September 2009

“Really? Really? You were going to ruin her life, ruin my life, you cunt-probe dick-munch ass-gashing Animal? Who’s bossing who now? Gash-ass, jiz-lips, turd-munch—”

Victory Lap by George Saunders.

Random / 24 Comments
September 30th, 2009 / 8:58 pm

‘Let’s take a nap from books’ Wednesday

Someone put a computer in a dead beaver. Smarter monkeys have few close friends and a lot of acquaintances. Someone made an iPhone game based on Daniel Johnston. Did I mention that someone put a computer in a dead beaver?

Random / 27 Comments
September 30th, 2009 / 6:37 pm

A Very Brief History of the Nobel Prize in Literature

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who gives out the Nobel Prizes. He's kind of handsome, right? Got that "silver fox" thing going on.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who gives out the Nobel Prizes. He's kind of handsome, right? Got that "silver fox" thing going on.

When the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature is announced next month, he or she will join a club more exclusive than just about any other in the world. You know those clubs at Ivy League schools, with names like “The Scone and Pudding Society,” where it’s a bunch of white guys who dress in costumes and make up silly songs and photograph each other naked? And how, you know, the members are, against all odds, actually proud of being in it? Instead of feeling kind of dirty and ashamed? Even more exclusive than that.

One thing’s for sure: Of all the 105 women and men who have won this prestigious award, none of them will ever be forgotten. Except for most of them. After the jump, we take a look at some of the past winners, and how they changed…the very world itself. Except for the ones who didn’t. Which, like I said, is a lot of them.


Random & Web Hype / 50 Comments
September 30th, 2009 / 1:37 pm

Interesting article by John Berry in the Baltimore City Paper questioning the merits of teaching Joyce’s ‘The Dead’, leading into a larger discussion of what the fuck short stories are supposed to be for anyway.

The news teaches me something about writing.

lewis_criedToday, the Russians launched a clown into space. He’s the first space clown, ever. The clown paid $35 million to go into space, where he intends to publicize the world’s dwindling supply of clean water.

From a news perspective, this story is just full of hooks. First clown in space. Paid $35 million dollars. Millionaire clown. Buying your way into space.

It’s just—well, the clean water thing. It’s one hook too many. His clean water awareness mission is entirely buried by the fact that he’s the first millionaire clown to buy his way to the international space station. He’s going to be a sad clown. Swimming in polluted water.

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read that seemed to me to be a bunch of quirky ideas thrown together, as if the writer was hoping one would really stick. I can’t tell you how many times those stories have been MY stories.

Don’t do it, everybody. Don’t bury the point with your ideas. They’ll tempt you. They do that.

(Prize for the first commenter to identify the image above. And not just who it is. Why it is appropriate, too.)

Craft Notes / 18 Comments
September 30th, 2009 / 12:44 pm

You drunks might be interested in this call for submissions to the Definitive Drinker’s Dictionary.

(via Melville House)

What isn’t ‘human’?

What I Hear You Saying Is That My Writing Sucks

Photo by Philippe LeRoyer

In the June 2009 issue of College Composition and Communication, Rosalie Morales Kearns wrote an article about the creative writing workshop in which she critiques the traditional workshop (as normative, exclusionary, and focused on fault-finding) and asserts we must rethink the format of the workshop for it to serve as a productive, inclusive experience. Changes she suggests include lifting the “gag rule” so authors can talk about their writing as it is being critiqued, the use of writing exercises, and studying published works because “students are much more accustomed to approaching published texts as literature students rather than as creative writers.”


Craft Notes / 99 Comments
September 30th, 2009 / 9:00 am

Author Spotlight & Reviews

Sean Lovelace Is the Server Working Now

lovelaceI think Sean Lovelace’s blog is hilarious and always spot on. His writing there makes me not hate runners as much. Like when he did the airforce marathon, I thought that was a fascinating and rugged bit of literary essay.

I also think he thinks that how a thing is said matters more than what that said thing is. That’s a smart rule, a top ten rule, one that can’t be made too elastic. I mean, really, I don’t know him at all so there’s not much reason for me to care about his running habits, impressive though they are, or his disc golf hobby, whatever that is, or how much he likes hot dogs and thinks they are the greatest food on the planteen. But since, blogwise, he often opts to invent a phrase like “hang something all oyster” rather than to further explain a point that is (maybe) clear enough or (maybe) less valuable than the vim of the saying or (maybe) whatever — since that — then I’m piqued and I have a reason to care about all the else, the running and deer hunting and whatever hippy hobby he has.

He can’t, thank heavens, go a blog-sentence without ending awonk. A paragraph like this gives the reader a lot of credit and gives him the opportunity to use language like paint:

. . . I ate my pre-race meal, a mixture of liquids and gels and potato chips and solvents and Near Beer and oil additives. My body felt like a Global Hawk. My stomach did the cloud-cover, the sandstorm. I then descended into the arms of Morpheus.

That excerpt starts with lucid detail then crashes another party. This is the reading eye I brought to his chapbook, How Some People Like Their Eggs, fresh from the Rose Metal Press skillet. How does it measure up?


September 30th, 2009 / 3:24 am

how do you feel about readings fees.  i think i understand them, i mean they make sense when explained as a way to make money, but i also seem to think they make whoever is charging them seem almost annoyed and like, forced to do what they’re doing.  what is the highest reading fee you have paid.