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.
Because it’s that time again. My personal list of favorite books from 2011, or some books I found to be particularly significant, insightful, brilliant, masterful, enjoyable, notable. In no particular order.
Compression & Purity – by Will Alexander (City Lights, 2011)
Another one from prolific surrealist poet Will Alexander.
“I am never given due as to sum or proportion / I am seen as the source of something leprous / as no longer the motive of who I was thought I was shaped to be.”
(enjoy the meme music after the jump)
A few weeks ago, Glen Duncan reviewed Colson Whitehead’s Zone One and he certainly got a vocal reaction, not necessarily because it was a less than glowing review but because of how he wrote the review, the strange and insulting analogies he made and so on. In his review he, among other things, attempts to predict what those ultimate arbiters of literary taste–Amazon.com reviewers–might have to say. As he discusses the literary nature of the novel, Duncan writes, ” We get, in short, an attempt to take the psychology of the premise seriously, to see if it makes a relevant shape.” He also revisits this idea of porn starts, throughout. Ooh! He said porn star in a literary review! Edgy! Today, he wrote a defense (???) of his review. He responded to the criticism of his criticism with more criticism! Meta! The follow up can be summarized thusly: You are all haters who didn’t understand what I wrote.
The Dzanc Sessions, coordinated by Anna Leigh Clark, look pretty interesting. Session One classes begin the week of October 16. Each class spans eight or ten weeks. The content of the class is the same regardless of the time span; it is merely accelerated in the eight-week version. Eight-week Session One classes run through the week of December 4. Ten-week classes run through the week of December 18. Session Two will begin the first week of January 2012 with another eclectic line-up of workshop opportunities. The price for workshops is $325 Cost includes a three-month membership to the Dzanc Books eBook Club. (Or, if you do not have an e-reader, you can select a free copy of any print title from Dzanc Books.) The bulk of your registration fee supports the non-profit work of Dzanc Books. A portion of it supports the work of your instructor and the administration of the Dzanc Sessions.
Anna also has a great roundup of literary things here.
Don’t forget that the new Literary Magazine Club discussion begins on November 1. You can find details on ordering the magazine we’ll be reading, Beecher’s here.
Emily Books. What do you guys think of the concept? I’ve talked about how we’re inundated by books these days and it’s hard to know what to read. I’ve also talked about Vouched Books, where Chris Newgent personally vouches for the books he sells and is both able and willing to talk about any title he caries (from a limited, curated selection). That intimacy makes it easy to get on board with taking a chance on writers we’re not familiar with and I’ve enjoyed learning about books I wouldn’t ordinarily come across at his table. Emily Books seems to do something similar. They feature one title a month, selling only e-books. There’s also a book club… if you live in NYC. A bookstore that only sells one book at any given time is intriguing. This has kind of been done before but I’m interested in future selections and seeing if other people adopt similar approaches to bookselling.
Does Timothy McSweeney have a white savior complex? I found this essay really thought provoking and it introduces interesting questions about cultural representation and the consequences of getting “it” wrong or right (via Jackson Nieuwland).
The Occupy Wall Street library has a blog worth checking out (via Bookslut).
Writer’s Relief is having a contest to support literary magazines.
The new TV season is kind of disappointing, right? I haven’t seen anything yet that I must watch.
The last two books I enjoyed: Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell (not perfect but very immersive and more complex than I initially realized) and Reality Bites Back by Jennifer Pozner (very incisive). Don’t read that latter book unless you want your enjoyment of reality television to be ruined forever (I kid, mostly).
There is an encyclopedia of science fiction. I wonder what an encyclopedia of literary fiction would look like. Divorce: In literary parlance, the dissolution of a marriage as a narrative catalyst to explain character motivations such as drinking, promiscuity, bitterness, and tear-stained arguments. See also: the children.