Monday, June 30, 2008

Theories of everything

I'll be on the air this morning around 11 at WFMU (91.1 FM), talking about Personal Days with Benjamen Walker. Tune in online!

UPDATE: Here's the playlist, featuring rugged work songs, actors reading passages from PD, and listener-snapped cubicle images! (Thanks, Benjamen!)

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where's the beef?

I. Headline of the day: "Beef dispute confronts Rice on Korean visit." —AP
(From Cousin Jane)

II. Unprecedented? Two weeks, two NYT reviews of books by Psychic Envelopes members!

III. Nomen-omening? "Actor Charles Ogle" appears on Weekend Stubble.

IV. Are Tiger Woods and Roger Federer...Ourobori?
We are talking about a powerful, almost violent swing that puts inordinate stress on a left knee that is about to undergo a third operation within five years....Woods is 32, comfortably in a golfer’s prime. It is nonetheless time to acknowledge that the singular rival he has lacked over the past decade has finally emerged. It is himself.
V. Personal Days = menswear forecaster?

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Somewhat Self-Serving Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for June 27–29

I. Personal Days gets covered in the New York Times Book Review! Mark Sarvas's thoughtful review invokes Unamuno, makes comparisons to Bellow and Beckett and Bloom (Molly)—heyyy, I'll take it!—and says:

[W]itty and appealing...[A]nyone who has ever groaned to hear ‘impact’ used as a verb will cheer as Park skewers the avatars of corporate speak, hellbent on debasing the language....Park has written what one of his characters calls ‘a layoff narrative’ for our times.
But don't settle for my bracket-happy the whole thing—it's very good (I'm not biased)!

II. Hmmm, does Sarvas read The Dizzies? I started reading Harry, Revised and found this compelling evidence on page 2:
He does this a lot, this strange circular thinking, Harry the Ouroboros, watching himself watching himself watching, often emerging many minutes later, foggy-headed and thick-tongued as if waking from a deep sleep.
Case closed!

III. Sick of Personal Days? Want some different Ed Park fiction for a change?

[Readership: Wha?]

The web-only, Canada-based Joyland, a "hub for short fiction" that officially goes up on July 1, has a terrific old-newsletter look...and an excerpt of the chipper, vertiginous, interminable novel in progress known as...THE DIZZIES!

Read "Trilobite and Isle of Wight." (You can find other dizzying excerpts in The Fanzine, BOMB...and a forthcoming issue of a free New York periodical, to be revealed soonish!)

IV. To add to the pinch-me-I'm dreaming-ness of this week: The new Time magazine picks "Three First Novels that Just Might Last"...including ye olde Personal Days—heyyy, I'll take it!

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The collapse of the concrete structure, the most conspicuous part of the nuclear complex at Yongbyon, 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, bore witness to the incremental progress that has been made in American-led multilateral efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. —Choe Sang-hun, "North Korea Destroys Tower at Nuclear Plant," NYT

* * *

When you leave,
weary of me,
without a word I shall gently let you go.

From Mt. Yak
in Yongbyon
I shall gather armfuls of azaleas
and scatter them on your way.

Step by step
on the flowers placed before you
tread lightly, softly as you go.

When you leave
weary of me,
though I die, I'll not let one tear fall.

—Kim Sowol (1902–1935), "Azaleas"

* * *

Parkus Grammaticus Sr. says: "Azeleas" is THE most loved poem for Koreans. No Koreans can look at azeleas without thinking of Kim Sowol, that young, beautiful and tragic poet. Yongbyon's Yaksan has been a mythical place of love and stories of unfulfilled love. We were shocked and dismayed discovering suddenly that Yongbyon became the site of nuclear plants and potential massive destruction of civilization. Now the plant dismantled, we hope azeleas can bloom once again—so that some day we can recite Kim Sowol and weep softly (without tears) with him, surrounded by Yongbyon's azeleas. Some day."


Poster child

EP in Brooklyn?!

(Photo by Mr. Adrian Kinloch, designer of the official website.)


Thursday, June 26, 2008





Who talk in Brooklyn


I'll be reading at the Barnes & Noble on Court Street tonight at 7. (Here's the Time Out listing; I'll be taking the 2 or 3 train to Borough Hall. Then what?!)

Yet another interview with me is now available, at the blog Who Walk in Brooklyn: "Ed Park, or The Ingenuities." (Hot title!)

Sample EP pontificating: “I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the element of surprise. We like to be surprised by art, no? Yet we also tend to read within the genres we like—mystery novels, romance stories, ‘literary’ fiction. Certain developments and resolutions come to be expected. Much of my reading is done in this mode, but I also seek out things that I know will deploy derangements of language, adventurous forms—pushing-the-envelope stuff. (Of course, such books themselves constitute a genre.)”

More links to interviews can be found here.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Truth! Fiction! Stranger!

This blog started as an offshoot of my novel-in-progress, The Dizzies...set in a Canadian vestibularium, a towering edifice with rotating floors, and a shape that none of the patients could agree on...

Like this?!

Reminder: Tomorrow, 6/26 — I'll be reading in Brooklyn!


First Person Fabulous


I've been reading a lot of Matthea Harvey lately—Sad Little Breathing Machine and Modern Life—and then just now was looking to see if my reading tomorrow was listed anywhere...ANYWAY, I found this! From a recent Time Out!

M.H. creates a poem—a cento!—out of lines from this summer's "top 20 beach reads"...including...PERSONAL DAYS!?!?!?!?

Sample bit:

I put my cheek to the ground
in order to blow softly on an ember.
It felt like the world was rushing up to meet the sky.

(First two lines by David Guterson; last line by me!)

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Today in history

You wouldn't know it unless you knew it—but today, 6/25, is the 58th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

It slipped my mind until my dad e-mailed me—but I was actually thinking about it last week, while on the road; in San Francisco, I stayed in room 625.

Time for a refresher course.


No logo—Buffalo edition

Exhibit A, from Karla in Buenos Aires: "Please note that while this wasn’t a part of arteBA it damn well could have been, as the kid is wearing a t-shirt bearing the likeness of the Bills/Cowboys Superbowl XXVII match up, smacking of both Modernism and Surrealism."

Exhibit B: The new look? Torontonians, what do you think? (Via Rob.)


This could be a book!

Izzy Grinspan's Rules for Brides.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flip the switch

Brooklynites! Though I don't live in Brooklyn, I will be reading there on Thursday night! 7 p.m. (6/26) at Barnes & Noble on Court Street! Someone tell me how to get there! Love it!

* * *

"From Electro-Harmonix's new line of bass effects pedals, the Bass Blogger gives you a full-bodied distortion tone, like the Bass Big Muff. However, the Blogger differs from the Big Muff in that its distortion focuses more on finesse than force. Smooth sound with a good blend for keeping a healthy back-and-forth with the drummer. If you want to step up the distortion, though, don't worry - flip the switch from 'Drive' to 'Fuzz' and watch all eyes turn to you."

(Via Dzyd Wayne)


This is the 1600th post of 'The Dizzies.'


Song of the Bone

Seinfeld on Carlin:

I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been standing around with some comedians and someone talks about some idea for a joke and another comedian would say, “Carlin does it.” I’ve heard it my whole career: “Carlin does it,” “Carlin already did it,” “Carlin did it eight years ago.”...And he didn’t just “do” it. He worked over an idea like a diamond cutter with facets and angles and refractions of light. He made you sorry you ever thought you wanted to be a comedian. He was like a train hobo with a chicken bone. When he was done there was nothing left for anybody. —NYT


Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for June 24, 2008

I. Douglas on the Portland Ukefest:

There is a cultural chasm between people who pronounce “ukulele” yoo-koo-lay-lee and people who pronounce it oo-koo-leh-leh, roughly corresponding to the divide between people who prefer “fun” and people who prefer “authenticity.”

II. Mazel tov to Dizzies Team Member Izzy and "the Citizen"—

I love this picture!

—Photo by Dzyd Jen!

III. A small but nice notice for PD in The New Yorker...what's the pull quote? "Comic and creepy"?!

This comic and creepy début novel takes place in a Manhattan office depopulated by “the Firings,” where one can “wander vast tracts of lunar workscape before seeing a window.” The downsized staff huddle like the crew of a doomed spaceship, picked off one by one by an invisible predator. Crippled by computer crashes (one worker suggests that the machines are “trying to tell us about the limits of the human”), the survivors eddy in a spiritual inertia; when one of them is banished to “Siberia”—a lone desk on another floor—no one can muster the energy even to reply to her increasingly anguished e-mails, until, one day, she is simply no longer there. Park transforms the banal into the eerie, rendering ominous the familiar request “Does anyone want anything from the outside world?”

IV. Today on his Finer Things Club radio show, Dizzies Team Member Hua is joined by one of the more interesting fellows we know—"Vocoder" Dave Tompkins! Here's what Hua has to say:

Join us from 1030am-noon as the great Dave Tompkins hectors the airwaves with a sure-to-be unforgettable mix of inscrutable vocoder jams, suicidal soul ballads, "random rap," John Carpenter, 80s grooves, and a Russian electro single from 1982 credited to "Udytu and his Male Harem."

Tune in here.

V. Pauses that refresh:

"The semicolon allows woozy clauses to lean on each other like drunks for support." —Dzyd Paul, Slate

"Keeler's overuse of the comma stopped even me—a comma-lover of the first rank—dead in my tracks." —Levi on Harry Stephen Keeler's The Box From Japan

VI. "Books like [Roberto Bolaño's] 2666 take on the biggest themes their authors can imagine, and these themes are so large that it takes serious novelistic real estate to even establish them on paper." —Conversational Reading

VII. I apparently can't shut up these days—all this week I am talking to Jason Boog about Personal Days.

VIII. And finally—what would a TTOPG (Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus) be without...and Ouroboros?

This comes from the frontispiece of William Gaddis's The Recognitions, accompanying this interview at Splice Today (?!) with Gaddis sage Steven Moore, who put together the indispensable A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's "The Recognitions", now available online, how do you like these comma splices, I could keep doing this forever you know...? (Via Other Ed.)

Toward the end, it was like completing a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, trying to fill in the gaps that were still missing. Only then did I write to Gaddis and tell him I'd annotated about 90 percent of it, and wondered if he still had a list of sources that I could use to finish up. He said he didn't. I learned later he was very pleased with the book, and wrote me a six-page letter filling in some of those gaps. Looking back, it was the greatest intellectual adventure of my life.

IX. I know that The Recognitions was an important book for the young EP (or do I mean the young PG?), but now realize that ARGTWGTR was maybe equally important—in the writing of Dementia Americana especially, which was written on two levels it seems, as if begging for annotation! E.g.,

And was that his son, listlessly pitching pennies with other dead-end kids in Howard & Sonia, a sitcom about a horror writer's doomed marriage in 1920s Brooklyn?
—a reference to H.P. Lovecraft's brief departure from bachelordom! Which of course I annotated, ten years later...! I'm just going to annotate all my unpublished books now!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

PD tour blog, 6/20-21

—Idea for a character: "I'm an intellectual property lawyer specializing in Sudoku cases."

—Every airport line a labyrinth of Tens-a-Barriers.

—Least romantic sign, LAX: PRE-SECURITY DINING

—In Seattle: Had morning coffee outside Grand Central Bakery; saw a homeless guy mummified in old clothes, face invisible. Later that afternoon, visiting E., we stop by an outsider-artist neighbor's house. He makes whimsical/strange tiled sculptures. In the backyard is one of a life-sized mummy, arms outstretched.

—I love how there is never any security when it comes to baggage claim.

—Media escort in Portland tells me that Oregon was founded as an all-white state.

—Why am I saying "No worries" again? "Sorry, Mr. Park, the room will be ready in 15 minutes." "No worries!"

—Happened twice: Upon dropping me off, cabbie says, "Have a good flight." Automatic response: "You too." Nipped it in the bud for the last one.

—Printed matter acquired: six volumes.

—In Portland, D. wears a shirt with DRAMA in a circle, crossed out.

—In San Francisco, lunched with A. and B. at WEIRD FISH. B.'s beard has a soothing effect.

—Many quaint and curious stores along Valencia. Borderlands, science fiction store, has Ouroboric signage:

—Anagram: Oregon: O NEGRO (!!??)

—Economics. In San Francisco, I mean Seattle, got an iced latte at Pike's Place (Pike Place?); clearly ordered and got the smallest size, but was apparently charged for the medium size, unless Washington has a 30% sales tax. Wanted to say something but didn't. Next day, take bus out to acclaimed waterfront taquería; I don't have change, nor any bill smaller than a twenty; the driver gives me a free ride. It all works out.


—Los Angeles:

—In San Francisco I can't figure out how to get from the elevator to my room, how to get from my room to the elevator. Each time I wind up going the wrong way round, passing something called THE GALLERY.

—Must I record every semi-interesting sign I see, every vaguely amusing phrase or chuckleworthy name? Yes? What for? To inflict it, later, on an unsuspecting readership? To remind myself, I am alive?

—Couldn't get this in the other day's Jumble: TAPECK

—Am I gaining weight or losing weight?

—Least aerodynamic airplane logo: Alaska Airlines' eskimo, peering out through ancient eyes.

—In Seattle, in San Francisco, rooms have jogging maps, which I study with interest. Who am I fooling? I don't even jog in New York.

—Did not buy at Powell's a book I mildly coveted upon spying it by chance last summer: SHHH!, by G.[?] Sheppard. How long will it stay on the shelf, this 1000-plus-page novel set in Montreal? Scenario in which I return to Portland every year and check up on its saleability.

—Eccentric millionaire hires person (me) to do this.


"The reading public should pay me for telling them what they oughtn't to read. I must think it over."
"Carlyle has anticipated you," threw in Alfred.
"Yes, but in an antiquated way. I would base my polemic on the newest philosophy."
He developed the idea facetiously, whilst John regarded him as he might have watched a performing monkey." —Gissing, New Grub Street

—In Seattle, R. tells me about Underground Seattle, the old city built below sea level and abandoned, and the abandoned novel he was writing about it.


—Idea for story: Eccentric millionaire who hires his own private Jumble and Sudoku craftsmen, the way you would hire a chef.

—At Google, I try to summarize my blog for my hosts. "I write about my obsessions...the snake with its tail in its mouth? And the number 26?"

"FREMONT TROLL—This beloved public artwork depicts a large, fearsome troll devouring an actual Volkswagen underneath the Aurora Bridge." —Where Seattle, 6/08

Hey , some a**hole tore out the map in this Seattle visitor's guide—oops, wait—I did that, yesterday.


—I like the airport name SEA-TAC.

—On Mercer Island, M.'s daughter, B., 5, tells me she's writing a book. She isn't finished yet but I think it will be pretty good.

—Stewardess: Young eyes, old man's hands.

—Thriller plot point idea: Someone with multiple piercings gets through security, is able to remove earrings etc. and form them into a weapon.

—In L.A., go to Barney Greengrass (which in New York is just down the street) at Barneys (which in New York is cross town), like an anagram from home.

—On plane from S.F. to L.A., two kids giddily dance in their seats, thin arms raised, as if swaying to San Serac's "What Price Revenge?," which has commenced piping into my ears at the correct moment.

—On plane home, watch Blast of Silence (1961) on DVD. Great fat-guy actor, room full of caged rats, keeps money in a lamp. The actress reminds me of someone. I think the main hit man actor is understated to perfection, wonder who it is, learn later it's the director. The narration is amazing but I imagine a different version—no narration, gaping silences.

Spiderwick Chronicle is on at the front of the cabin. Tune in for about seven minutes of Penelope but I don't understand it. (Is Reese Witherspoon in the movie?) Watch a pretty funny episode of How I Met Your Mother.

—Note to self: Weed out dead metaphors. (Is that a dead metaphor itself?)


And it's one more night in Hollywood: EP at Book Soup, Los Angeles, 6/20/08
[Photo by Pinky.]

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Once I wanted to be the greatest

As a youngster, Steven, later voted most likely to succeed in his graduating class at Kempner High School, practiced his multiplication tables in his spare time so he could spout the answer faster than his classmates. Diana, after making the varsity volleyball team as a freshman, reacted to Steven’s urging to focus on that sport by increasing the duration and intensity of her tae kwon do workouts. Mark, in third grade, became so enthralled after reading a story about Alexander the Great that he began writing, “The Great” after his name.

“Teachers complained to my parents that I kept writing ‘Mark Anthony Lopez the Great’ or ‘Mark the Great Lopez,’ ” Mark said. “My parents were like, ‘What’s the problem? He has self-esteem, a lot of confidence. That’s a good thing.’ ” — “Three Siblings Head to Beijing in Tae Kwon Do,” NYT
(From Jane.)


Friday, June 20, 2008

EP at Book Soup! Very soon!

Why am I calling myself "EP"?!

I am interviewed by Callie Miller at LAist. Some sample spazzy responses:

Quintessential LA reading – what writers or books capture LA for you? Rachel Ingalls's droll and terrifying Mrs. Caliban (1982), in which a housewife takes up with an escaped aquatic humanoid. (You must read it, if you haven't!)

Quintessential LA playlist – what non-Beatles songs remind you of Los Angeles?
"A Long December," Counting Crows & "Palmcorder Yajna," Mountain Goats — I need to put these on a mix!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mini Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for June 19, 2008 — EP in Berkeley

I. Dzyd Luc's phenomenal word-glutted muxtape (via Paper Cuts, via Jenny D)...

II. Levi starts The Box From Japan (yay!), declares, "Ed Park frequently is even more like Harry Stephen Keeler than Harry Stephen Keeler himself!"

III. In The New Yorker, James Wood reviews Rivka Galchen?!

IV. Jesse Nathan on Shel Silverstein's early career.

V. I'm reading in Berkeley TONIGHT, at 7:30 — Pegasus Books Downtown! (7:30 p.m., not a.m., as their site least, it better be p.m.!) And tomorrow: L.A.!

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PD tour blog, 6/18-6/19

—Broke my shoelace this morning—trying to dress with vigor in order to catch a car to the airport. Instead of being annoyed (well, instead of being totally annoyed), this made me happy: It was the exact thing—an allusion in the physical world—that triggers the "action" in Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine, the great office novel of the '80s!

—Later that night: People are talking about an SF event at a place called The Mezzanine.

—Disorienting hair care experience: In Portland, washed my hair with shampoo but then wasn't sure. Had I used conditioner instead of shampoo? Those bottles are all the same shape. So I shampooed, either for the first time or again, and conditioned, either again or for the first time. My hair was distressingly floaty all day.

—My iPod wheel jammed about a year ago, and I can only play one playlist at a time (long story), so I've been listening to whatever's on it: Richard and Linda Thompson, Pour Down Like Silver; assorted Destroyer; San Serac, Ice Age; Psychic Envelopes.

—Sent out an e-mail to Bay Area friends and acquaintances late last night, or was it early this morning, in which I messed up the day of the S.F. reading. Had to send another one afterward saying, essentially, oops. Fits in with epigraph of PD—another part of the New Order lyric: "I don't know what day it is..." Another real-life allusion!

—At Google, read section about Googling ("Instant Folklore").

—In Portland, watched Discovery program in which a baby hippo gets eaten by a crocodile. The scene was shot from every angle. Shouldn't the camerapeople do something?

—Over drinks last night was told about this YouTube video: Water buffalo vs. lions vs. crocodiles briefly vs. stampede of water buffalo:

—I think there is a scene like this in The Great Romance, that 19th-century New Zealand space exploration/time travel novel I reviewed...was it last month? A sudden battle royale between jungle beasts...except we're on Venus.

[Cue: Pixies, "Where is My Mind?"]

[Photo taken June 19 by my computer]


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today — WEDNESDAY — San Francisco!

I'll be reading at Google this morning at 11 (I am at the Portland airport right now) — and at Booksmith (1644 Haight St.) at 7 p.m.

The San Francisco Examiner calls Personal Days "screamingly funny"!

More info at the website—I think I need to catch my plane now!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In for a Pound

If we can get part of a Canto of Pound’s—and if I find it good which is highly probable—I don’t see why we should shun it. The energies of words are hard to find—I should want my issue to be entirely a matter of the energies of words.
—Louis Zukofsky to Harriet Monroe, from Peter O'Leary's article on Poetry's 1931 "Objectivist" issue, at the Poetry Foundation.

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Powell's tonight!

Elliott Bay was great! A large yet cozy book-lined bunker, perfect for escaping the beautiful weather. So nice to see everyone!

Yesterday I made my way to the taco place, Agua Verde, that Rachael Ray recommended. I took a bus that started in a tunnel. The inscription on the structure above it said GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE. I felt like I'd wandered into a city of the future. Remembrance of what? I didn't know. I took the bus out to the depopulated university and asked someone to point me to Boat Street. I had a salmon taco, which sounded like a good idea (Seattle = salmon town!) but maybe doesn't make that much sense, and a horchata. I read some more of New Grub Street.

Verdict: Agua Verde was OK! I'm glad I took the little trip. On the bus ride home two young dudes were talking music: "C major 7th is just A minor ninth minus the A."

* * *

And now for some PhotoBooth magic: The two things on my desk yesterday!

* * *

Tonight! Portland! Powell's at 7:30!

(Here is me blogging away there last month.)

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Desperate characters

I've hesitated a long time before writing this letter to you, but the fact is things are absolutely desperate with us: in fact we've been living for the last few days selling books, pawning clothes, and only getting a limited number of shillings in the process of these activities. Now my laundry has been impounded because I couldn't raise the requisite number of shillings, and the hotel bill itself impends. —From Julian Maclaren-Ross's Selected Letters, in The Independent

(Via Jenny D)


PD tour blog, 6/16

Packing on Saturday, I e-mailed Jenny D, my life coach, regarding what books to bring. I was up to four or five—clearly too many:
Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives (which I thought was a shoo-in)
Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances (halfway done, so maybe not much bang for buck, space-in-suitcase-wise)
Paul Park, Princes of Roumania (hadn't opened)
George Gissing, New Grub Street (just started, one chapter in)
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise (just started, two chapters in)
Charles Stross, Saturn's Children (just started, five pages in)
She talked me down to Park and Gissing, and allowed me to bring Rivka's book, which I finished on the flight to Seattle. Verdict: Go read it!! It's a good sign when one keeps reaching for a pen to scribble down excellent little lines. (One I liked: "Everybody with their dogs," said in a sort of exhausted tone.) I think the comparisons (in reviews etc.) to Pynchon might be slightly misleading—the style really isn't anything like Pynchon's; there's paranoia, but it seems more in line with Borges, say. (And that makes sense, actually—some of the action takes place in Argentina.) The book is written in a slippery, funny, complex first person, with huge gusts of sudden sadness roaring through...One of those books that makes you want to write!

After Atmospheric Disturbances, I read Rachael Ray's Lake George–area recommendations in the in-flight magazine, then saw her yammering cheerfully about great meal bargains in the mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest states on Food Network. What would my life be without Rachael Ray? (A: Quieter.)

Then I read a few chapters of Paul Park—very good!

But since disembarking, it's been all about the Gissing. GREAT!

Seattle has approximately five trillion independent bookstores!

(Off to find this taco place that Rachael Ray recommended! Elliott Bay TONITE!)

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Sunday, June 15, 2008



Oh wait—not really!

Nice PD/Elliott Bay reading mention in The Stranger today—which I looked at while in the famous Pike Place Market, the place where they throw the fish at each other! "Nabokov writing The Office," something like that, heyyyy, I'll take it!

Tomorrow, Mon. 6/16—Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 South Main Street, 7:30! I will be reading!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for June 14–15: West Coast Tour Preparatory Edition

I. From Monday to Friday next week, I'll be hopping down the West Coast to read from and talk about Personal Days. Hope to see some of you! (Thank you, Bostonians, for coming out to the reading on Thursday! And thank you Newtonville Books! And: So great to see people at Happy Ending on Wednesday! That was a lot of fun.)

Thumbnail schedule—more info at the website.

MONDAY: Seattle, Elliott Bay Books, 7:30 [TIME CORRECTED]
TUESDAY: Portland, Powell's Books (Burnside), 7:30
WEDNESDAY: San Francisco—Google in the a.m.; then Booksmith at 7
THURSDAY: Berkeley, Pegasus Books, 7:30
FRIDAY: Los Angeles, Book Soup, 7

II. My latest Astral Weeks column is up at the L.A. Times site—a meditation on Charles Fort, prompted by Jim Steinmeyer's new biography.

Following up on Dzyd Rachel's Triple Canopy interview with me*, I meditate some more on metaphor. Here's the first graf of this month's column:

What are metaphors for? Before finding fame as the 20th century's greatest compiler and theorist of weird news, not to mention one of its most audacious and influential autodidacts, Charles Fort (1849-1932) was a journalist and pulp-story writer who amassed inventive ways to describe one thing in terms of something else. Among the few to glimpse these scraps was no less a literary titan than Theodore Dreiser, who was Fort's early magazine editor and steadfast champion. Bowled over, Dreiser offered to buy the odd collection from Fort. "They are better than any thesaurus," he raved, "a new help to letters."

III. Digression 1: A line in Janet Maslin's review of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle made me raise an eyebrow:

Its voice is so natural and unfettered, so free of metaphor or other baggage, that even the simplest moments can have extraordinary grace.

So metaphor is "baggage," rather than that which makes us human???

IV. Digression 2: "Is [Rivka] Galchen a modern day Charles Fort?" —New York Observer

V. Digression 3: A hilarious example of interior dialogue as practiced by Fort (spinning off accounts of people awaking from fugue states, nude and in public):

Don't cats and horses and dogs go around without clothes on?
But they are clothed with natural, furry protections.
Well, Mexican dogs, then.

...which brought to mind this demented trailer (via Jenny D).

VI. Sukie Park (no relation!) of the Joongang Daily profiled me—we also had a fascinating conversation (not reflected here) about various Korean directors....

*Rachel e-mailed me this link, from the new Atlantic: "The process of adapting to new intellectual technologies is reflected in the changing metaphors we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. When the mechanical clock arrived, people began thinking of their brains as operating "like clockwork." Today, in the age of software, we have come to think of them as operating "like computers." But the changes, neuroscience tells us, go much deeper than metaphor. Thanks to our brain's plasticity, the adaptation occurs also at a biological level."

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Eight arms to hold you

The Fabulist has tracked down some unusual hybrids...

(Via MUG)


Charisma carpenters

The Play Generated Map and Document Archive is dedicated to the online preservation of hand-written game-related ephemera, particularly those pertaining to RPGs (D&D, etc.) and computer games.

(Via Linksmeister General Thomas.)

* * *

I highly recommend the Zadie Smith piece in the new Believer! I kept nodding my head in agreement and recognition, grinning, etc. Wise but fleet!

* * *

I guess I'll be bringing Bolaño on tour!

* * *

"It was definitely one of those nights when dinner was better than the play." —Light Reading

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kite — Hell — Doubles — Footprints

Williamsburghers! You have a rare chance to catch the elusive "B. Kite" in action!

* * *

About how many things can it be said: “It came out of the gate finished”? —NYT

* * *

Alan Gilbert vs. Alan Gilbert—who would win???

(The latter is blogging up a storm at Harriet, along with new Harrieteers Travis Nichols and Buffalo native Mark Nowak. Exciting!)

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Emily Warn: Can we think of "Footprints" as Christian conceptual poetry? (See Dzyd Rachel's original piece.)

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I am a stub. (UPDATE: No longer?!)

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Son of Table-Talk of P.G. for June 12, 2008

Beantown and environs: I'll be reading tonight at Newtonville Books, 7 p.m.!

(Thanks to all who came out last night for the Happy Ending reading!)

Next week: West Coast!
Week after that: BROOKLYN!
More info: here.

* * *

L.G. Thomas directs us to the University of Delaware's Library of Literary Forgery, featuring, among others, Frederick Prokosch and George Psalmanazar:

Born in the South of France, sometime between 1679 and 1684, Psalmanazar never revealed his birth name and allegedly adopted his pseudonym from the Old Testament figure Shalmaneser, King of Assyria. He traveled to Germany, took on the persona of an uncivilized Japanese--who spoke fluent Latin--and joined a regiment in the service of the Dutch. Psalmanazar recounted colorful stories of his past life to his fellow soldiers and when his regiment was posted to Sluys, in the Southwest region of the Netherlands, Psalmanazar came to the attention of the Rev. Alexander Innes, who served as chaplain to a Scottish regiment. Intrigued by Psalmanazar's wild claims, Innes soon discovered Psalmanazar's fraud--purportedly by asking him to translate a passage from Cicero into Japanese. Once he discovered the fraud, however, Innes became Psalamanazar's confederate, seeing in him a means to better his own fortune....
* * *

Line of the week: "My new house is an unintentional Gordon Matta-Clark project." —Selfdivider

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I. Tonight! I'll be reading from Personal Days at Happy Ending, which is at 302 Broome St. @ Forsyth — you take the B/D to Grand, or the F/J/M/Z to Delancey. (Wait—there's a Z train?!)

Doors at 7! (Not these kinds.) Event at 8! I'm reading with Rivka Galchen and Craig Morgan Teicher! (Rumors have been floating that a ukulele will be wielded, that voices will be lifted plaintively to the rafters. I cannot confirm these rumors at this time.)

II. Rachel Aviv! Is great! Our longish e-mail dialogue, which she masterfully directed, is in the latest issue of Triple Canopy, an excellent new web publication (of which she is an editor).

It was a very different experience from being interviewed by phone or in person; many of my responses were typed out late at night, and I found myself thinking in ways that might not have been possible in the bright light of day...a different sort of clarity, an insomniac's clarity. (I am more emphatic when I type than when I speak.) In "Only Connect," Rachel and I talk—er, type—about process, metaphor, Keeler, Julian Jaynes, my abandoned oeuvre, the web, "bad art," and more. (Plus: SATURNHEAD!)

Happy Ending/Ouroboric twist: This issue of Triple Canopy also features Rivka's "Case Notes of a Medical Student, East Harlem Psychiatric ER, Winter 2002."

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Atmospheric disturbances, ca. RIGHT NOW



Besides rules, the embryonic phone book also featured pages of tips on placing calls — pick up the receiver and tell the operator whom you want — and how to talk on this gadget. Having a real conversation, for example, required rapidly transferring the telephone between mouth and ear.

“When you are not speaking, you should be listening,” it says at one point.

You should begin by saying, “Hulloa,” and when done talking, the book says, you should say, “That is all.”

The other person should respond, “O.K.” —NYT


The loves of Parkus Grammaticus

[PD muscling in on Palahniuk/Pamuk/Parker/Patchett turf at the Borders in Portland, Maine. Photo from Matthew Tiffany.]

I love getting "Rick-rolled."


I love the photo that goes with this caption, in the Guardian: "The NEA makes a convincing case that young people are reading less, but it completely excludes reading done on computers."


I love this minimalist author bio, on the ARC for the forthcoming The Poems of Mao Zedong:

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) founded the People's Republic of China in 1949.

[Cue: MC Hammer, "Can't Touch This."] (From Dzyd Rachel)


I love McCain for President...of the Dizzies Discussion Group!: "I think the guy's a medical mess and here are the highlights which were buried in the other news...
"—He has dizzy spells.
"—He suffers from vertigo..."

(From Dzyd Ed)


I love everything about this song!


I love that I completely misread this headline yesterday! I thought it said "dialectics"!


I love that I saw some of you in Chicago, and that I will see some of you tomorrow (Downtown at Happy Ending) and Thursday (Beantown)!

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Monday, June 09, 2008

All that fall

Basketball: then, toed by foetid teens, fall
—From Bill Knott's "Vague Consoles"


If *Bee Movie* Starred Ryan Gosling

Honeybees able to learn 'dialects': scientists
Malayala Manorama*

*Best Newspaper Name Ever?

A man escaped

“My working theory was that I had gone down a wormhole,” he continued. “Someone pointed out that perhaps I had gone to Narnia. But I would’ve remembered Narnia. So it must’ve been a wormhole.” —NYT


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Go with the Flo

The Enchantress of Florence vs. The Monster of Florence—who would win???


Son of Table-Talk of P.G. for June 8, 2008

I. New Believer is out! Not the music issue (which will appear next month) — but a "must-have" all the same...Zadie Smith...Blake Bailey on John Cheever and Frederick Exley...Dzyd Linden on B.S. Johnson...Paul Feig Sedaratives...interviews with Gus Van Sant and newly minted Blvr. Book Award winner Tom "Remainder" McCarthy...and much more!

II. Anyone know anything about Meatpaper?

III. I talk about six of my favorite books over at The Week—I hadn't realized two-thirds of them were out of print...

IV. A Korean review of Personal Days!

V. I'll be reading in New York and Boston (well—Newtonville!) later this week. More here soon.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Whale of a time

From my 2003 Believer article on Charles Portis:

[In Dog of the South,] Dr. Symes’s mother, a missionary, periodically grills Midge on his knowledge of the Bible, a knowledge he repeatedly professes not to have. “Think about this,” she says, pointedly fixing his thoughts to the matter of last things. “All the little animals of your youth are long dead.” Her companion Melba promptly emends the truism: “Except for turtles.”

I wish I could find that line in Borges about being the last person alive to remember seeing something—something small, not a major cultural event but the way the sky was on a certain day in a certain part of the country. (Shades of "Funes the Memorious"; am I actually just misremembering that story?)

Borges and Portis came to mind when Dzyd Arlo sent me this link to the Times's NHL blog, in which Jon Baum reflects on the increasing rarity of hockey players associated with the now defunct Hartford Whalers (favorite team of this brilliant historian).

I like that the Whalers had a regionally relevant name, and one referring to an outdated trade; now Whalers are becoming as scarce as whalers; but perhaps all hockey players will be whalers soon enough.

[Cue: "Bob Marley and the Hartford Whalers."]

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Goodnight, Gorilla

I. Loved Levi's post about imaginary books in works of fiction, inspired by his recent reading of Nabokov's excellent (dare I say underrated?) The Real Life of Sebastian Knight; and now he's posted a follow-up that also describes a Nabokov-inspired dream.

II. Not that I should start another blog, but this sounds like a good collaborative blog project? It could be set up, alphabetically, along the lines of Parkus Grammaticus....any interest?

III. TRLOSK features a title, The Prismatic Bezel, that I've squirreled away into another fiction: This crazed essay arguing that Salinger wrote Lolita.

IV. EP trivia: I squirreled a name I invented out of that essay—and into Personal Days.
What is it?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Are you prepared... enter THE INFINITE LIBRARY?

I don't think you are.

Not just yet.

Take a deep breath.

Maybe walk around the room a few times.

Or around the block.

Maybe click on this link tomorrow.
It might be too much for you.

It is too much for me.


You sure you're ready?



(From Linksmeister General Thomas.)

Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for June 6, 2008

Q: Is this an Ouroboros? A: Kinda sorta.

Dr Adrian Bowyer, a senior lecturer in engineering in the Faculty of Engineering & Design at the University of Bath, has created RepRap, an open source prototype machine that has succeeded in making a duplicate of itself - by printing its own parts and building a clone. —Scientific Blogging

(From Dzyd Mike.)

* * *

Julia sent me this nifty NZ site, Read at Work. Shades of ""?

* * *

Word Golf:

SALT to SEAS in six steps—can you do it?! (I tried to do it between the time my plane landed and the time I had to start moving up the aisle, and couldn't come up with the solution in six.)

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for June 5: Chicago Edition

I. Passive-aggressive reminder! I'll be reading TONIGHT at 7 p.m. in CHICAGO! The Book Cellar! More info at the usual places and at Literago.

II. Dzyd Ed on Charles Broskoski:

As if taking a one-man stand against the alleged decline of bibliophilia in the digital age, Charles Broskoski read 356 books in 400 days, ending his own personal Reading Olympics in early 2008. If that doesn't sound grueling enough to you ADHD types, consider this: the books he perused were a collection of O'Reilly tech-guide e-books downloaded as a single torrent in late 2006: fat tomes with such alluring titles as Linux Device Drivers, XSLT Cookbook, Essential System Administration and ASP.NET in a Nutshell.

Go to Broskoski's site for some dazzlingly numbing photos.

III. New Ghost is out!

IV. West Coast Personal!

From Pegasus Books, where I'll be reading on 6/19.

(Photo from Rachel Marcus)

V. And: At last! Dzyd Dennis's Museum of the Moving Image website is up—a resource/calendar/journal featuring pieces by a few of our favorite names/Dzyds, including B. Kite, Michael Atkinson, Ed Halter, and Joshua Clover. From the Kitean review of Richard Brody's Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard:

So how did Godard greet his future biographer when they met in Switzerland in 2000? Quite amiably at first. Brody at that time was working on the New Yorker profile that served as the seed of his book. Godard said he liked the magazine's cartoons. They spent the day together, and Brody harvested a number of Godardian aperçus, including one that became the title of his book. They parted after dinner, with plans to resume discussion in the morning. But come the dawn:

I found the curtains drawn over the wall-sized window and the glass door, to which a note inscribed "Mr. Brody" was taped. Godard had written that he could not continue the interview because it was "not a real discussion" and was "flou"—out of focus, vague—but he wished me a better "game" with people I'd be seeing in Paris.

As I looked through the articles, I realized this is something I've been waiting for—not essays on cinema per se, but the return of Dennis Lim as an editor, an editorial sensibility. It's been a while—welcome back!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cellar dweller — Don't stop believin' — backwords — requisite BEA pic — back in the swing of things

I. Light posting here for a while...On Thursday (6/5) I'll be at the Book Cellar in Chicago, reading from Personal Days! More info here and here and at Time Out Chicago. (Looks like you can drink wine there?!)

Who knew one could write so nicely about...Journey? Ben Ratliff pulls out all the stops:
From the late 1970s to the mid-’80s, Journey’s hits were lavish pop bulletins conjuring amber waves of strip malls. Its melodies resolved quickly over four-four grooves, and the band didn’t indulge much in suite form or rarefied instrumental interludes. Neal Schon was its front-and-center guitar player, bending notes into parabolas as big and sexy as rainbows. Steve Perry was its great theatrical tenor, hitting high notes with a likably strained, through-the-noise voice and Sam Cooke-type embellishments. Once it refined its formula, Journey was pure suburban-teen romantic inspiration. By contrast, Boston sounded more street and more mystical; Styx and Kansas were Trig 1 and 2. —NYT

III. On the Personal Days Amazon page, one can learn—well, I can learn—that 85% of the visitors to the page (as of today) buy Personal Days, while 7% buy a book called Daemon, by the curiously named "Leinad Zeraus." Here's more about that book, verblessly, from Publisher's Marketplace:

Leinad Zeraus's (aka database consultant Daniel Suarez) originally self-published debut technothriller DAEMON, "the story of a terminally ill game designer who unleashes a diabolical, self-replicating Web entity that enlists disaffected Netizens in its mission to destroy civilization," to Ben Sevier at Dutton, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2009, followed by a sequel, by Bridget Wagner at The Sagalyn Agency (world).

IV. I wasn't at BEA—but Blvr mg-ed. Andrew was!

V. Haven't written a movie review in a while. How does one do it...? Let's see....OK:

There Will Be Blood = good!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday Ourobori

Almost an Ouroboros?

"Handout images showing the front and side views of a gold cup decorated with the heads of two women. An ancient gold cup mysteriously acquired by an English scrap metal dealer is expected to fetch close to a million dollars at auction after languishing for years in a shoe box under its current owner's bed." —AFP

* * *

Dzyds Becky and Mike report from Chicago: "Yesterday, [we] spotted an ouroboros necklace on a young man on the red line. unfortunately, we were too shy to ask for a picture. actually, it was more like a choker."

* * *

The NYT reviews American Eve, by the one and only Paula Uruburu.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Blank generation

The holy grail of the author's own collector's quest is the 1961 1s 3d Parliamentary Conference stamp, which he recalls as being "the most beautiful small object I had ever seen" as a boy. On this stamp, the head of the Queen, which should by rights have occupied the top half of the stamp, was missing—leaving an enchanting and suggestive blank space.
—Katherine Sterling, review of Simon Garfield's Error World, TLS, May 20 3008


—Shtoom, Christian Marclay (2006; cover of Fall 2008 University of California Press catalog)

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