25 Points: The Pedestrians
by Rachel Zucker
Wave Books, 2014
160 pages / $18.00 buy from Wave Books
1. The ‘Once upon a time…’-style tone of the beginning of this book reminded me of the short story ‘Clay’ in James Joyce’s Dubliners and what he or someone called the ‘marmaladey-drawersey’ tone it was written in.
2. I really like the phrase ‘sublet bed.’ Sublet properties and the whole poetry of the rented house concept are so often commented on but not sublet beds. Hurray for this.
3. To return to the style and tone for a moment, if we may…(hey that was really formal for a moment wasn’t it, cool) I really like what I’m going to call the circumlocutory descriptions here such as ‘She had a small copper wire inside her. This made conception highly unlikely.’ when she could have said ‘coil’ or ‘intrauterine contraceptive device.’ This starkness really makes me laugh for some reason. In England, there used to be books called ‘Janet and John’ books for small children that used this kind of tone to help the kids learn how to read. They didn’t mention coils or IUCDs but I really think that style transplanted to adult life is cool.
4. ‘Every day she watched the UPS truck come toward her up the/road, make a three-point turn into the driveway before hers,/and pull away’
This is beautiful, man. I can’t say more about it than that.
5. ‘They had not known each other when they were teenagers but/when the radio with the human genome played Phil Collins it/was 1985 bar mitzvah season all over again.’
I have no idea what a radio with a human genome is but the imagery is fantastic that’s just my point I suppose, that’s just my point about this book, the imagery is delicious throughout.
6. Such juxtapositions. Babysitters, Buddhist monks and pole dancing competitions. The world and this book are full of such juxtapositions.
7. Another reviewer worried about this book. They worried about how the main character who lived in the most expensive city in the world (New York) and had trips to Paris and an apparently idyllic bourgeois life with husband and children and so on and yet complained all the time. They worried how this might be taken perhaps. Whilst my own working class proletariat background could go probing into this with my bullshit-detector, instead I was reminded of DFW and his thoughts on his, albeit slightly earlier, generation and how despite all the opulence everyone was still so lonely and miserable and how much of an interesting question this still is (even now the middle-classes have discovered Occupy in their gap year).
8. I’m defending it but it’s ok to worry about that too, I think it’s a valid point. Marxism is one of the better lines of enquiry for me.
9. I have a real affection for the poem called ‘Real Poem’ because it neatly and concisely parodies Poetry (that’s poetry with a capital P) and all its big profundity and arrogance.
10. Reminds me I haven’t had babies yet.
October 17th, 2014 / 12:00 pm
Vicarious MFA: Extracurricular Activities
Last year I took a class from the illustrious Leslie Sharpe titled “Can The Truth Be Told?” Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about truth in creative writing. What is truth if it’s not fact? When does fact get in the way or truth and truth in the way of fact? Can creativity get along with factuality? What is emotional truth (other than a bomb shelter for the fake memoirists) and does it have a use in the “real” memoir. Can we even consider our memories as forms of truth?
As the panels editor for Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Fine Art I get a chance to wrangle together some people who are a lot smarter than me and ask them to think about these things and then have a public discussion about it. (Our very own Justin Taylor moderated the one we organized in the fall on Literary Dichotomies which featured Heidi Julavits, Nathaniel Rich, Shelley Jackson and Mark Grief.)
The spring panel is titled True Stories and it will take place on Friday April 17 at Housing Works Bookstore. It starts at 7 pm. Brenda Wineapple will be moderating and the panel will feature David Shields, Rachel Zucker and David Ebershoff. Bios after the jump… READ MORE >
April 8th, 2009 / 12:12 pm