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.

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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.

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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…”

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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.

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?

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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.

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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.

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.

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

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