I think everyone should be as concerned about their art as Lily and her mommy are:
The organizers of The Hunger Games academic conference have released a list of their panels.
This is an insightful song about girls.
I Can’t Believe 2012 Is Over // I Can’t Believe I’ve Lived In California for a Calendar Year // The Critical Nature of Commentary vs Experience PART TWO
Sorry that it’s now a week into February of 2013 and I’ve just now finally finished my 2012 round-up, kinda takes a lot. Some books get more attention than others, but hey that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Please enjoy.
66 – If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? – Jarett Kobek
The repeated insistence that find me tampering my potentiality of reviewing Jarett’s books in any real capacity are always tempered by him being my “bestie” or whatever. I mean, though really, this book had me thinking a lot, and most of that “thinking a lot” comes out in the interview I did with Jarett.
67 – Dodecahedron – Tom Mallin
This is one of those weird 70s novels with a weird & awesome covers that I almost always love that I discovered via GoodReads one night and immediately requested from Link+ (SFPL’s version of “inter-library loan”). It’s… good, and I feel like (though this feeling comes mostly from the intensive aka “long” reviews of said book on goodreads…) there is probably more to it than I got on my initial surface reading, but there wasn’t enough to make me really excited. It’s a short book, and it’s almost literally a nunsploitation film for the first two chapters but then it takes some weird turns into a static martyrdom and one can’t figure out why, because the mystical nature of the protagonist as expressed in the introduction (first chapter? I don’t remember) placates the characterization more as symbol than “psychological figurehead.” Still, much more exciting than anything that’s come out in contemporary times, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Libraries rule, and this is an example of why.
68 – The Thirst for Annihilation – Nick Land
I decided that I urgently needed to re-read this book after finishing the essay collection Fanged Noumena. I had read this before, three years ago probably, and all I remembered was that the book completely blew my fucking mind and that it took me almost 4 months to get through the second chapter, which gets heavy into hard sciences and thermodynamics and was basically impenetrable. This time through I found the text as a whole far more accessible (I think I was far more ‘primed’ for this kind of reading at this point), and–barring the catastrophe of having to dry the book out and praying it wasn’t water damaged (refer to my Two by Duras commentary in the first part of this list)–I tore through the book in something like 5 days. Having read an excessive amount of both Bataille & secondary readings of Bataille, I say without qualifying the statement that Land understands Bataille more than any one else who has ever written about him, he understands that to actually write about Bataille is to inherently embrace failure, that to adapt Bataille to one’s own driving goal is to reduce Bataille to something disposable, and to try to form into Bataille is to refuse the idea that Bataille took so much time to develop, the idea of an entirely heterogeneous oeuvre. Beyond that, Land himself is a compulsively readable genius who is, as I’ve mentioned before, probably the only critical thinker other than Bataille himself that I want to read over and over again. The ideas in here are mind-blowing and amazing.
69 – Great Expectations – Kathy Acker
I’ve basically tried to read one or two Acker books a year since I started reading her. At first, when I discovered Acker, I really found her theory more enjoyable than her fiction, but the more I continue to read her fiction, the more I realize how fantastic it is, despite the fact that in certain ways each novel is a specific failed experiment. That doesn’t matter though, what matters is that Acker is a genius and sometimes the best way to demonstrate genius is to prove you’re not perfect, because if you’re perfect you’re not a genius, you’re just artificial. Acker’s fragmented narrative style works perfectly here, and there’s so much beautiful language that haunts the story of the DESIRE IS MASTER AND LORD, timelessness versus time. I am only an obsession.
70 – Purgatorio – Raul Zurita
Second reading of this, though really I had forgotten so much of it I was convinced that the version I was reading (the older edition than the more recent printing) was actually different from the recent one. Still totally devastating, still totally amazing and heavy. Seems like Zurita is one of those poets who should be far more lauded than he actually is. But then again, poetry is a hardly lauded genre in any capacity, isn’t it. Regardless, this is an amazingly moving book, & the heterogeneity of forms is a great way to move through a poetic space, really.
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I Can’t Believe 2012 Is Over // I Can’t Believe I’ve Lived In California for a Calendar Year // The Critical Nature of Commentary vs Experience PART ONE
I read some books last year. I’d like to tell you about them. Here’s everything I read in 2012, part one.
01 – The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
I’ve been reading Burroughs on and off since I was a Freshman in High School–& now, after all these years, I’ve finally read this one, and it’s firmly secured itself in the place of “second personal-fave of Burroughs.” (second only to Cities of the Red Night). Sontag considers the techniques in this extensively throughout her notebooks, and that’s one of the more interesting things; it’s formally very interesting and doesn’t go on&on&on like, for instance, Place of Dead Roads.
02 – Architecture & Disjunction – Bernard Tschumi
I encountered this through an essay in the book Surrealism and Architecture (ed. Thomas Mical)–and then immediately requested it from the library and devoured it. It borrows extensively from Bataille in its dissident conception of architecture, how architecture works, it’s affect, and more. It’s fucking perfect.
03 – If I Falter at the Gallows – Edward Mullany
I bought a copy of this from Edward after doing a reading with him. I love his poetry; his twitter has always struck me as this bizarre between space of humor and despair, a truly abject horror at times, and the poetry, of course, is even beyond the tweets in its progression. There’s something very dark and special about this book, and Mullany’s readings are also very intense.
04 – Artaud Anthology – Antonin Artaud
Being in San Francisco without the bulk of my book collection I was craving Artaud, and this was the only thing immediately available from the local library branch, and I actually hadn’t read this volume before (I’ve mostly worked through full books & the Calder anthologies) so voila. It’s great, of course, and I think it makes sense that this volume would be enough to entice a generation of Artaud readers when nothing else was available.
05 – Atta – Jarett Kobek
One of my goals I made around the new year was to attend more culture event things, readings included, since that was the reason I had moved to California in the first place. So, I hadn’t read Atta, but I knew I liked Semiotext(e) as a press & had enjoyed the event at City Lights for William E. Jones, so I went to Jarett’s event. I enjoyed how sort of crazy his presentation was, so I freinded & messaged him on facebook & we became drinking buddies (we live in the same neighborhood). So what’s weird about this book is that I became really good friends with the author about half way through reading it. So I feel like it perhaps shades my involvement with the book proper; which is not necessarily a bad thing since the one thing I do know is that it’s a great book. It does some amazing things & it’s simultaneously funny & solemn–as the subject matter would generally, of course, insist.
Merry Christmas Eve! For your holiday reading pleasure, here’s a round-up of some of my favorite book reviews posted on HTMLGIANT in 2012, in reverse chronological order of post date:
HIS STACK OF PALIMPSESTS
Tyler Flynn Dorholt on The Recognitions by William Gaddis
This is a monster review for a monster book. Maybe one of the best pieces of writing you’ll read on The Recognitions.
25 Points: Strange Cowboy
Joseph Riippi on Strange Cowboy: Lincoln Dahl Turns Five by Sam Michel
25 Points: The Book of Monelle
Janice Lee on The Book of Monelle by Marcel Schwob; Trans. by Kit Schluter
I know. This is my review. Really I’m including it in this list because I’m not doing a Top Books of 2012 list or anything like that this year, and instead, I’m recommending you just this one book. Seriously. I’m recommending just one book to all of you this year, and it is this one, so check it out.
Dreams for Kurosawa/Raul Zurita (trans. Anna Deeny)/A View
Carrie Lorig on Dreams for Kurosawa by Raúl Zurita; Translated by Anna Deeny
It’s really beautiful to see the wear of a well-read book. Carrie’s personal review helps to portray the brilliance of Raul Zurita’s poetry.
Needing Don DeLillo
Grant Maierhofer on the work of Don DeLillo
December 24th, 2012 / 12:00 pm
A couple of days ago, the latest installment of Action, Yes made its debut.
For those of you who aren’t already aware, Action, Yes is the online journal wing of Action Books, a pugnacious press operated by Johannes Göransson and Joyelle McSweeney, who happens to be the reigning brunette bombshell of 21st-century poetry.
Also, Action Books has published one of the most outrageous collections of poetry ever — a collection that manipulates language to enchanting extremes. This bold book is entitled Maxium Gaga. Its author is Lara Glenum.
Back to this edition of Action, Yes… it has many notable participants. I’m going to supply some of them with outfits.
First, I’ll dress the editors, Carina Finn and Jiyoon Lee.
Episode one, in Erik Stinson’s series “Boners of the Free World”
1. Nu Stallion: A feeling of elation near the subway exit of the Morgan L station. This is the night beginning to hasten. The wind in the Oak at a nearby park pushes a feeling. The party is over here. The party is over there. Women pass me heading to the train in the opposite direction.
B.J. Hollars wrote a really moving essay about his friendship with Ray Bradbury.
There’s a new poet laureate and she’s not super old! Her name is Natasha Trethewey.
Here’s an interview with Ben Lerner over at The New Yorker.
If you’ve never been to BEA, Emily Gould went for you and wrote about it. If that doesn’t whet your BEA appetite, there are more accounts of the expo here. Edward Champion’s write up of the African American literary marketplace panel is interesting.
Uh oh! Some Christians do not approve of Fifty Shades of Grey and one woman stopped reading fiction because God told her to. Don’t worry, though. Dr. Ruth totally endorses Fifty Shades of Grey.
Once more, evidence that it is inadvisable to respond to negative reviews.
As an aside, do you guys understand Pinterest? Everyone is signing up! I have an account. I have pinned one item. I am intrigued by the site but know I will never really use it. How very Web 3.0.
If you love Patricia Highsmith, and you should, the catalog of the Patricia Highsmith Papers are online.
I am still fascinated by The Rise of the NBA Nerd.
1. Last year, I watched a documentary called I Am Comic which featured comedians talking about the challenges and joys of performing comedy. I love watching stand up so I watch almost anything involving behind the scenes stuff about comedy. It was really interesting to see just how demanding and relentless it is to perform comedy. The kind of drive a comedian needs to succeed is intense. They are relentless in marketing themselves and completely shameless about it and I found that combination inspiring. Writers could benefit from that energy.
I tend to believe writers have to be the most vigorous advocates for themselves. If you won’t fight for your writing, who will? Closed mouths don’t get fed. I love that saying because it is so true. If you want an opportunity, ask for it. A lot of people believe there’s some kind of magical formula for certain writing and award opportunities but most of the time, it is writers who have chosen to advocate for themselves who benefit from these opportunities. Every day, I hear a writer lament about how uncomfortable they are with sharing something as innocuous as a link to their work. Relax. Share the damn link. If you write and submit your work to a magazine and consent to have that work published, you want to be read. Accept that you want to be read. Make peace with yourself. There is no shame in it. There is a difference between self-promotion and being obnoxious. In the time you Tweeted about feeling bad about sharing a link you could totally just share the link.
The other night I was doing my taxes and commiserating with softballers and wondering why the water was still running behind a locked door and getting shoved passive-aggressively by a woman whose love of darts I was unconsciously interrupting when the guy to the right said that he liked it when I used to post on HTMLGIANT about new issues of online magazines, and I was like “You mean the only thing on HTMLGIANT I was ever good for?” and he was like “Yeah, exactly,” and then one thing led to another and the Yankees got swept in their opening series by Tampa Bay, so I figured what the frick I would tell everybody about:
)) People who think they have secrets over at Sixth Finch, but actually they just have the word DOOR superimposed like a crosshair on their smallest confession.
)) People who meld heads and flood banks and steal mother scarves over at Dark Sky, but really they just stand around covered in hair in the mammal room.
)) And if that’s not enough for you Yankees fans, you can take a NAP, and when you wake Up, you can conduct enough electricity to become a diode. The important thing is that every time you read an online literary magazine for the rest of your life, you should also imagine the gangsta in the woods reading along with you.
You no doubt read Greg Gerke’s deeply critical post about Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. Curtis White has now posted his own much more positive impressions of the film. I’ve tried convincing the two of them to go at it like me and Chris Higgs—I even introduced them during AWP—but they’re being too polite. Chime in in the comments section, demanding blood!
(My own thoughts on Tree are here. I have nothing to say about Anonymous.)
Every Friday at Big Other, I’m posting links to feature-length films that are up at YouTube. And I’m doing it for you!
1. Xiu Xiu has a new album out (Always); the video for the lead single, “Hi,” is pretty great:
2. It is not, however, as great as the video for Pissed Jeans’s “False Jesii Part 2,” which I only recently discovered:
4. Stephin Merritt, may I suggest the formal constraint for your next album?
NO END RHYMES.
At The Rumpus, Kathleen Alcott wrote a beautiful essay about the importance of her name, the writer who is using the name Kate Alcott as a pseudonym, and much more. Also at The Rumpus, an essay by Catherine Chung whose Forgotten Country will be released in March.
Quick Fiction is ceasing operations and they will surely be missed. Don’t fret, though. They are having a closeout sale.
Dinty Moore responds to the Lifespan of a Fact situation.
As an aside, the Oscars were tragically bad weren’t they? The boringness of the ceremony has left me completely unsettled today. Also, Billy Crystal in blackface. Here’s something on what it’s like to have your book turned into a movie.
Does Jonathan Franzen have a “female problem“? I’m not sure but he best back up off my girl Edith. We KNOW how I feel about Edith. More on this soon but in the interim, Victoria Patterson at the Los Angeles Review of Books, has written a brief essay, “Not Pretty,” in response to Franzen’s New Yorker essay. This kind of reminds me of a post I saw on Bulk Culture a couple weeks where Barry Graham (I think) said looks don’t really matter in terms of online publishing success.
An illustrated guide to Mad Men Bed Hopping.
Cathy Day is doing a survey about the place of the novel in MFA programs. Both students and faculty are encouraged to participate. You can do so here.
There’s been some conversation across different magazines and websites about fact checking, truth, and creative nonfiction. The New Yorker chimes in.
Michael Chabon co-wrote the screenplay for John Carter. This article looks at money and writing and Chabon and such. Ayelet Waldman responded on Twitter and that was awesome.
Here’s a little something on the history of monsters.
Publishing via Facebook….
I don’t like pennies.
Jonathan Franzen doesn’t like e-books. I read Freedom on my Kindle. If he wants to defend printed matter, he should maybe not write a book that weighs a million pounds (KIDDING). Also, Franzen’s least favorite things (via The Millions). Franzen is angry in a placid, intellectual way.
Is anyone reading Caitlin Flanagan’s Girl Land? Fascinating, yes?
Barnes & Noble is taking a stand against Amazon’s encroachment on the publishing industry.
Speaking of people making Amazon-related decisions, Goodreads is transitioning to new data sources.
Also, Amazon’s earnings fell. Rough week for them, but like Drago in Rocky 4, they’ll muscle through until a Rocky rises out of the Siberian chill to put up a good fight.
At Largehearted Boy (celebrating its tenth anniversary), Hanne Blank shares her book notes from her recently released Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, which got a great review in The New York Times. There’s also an interesting interview with Blank at Salon.
John Scalzi is contributing the proceeds of his e-book sales from his titles at Subterranean Press to Planned Parenthood for the next week.
Here’s an interesting piece on how records are made, literally.
Erica Dreifus offers a list of places where you can submit your flash nonfiction.
Colossal, an art and design blog, always has really unique art to look at.
The book cover of a product is its image. Also its comments section and its Facebook page. All but deleted.
There are the tired images of materiel pleasures we no longer desire.
They are like older actresses, or Twentieth Century genre fiction gone out of fashion. They are Tom Clancy and Leon Uris.
My favorite thing I read on the internet last year was Martin Seay’s epic essay on Ke$ha, the Beastie Boys, and Beyoncé:
Although “TiK ToK” contains stupidity—in much the same way that a Twinkie contains high fructose corn syrup—it is anything but a stupid song. Unlike three decades’ worth of kegstanding fratboys, Sebert misses the point of “Fight for Your Right” deliberately: she interprets the Beasties’ (limited and unsuccessful) attempts at irony and connotive suggestion as amounting to no more than inefficiency, and as such she excises them. [...]
It’s erudite, funny, and very, very correct.
Blake, this is for you. (Play it LOUD!)
I wrote some posts at Big Other about overlooked Smiths songs:
- Part 1: “The Smiths”
- Part 2: “Meat Is Murder”
- Part 3: “Strangeways, Here We Come”
- Part 4: “Hatful of Hollow”
- Part 5: miscellaneous uncollected songs
- Part 6: a chart explaining where you can find every Smiths song
Over at The Rumpus, Elissa Bassist offers great advice on how to write like a funny woman.
The National Book Critics Circle has announced the finalists for their 2011 book awards.
Edith Wharton turns 150 on Tuesday and she still looks great. The New York Times gives her a nod as they talk about heiresses and social climbers and such.
Anil Dash discusses the web as a medium for protest.
On her blog, Anna Leigh Clark shared an image of the most amazing writing group that included Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange, June Jordan, Lori Sharpe, and Audrey Edwards, among others. I want to know absolutely everything about this group now.
Margaret Atwood revisits The Handmaid’s Tale, which has remained in print since 1985.
Cory Doctorow’s essay about a vocabulary for speaking about the future is really interesting.
Are you watching Downton Abbey? Team Mary, right? And Edith; she is the worst. Over at The Millions, an essay about the literary pedigree of the show. Also, Shit the Dowager Countess Says and Downton Abbeyonce. You’re welcome.
Jennifer Weiner looked at the gender breakdown for reviews in the Times for 2011.
In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan wrote a… curious essay about Joan Didion that included the assertion that to really love Didion, you have to be a woman. Like I said, curious.
We’ll get started with the Literary Magazine Club of discussion of Versal on January 9th. Details, here, if you’re playing along. If you want to write something about Versal, and I hope you do, please get in touch with me at roxane at htmlgiant.com. There’s a lot to talk about. For starters, what do you think about the cover?
Over at the Paris Review blog which is always entertaining, Jason Diamond writes about, among other things, “books as objects of design in clothing stores.”
The Millions has a useful list of books we can look forward to in 2012.
James Franco* sold his novel to Amazon. It’s a scandal! Or something! I mean, he’s what? Congratulations? I don’t know! It’s going to be called Actors Anonymous, and yeah…. I, there are no words. Actually, there are words. I am going to make a plot prediction. Young, “handsome” and intelligent actor named Fames Danco takes Hollywood by storm, makes quirky choices, struggles to remain authentic amidst the hypocrisy of Hollywood. After taking a starring role in a big budget movie, say, Mission Impossible 14, he joins a support group, tongue in cheek, to cope with being torn between fame and being true to himself. In the end, he finds a happy compromise by making great independent film choices that lead to many critical accolades and magazine covers. When he wins his Oscar, he thanks the Academy and the nameless members of Actors Anonymous. He also finds love. I will take bets on the accuracy of my prediction.
At Full Stop, Maud Newton takes on the situation in American writing as part of an ongoing series. As always, she is savvy and insightful.
The Rumpus is starting a print publication, where four times a month, or so, they will send you a letter. I’m excited for this. I may be writing a letter. I love getting postal mail. You should consider subscribing.
A League of Their Own is a classic sports film.
Michiko Kakatuni, Twitter, fake account, this is the future.
This movie poster really exists.
Small towns are losing their post offices and it is a real shame.
*Is anyone else disturbed by the Franco storyline on GH right now?
PressBooks, a new way to make an ePub and print-ready PDF of a manuscript, is open to the public. I haven’t used the service yet but it seems interesting, particular when so many small presses are trying to find affordable, uncomplicated ways to create e-books.
At The Millions, Edan Lepucki explains her reasons for not self-publishing. Both the essay and the comments are interesting.
This may be the best corporate apology ever.
I really enjoyed this interview with Dagoberto Gilb on the Zyzzyva blog (via Chris Arnold).
John Branch’s three-part series on the life and death of hockey player Derek Boogard is some of the finest long form journalism I’ve read in a while. Boogard’s story is at once infuriating, intriguing, and ultimately, heartbreaking. I learned that there are “enforcers” in hockey which makes the sport seem infinitely more menacing.
On the Paris Review blog, Avi Steinberg writes about the art of air travel crises.
A leaked memo from Hachette explains why publishers are still relevant.