Shane Jones’ new novel, Daniel Fights a Hurricane, was published last week by Penguin. Like his first novel—Light Boxes, in which a town bands together to fight the month of February—Daniel Fights a Hurricane centers on a force of nature. The hurricane takes many shapes, including a mob of angry children, a monster with sharp teeth, and the madness that may or may not be filling Daniel's head with visions. The book is filled with surreal, hallucinogenic imagery ranging from the terrifying to the hilarious—there are “banana bombs," rotten bananas thrown like grenades—that work to create a sinister, modern fairy tale, but one written for the demented adult [...]
Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.
I don’t remember all that much about my first year at university except that it was the year we converted from pounds, shillings and pence to "decimal currency." I shared ground-floor rooms, overlooking the Third Quad in college, with a bearded, bear-like chap I called (for reasons which need not detain us) Eighty Two. He was impossibly good: for all practical purposes a saint. His father ran a school for the blind. He had just spent part of his gap year (though the term wasn’t in use back then) in a 12th-century [...]
"If you think you’ve got writers’ block after 45 seconds of not writing, you don’t need an app, you need someone gently to tell you that you should consider the possibility that writing is not just about writing, it’s also (and maybe mainly) about the space in between the writing, when nothing seems to be happening, or random stuff is having an incoherent party inside your head. Almost always, you do eventually start to write, and it seems that you’ve been considering after all."
Rupert says he forgot meeting because it took place on his wife Wendi's boat rather than his own
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) April 25, 2012
Who gamed a substantial number of professional news-gatherers into providing free content for Twitter?
Remember back when newspapers and other organizations doubled their employees' workload? (You should, it was only like a couple years ago.) And they were all, ha ha, now you have to blog too! Or you'll get fired like all those union guys who used to run the printing plant! So that worked out pretty well actually. Worked out real good for… some people. But everyone has taken this [...]
11 a.m.: THE LITERATURE OF AIDS FROM 1981 – 1995, with David France, Michael Denneny, Larry Kramer, Sarah Schulman, John Weir, and Edmund White.
2 p.m.: THE LITERATURE OF AIDS FROM 1996 – 2011, with Rabih Alameddine, Gary Indiana, Zia Jaffrey, Amy Scholder, and Max Steele.
7 p.m. READING with Rabih Alameddine, Michael Denneny, Gary Indiana, Zia Jaffrey, John Kelly, Larry Kramer, Jennie Livingston, Amy Scholder, Max Steele, John Weir, and Edmund White.
I keep forgetting to link to this really excellent piece of writing! Aspie Rhetor is the site of a hyperlexic Asperger’s autistic English professor and ELO fan. (A love of ELO we can all have in common.) It starts here: Something transcendent happens to autistic people at the threshold of adulthood. When we turn 21, we disappear. Unfortunately for me, however, I’m 27, still autistic, and still living and breathing on this planet. Yes, my friends: I have been left behind.
Also worth reading: about "helping" people in the age of autism-related fear-mongering. It's like un-reading several issues of New York mag's parenting articles! :)
Just because an agent approaches you doesn’t mean you have a good book idea. The agent may have heard of you and figures that if you’ve written a million words online, you might be willing to publish 60,000 of them in a book. But the things you wrote might not make sense for a book. While the agent might love you and your voice, she might not be so hot on your other ideas, which can be confusing. Didn’t the other ideas come from you and your voice?
Just because you write most of a book doesn’t mean you can finish and sell a book. Doesn’t it seem like [...]
"Relationships often change people, but this was a weird one, because I was the same before and after it, but very different during." —The Lena Dunham story in the New Yorker (subscription-only) is totally worth it on a lot of levels (both "laughing at" and "laughing with," though mostly John Cook has the "laughing at" covered quite grumpily), but it's also a good addition to what I think is the best part of her projects about youth: what is it about the certain kind of person who can completely annihilate their personality because of love? I was like this when I was younger and it's completely alien to [...]
Here's a lot more on the strange case of Jonah Lehrer, the new New Yorker writer and "idea man" who borrows early and often from his own work. We've been staying out of this one—for one thing, it just doesn't need a mass outrage pile-on (it's not like he was writing things in the public interest; if he was doing this with subjects that were like, somehow important, maybe I'd be upset), and for another, it's all just incomprehensibly weird—but wow, that sure is a lot of recycled text. Oh but wait: there's more.
Over my bed, or the thing I call my bed which used to be a couch but is kinda now more of a cot, suddenly bathed in an unnatural moonlight, is a seven-foot book with arms and legs. It's a hardcover with a shiny commercial trade book cover. The title is set in a silvery font that jags and blurs out a little, like frost. It reads: THE COLDEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR. This was the title of a play the Drama Guild of my high school wrote and performed about homeless people for a one-act play competition. We didn't win, but I always liked that title. I always wanted [...]
Today would have been David Foster Wallace's 50th birthday, and if you'd like to mark it, here are some things that might interest you to read (or watch) and revisit. The list isn't intended to be comprehensive; for that there's the Howling Fantods, not to mention this, this and that. This is more like an old trunk, some favorite things that got packed away and today's maybe a nice day to take them out and rummage around a little: Remember when Frank Bruni peeped inside DFW's medicine cabinet? etc.
"Since 'Gucci Gucci' landed on the Internet this summer, Kreayshawn’s face, her song and her name — that name! Ooh, I want to crush that name flat between two good, old, important books — have been everywhere, including at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she was nominated as best new artist; on the cover of Complex magazine; and on the payroll of Sony Records, where she signed a deal for an album due out early 2012. (For a million dollars! A figure no one will confirm!) She was even recently on NPR. 'The rapper describes L.A. as overly materialistic,' reads NPR’s adorably NPR-ish online description of its interview, [...]
All abrim with dewy naiveté, I started by setting up two bins. (Metaphorical bins. They were really Word documents.)
One bin had to do with mood. I threw into it everything that felt the way I wanted The Magician King to feel. It didn’t matter if it all fit together, I just threw it in. I’d connect the dots later. The second bin had to do with the book’s actual plot. There were certain sorts of things that I wanted to have happen in the new book, certain scenes I knew I wanted to write…. Once the bins were full, I had a pretty good idea of the [...]
"I’ve never read Janet Malcom [sic], and I doubt I ever will." —That's journalism professor Matt Tullis, who follows this comment with 581 words on how awful she is. I guess he would know! GOOD FUN. So wouldn't you love to read a bunch of dudes writing really poorly and really very angrily about Janet Malcolm? One guy is incensed that she has taken "a grand run at my profession." (They are talking about a book that came out 21 years ago?) Anyway, sure you would! You could also read Tom Junod on the topic, who writes, in Esquire: "Janet's [sic] Malcolm's a self-hater whose work has [...]
In a 2005 article about hecklers, Stewart Lee related an anecdote about his fellow stand-up comic Daniel Kitson. "Privately, the debate continues amongst comedians, 'what is Daniel Kitson doing?' Why, many wonder, does he do [small Edinburgh venue] The Stand when he could do the big room at Assembly? Why does he insist on shaking off half the following he has established every couple of years by doing a sensitive story show? Why doesn’t he have a nice haircut? Surely he could afford it now. But Kitson once told me, that after his Perrier nomination, he was doing a run at the Soho theatre. Sitting in a toilet cubicle [...]
Well, I started writing the book 20 years ago. I wrote 20 pages and then I set it aside. I am sort of a comer-backer, anyway. But I took this bag of notes and put it in the freezer compartment of my refrigerator. The story was already called Canada and I knew it was about a 16-year-old boy going across the Canadian border to Saskatchewan. I didn't know why he was going there. I didn't know why two parents would have abandoned him, but over those 20 years I would get a little idea about how a person would get in that situation, and write it down and [...]
"I am currently copyediting my second Twitter-to-book manuscript in a month. It is a trend I find [Darth Vader voice] disturbing…. The one I’m wrestling with now is incredibly whatever-the-real-opposite-of-clever-is. I won’t give the Twitter feed's name here, since I don’t want to be an über-douche about it, but seriously, it’s not good…. Some guy who works in television as a writer on a popular sitcom keeps a Twitter feed where he and a few friends enjoy retweeting others’ posts that are at once self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, in which it’s obvious that the main thrust is the self-aggrandizing part and therefore the tweeters are shown to be kind of [...]
In 2010, an anonymous writer took over the advice column "Dear Sugar" at the literary website The Rumpus. Last night, Valentine's Day, she went public with her identity at a “coming-out” party in San Francisco. Like many others, I’ve become obsessed with her advice, but I wasn’t sure I wanted her to come out, and told her so when I interviewed her last year. Still, she did it anyway, which shows how valuable my advice is, I guess.
“I grew up in a house that had a whole lot of trouble,” she said. “As much trouble as you could imagine. In the daily paper, there were all these comic strips, and there was one that was a circle. It seemed like things were pretty good on the other side of the circle. No one’s getting hit. No one’s yelling.”
Once, at a comics convention, she shook hands with Bil Keane’s son, Jeff — Jeffy — who now inks the strip. Barry instantly burst into tears. She told the class why: “Because when he put his hand out and I touched it, I realized I had stepped through [...]
"When there is no writing out there to speak for itself, the writer talks about writing. Maybe they write a story about it. Or an essay. Or they read a story/essay about writing, which is an elegant way of avoiding writing, because it provides a writerly fog that nearly simulates writing itself. It’s all very tiresome, because of course you can’t properly write about writing — you just drone on about 'the process,”'or your close attention to the texture of this world, or your drinking problem, or whether MFA programs destroyed the craft (as if there was anything to destroy). Leaving aside the obvious benefits of a good writing [...]