Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cleveland makes a cut

Our date's still pending, but. Still, y'know! It's something. We do gots us some readers in this town, yes.

(Some of us have lost our f%#*ing minds and started reading Pynchon again, but, well, y'know. Still.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Grant Bailie at Mac's Backs this Saturday

Grant Bailie will be reading from his new book, Mortarville, at Mac's Backs, this Saturday, February 2, at 5:00 PM. You should go. It'll be awesome.

Erin O'Brien talks to Bailie (better Bailie better Bailie better) at The Cleveland Free Times.

Did I mention yet that I really liked Mortarville? Here: I really liked Mortarville.

" if millions of litbloggers suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced..."

This just in from Publishers Weekly:

...Bookforum publisher Artforum International has decided to act on a long-discussed plan to include current events coverage in a move to boost circulation.


"We all felt that in order to really have an increased circulation, we needed to cover current affairs in some way," said McConnell. "We're waiting to see how it evolves."

Say it with me, folks: Boo! Hiss! Bah! Urgh! Yak!

I don't read Bookforum cover to cover, but what I do read, I usually adore. The thought of those articles (potentially) getting bumped in favor of stuff I could get by opening up Yahoo makes me cry inside. And by inside I mean all over the place. Like over in that chair. And outside, in the cold.

Blast it, anyway. In the meantime, I've got to find some time to read this recent article on Donald Barthelme. And to go back to plowing through Sixty Stories, too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More awesomerness

If you need more A. L. Kennedy stuff that I haven't had actually the chance to process myself yet so can't really vouch for (but is probably often hilarious), you can check here and here and here and here.

And probably elsewhere.


The bandages, they taste of fear and church.

- from Day by A. L. Kennedy

That right there's the sort of line that makes you stop reading and pull your laptop out of your bag so you can share it with the entire Internet. Which is to say: it's a good line. From a good book. Which I both can't read fast enough and can't read slow enough.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Awesomer and awesomer

So a while back I read Paradise and I loved it and then a bit later I read Original Bliss and I loved it and now I'm 57-ish pages into Day and I'm loving it. Which facts lead me to conclude that it's entirely possible that A. L. Kennedy totally fucking rules. I'm pretty sure there's more genuine music in a single page of her prose than there is right now on your FM dial.

Seems I'm not the only one who believes so, as Day just won the 2007 Costa Book of the Year award.

See also: "Could it be that ambition and seriousness are - just occasionally - a real source of reading pleasure?" (Via.)

Also worth noting? A. L. Kennedy is not a homicidal maniac.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Goo(d) one

Goo One

(Meanwhile, Oripa laughs his head off.)

Six signs you've completely lost sight of what you can reasonably expect to accomplish with your free time

Six signs

(That's Oripa the Origami Panda Bear, there, cocking his head at me, as if to ask, "Really? You think so?")

Free your mind, and the blog will follow, again

Despite my avowed interest in writing novels for the rest of my life to the exclusion of most other activities (including "working" or "sleeping" but not "staring at girlfriend" and "playing Final Fantasy"), I've been writing short stories for the last three years because I've been over-run with doubt: what idea could I possibly have that's worth pursuing to novel-like lengths? What the hell do I know about anything that anybody would want to pay attention to for longer than fifteen minutes, anyways? Just who the fuck do I think I am? Or maybe I got to that point because of all the short stories I'd started writing, only to abandon, incomplete and unloved. Or maybe it was because of all the books I've read in the last few years: look at all this great work and not so great work and you try to tell yourself you have something worth contributing to this morass of language and ideas. And it wasn't always this way; I wrote a novel and drafted a much longer second novel in a three year span, diving head-first into each story with reckless abandon. In what direction went the brashness and blatancy of my post-collegiate ideals? A question neither here nor there. Either way, I took a turn toward the short-form, figured I could hone my craft while I waited for the next big thing to come into my brain, the thing that would demand my uninterrupted attention for a long period of time. And yes, thank you for asking, the time spent on short stories was time well spent. Despite all the failure and despite all the rejection letters I've managed to produce about a dozen stories I like and am glad I wrote. I played with style and I've learned more about what I can do with it. And I've taken risks. And so the question now is, when I'm starting to get (according to me) decent at short stories, why now, why a novel now, why this sudden newly re-discovered desire to commit? I blame Steve Erickson, and I blame David Lynch. I blame Steve Erickson because I loved his book Zeroville, especially the style of it, the pop energy, the short-short sections piling up one on the other, the effortless rumble of rushing. It's an energy I decided I wanted to emulate in my own writing, which often (without supervision) tends toward the drawn-out, the circumlocutious, the hyperbolic-parenthetic. Get back to basics, man. And I blame David Lynch because that crazy bastard reminded me you're allowed to trust the shit that comes out of your brain, whatever it is. Somewhere in one of those DVD featurette interviews I've gobbled up like leftover Thanksgiving turkey, he said so. And I was like, Oh. Oh, right. You mean, the right answers aren't known, but made? Right. Shit, man, I forgot. So I turned back to my laptop, took two openings of two recently begun but little-developed and totally unrelated short stories, stuck 'em together into a single file, and started adding more periods and section breaks all over the place. And here I am again, working on another novel. The rest is whatever.

Doubt is truth

The only thing I never doubted was the doubt.

- from The Anatomy Lesson by Philip Roth

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Perhaps the story is that there is no story"

One word leads to another; one line to another line. One long paragraph to the next. One chapter to the following chapter, and finally, one book to the next. But I try to make it all new and fresh and original.

A letter from Stephen Dixon.

(If I haven't read Meyer yet it's only because there's a lot of books by Dixon I haven't read yet.)

(And because I now own Day by A. L. Kennedy and can not wait to leap into it.)

(And then, something else will happen.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The current opening line of the aforementioned recently-begun novel

"...and a large Diet Pepsi."

Free your mind, and the blog will follow

You know how sometimes you look at the stack of books on your bookshelves and you feel paralyzed by the possibilities and you wind up playing Xbox instead of reading literature because really there's just too many options for where to go from here? It's sort of like that when I look inside my brain right now and I try to think of what I should say next. Life is busy and my brain is busier except instead of giving up and playing Halo like any sane 20-on-the-verge-of-30-something boy ought to I've started writing a novel with a teenage character in it who himself plays a lot of Halo. And while writing a novel isn't something I have not done before (I've got one completed but long since grown dusty novel on my hard drive and one file with 300,000 words worth of novel in it that I wound up mining for exactly one 2,000 word short story before jettisoning the rest like so much carbon dioxide) this time it does feel different because I realize now I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing and I also realize I must be absolutely insane for doing it in the first place. I must be insane. Which is hilarious if you are me because there are so many ways to be crazy today and I've selected one of the ones with the lowest success percentages. Astronomical.

Forgive my plainspeak

Saw There Will Be Blood last night; loved it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gun, with occasional music

Anger was a gun and he was opening fire.

- from The Anatomy Lesson by Philip Roth

My mind was like a stranger, a cold-hearted stranger with a gun in his hand.

- from Vurt by Jeff Noon

But really, I'm loving the Zuckerman Bound trilogy. In more ways than I can possibly explain this close to bedtime.

(Also, as an update to the closing paragraph of this post? 69 hits. "Nuh-uh," you say? "Uh-huh," I say.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dear Philip Roth

He couldn't write without seeing the writing; though he could picture what the sentences pictured, he couldn't picture the sentences unless he saw them unfold and fasten one to the other.

- from The Anatomy Lesson

Meanwhile, [E. I. Lonoff] was saying to me, "I turn sentences around. That's my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning. And if I knock off from this routine for as long as a day, I'm frantic with boredom and a sense of waste.... I sit back down at my little Olivetti and start looking at sentences and turning them around. And I ask myself, Why is there no way but this for me to fill my hours?"

- from The Ghost Writer

[I]f Olivettis could talk, you'd get the novelist naked.

- from The Anatomy Lesson


Dear Philip Roth,

Screw you for making being brilliant look easy.

Clueless in Cleveland

Friday, January 04, 2008

Despite respite

Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks will be back after a few brief messages from our sponsors.