Sportin’ Jack by Paul Strohm 28.5 Points

  1. Shattered clock of memoir flashes. Thinking Abigail Thomas, John Edgar Wideman (in Harper’s or some mag like Harper’s a while back), Baudelaire, Between Parentheses, fuck I don’t know. Calling for flash nonfiction collection authors.
  2. The cover has a guy holding tiny baby chicks, as you can surmise. The chicks look like clay or bewildered paper balls.
  3. The real angling or net fishing is memory.
  4. Can you recall 5 stories from when you were age 10, maybe 5 interactions with dogs? Neither can I. Where did they collapse?
  5. Every flash, all 100, is 100 words. That’s called a drabble in fiction. Not exactly Oulipo but it has an effect, like a painting of a vulture in a mirror. Aesthetic restraints lead to increased creativity (and technique), not decreased. Perec taught us the wanderer can own the wall.
  6. Language leads on like a forehead, and seems to fulfill at time, the writer.
  7. dance man dance
  8. I sense a cobweb fatigue with pretentiousness. You can feel a jacket being shucked and thrown crumpled to the floor.
  9. Writer asks, wonders, “Who was this Jack?”
  10. Shame, for example. A drowsing duck inside the chest cavity.
  11. My favorite line: I was wooing a Kansas City woman. Very Chinquee, in its direct way.
  12. I also enjoyed, “She died from alcohol, but nobody ever saw her take a drink.”
  13. You have a percentage you owe to yourself and Good Faith. You have a percentage you owe to society. What IS the correct percentage? That’s on you, mad traveler.
  14. Some leaps point to jazz.
  15. Works best when as the moon falling to its scabby knees, IMO.
  16. Today, the essay is clearly broken, so why not shard it. It makes sense to me.
  17. Makes fun of self, sympathetic in this way.
  18. Life is blinking in the sun (in the rinsed-out city wind).
  19. Life is a series of interlocking functions.
  20. Academic in-jokes, Richard Russo style. If you teach, you’ll nod your head.
  21. Some really subtle humor. I stuffed my mouth with it (also nachos, as is my way).
  22. On Brooklyn: “I don’t even need to grow a soul patch; they went out of style last month, along with those stupid fedoras.”
  23. On eating out in Brooklyn: “We’re already so Brooklyn that we didn’t even like it that much.”
  24. With age, appetites still exist.
  25. Often sets up characters/juxtaposes with image jump to outside character.
  26. MANNERS LESSONS sums up a primary theme: rules and morays shift. What was true is not true and tomorrow is true, for an instant.
  27. Invention is inevitable. Look!
  28. NAKED

    Returning from the college library, Jacob was overtaken by a troop of naked runners.  Where were they going, he yelled, and they yelled back that this was a midnight naked run.  Impressed, he stripped, hid his clothes, and joined them.  It was exhilarating: the night, the camaraderie, the affront to parochial Grinnell.  They ran for a half hour and suddenly stopped, far from the campus.  Why here? he asked them.  This, they said, is where we left our clothes, and proceeded to dress.  Jacob made his way back, pensive, holding, like seaworn Ulysses, a branch in front of his privates.

  29. Sometimes you write to capture something, a handful, most leaking through the fingers, but some in the palm of the hand.

.5 like Kawabata.