15 December 2008
It's called "Minor Theologians."
11 December 2008
04 December 2008
21 November 2008
All right, we all know that the show was riding on the fence for this past season, considering more than a year passed since the season finale of season one and the premiere of season two; or that the ABC executives didn't advertise and promote the show through movies and billboards and relentless TV commercials; or that the writers' strike threw the piece into a conundrum. Yet there was still that distant, hopeful chance that the ABC executives would say, "We like this, there's a lot of acclaim and a built-in audience--" (Who, if they're like me, have been telling their friends to watch this show incessantly, and those people who didn't and I told you to, I'm ashamed of you) "-- we'll keep trying." If quality in the television world meant anything at all, this wouldn't happen, and the storylines would run their course until they were stale and unoriginal or until the creators thought that now would be a good time to stop them, when people didn't flock like mindless Communistic hordes to subpar medical dramas like Private Practice or Grey's Anatomy, which gain most of their audience not because they are well-developed and well-written shows but because the lead actors are incredibly attractive; or the consistant slew of crime dramas (though you could argue Pushing Daisies is a crime drama in itself, yet, unlike other shows on TV, it's so much more); and let's not forget anyone who thinks that Family Guy is something worth watching.
And ABC, in this case, is worse than FOX: FOX, at least when it came to regarding one of their biggest cult shows (Arrested Development), let it out for three seasons and tried to move it to so many different times to catch an audience (despite this being a primary reason it died).
Pushing Daisies was probably the most original, well-written, well-executed, wonderful to look at, full-character, spectacular show on television. The plots were interesting and the you cared about the people. There was humor and passion and depression and those heavy themes that do factor into fairy tales though you never see them on the surface levels. Sure, it could appeal to all ages, but the show worked because everyone cared about doing it.
Bryan Fuller has said that there will probably be a comic book series released to finish up the storylines (these might be the first comic books that I ever buy; I don't even own Watchmen, and wouldn't want to own Watchmen anyway) or that he might shop it around to other networks, or pitch it as a movie -- the show's more cinematic that Lost (also more interesting). And ABC hasn't said that it's "officially cancelled", though you know that's just to not get an armada of angry fans at their doorstep, making threats reminiscent of the time Marge Simpson rallied the people of Springfield to go against Itchy and Scratchy. So, of course, this comes off as patronizing, which might be even worse. I had heard Internet rumors that ABC would end the show at 13 episodes and then renew it for a third season, and as joyful as that sounds, it doesn't seem very logical.
So who's to blame for this? Well, obviously ABC for just moving their show to the backburner (it was off the air for two weeks so mindless drones could watch Dancing With the Stars results and the Country Music Awards), but that's too much of a cop-out. Really, it's you, the person who said, "Oh I'll get around to watching it sometime," after their friends who loyally watched it spoke highly and passionatley about the program; who decided that you'd rather watch something that didn't have any quality to it whatsoever, just so you don't have to think and can be carelessly entertained (sometime I'll talk about how I don't think entertainment has to make you feel like a vegetable). People should be ashamed of themselves.
This show should have been able to run its course, but it didn't and that's terrible.
20 November 2008
18 November 2008
17 November 2008
16 November 2008
11 November 2008
04 November 2008
02 November 2008
Really, I'm not surprised at the McCain choices . . . I mean, Hemingway? The most goddamn masculine American author ever with a novel that's totally and completley about war war war. Personally, I don't much like Hemingway, and have put this argument forth many many times, that he's missing the humanity and complexity of Faulkner, the lyrcisim and poety of Fitzgerald, and the tragedy and immediacy of Steinbeck (I mean, Hemingway's all right, but he keeps getting all this attention that he doesn't deserve) and people have said, "Oh, you have to look underneath and between the lines to figure that out," which is silly since people are putting their interpretations and complications in themselves since it's hardly present and I'm going off on a tangent. Okay, I just wanted to say it makes sense McCain chose Hemingway, though, Senator, I'm pretty sure Robert Jordan is fighting the fascists not the communists (and not communistic fascists like Lenin or Castro, since Franco was all out right-right).
Click on the BookNinja link to see the others.
26 October 2008
22 October 2008
Case in point: Pushing Daisies, my favorite show right now and with each increasing episode becoming even better, for example, tonight being a very capabale balancing act of the drama (like last week's nun episode) w/r/t Emmerson Cod and his mother and his daughter, and that overly the top fantastic whimsy (like the circus episode), w/r/t the friend-escort company, which, of course, leaves me wanting more and realizing that there's a whole 'nother week before Ned's back.
So, come 7 o'clock next Wednesday, I'll be more than ecstatic but by 8'll be saying this exact same thing.
18 October 2008
So I just want to share these two YouTube videos of Barack Obama at a charity dinner, roasting away and having a great day. (Best line: "Barack is actually Swahili for 'That one.'")
12 October 2008
The rumor is this: Thomas Pynchon, awe-inspiring, paranoia-inducing, attention-grabbing, totally fascinating author of Gravity's Rainbow, Mason & Dixon, and, most recently, Against the Day, is said to have a new one brewing, coming out, about to be exposed to us. I first heard about this through the literary message board that I frequent and recall being rather skeptical because, this is a man who had nearly 20 years between two books and his last came out in 2006, which wasn't as long ago as we all think.
I remember carrying Against the Day, which is 1100 pages in hardcover, around campus, along with the Norton Shakespeare, a factor that helped develop bicep muscles more than any iron-pumping I may or may not have undergone, and I really do like that book. Anyway, I wasn't expecting another Pynchon novel for a long long time.
But from the rumors, and some reporting on the LA Times, it appears that this is true, and we're getting a new Pynchon in August 2009 and I'm excited.
Let's not forget the projected new one from Gabriel Garcia Marquez later this year.
01 October 2008
21 September 2008
I've been through classes where people go, "Oh man, she chose that book?" And, yes, some of her choices have been real stinkers. Like:
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (which doesn't go with that whole creative nonfiction ethics thing as much as the fact that the book is terrible on all sorts of levels.)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (literary masturbation)
A New World by Eckhart Tolle.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A couple collected works by Bill Cosby.
But, on the other hand, she has chosen some of the most important, moving, beautiful, and challenging novels of the 20th/21st century, including:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
As I Lay Dying
The Sound and the Fury
A Light in August by William Faulkner
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugendis
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (actually, Oprah seems to be a major Morrison fan.)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Ana Karenina by Leo Tolsty (!)
See, the thing about Oprah is that quite a lot of people listen to her and all these books suddenly become huge. I mean, I saw Love in the Time of Cholera and The Road at gigantic chain stores where most of the people probably have never heard of Garcia Marquez or McCarthy previously. She helps these authors climb up the charts and -- and this is the important part -- she opens a wider world toward suburban housewives and middle aged women, her, you know, primary audience. And Josh Peck.
People are reading these books! To me, that seems more important than anything else. They are reading them, thinking about them, wondering how the themes or the voice or the delivery affects them, and then discussing them on the Internet. Even the people who say truly stupid things like, "Oh this book was so depressing that I didn't like it," on Amazon.com have at least thought about it a bit. We could get into an entire discussion of the purpose of literature and the movement of words, but I can't see how people can complain if these works, major works in many cases, reach out to more and more people.
A lot of the reaction against her reminds me of a lot of indie kids I know. You know the kind, who like a band simply because no one else likes them, or rather a few other people enjoy them but not a vast majority. Then, once the band gets big and known, through a TV commercial or quirky indie movie, they are automatically uncool. That just doesn't make sense to me. If you like something, you like it for however long you do, and the influence of others should not defer from that.
And books are so much more personal than almost any other form of media. Each and every person recieves their own pictures and images, their own views of the characters and interpretations of events. Even when they're read aloud, the interpretations are vastly different from person to person. You can share a book but you can't share the experience.
So yes, sometimes Oprah picks pieces that are overly melodramatic (Wally Lamb), are focused on incest and abuse, but I think its fantastic Faulkner, for a summer, recieved a larger readership; that people picked up a Russian family saga; or the Colombian portraits. It's unfair that many of these highly literate books should be regarded to college campuses and libraries when pure and true trash occupies many peoples' bookshelves.
Of course, I can see the problem with that people are only reading the books because Oprah has told them to. That they aren't going to discover them on their own and once they close the covers of Sound and the Fury, they're going to preorder the newest Dan Brown or Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steele book, which means they won't appreciate it in the way that it should be appreciated, but maybe, just maybe, a few seek out other books by the authors, refine their literary tastes and become better readers. Or, if not that, that these books remain with them for many many years later. Images from Faulkner and Garcia Marquez and McCarthy and Morrison still reside with me years after I've read them.
Her latest choice is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I read over the summer and it is very good. Yes, it has flaws, but it's a debut work and Wroblewski will need to figure out what works and what doesn't, but overall, it's very very good. I mean, Hamlet set in rural Wisoconsin mixed with a simple boy-and-his-dog story? That's a brilliant idea. And someday I think Wroblewski is going to write something very very good. Amazing, even.
Don't read it simply because Oprah suggestted it, but because it is just a very fine novel.
14 September 2008
Very strange and very unexpected.
Despite his meager output, in terms of quantity because The Infinite Jest is 900 pages with over 150 pages of endnotes and his collected works weigh as much as the average American male, I haven't really dug deep into his bibliography, having only read a few essays and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, he was definitley an author I wanted to read more of.
He was one of the authors that people hold up of the best writers of "this" generation and played tennis when he was younger (actually charting).
He was only 46.
Here's some articles/net eulogies:
McSweeney's, under the header and above the typical archival links, is completley blank.
Obviously, this is very affecting; he was a really fantastic writer.
07 September 2008
01 September 2008
31 August 2008
28 August 2008
25 August 2008
I read her short story collection and though it gets bogged down in its own quirkiness and idiosyncricies towards the end, there's some delightful wordplay throughout and interesting characters. Here's another good one:
23 August 2008
It's called Dear Science and I've only heard two songs thus far, both of which I like quite a bit, and one of which is streaming on tvontheradio.com ("Golden Age").
There seems to be far more of a '50s influence, but TV on the Radio have always been a doo-whop/trip-hop/experimental rock sort of band, so it's in their genre, though they seem to be a lot looser and having a lot more fun. A lot of their loops and hooks remind me of the first Menomena album, which draws me to the record further.
As with any TV on the Radio song, it takes a few listens to really get it, both songs I've heard thus far -- "Golden Age" and "Dancing Chose", which, after he stops this bizarre rap, is simply fantastic -- but I also think that that's the appeal of TV on the Radio: on your first listen you go, "What did I just listen to? I have no idea but it was awesome." And then gradually you realize there's something even more amazing than what you originally thought.
Dear Science, probably won't be Return to Cookie Mountain, or it might be better, I doubt it (I'll explain theories about growths of bands later, if I remember), but I'm definitley buying it come September 23rd.
Incidentally, I hear Okkervil River's sequel to Stage Names is pretty good. And Of Montreal have a new one coming out soon, too.
20 August 2008
I tried to order his short story collection when it came out in Springs, but that Barnes and Noble never delivered for some reason and I'm trying my luck again with this one in Fort Collins.
I guess in celebration of his short story collection being put out, Bookslut conducted this interview and the guy comes across as very humble and very funny. Here are some great moments:
Supernatural experiences are a big part of your fiction, but while there are other writers, like Kelly Link or Amiee Bender who use the supernatural or the fantastical as devices in their fiction, I don’t see you as part of that tradition. Do you?
Not so much, though I like those. Those are the types of writers that I think are interesting. I think all that stuff is neat. If there’s a magic pony in the story, chances are I’ll read it. I feel like I write about magic ponies a lot. Part of that is what keeps me interested, but also that I have a hard time telling the stories or, not so much the stories, but the sort of emotional transformations that occur to me, as possible and interesting to describe. I always have a much easier time with the help of a magic pony or a crabby angel or a ghost of a suicide or whatever.
The Children’s Hospital is a really big book. Was it longer when you started editing, or did it just keep getting larger?
Eli [Horowitz], the editor at McSweeney’s, and I cut out about four hundred manuscript pages. Almost none of it was stuff that happened on the hospital -- except for the big zombie scene.
I’m really, really upset that I’m never going to read the big zombie scene.
The zombie nurse attack.
That’s unbelievable. You’ll have to send it to me.
I tried to find it. When I was doing readings, I thought it would be more fun to read from the stuff that had been cut. But the zombie scene is now truly lost.
One day someone will find it in a trunk, like Emily Dickenson’s poems. The big zombie scene.
I like the sequence. I like ending with “Why Antichrist?”
The book was supposed to be called “Why Antichrist?” but they wouldn’t let me call it that. I wanted it to be a black cover with a little upside down white cross on it, but they seemed to think no one would buy it.
And then I’m doing a goofy kids book.
A kids book? That’s interesting. Is it already written?
I wrote one draft of it, and it got rejected from about, I guess, fourteen or fifteen children’s book publishers. The common refrain was, “What made you think this was suitable for children?”
That’s hilarious. So, have you found someone who does think it’s suitable for children?
No, but my editor at FSG is interested in seeing it. He heard a little bit about it and thought it sounded relatively neat, so I think he probably will say the same thing, but his being interested in it made me go back and look at it again. It’s fun to work on it anyway.
Incidentally, I don’t think of you as a gay writer, or someone who’s writing gay stories, but you’re clearly not in the closet either.
Someone looking hard enough at my books could probably find some stuff that makes sense in that way. But I never thought I warranted a cover with a shirtless guy with 3D nipples. That’s what seems to be on the cover of a lot of gay writers’ books. You get the shirtless 3D nipple cover.
Is it something you prefer people not mention?
No, it doesn’t matter.
Does your gayness go over at divinity school? Has it been an issue at all?
Everyone else is gay there too. Not really, but there are a lot of gay people there. It is decidedly not a problem. I’ve been lucky in that way. There are a lot of gay people in pediatrics too.
There’s this gay doctor who appears in your all of your books, Doctor Chandra…
Whose name…at one time you could rearrange the letters of his name to spell Chris Adrian.
I wondered how much of was a self-flagellating kind of thing. You’re always sort of bullying Dr. Chandra in your books.
I think of him getting bullied, not so much because he’s gay but because he’s incompetent. I guess it’s gratifying in some way to exaggerate that aspect of myself in a way that’s scary for the poor patients, I bet. I had a mom realize that I was the person who wrote that just as I was about to put a needle in her son’s back.
Really, it's a fantastic interview and you can read it all here. Then, go out and read The Children's Hospital or Gob's Grief, or A Better Angel, but I haven't read that one yet.
16 August 2008
We all know about how scientists say eventually parents might be able to control the genes of their children -- give them blue eyes, equistrian features, and on -- to build the perfect child. With that option and the idea that being gay is a genetic condition in the same vain as being left-handed or near-sighted, parents might be able to make sure that the gene which carries the homosexuality trait (sidenote: I do believe this, the genetic thing), would be able to be erased, thusly, not forcing their kids to undergo the persecution, prejudice, and intolerance that comes with being gay. Unfortunatly, the same gene that carries the homosexual strand is the same one that contains the artistic one -- now, it's not saying that all artists are gay or anything, but that's the same gene homosexuality happens to reside, whether or not it's dormant -- and after years of eradicating that gene, the world suddenly loses all of its art.
I dunno, I just thought that that was genius and though the story is a piece of erotica (so: not safe for work), it is a really neat idea in general. I'm not going to say thought-provoking or anything along those lines, but I like it a lot. The story itself doesn't do a lot with the idea except set up a place for two boys to get in heat, which they do, but you have to wonder how this would have gone over had it been presented in a different medium?
14 July 2008
The playlist I got is a little out of order but seriously, there's been no other record from 2008 that I can consistantly play and never get tired of as well as jump to any song I please and still not feel like I'm missing out.
Also the playlist has some songs that aren't actually on the album. You'll figure it out.
I hope I'm not contributing to these guys' eventual, probably inevitable sophomore slump.
27 May 2008
22 May 2008
13 May 2008
This is really exciting, Garcia Marquez really changed my writing style and all that sort of stuff, gave me a new view of how I could approach writing things or reading literature or whatever. Apparently, it's due out towards the end of the year.
I'm going to buy it, even if it's the disappointing like Memories of My Melancholy Whores or Of Love and Other Demons. Because at least his exuberant prose style can carry some aspect of the narratives.
Follow this link to Guardian article announcement!
Though if it comes out later this year, it may get pitted against Roberto Bolano's supposed magnum opus, 2666. Whatever; I'll get both.
11 May 2008
And it's also difficult to take a commercial seriously where a grandmother runs over a bush on a lawn mower. Bet she was wearing her seatbelt though.
06 May 2008
Loads more Indiana Jones things coming up when I think of them.
04 May 2008
Do not hide your feelings: let others know where they stand.
You have a yearning for perfection.
An investment opportunity will be profitable for you.
A photo doesn't capture your charm.
Now, if anyone knows any fortunes that are cool (I dunno, something like "You will find love on Flag Day"), that actually tell fortunes, share 'em! Because it might be that I'm eating at Panda Express....
28 April 2008
23 April 2008
20 April 2008
19 April 2008
Read the other books in the series. Or Little, Big, which is my favorite book right now (I'd say of all time but at this time last year that was One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I still find fantastic).
17 April 2008
12 April 2008
The last poem (until these) I sought out was Pale Fire, which was a piece of huge metafiction, so it wasn't just a poem but a dissertation of a poem, a chase adventure, a gay romp through imaginary kingdoms, an exploration of envy and a man's mentality breaking down, and just a fascination with the written word. And the poem in that book might not have been all the important to the actual understanding of the book, you know?
Anyway, in class we read "Emergency" from Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son collection, which I read wrong the first time I read it (I didn't know if I should read them as a series of short stories or as a mix-up novel) and I was speaking to the professor about Johnson just in general, because it appears I'm the only one who's read other books by the guy. He told me the guy started off as a poet, which is why you get some fantastic lines in the prose (just because you're a poet initially doesn't suggest that's the only way to write fantastic lines of prose; look at: John Crowley, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cormac McCarthy; we could go on), and suggested I look at The Incognito Lounge.
Which is a strangely compelling collection. Look at these:
I passed a helicopter
crashed in the street today,
where stunned and suddenly grief-torn
passers-by tried to explain
over and over, a hundred ways, what
had happened. Some cried over the pilot,
others stole money from his wallet --
I heard the one responsible for his death
claiming the pilot didn't need it any more,
and whether he spoke of the pilot's
money or his life wasn't clear.
The scene had a subaqueous timbre
that I recognize now as a light
that shines in in the dreams I have when I sleep
on my back and wake up half-drowned.
However I tried to circumnavigate
the circus of fire and mourning --
the machine burst ajar like a bug,
the corpse a lunch pail
left open and silly music coming out --
I couldn't seem to find a way
that didn't lead straight to the heart of the trouble
and involve me forever in their grief.
THE INCOGNITO LOUNGE (final stanza)
Every bus ride is like this one,
in the back the same two uniformed boy scouts
de-pansting a little girl, up front
the woman whose mission is to tell the driver
over and over to shut up.
Maybe you permit yourself to find
it beautiful on the bus as it wafts
like a dirigible toward suburbia
over a continent of salons,
over the robot desert that now turns
purple and comes slowly through the dust.
This is the moment you'll seek
the words for over the imitation
and actual wood of successive
when you watched a baby child
catch a bee against the tinted glass
and were married to a deep
comprehension and terror.
The other day I was at my show and just looking up stuff about Wilco. Jeff Tweedy in particular and much to my surprise, turns out the guy wrote a book of poems and, further to my surprise, our library carried it (Morgan Library is the best library in the world; maybe not but it's the best I've ever had a membership with). I grabbed it and read it and liked it, a little dismayed at first because the poems sometimes felt that they needed that musical arrangement to really beef them up (there's this guy who said that the people who would be poets in the '60s became rock musicians, i.e. John Lennon, Bob Dylan) but then I stumbled over this really fantastic one:
ANOTHER GREAT THING
the best way
to fell your blood
is to lie
tell bold ties
lying won't help at all
you pick the right people
people who know
how to write and lie
o, and then the blood will pound
it won't at all
Now, I've written song lyrics and yes I think that they can be poetic or whatever (look at Cloud Cult: "You can take it in stride/Or you can take it right between the eyes/Suck up/Suck up/Take your medicine"; "I shook hands with a man who honestly thought he was the Grandson of Jesus with a penchant for pinchies/He served us communion of cola and twinkies") but I also thinks there's a different rhythm that poetry in the epic general and song lyrics fall on and often times you get these really fantastic lines that are just missing something without that musical arrangement. And the Tweedy book kind of goes in and out of those kind of things.
So there's been the extent of my poetry reading lately and chances are I'm not going to really look for a lot more since I have some Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy, John Crowley, Roberto Bolano, E. L. Doctorow, David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Tim O'Brien, Steven Millhauser, William Shakespeare, Oakley Hall, Thomas Pynchon, Zadie Smith, Chris Adrian, Doris Lessing, Herman Melville, Richard Adams, Michael Chabon, and Christ knows how many more left to read.
09 April 2008
Like every writer in our age group, his stories are not devoid of weaknesses: cliches, contrivances, awkwardness, underdeveloped characters, missed opportunities . . . but one thing that shines out in all of the fiction I've read of his so far is just his prose style. Yes, sometimes he gets a little winded and overstates, or doesn't find the exact way he wants to say something, but when he gets it, he probably has the best prose styling of pretty much anyone in my classes.
Look at this paragraph:
He sat there on the hand quilted afghan that somone put a lot of time into. Its bright orange design jetting off in a few different directions, partially revealing a peace symbol. He glanced down and watcher her side move up and down slowly with each breath -- as he began to lose his. Such a flawless creature lying perfectly, such a beautiful set of Aegean Sea colored eyes and a well manicured complexion. Her long brown hair with bright highlights spilling over the pillow and blanket. He snuggled in next to her and nibbled her ear while exhaling his warm freshly brushed teeth into her ear. Her body shuddered and she rolled over. He pulled the pink and black sleeping patch off, revealing those bright evil eyes. She pulled him in for a kiss, no ordinary kiss but a kiss of love. She reached into his pants and pulled him out. They went at it for eight or ten minutes, with her turned around not facing him and only feeling his member and hand pulling her hair back as she let out brief cries of satisfaction. As he released himself into her he pulled her hair and held his other hand strong around her lumbar pressing in hard causing a spasm of muscular tension to release. She collasped on the bed and he leaned back. Her legs began to shake and twitch involuntarily and he rached to the back of her neck. He pulled her close, kissing her on the back and shoulders to distract her from the nervous tick.
The night sky was turning from a light shade of balck into a dark blue as the air became crisp and new.
30 March 2008
23 March 2008
17 March 2008
Well, in an act of pure pretentious, pompousness, and anything else, here are my 10 favorite records and movies from the year 2007 . . . postdated by 3 months. Alas. Also, I'm bored at home and it's too cold outside to take the dog for a walk. Bummer.
Ratatouille (this is actually my favorite of the year. For long moments I thought of No Country for Old Men and There WIll Be Blood, as they are the ones who recieved the most attention; but I feel -- like The Indredibles before it -- that there was no other movie so well put together, so satisfying, so heartwarming, funny, sad, hopeful, looking, and magical, yes magical! movie than Ratatouille. It's my number one.)
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
The Simpsons Movie (which stands as the movie I most watched in 2007.)
3:10 to Yuma
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Darjeeling Limited
The Meaning of 8 -- Cloud Cult
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga -- Spoon
Friend and Foe -- Menomena
Sky Blue Sky -- Wilco
Person Pitch -- Panda Bear
In Rainbows -- Radiohead
The Ortolan -- The Deadly Syndrome
100 Days 100 Nights -- Sharon Jones and the Dap-King
Boxer -- The National
Sound of Silver -- LCD Soundsystem
And as for books, since that's what I'm mostly all about, here are the ten best reads I had, because I don't remember all the books that are strictly 2007 (not including any re-reads).
Little, Big by John Crowley (best book ever.)
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (started in December of '06 and finished January '07.)
The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J. K. Rowling
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges
All right, I'm done . . . for now!
13 March 2008
Some of my favorites, in order of their appearence:
4. …I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. –James Joyce, Ulysses
12. I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita. –Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)
15. Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth. –Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)
20. ‘I shall feel proud and satisfied to have been the first author to enjoy the full fruit of his writings, as I desired, because my only desire has been to make men hate those false, absurd histories in books of chivalry, which thanks to the exploits of my real Don Quixote are even now tottering, and without any doubt will soon tumble to the ground. Farewell.’ –Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605, 1615; trans. John Rutherford)
25. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan. –Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
31. Now everybody— –Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
50. "Poor Grendel’s had an accident," I whisper. "So may you all." –John Gardner, Grendel (1971)
66. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing. –A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner (1928)
78. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die. –Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985)
94. From the sky a swift Angel descends, an Angel with a golden helmet and green spurs, a flaming sword in his hand, an Angel escaped from the Indo-Hispanic altars of opulent hunger, from need overcome by sleep, from the coupling of opposites: body and soul, wakefulness and death, living and sleeping, remembering and desiring, imagining: the happy boy who reaches the sad land carries all this on his lips, he bears the memory of death, white and extinguished, like the flame that went out in his mother’s belly: for a swift, marvelous instant, the boy being born knows that this light of memory, wisdom, and death was an Angel and that this other Angel who flies from the navel of heaven with the sword in his hand is the fraternal enemy of the first: he is the Baroque Angel, with a sword in his hand and quetzal wings, and a serpent doublet, and a golden helmet, the Angel strikes, strikes the lips of the boy being born on the beach: the burning and painful sword strikes his lips and the boy forgets, he forgets everything forgets everything,
–Carlos Fuentes, Christopher Unborn (1987;
trans. Alfred MacAdam and Carlos Fuentes)
With the exception of the Fuentes entry (which was too cool not to post) I've read all those, as well as a good majority of those books on the list. Bragging rights all around.
I think it's interesting to think of last lines. So often there has been a lot of focus on the first line, on how that's what grabs the reader and keeps them reading your work; but the last line is just as important, because that's what stays with them.
Though of course, if the entire book sucks the last line isn't going to save anything -- I'm looking at you The Swimming-Pool Library.
12 March 2008
Just like since really finally giving Menomena the listen they deserve, I've become addicted to them, too. My stereo has been overtaken by the new Cloud Cult (which is amazing), Friend and Foe (which is also amazing), and Return to Cookie Mountain (which I guess you can infer is also amazing) and I think that's a really great treat for my stereo, you know? Well, Menomena did the video and they played in the alleyway but these kids started dancing and it's really worth checking out.
#62.3 - Menomena - Wet and Rusting
Wander over to the site; you won't find a better way to spend some time.
09 March 2008
And he knows how to work the crowd:
I've been listening to these guys since high school...I gotta get him into KCSU.
Every once in awhile someone will ask me what it's about and I tell them basically one of the characters and they go: "Oh, like that monster in Pan's Labyrinth?" And I go: "No, it's more like Minority Report." Which I hold as Steven Spielberg's strongest movie of his dark period, the one that started after Schindler's List and has continued on today (look at AI, War of the World, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park if you don't believe me). I love Minority Report, I don't think I've ever said that enough . . . I don't think you can say it enough. It's just so well-executed, such a great balance of ideas, character, story, and adventure.
Anyway, this is the scene in question:
This story is the first one I've ever written in first person. I mean ever. Well, I did first person plural once, but that doesn't count. I just hate the first narrator, I think it feels cheap, almost an easy way to handle things (at least I did). But writing this story was an uphill struggle and each page was written two or three times and God knows how many the typescript's going to get. At least I can say I did it and can no return to my detached third person narrator, where I can go on any tangent that I want, talk about anything that I feel like, and not always have to ask myself if the character would say that with each and every sentence. Screw that. And my third narrator is just a disembodied thing so take that.
Screw you first person. I hope you get cholera.
Oh, I also finished writing an essay, read the first half of this book called Tabloid Dreams, and workshopped a 34-page story. Been quite a productive weekend so far but I think the afternoon's shot because I want to go watch that movie now.
06 March 2008
Those are his three best and if you click on the covers, it should take you to some links.
05 March 2008
02 March 2008
Then he talks about talking:
Then he messes up:
You could make a narrative out of these things.
Has Hot Topic claimed Gorey yet? I know they have a hold on Tim Burton and even Invader Zim has fallen into them; but has Gorey been incorporated?
Whatever it is, Gothic-Victorian picture books are all that any kid ever needs!
The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
28 February 2008
Which brings up this point: apparently before he died, oh so many years ago, he was working on another novel and had gotten someway into the first draft-- which he wrote on lined index cards, a craft he gave to John Shade -- when he kicked the bucket. He instructed his son not to publish the novel, to burn it; it was far from finished, written out on only 50 index cards, which apparently makes up about 30 manuscript pages, and I suppose he didn't think it was strong enough to carry the Nabokov label. As it turns out, his son did not burn the draft but he didn't publish it either, keeping those notebook cards under safe keeping someplace or another. Now he's debating about whether or not it's time to allow us, the reading masses, to see the novel.
Slate recently ran a couple pieces concerning the piece, which you should read right now (this isn't a non-profit radio station; the FCC isn't watching me, I can call to action as much as I want):
The Last Work of Vladimir Nabokov Part I
The Last Work of Vladimir Nabokov Part II
Both links provide plenty of other links to other parts of the site, of other opinions, and whatnot, that could very well keep you glued here for hours. They are worth checking out, as well.
The novel itself does sound interesting, according to these articles, and I bet there are plenty of people out there who would jump at the chance of reading it, as unfinished, incomplete, or unputtogether (I made that last one up) it is. The whole story surronding the debackle is ripe for a story of its own, and Rosenbaum numerous times compares it to Hamlet. Which, if you read the article, you'll find it makes more sense.
I read both Stoppard and Banville's responses to the first article and they both make interesting points. Till when do we respect the wishes of the artist about his work? When an artist releases his or her piece, it's out of their hands, up for interpretation from anybody despite what the artist initially intends. Sure, their ideas could influence how people think of their work, but once it's gone, it's gone. So, doesn't it make sense that an artist, of any medium, really, should have enough time to perfect it to the best of their ability before it's released?
Then again, many of us readers are hard-core readers, and often times when you find someone you like, you want to read everything they've written, no matter how long it takes (I only have one more Gabriel Garcia Marquez book to read before getting through his completed works). And even the lesser work of a great writer is still better than the best work of an average or mediocre one.
On top of that, without people who have been instructed to destroy manuscripts before they were released we wouldn't have most of Franz Kafka's works, This Side of Paradise, or works by Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Balzac, and Marlowe. Yet that poses another problem: the responsibilty of it all. Though Frank Herbert's dead, there've been a great deal of Dune books based off the notes he left, and the same thing's going for that Wheel of Time serires. Both of which are absolutley dreadful and I wouldn't cry if they were lost in the labyrinth of time. Then you have Tolkien's son. The publication of The Silmarillion was understandable but the man pretty much whored out all of his father's works. We keep getting them and they're all terrible. I mean, even if I'm not as big a fan of Lord of the Rings as I used to be (great setting; not-so-great characters), don't you think there needs to be some level of respect?
As for this issue: I'm not going to put my allegiance to one group or another just yet (I mean, this isn't Barak Obama/Hilary Clinton decisions; this is far more important). I will say that I will be really disappointed if those 30 cards meet the flames -- and I'll get over it -- but if the book comes out, I'll definitley read it.
27 February 2008
22 February 2008
21 February 2008
Also weird: I'm writing my first story ever in first person. I usually hate using it, it feels a cheap way to make you associate with the character and I'm all about keeping psychic distance, but right now it's a really interesting experience. Testing it out, seeing what I can do with it. Which is what I use short stories for: experimenting with literary methods (that almost sounds sexual -- and you know what? it is). I can go back to anyone of the short stories I've written, as craptastic as they may be, and tell you what I was trying to do. I'd list them now, but without having read them, it wouldn't make much sense would it?
20 February 2008
15 February 2008
Why are the MPAA still around? What's it going to take to bring them down? Come on, filmmakers, someone out there has to have the power of Radiohead and say "Screw you" to the bigwigs. The MPAA itself, which treats us as mentally challenged children -- us! usually intelligent, grounded people -- doesn't seem like it should be that difficult to bring down; already it's too loose in its construction, barely holding together any respect or acknowledgement anymore. You don't need This Film is Not Yet Rated to tell you that (though it is interesting).
Funny how something created to protect artists from censorship became the biggest black-blocker there ever could be . . . oh wait, no it isn't. It was inevitable.
14 February 2008
Now you know what? Raiders of the Lost Ark may be my favorite movie. I don't think it's one of the greatest movies of all time, or that it should be held in regards with others: it is the greatest. That movie has everything that movies were invented for: fun, adventure, hilarity, thought-provoking questions, which can get bundled down, as well as a hero who is just plain lucky and unlike the lower level French professor who is just one lesson ahead of the students, you're right in line with this course of thinking. It's brilliant filmmaking and I've watched that movie so many times...but still get all invested into the story.
So the trailer for the new installment was released today: I cannot wait to see it. And you shouldn't either.
10 February 2008
08 February 2008
However, I still think it's more impressive if you can play the song for real, but this is fun to watch, though he does cut out the drum solo. What's with that?
Incidentally, does anyone know how to make YouTube not suck with Blogger? I can't post both videos. Lame. Anyway, scroll down to see both videos.
05 February 2008
31 January 2008
28 January 2008
Seriously: I just read his top 50 of 2007, which he wrote for Rolling Stone (oh, whatever happened to that magazine?) and included on the list are Britnay Spears, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, The Smashing Pumpkins, Lil Wayne . . . I could go on and though there are acts like MIA and Wilco and LCD Soundsystem and The Apples in Stereo and Imperial Teen and Spoon, you can't really expect that to be justified Robert Christgau. Let's not forget that he called Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a bomb. Do you even listen to music anymore? Have you opened up beyond what Rolling Stone tells you? It's pretty sad that you make Pitchfork look modest and humble.
27 January 2008
I think I'll go to the library.
Apparently, there's a new Simpsons tonight; keep rationing those episodes FOX, I've already lost the only other show I watch. Damn producers.
-- A Juilliard-trained pianist does not look down on the world. We don't play piano for a living.
-- A professional surfer does not look down on the world. We don't surf for a living.
They're the pros. We're not. They play piano or surf on a higher level.
Literature is different. The lines of "pro" and "amateur" don't exist like that. Lots of people read, for many different reasons. But there ARE different levels of playing this game.
Hardcore readers, if I may be so conceited, are somewhat like the pros in other fields.
Self-proclaimed experts we may be, but we're practicing literature on a
different, more advanced level by reading and analyzing shit like Pynchon and
Joyce. It's not about "better" or "smarter". We just play this game on a
different level. If a hardcore reader fails to understand this, he may easily
come across as arrogant to a casual reader.
I have a friend who hates Pynchon, who couldn't get his head into it, called it trash, and I laughed at him. But it's true, isn't it? Everyone does read on different fields. See: unlike the pianist and surfer example, anyone can read, anyone, that is, with the attention span and patience. People can learn piano but may lack that natural talent to be sublime at it; people can try to surf yet some lack that balance or athletic ability to excel at it; everyone, though can read, and schools already put different levels of reading on us. Generally people who read Dan Brown and Tom Clancy and Michael Crighton (who's all right; at least better than those other two) and James Patterson regularly, the ones who claim these people are the best writers, like, ever -- and believe me, I've come across people who believe this -- aren't going to be tackling literature, literature that satisfies them on the same level as those who devour Pynchon or Joyce or Garcia Marquez or Crowley. Unlike surfers or pianists, there are no professional readers, including critics who are a form of writers above all, so that line can be blurred quite often.
It all comes down to what's most satisfying for the reader. What moves them to their very core the most. Some people just want something quick, to pass the time when they're not doing anything, so you see this popular fiction populating the newsstands of cheap grocery stores and discount department stores. When you've read a lot, especially if you've read a lot of pieces that are actually good, that actually have quality about them, you find this pulp about the equivalent to a greasy hamburger fast food resturant. Since the more hard-core readers among us, and I'd include myself in this category, consume more of greatness, it's difficult for us to imagine why other people might want something fleeting; making us come off as arrogant, pompous, pretentious boobs.
Is reading a game? Are there then different levels of reading? A low, where people read Brown and think he's the God of Writing? A middle and then a high? That's not to say the people who write specifically at these levels are terrible: I like J. K. Rowling for one, though I believe she's a better storyteller than a writer and at the same time I really hate Raymond Carver, one of those literary gods I hear so much about in my department, who can construct great sentences, sure, but his stories don't go anywhere. That's just me. This whole thing differs between people to people.
Is it really arrogance or misperception?