yourself.

It's pretty thrilling. I mean, someone out there, was looking for a ... oh, the mind balks at comprehension.

Nothing to see here, really

When I wanted to say, "Hello, world," I learned HTML.

When I wanted to say it with bright shiny colors, I learned CSS.

Now I guess I want to learn to say it with WordPress, for no reason at all. That, it seems, requires learning PHP (because, when it comes to default templates--I quote Wil Smith: "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww HELL no).

I guess in theory when I feel confident enough with the new set up to make the switch, it should--in theory?--be seamless. As in, when you come here one day, it will be the Blogger set up, and when you come here the next, it will be the WordPress set-up, and all the links and pages and feeds and such should be right where they were originally. Right? Or am I hoping for too much? I'm sure I'm hoping for too much. Bugger.

So if anyone out there has any "If I knew then what I know now" stories about designing a template for WordPress, feel free to let me know. It won't happen anytime soon, of course. There will have to be a weird sort of alignment between me having free time and me feeling motivated enough to learn complex tasks for this to get done. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy learning complex tasks, I mean, you don't just start dicking around with CSS because, you know, you've got absolutely nothing better in your life to do at that time (and, if that's how you learned CSS, I apologize, and beg forgiveness, I do not mean to offend). I dig the process of learning how to make stuff happen (even if actual execution might be sort of a personal downfall). That and, I guess it's marketable skill. Whatever.

Point being--if everything just completely falls apart here at some point, it's a site redevelopment thing, and if you stick with me, things will be okay again eventually. (If you're really bored, you might click on this link now and then to see if I've made any progress on a new layout/design. I wouldn't click it any time soon, though, with high expectations.)


Update: After reading several pages worth of googling, I've realized the whole "seamless" importing task might be...scary. Well, not scary. Scarier than I care to deal with. So I might just do a new blog, import all this stuff into it, and leave this blog here with huge notes at the top that say, "Hey, go, over there, for the fresh stuff." Maybe. I dunno. I'm thinking outloud (outblog?) here. I've been thinking of re-naming the blog anyways. As much as I like the title, I'm afraid there's probably a better title I should be using. Fresh layout, fresh title...jeez, I hope I don't get this antsy every six months.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A hello sent from another version of history

There's debate and discussion, out there, about physical books versus electronic books, audio books versus paper books. Can one replace the other, and so forth. When it comes to the defense our precious, physical, bound and printed texts, I think I can safely add this much to the conversation: you'll never be able to mark your page in an ebook with a receipt printed during a different version of history.

Looking for something to read tonight, I turned to the shelf of books I've bought over the last few years but haven't read; random books I needed to buy, not knowing how long they'd lay untouched in my living room or the trunk of my car. In the mood for a longer book, but nothing so dense as Foucault's Pendulum, I grabbed Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra. I couldn't remember buying it, though I've known I've had it for a while--how long, I couldn't have said; I could vaguely remember starting it, once upon a time, then losing track of it right away--for what reasons, I can't say.

Tonight, about thirty-odd pages into it, I found the receipt from Border's from the day I bought it. Not thinking much of it, I set it on the end table next to me, and went back to the book. Then I went back to the receipt. Some vague curiosity about whether I'd bought anything else when I'd bought Chandra's book, some other book I might enjoy reading, the way I'm enjoying Red Earth and Pouring Rain, if I gave it a second chance.

The other book I bought that day was White Noise by Don DeLillo.

I can't remember reading White Noise without remembering when I read White Noise, and as soon as I remembered reading White Noise, a book I probably shouldn't have been reading when I read it, I saw the date printed on the receipt: 09/09/01.

I remember sitting on the patio of the Arabica coffee shop near Case Western Reserve University the night of September 12, reading DeLillo's book by setting sun and dim outdoor lamp lights, reading about chemical clouds and shifting society. I was sick with the differentness of everything. Even as I knew that time and circumstance were doing things to my head as I read the book that weren't entirely healthy, I was enthralled with the book, and I couldn't stop reading it. While anybody with half a brain cell was looking for some kind of escape, those first days after, something that might make them feel better, or at least okay, but definitely not worse, definitely nothing emotionally or intellectually taxing, there I was, fascinated with the patterns in the dirt on the walls of the rabbit hole's tunnel.

It was a strange, powerful time. I suspect I shouldn't have read DeLillo's book when I did. I also suspect I had an immediate perspective on the book that nobody before, and nobody after, will ever have. Clouds on the ground; static in our brains.

Had I known three days earlier what I knew then, would I have still embraced it? Would I have still bought it? Would I have bought anything that day, would I have handed a clerk at Border's my debit card at 4:21 PM on a Sunday afternoon, signed my name on a slip of paper, taken unwitting pieces of my personal history away with me in a plastic bag? Would I be here today, right now, reading a book I don't remember buying, which I bought forty-odd hours before the entire course of my nation's history took a sharp, dodgy turn?

Where does the time go, when it's not being marked by a register receipt, lost between the pages of an unread story?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Read This? Read that. Where's my T-shirt?

Just finished Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, the Litblog Co-op's Summer 2005 Read This! selection. Which I liked. I did. I liked it. And probably wouldn't have read it otherwise, without that recommendation behind it. So.

That said. It's a strange book. I guess it's a mystery with a literary bent; a mystery literary novel, or a literary mystery novel. Whatever. Genre is crap. Take away a handful of conventions from any genre--the private investigator replaced with a guy, the alien races replaced with "other" people, the footnotes and self-referentiality replaced with focus on the tale itself--and all good books are good stories, each with their own ways about getting at bigger things. And I've found as much entertainment, though of differing types, in Stephen King and Fyodor Dostoevsky; don't let anybody suggest that thinking deep thoughts isn't essentially entertainment. Maybe that's all some weird inverted literary snobbery of mine, but whatever. I think it's true.

That said, I don't typically read mysteries. (But aren't all stories, at heart, mysteries? Don't we want to know whodunnit, though in the broader sense of why--why are these things, these things?) So I can't really say how this book deals with the conventions typical to that genre. There's a private investigator (who chain smokes). I can say that someone does get cracked in the back of the head with the butt of a gun. I can say that there are murders and missing people cases to be solved. There are plot twists. Several red herrings. There's even an explosion, which, conveyed in two short sentences, is one of the strangely funniest parts of the book. Beyond all that--can't say much of value.

What I can speak semi-(semi-semi-semi-)intelligently about is the literary merits of the book. There are literary merits to this book. Whew, that was easy. (Really good writing, by the way. Sort of an occasional fluidity to the prose that reminded of that of Paradise by A.L. Kennedy. Not in the same full-throttle way as Paradise though--just hints of it, here and there; a sort of recognition that a slippery sentence can occasionally be far more tightly compelling than the sharply-defined one. (This, of course, makes far more sense in my head, by the way.))

If I sounded troubled when I said before that I liked the book, it's because I am troubled about it, in that I did like it, even though the book left me feeling troubled. It's an odd book. Though I feel like most everything is wrapped up by the end of the story, I'm still left feeling like I missed major things--which might be related to that impulse to need to re-read the book shortly after reading it the first time that I believe one of the back-cover blurbs mentions. On the one hand, that might all just be me being a flawed reader; on the other hand, it might be right where the book wants me, the bum off the street reader, to be. I suspect this book is pointing towards stories where the plot lines (as there are more than one) can be concluded, but the ideas and thoughts and reactions generated by those plot lines, not so much. Or maybe that in reaching towards conclusions we leave swarmy messes in our wakes; a book itself might be a search for meaning, or a way of imposing structure onto chaos, but when you (say, for example) build a buckyball out of Jenga blocks and chewing gum, some of the construction's left to be completed in the viewer's mind. There's beauty in the breakdown, and all that jazz.

Or, you know, maybe it's just a damn good book, and sometimes damn good books linger in the mind. Whatever. Good choice, LBC. I look forward to reading future selections.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Further proof I shouldn't have an Internet license

If you've been reliant on the Atom feed for getting your daily (semi-daily (possibly weekly (oh so rare))) dose of hot Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks action, things might go all higgeldy-piggeldy for you for a bit, since in solving some previously mentioned technical difficulties I inadvertently broke the Atom feed. I'd like to think this makes me a mad scientific genius--in reality, it makes me a fool. Everything should be okay now, and my apologies if, er, you get inundated with about the entire blog all at once, or something like that. I've no idea how these things work.

Really, they should take my Internet license away. It'd be a shame, too. I got such a good deal on it! Bought it real cheap off the same guy who sold me that pass to the pool on the fourth floor of my high school. I never did find the pool, though. I figure that was only because I was too busy being stuffed into lockers to have time to look for it.

Always late to the party and always forgetting to bring a bottle of mental wine

Having been "off" the blog for over a week, I feel a bit out of practice, and never you mind that I was never much in practice in the first place, anyway. Also nevermind that I spent most of that off time completely failing to read any novels that I could have been ranting and/or raving incoherently about. I can barely remember what the point of this blog is--I know it's got something to do with books, and maybe something to do with how much I suck as a writer (in that I spent most of the last month completely failing to write any stories that I could be ranting and/or mostly ranting about), and maybe something to do with...Solon? No, that can't be right. Medina, maybe? Getting warmer. Anyway, maybe I'm actually supposed to be telling you about my cats, which means I'm in trouble, because I have no cats. Unless I had, before my off time, imaginary cats, in which case, I'm really in trouble, since I seem to be fresh out of imaginary catnip.

Whatever. Point being. Everything sort of fell apart there for a while and I've got the construction teams of my mind desperately trying to re-erect the vague facade that is Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks world headquarters, and while that's happening, I've got, like, nothin', man.

But that doesn't mean that everyone else out there's got nothin'. No way, man, no sir; we don't even have to think about calling Howard on this one. There's been lots of interesting stuff out there recently, and some of it has taken the form of epic blog-post debates, combatants hurling comments back and forth in psionic waves of hurly burly that have left at least twelve coffee shop combatants each an extra buck-fifty short.

Take, for instance, the now 90 or so comments that met the announcement of the Litblog Co-op's first Read This! selection. The discussion is a fascinating read--though don't quiz me on it, since it's been a while since I've read it--and it might make for some good supplemental reading material while the decimated brain that is mine is made fitter, happier, and more productive in this time of introspection; oh yes, this nothingman will be a better man...okay, moving right along.

If you're just looking for a capsule summary: the LBC all got together and were like, "Hey, lets promote some books," and everyone was like, "Sweet!" and then when the LBC started promoting a book, half of everyone was like, "Sweet!" and the other half of everyone was like, "No way OMG! WTF? This isn't what we wanted!" (I'm oversimplifying for the sake of a failed attempt at light humor, one admittedly on-par with the random string of 90's bands music quotes up there.) In all honesty the conversation is an interesting source of material for those interested in the question of where literature stands today--what makes a writer really famous, what makes writing important, and who books are published for in the first place. Maybe someday I'll get around to coming up with an illuminating, carefully considered response to the whole thing, but most likely I'll just get distracted by some shiny bauble and lose track of time for another couple weeks. Shiny baubles--there's got to be a way to buy those things in bulk.

(Incidentally--I'm reading Case Histories now, and I'm enjoying it. I, for one, welcome our new LBC litblog overlords.)

If you're looking for more LBC recommendations--the first of the nominated but not selected titles has been announced which, too, falls prey to the "No way! WTF?" side of the argument, though far less drastically so. (I'm wondering whether the comments in question in this specific post are meant as satire--I suppose it's better that than the alternative, that the phenomenon of the Internet Troll exists even on the bookish blocks of the net; I mean, there's places on the net where that kind of behavior is not only not rude but the norm, net-equivalents to drunken bars where fights are going to break out now and then, whereas I can't help but think of a litblog troll being the equivalent of someone walking into a library and pulling books off the shelves while screaming that librarians are teh suck.) If you're just looking for more LBC fun, the Read This! selection's American editor drops in to chat and answer some questions. And Shaken & Stirred points you towards other blogs that talk more about related things, none of whom refer to imaginary cats, I believe. Which might be a plus or a minus on your score card--you make the call.

And if that discussion isn't your thing, or if 90 comments is just too darned many to breeze through over your lunch hour, head over to Conversational Reading for a briefer, though no less impassioned, discussion on audiobooks, and whether or not listening to an audiobook should really be considered equivalent to or as valuable as reading a book. Again, please don't quiz me, because my memory's a sieve and I lost the pasta before I even started cooking. I do chime in, in there, somewhere, though you shouldn't listen to anything I say in an on-line discussion of that sort, since I tend to forget that I like to believe I subscribe to the belief that people don't really know as much as they might like to think they do, and in forgetting I tend to open my mouth and let words come out which shine immediate light on my own fallible intellect, which is why I should really never enter discussions in which there are positions to be taken. (Plus there's the whole "on-line discussions tend to be done before I get there and when someone responds to anything I say I've already moved on to the next bit of bytes anyway" thing. There really ought to be a litblogger discussion board where such discussions could be taken; I suspect that they'd find better life in that format than in blogpost comment thread format, but then, this being the Internet, I am probably wrong, and someone is probably going to tell me so, and maybe if I'm lucky, they'll tell me I'm teh suck, too.) Check Technorati for other blogposts that point towards the NY Times article which sent C.R. off and running.

Oh, wait...I've got it. Parma! This blog is about Parma!, I don't know anything about Parma. Hmm...