David Gates

The Paris Review [review]

[That’s a clever title for this post, Sean. Thanks, mom. I told you to never read this site. Ever.]

Issue # 197. Summer 2011. (For the first time, you can get it digital) The cover is a drawing by Matteo Pericoli (sounds a little like a petri dish culture), who is a sprezzatura, a renaissance man of sorts. I get a little Al Hirschfeld, a little Michael Cutlip. The paper is thick and will absorb liquid stains. Snot, hot sauce, beer, etc. Fun fact: The Paris Review has had three editors in its lifetime.

The first story is “William Wei” by Amie Barrodale. It is a glow opening, since it is a story that says, ‘You are now reading a literary magazine.’ Detached narrator, drinking, telephone conversations, restaurants, people eating mushrooms embedded in little chocolates, sidewalks, anti-anxiety medications, that manner of thing. The New Yorker used to love these (example), but I’m not saying the New Yorker only publishes one type of story. That’s a damn lie. Barrodale does the style well. I left the story as if rising interrupted from a brief dream, my head a bit leppy.

[I will credit this photo later, maybe]

Frederick Seidel (sounds a bit like a poker player) writes a poem with this startling opening:

I move my body meat smell next to yours,/Your spice of Zanzibar. Mine rains, yours pours–/Sex tropics as a way not to be dead./I don’t know who we are except in bed.

Then it goes downhill, into a rhyming Barack Obama poem, sort of light verse, sort of nodding back to the earlier days of Paris Review, when many of the poems took this tone. (I’d like to bring syphilis and the word doggerel back into fashion; let’s do that, together. Shall we?)


Author Spotlight & Random / 13 Comments
August 1st, 2011 / 12:01 pm

X-Mas Present: Everything You Always Wanted to Ask David Gates About Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories…

…and there were a lot of things you wanted to ask, because Gates’s intro is one of if not the best single essays ever written about DB’s work, so you figured he’d probably have done a pretty sweet job on the notes, too, but for some reason it wasn’t in the Gates-prefaced Penguin Classics Edition of Sixty Stories where it should have been, and you knew it was supposed to be posted somewhere on the Penguin website (it says so in the book) but then when you went to the website you couldn’t find it.

If this is you, friend, your troubles end today. Here. Now. I went to the Penguin site, and found the thing–years ago. It’s amazing and enlightening and it’s over 30 pages long. And I had forgotten about it until just now. Everyone should have access to these notes. Rather than try and re-figure out how I found them, I’m just going to post the .pdf myself: The David Gates footnotes to Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories. Merry Christmas, all.

Author Spotlight & Excerpts & Technology / 39 Comments
December 23rd, 2009 / 12:32 pm

hey, why don’t you write some historical fiction about THIS?

This link comes via my friend, David Gates, who retired not long ago from Newsweek. David got it from a friend of his who still works there.

[T]he Communist Party of the Soviet Union decided to build a chain of lighthouses to guide ships finding their way in the dark polar night across uninhabited shores of the Soviet Russian Empire. So it has been done and a series of such lighthouses has been erected. They had to be fully autonomous, because they were situated hundreds and hundreds miles aways from any populated areas. After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for a years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures.

None of us are 100% sure it’s true–and if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there are many highly skeptical commenters–but the pictures are great, and I figure it’s either (a) a very cool, weird nugget of real history, or else (b) something that isn’t true but should be–ie a cool, weird nugget of alternative history.

Random / 10 Comments
January 21st, 2009 / 1:23 pm

David Gates on Lolita as a Banned Book


at Newsweek, no less. The integrity of this entire website has just been compromised, but for all the right reasons. Now stop crying; it’s a great piece on a great–and greatly misunderstood–book.  Happy Sunday.

Uncategorized / 8 Comments
October 12th, 2008 / 11:44 am