[Matchup #37 in Tournament of Bookshit]
‘everybody has a story’
Right off I’ll bypass the obvious sphincter analogy here and instead say: I’m willing to embrace this everybody-has-a-story-notion as a hypothetical. At an abstract level, it speaks to the unlimited potential for human creativity, the idea that if we turn inward long enough and well enough we can eventually locate and activate that nascent Shakespeare hidden in all of us. Okay, pretty trippy, but sure. It all reminds me of that psychedelic scene from the gnostic gospel of St. Thomas when Jesus turns to his disciples and says: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Of course it’s not the easiest of orders if what you’re attempting to bring forth is serious literature or great art. With stakes like that suddenly self-destruction seems not only possible, but plausible, maybe even inevitable. This, I suppose, is why it seems like so many of our best scribes are bad livers with bad livers. In saecula saeculorum. READ MORE >
The Believer Book Award shortlist. Local favorites S P R A W L and The Orange Eats Creeps are included. Melville House is presenting a new thing, The Indie Booksellers Choice Awards. John Ashbery translated Rimbaud’s Illuminations, and that’s coming out in May, and here’s a rad excerpt over at alan’s blog.
Take our own Ken Baumann. He’s twenty, and already toying with a style, voice, and rhythm all his own–see the newest New York Tyrant for proof. His work is at once strange and familiar, careful and mindful without constraining a sense of freedom which announces the promise of novelty, of a literature which is no longer merely literature. If any of that makes any sense to anyone. What I mean to say is, Ken is a young–very young, college-aged–prose stylist. Perhaps that is a rare feat. Perhaps it is not. But not often does an artist so young fulfill the promise of youth by making it new.
Take Zachary German. He’s twenty-one, I believe, and while he indeed belongs to a certain class of writers, his style, at a very original pace, moves toward a terminal space, a degree-zero. His work has much to say about contemporary art, culture, and values, on both a level of doing and being. In many ways, he walks the talk of a young Camus. He’s twenty-one. How?
I’m nineteen. I strive for an immediate stylism in my work. Whether or not I’m successful I cannot say. READ MORE >