Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gran illusion

From a fun essay in the Sunday Times that I just read, by the novelist Sara Gran:

There’s a rumor going around that Brooklyn is some kind of heaven on earth for writers. I think it started in The Believer, the magazine of optimistic writing founded by the same people who brought us the McSweeney’s ferret-wash store (and which, by the way, should stop bothering with individual contributors’ bios and just go with “the writers live in Brooklyn”).

Did it start in The Believer? I don't have any recollection of this . . . though the last part is kind of true ("the writers live in Brooklyn"). In fact, this 2003 piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, about SF's literary universe, bizzarely pegged me as one of that fair borough's denizens.

The truth, as my friends know, is that I am rather clueless when it comes to Brooklyn. I have been to a number of neighborhoods over the years, and I like Brooklyn and all that, but I'm not sure how everything fits together. Every time I go, I have to write down the directions very carefully and read them a thousand times once I get off the train. At every corner I'm convinced I've lost the directions and will never make it to my destination, let alone Manhattan.

* * *

Gran makes the self-deprecating claim that "Park Slope is a neighborhood almost exclusively populated by writers; to be specific, writers who are better than I am . . . " But hold the phone! Gran rocks. Her novels Dope and Come Closer are fast, furious reads—I highly recommend them. You will burn through each in a couple of hours, then scream at passers-by: Where can I get more?!

(Oh wait, there is one more: Saturn's Return to New York — you know how I love all things saturnine. Must read it!)

* * *

Oh and: Speaking of things Believer-y, the games issue just arrived. Of course, every issue is well worth your time (and hard-earned dough), but this one is packed with major goodies. I would not steer you wrong.

Anyone unfamiliar with the Oulipo should click through to Christopher R. Beha's piece, available online—those first two paragraphs are genius. And the article ends with a very moving passage by Harry Mathews, a remembrance of his friend Georges Perec (whose essay on crosswords is in this issue as well—I told you it was a good one!). When I first read this memorial, years ago (in the Review of Contemporary Fiction?), it took me a second or even third read to put my finger on what was going on.

* * *

And speaking of Oulipo (isn't "And speaking of" the best segue? A: Perhaps.) — during the excavation/cleaning of my office, I found several printouts of a very early review I wrote, for the website n.b., on The Oulipo Compendium. I had thought this piece was lost forever, as n.b. does not exist as even the faintest cyberghost (as far as I could tell, it was a site connected to "The Reader's Catalog," itself somehow attached to the New York Review of Books, though the connections were never clear to me) . . . Various "Parkhivists" are rejoicing, I know, but I need to give it a read; if it passes muster, I'll have Julio or Maxine (my new Dizzies interns) transcribe and post it here.


Post a Comment

<< Home

View My Stats