January 13th, 2010 / 3:19 pm
Snippets

Today at Vice, The Tyrant, Ken, and myself present a list of literary no-nos, THE NY TYRANT GUIDE TO NOT BEING A HORRIBLE WRITER IN THE YEAR 2010.

281 Comments

  1. Justin Taylor

      Fuck, there goes my coming-of-age novel about traveling Europe, which I had entitled “Whiskey at the Beach.” Now what am I going to do? I had already written a Book Notes for it, too, which was basically about how Kid A is this generation’s White Album.

  2. Justin Taylor

      Fuck, there goes my coming-of-age novel about traveling Europe, which I had entitled “Whiskey at the Beach.” Now what am I going to do? I had already written a Book Notes for it, too, which was basically about how Kid A is this generation’s White Album.

  3. Justin Taylor

      Also- “Oooh, prostitutes. So you’re into that. Awesome. I’d rather hear from them about you.” You buys sure got your deadeye(s) on. Only thing is, I have trouble believing any of this beautiful hateful bile came from Ken Baumann, who until further notice is the single nicest person I know.

  4. Justin Taylor

      Also- “Oooh, prostitutes. So you’re into that. Awesome. I’d rather hear from them about you.” You buys sure got your deadeye(s) on. Only thing is, I have trouble believing any of this beautiful hateful bile came from Ken Baumann, who until further notice is the single nicest person I know.

  5. Richard

      hahahahaahhaha…i haven’t laughed this much in awhile, great stuff guys

      “Write a book that will make me want to keep reading it rather than getting head. I can think of 10.”

      that’s the killer right there

      guess we should all quit writing, after this list

  6. Richard

      hahahahaahhaha…i haven’t laughed this much in awhile, great stuff guys

      “Write a book that will make me want to keep reading it rather than getting head. I can think of 10.”

      that’s the killer right there

      guess we should all quit writing, after this list

  7. Blake Butler

      Ken actually wrote all of them. gian and i are just trying to look hard by association.

  8. Blake Butler

      Ken actually wrote all of them. gian and i are just trying to look hard by association.

  9. Jimmy Chen

      dang, that list was brilliant and funny. most lols in a while.

  10. Jimmy Chen

      dang, that list was brilliant and funny. most lols in a while.

  11. Brian

      Never have children. . . in writing or in life?

  12. Brian

      Never have children. . . in writing or in life?

  13. Blake Butler

      thanks richard and jimmy

  14. Blake Butler

      thanks richard and jimmy

  15. Lily

      brilliant, blake & crew. absolutely brilliant.

  16. Lily

      brilliant, blake & crew. absolutely brilliant.

  17. buk

      a snarky list of literary no-no’s that rules out anything but your personal brand of indiecore lit? in hip-hop parlance, my response would be: “kill yourself.”

  18. buk

      a snarky list of literary no-no’s that rules out anything but your personal brand of indiecore lit? in hip-hop parlance, my response would be: “kill yourself.”

  19. Brian

      um. easy walter they’re calling the cops.

      hip-hop parlance?

  20. Brian

      um. easy walter they’re calling the cops.

      hip-hop parlance?

  21. Nicolle Elizabeth

      my asshole is a tunnel

  22. Nicolle Elizabeth

      my asshole is a tunnel

  23. Amber

      Damn. Thank you. Hilarious. Yes this: “Do not write about writing. Have you ever seen a painting of a person painting? No? Well, it sucks.”

      Although, hasn’t everyone seen Star Wars? Who the fuck hasn’t seen Star Wars? I think if you haven’t, you should go home and watch it immediately before you talk to another human being because jesus, where were you?

  24. Amber

      Damn. Thank you. Hilarious. Yes this: “Do not write about writing. Have you ever seen a painting of a person painting? No? Well, it sucks.”

      Although, hasn’t everyone seen Star Wars? Who the fuck hasn’t seen Star Wars? I think if you haven’t, you should go home and watch it immediately before you talk to another human being because jesus, where were you?

  25. Ogawa

      There should be one at the bottom that says “If you checked each line of this list against your own writing, then kill yourself.”

  26. Ogawa

      There should be one at the bottom that says “If you checked each line of this list against your own writing, then kill yourself.”

  27. Blake Butler

      nice

  28. Blake Butler

      nice

  29. Ryan Call
  30. Ryan Call
  31. Peter Markus

      This made me smile and makes me feel happy outside.

  32. Peter Markus

      This made me smile and makes me feel happy outside.

  33. Sean

      You forgot suicides. If you are about to write about a suicide in any way, stop. I can’t believe more people aren’t using this post to add on to the list. Great list, but it could spiral crazy.

      Talking animal? Stop.

      Are you about to have your character say something out loud to themselves? Stop.

      We all have sex. OK?

      Did you just fucking make your own name a character in your book? Wow. Stop.

      etc

  34. Sean

      You forgot suicides. If you are about to write about a suicide in any way, stop. I can’t believe more people aren’t using this post to add on to the list. Great list, but it could spiral crazy.

      Talking animal? Stop.

      Are you about to have your character say something out loud to themselves? Stop.

      We all have sex. OK?

      Did you just fucking make your own name a character in your book? Wow. Stop.

      etc

  35. Ken Baumann

      It’s true. :)

      Thanks, Justin. <3ing you.

  36. Ken Baumann

      It’s true. :)

      Thanks, Justin. <3ing you.

  37. Gian

      Some one just commented on my Facebook with the edition of “No talking animal” and it was not you. That means something.

  38. Gian

      Some one just commented on my Facebook with the edition of “No talking animal” and it was not you. That means something.

  39. danny b

      wait a year, then disregard everything.

  40. danny b

      wait a year, then disregard everything.

  41. Tadd Adcox

      I have seen the occasional good talking animal story. Not many. But they do happen.

  42. Tadd Adcox

      I have seen the occasional good talking animal story. Not many. But they do happen.

  43. mike

      blah blah blah Star Wars is important blah blah blah OMG how can you not like the Beatles blah blah blah What do you mean you haven’t read The Great Gatsby blah blah blah etc

  44. mike

      blah blah blah Star Wars is important blah blah blah OMG how can you not like the Beatles blah blah blah What do you mean you haven’t read The Great Gatsby blah blah blah etc

  45. mike

      bersani is awesome

  46. mike

      bersani is awesome

  47. Amber

      Oh, I’m sorry…I guess I’m the only person in the whole world who was shaped by their experiences at age 1 1/2. I apologize for not having been able to remain ironically detached while shitting my diaper and watching a pretty awesome movie with my parents.

  48. Amber

      Oh, I’m sorry…I guess I’m the only person in the whole world who was shaped by their experiences at age 1 1/2. I apologize for not having been able to remain ironically detached while shitting my diaper and watching a pretty awesome movie with my parents.

  49. alec niedenthal

      This list is funny, but I feel real dumb.

  50. alec niedenthal

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  51. alec niedenthal

      This list is funny, but I feel real dumb.

  52. alec niedenthal

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  53. .

      Fuck Star Wars, but pretty much everyone has seen it, yeah? I don’t think this list strives to be consistent nor to necessarily be taken literally.

  54. .

      Fuck Star Wars, but pretty much everyone has seen it, yeah? I don’t think this list strives to be consistent nor to necessarily be taken literally.

  55. Gian

      They do, they do. I mean, really, anything goes, right? It’s not the What, it’s the How.

  56. Gian

      They do, they do. I mean, really, anything goes, right? It’s not the What, it’s the How.

  57. .

      This is good fun and all, but on one level this is a list of things to not do if you want to be taken seriously by people who take literature seriously. (It’s likely that the authors don’t intend the list to be taken seriously itself, though, so there is some ironic level to it that I can’t seem to pin down.) If you want to be fashionable, this is helpful, but if you want to write sincerely about things that are meaningful to you, I think you have to take the risk of writing things that may sound corny, trite, naive, or simply bad to the ‘we-only-like-good-art’ crowd. (But the authors might agree with this, yeah? Maybe they would break any of these maxims without a second thought.)

  58. .

      This is good fun and all, but on one level this is a list of things to not do if you want to be taken seriously by people who take literature seriously. (It’s likely that the authors don’t intend the list to be taken seriously itself, though, so there is some ironic level to it that I can’t seem to pin down.) If you want to be fashionable, this is helpful, but if you want to write sincerely about things that are meaningful to you, I think you have to take the risk of writing things that may sound corny, trite, naive, or simply bad to the ‘we-only-like-good-art’ crowd. (But the authors might agree with this, yeah? Maybe they would break any of these maxims without a second thought.)

  59. MG

      A more succinct version of this list would be “If you are not Blake Butler, do not write.”

  60. MG

      A more succinct version of this list would be “If you are not Blake Butler, do not write.”

  61. MG

      That’s not to say that I would disagree with it.

  62. MG

      That’s not to say that I would disagree with it.

  63. buk

      and david foster wallace, who you hold in high esteem, blake, was all about–ahem!–sincerity.

  64. buk

      and david foster wallace, who you hold in high esteem, blake, was all about–ahem!–sincerity.

  65. Blake Butler

      at least half of my contributions to the list are me calling out myself. don’t feel dumb.

  66. Blake Butler

      at least half of my contributions to the list are me calling out myself. don’t feel dumb.

  67. Blake Butler

      oh sheesh

  68. Blake Butler

      oh sheesh

  69. Blake Butler

      was he now?

  70. Blake Butler

      was he now?

  71. Mutz

      This list is not supposed to be a joke. If it was supposed to a joke then the three of then wouldn’t have spent so much time coming up with the list. So I take it very seriously. I’m sure all, or most, of the things on the list are things that sincerely bother the three of them. And this is why I would like to make a suggestion to all three: Quit writing. Go get jobs that don’t have anything to do with writing. Meet someone that you’re not crazy about and get married to them. Have three kids. Sit in traffic for at least 3 hours a day. Gain 40 pounds and don’t worry about your haircut anymore. Only read books for children. Get tuberculosis. Have one of your three children die from congenital heart failure. Get divorced. Stop making friends and lose the ones you have. Now you are ready to write again.

  72. Mutz

      This list is not supposed to be a joke. If it was supposed to a joke then the three of then wouldn’t have spent so much time coming up with the list. So I take it very seriously. I’m sure all, or most, of the things on the list are things that sincerely bother the three of them. And this is why I would like to make a suggestion to all three: Quit writing. Go get jobs that don’t have anything to do with writing. Meet someone that you’re not crazy about and get married to them. Have three kids. Sit in traffic for at least 3 hours a day. Gain 40 pounds and don’t worry about your haircut anymore. Only read books for children. Get tuberculosis. Have one of your three children die from congenital heart failure. Get divorced. Stop making friends and lose the ones you have. Now you are ready to write again.

  73. Blake Butler

      god bless some common sense

  74. Blake Butler

      god bless some common sense

  75. Blake Butler

      how much time did we spend?

      that’s a cute story.

  76. Blake Butler

      how much time did we spend?

      that’s a cute story.

  77. buk

      yes, he definitely, definitely was.

  78. buk

      yes, he definitely, definitely was.

  79. Blake Butler

      and what does that have to do with this?

  80. Blake Butler

      and what does that have to do with this?

  81. buk

      that was his ultimate goal as an artist, and his prescription for future literary rebels was to risk being corny, to uphold simple virtues in a way that will seem uncool to others. he saw that irony and snark are dead ends.

  82. Amy McDaniel

      if you think you can’t “write” until you’ve “lived,” stop doing both.

  83. buk

      that was his ultimate goal as an artist, and his prescription for future literary rebels was to risk being corny, to uphold simple virtues in a way that will seem uncool to others. he saw that irony and snark are dead ends.

  84. Amy McDaniel

      if you think you can’t “write” until you’ve “lived,” stop doing both.

  85. Roxane

      I have a visceral reaction to almost any story involving any kind of animal. If animals in a story were to talk, other than in Charlotte’s Web, I would not like that at all.

  86. Roxane

      I have a visceral reaction to almost any story involving any kind of animal. If animals in a story were to talk, other than in Charlotte’s Web, I would not like that at all.

  87. Stu

      “I have a tip for Blake Butler and the rest of the HTML Giant clique: Stop writing about post-apocalyptic landscapes using syntax that apes Ben Marcus aping Gary Lutz. You’re American. You have no idea what post-apocalyptic means or looks like. You’re a bougie Brown grad who should be writing about what it’s like to sip white wine at a reading, since that’s all you fucking do.”

      My favorite comment on the Vice page ever.

      But seriously, we’re two weeks into the new year, making lists is not cool anymore.

  88. Blake Butler

      what else is a dead end?

  89. buk

      your list is snarky, discouraging to other writers, higher-than-thou, and meaningless. none of these are adjectives that DFW would want attached to anything he has written. maybe if it was funny it would be worthwhile, but it isn’t.

  90. Stu

      “I have a tip for Blake Butler and the rest of the HTML Giant clique: Stop writing about post-apocalyptic landscapes using syntax that apes Ben Marcus aping Gary Lutz. You’re American. You have no idea what post-apocalyptic means or looks like. You’re a bougie Brown grad who should be writing about what it’s like to sip white wine at a reading, since that’s all you fucking do.”

      My favorite comment on the Vice page ever.

      But seriously, we’re two weeks into the new year, making lists is not cool anymore.

  91. Blake Butler

      what else is a dead end?

  92. buk

      your list is snarky, discouraging to other writers, higher-than-thou, and meaningless. none of these are adjectives that DFW would want attached to anything he has written. maybe if it was funny it would be worthwhile, but it isn’t.

  93. Blake Butler

      um, i’m not david foster wallace?

      one thing david foster wallace surely had, though, is a sense of humor.

  94. Blake Butler

      um, i’m not david foster wallace?

      one thing david foster wallace surely had, though, is a sense of humor.

  95. Daniel Romo

      Do these apply to poems too? Hmmm….

  96. Daniel Romo

      Do these apply to poems too? Hmmm….

  97. MG

      I kid, I kid. You actually made me laugh, which is a first for me after reading something you had a hand in. Usually I curl up into a ball and try to eat my hands after digesting your stories.

  98. MG

      I kid, I kid. You actually made me laugh, which is a first for me after reading something you had a hand in. Usually I curl up into a ball and try to eat my hands after digesting your stories.

  99. alec niedenthal

      “buk,” re: DFW, I think a lot of what Blake, Ken, and Gian are suggesting here have absolutely nothing to do with the irony/sincerity tension. They aren’t advising anyone to not write about what is most urgent to them–to not write honestly, if honesty indeed has anything to do with writing. Plus, the issue is more complex than that. It’s not like irony and sincerity are opposing Street Fighter characters.

      These guys are doing a great job turning the Lish ethos into practice–when you believe you’re at your best, you’re at your worst, you’re always at your worst, keep slogging away, even though it’s pointless, even though your goal is kept inevitably out of reach, studding some dumb horizon–keep moving. Every time you write, you’re a kid. An infant. Start from there. Start again. Keep starting. Etc.

  100. alec niedenthal

      “buk,” re: DFW, I think a lot of what Blake, Ken, and Gian are suggesting here have absolutely nothing to do with the irony/sincerity tension. They aren’t advising anyone to not write about what is most urgent to them–to not write honestly, if honesty indeed has anything to do with writing. Plus, the issue is more complex than that. It’s not like irony and sincerity are opposing Street Fighter characters.

      These guys are doing a great job turning the Lish ethos into practice–when you believe you’re at your best, you’re at your worst, you’re always at your worst, keep slogging away, even though it’s pointless, even though your goal is kept inevitably out of reach, studding some dumb horizon–keep moving. Every time you write, you’re a kid. An infant. Start from there. Start again. Keep starting. Etc.

  101. Tim Horvath

      I’d like to see someone violate them all in one piece. Shoot the moon, so to speak.

  102. Tim Horvath

      I’d like to see someone violate them all in one piece. Shoot the moon, so to speak.

  103. james

      fuck arby’s, i go to bojangles

  104. james

      fuck arby’s, i go to bojangles

  105. Lincoln

      This should be mandatory reading for your first semester MFA workshop.

  106. Lincoln

      This should be mandatory reading for your first semester MFA workshop.

  107. Ken Baumann

      prescription is fun

  108. Ken Baumann

      prescription is fun

  109. Mutz

      Sounds like you have led a very sheltered life. Which is probably why you don’t have a hell of lot to say.

  110. Mutz

      Sounds like you have led a very sheltered life. Which is probably why you don’t have a hell of lot to say.

  111. Lincoln

      Which are the countries that are familiar with the post-apocalypse?

  112. Lincoln

      Which are the countries that are familiar with the post-apocalypse?

  113. alec niedenthal

      All this “experience is writing fodder” shit is bullshit. Everyone’s life is shitty. Everybody fucking hurts. Get over yourself.

  114. alec niedenthal

      Mars.

  115. alec niedenthal

      All this “experience is writing fodder” shit is bullshit. Everyone’s life is shitty. Everybody fucking hurts. Get over yourself.

  116. alec niedenthal

      Mars.

  117. jesusangelgarcia

      Tuned-in AND full o’ shit, good advice (mostly), respectable “controversy”… white wine all around…

  118. jesusangelgarcia

      Tuned-in AND full o’ shit, good advice (mostly), respectable “controversy”… white wine all around…

  119. jesusangelgarcia

      living trumps writing on good days. writing is living on bad.

  120. jesusangelgarcia

      living trumps writing on good days. writing is living on bad.

  121. jesusangelgarcia

      why the hostility, mutz? not doing much good living these days?

      alec niedenthal: so ya know, not everyone’s life is shitty. I guess you can only “write what you know,” eh?

  122. jesusangelgarcia

      why the hostility, mutz? not doing much good living these days?

      alec niedenthal: so ya know, not everyone’s life is shitty. I guess you can only “write what you know,” eh?

  123. Stu

      Why would a LIST discourage someone from writing if that was what they wanted to do? In fact, I want to add a few:

      –Stop writing about your feelings. “I felt bored.” “I felt okay.” No one cares you pansy.

      –Don’t publish your gchats. You are boring and so are your friends.

      –Writing about being a vegan or vegetarian is stupid. No one writes about how great it is to eat meat. You are not a rebel or anarchist, you are probably a skinny, weak, trust fund baby.

      –Stop writing about race. It’s boring.

      –Don’t write in bad Spanish for every character that is “Mexican” or “Puerto Rican.” Some of us speak English, too. Probably better than you.

      –Don’t write about your readings. You read some poems. It’s doubtful anything worth writing about happened.

      –If your character’s day consists of checking e-mail and “minimizing and maximizing windows” in more than one story or poem, try getting out more. Read Vollmann’s “Whores for Gloria” to give you an idea of what you should be out doing.

      –If you worry about your first sentence being good, chances are, the rest of your story will suck.

  124. Stu

      Why would a LIST discourage someone from writing if that was what they wanted to do? In fact, I want to add a few:

      –Stop writing about your feelings. “I felt bored.” “I felt okay.” No one cares you pansy.

      –Don’t publish your gchats. You are boring and so are your friends.

      –Writing about being a vegan or vegetarian is stupid. No one writes about how great it is to eat meat. You are not a rebel or anarchist, you are probably a skinny, weak, trust fund baby.

      –Stop writing about race. It’s boring.

      –Don’t write in bad Spanish for every character that is “Mexican” or “Puerto Rican.” Some of us speak English, too. Probably better than you.

      –Don’t write about your readings. You read some poems. It’s doubtful anything worth writing about happened.

      –If your character’s day consists of checking e-mail and “minimizing and maximizing windows” in more than one story or poem, try getting out more. Read Vollmann’s “Whores for Gloria” to give you an idea of what you should be out doing.

      –If you worry about your first sentence being good, chances are, the rest of your story will suck.

  125. Paul

      Guess it’s time for the writers of The Secret Life of the American Teenager to check out this so-called “guide”

  126. Paul

      Guess it’s time for the writers of The Secret Life of the American Teenager to check out this so-called “guide”

  127. Stu

      I agree with Jesus.

  128. alec niedenthal

      You are telling me that I have a shitty life? What?

  129. Stu

      I agree with Jesus.

  130. alec niedenthal

      You are telling me that I have a shitty life? What?

  131. Mutz

      Nice.

  132. Mutz

      Nice.

  133. Sean

      “…but on one level this is a list of things to not do if you want to be taken seriously by people who take literature seriously.”

      I agree and also, “No fuck.”

      Oh and Swift wanted you to eat impoverished kids, right up until he did not. Their little gallbladders cause hell in the stomach, it’s the bile.

      Is Satire so attackable now as dead? Or so attackable as vibrant and alive, proven by the brick throwing, the “Jackson-ass” lottery attack of stones?

      I wonder.

  134. Sean

      “…but on one level this is a list of things to not do if you want to be taken seriously by people who take literature seriously.”

      I agree and also, “No fuck.”

      Oh and Swift wanted you to eat impoverished kids, right up until he did not. Their little gallbladders cause hell in the stomach, it’s the bile.

      Is Satire so attackable now as dead? Or so attackable as vibrant and alive, proven by the brick throwing, the “Jackson-ass” lottery attack of stones?

      I wonder.

  135. Paul

      I think I should do that . . . and submit it to No Posit

  136. Paul

      I think I should do that . . . and submit it to No Posit

  137. alec niedenthal

      I just meant that we all hurt, die, etc. Everybody is thrown into fodder.

  138. alec niedenthal

      I just meant that we all hurt, die, etc. Everybody is thrown into fodder.

  139. .

      Maybe you’re a joker, but I will assume that you are not.

      I think lists like this CAN be discouraging, especially to more insecure/sensitive writers and prospective writers. Some may respond to this, saying “If they are discouraged by this, then they SHOULD quit. They are weak!” but I think it might be nice if established writers would be more compassionate even more INSTRUCTIVE than that. People will take what they say to heart, even if they don’t really mean it. Think of the (impressionable) children!

      Also, I think poems about checking email are dope and your admonishment to “Stop writing about race. It’s boring.” is fucked.

  140. .

      Maybe you’re a joker, but I will assume that you are not.

      I think lists like this CAN be discouraging, especially to more insecure/sensitive writers and prospective writers. Some may respond to this, saying “If they are discouraged by this, then they SHOULD quit. They are weak!” but I think it might be nice if established writers would be more compassionate even more INSTRUCTIVE than that. People will take what they say to heart, even if they don’t really mean it. Think of the (impressionable) children!

      Also, I think poems about checking email are dope and your admonishment to “Stop writing about race. It’s boring.” is fucked.

  141. Amy McDaniel

      mutz, i don’t know who you are trying to insult, but yeah as an american able to sit at a computer and argue about this kind of thing instead of worrying about food, i’m guilty as charged. certainly i am privileged. but i suppose you aren’t, not even a little. where are you right now–haiti? you call me sheltered–do you lack shelter?
      But then, “having something to say” isn’t really my impulse to write. things have been said already. lives have been lived already. but maybe i can put some things together in a way that allows some people to hear, who hadn’t yet. so no, i’m not going to proletarianize myself for the sake of having some kind of gritty “experience” worth writing about. nor am i the least bit interested in someone else’s hard-knock-life tourism.

  142. Amy McDaniel

      mutz, i don’t know who you are trying to insult, but yeah as an american able to sit at a computer and argue about this kind of thing instead of worrying about food, i’m guilty as charged. certainly i am privileged. but i suppose you aren’t, not even a little. where are you right now–haiti? you call me sheltered–do you lack shelter?
      But then, “having something to say” isn’t really my impulse to write. things have been said already. lives have been lived already. but maybe i can put some things together in a way that allows some people to hear, who hadn’t yet. so no, i’m not going to proletarianize myself for the sake of having some kind of gritty “experience” worth writing about. nor am i the least bit interested in someone else’s hard-knock-life tourism.

  143. Mutz

      How about all of the Middle East, most of the Carribean, parts of Africa…Are you kidding me? What, no one has had any experience with this type of all-consuming destruction? Are you really this dense? Grow up. And the reason you think experience equals nothing is because you don’t have any. When you do have some you’ll realize that being you isn’t enough. Have some compassion for someone else besides yourself.

  144. Mutz

      How about all of the Middle East, most of the Carribean, parts of Africa…Are you kidding me? What, no one has had any experience with this type of all-consuming destruction? Are you really this dense? Grow up. And the reason you think experience equals nothing is because you don’t have any. When you do have some you’ll realize that being you isn’t enough. Have some compassion for someone else besides yourself.

  145. Mutz

      It wasn’t satire. It was an act of self-immolation gone awry.

  146. Mutz

      It wasn’t satire. It was an act of self-immolation gone awry.

  147. mark

      mostly i just want the time machine ben marcus must have used when he he was aping gary lutz. but i won’t use it for stupid writing i will buy a sports almanac from the future.

  148. mark

      mostly i just want the time machine ben marcus must have used when he he was aping gary lutz. but i won’t use it for stupid writing i will buy a sports almanac from the future.

  149. Roxane

      As a Haitian who knows people trapped under the rubble texting for help, I’m pretty damn sure Haiti knows a little about what happens after the apocalypse.

  150. Roxane

      As a Haitian who knows people trapped under the rubble texting for help, I’m pretty damn sure Haiti knows a little about what happens after the apocalypse.

  151. Roxane

      The comments on this are confusing the hell out of me.

  152. Roxane

      The comments on this are confusing the hell out of me.

  153. darby

      pretty great.

      puts me in a listing mood.

  154. darby

      pretty great.

      puts me in a listing mood.

  155. Amber

      Roxane, I was thinking of you–do you know if your family is all okay?

  156. Amber

      Roxane, I was thinking of you–do you know if your family is all okay?

  157. jesusangelgarcia

      yeah, but what I’m sayin, alec, is that said fodder *is* life, and it ain’t shitty, necessarily. it just is. hurt, die, not-hurt, not-die, etc., etc. … it just is.

  158. jesusangelgarcia

      yeah, but what I’m sayin, alec, is that said fodder *is* life, and it ain’t shitty, necessarily. it just is. hurt, die, not-hurt, not-die, etc., etc. … it just is.

  159. jesusangelgarcia

      if you think these comments are confusing, have you seen the ones on viceland???

      can’t control the reading, only the writing… if that…

  160. jesusangelgarcia

      if you think these comments are confusing, have you seen the ones on viceland???

      can’t control the reading, only the writing… if that…

  161. Roxane

      Amber, my immediate family is safe and sound. My extended family has mostly fared well, though my great aunt and uncle died when their home collapsed, 2 people are missing and 2 + family friends are trapped in the rubble of a family business and alive but can’t be reached, etc etc etc. Shit is just fucking ridiculous.

  162. Roxane

      Amber, my immediate family is safe and sound. My extended family has mostly fared well, though my great aunt and uncle died when their home collapsed, 2 people are missing and 2 + family friends are trapped in the rubble of a family business and alive but can’t be reached, etc etc etc. Shit is just fucking ridiculous.

  163. Roxane

      I just read the comments on Viceland and clearly someone forgot to take their medication today and then used their ample disposable time to make unoriginal comments. I found it so sad and even more confusing, like that people were taking the commentary as prescriptive.

  164. Roxane

      I just read the comments on Viceland and clearly someone forgot to take their medication today and then used their ample disposable time to make unoriginal comments. I found it so sad and even more confusing, like that people were taking the commentary as prescriptive.

  165. jesusangelgarcia

      lack of self-esteem and fear of failure, much like envy or plain dickheadedness, breeds venom, I think, especially in “artists,” wannabe or otherwise, no?

  166. jesusangelgarcia

      lack of self-esteem and fear of failure, much like envy or plain dickheadedness, breeds venom, I think, especially in “artists,” wannabe or otherwise, no?

  167. Amber

      Oh, god, Roxane, I’m so sorry. I just keep watching all this and thinking how lucky I am to live in a wealthy country with an actual infrastructure. It really puts things in perspective. I hope very much that your friends and missing family all are found safe and well

  168. Amber

      Oh, god, Roxane, I’m so sorry. I just keep watching all this and thinking how lucky I am to live in a wealthy country with an actual infrastructure. It really puts things in perspective. I hope very much that your friends and missing family all are found safe and well

  169. Amber

      I was (I thought) obviously kidding. Goodness.

  170. Amber

      I was (I thought) obviously kidding. Goodness.

  171. Sean

      popcorn anyone?

  172. Sean

      popcorn anyone?

  173. Ryan Call

      my wife made me a to do list today.

  174. Ryan Call

      my wife made me a to do list today.

  175. darby

      how was it?

  176. darby

      how was it?

  177. Ryan Call

      well, i deposited a check, took the dry cleaning, but i still havent fixed the pull cord to the closet light in our bedroom. so i did 2 out of 3.

  178. Ryan Call

      well, i deposited a check, took the dry cleaning, but i still havent fixed the pull cord to the closet light in our bedroom. so i did 2 out of 3.

  179. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Kinda want to give that ear piercing shit a shot.

  180. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Kinda want to give that ear piercing shit a shot.

  181. jonny ross

      ?

  182. Justin Taylor

      Mutz- Have you heard about this guy Michael J. Duckett? He’s an old friend of ours who I think might be interested in your work. Also, why the anon-posting? After this little preview, I’m foaming at the damn mouth for a chance to read your blog.

  183. Justin Taylor

      Mutz- Have you heard about this guy Michael J. Duckett? He’s an old friend of ours who I think might be interested in your work. Also, why the anon-posting? After this little preview, I’m foaming at the damn mouth for a chance to read your blog.

  184. Muzzy

      I’m just pre-emptively posting to ensure that no one confuses me with Mutz. He spells his with a T. Whereas a double-Z belongs to me. I have no idea who he is, honest.

      Blake Butler never did me any wrong. Nor do I envy his time spent with DFW. Also, I still haven’t received my copy of of ‘Scorch Atlas’ (hint, hint Miss Amy) so I really have no opinion on the quality of his novel.

  185. Muzzy

      I’m just pre-emptively posting to ensure that no one confuses me with Mutz. He spells his with a T. Whereas a double-Z belongs to me. I have no idea who he is, honest.

      Blake Butler never did me any wrong. Nor do I envy his time spent with DFW. Also, I still haven’t received my copy of of ‘Scorch Atlas’ (hint, hint Miss Amy) so I really have no opinion on the quality of his novel.

  186. Stu

      I was being facetious, and I agree with you about being supportive of newer, unestablished writers, but if a list as absurd as the above posted on VICE of all places would discourage someone, well… why in god’s name?

      About checking e-mails being “dope”… are you 16? The mundane can be quite illuminating, and even funny, sad, etc., but I’d rather read about a character reading the backs of shampoo bottles while trying to squeeze out a shit that is like a huge, jagged polyhedron, personally.

      Race, to me IS boring. It’s been done to death by too many poor writers. I am Chicano. I once had a non-hispanic professor tell ME how MY family, as a hispanic household, does its day to day, because that’s what all the “chicano lit.” books tell him. Fuck that.

  187. Stu

      I was being facetious, and I agree with you about being supportive of newer, unestablished writers, but if a list as absurd as the above posted on VICE of all places would discourage someone, well… why in god’s name?

      About checking e-mails being “dope”… are you 16? The mundane can be quite illuminating, and even funny, sad, etc., but I’d rather read about a character reading the backs of shampoo bottles while trying to squeeze out a shit that is like a huge, jagged polyhedron, personally.

      Race, to me IS boring. It’s been done to death by too many poor writers. I am Chicano. I once had a non-hispanic professor tell ME how MY family, as a hispanic household, does its day to day, because that’s what all the “chicano lit.” books tell him. Fuck that.

  188. alec niedenthal

      Okay, yeah, I agree with that.

  189. alec niedenthal

      Okay, yeah, I agree with that.

  190. reynard

      let me know if you need some plutonium, i know a guy

  191. reynard

      let me know if you need some plutonium, i know a guy

  192. Adam

      I’ve never seen an article on Vice without comments like that

  193. Adam

      I’ve never seen an article on Vice without comments like that

  194. david e

      amber, you need to write I AM JOKING before every comment like that

      help us out, okay? ha, i could tell you were kidding.

  195. david e

      amber, you need to write I AM JOKING before every comment like that

      help us out, okay? ha, i could tell you were kidding.

  196. david e

      roxane, have you read arthur bradford’s ss collection “dogwalker”? he has at least one story with some really funny animal talking stuff.

  197. david e

      roxane, have you read arthur bradford’s ss collection “dogwalker”? he has at least one story with some really funny animal talking stuff.

  198. david e

      better your hands than your blanket

  199. david e

      better your hands than your blanket

  200. Lily Hoang

      mutz: i had this chinese dissident poet professor a few years back who lived by the whole “you have to suffer in order to be a good artist” bullshit. it’s a joke.

      amy: yes! let’s not be hard-knock-life tourists. b/c if there’s something i hate, it’s soapbox rantings by a tourist.

  201. Lily Hoang

      mutz: i had this chinese dissident poet professor a few years back who lived by the whole “you have to suffer in order to be a good artist” bullshit. it’s a joke.

      amy: yes! let’s not be hard-knock-life tourists. b/c if there’s something i hate, it’s soapbox rantings by a tourist.

  202. mts

      “so no, i’m not going to proletarianize myself for the sake of having some kind of gritty “experience” worth writing about. nor am i the least bit interested in someone else’s hard-knock-life tourism.”

      Another explosion of snob rises above the general pretentiousness.

  203. mts

      “so no, i’m not going to proletarianize myself for the sake of having some kind of gritty “experience” worth writing about. nor am i the least bit interested in someone else’s hard-knock-life tourism.”

      Another explosion of snob rises above the general pretentiousness.

  204. Mutz

      It’s hard out there for a pimp, ya’ll, and until you can sing that song, I mean really sing it so you feel it in your bones, you shouldn’t send out any of your stories.

      Me, I’m going to have a kidney removed right now, in the alley, for the clarity it brings, and then not write about that experience for five years.

  205. Mutz

      It’s hard out there for a pimp, ya’ll, and until you can sing that song, I mean really sing it so you feel it in your bones, you shouldn’t send out any of your stories.

      Me, I’m going to have a kidney removed right now, in the alley, for the clarity it brings, and then not write about that experience for five years.

  206. Amber

      Thank you, David. I always forget tone is hard to get across on the intertubes. :)

  207. Amber

      Thank you, David. I always forget tone is hard to get across on the intertubes. :)

  208. David E

      Amber, it’s nothing! I owe you a lot, mainly since reading about you and your husband taking “reading vacations.” Now, when I get a day off from work, instead of watching some bad movies and/or doing constructive things around the house, I just camp out in the basement and read. It’s amazing. My wife isn’t convinced of its greatness yet though.

  209. David E

      Amber, it’s nothing! I owe you a lot, mainly since reading about you and your husband taking “reading vacations.” Now, when I get a day off from work, instead of watching some bad movies and/or doing constructive things around the house, I just camp out in the basement and read. It’s amazing. My wife isn’t convinced of its greatness yet though.

  210. Sean

      I feel a contest. Can someone break every rule in one go, poem, story, what have you

  211. Sean

      I feel a contest. Can someone break every rule in one go, poem, story, what have you

  212. ryan

      Truly great art is indifferent as to the nature of material/experience—it simply has to be keenly observed, deeply felt. If you can’t bring yourself to accept this, you are unduly prejudiced against taking in certain people’s stories. (And I say this as someone who groans every time I see a new “old college professor sleeps with hot young freshman” novel.)

      Mutz, would you have advised Jane Austen to go trekking around the world? Should Emily Dickinson have gotten out more?

      The only material a writer is obliged to seek out is whatever material sets said artist on fire.

  213. ryan

      Truly great art is indifferent as to the nature of material/experience—it simply has to be keenly observed, deeply felt. If you can’t bring yourself to accept this, you are unduly prejudiced against taking in certain people’s stories. (And I say this as someone who groans every time I see a new “old college professor sleeps with hot young freshman” novel.)

      Mutz, would you have advised Jane Austen to go trekking around the world? Should Emily Dickinson have gotten out more?

      The only material a writer is obliged to seek out is whatever material sets said artist on fire.

  214. ryan

      Wait, what? How did Butler spend time with Wallace?

  215. ryan

      Wait, what? How did Butler spend time with Wallace?

  216. ryan

      Regarding the DFW discussion above. . . . Let’s have some respect for the man by refusing to oversimplify his argument. To say that he was ‘all about’ sincerity is undeniably wrong. Several of his nonfiction pieces contain factual omissions that would make one at least question this commitment to sincerity/honesty/etc., and his fictional work is intensely ambivalent on the issue (to its great benefit, IMO). Wallace’s work on irony/sincerity/earnest communication spans past that TV essay, and even there it wasn’t a prescription so much as a take-it-or-leave-it kind of throwaway speculation.

      And plus, that speculation itself may have been wrong. Maybe an entire generation of anti-rebels writing in the name of Sincerity would be terrible for art. Maybe it would all be some horrible goo-fest. I kind of feel like this is what we’re heading toward, at least from the next generation’s weaker writers—an overwhelming narcissistic “sincerity” that’s just as odious as the cynical snark/sardonicism that DFW pushed back against.

  217. Matt Cozart

      y’all

  218. ryan

      Regarding the DFW discussion above. . . . Let’s have some respect for the man by refusing to oversimplify his argument. To say that he was ‘all about’ sincerity is undeniably wrong. Several of his nonfiction pieces contain factual omissions that would make one at least question this commitment to sincerity/honesty/etc., and his fictional work is intensely ambivalent on the issue (to its great benefit, IMO). Wallace’s work on irony/sincerity/earnest communication spans past that TV essay, and even there it wasn’t a prescription so much as a take-it-or-leave-it kind of throwaway speculation.

      And plus, that speculation itself may have been wrong. Maybe an entire generation of anti-rebels writing in the name of Sincerity would be terrible for art. Maybe it would all be some horrible goo-fest. I kind of feel like this is what we’re heading toward, at least from the next generation’s weaker writers—an overwhelming narcissistic “sincerity” that’s just as odious as the cynical snark/sardonicism that DFW pushed back against.

  219. Matt Cozart

      y’all

  220. ryan

      or to borrow another HG’ers words, an extreme overemphasis on the ‘raw.’ The next DFW—adored iconic creative figure who also has one finger right on contemp-lit’s collective pulse—will be someone more Nabokov. ‘Cooked.’

  221. ryan

      or to borrow another HG’ers words, an extreme overemphasis on the ‘raw.’ The next DFW—adored iconic creative figure who also has one finger right on contemp-lit’s collective pulse—will be someone more Nabokov. ‘Cooked.’

  222. ryan

      more like Nabokov*

  223. ryan

      more like Nabokov*

  224. Mark C

      I couldn’t disagree more. She pretty much got it head-on. Gritty or cushy, no one’s experience is all that unique– what stands out to me is innovation. There’s nothing snobby about that.

      Thanks, Amy. That had me all tingly and shit.

  225. Mark C

      I couldn’t disagree more. She pretty much got it head-on. Gritty or cushy, no one’s experience is all that unique– what stands out to me is innovation. There’s nothing snobby about that.

      Thanks, Amy. That had me all tingly and shit.

  226. Matt Cozart

      does it have to be TB? would rocky mountain spotted fever work? please advise.

  227. Matt Cozart

      does it have to be TB? would rocky mountain spotted fever work? please advise.

  228. mimi

      I vaguely recall reading somewhere once that Nabokov’s favorite “moment”, in Lolita was “Waterproof.” (HH describing his new watch. A turning point in HH’s imaginative/cognitive synthesis, and thus in the narrative.) That’s what Nabokov’s writing is, waterproof.

  229. mimi

      I vaguely recall reading somewhere once that Nabokov’s favorite “moment”, in Lolita was “Waterproof.” (HH describing his new watch. A turning point in HH’s imaginative/cognitive synthesis, and thus in the narrative.) That’s what Nabokov’s writing is, waterproof.

  230. mimi

      Also, Ima plow through a bunch of DFW this year so’s I can understand these DFW threads better. That’s one of my New Year’s resolutions.

      I agree with Roxane, above, that this comments thread is confusing. But it’s good. And I agree that the comments thread at Viceland sucks. HTML’ers, be proud.

      Also, in regards to the original Butler/Baumann/Gian article, I found it to be “typical”. “Entertaining” and “funny”, but “typical”. This is not necessarily a bad thing. These guys are working with emerging ideas of new/different writing/use of language which are morphing before our eyes all the time. Where it will “go”? I don’t know. But it’s a fun ride. I do love how HTML GIANT, its contributors and its reader/commenters, seem to always be honest and earnest, and ready to go along for the trip. It seems to be a venue where “anything goes” but along the way there’s a lot of intelligence and thoughtfulness. OK, that’s enough. I’m getting all gooey.

  231. mimi

      Also, Ima plow through a bunch of DFW this year so’s I can understand these DFW threads better. That’s one of my New Year’s resolutions.

      I agree with Roxane, above, that this comments thread is confusing. But it’s good. And I agree that the comments thread at Viceland sucks. HTML’ers, be proud.

      Also, in regards to the original Butler/Baumann/Gian article, I found it to be “typical”. “Entertaining” and “funny”, but “typical”. This is not necessarily a bad thing. These guys are working with emerging ideas of new/different writing/use of language which are morphing before our eyes all the time. Where it will “go”? I don’t know. But it’s a fun ride. I do love how HTML GIANT, its contributors and its reader/commenters, seem to always be honest and earnest, and ready to go along for the trip. It seems to be a venue where “anything goes” but along the way there’s a lot of intelligence and thoughtfulness. OK, that’s enough. I’m getting all gooey.

  232. mike

      oops, i didn’t realize it was only possible to not like star wars, fitzgerald, or the beatles by remaining “ironically detached.”

  233. mike

      oops, i didn’t realize it was only possible to not like star wars, fitzgerald, or the beatles by remaining “ironically detached.”

  234. David E

      spoken like a ho who doesn’t feel a damn thing

      if ya don’t know why it’s ya’ll then obviously your’e not a golfer

  235. David E

      spoken like a ho who doesn’t feel a damn thing

      if ya don’t know why it’s ya’ll then obviously your’e not a golfer

  236. Chris

      I like the “I don’t know anything, you don’t know anything” attitude toward writing a lot more than “write what you know,” because it helps guard against taking things for granted. It’s too easy for “write what you know” to lead to a lazier way of imagining. Or maybe this doesn’t make sense…

  237. Chris

      I like the “I don’t know anything, you don’t know anything” attitude toward writing a lot more than “write what you know,” because it helps guard against taking things for granted. It’s too easy for “write what you know” to lead to a lazier way of imagining. Or maybe this doesn’t make sense…

  238. David

      lol that made me laugh amy

  239. David

      lol that made me laugh amy

  240. David

      i don’t really understand the logic at all that an american would not understand what post-apocalypticism would look like, america practically invented the idea

  241. David

      i don’t really understand the logic at all that an american would not understand what post-apocalypticism would look like, america practically invented the idea

  242. David

      i think this list made me realise that no one is going to be a not-horrible writer in 2010

  243. David

      i think this list made me realise that no one is going to be a not-horrible writer in 2010

  244. Sean

      Did Bradbury visit Mars? Just curious.

  245. Sean

      Did Bradbury visit Mars? Just curious.

  246. jesusangelgarcia

      cooked… raw… I’m convinced the key is sometimes medium-well, others bloodier, oozy as necessary. overcooked is carcinogenic, raw can give you worms. vying (or eyeing) for the next DFW/Nabokov-adored platform misses the point.

  247. jesusangelgarcia

      cooked… raw… I’m convinced the key is sometimes medium-well, others bloodier, oozy as necessary. overcooked is carcinogenic, raw can give you worms. vying (or eyeing) for the next DFW/Nabokov-adored platform misses the point.

  248. ryan

      Well, I would agree. Just using the raw/cooked thing to indicate how I think the next load of shittier work will look.

      Well, to vie(sp?) wasn’t really the point. In fact I know very little about whatever critical platform Nabokov may have enjoyed—I’ve only read a few of his novels. It was just a way of indicating what direction I think the next “E Unibus Pluram” kind of call for aesthetic self-correction will go in. (Sorry for the mangled sentence, still somewhat sleepy.)

  249. ryan

      Well, I would agree. Just using the raw/cooked thing to indicate how I think the next load of shittier work will look.

      Well, to vie(sp?) wasn’t really the point. In fact I know very little about whatever critical platform Nabokov may have enjoyed—I’ve only read a few of his novels. It was just a way of indicating what direction I think the next “E Unibus Pluram” kind of call for aesthetic self-correction will go in. (Sorry for the mangled sentence, still somewhat sleepy.)

  250. Tim Horvath

      Ryan, I liked cooked. I was thinking about how it was unidirectional, like you can make something cooked from something raw but not vice versa. But then I remembered my favorite section from Justin Sirois’s Mlkng Sckls, the splendid “uncooking” section where a character does just that. I know it’s only fiction and all but it counts for me.

      Cook the raw. Raw the cooked. Cook around the edges. Hire too many cooks. Give ’em a raw deal.

  251. Tim Horvath

      Ryan, I liked cooked. I was thinking about how it was unidirectional, like you can make something cooked from something raw but not vice versa. But then I remembered my favorite section from Justin Sirois’s Mlkng Sckls, the splendid “uncooking” section where a character does just that. I know it’s only fiction and all but it counts for me.

      Cook the raw. Raw the cooked. Cook around the edges. Hire too many cooks. Give ’em a raw deal.

  252. mimi

      Good question. I’m not sure. But Vonnegut survived the fire-bombing of Dresden, a real-life apocalyptic scenario I’m sure, albeit localized, and lived to write about it.

  253. mimi

      Good question. I’m not sure. But Vonnegut survived the fire-bombing of Dresden, a real-life apocalyptic scenario I’m sure, albeit localized, and lived to write about it.

  254. Schylur Prinz

      Mimi– Gunter Grass was also in Dresden, stealing the clothes of dead civillians and fleeing from the S.S. brigade he had been incorporated into. In my mind they cross paths on the street, both dazed and half-blind from the smoke.

  255. Schylur Prinz

      Mimi– Gunter Grass was also in Dresden, stealing the clothes of dead civillians and fleeing from the S.S. brigade he had been incorporated into. In my mind they cross paths on the street, both dazed and half-blind from the smoke.

  256. jesusangelgarcia

      I guess I don’t buy the collective self-correction model, Ryan.

      Writing that stands out or stands the test of time (for me) is writing that clearly somehow stands apart (better perspective there). Not to dismiss the value of community or feedback or editorial input, but when community is the principal force that guides a writer’s aesthetic or style or story… then you get the same tunnel “vision” as in airport paperbacks.

      Also, I would argue that David Foster Wallace is far from universally adored (among Lit MFAs, perhaps, but not among average, even fairly well-read, readers).

      On the other hand, Lolita, I’m guessing, made Nabokov (in)famous for a few years due to the book’s controversial content and conservative time period. Then came Pale Fire and that was the end of that (for average readers, I’m sure).

      Yes, Tim: Cook the raw. Raw the cooked. Cook around the edges….

      Nope: Hire too many cooks. (see above)

      Sure… Give ‘em a raw deal. Make it hurt. Make ’em laugh. Make em cry.

  257. jesusangelgarcia

      I guess I don’t buy the collective self-correction model, Ryan.

      Writing that stands out or stands the test of time (for me) is writing that clearly somehow stands apart (better perspective there). Not to dismiss the value of community or feedback or editorial input, but when community is the principal force that guides a writer’s aesthetic or style or story… then you get the same tunnel “vision” as in airport paperbacks.

      Also, I would argue that David Foster Wallace is far from universally adored (among Lit MFAs, perhaps, but not among average, even fairly well-read, readers).

      On the other hand, Lolita, I’m guessing, made Nabokov (in)famous for a few years due to the book’s controversial content and conservative time period. Then came Pale Fire and that was the end of that (for average readers, I’m sure).

      Yes, Tim: Cook the raw. Raw the cooked. Cook around the edges….

      Nope: Hire too many cooks. (see above)

      Sure… Give ‘em a raw deal. Make it hurt. Make ’em laugh. Make em cry.

  258. mimi

      Nice. I hadn’t thought of Grass, but yes. I’ve only read The Tin Drum (the eel-eating mother was frightening and heartbreaking!) and that a while ago. I did not know this about Grass, but it makes sense now, fits right in. (And yes, I know I’m missing an umlaut. Well, three to be exact.)

      I’m sure there are countless instances of writers writing after surviving “apocalyptic” experiences of any scale.

  259. mimi

      Nice. I hadn’t thought of Grass, but yes. I’ve only read The Tin Drum (the eel-eating mother was frightening and heartbreaking!) and that a while ago. I did not know this about Grass, but it makes sense now, fits right in. (And yes, I know I’m missing an umlaut. Well, three to be exact.)

      I’m sure there are countless instances of writers writing after surviving “apocalyptic” experiences of any scale.

  260. ryan

      Hmmmm. Do you mean that the very best work is work wherein a writer’s own individual aesthetic sensibility is manifested most strongly (“stands out” as equal to total artistic self-realization)? I’m trying to make sure I’m reading you correctly. If I’m on track w/ what you’re saying, then I don’t think we disagree there.

      Let me try to revise what I was getting at with “call for aesthetic self-correction.” Basically artists/writers/etc. have a propensity to write essays involving some amount of the “Hey, here’s what we’re doing right now, and, you know, it maybe isn’t so cool. Here’s why I think it isn’t so cool, and what we could maybe try to do instead” sort of thing. We write them a lot, but every now and then someone writes a really thoughtful and considerate one that is bound to catch the attention of those interested in writing serious lit and—whether they agree with it or not—will almost surely affect their own private aesthetic sensibilities, if even just a bit. This is basically what I think DFW did, and I think the next missive of its kind will in some way push back at his “call” for the sincere anti-rebel (which is weird because IMO it’d almost be pushing back at something DFW didn’t really quite say, but I think it’ll happen).

      Does that make sense? I also would agreed that DFW isn’t universally adored (many linguists seem to basically think he’s the devil), and I don’t think I ever argued that. By ‘adored’ I meant something like ‘respected enough w/in the group of people interested in making avant-gardeish literature that his argument will receive a fair and attentive hearing,’ which admittedly is a tiny tiny group of people.

      On a kind of unrelated note, why so much concern for the “average” reader? The truly average reader is a neanderthal who essentially manhandles their literature. Nabokov would have said Fuck ‘Em, and so would I. I doubt that many people here write for the average reader, if they’re really honest with themselves.

  261. ryan

      sorry my reply is out of order, i don’t understand these things i guess

  262. ryan

      Hmmmm. Do you mean that the very best work is work wherein a writer’s own individual aesthetic sensibility is manifested most strongly (“stands out” as equal to total artistic self-realization)? I’m trying to make sure I’m reading you correctly. If I’m on track w/ what you’re saying, then I don’t think we disagree there.

      Let me try to revise what I was getting at with “call for aesthetic self-correction.” Basically artists/writers/etc. have a propensity to write essays involving some amount of the “Hey, here’s what we’re doing right now, and, you know, it maybe isn’t so cool. Here’s why I think it isn’t so cool, and what we could maybe try to do instead” sort of thing. We write them a lot, but every now and then someone writes a really thoughtful and considerate one that is bound to catch the attention of those interested in writing serious lit and—whether they agree with it or not—will almost surely affect their own private aesthetic sensibilities, if even just a bit. This is basically what I think DFW did, and I think the next missive of its kind will in some way push back at his “call” for the sincere anti-rebel (which is weird because IMO it’d almost be pushing back at something DFW didn’t really quite say, but I think it’ll happen).

      Does that make sense? I also would agreed that DFW isn’t universally adored (many linguists seem to basically think he’s the devil), and I don’t think I ever argued that. By ‘adored’ I meant something like ‘respected enough w/in the group of people interested in making avant-gardeish literature that his argument will receive a fair and attentive hearing,’ which admittedly is a tiny tiny group of people.

      On a kind of unrelated note, why so much concern for the “average” reader? The truly average reader is a neanderthal who essentially manhandles their literature. Nabokov would have said Fuck ‘Em, and so would I. I doubt that many people here write for the average reader, if they’re really honest with themselves.

  263. ryan

      sorry my reply is out of order, i don’t understand these things i guess

  264. jesusangelgarcia

      Thanks for taking the time to clarify, Ryan. I think we’re in sync on some points here.

      I misunderstood. I thought your call-to-arms/calling-out statement was referencing specifically an author’s novels or stories — as a forward-thinking model, say — not an essay or dictum written as self-reflection/refraction/manifesto. So yeah… personally, I’m less interested in that stuff than in what the real work — the fiction — says and how it says it.

      Gotcha on DFW-adored thing, too. Tiny tiny group, yes. I didn’t realize we were talking “avant-garde”-aspiring writers exclusively. I dunno. I try to not make the distinction between avant-garde and non-avant-garde. I just know what works for me, and that can come from anywhere, though I lean more towards the tastes of HTMLGiant readers, I believe, which is why I engage on these threads.

      The thing is, though… when you regard the “average reader” as “a neanderthal who essentially manhandles their literature,” even if true, in part, then you’re putting yourself on a pedestal and looking down on others who maybe don’t have your education or don’t connect with your literary ambition or lifestyle choices. (Oh, but they just don’t get you b/c they’re neanderthals…) In a word, that’s bullshit. More words: elitist, arrogant, disconnected, misguided, post-humanist(?).

      Of course, we all have our own motives for writing, which is fine. But if one of your motives isn’t to connect to people, or to be read by readers who aren’t necessarily writers or colleagues or MFAs, then… isn’t that a circle jerk?

      Maybe you’re into that sorta thing — I’m not here to judge, man — but I prefer a more intimate experience. For me, that means open-heart/open-mind in both writing and reading (and living… let’s not forget the living). Hopefully, this leads to clarity of communication (a two-way channel) between my words on the page and any reader who stumbles upon them.

      Sure, you can say, Fuck the “average” reader; I’m writing for my Lit homies, singing to the choir. But then I have to ask: what value, really, are you bringing through your writing?

      In conclusion, (white) wine is fine (to each his own…) but liquor’s quicker (Jim Beam to Lagavulin, baby)…. and don’t disparage BEER! I’ll see you in Denver.

  265. jesusangelgarcia

      Thanks for taking the time to clarify, Ryan. I think we’re in sync on some points here.

      I misunderstood. I thought your call-to-arms/calling-out statement was referencing specifically an author’s novels or stories — as a forward-thinking model, say — not an essay or dictum written as self-reflection/refraction/manifesto. So yeah… personally, I’m less interested in that stuff than in what the real work — the fiction — says and how it says it.

      Gotcha on DFW-adored thing, too. Tiny tiny group, yes. I didn’t realize we were talking “avant-garde”-aspiring writers exclusively. I dunno. I try to not make the distinction between avant-garde and non-avant-garde. I just know what works for me, and that can come from anywhere, though I lean more towards the tastes of HTMLGiant readers, I believe, which is why I engage on these threads.

      The thing is, though… when you regard the “average reader” as “a neanderthal who essentially manhandles their literature,” even if true, in part, then you’re putting yourself on a pedestal and looking down on others who maybe don’t have your education or don’t connect with your literary ambition or lifestyle choices. (Oh, but they just don’t get you b/c they’re neanderthals…) In a word, that’s bullshit. More words: elitist, arrogant, disconnected, misguided, post-humanist(?).

      Of course, we all have our own motives for writing, which is fine. But if one of your motives isn’t to connect to people, or to be read by readers who aren’t necessarily writers or colleagues or MFAs, then… isn’t that a circle jerk?

      Maybe you’re into that sorta thing — I’m not here to judge, man — but I prefer a more intimate experience. For me, that means open-heart/open-mind in both writing and reading (and living… let’s not forget the living). Hopefully, this leads to clarity of communication (a two-way channel) between my words on the page and any reader who stumbles upon them.

      Sure, you can say, Fuck the “average” reader; I’m writing for my Lit homies, singing to the choir. But then I have to ask: what value, really, are you bringing through your writing?

      In conclusion, (white) wine is fine (to each his own…) but liquor’s quicker (Jim Beam to Lagavulin, baby)…. and don’t disparage BEER! I’ll see you in Denver.

  266. Mather Schneider

      Well said Jesus.

  267. Mather Schneider

      Well said Jesus.

  268. ryan

      Okay, this reply is going to be out of order again. I’m being for real here, can anyone tell me how to specifically reply to the post I’m addressing? It seems like the most current sub-chain of responses always lack the ‘reply’ button. I’m obviously missing something. Thank you. . . .

      Anyhoo, JAG, it’s true, I might be a snobbish arrogant elitist. I would like to think that I’m not, but I wouldn’t be the first dude to have a distorted perception of himself. Here’s my thought process regarding it all: I -do- want to connect to others through my art; I want to communicate. However, I also want my art to be beautiful, and that’s not something I’m willing to budge on. A big part of what I’m trying to communicate -is- this, this sense of beauty. I want to share it. However, I am only interested in communicating with those who are willing to listen. It is my belief that the statistically average American reader will not be willing to listen to what I’m saying to them. Instead, they’ll come up with bogus excuses for not engaging. (I know this because I have done it.) “Too hard,” “The language is meandering and masturbatory,” “The author’s a dick,” etc. They—the truly average American reader—will react w/o first listening. That is not communication. That is Being A Dick. I am not interesting in any part of that. Ergo, fuck them.

      Now, a few qualifications: I am not talking about skill level. I am not saying Fuck You to the mediocre or adequate reader. Those readers are completely awesome, and I love them, and I want to engage with them, I want to hug them, etc. Of course, this also means that I think most readers are readers of a poor skill level. I think this because it is what I have experienced in my my “life” life and my reading life. I could very well be wrong. Maybe I am cynical and there is an absolute wealth of attentive, open-minded readers out there. I would love to be wrong about that!

      I don’t think that this means I’ve set myself up on a pedestal. In my own personal life, I consider it my duty to listen before all. I hate the feeling I get when I act like a dick and fail to really engage somebody, when I put what I want to say ahead of what they -are- saying. I hate this, and I have no respect for it, ever. Not in myself, not in others, whatever. If I say FU to inattentive readers, it’s because I’m FU-ing myself all the time for the same thing.

      Of course, when I reflect on those past two paragraphs, I’m of two minds: A) I’m probably some kind of deranged crazy asshole, or B), this is basically what everyone else insists upon, in some way. I find it really hard to convince myself that the other people out there writing don’t want to be listened to, and that they don’t get upset when the book they (the reader) is perversely different than the one they wrote. I mean, isn’t this basically what we consider an Asshole—the guy who is always responding to not what you said, but to what he is irrevocably convinced that you simply -must- have said? The kind of guy who, in a debate, whips out the old “I say exactly what I mean, and I mean exactly what I say” line just before he insults your obvious lack of IQ.

      Am I really snobbish for thinking this?? I’m taking your circle-jerk thing to heart. . . . What kind of literature qualifies as ‘circle-jerk’? (I write poetry—all poets? Who reads poems other than poets, these days? And if it is indeed a circle-jerk, does that mean it isn’t valuable or worthwhile, like you say?)

  269. ryan

      Okay, this reply is going to be out of order again. I’m being for real here, can anyone tell me how to specifically reply to the post I’m addressing? It seems like the most current sub-chain of responses always lack the ‘reply’ button. I’m obviously missing something. Thank you. . . .

      Anyhoo, JAG, it’s true, I might be a snobbish arrogant elitist. I would like to think that I’m not, but I wouldn’t be the first dude to have a distorted perception of himself. Here’s my thought process regarding it all: I -do- want to connect to others through my art; I want to communicate. However, I also want my art to be beautiful, and that’s not something I’m willing to budge on. A big part of what I’m trying to communicate -is- this, this sense of beauty. I want to share it. However, I am only interested in communicating with those who are willing to listen. It is my belief that the statistically average American reader will not be willing to listen to what I’m saying to them. Instead, they’ll come up with bogus excuses for not engaging. (I know this because I have done it.) “Too hard,” “The language is meandering and masturbatory,” “The author’s a dick,” etc. They—the truly average American reader—will react w/o first listening. That is not communication. That is Being A Dick. I am not interesting in any part of that. Ergo, fuck them.

      Now, a few qualifications: I am not talking about skill level. I am not saying Fuck You to the mediocre or adequate reader. Those readers are completely awesome, and I love them, and I want to engage with them, I want to hug them, etc. Of course, this also means that I think most readers are readers of a poor skill level. I think this because it is what I have experienced in my my “life” life and my reading life. I could very well be wrong. Maybe I am cynical and there is an absolute wealth of attentive, open-minded readers out there. I would love to be wrong about that!

      I don’t think that this means I’ve set myself up on a pedestal. In my own personal life, I consider it my duty to listen before all. I hate the feeling I get when I act like a dick and fail to really engage somebody, when I put what I want to say ahead of what they -are- saying. I hate this, and I have no respect for it, ever. Not in myself, not in others, whatever. If I say FU to inattentive readers, it’s because I’m FU-ing myself all the time for the same thing.

      Of course, when I reflect on those past two paragraphs, I’m of two minds: A) I’m probably some kind of deranged crazy asshole, or B), this is basically what everyone else insists upon, in some way. I find it really hard to convince myself that the other people out there writing don’t want to be listened to, and that they don’t get upset when the book they (the reader) is perversely different than the one they wrote. I mean, isn’t this basically what we consider an Asshole—the guy who is always responding to not what you said, but to what he is irrevocably convinced that you simply -must- have said? The kind of guy who, in a debate, whips out the old “I say exactly what I mean, and I mean exactly what I say” line just before he insults your obvious lack of IQ.

      Am I really snobbish for thinking this?? I’m taking your circle-jerk thing to heart. . . . What kind of literature qualifies as ‘circle-jerk’? (I write poetry—all poets? Who reads poems other than poets, these days? And if it is indeed a circle-jerk, does that mean it isn’t valuable or worthwhile, like you say?)

  270. ryan

      Ack, sorry, should read: that they don’t get upset when the book they (the reader) is reading is perversely different than the one they wrote*

      Also…. Denver? Wha??

  271. ryan

      Ack, sorry, should read: that they don’t get upset when the book they (the reader) is reading is perversely different than the one they wrote*

      Also…. Denver? Wha??

  272. ryan

      And actually, hey, my reply is in order!! Disregard that first comment, then.

  273. ryan

      And actually, hey, my reply is in order!! Disregard that first comment, then.

  274. jesusangelgarcia

      Hey Ryan,

      Appreciate the thought you put into your response, then your retraction, then reaffirmation. It shows, um… interest, caring… I respect that.

      Re: wanting to communicate through your art & wanting it to be beautiful — I don’t think these are either or. Believe me, I’m not talking about compromising vision or dumbing down your work. I just think it’s important to communicate, not to “all readers” or “middle ground” or whatever,” but just to communicate to whoever will listen.

      I think this is a bit different from the circle jerk I mentioned, which to me implies intentionally writing to your friends or colleagues exclusively. For me, this is far less important than trying to reach strangers — in every sense of the word. I’m talking about reader-readers rather than writer-readers as your primary audience. That’s all. It’s maybe a more populist approach, but again, I’m not talking Stephen King or Paterson or Clancy, etc. I don’t write like that. I couldn’t if I tried. I don’t read that stuff either. I’m not interested. I can’t get past a few pages b/c the prose doesn’t have what I think we both want in our books: art, beauty, nuance, layers…

      Anyway, for all this I’m talking fiction. I know the hopelessness of communicating through poetry. I went to university on a poetry scholarship, pretty much quit poetry by graduation (too few readers to connect with… too few people know how to read it or care…). Along the way I got deep into music (songs are a great way to communicate story), then journalism (where I learned how to write in complete sentences, no lie), and now this 3xbad novel venture (while still doing all of the above, sans poetry… sans is such poetic word choice, no?). So, yeah.

      I dunno. Final point, I guess, is writers can’t control readers or the way our writing is read. We can only try, as Kundera has said, to write the novel in a way that teaches the reader how to read it. Yeah, that requires readers who choose to make the effort. And as far as I’m concerned, if said readers say the language is, as you put it, “too hard” or “meandering and masturbatory,” or “the author’s a dick,” then there’s probably *some* truth to that. As writers, I think we have to be OK w/ whatever response we get.

      I once interviewed Jeanette Winterson, whose work I love. I told her straight-up that I thought her toughest and greatest novel – Art & Lies – could have been cut by some percentage, and her response was not to take offense but comical: ‘Cut whatever you like.’

      I’m trying to adopt this attitude as I receive feedback on my own work. Everyone’s got an asshole, we know, and many folks tend to talk through it. What they say may stink, but it doesn’t mean it’s invalid. It’s up to us whether we care to listen or not. The thing is, we don’t have to listen at all. But as writers, I think we do need to try to communicate from a different orifice. Yeah…

      (Re: Denver… I was offering to buy you a drink at the AWP Conference. Or you can buy me one!… I just assumed you’d be there. Anyone else care to drink over words? Lemme know.)

  275. jesusangelgarcia

      Hey Ryan,

      Appreciate the thought you put into your response, then your retraction, then reaffirmation. It shows, um… interest, caring… I respect that.

      Re: wanting to communicate through your art & wanting it to be beautiful — I don’t think these are either or. Believe me, I’m not talking about compromising vision or dumbing down your work. I just think it’s important to communicate, not to “all readers” or “middle ground” or whatever,” but just to communicate to whoever will listen.

      I think this is a bit different from the circle jerk I mentioned, which to me implies intentionally writing to your friends or colleagues exclusively. For me, this is far less important than trying to reach strangers — in every sense of the word. I’m talking about reader-readers rather than writer-readers as your primary audience. That’s all. It’s maybe a more populist approach, but again, I’m not talking Stephen King or Paterson or Clancy, etc. I don’t write like that. I couldn’t if I tried. I don’t read that stuff either. I’m not interested. I can’t get past a few pages b/c the prose doesn’t have what I think we both want in our books: art, beauty, nuance, layers…

      Anyway, for all this I’m talking fiction. I know the hopelessness of communicating through poetry. I went to university on a poetry scholarship, pretty much quit poetry by graduation (too few readers to connect with… too few people know how to read it or care…). Along the way I got deep into music (songs are a great way to communicate story), then journalism (where I learned how to write in complete sentences, no lie), and now this 3xbad novel venture (while still doing all of the above, sans poetry… sans is such poetic word choice, no?). So, yeah.

      I dunno. Final point, I guess, is writers can’t control readers or the way our writing is read. We can only try, as Kundera has said, to write the novel in a way that teaches the reader how to read it. Yeah, that requires readers who choose to make the effort. And as far as I’m concerned, if said readers say the language is, as you put it, “too hard” or “meandering and masturbatory,” or “the author’s a dick,” then there’s probably *some* truth to that. As writers, I think we have to be OK w/ whatever response we get.

      I once interviewed Jeanette Winterson, whose work I love. I told her straight-up that I thought her toughest and greatest novel – Art & Lies – could have been cut by some percentage, and her response was not to take offense but comical: ‘Cut whatever you like.’

      I’m trying to adopt this attitude as I receive feedback on my own work. Everyone’s got an asshole, we know, and many folks tend to talk through it. What they say may stink, but it doesn’t mean it’s invalid. It’s up to us whether we care to listen or not. The thing is, we don’t have to listen at all. But as writers, I think we do need to try to communicate from a different orifice. Yeah…

      (Re: Denver… I was offering to buy you a drink at the AWP Conference. Or you can buy me one!… I just assumed you’d be there. Anyone else care to drink over words? Lemme know.)

  276. mimi

      @ ryan and jesusangelgarcia –
      I have enjoyed reading your thoughtful conversation here, and try always to be the reader-reader that you, jag, describe.
      Love the Winterson remark. A reader’s prerogative.

  277. mimi

      @ ryan and jesusangelgarcia –
      I have enjoyed reading your thoughtful conversation here, and try always to be the reader-reader that you, jag, describe.
      Love the Winterson remark. A reader’s prerogative.

  278. ryan

      Hey jag,

      Thank you for the kind reply. I mulled over some of this yesterday while watching the playoffs (Go Colts!), and I think in the end I would retract quite a bit of it, especially the ‘Fuck You’ junk. Truthfully I don’t know what that was—internet-induced impetuousness?

      So, anyway, as I mulled, I I tried to get at the real core value that I’m clinging so goofily to throughout this whole discussion while stripping away all the asshole-ish ‘FU’ stuff. Here’s what I came up with: When you say that we have to be OK w/ whatever response we get, I totally know what you mean. The attitude exemplified by the Winterson quote is exactly the sort of “Once I’m done with it and I’ve put it out there, it is fully 100% yours, reader, and I don’t care if your critical interp. of my work ad-hominemly implies that I use the fur of little animals as toilet paper, because that is -your- reaction, reader, and you are totally entitled to it” attitude I’d always assumed I would take toward my work. However, I just can’t: it feels insincere. Because if that’s the attitude I take—that there is no truly invalid reaction to my own work, that I can’t control said reactions so therefore essentially anything goes—aren’t I just feeding back into the sickeningly relativistic dialogue I see so often here in America wherein shitty/thoughtless opinions are valued just as highly as thoughtful/well-supported ones? (Because everyone is “entitled” to one—which of course they are, but where’s the stinkin’ GRATITIUDE, culture?? Historically people have been entitled to all kinds of thing that whey were denied. We treat opinions like loogies.)

      Basically I wish we more conscious about how the knowledge we gain turns into the opinions we articulate, as a nation. Right now the standard process for articulation is something like 1) Absorb info 2) Entertain gut reaction 3) Articulate 4) Articulate louder. I would rather it be something like absorb, attend to gut reactions carefully but kind of bemusedly, contemplate, contemplate more, eat a good dinner, sleep, wake up, realize you were wrong, re-contemplate, articulate kind of tentatively to a close friend, revise, articulate for real, go home, fuck your lover.

      I just want a greater sense of responsibility attached to the things we say, and I feel like saying “everything is permitted” w/ regard to my own work would basically make me a hypocrite. Which means that I will indeed consider certain whacked-out responses to my work invalid. I don’t really know anymore if the creative reader/writer ramifications of that are indeed something like a FU to the ‘average’ reader, but it’s probably something that’ll end up making me look like some sort of jerk, which is in the end not the greatest thing but also not the worst, because I have food and water and friends, and the art will be what it’s bound to be anyway, life goes on, I have a pretty kitty w/ adorable fur right here on my lap, so why am I worried about these things, etc. etc.

  279. ryan

      Hey jag,

      Thank you for the kind reply. I mulled over some of this yesterday while watching the playoffs (Go Colts!), and I think in the end I would retract quite a bit of it, especially the ‘Fuck You’ junk. Truthfully I don’t know what that was—internet-induced impetuousness?

      So, anyway, as I mulled, I I tried to get at the real core value that I’m clinging so goofily to throughout this whole discussion while stripping away all the asshole-ish ‘FU’ stuff. Here’s what I came up with: When you say that we have to be OK w/ whatever response we get, I totally know what you mean. The attitude exemplified by the Winterson quote is exactly the sort of “Once I’m done with it and I’ve put it out there, it is fully 100% yours, reader, and I don’t care if your critical interp. of my work ad-hominemly implies that I use the fur of little animals as toilet paper, because that is -your- reaction, reader, and you are totally entitled to it” attitude I’d always assumed I would take toward my work. However, I just can’t: it feels insincere. Because if that’s the attitude I take—that there is no truly invalid reaction to my own work, that I can’t control said reactions so therefore essentially anything goes—aren’t I just feeding back into the sickeningly relativistic dialogue I see so often here in America wherein shitty/thoughtless opinions are valued just as highly as thoughtful/well-supported ones? (Because everyone is “entitled” to one—which of course they are, but where’s the stinkin’ GRATITIUDE, culture?? Historically people have been entitled to all kinds of thing that whey were denied. We treat opinions like loogies.)

      Basically I wish we more conscious about how the knowledge we gain turns into the opinions we articulate, as a nation. Right now the standard process for articulation is something like 1) Absorb info 2) Entertain gut reaction 3) Articulate 4) Articulate louder. I would rather it be something like absorb, attend to gut reactions carefully but kind of bemusedly, contemplate, contemplate more, eat a good dinner, sleep, wake up, realize you were wrong, re-contemplate, articulate kind of tentatively to a close friend, revise, articulate for real, go home, fuck your lover.

      I just want a greater sense of responsibility attached to the things we say, and I feel like saying “everything is permitted” w/ regard to my own work would basically make me a hypocrite. Which means that I will indeed consider certain whacked-out responses to my work invalid. I don’t really know anymore if the creative reader/writer ramifications of that are indeed something like a FU to the ‘average’ reader, but it’s probably something that’ll end up making me look like some sort of jerk, which is in the end not the greatest thing but also not the worst, because I have food and water and friends, and the art will be what it’s bound to be anyway, life goes on, I have a pretty kitty w/ adorable fur right here on my lap, so why am I worried about these things, etc. etc.

  280. jesusangelgarcia

      exactly, in the end, ryan.

      what *is* v. what *should* be.

      and yet wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a culture of contemplation?

      well, that’s not going to happen when much of what passes for culture and culture jamming is little more than distraction and reaction rather than engagement and response.

      what to do? do your thing. leave the FU’s to the gangstas, yo.

      thanks, and thanks also to mimi, mather & tim.

  281. jesusangelgarcia

      exactly, in the end, ryan.

      what *is* v. what *should* be.

      and yet wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a culture of contemplation?

      well, that’s not going to happen when much of what passes for culture and culture jamming is little more than distraction and reaction rather than engagement and response.

      what to do? do your thing. leave the FU’s to the gangstas, yo.

      thanks, and thanks also to mimi, mather & tim.