Drew Toal

Taking old one-eye to the optometrist

Dr. Millmoss gave hippo gas.

Dr. Millmoss gave hippo gas.

Had some minor eye surgery today. Negotiating the New York City subway with no depth perception (they taped an aesthetically displeasing patch to my face) is tricky business. Would it kill them to use some Snake Plissken apparel? Anyway, I started Interneting one-eyed artists, and revisitedsome of the timeless cartoons of James Thurber, one of which I share now with you all, my beloved dual-eyed brethren. Beware of hippo, nature’s most aggressively hungry creature.

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September 16th, 2009 / 11:44 am

Who wants to go on a midnight run to Barnes & Noble later? Anybody? Uh, anyone at all?

“When you think about the community, it’s a place where kids can go and have an opportunity to learn more and have more access to what’s going on in life and things of the past as well.”

As a follow-up to Michael Schaub’s riotous post about hitting the publishing motherload the other day, I though I’d share this guy’s project, which could possibly make him rich, but will likely just result in a wasted year of life. It also ties to Sam Pink’s last post, because the writer ‘relates’ to Julie Powell. Nice.

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The other Blake

Behemoth3I was just over at the Morgan Library, checking out this new exhibit, William Blake’s World: “A New Heaven Is Begun. The show contains engravings, illuminations, original diaries and manuscripts, letters and an audio clip of “The Tyger,” read by none other than Jeremy “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” Irons. It is awesome, and it is there until January 3. If you love images of biblical torment and poignant reminders of God’s implacable wrath as much as I do, this show is not to be missed.

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September 10th, 2009 / 11:49 am

Brief q+a with Laird Hunt (updated with comments re: Ulysses thread)

lairdhuntI’ve read some good books put out by good presses this year (Graywolf, Dalkey and the NYRB come to mind, but I’m not discounting Eugene Lim and Ellipsis’s [Ellipses?] forthcoming books from that list. Can’t wait to check those out). But I don’t think anyone has hit it out of the park yet in 2009 like Coffee House. Evenson’s book completely eviscerated me and others just like me and probably others not at all like me (it has that kind of broad appeal). It’s easily the best story collection I’ve read in quite awhile. The other beauty, though, is Ray of the Star by Laird Hunt. The story of a guy named Harry, shattered by an accident that took the lives of his family, as he attempts to reconnect to life, love and sanity kicks serious ass. Remarkably, Hunt just keeps getting better, and it excites me to think that we haven’t even seen his best yet. I emailed with the author a little bit, and he fielded my asinine questions, which I just sent to him en masse, with wit and aplomb.

I was reading your playlist suggestions on the Times website, and I was pretty blown away to read that you wrote Ray of the Star in six weeks. Do you normally write that fast? You strike me as more of a deliberate writer, agonizing over word placement and rhythm and other aesthetic concerns. Six weeks!?

I’ve never written anything that fast, although years ago I wrote the first draft of my first book, The Paris Stories, with considerable speed (and a lot of cigarettes).  Of course there was a good deal of reworking, after I had done the first draft of Ray, but it was nothing like my experience with the first three novels, each of which unfurled themselves slowly over a period of years.  Both Indiana, Indiana and The Exquisite lived happy plot-free existences for at least 2 or 3 years before I saw the stories in them and could start to think of ways to shape those stories into something interesting.  Ray’s story and the plot built in and around it were there from the beginning.  As were those bloody sentences.


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September 8th, 2009 / 1:30 pm

Random & Reviews

Not the spurs, Cormac!

big-fan-movie-poster-patton-oswaltWhat would you do if your favorite author (living) punched you right in your face, and then beat you into a coma for good measure? Sue? Have them put in prison, where they might not ever write again? Or pretend like it didn’t happen, in the hope that said violent wordsmith would continue to produce uninterrupted the works that you love so much?

This is the position in which Patton Oswalt’s character finds himself in his new, fantastic film of loserdom and obsession, Big Fan. Kudos also belong to Michael Rapaport, for his spot-on portrayal of a loudmouth Eagles diehard.

August 31st, 2009 / 1:13 pm

Bludgeoned with romance

baconboysNicholson Baker’s quirky latest novel, The Anthologist, is comprised of failed poet Paul Chowder’s ruminations on poetry and how unrequited love for it has essentially ruined his life. Through it all, though—the rejections from Paul Muldoon, Chowder’s lady friend leaving him, the failure of his floundering flying spoon poems—he clings to the words and lives of Roethke, Bogan, Swinburn, Keats and the rest with a tenacity not seen since Bob Backlund’s crossface chickenwing rampage. It has actually inspired me to start reading poetry again, which I haven’t done regularly in some time (any recommendations?). All his talk of olde timey poets has also pushed me to check out Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder, a lovely book exploring the connection between gentlemen scientists of the day and iconic poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. Dudes were making enduring discoveries and creating timeless art long before they could even grow a proper pre-Victorian mustache! All very impressive. I suspect the era’s precociousness had something to do with all the frock coats, shoe buckles, pantaloons and widespread leeching. God save the Queen.

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August 27th, 2009 / 12:28 pm

Sunshine state

I was on the phone yesterday with Michael Greenberg,  talking about some photo project thing, when it came up that he was in L.A. discussing the film rights to his most recent memoir, Hurry Down Sunshine. brewsterdvdFor those of you unfamiliar, it’s the story of his then 15-year-old daughter’s sudden and complete descent into utter madness during the summer of 1996. To me, Greenberg sounded understandably unsure as to whether he was comfortable with putting such a personal and emotionally ravaging experience up on the screen where, presumably, that adorable Abigail Breslin would play the cutest little crazy person America has ever seen. But hasn’t he had already let the cat out of the bag by writing the book? But he’d lose creative control if he signed the rights over to a movie studio. But he’d likely get a ton of money. In a similar situation, I’d like to think that I’d walk away, but I’m not sure that’s the right move. After all, I’d really love to have the flatscreen and signed Michael Vick Eagles jersey. Oh, and a butler. Actually, I’d probably hire Blake to be my butler, cause that’d be funny, right? Blake the Butler! Oh, and…

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August 19th, 2009 / 11:37 am

Power quote: Seduced By His Touch, by Tracy Anne Warren

Let's just be friends, okay?

Let's just be friends, okay?

She lifted an eyebrow. “You want a truce, do you?”

“Yes, most particularly in the bedroom.” His fingers inched toward the small of her back, pausing to draw clever little circles over a spot where she was extremely sensitive.

Damn him for knowing about that spot, she thought as she arched involuntarily beneath his touch. Her heart hammered, telltale moisture gathering between her thighs.

“It’s not as if we’d be breaking any rules,” he pointed out with husky persuasion. “Quite the contrary, in fact, since our union is sanctioned by the laws of both God and man. So why deny ourselves? Why not enjoy what pleasure we can find?”…

In a devastating move, he stroked his hand over her naked bottom., then slid a pair of fingers deep into her aching core. Her spine arched, instant bliss flooding her system.…

And he was right, she did love it. And she would be devastated if he stopped. But he had to know that already, since her body was quite literally weeping from the ecstacy he’d given her, and was giving her still.

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August 14th, 2009 / 6:07 pm