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Colum McCann: Why Should I Read YOUR Book ????

colum mccann

ok, Colum, so why should we read YOUR book ???

 

I’m going to answer this question, Rauan, because

 

1) you come well recommended

 

2) I am assuming, here, that you are behaving in good faith

 

&

3) I’m assuming this interview will get better

But, that being said:

You should read my book because it’s masterful and absorbing. Have you read the insightful blurbs on the handsome back? Or how about the glowing reviews and testimonials that precede the brilliant text? Quotes excerpted from places, you know, like the New York Times, Time Magazine and Bookslut.

Also, do you realize I’ve been translated into over 75 languages and that my books are available in airports and minimarts all across the world? Even in America I’m adored by the young, the old and the handicapped. And on top of that my books have been described as “page turners,” “psychologically immaculate,” and “structurally, marvels of audacity rivaling Clare and Spenser.” My books, you might know, have garnered tens of thousands of favourable ratings on Goodreads. (Aren’t you even a little jealous, Rauan? I just checked you out on Goodreads. ha. ha.)

My prose stylings, anyways, to be sure, are the joy of book clubs everywhere and have been heralded “as smooth as butter. . .and just as important.” But I’ve always been a low-key kinda guy and rather than trot out, spin, dazzle and spout all sorts of garbage and vanity I’ll finish you, and my answer, off with this anecdote the meaning of which I think’s crystal clear—

The other day I was lunching in The Village with Kishi Bashi, Junot Diaz and Dan Brown. The food was some kind of casual, fusion Thai, I believe, and the conversation was light and amiable. You might even say “breezy.”

Kishi mused, I think, about repotting what he called a “really aggressive avocado.” Junottransatlantic told about some glitzy navel ring he couldn’t keep his eyes off one night at AWP in a sordid bedroom with a married woman, trying to unleash nearly a decade’s worth of seething, organic frustration. O, it was a gorgeous day! Junot was insatiably tweeting merrily away (I think he’s “Ted Hash-Berryman”), while Dan, on the other hand, just stared off into thrilling space– and we drank (and we drank!) so much cheap, slippery wine and the selfies with the buff young waiter were like an astonished adjective, timeless, incandescent, but fringed also with a kind of predatory nimbus head. And I’m not sure exactly how it happened (O, the Braille of our dreamy lives!!) but suddenly we were talking about the “the relevancy and future of Wisdom Literature in the Western World.”

Junot claimed he could describe “Wisdom Literature” in less than five words. And with no hesitation Kishi claimed he could it under four!! The atmosphere was electric, like a a tiny red umbrella. Or a candle. I could hear violins. I even thought I detected a tired old code in Brown’s stone eyes. They all looked at me. A long silence ensued. I dabbed at the corner of my mouth with a temple-and-elephant embroidered serviette, then stood up, made a small bow, and began:

“Gents, when I was a mere wee lad lurching about on the streets of Killarney I was hijacked once by a dusty, old lad who dragged me into an alleyway, grabbed my crotch and whispered:

FUCK YOU, RAUAN!   FUCK YOU!    FUCK YOU!   FUCK YOU!!

I think Kishi paid the bill that day. with a grin like a neon, rotating skull.

(Rauan Klassnik, 9/2014,  Kirkland, WA)

3 Comments
September 16th, 2014 / 9:00 am

Reviews

A Meditation on Fearless As I Seam by Abigail Zimmer

53681ea904d1d_80495nFearless As I Seam
by Abigail Zimmer
dancing girl press, 2014
$7  Buy from dancing girl press
 

 

 

 

The blood will fill your open spaces.

I can’t get to the woods easily from where I live. I seek quiet in the city parks.

One thing people say about New Yorkers is that they are mean. I’ve found people everywhere to be whatever they are. I think here privacy comes where you make it—often in public.

I came to this book & found privacy. I found intimacy & a new language of woods.

In Pittsburgh Abi took off her shoes & ran in the rain. This was private, intimate. She was alone while we watched.

At a rest stop between Muncie & Akron Abi ran up a grassy hill & disappeared. Josh charged his phone. I took two Advil. “Your friend sure has a lot of energy,” a man said to me. I didn’t respond, gave a half grin. I live in New York, I am a woman. I have been trained in certain ways.

This book feels like nature existing in my hands. There is loss. Fragmented traveling & discovery. I hold this close. I understand.

In Chicago she made late-night toast. A crusty sourdough with goat cheese, cucumber, & olive oil. I knew I liked here right then.

A chapbook is a short breath of intensity. It fills with meaning, longing. We understand it as complete.

I say: when I look at you I believe in growth. When I look at you I feel accepted.

Fearless As I Seam opens with closing. A closing of the world. An entering in with a different set of rules. A new vocabulary. All sense of reasoning—an offering. We walk in / we are met with a greeting, a warning, a hinted loss.

Follow me as I go:

I dress in the red earth. There is no laughter.

READ MORE >

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September 15th, 2014 / 10:00 am

Shame? No, not shame. I feel only glee in putting the cone to my mouth and bleating to you all that NOÖ [15] is finally out and that over there is what it looks like. Here is one of those crazy lists to suggest your nudge toward it: shepherds and crosses collaged, feather sisters, tossing phones into the water, animated knife piles, a girl who plays football named Tractor, shadow doves, batshit heroines, sunset cannonballs, peaceful blemishes, new gaps, #FUCKYESOXYGEN, and loving yourself at night. Check it out!

What makes boring poetry boring?

I posted this question on facebook: ‘What makes boring poetry boring?’

People responded with a variety of reasons: no imagination, using tired techniques, failure to innovate, failure to obscure, the smack of phoniness, being too safe, being edgy for the sake of being edgy, cliches, the culture of commodification, not making an emotional connection. All of these make sense. All of these are different.

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Craft Notes / 24 Comments
September 12th, 2014 / 5:39 pm

Reviews

Want For Lion by Paige Taggart

front-cover-taggart-193x300Want For Lion
by Paige Taggart
Trembling Pillow Press, 2014
116 pages / $16  Buy from Trembling Pillow Press or Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ve always demanded more from a sunset,” says Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars Van Trier’s Nymph()maniac. ‘Sunset’ being beauty at a distance, untouchable object of desire, lion in a cage. Gainsbourg’s character wants to throw punches, to participate in beauty’s creation. No way to interact with a sunset other than blind admiration. No way to intensify pleasure, or ruin it.

Paige Taggart shares this relationship to beauty. It’s not beauty until you draw blood. In Want For Lion, she wages war on meticulousness, employing a poetics of action, a space where beauty stems from ambition and the art of mistake-making. “There are rooms for mistakes, that shit is human, and land, and plant. Like a quilt of gold floating down the river.”

Beauty is not striking a golden pose, but falling well. I recently fell of my bike, completely unprompted, in the middle of a four way intersection, all the cars stopped at the red. A pedestrian asked if I was hurt, shaking his head, holding in laughter. I waved, “Only my pride!” How beautiful could my fall have been had I been wrapped in a quilt of gold?

*

In the section “Starts with Herds,” Taggart starts three poems with the same phrase, each time breaking it differently:

care about nothing

then care about everything

-

care about nothing then

care about everything

-

care about

nothing

then care

about everything

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September 12th, 2014 / 10:00 am

Virtual Book Tour: Désirée Zamorano

Tour Banner

Mercy Amado has raised three girls, protecting them from their cheating father by leaving him. But Mercy’s love can only reach so far when her children are adults, as Sylvia, Celeste, and Nataly must make their own choices to fight or succumb, leave or return, to love or pay penance. When tragedy strikes in Sylvia’s life, Mercy, Celeste, and Nataly gather support her, but their familial love may not be enough for them to remain close as the secrets in their histories surface. Forgiveness may not be accepted. Fiercely independent, intelligent, they are The Amado Women.

Today is the last stop of Désirée Zamorano’s virtual book tour celebrating her new novel. Below, read a bit about Désirée’s life as a writer, one that should not be chosen lightly.

More years ago than I care to admit I sat at a Bouchercon (mystery) conference and listened to the writer Patricia Sprinkle speak about the “seasons” in a writer’s life. I had two small children, taught 5th grade, and had committed myself to carve time out of my day to write. But, I had given myself a daily quota that I was daily unable to make. Ms. Sprinkle’s presentation reminded me that there would be different seasons in my life and to not beat myself up for being unable to make my arbitrary quotas. I took her words in, deeply.

las comadres la

For decades I had one dream: to have a traditionally published novel that I could find on the shelves of a bookstore or library. Ten years ago, overwhelmed by unrealized dreams, and by what seemed like vain hopes and years’ worth of hours of writing (all these words—to what purpose?), I remember lying in bed and praying for God to excise this writing aspiration from my heart. Instead, I found a book that saved my artist’s soul: Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See.

Today is a very different time. Right now, I feel like the poster child for perseverance. When Cinco Puntos accepted my book, which would realize my dream, I released all the bitterness and resentment of my pre-published life. And I realized how ridiculous I had been, all these many years, to allow one thing to define me. One. How ludicrous. What, as they say in the psychology biz, a cognitive distortion. I wouldn’t wish it on my nemesis. Well, maybe.

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Random / No Comments
September 12th, 2014 / 9:55 am

Notes from Max Feller’s Notebooks

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(Pictured is the author at the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, Iowa, back when he was younger and thinner.)

Like many of you, I still have friends in Iowa. And like many of you, I miss them very much. I’m only human. Like many of you.

My Iowa friend Eli likes to go to estate sales. He likes to buy old furniture. Most of all, he likes things that are old and made out of wood and have drawers. He often buys the things that are old and made out of wood and have drawers without first opening the drawers to see what is in them. He’s only human. Like many of you.

Recently he bought a bureau. In the bureau he found some notebooks. Eli doesn’t like notebooks.

Or, actually, Eli likes notebooks okay. But Eli likes things that are old and made out of wood and have drawers. And Eli knows that most of all, I like notebooks. And Eli likes me. So Eli sent me some notebooks.

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Massive People / 21 Comments
September 9th, 2014 / 4:53 pm