Sunday, November 29, 2009

If I tweeted...

"He resembled a minor prophet who has been hit behind the ear with a stuffed eel-skin."
—Wodehouse, "Ukridge's Dog College"

"He seemed to shrink into his mackintosh like a snail surprised while eating lettuce."

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The strange book of Von Junzt

Aside from my teaching, I had for some years been engaged in various anthropological projects with the primary ambition of articulating the significance of the clown figure in diverse cultural contexts. I was interested in original sin and had dabbled in esoteric philosophy; my remote ancestors had been Salem witches. I owed the formation of my character chiefly to accident. I shall not pretend to determine in what degree I was credulous or superstitious. I shall tell you what occurred, and let you judge for yourself.* --from my cento review of American Fantastic Tales (ed. Peter Straub), in the L.A. Times.

UPDATE: Also at the LAT, my editor Nick Owchar's Siren's Call column on Clark Ashton Smith (and a little Robert E. Howard) is a nice companion piece to this month's Astral Weeks...and for those curious about what CAS's sculptures looked like—Grognardia has the goods:

*The sentences in this passage come from Thomas Ligotti, "The Last Feast of Harlequin"; Julian Hawthorne, "Absolute Evil"; Charles Brockden Brown, "Somnambulism"; and F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One for the road

Congratulations to Sung J. Woo, whose amazing 36-date reading schedule has come to a close for 2009!

On his blog, he has some pics (snapped by wife Dawn) from our recent Dirty Laundry reading. (Sung read a great piece that featured another candidate for the Invisible Library—the book-within-the-story was Between the Stitches, I believe; who was the author, Sung?)

Here I rock the zippy sweater look:

(I am pretty much done for the year, too—aside from a talk I'm giving next week.)

Further note about the Ave A Laundromat—the proprietress offered the audience a selection of free books about various aspects of Korean culture, which I've been reading.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Loneliness and beauty


(From Lauren)

II. Wolk vs. Kant (in five minutes)

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Silence, cunning, exilée

From the new Bookforum, a review of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Exilée and Temps Morts:
The intergenre artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha made her reputation with the experimental novel Dictée, published in 1982, a few days after she was murdered by a stranger in New York. A speculative history of Korea as it intersects with the life of Cha's mother, Dictée intercuts oneiric prose with family photographs and political documents. English, French, and Korean shape the book's voices.

Cha's small but multilayered archive also includes films, objects, and performances, and in 2001, Berkeley Art Museum curator Constance M. Lewallen organized a retrospective of Cha's art called "The Dream of the Audience," which traveled in the United States, Korea, and Europe. Exilée and Temps Morts: Selected Works, edited by Lewallen with an essay by novelist Ed Park, is a companion to the exhibition's catalogue. As Park explains, the texts "Exilée" and "Temps Morts" originally appeared in a 1980 anthology called Hotel, which included contributions from Laurie Anderson and Jenny Holzer. But copies were boxed before the ink was dry, the pages stuck together, and few people have ever seen the book.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend wowsers

Will at Journey Round My Skull has posted some eye-widening Dutch dustjackets (say that five times fast). This one's for E. Phillips Oppenheim's The Mayor on Horseback.

Any EPO readers out there?

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Hur ts so good

The Times was not outside the door yesterday a.m.; that evening, finally leaving the house, I saw that it was in the lobby. I was going to chuck it—but I'm glad I didn't! I would never have read this Jennifer 8. Lee story about the Elmhurst Hospital Center losing some key lights in its sign—

—nor this story (by John Eligon) titled "It Was Some Day in Court for Ampersands":

Just 30 minutes after a lawyer announced that four women were filing a sex discrimination lawsuit against B & H, the electronics superstore in Midtown, Manhattan prosecutors held a news conference to announce the indictment of the owner of H & H Bagels, the legendary bagel shop on the Upper West Side, on charges of tax fraud.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hsu-Park-Lim: An Eternal Golden Braid — Cha exhibit — holiday ideas

(From last Saturday's Page Turner Asian Am Litfest...that's Ken Chen, moderator/AAWW director, on the far left.)

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An interesting review by Jana Hsu (no relation to Hua I assume!) of the Theresa Hak Kyung Cha exhibit "Earth," up at the Berkeley Art Museum; the piece mentions the recent Cha book Exilee/Temps Morts, to which I contributed an essay.

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Penguin Group authors were asked "what to give and what to get" this holiday season. I heart this hilarious Janice Lee suggestion:

Personal Days by Ed Park is The Office in book form: laugh-out-loud funny and perfect for so many people: your college-age nephew, your twenty-something friend in advertising, your thirty-something friend who's a full-time mom, your friend in his forties who just got laid off, and so on. In fact, I can't think of anyone it wouldn't be great for, except your friends without a sense of humor. Don't give it to them.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Kinbote moment

Q: Was I indirectly responsible for the publication of Nabokov's The Original of Laura?

A: Leland de la Durantaye just sent me a link to a recent WBUR show, on which he and Brian Boyd (VN's biographer) talked about TOOL. LDLD reminded me that Ron Rosenbaum (the chief advocate for publishing TOOL vs. burning it, as VN had wished) first picked up the scent thanks to Leland's essay on Lolita at 50, which he wrote for me back at the PTSNBN (9/6/05). (I bestowed the headline "The Original of Lolita"—pas mal!)

Here was Ron Rosenbaum, in the New York Observer (11/27/05):

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t know of the existence of The Original of Laura until very recently, when I learned about its peril. I only came upon reference to it as I was thinking of writing about a surprising new disclosure in the German scholar Michael Maar’s new book, The Two Lolitas. I’d written about Maar’s “cryptomnesia” theory—which attempts to connect a 1916 German story called “Lolita” with Nabokov’s 1955 Lolita—in the April 19, 2004, issue of The Observer, when his essay was initially published in English in London’s TLS. But the new book takes a new turn. And as I was Googling to see whether anyone had seen the significance of Maar’s “Atomite”* discovery, I came across an essay by Harvard professor Leland de la Durantaye on Lolita in The Village Voice, in which he mentions the existence of The Original of Laura: “When Nabokov died in 1977, he left behind an unfinished novel entitled The Original of Laura. His express wish was that it be destroyed upon his death. Before him, Virgil and Kafka had left similar instructions [to destroy their work]; neither was obeyed. Nor was Nabokov. His wife, Véra, found herself unable to carry out her late husband’s wishes, and when she passed away in 1991 she bequeathed the decision to their son. The manuscript’s location is kept secret.”

I still haven't read it! (I don't even own it!) I'm trying not to read reviews of it for now...

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Disambiguations™ for November 18, 2009

I. "To whom it may concern..."

II. Good title for something: "Notes on Women & Magic."

8. It's interesting you mention “Notes on Women & Magic,” since it frequently gets mentioned in discussions of the early days of the hobby. Lots of gamers nowadays can't fathom why such an article was written or published, given how much things have changed since the 1970s. Can you provide a little background for the article?

There just wasn't any real mention of women as player characters. The vast majority of the players were males and none of then wanted a female character, especially when it came to the role play part of it. Since it was a vague area, I decided to give it some attention. No more complicated than that. I did have players who were willing to step up and play a female character. I believe that Dave Rogan playing the Magic-User Andrella. One of the Nystuls played her as well. There was a female druid and a cleric but no one tried either a thief or fighter.

III. This is finally working! The most relaxing spot on the internet? (Thanks, Kaela.)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More PSB coverage: Madness!

(Time to update that Damion Searls blurb?)

(From D. Lim)

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Disambiguations™ for November 17, 2009

I. Erasing on the German edition of Infinite Jest:

The minimalist cover design has a somewhat sepulchral quality, drained of color, black type on otherwise blank matte white boards, black endpapers, the back cover a mirror image of the front. With a thoughtful touch: Sewn into the binding are two bookmark ribbons. (One for the main text, one for the 134 pages of endnotes.)

There should be a Pale Fire made this way, too...

II. And now on to an even greater work of art: Cavemen! Sweeney directs us to the blog of Nick Kroll, one of the show's stars. Plenty of links, including ones to unaired episodes! (Time to special-order Michael Marcinkowski's Blvr. piece on the ill-fated series?)

III. Pet Shop Boys cover Coldplay!
(From Dennis)

IV. Department of Possibly Intentional Typos™

4. Given the large volume of material produced for LD, it'd be great to see it all reproduced in a single volume from high-quality scans. I understand that Tadashi Ehara is doing this with Different Worlds. Is this something you'd ever like to see happen?

LD was a fanzine which was not profread or spell checked. If it were retyped and those things done that would be awesome. I would not want it produced "as is". My grammar, spelling and proofreading skills bite! I don't want to reveal that to world.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Cloud atlas

Jane sends this link to the Cloud Appreciation Society. Above is an example of Undulatus Asperatus (more here), a new cloud form (proposed 2009); the name means "roughened waves."

All this Latin reminds me: Former Student M. Rebekah Otto told me about Atlas Obscura—which is more or less the continuation of the defunct Athanasius Kircher Society.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

My new blogging style

Fun: The original of Jeeves. (IBRL)

Gripping: Jeannie Vanasco, "The Glass Eye," at the Rumpus.

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Social calendar
Tonight: Reading at laundromat, 7:30, 97 Ave A. With Sung J. Woo.

Saturday: At Page-Turner (Asian American Literary Festival) with Hua Hsu and Dennis Lim.

Footnote: Personal Days is a finalist for the Asian American Literary Award! (But not the winner, alas—Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth once again pulls ahead!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"People love it when you lose"

Some cool computery arty stuff here and also here. (From Kaela.)

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And: tomorrow (Thurs.) eve on the Lower East Side: Watch me read at a laundromat! (With Sung J. Woo.) (What would be brilliant is if Stephen King were reading from his haunted laundry machine story.)

I hope they play that DON HENLEY SONG!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


10. I grew up! A long time ago I stopped buying low-fat English muffins.

(From Rachel Khong's enumerated story "Arizona"—a web exclusive at American Short Fiction)


Saturday, November 07, 2009



"The Unfurling" is more than 400 feet long, written and illustrated in graphic novel form on a 12-inch-high scroll....

"[Isabel] Rucker, who is the daughter of science fiction author and cyberpunk visionary Rudy Rucker, began work on "The Unfurling" seven years ago when she lived in San Francisco. It details both her city life and her move to rural Wyoming, off the grid. Using the scroll -- technically, three separate 150-foot rolls of paper -- allowed her to vary the width of the panels. While some are compressed, others are quite broad. The illustration of a road trip from California to Wyoming is more than 10 feet long.

—"Isabel Rucker's Long, Long Memoir," L.A. Times, Jacket Copy (by Carolyn Kellogg)


In a helicopter above the city on Friday, Stephen Wiltshire of London looked down at the streets and sprawl of New York. He flew for 20 minutes. Since then, working only from the memory of that sight, he has been sketching and drawing a mighty panorama of the city, rendering the city’s 305 square miles along an arc of paper that is 19 feet long —"Like a Skyline Is Etched in His Head," by Jim Dwyer, NYT

(photo: Piotr Redlinski/NYT)

(Slideshow here.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'll come running (to dry your clothes)

Eno parted ways with Roxy Music in 1973 after a major falling out with Ferry. Later on, Eno claimed that he knew he was through with Roxy Music when he started thinking about his laundry during performances. —Geeta Dayal, Another Green World

Speaking of laundry: I'll be reading next Thursday, November 12, at...the Avenue A Laundromat (97 Avenue A)! Has it come to this??? (A: Yes!) I'll be reading with fellow Korean American novelist/New Order fan Sung J. Woo. It's part of the Dirty Laundry reading series. Things get rolling promptly at 7 p.m. (CORRECTION: 7:30 P.M.!) I'm not sure if you're allowed to do laundry during the reading. (I'll know that I'm through with readings if I start thinking about Roxy Music.)

Fast-forward........Two days after that, I'll be at Page Turner, the Asian American Literary Festival, yapping on a panel ("Everyone's a Critic") with the inimitable Hua Hsu....and Dennis Freakin' Lim...(they should just rename the Sunday Arts & Leisure section the Dennis & Lim section).

It's all happening at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 14, on the ground floor of powerHouse, at 37 Main St. in DUMBO—here are directions!

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Two from Jane

I. Signs!

A) Rose Bowl Hoax
C) Snyder Bans Posting of Score at Redskins Games: Chainsaw Dan Snyder, who's already suing some of his own season-ticket holders, made another bid to drive away customers by declaring that no critical signs will be permitted at FedEx Field. Guards are to seize any signs Chainsaw Dan doesn't like. Reader Ashley Tate of John's Creek, Ga., notes this fantastic idea -- spectators at the next home game use the grid to determine which Skins color to wear, then spectators themselves would spell out FIRE SNYDER.

II. Let's have some iSnack 2.0.

Woke up briefly to write this down on a nearby Post-it

"It's written primarily in Tatonia, a fearless language no one can understand."


Monday, November 02, 2009

Art issue

The Believer's Art Issue is out!

Michael Paul Mason on an art-world darling—who went on to sell doughnuts at Krispy Kreme...

The grandson of Charles and Ray Eames constructs an alternate universe...

This comics-heavy issue also features Jeff Chang on Morrie Turner (the first nationally syndicated African American cartoonist), the one and only Hillary Chute talking to Aline Kominsky, interviews with Peter Blegvad and Chris Ware, and...a new feature, called "Comics"!

Plus Michelle Tea, Greil Marcus, Joshua Cohen, and much more...

Jack Pendarvis...more...more...


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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Eddies in the time-space continuum

Remember when those imps over at Driftwood Singers made you dilute your enthusiasm for the Arcade Fire by comparing them to...Eddie and the Cruisers?

Now they make hay with our Julian Casablancas exhuming an unexpected precedent: Eddie Money!

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