The New Rushmore

October 8th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, I know what it says, but it’s not as interesting as the picture. Progress… means losing hair. Lenin was so close.

My Life Right Now

October 8th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Courtesy the ever-wondrous GB Tran. Respect.

Pocket Fabulism

October 8th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

I have been alerted to this strange occurrence. I think I am flattered; certainly I am glad the story has been read 156 times. I am as yet uncertain how to respond and have refrained from leaving a comment, or notifying other parties who may perhaps be concerned. I was, after all, credited, as was the author, but AGNI Online, where it first appeared, was not, nor was the French publisher. I like to think I have a pirate heart, and if it were wholly up to me… but isn’t that the beginning of every excuse? The thought that someone out there is reading this, of all stories, on a cell phone, frankly tickles. All press is good press. Thank you, minicooper.

This on the heels of the tremendous news that Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s short story “Icarus Saved from the Skies” has been picked up for publication by Fantasy & Science Fiction. Gordon Van Gelder, we love you!

Panel Talk II

October 8th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

No but seriously, this time for real. The triumvirate known as Open Letter—Chad Post, E.J. Van Lanen, and Nate Furl—had me up in Rochester for a translation panel at the university. These are tireless and stellar editors; put it this way, I was a lame D’Artagnan tagging along, tugging at their capes as they dashed about the cause of international lit. It was great.

I have fallen completely in trust with Marian Schwartz and would believe her about anything Russian. Fellow panelist Michael Emmerich delivered this sound bite: “Translation, they often say, is about loss, but actually you’re handing someone a book they could never otherwise have read. It’s 100% gain.” Martha Tennent is bringing Catalunya to the world! I told a puke joke.

In Rochester the yellow leaves were dropping by the curb, and the restaurant by the river where we dinnered, chatting lit and the vote, had cleared its patio. A few stacked chairs hid under canvas, flanked by heat lamps that tottered slightly, tall mushrooms.

The trip also included a former professor, an ex-girlfriend, Rochester’s 2nd best burger, an unexpected book sale, a bonus Tolstoy seminar, and breakfasts among business travelers in a chilly lobby. Does that count as a junket?

I wish the press every success. Also, I want to pick up Vilnius Poker.

Final Thoughts on Engdahl

October 10th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

This too shall pass, if it hasn’t already, given the coronation of Le Clezio, but recently I happened to be revising, with an eye to publication, an excerpt from the memoirs of Michel Mohrt, the Gallimard editor who brought, among others, Styron, Roth, and Kerouac to France. Short on intimacy, long on courtliness, Mohrt’s is a memoir in whose lightness of style and fond tone can be seen the author’s genuine desire to revisit only that in which he has taken joy.

He has these curious and wistful reflections, which make American writers sound jes’ about like lonesome cowhands drifting restlessly across the salons of the Continent. Ah, that national dissatisfaction, that dogged pursuit of happiness, that chip on the shoulder.

“It isn’t easy to make friends with American writers. It seems to me (I make this observation cautiously) they have a slight complex about the Parisian literary milieu, uncertain of being appreciated as they’d like to be (and because they aren’t in their own country—all this despite sizeable print runs). Surprised at their own success, and afraid of being misunderstood…

Well-off (though that isn’t saying much), backed by rich foundations both private and public, showered with honors in Paris and all over Europe, they constantly roam about, and it’s hard to sustain a true friendship with them—especially as their publisher. But does the literary life lend itself to friendship?”

Nitpicking

October 10th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

From the NYT:

Asked at the news conference if he had any message to convey, Mr. Le Clézio said: “My message will be very clear; it is that I think we have to continue to read novels. Because I think that the novel is a very good means to question the current world without having an answer that is too schematic, too automatic. The novelist, he’s not a philosopher, not a technician of spoken language. He’s someone who writes, above all, and through the novel asks questions.”

Wow, that sounds translated. How about

“My message will be very clear: I think we have [?] to continue reading novels, because I think the novel is a very good means of questioning the current world without answers that are too schematic, too automatic. The novelist is not a philosopher, not a technician of spoken language. He is, first and foremost, someone who writes, and through the novel asks questions.”

I wanna see the original.

Andrea Is Changing Her Name

October 13th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

by Kevin Brockmeier is hands down the most moving short story I’ve read in recent memory. Not that others haven’t been more delightful, terrifying, artful, demanding–but none of them had me leaping from my warm sheets and cozy glow of my headboard lamp to make similar announcement before starting the day.

In the coming weeks I’ll surely come back to other stories more often, that speak more to where I happen to be at the moment, offer ways out of dead ends in my own fiction, provide clever structures or other pleasures practical, technical, or of the moment… but this story, I am confident, will abide.  For me. I may even become, briefly, afraid to read it (though it’s far from being a foreboding modernist mountain). I have a bad habit of letting long stretches of time slip by between sneaking so much as a peek at what most deeply moves me (related, I realize, to another one of Brockmeier’s stories in the same collection) be it book or movie. Then suddenly, I remember they exist, my venerated favorites; reading or seeing them again reconnects me to the river underrunning my life (how fresh the water’s scent, how like a forgotten song its gurgle, how strong and reassuring the dark braid of its current) and I wonder why I ever let so much time go by. But time’s passing, I find, is always unconscionable–life’s callous basis.

Hats off to Kevin Brockmeier! Hats, hats, hats off…

Weird Tales at the KGB tomorrow night, 10/15

October 14th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, I will be going Wednesday night to the Weird Tales event. It will be the first time I have set foot in the KGB Bar, a thing I have till now successfully, often scrupulously avoided. What can I say? I like Jeffrey Ford. And maybe I just feel good enough about myself to show my face.

Come one and all: support author Jeff Ford and Weird Tales. The Interstitial Arts Foundation will, I hear, also be making a showing in force.

Mickey Cat: A Bathroom Ode

October 14th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

On his mom's bed

On his mom's bed

Do we enter public restrooms with such unconscious mincing poise, as if in prim denial of the reason for our visit? When after a few tentative paw-steps he vanishes with silent hop into the litterbox—each time with the curiosity and caution of discovering a dark and private spot as if anew—all the expressiveness of his fluid body is funneled into the only part left visible: his tail. Wavering vane, supple exclamation point, pliant and quizzical plume, aloof it remains from distasteful necessity. That tail has a mind of its own: soft frond one moment, proud cobra the next. The litterbox could be the vessel of some creature sending out a hesitant, feathery probe. What’s going on inside there? The tail won’t tell. It’s a Schrödinger dilemma. Has he or hasn’t he yet? You’d sooner catch a chicken at the act of laying eggs. You won’t know till the cover’s off—then it’s too late, possibility collapses to a familiar smelly cake.

The Mathematics of Greatness: A Numbers Game; or, Feeling the Pinch of Age, Are We?

October 17th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Great anticipator that I am, I was readying this quip shortly before my 30th birthday: 33 is important to Christians, of course, as a time of stock-taking and reckoning, but as an Asian, I’ll soon only have 2 years left to kick ass, take names, and leave my mark on the world, since Bruce Lee died at 32. Of course, given the pace of preceding life, I didn’t really think I’d get anything fantastic done by then, short of winning money in a lottery whose tickets I never believed in enough to buy. I have since delivered variations on the theme thereof, at variously inopportune occasions, to variously unenthusiastic receptions. It’s reminiscent of the paragraph in Snow Crash when the narrator reflects, as Hiro Protagonist speeds northward on a motorcycle, that up until the age of 25 we can all still hold onto the illusion that, given the necessary bleak conditions, like the sudden murder of our entire family, we can still plunge ourselves into ninja training and emerge the baddest badass in the known universe (Neal Stephenson, forgive the paraphrase).

I did my dutiful research for turning thirty. I delved into novels, naturally. Turning thirty, wouldn’t you know, is a pastime in American literature. » Read the rest of this entry «

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