Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I had a great time reading last night at the First Person Plural event at Shrine—here I am with co-readers Bathsheba Doran and Tiphanie Yanique—and I barely have time to catch my breath before tomorrow (Wednesday) night's reading, about two dozen blocks south.

I'll join David Rakoff and Hannah Tinti for Columbia Magazine's 2nd annual Lit Night. Refreshments at 6:30, followed by readings and discussion at 7. It's at the Columbia Alumni Center 622 West 113th St. (between Broadway and Riverside)—click here to RSVP.

What will I read? It is still a mystery!

Weekend Facial Hair

Peter Kim and his team have designed a graphic about psychology and facial hair, which he was kind enough to send to me. Some interesting findings! A PhD in Facial Hair
Created by: Online PhD

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mr. Helm gave his drums a muffled, bottom-heavy sound that placed them in the foundation of the arrangements, and his tom-toms were tuned so that their pitch would bend downward as the tone faded —Jon Pareles, obit for Levon Helm, NYT


 Speaking of the Band, this should be listened to/watched every week or thereabouts. (Not the whole movie--just this song.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'll be reading on Monday, April 23 at 7 p.m. for the First Person Plural series in Harlem. (More info here.) There's a brief interview up at the site, in which I gratuitously plug Agota Kristof's masterpiece, The Notebook:
The most brilliant first-person-plural novel I’ve read, by the way, is Agota Kristof’s The Notebook, where the voice determines the structure right down to the very last line.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A system of elastic bands

Forensics experts agreed to use a special scientific process to recover what Trish Vickers had written by examining the dents she had made in the pages.

Mrs Vickers, 59, was left devastated when she learned that her pen had run out and there was nothing on the first 26 pages of the book.

She lost her sight seven years ago through diabetes and decided to write a novel to pass the time and keep her mind active.

She quickly penned the opening chapters while using a system of elastic bands to keep the lines separated on the pages of paper she was using. She waited for her son Simon to visit so he could read it back to her. But when he arrived he had to tell her that the pages were blank.

Incredibly, however, the manuscript was recovered after the family took it to their local police HQ and asked for help.

Forensic experts worked in their spare time to read the indentations left on the A4 pages using a system of lights. It took five months of painstaking work, but the forensic team was able to recover the whole text - and they said how much they had enjoyed it and couldn't wait for the rest. —Telegraph

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book without a reader

From Anton Steinpilz's "First-Person Corporate," in The New Inquiry:

It might be, however, that Tretyakov’s biography of the object was an idea whose time had not yet come and may now only be just arriving. Specifically needed was development in the direction of what has come to be termed “post-Fordist” relations of production, in which value inheres no longer in goods primarily but in information and services. Within such relations, labor becomes immaterial, and Tretyakov’s conveyor belt doesn’t so much disappear as attenuate and ramify, becoming more a mediating trope than a real mechanism. In the novel
Personal Days (2008), author Ed Park offers a spirited send-up of postmillennial, post-Fordist office drudgery. The final section consists of an enormous e-mail composed on a laptop by a character named Jonah while he is trapped in an elevator. The correspondence, addressed to a former colleague of Jonah’s named Pru, ends with this arresting observation:

You said yourself, once, waiting for stuff by the asthmatic printer, that the office generates at least one book, no, one novel every day, in the form of correspondence and memos and reports, all the reams of numbers, hundreds of sentences, thousands of words, but no one has the mind to understand it, no one has the eyes to take it all in, all these potential epics, War and Peace lying in between the lines [...]

Here Park manages to articulate a narrative point of view you might call first-person corporate — which, incidentally, he marshals throughout the whole of
Personal Days to great effect, giving new impetus and texture to Dilbertian anomie. The resonances with Tretyakov’s biography of the object are obvious; but whereas Tretyakov points toward overcoming workers’ alienation, Park simply characterizes such alienation in terms consistent with 21st-century work life. Tretyakov imagines a novel without a hero. Park imagines one without a reader.

Heyyy—I'll take it!™


(One interesting note: toward the end, Steinpilz writes: "Social media simply consolidate and lend greater force to the anxiety felt by the characters of Personal Days. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter are the treadmills that fuel this anxiety." One thing that pins PD to a certain point in time is the fact that FB and Twitter aren't mentioned—I wasn't on either network while writing the book. I'll update it in the next version.)

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend Almost-boros



Thursday, April 12, 2012


Takuan Soho was [a] Zen monk, calligrapher, painter, poet, gardener, tea master, and, perhaps, inventor of the pickle that even today bears his name.

—first sentence of William Scott Wilson's introduction to Takuan Soho's The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Annnnd....that second reading....

Very soon, I'll be reading twice in one week—after not having read in months! (Read aloud, that is. I've been reading-reading more or less constantly.)

1. On Monday, April 23 at 7 p.m., I'll join Tiphanie Yanique and playwright Bathsheba Doran at the First Person Plural series at Shrine World Music Venue (2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., near 134th St.—directions here).

2. And on Wednesday, April 25, at 6:30, Columbia Magazine holds its second annual "LIT night" at the Columbia Alumni Center (622 113th St., Bwy/Riverside, click here for free reservations), with David Rakoff and Hannah Tinti.

I'm simultaneously excited and petrified!

See you there?

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