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Sean Lovelace

http://www.seanlovelace.com

Sean Lovelace is running right now, far. Other times he teaches at Ball State University. HOW SOME PEOPLE LIKE THEIR EGGS is his flash fiction collection by Rose Metal Press. His works have appeared in Crazyhorse, Diagram, Sonora Review, Willow Springs, and so on.

Buk–Everytime

I talk to you on the phone you tell me I’m a great

writer

and everytime I read you in print you’re putting me down.

 

What is it with you?

 

the knifer

buk 3

 

I presume you are either Steve Richmond or Harold Norse.

I’ll have to presume it’s you, Steven.

there is nothing wrong with your writing—Or Norse’s.

it’s when you guys get outside your writing that you

often get depraved and nonsensical. I don’t want to

say it, but I will, and check it out if you please.

I asked Martin sometime back to print both you and

Norse feeling that you both deserved it. I have backed

both your and N’s writing—in forwards (forewords) to

your books and even by word of mouth over a bottle of

beer. and I don’t do it out of good feelings or comradie,

I do it because I believe in the artistry of your work.

then Norse attacks me in print (indirectly), asserting

that I have come between him and Sparrow, ruined his

chances when I have done just the opposite. I am not

out to get anybody; you guys are ridiculous. stick to

the facts. and on those 300 poems you showed me that

night, babe, since you hardharp it so much—most of them

did happen to be bad. all right, I’ve written some bad

ones too, plenty of them. we run into slumps of spirit

and life…now, do you understand? I say you’re

a very fine writer but you’re too jumpy about movements

in the fog. relax. I defended your work against a

certain guy you know quite well who said you couldn’t

write.                       (over)

 

HE CAME BY A WEEK AGO

 

I told him that I thought you were one of the most

powerful and original writers alive. I don’t want

to tell you these things but you fore ce me to. now

if you’ll get your head on straight and get into

doing the WORK you’re capable of instead of imagining

I wish your beath death, then we’ll both feel one hell

of a lot better.

 

I hope you’re getting some good ass and some love

and that the lines are falling into place. I’ve come

off a couple bad days drinking but am back to getting

all things now. stay with it. Some day it will come to

you    it has now. you don’t know it. get your teeth

into the typewriter ribbon.

Sure,

BUK

 

p.s. I’ve moved. you ever got any need to phone, o.k., it’s 661-7754.

Random / No Comments
June 27th, 2014 / 8:13 am

Dec. 27, 1971 Letter

Hello Big John:

Here is further from the novel FACTOTUM. I feel it is picking up now and getting lively. I felt it would if I gave it a chance. Some things must begin slowly and build up their own steam. If it stays lively enough for me I will finish it. I include an excerpt I am sending out as a short story. It runs a little smoother, just a touch, which shows that minor re-writing has its value.

I am also including a poem which I don’t believe I sent you a carbon of but which is in the current issue of INVISIBLE CITY, Vangelisti’s rag.

My spirit is back up for a while. I don’t know why. But when I feel good I allow myself to.

Vangelisti who was about out on his ass at S.C. tells me he has won a Fulbright and will be teaching at univ. of Rome (?) come Sept. and that he intends to translate Bukowski to Italian. Heat up the sphagetti, pardner…

buk 1971

Sometimes I really enjoy writing…like the excerpt, SOMETHING LESS THAN ANGEL, I grinned all through it, glowing, flipping out the words, feeling damned near immortal like Dante or somebody, or anyhow, feeling fair enough, knowing it could probably be better written but I couldn’t write it better without that exact strain of work like changing a tire, and I don’t like the to change tires.

So, hang in, Old Black Sparrow and tell Mrs. Sparrow, Bukowski says good things are possible if you don’t fight the sun too much…which reminds me of some good told time titles—KNEEL TO THE RISING SUN (Caldwell), and better yet, BE ANGRY AT THE SUN (Jeffers)…how I warble on…more stuff, soon, I’m sure…Christmas blissfully over and only a mangey New Year’s to l eap over….

All right,

Henry

P.S. –I’M OUT OF TOWN. POEM LATER. CAR BROKE DOWN. BUY ME A NEW AUTOMOBILE, BIG JOHN SPARROW.

Author Spotlight / 1 Comment
June 12th, 2014 / 4:00 pm

James Franco is in new Diagram.

good

 

Author Spotlight / No Comments
February 23rd, 2014 / 6:47 pm

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.” READ MORE >
Author Spotlight & Random / No Comments
January 28th, 2014 / 3:46 pm

27 Points: The Louisiana Purchase

  1. Here’s a gift idea: a two dollar bill. They’re fucking cool. It’s so usual and unusual. Here’s another one: a book of linked poems.
  2. An analogy is a comic roast. YOU ONLY ROAST THOSE YOU LOVE. Same with shooting a book. I only shoot books I love.

  1. Damn, that woke the neighbors.
  2. Tiny compressed mythologies.
  3. Fun fact: Thomas Jefferson was a bad, sloppy dresser.
  4. Numbering all whacked.
  5. There is a running, weeping elephant in this book.

READ MORE >

Random / 1 Comment
December 20th, 2013 / 1:49 pm

circa 28 Points: A Basic Guide by Nick Sturm

  1. I saw Nick Sturm once in a dive bar, I think. He had a ponytail. I thought, “I like guys with ponytails.”
  2. The cover of A Basic Guide is either a yarn mobile, the meanderings of a dragonfly when stimulated by a drop of sugar, or a rough sketch of a sailing frigate. It’s by Amy Borezo, who has a history of time and motion, intersections of paper, interactions of words…It seems an apt choice for a book cover, this artist.
  3. I have a ponytail. My enjoyment of ponytails is entirely self-serving. It makes me feel less alone.
  4. A guide is an appropriated form. The world is potential structure. Lorrie Moore wrote a guide. Ander Monson wrote a guide. Here’s a cool one by Melanie Rae Thon. A guide seems to imply an alembic of knowledge, this idea possibly used as ironic, as conceit, or as straight up earnest.
  5. It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not gentle shower, but thunder. We need Sturm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
  6. ponytail 1
  7. There is a wistful nostalgia here that kindles of Richard Brautigan. This longing is transferred through an accumulation, not through explicit yearning, so then A Basic Guide becomes a sort of kitchen drawer or curio cigar box—it shows, but yet stores away, creates a poetic idyll, a space: horses, petticoat, jubilee, levee, these types of wonderful that might be leaking away, might be in need of storage, little mysteries to keep in a Mason jar.
  8. “The way the kiss stays locked in the machine.”
  9. “…but the past was like a bleached coral reef.”
  10. Once my ponytail was “He’s sort of a cute hippie.” Now my ponytail is all, “age-inappropriate/flaky/I bet he has a ‘writer satchel’/guy you see at AWP” sort of thing. But that’s OK. Things change. Like can be hard, but there are beautiful things, too, you know. READ MORE >
Author Spotlight & Random / 1 Comment
July 17th, 2013 / 10:40 am

28 points: Sum by David Eagleman

  1. David Eagleman doesn’t have a PhD in Creative Writing; he has a PhD in neuroscience. He “runs a lab,” a known euphemism for being really smart or well-connected or crazy. Like many of us, he is best known for his work on time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw. I think people should be good at one thing, or none. For example, Lindsey Vohn I wouldn’t tolerate as a neighbor. She is a gold medalist/world champion downhill skier AND has a body like a manifesto, hair of poured honey, and incredible access to the drug stash of Tiger Woods. This seems a bit unfair.
  2. Sum is a flash fiction collection. Forty flash fictions. Forty is a holy number but I’m not sure that’s relative here. (I hate when people use relative when they mean relevant. Several students I don’t admire overuse the term, stench. I have no idea why.)
  3. Sum is a best seller and is published in about 30 languages, so if you contemplate flash fiction as a variety of minor genre, a weed, per say, you can stick it, or you can keep on thinking it, both are fine. Do what you want to do. This life isn’t a dress rehearsal, now is it?
  4. Death and science make sense together, like peanut butter and bread, marriage and secret email accounts, etc. They merge. Science shows us that everything is heading to a worse state. Clean your room on Monday and check it out on Friday. It will be messier (unless you add work/energy, but even then soon as you stop adding work/energy/calories, the first dust mote settles and the room heads towards disorder once again…). We are all becoming messier, day by day.
  5. Klein
  6. More and more we get these flash fiction collections.
  7. This one
  8. Or this one.
  9. Or for example, Facebook.
  10. Ha, ha…groan.
  11. Every flash by David Eagleman has one subject: the afterlife.

In the afterlife you relive all your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together. You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet.

READ MORE >

Author Spotlight & Random / 4 Comments
June 25th, 2013 / 4:29 pm

Random & Reviews

27 Points: Ultimate Nachos

1. “These Nachos will help El Capitan—soon he will forget his troubles for nachos make one romantic.” A Taste of Texas, 1949.

2. Started as obsession, to blog, to book. I often enjoy when blogs spawn books. You sometimes retain that energy, the flux of, and I think the book strives for this–it wants to be fun. One aspect of nachos is that spontaneity. Homage to the history of nachos is not just the oral or written record. Nachos transcend that accounting. We must also bring forth the culture, the aura, the thing behind the thing.

nachos book 2

3. I preordered the book, as is my way, and it was delivered yesterday as the rain ran little horses across my roof. I ate nachos for lunch and dinner and then opened the book, read it all, typed about it here (following breakfast nachos? No. I don’t eat breakfast). The book is refined. The book is a bit of a creed, clearly an attempt to elevate nachos. This is a good and bad thing, me feels. (See above concerning the cultivation of nacho mythos, silliness/solemnity, direction, soar and science and folklore and seasoning.)

4. Nacho Vidal, the porn actor, is known for his extremely large penis. Especially its girth. (16.5 centimeters in circumference!) But I digress.

5. Ginger!

6. There are rules. Rule # 1: Nachos are not tortilla chips. #4: Nachos are not served on apple slices. # 9: Get down and dirty. Mostly I agreed with the rules, and found some helpful clarifications concerning nachos, though a few of these guidelines were a bit elitist. They argue against a “mountain of nachos” and once they say, “Nachos are not an excuse to clean your refrigerator. That’s plain old gross.” No, actually it isn’t. Let’s not forget that nachos have a simmering of scoundrel within their essence. While I’m all for super fresh homemade bon vivant nachos, I also feel it’s OK to go janky, to dump whatever—jalapenos, old, crusty black beans, leftover taco sauce—on top and crack open an Icehouse and watch some helicopter crash videos on YouTube.

6.5. The book pays rightful respect by including the original (1943) recipe. Well done.

READ MORE >

2 Comments
April 24th, 2013 / 12:36 pm

Ekphrasis Flash

There used to be some CW pedagogy on here. Maybe there still is, I don’t know. Been away for a few days. My microwave died recently, etc. Anyway, I just remember a lot of people didn’t like it or something, so I thought I would go ahead and add some more.

Ekphrasis sounds like a skin disorder, but is actually when one medium of art attempts to relate to another medium. Like dancing about architecture or fucking about radishes, for example, etc. This can be a fructiferous exercise for a class (or workshop or, you know, just a group of people who like to write [It’s Ok to write just because you like to write, just like it’s OK to run just because, you know, you like to run or collect cats or whatever]). This exercise is ofttimes done with poetry and that’s OK I suppose, but I’d prefer you tried this exercise with flash fiction.

I’ll define flash fiction as under 750 words, since defining the genre any other way—by style, history, worldview—is reductive and wrong.

jack

You’d probably want to show an example. An example actually cracks open the synapses. In fact, writing directly after an example (not with a lag) is a little teacher trick I’ll pass onto you. Sort of like your knowledge is lighter fluid and imagine your students have heads made of charcoal. Pour a little knowledge on their heads. Then toss in the match. The match is writing. This analogy is pretty forced, but it makes a shard of sense.

If you want to use the word “multi-media” on your salary review document, you could show this video, an ekphrasis by Pamela Painter:

Now you can say, “I like to use multi-media in my class…”

READ MORE >

Craft Notes / 2 Comments
April 19th, 2013 / 11:43 am

7 cracks in the spleen cushion

23. Your Spirit Guide to Indie AWP.

1. New lit mag wants your words to glow: ‘pider.

2. Don’t forget about the Diagram Chapbook contest. Lots of $$, hipness, gravitas, and New Michigan Press makes a chapbook so lovely like large meadows/strobe light.

3. CreateSpace versus Lightning Source.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1. Henry Review video Q&A with Sam Lipsyte.

7. These aren’t new but this Lydia Davis interview and this Lydia Davis interview are damn good. I feel both the interviewer and interviewee respected the interview as a genre, as creating something.

10 point bulletin on David Shields

6. Good sex in literature is hard to find.

7. How much money do you take to AWP book fair? I take $100 in cash but not sure if that’s weak or strong or just OK.

Author Spotlight / 5 Comments
March 7th, 2013 / 11:49 am

Editor Interview: Scott Bugher, Split Lip Magazine

1. In a world of many, many literary magazines, what made you want to create another one?

I was a reader for Bull: Men’s Fiction for a short while and it was during that short while I discovered I enjoyed the hunt for fresh stories that hadn’t been told yet. It got to the point I began saying to myself, “If I were Bull, I’d publish this one,” so I figured why not gather some friends in the literary world and launch our own project. You’re right, the world has plenty of literary magazine, but Split Lip likes to think we bring something new to the table.

 2. Follow up: How do you see Split Lip defining its own literary space?

Our hope is to help incorporate the literary and fine arts into pop culture, a culture that seems to give its attention exclusively to music and film anymore. So, we pay attention to both the mainstream (music and film) and the underground (literature and fine art). Split Lip isn’t only a good place to find great writing, but also serves as a venue for independent music, fine art, and film. We want to take what Paste Magazine did for independent songwriters and apply that to independent storytellers and poets by presenting the full scope of pop culture.

3. What causes you despair?

Fox’s cancellation of Arrested Development.

andre

 4. Do you require a cover letter with submissions? Why or why not?

We’re pretty laid back about stuff like that, but do ask for one. Why? I suppose there are two reasons. First, it simply shows if the guidelines were read. Second, it keeps things professional. We get subs as stripped down as the attachment of the work alone. No “hello’ or anything.” That’s just inconsiderate.

 5. Have you had any conflicts with writers? Any spicy stories?

READ MORE >

Random / 1 Comment
February 12th, 2013 / 2:48 pm

Telegrams of the Soul

When someone says, “Flash fiction is popular because of the internet, kid’s attention span these days…” why don’t you kick them right in the balls? Why don’t you sweep the leg for me?

Peter Altenberg lived from 1859-1919. Adolf Loos, the famed modernist architect, made the cross for his grave.

doritos

You like blurbs? Check these fucking blurbs. You wish. This isn’t your mom’s pal or former teacher or little Internet buddy in an indie/alt scene circle-jerk let’s get drunk at AWP and wear skinny, colored eyeglasses type of blurb, you fuckers. This is Kafka going, “In his small stories his whole life is confirmed” and oh, Thomas Mann going, “If it be permitted to speak of ‘love at first sound,’ then that’s what I experienced in my first encounter with this poet of prose.”

Kafka just blurbed your ass. Get it?

Altenberg quit everything. Law school, medical school, book-selling. His own name. He got a doctor’s note, he did, a doctor’s note excusing him from life. A golden ticket. He spent the rest of his days in bars, coffee bars and good old regular bars. He liked drinking and whores, just like anyone with time on their hands.

He wrote about it, this life, in fits of brevity.

You should probably start here and then just learn to read German afterwards.

READ MORE >

Author Spotlight & Random / 3 Comments
January 17th, 2013 / 7:05 pm

7 Blowfish Memoirs

1.

I am interested in life only in its absurd manifestation. I find abhorrent heroics, pathos, moralizing, all that is hygienic and tasteful … both as words and as feelings.

3. Mountain climber/author tells Random House to stick it over royalties for ebooks.

7.

Suddenly it was as if I’d been getting my ass kicked in an alley somewhere and realized I’d had one arm behind my back. All of my natural abilities, I saw, had been placed, by me, behind a sort of scrim. Among these were: humor, speed, the scatological, irreverence, compression, naughtiness. All I had to do was tear down the scrim and allow those abilities to come to the table.

And writing might be fun again.

Pre-election debate at Czech Radio 1 in Prague, Czech Republic - 04 Jan 2013

 

4. New Diagram is up, you smoke-shows and over-fogged brothers.

5. Interview with founders of Recommended Reading, and you should probably go byno-border (with your gaze) recommended readings anyway I mean if you’re not at this time already.

6. This is pretty great about Daniil Kharms. It’s not brand new but I don’t really care if it follows all the rules of blogs (?) and it seems to me you can post what you want and how or whatever when discussing Mr. Kharms. I think he writes like whales (killer) sneeze.

6. Here’s a really bad poem.

Craft Notes / No Comments
January 10th, 2013 / 2:44 pm

It is Thursday: Go Right Ahead

Holding up banks, for example. Or directing movies. Or being a gigolo. Or being a child again and playing on a more or less apocalyptic soccer team

Though they do their best to get drunk, they can’t.

I was also thinking, indulgently, that we were pretty drunk already and that it was time to go home.

No, I am not still at the bar.

Crystallized spiderwebs or the briefest crystallized vomitings.

Drunk as a bony shoulder.

Eat 15 different cheeses and drink a bottle of Rioja.

They held their drink like Chileans.

Well, there was a little ol’ drunk, laughing.

Yes, plots are a strange matter.

Drink up, boys, drink up and don’t worry, if we finish this bottle we’ll go down and buy another one. Of course, it won’t be the same as the one we’ve got now, but it’ll still be better than nothing.

I remember drinking his face down to the last drop.

She ordered a ham roll and a beer.

Drink in long gulps, almost choking.

Sip whiskey with supreme slowness.

This is how you endure any kind of bombardment: drink schnapps, drink cognac, drink brandy, drink grappa, drink whiskey, drink any kind of strong drink, even wine…

Tore up as a soup sandwich.

Although we know, of course, that in the human scale of things, persistence is an illusion and reason is only a fragile railing that keeps us from plunging into the abyss.

And then the fight begins.

Literary Magazine Club / 2 Comments
November 29th, 2012 / 10:14 am

Black Crab-Demon

The ocean swirls up over the searock. It falls back, returns, and rushes over a whirlhole the shape of a galaxy. A black crab climbs up the searock sideways, like a demon listening in Aramaic.

All at once, I am not married; I have no parents; I wave my black claws and hurry over the rock. I hold fast to the bottom; no night-mother can pry me loose; I am alone inside myself; I love whatever is like me. I am glad no seabeast comes to eat me; I withdraw into the rock caverns and return; I hurry through the womb-systems at night.

Last night in my dream a man I did not know whispered in my ear that he was disappointed with me, and that I had lost his friendship…How often have I awakened with a heavy chest, and yet my life does not change.

Robert Bly

Massive People / 2 Comments
November 26th, 2012 / 2:36 pm

Cow

While I was traveling on the train the other day, I suddenly stood up, happy on my own two feet, and began to wave my hands with joy and invite everyone to look at the scenery and see the twilight that was really glorious. The women, the children, and some gentlemen who interrupted their conversation all looked at me in surprise and laughed; when I quietly sat down again, there was no way for them to know what I had just seen at the side of the road: a dead, a really dead cow moving past slowly with no one to bury her or edit her complete works or deliver a deeply felt and moving speech about how good she had been and all the streams of foaming milk she had given so that life in general and the train in particular could keep on going.

-Augusto Monterroso

Author Spotlight / 1 Comment
November 21st, 2012 / 10:10 pm

Author Spotlight & Random & Reviews

Matthew Vollmer: Inscriptions for Headstones

I saw Matthew Vollmer’s Inscriptions for Headstones on the floor, alongside a gun cleaning kit and a disc golf disc and a dead spider. I picked it up. I actually began the book thinking I would skim through it, maybe perusing a third, just seeing what it was all about. I read the entire book, from first to last page, in one sitting. This doesn’t happen to me very often.

The text is 30 short essays, crafted as epitaphs, each one unfolding in a single sentence. On reading this idea, I thought, “That seems a bit much. That might be gimmicky.”

It actually works. Why?

The epitaph concept (a sort of “appropriated form”—a type of structure I’m into lately) adds many echoes, many layers, many possibilities. We arrive immediately on significant terrain—death. And a summary of life. We enter a mood of meditation, of introspection, not so unlike a walk through a cemetery (30 headstones aligned). And what is an epitaph on a headstone? First, a lie (actual epitaphs are 99% abstract and pithy and positive), but then instantly an absurdity (the measuring up, in a few words, on a stone). But, if you twist the epitaph (one concept of appropriated form work is to make it your own, to take the original—whether a complaint letter, Facebook post, list, whatever—and morph the form to your unique intent and way and need, etc.), lengthen the epitaph, broaden the epitaph into a lyrical remembering, the form can open us up to questionings. It can even lead us to ask, “What is life?”

The one sentence works, too.

READ MORE >

6 Comments
November 13th, 2012 / 3:35 pm

Robinson Alone: An Interview with Kathleen Rooney

1. Excuse me for beginning with a rather longish question. Weldon Kees and Robinson are so durably linked, a bit inexplicably since Kees created a great deal of art, and “Robinson” appears in but four poems (to my knowledge). What is it about Robinson that emits such power? To borrow a term from Kees, what does it mean to be “Robinsonian?”

Actually, one of the things that makes those poems so compelling and unsatisfying is that there are four of them. If Kees had followed the rule of threes, then they’d probably be known as the Robinson Trilogy, and that would be that: done. But there’s something about there being four of them that calls for addition. Four is a bad luck number in Japan associated with death. I think that I—and other people who’ve done individual Robinson poems over the years since Kees vanished—read the fact that there are four of them as a kind of permission or even an invitation to take over. Like he’s saying “Obviously, guys, I wasn’t finished.”

As to what it means to be Robinsonian, not to be glib, but the poems in Robinson Alone are kind of an attempt to figure that out. Kees’ Robinson is stylish, worldly, and extremely anxious, but these are four very mysterious poems that present themselves as mysteries that open up onto other mysteries.

(book here)

 2. What is your opinion on fame in a writer’s life? Follow up: would you like to be famous?

Wait—you mean I’m not famous?

J/k! Fame in a writer’s life and fame in general is fascinating, but as an ontological state that a person has to inhabit, it seems dangerous—a trap. Last Fall, I read Eileen Simpson’s excellent memoir Poets in Their Youth which is about her marriage to John Berryman, but it’s also about how so many of those mid-century poets who were Kees’ contemporaries—Berryman, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, and Delmore Schwartz—wanted to be, and sometimes were, famous. Simpson makes it sound as though any position along the fame spectrum—wanting it, thinking you deserve it, pursuing it, getting it, losing it—made them fairly miserable, although, of course, they thought fame would make them happy. I want my books to be read and I want people to have heard of me, but fame as such is not a thing I “want.”

3. I sometimes think contemporary poets have little understanding of prosody, classical forms, the structural history of poetry. You (as did Kees, of course) seem to have a very strong understanding of these techniques. Why is this important to your poetry?

READ MORE >

Random / 3 Comments
October 22nd, 2012 / 11:40 am

Reviews

25 Points: Legend of a Suicide

Legend of a Suicide
by David Vann
Harper Perennial, 2010
272 pages / $14.99 buy from Powell’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. If your father commits suicide, why did you write it as fiction?

2. It won 10 big awards and I bought it on EBay for three dollars, the price of half a 6 pack of Icehouse tall boys.

3. David Vann says, “I had this class once with Grace Paley in which she told us that every line in fiction has to be true. It has to be a distillation of experience, more true to a person’s life than any moment he or she actually lived. So this book is as true an account as I could write about my father’s suicide and my own bereavement, and that was possible only through fiction.”

4. Amazing descriptions of Alaska, the land, the ocean.

5. Some say experimental, but my god how conservative we must have become: there’s an abrupt (and startlingly effective) shift in POV, OK? OK.

6. Beer in a can has that metallic taste I enjoy.

7. Camus says, “But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

8. Suicides I have known: Christie, a former girlfriend. Andy, a kid who mooned the class in 8th grade and the suits decided to not let him graduate (a punishment we all believed was excessive even then) and shortly after he shot himself. Possibly my great-uncle ran his car into a wall, purposefully. There are stories. Suicide does not occur often in my family. Other things do.

9. For example: “Out in the channel, the lights of a convocation, twenty to thirty boats drawn together to wait for a storm to pass, for the time when they could leave the shallows and enter open ocean again. Their arrangement puzzled in a way that pleased, also: bright floodlights high up, small cabin lights, globes everywhere across their backs exposing the great nets, buffed aluminum, floats orange and red, all intermingled and reflected on waters calm as mirrors and no horizon visible, no clear seam for the surface, for water and air, reflection and light. And the only sound that of small bells, seeming to come from much further away, the bells high up on the lines of trawlers, the bells that signaled fish. No voices.”

10. I bet David Vann was pressured to make this into a memoir. Oh, I bet he was. READ MORE >

4 Comments
October 11th, 2012 / 1:09 pm

No Tricks

Like many of us, I’ve read “On Writing” by Raymond Carver numerous times. It holds many useful ideas. There is a stage of our own creative writing. (I believe this phase usually arrives in the mid-20s, but possibly I am in error—perhaps it arrives after so many years of practicing the craft, not so much a writer’s age.) Either way, this stage involves reading copious interviews, craft books, and essays on writing, by writers. Apparently, as writers, were are seeking some golden ticket, some integral advice, etc. I believe most writers leave this period, and then, you know, write.

What is the most famous (or infamous) line from the Carver essay? No tricks.

“No tricks.” He says. “Period. I hate tricks.”

First, I like tricks. So what? Others have written the same. Second, Carver is wrong. He doesn’t hate tricks, he uses them. He especially employs tricks in the shorter form. Why? Because “tricks” are not tricks. Tricks are technique. Technique is important to the short story, very important to the sudden fiction, and absolutely essential to the flash fiction form. We flash writers have fewer words. We need artistry.

Let me show you Raymond Carver using some tricks. Read “Little Things” here.

OK, onward.

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Author Spotlight & Craft Notes & Random / 12 Comments
October 2nd, 2012 / 11:26 am