January 2009

Vicarious MFA: Assignment for Monday

The Vicarious MFA

The Vicarious MFA

For Jonathan Lethem’s  Masterclass about the essay:

1. Joan Didion’s “The White Album”

2. David Antin’s “The Theory And Practice of Postmodernism: A Manifesto”

3. Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse”

4. John D’Agata’s running commentary in between the various entries.

(All of these can be found in The Next American Essay, edited by John D’Agata)

Also, it was your turn to hand-in an essay yesterday, so I hope you did it. And I should probably remind you that that psychology book isn’t going to read itself by 10 AM this Friday.

Vicarious MFA / 14 Comments
January 28th, 2009 / 10:50 pm

Official Holistic HTMLGIANT AWP Couchsurfing Post

All sorts of magic people will be at AWP Chicago Feb 11th-14th: you, some guy with a surgical mask, sixteen blind elves, and Tony Danza. You know, as in “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” and “Tony Danza in the sand.”

In our spirit of selfless community service we here at HTMLGIANT have decided to help the needy, the dispossessed, the charlatans, the men and women whose haircuts remain anxiously unaware of where they’ll end up mussed: that’s right, some of usall of usmost of useveryone in the worldat one point or another HTMLGIANT’s readers might need a place to crash in Chicago.

So why not see if we can have one GIANT <A> TAG help another? If you need a couch, post in the comments. If you have a couch free, post in the comments. If you’re a couch, buy a sweater.


Behind the Scenes & Word Spaces / 53 Comments
January 28th, 2009 / 6:03 pm

Eyeball it


My friend Ryan has been writing a column about film on The Rumpus for a little while now, and I thought I’d bring it to your attention. I’ve been enjoying it.

Here’s a nice post on the movie Old Joy, a movie I wrote about on the Hobart blog. (Link in the comment I made to the post, if you’re interested.)

Here’s an interesting take on Guy Maddin’s Dracula. (Dracula is currently my favorite Maddin film. I had, until watching it, never really connected with ballet.)

And here’s a post about Lord of the Rings and the War on Terror.

Author News & Author Spotlight & Random / 16 Comments
January 28th, 2009 / 5:48 pm

Word Spaces (6): Tony O’Neill

Tony only hangs with the best.

Tony only hangs with the best.

This week we are quite lucky to have the badass, recent Giant object-of-affection, Tony O’Neill. Tony is the author of several books including most recently DOWN AND OUT ON MURDER MILE, who took some time to share with us not only the place where his books get made, but also how he was led by Buddha to meet another, perhaps even larger, holy man.


Word Spaces / 12 Comments
January 28th, 2009 / 1:02 pm

hunt for new issue of Octopus comes to glorious end

That’s right friends. You wished and you waited and now it’s true. Octopus #11 is here, and features new work from Dan Beachy-Quick, Cole Swenson, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Tina Celona, and many more; also reviews: Dan Hoy takes on Hit Wave, Jon Leon’s awesome Kitchen Press chapbook; Forklift,Ohio’s own Brett Price reviews 19 Names for Our Band by Jibade-Khalil Huffman; Steven Karl reviews That Gorgeous Feeling by Sueyeun Juliette Lee, and–again, yes–many more. Do yourself a sweet, sweet favor and go check this thing out. Here’s one from the issue, picked more or less at random: “POEM” by Michael Earl Craig-





The nitwit danced with the congresswoman
at the spring picnic.

I went down to the river to take a good look at it.
I stood on the bank and said “God, if you do exist—”

A handsome puppet passed, dragging its puppeteer by the hand.

Also a Pekingese wearing a University of Mobile sweatshirt.

To those people who are always talking about “surrealism”
can I suggest opening your fucking eyes?

If you do this, you will see mothballs.  And a green nightgown.



Uncategorized / 6 Comments
January 28th, 2009 / 10:35 am

Power Quote: Special T.O.C. edition, for keith n.b., with double special bonus shout-out to Paul Violi

In a comment on yesterday’s “Power Quote” post, one of our regular commenters said he couldn’t find much about M.L. Rosenthal’s The Modern Poets: A Critical Introduction on the web. Well, neither could I, actually, which is one of the reasons that my post had links to some Yeats poems he had written about instead of to anything by Rosenthal himself. So by special request, please find below the T.O.C. to the book, plus some info on Rosenthal, for the edification and enjoyment of all. Before we get to that, however, I want to give a shout-out to Paul Violi. I was lucky enough to study with Paul when I was an MFA at The New School. Of all the poets–hell, all the people–I know, he’s easily one of the best- and widest-read, and is always  generous with his vast knowledge when I get a bug up my ass about this or that poetry-related topic and start suddenly shooting him emails. Most recently, that topic has been Ezra Pound. Paul pointed me to Rosenthal specifically for chapter three, “EZRA POUND: THE POET AS HERO.” After–or before–you check out the T.O.C. to this book, I emphatically recommend you click over to Paul’s website and check him out, if you don’t already know his work. 


Author Spotlight & Excerpts / 7 Comments
January 27th, 2009 / 5:51 pm

Italo Calvino’s “Under the Jaguar Sun”: Cannibalism and All Consuming Love

“Under the Jaguar Sun” is a story in a small eponymous collection, a collection which Calvino had slowly been putting together before he died in 1985. He was writing a book that would discuss each of the human senses and completed taste, hearing and smell. “Under the Jaguar Sun” uses the concept of, and focus on, taste, and more specifically, cannibalism, to illuminate the primal, the mundane, the sensual, our obsession with death and all consuming love.


Calvino and Olivia are traveling through Mexico, and their love, while strong for each other, has become chaste. The story begins with a description of a painting:



that portrayed a young nun and an old priest standing side by side; their hands, slightly apart from their sides, almost touched…The painting had the somewhat crude grace of colonial art, but it conveyed a distressing sensation, like an ache of contained suffering.The lower part of the painting was filled by a long caption…The words devoutly celebrated the life and death of the two characters, who had been chaplain and abbess of the convent…The reason for them being painted together was the extraordinary love (this word in the pious, Spanish prose, appeared charged with ultra-terrestrial yearning- that had bound the abbess and her confessor for thirty years, a love so great (the word in its spiritual sense sublimated but did not erase physical emotion) that when the priest came to die, the abbess, twenty years younger, in the space of a single day fell ill and literally expired of love…”


Uncategorized / 9 Comments
January 27th, 2009 / 5:42 pm

John Updike dies at 76

John Updike (1932 – 2009)

He was poked fun of by a new generation of agitated ‘post-everything’ writers and critics — but he was a great writer. His “The Early Stories, 1953-1975” exemplified, for me, how writing ought to sound in the ear when being read. I had a good time with him.

Rest in peace John.

Author News / 20 Comments
January 27th, 2009 / 3:30 pm

Dumbshit guidelines

Apt is a beautiful journal which I will never submit to because they – like a good handful (hugful?) of journals – destroy any inspired feeling of goodwill or camaraderie upon reading their somewhat self-obsessed guidelines. What follows after the break are their submission guidelines with light commentary from me.


Mean / 87 Comments
January 27th, 2009 / 2:55 pm

Vicarious MFA: 3 classes & assignments.

The Vicarious MFA

The Vicarious MFA

School is in session! I got an email saying to go get “The Next American Essay” edited by John D’Agata and read a bunch of essays in it by Feb 2, when the Lethem masterclass starts. Hoorah. First classes for The First Book, Inheritance and Non/Fiction are after the jump….


Vicarious MFA / 24 Comments
January 26th, 2009 / 4:53 pm