Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chain reaction

"For those who may deem the story too long, and the characters too numerous the Author can only beg their pardon for any tedium that they may have undergone before giving it up." —Charlotte M. Yonge, Preface to The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations: A Family Chronicle, Feb 22 1856


Reality Hunger — Summer 2011 edtition

This book is a work of fiction, although it also deals with historical events. Those segments of the work that are historical in nature are based on extensive research and interviews. Some real persons, both deceased and alive, are mentioned in the work. However, to the extent those persons are depicted as interacting with the narrator of the novel, their actions, motivations, and conversations are entirely fictitious and should not be considered real or factual.

There's no either-or division with poems. What's made up and what's not made up? What's the varnished truth , what's the unvarnished truth? We don't care. With prose you first want to know: Is it fiction, is it nonfiction? Everything follows from that. The books go in different places in the bookstore. But we don't do that with poems, or with song lyrics. Books of poems go straight to the poetry section. There's no nonfictional poetry and fictional poetry. The categories don't exist.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"The cow that wants to be a deer"

The activists have been using an infrared camera to find the six-year-old dairy cow, who has been lying low during the day and grazing at night, like a deer. Previous attempts at luring Yvonne back to captivity include bringing in Waltraud - a cow with whom she was "best friends" - as well as her own calf. —BBC

(Via Jane)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Plush life

Doug Melvin thought he was getting a speedy backup outfielder with a checkered history when he acquired Nyjer Morgan from the Washington Nationals late in spring training.

“I wanted Nyjer Morgan,” Melvin said. “I didn’t know I was getting two people for one. I got Nyjer Morgan and an alter ego to be named later.”

At a moment’s notice, and frequently in range of a television camera, Morgan becomes Tony Plush, a fun-loving personality who creates words and nicknames, much like the Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley.
Also known as T-Plush, Morgan calls the fundamentals of his game like bunting and moving up runners Plushdamentals. Morgan’s teammates often salute T-Plush by forming a timeout signal with their hands.
Tony Plush is not a new invention. Morgan said he and two buddies from home in San Jose, Calif., created personas for themselves about 10 years ago. One friend was Frankie Sleaze, the other James Dot Dean, and Morgan became Tony Plush.

(Via Jane; not sure where the original article is from)

Labels: ,

An idiotic story

To read: F.S. Adam Z. Levy on Dezső Kosztolányi*, in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The novel sounds promising:

The story begins when Esti and an unnamed narrator — a fictionalized version of Kosztolányi himself — meet up on a “mad, excited day” in spring after ten years of silence to revive their former friendship and co-write, not surprisingly, the book in your hands.
“But our styles are poles apart,” Esti says to the narrator:
You’ve recently been favoring calm, simplicity, classical images. Not much decoration, not many words. My style, on the other hand, is still restless, untidy, congested, ornate, racy. I’m an incurable romantic. Lots of epithets, lots of images. I won’t let you cut that out.
And so they settle on the terms: half Estian exuberance, half the narrator’s control. “But one thing I insist on,” says Esti. “Don’t glue it all together with an idiotic story.”

*How do you pronounce this?

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 12, 2011

The anxiety of affluence

What a knockout of a piece this is!

What makes hip-hop such a durable form is its capacity to scramble fiction and fact; the artifice and the realities that art conceals or amplifies become one. In this way, Watch the Throne feels astonishingly different. It captures two artists who no longer need dreams; art cannot possibly prophesy a better future for either of them. All of this — the luxury goods, the art collection, private compounds, the Oprah-level American Dream — is their reality. This isn't to discount all the personal travails or the fantastic demons unimaginable to the nonfamous. But to speak passionately about contradiction offers narrative cover for the truth that one simply knows better, and the album's anxieties feel like an hour-long quest for the authority to rule from above, a justification to luxuriate. —Hua on Kanye and Jay-Z in Grantland

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 08, 2011

First principles

Any advice for struggling writers?

Read. Don’t be afraid to imitate. Develop your ear for rhythm and voice and tone and register.

Reread what you’re working on again and again and again. Pay attention to every word and every punctuation mark. Print out what you’ve just written and then retype it, slowly. Don’t let anything go out that’s not perfect, and that includes typos–nothing is too small for your attention.

Reread your work through the eyes of a dozen people–a former teacher, a high-school pal, a no-bullshit person of great intelligence but little education, etc.

Be flexible but also mulishly stubborn.

Constantly return to first principles. Try to cut 25% of the words in any manuscript. Be satisfied that 75% of your ideas and (if applicable) 95% of your research won’t appear in the final product.

Always address others–keep them entertained and usefully informed–but remember at the same time that you have no control over how others read your work. You have to satisfy yourself.

But remember: self-doubt is what will keep you young. The minute you are self-satisfied you’ll be ready for the glue factory.

—Luc Sante, interviewed by The Believer's Karolina Waclawiak, at The Days of Yore

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Lazy Literary Gleanings™

Levi comes right out and says it: "There's a reason this is my favorite book in the world, folks; I'll be reading and re-reading it for a long, long time to come."

Read his two posts on re-reading Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time.


Two excellent things from the new issue of Triple Canopy: David Levine's "Matter of Rothko" and Claire Barliant's "The Hanging at Mankato."


Wow: Stephen Burt has a great review of my old teacher Bruce Smith's latest book of poems, Devotions, in the NYT.


Not done with this yet, but Douglas Wolk's "Comic-Con Strikes Again" is really good. It's an Amazon Single. (Has anyone read the Vollmann Amazon Single?)(Does anyone read this blog anymore?)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Byah byah byah byah

Today at 2 on WNYC (93.9 FM in NYC, also online), listen to Soundcheck's show on the cultural history of the bassoon. Among other guests will be Eileen Reynolds, who wrote a terrific piece about the so-called "farting bedpost" for the current (music) issue of The Believer. (Here's an excerpt.)

Labels: , , ,

Get a room!

My kind of place!

(Via Levi)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The eponymous labyrinth

More higher order thinking about RPGs from Grognardia:

For me, the banality of The Nightmare Maze of Jigrésh is its real value.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


From two books picked up and dipped into over the weekend:


It needed an effort to obey his signal, but she did it. He closed the French window, drew down the blind again, and–

"Oh, don't let's," said Elfrida.

"Nonsense," said Edred; "there's nothing to be frightened of. It's just like our rooms at home."

It was. They went all over the house, and it certainly was. Some of the upper rooms were very bare, but all the furniture was of the same kind as Aunt Edith's, and there were the same kind of pictures. Only the library was different. It was a very large room, and there were no pictures at all. Nothing but books and books and books, bound in yellowy leather. Books from ceiling to floor, shelves of books between the windows and over the mantelpiece–hundreds and thousands of books. Even Edred's spirits sank. "It's no go. It will take us years to look in them all," he said.

"We may as well look at some of them," said Elfrida, always less daring, but more persevering than her brother. She sat down on the worn carpet. and began to read the names on the backs of the books nearest to her. "Burton's Atomy of Melon something," she read, and "Locke on Understanding," and many other dull and wearying titles. But none of the books seemed at all likely to contain a spell for finding treasure. "Burgess on the Precious Metals" beguiled her for a moment, but she saw at once that there was no room in its closely-printed, brown-spotted pages for anything so interesting as a spell. Time passed by. The sunlight that came through the blinds had quite changed its place on the carpet, and still Elfrida persevered. Edred grew more and more restless. —E. Nesbit, The House of Arden


"After I talked to him, what's his name, Mott, I went down to the Malibu Library and checked out that book of yours, Anatomy of Terrorism."

"Anatomy of Terror," Stallings said, unable to resist the correction.

"Yeah. Right. Well, I read it. Most of it, in fact, but then I quit about three-quarters through. Want to know why?"

"Not really."

"Because I couldn't figure out whose side you were on."

"Good," said Stallings.

—Ross Thomas, Out on the Rim

Labels: , , ,

View My Stats