Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oh, and I forgot to add Laird Hunt to the Pynchon-Gaitskill-Ishiguro-Miéville midnight-showing-on-opening-night-in-2009 list. Oops. 2009 called. And then it slapped you in the face and took your wallet. Jerk.

(There's also that Vollmann book coming out in April which, heaven help me, really does seem like it could be a fascinating read. But, uh, at 1344 pages, whoops, it's kind of either the Vollmann or everything else. Plus, aren't I supposed to be urinating myself over 2666? I haven't done that yet. Oops. Handing in my blogger card...now.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

There's something strange about people who know they're going to die soon. It's as if their senses are expanded to super-human dimensions, as if they acquire X-ray vision and become mind readers and can see into the future and suddenly understand everything that's going on inside and between other people. And either that really is the case, or else we just want to believe it is, because it makes dying more attractive and easier to reconcile ourselves with, somehow.

- from The Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargy

I don't receive many advance copies of novels, so when I do, I kind of notice they're there; when the first sentence of the accompanying letter drops comparisons to 1984 and Never Let Me Go, I kind of go ahead and bump that book right up to the top of the reading queue, if out of nothing else but curiosity and convenience. Maybe I'm an easy sell. But in any case, such is the case with The Unit, due out in 2009 from Other Press, which I just finished, and which I found largely harrowing, and generally more intriguing by the end than I might have thought it would be closer to the beginning. A good read, one about which I'll have more to say, once I figure out how to put it all down.
Pynchon, Gaitskill, Ishiguro...and now, China Miéville? Writing an existential murder mystery? Dear 2009, what the hell, signed, yours truly? P.S., keep up the good work? I guess? Crazybones?

(Also, there's an excerpt from the new Gaitskill online now (thanks, M).)
There's a big sale on at The New York Review of Books. Might I suggest a Moravia title or two? Me, I might just have to go past the sale for the completion of a trilogy I started at the end of...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

So it begins

So it begins
Originally uploaded by thegrue76
About the hardest thing for me lately is to differentiate between a good idea and a bad idea. When it comes to design, at least. I still recognize that heat is a good idea if one wishes to stay warm but that doesn't mean one should go shoving one's arse in the furnace. Bad idea.

It's one of the reasons why my writing died though I imagine it's also one of the reasons why I feel I can still have a go at this whole visual arts thing; if I can't tell whether or not what I produce is worth producing, I feel like I ought to be less inclined to produce anything at all, seeing as I feel like I've reached the point when I really ought to have figured that sort of thing out. But at least with design-related stuff I can fall back on the whole "newbie" thing, and take comfort in the face that some of my seemingly best ideas have been the ones I've initially ignored as they found root in tossed-off things I felt could have had no intrinsic value. Being tossed-off, as they were.

It's been weird--and it's been weird realizing how weird it is to have to realize this sort of thing--realizing how much beauty there is in irregularity and impurity. The ragged edge is sometimes better than the perfect circle under the influence of the right context.

From another angle: learning to let go has been great for my design efforts though it's been absolutely shit for my writing. A good plan, I've learned, can only take you to the end of the planning itself: what lies on the other side is up in the air. With design I feel like I might be able to wring gold out of an ignorance of direction; with writing, ignoring the initial quality of the work only got me more work of the same quality. I gave myself permission to draft, but never much more than that.

At least with this other set of pursuits a big blank stretch of white seems to hold more possibilities, less of more of the same.

In other words: there's nihilism, and there's figuring your shit out. And a lot of blurry, beautiful lines in the middle.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

So, that Never Let Me Go film adapatation? It's going to star Keira Knightley. As I said on Twitter, so I'll say here: at least she's bringing the "pretty" into "pretty horrible adaptation."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On a happier note: we may soon learn about a new novel by Laird Hunt, who rules, and who still has a couple other books out I've yet to read (for shame, for shame).

Monday, March 02, 2009

Via basically everybody, there's a lengthy essay about David Foster Wallace at The New Yorker. What little I read is about his final unfinished novel, The Pale King, of which you can read a lengthy excerpt.

I have not read the excerpt, nor do I expect I will be able to any time soon. They're publishing it next year, I guess, but I probably won't be able to read it then, either. (I suppose the most surprising thing is finding out after learning about this stuff today just how raw the wound still is. Of how much there is to be said and how better it is not to say it.)
"Goatwriter sat at the writing bureau with a fresh sheet of paper, and for a moment the page is perfect."

- from Number9Dream by David Mitchell

My pages, these days, are all quite perfect.