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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Selling the Self

Great readings by the Dickman twins(?) on Silliman's website today with an introduction by Kevin Young that one can watch here:
Thanks Emory University for allowing the Post.

But on to the most recent novel to cross my desk: Important Artifacts and Personal Property (etc, etc -- read title above) by Leanne Sharpton. It's a novel designed as an auction catalogue that I'd seen before but had sort of dismissed as actually being an auction catalogue. We unearth the two characters via their objects, and particularly funny is the reading, Queneau, Empson, Robbe-Grillet. If you don't know them, I urge you to pick them up for that beach read -- plots move at light speed. Where is ambiguity in the age of documentation? Great job Leanne!!

Noticed: The Preparation of the Novel, lecture notes by Barthes.

Da Vinci?

Lots of announcements in the news as to whether a new Da Vinci Drawing has been discovered. I don't personally believe this is a da Vinci. The marks are all wrong, the lighting is not his, it looks like something drawing by a student or a right hander. Too much emphasis on features...something about it smells like a more contemporary copy.

"Who has snagged the comma of the mouth?" -- Sina Queyras

Thursday, December 23, 2010

flARf alARm and flARf wARning



Sunday, December 05, 2010

Artist June Hills has been at it again, asking artists to draw a tree. I found out she posted this thing I made a while ago for her. Artists may recognize the man and what happened to him -- it's the product of inside jokes going back a few years. You can see her art and this project here. Way to go June !!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Creative Writing Programs (the cultural and critical problems)

Elif Batuman has written a wonderful review of Mark McGurl's The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing for London Review of Books, perhaps mistitled Get a Real Degree. (I'm not sure how long it will be on line.) She points out a number of issues raised by our addiction to MFA programs in creative writing. For example, she reflects McGurl's grouping of MFA prose into three groups: technomodernism (Barth, Pynchon) high cultural pluralism (Morrison, Cisneros) and lower-middle-class modernism (Carver, Oates). Next she describes the exasperating quality of most writing programs, "oversophistication combined with an air of autodidactism". It's not that history is critical, but what happens when we create books like the new car market, releasing shiny covered but basically the same objects three times a year?

Batuman also zeros in on a key contradiction of our literary culture. I'll sum it up briefly: the writer disaffiliates with the nation, including self and history, to affiliate with art, in other words, students must learn how to write appropriately (the rules of art) in a high literary style but the other described as someone from Africa, Asia, someone Native American, the formerly enslaved, etc. is asked to write what he or she knows and experienced, in other words, feel free to ignore the rules of art because your story is so fascinating. Apparently North American readers find it rather sharp to appreciate the culture of such others through their books. This should be on the list of Stuff White People Like. Most recent case in point is the New York Times' review of Dinaw Mengetsu's How to Read Air, where the headline reads "A Novelist's Voice, Both Exotic and Midwestern" commenting on the fact, evidently, that Mengetsu lived all but the first two years of his life in the USA after his family moved from Ethiopia. I feel like I'm shooting fish in a barrel and I'd let it rest except it is ongoing as North America shifts it's voracious appetite for consuming the cultures of the world through novels, we went from India to China and are now in a desperate search for the next big, small other.

Batuman's review is really worth reading, reminding us of McGurl's premise that any convincing interpretation of the literary works themselves, from this point forward, has to take the influence of creative writing programs into account.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The magazine Numero Cinq has hosted the first Novel-in-a-Box context for a novel/short story inspired by Augusto Monterroso's short story, "When he woke up the dinosaur was still there."

I collaborated with east coast writer Julie Marden and we were lucky enough to win!

You can read the story we wrote here.

Thanks to Douglas Glover and Julie Marden and everyone at Numero Cinq !! And be sure to check out the magazine for lots of great reading.

Coincidentally enough I'm nearly done Glover's book The South Will Rise at Noon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A sign on the door, "The message was: NU MISH BOOT ZUP KO. Gibberish but high-quality gibberish."

So we get to the climax of DeLillo's White Noise. Yes it sounds like Nabokov's HH stating, "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style." Ah the inadequacy of words and letters.

But how to resist. I sent the DeLillo text straight to the anagram maker. There were quite a few. Ouzo was a popular word. The one I like is:

Book Mouth Unzips

This relates to the reading subject and the theme that has brought Jack to the motel behind Iron City. Self referentiality is always nice for what's described as a postmodern book.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's white and black and noisy all over?

Only one answer of course.

Here he is.
If you don't know who this is, head over HERE and read about the annotation done by the American-Statesman, along with notes by the author himself.

Bad Books Galore, which for once is good!

We spend enough time searching out good new books. Try this site for the worst of the worst.

Here you can see, for example, the basic reader series Pam's Hot Tub.