Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sleep is central to us. It's central to the experience of being human. That every person goes to sleep every night, that we all seek a warm, safe place to cover and restore ourselves for a third of every day, that people of every race and every age do this, that we have done it since before we were Homo sapiens, is amazing. Lying down to sleep is the most childlike of gestures, the most trusting. It is at the same time a symbol of ebbing life force, a rehearsal for the day we will lie down and not get up.

- D.T. Max, The Family That Couldn't Sleep

Sleater Kinney Full Concert | NPR MUSIC FRONT ROW

Friday, February 27, 2015

"Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One," Ryan Boudinot

It's important to woodshed.
Occasionally my students asked me about how I got published after I got my MFA, and the answer usually disappointed them. After I received my degree in 1999, I spent seven years writing work that no one has ever read—two novels and a book's worth of stories totaling about 1,500 final draft pages. These unread pages are my most important work because they're where I applied what I'd learned from my workshops and the books I read, one sentence at a time. Those seven years spent in obscurity, with no attempt to share my work with anyone, were my training, and they are what allowed me to eventually write books that got published.
We've been trained to turn to our phones to inform our followers of our somewhat witty observations. I think the instant validation of our apps is an enemy to producing the kind of writing that takes years to complete. That's why I advise anyone serious about writing books to spend at least a few years keeping it secret. If you're able to continue writing while embracing the assumption that no one will ever read your work, it will reward you in ways you never imagined.
You know, it's funny that my posters are getting so much attention, because I've only lived in Seattle four and a half years. I come from a perspective of only four years, but I've never seen such RAPID gentrification anywhere. It's not gradual—it's on EVERY corner. Boom! Boom! Boom! Like Dresden, Germany—A BOMBING! Boom! Boom! Boom! Cranes! Cranes! Cranes! There are so many buildings that are still empty. And all those empty units represent people—and only the people who can afford a $2,300-a-month apartment. This can't NOT change the demographic of a neighborhood.
You're from New York—did you do this kind of protest art there?
Not in my most recent history in New York, but way back in the day—in the '80s, I did all kinds of postering, more geared around bands, events, all-ages shows. My best friend Jamie just recently went back, and he found one of our posters that was still glued up—a little eight-and-a-half-by-eleven-inch flyer. It's been there 20 years, on the window of an old dilapidated building. Back then, it was more about a punk sort of idea, and free speech. I've been a painter and an artist now for a long, long time. I do paintings and film. I've been self-employed for more than 25 years. To do that, I maintain an art studio that's multifunctional, that I can do all sorts of different kinds of work in. Right now, I'm very fortunate—it took me three long years to find, but I have a great art studio on Capitol Hill. It's a struggle, though, don't get me wrong! It's not like I'm ever going to be able to move into the Sunset Electric! The other part of this late-stage gentrification is that it creates a particular malaise. It makes people feel displaced and uncertain of their futures. It's also pretty obvious, when these fancy new buildings come in, that there's no way you, or I, or most people who were already living here could open up a new business—especially a business like a record or used clothing store or, heaven forbid, a new art gallery. In these new buildings, it's like $60 a square foot.

What places have you seen disappear that you miss?
Remember across from Northwest Film Forum, there used to be a little secondhand store, the Trading Post? That's long gone. Or around the corner in that big, yellow building—which I understand had a long history in the neighborhood, including being, at one point, a gay rooming house in the late '70s and early '80s? Also in that yellow building there was the classic staple of any good gayborhood, the antique store owned by the old, queeny gay couple. Those two guys had that little store for 40 YEARS. And where are they now? Gone. Never to return. And one by one, all the places where people of modest income can shop will be gone. And eating? Forget it. That Japanese place on 12th—a bowl of ramen is $16. Maybe eventually it will reach a critical mass. Every single new business in these new buildings can't be an expensive restaurant or a fancy bar or a bank. Who even goes to a brick-and-mortar bank anymore, anyway? Don't people just do banking online? You ever notice when you walk by these banks in the bottom of all these brand-new buildings, that there's NOBODY but employees in the lobby?
Yeah, it's weird.
I think the most interesting story would be to ask some of the new people who live in these expensive new apartments how THEY see the neighborhood. Why did they choose to live here? How was it pitched to them? Was it the nightlife? Was it that it was queer-friendly? Because if you can afford a $2,300 apartment, you could easily afford to live anywhere in Seattle—you could live in Queen Anne, Ballard, downtown, you could rent a beautiful house in the CD with a yard and everything. So what was their attraction to Capitol Hill? A lot of those new buildings are microcosms unto themselves—they have parking underneath, so a person could leave their apartment, go down to their car, and go off to their job or wherever they go without ever setting foot on the actual street. A person could get Amazon Fresh to deliver their food, and they never have to go inside a local store. These people aren't leaving any sort of footprint in the neighborhood. They're never actually the person on the street. That's not what a city is about—a city like New York is about the streets. What's happening here is a suburban enclave happening on top of an urban core. People want all the amenities of living in a suburb in the ground floor of their condo—a Panera, a coffee shop, a boutique gym, a dry cleaner, a Bank of America. But they're not participating, they're not giving anything back. They underestimate urban living.
Suburbs are kind of soulless, with strip malls everywhere...
They're soul-killing—so much repetition of corporate retail. Everything's sanitized. You never arrive anywhere and there's no history. And the way Capitol Hill is becoming a sanitized suburb is wiping its history away. And even as a resident of only four years, I think this sanitation is worthy of protesting.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art, Susan Aberth
Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach
Plagued by the Nightingale, Kay Boyle
Amalgamemnon, Christine Brooke-Rose
The Shutter of Snow, Emily Holmes Coleman
Exile's Return, Malcolm Cowley
Young Eliot: A Biography, Robert Crawford
The Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine, Stanley Crawford
Death of a River Guide, Richard Flanagan
Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History, Richard Wightman Fox
The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, Janice Galloway
Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon
Harlem Nocturne, Farah Jasmine Griffin
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, Sarah Hepola
Eleanor Marx: A Life, Rachel Holmes
Everything You Need, A.L. Kennedy
Garden, Ashes, Danilo Kis
Hold Still, Sally Mann
Of Love and Other Demons, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Schooling, Heather McGowan
Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company, James R. Mellow
Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Mary Norris
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Sydney Padua
Wild Heart: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris, Suzanne Rodriguez
A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me, Jason Schmidt
I Left It on the Mountain: A Memoir, Kevin Sessum
Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth, John Szwed
Map: Collected and Last Poems, Wisława Szymborska
On Elegance While Sleeping, Emilio Lascano Tegui
City Sister Silver, Jáchym Topol
The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, Dubravka Ugresic
Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, Cédric Villani and Malcolm DeBevoise
Morvern Callar, Alan Warner
Khibert Khizeh, S. Yizhar
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Philip and Carol Zaleski

come to mama (why yes I DO have my period right now)

Robinson Meyer on blogging

....there have been side effects to corporate online consolidation. Those social networks got so good at their job that they became coursing rivers of reader attention, worth billions of dollars—meaning that they can redirect a tiny bit of that flow, an amount unnoticeable to them, and refashion entire industries. That’s what one social juggernaut in particular, Facebook, has done to online journalism. In August 2013, it began sending many more readers than it ever had before to what it called “quality publishers” by promoting links from their pages to users’s News Feed. Now Facebook can refer more traffic than anyone else — whole leaping barrelfuls of it, as far as news organizations are concerned — and news organizations looking for growth have come to rely on it. An October 2014 analysis claimed Facebook drove nearly 25 percent “of overall traffic to sites,” which seems low to me. Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, worried Wednesday that “the list is a lot longer than is publicly known of those that have Facebook delivering half to two-thirds of their traffic right now.”

Imagine half to two-thirds of the thing that makes your revenue possible coming from anywhere. That’s what centralization has done. The glittering dream of ten thousand bloggers, each with their own URL and each remixing the news for their own audience — that curious ideal pitched between libertarianism and progressivism — has led to this.

- via

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I actually live with Captain America, seriously

T is sitting there in the living room with headphones on getting all sniffly about the end of Agent Carter ("How did you know about Dottie when you haven't seen the whole thing?" You can bet I took the opportunity to go "SPOILERS, SWEETIE" and he went sheesh).

well I don't want much, no Just want a little bit

Courtesy the awesome British Subcultures UTU channel (check out this playlist! I have heard Tiny Topsy sing "Just a Little Bit" like FORTY TIMES now.

I am pretty sure at least twenty of those were all on the same day.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

my burnt hand

Monday, February 23, 2015



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

best typo of the year so far

"I applaud the addiction of the poem"


//looks up Ace in the Hole

//wonders again how much that stream-Criterion-on-Hulu deal is

$7.99 A MONTH???

//cancels Netflix DVD plan immediately, keeps streaming, signs up for ALL THE CRITERION FILMS //does nothing else with rest of life ever //regrets nothing

tale of two cities, redux

After five years of catering to creative minds, intellectuals, coffee addicts and curious foodies, the beloved cafe served its last Arabica croques, omelettes au fromage and brülée cappuccinos Sunday....Inspired by coffee and nostalgic for a favorite restaurant in his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela, Corväiá opened Arabica in 2009 to share his fascination for world cultures and travel. An architect by trade, he tore down all remnants of the preceding Supercuts in order to create a new aesthetic from the ground up. Striving to establish a hub for all kinds of artists, Corväiá focused on decorating the space with avant-garde visual art, good music and worldly flavors, including baked goods from 20 countries.


In December, CHS showed you inside the more than $30 million Starbucks Reserve Roastery facility for the first time. The Melrose 15,600 square-foot roasting facility, cafe, and Tom Douglas restaurant continues to pack in crowds of tourists and gawking locals.As part of the company’s enthusiasm for “premiumization,” Starbucks also announced it was starting a new subscription service for its Reserve brand beans roasted solely here on Capitol Hill — good news for the 100 or so employees including the dozen-member roasting team that works in the facility. Starbucks has said it plans to produce up to 1.4 million pounds of Starbucks Reserve-quality coffee beans in the facility’s first year. The company also plans to supply the Melrose beans to some 1,500 global Starbucks Reserve cafes by the end of fiscal year 2015.

...what the fucking fuck is happening to my city, my neighbourhood, my home

Galina Vishnevskaya

brb listening to EVERYTHING this woman has ever done, holy crap (this just made me bawl like a baby)

oh my heart

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Anyway! It’s called “Better than Prozac,” that’s not a diss but a little inside joke, I love Prozac, it saved my life when I was finally put on it wayyy back in 1995, altho I should’ve been on it for at least six years before that and it wasn’t really the right med for me anyway. Anyway.These are songs that never ever fail to make me really really happy, no matter how wrong everything has gone, like an instant shot of musical crack. I love them and hope you will too.
Sam & Dave, “Hold On I’m Comin’”
When the day comes and you’re down In a river of trouble and about to drown
Jackie Wilson, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”
Now once, I was downhearted Disappointment was my closest friend
Marvin Gaye, “Got to Give It Up”
I used to go out to parties And stand around
Al Green, “Love and Happiness”
Love’ll make you wanna dance and sing Make you wanna dance
Jimmy Radcliffe, “Long After Tonight Is All Over”
Long after tonight is all over Long after it’s all gone I’ll be yours Come anything that may
Frank Wilson, “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)”
Whenever I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord your soul to keep
The Temptations, “I Can’t Get Next to You”
But my life is incomplete and I’m so blue ‘Cause I can’t get next to you
Bill Withers, “Use Me - Live In Studio [1972]”
I said Brother if you only knew you’d wish that you were in my shoes
Sam Cooke, “Chain Gang (Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963)”
(it’s the sexy-as-hell “ooh, AH! ooh, AH!” that makes this amazing) (and then, “Everybody help me do it!” and it’s like an aural orgy. What a man)
Otis Redding - “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (live at Monterey)”
(This is one of the great performances of all time. Full stop. The end. This is indeed the love crowd.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Uber is the poster child for the pro-privatization, anti-regulatory ideology that ascribes magical powers to technology and the private sector. It is deeply a political entity, from its Nietzschean name to its recent hiring of White House veteran David Plouffe. Uber is built around a relatively simple app (which relies on government-created technology), but it’s not really a tech company. Above all else Uber is an ideological campaign, a neoliberal project whose real products are deregulation and the dismantling of the social contract.’s important that Uber’s worldview and business practices not be allowed to “disrupt” our economy or our social fabric. People who work hard deserve to make a decent living. Society at large deserves access to safe and affordable transportation. And government, as the collective expression of a democratic society, has a role to play in protecting its citizens.

- Salon

Saturday, February 14, 2015

now this is my kind of valentine

I'm not the one who hurt you
I'm just passing by
But I would dry your big wet tears
If you would let me try

this V-day my heart belongs to


Friday, February 13, 2015

David Carr 1956-2015

Bill Withers - Use Me - Live / In Studio [1972]

I love his little blue-jeaned knees madly pumping away. What a man.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

When the day comes and you're down In a river of trouble and about to drown

#1 with a bullet on my 'Better than Prozac' music playlist.

voices of light

Asked what the voice had said when she was awakened, she answered that she asked the voice to counsel her in her replies, telling the voice to beseech therein the counsel of Our Lord. And the voice told her to answer boldly and God would comfort her.

....Then she said to us, the aforementioned bishop: "You say that you are my judge; take good heed of what you do, because, in truth, I am sent by God, and you put yourself in great peril," in French 'en grant dangier.' Asked if the voice sometimes varied in its counsel, she answered that she had never found it utter two contrary opinions. She said also that that night she had heard it tell her to answer boldly.

.....Asked whether, on the two last days that she heard the voices, she had seen a light, she answered that the light comes in the name of the voice.

 - Jeanne's testimony

best brotp ever


One of my dearest friends sent me this link and I'm just gonna pretend it's my birthday.

We present here for the first time in digital form all the known manuscripts of Frankenstein, perhaps the most famous and widely reproduced work of British Romanticism. These manuscripts consist of the now disbound pages from five notebooks once the property of Mary Shelley, purchased by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, in 2004, from her descendant, Lord Abinger.

I just adore her.

Yes, atheists pray in their foxholes -- in this case, with a yearning new to me and sharp as lust, for a clean and honourable death by shark bite, lightning strike, sniper fire, car crash. Let me be hacked to death by a madman, was my silent supplication -- anything but suffocation by the pink sticky sentiment embodied in that bear and oozing from the walls of the (mammogram) changing room. I didn't mind dying, but the idea that I should do so while clutching a teddy and with a sweet little smile on my face -- well, no amount of philosophy had prepared me for that.

- Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

why do I fucking pay for Netflix again?

The following movies have been moved to the Saved section of your Queue:
We are not able to ship them at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Anna Karenina: Disc 1
Prime Suspect 1: Disc 1
The Lathe of Heaven
The Mayor of Casterbridge: Disc 1
Love for Lydia: Disc 1
On the Beach
La Bataille du Rail
Wide Sargasso Sea
King Lear
Richard III
The Dresser
Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero
Night Court: TV Favorites
Jeeves and Wooster: Season 1: Disc 1
Dead Man Walking: The Concert
Inherit the Wind
Dead Like Me: Season 1: Disc 1
It's My Party
Ju Dou
Michael Collins
Hope and Glory
Wide Sargasso Sea
Where Angels Fear to Tread

The following movies have been removed from your Queue:
We no longer offer these movies for rental. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you find many other movies to enjoy at Netflix.
Viva Blackpool
Dark Harbor

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

profiting from desperation

At the center of the regulations being considered, the people familiar with the matter said, is a requirement that lenders assess whether borrowers can repay loans — interest and principal — at the end of a two-week period by examining their income, other debts and their payment history.

Few people can, the data suggest, leaving borrowers to either roll over their loans, heaping on more fees, or take out new ones altogether. The bureau found that during a 12-month period, borrowers took out a median of 10 loans. Borrowers paid median fees of $458. The median amount borrowed was $350. And more than 80 percent of loans were rolled over or renewed within two weeks.

That churn is central to many lenders’ business, according to data from the bureau. Borrowers who take out 11 or more loans each year account for roughly 75 percent of the fees generated.

“Much of the business model is based on repeat borrowers,” said Michael D. Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending.


if i had my way i'd burn this whole building down

Saturday, February 7, 2015

it's amazing what you can learn, when you read fucking books instead of websites

Even today [1988], when most people read a line of poetry -- and if it's common now, it was rampant in the fifties -- they will, on reaching the line's end, close with a rising inflection. For most people this is a way to signal what they're reading is poetry, rather than prose. (Listen to a record of Sylvia Plath reading her own poems. That's the way everybody read poems in the fifties. Where did we learn it? Probably from those recordings of Dylan Thomas that every bright fourteen-year-old with literary ambitions owned. Even if you didn't like the poems, you loved the voice.) Risa [Korsun] stopped Marilyn [Hacker] in the middle of one of the poems to explain: "Even if it's poetry, dear, you've got to read it as though it were a sentence someone was saying. Drop your tone at the end of the line, the way you do at the end of an ordinary sentence."

- Samuel R. Delany, The Motion of Light in Water, writing about a 1960 gathering

online pop culture analysis is stupid and wrong, film at 11

LOUISE FUCKING GLUCK IS THE SOURCE OF POET VOICE? LOL NO. Samuel R. Delany talks about this EXACT thing in his writing memoir, The Motion of Light in Water, which is set IN THE EARLY SIXTIES, and pinpoints the actual source: Dylan Thomas. If you want to blame affected "poetry reading" voice on someone, start at the fountainhead. (I've heard Gluck read in person, as I suspect this person hasn't, and she didn't have "lofty" "poet voice" at all; her reading was deliberately almost affectless.)  But 1) nobody knows about Dylan Thomas anymore, especially  writers, and 2) it's always so much more fun to blame something on a woman, isn't it? 

Thomas probably was influenced by Yeats, who gets a brief mention in the article because SOMEONE ELSE BRINGS HIM UP, and who did have a terribly odd, wavering reading style, but Dylan Thomas was THE wildly, internationally popular poet-reader, much moreso than Yeats (one of the reasons for that was he performed other peoples' poems and plays at his readings, as well as his own, which helped standardize the idea that this was How To Read Poetry). If you want to blame any fucking one for "poet voice," try the grand triumvirate of Yeats, Thomas and probably Robert Lowell; possibly Eliot. But Thomas was the one who set that style of reading. (And hell, IIRC, even the wilder poets of the sixties, like Ginsberg and Sexton, read that way.) Yes, it is indeed the voice of the Academy, of Caedmon (and let's not even consider how 1950s recording/editing technology affected the readings, because why bother knowing about the past?), the register of This Is Poetry You Are Listening To, the diction of the literary elite. And there's a reason for that, because it started with the canonized-in-stone white male upper-class poets of the 1950s. Not Louise Gluck.

(If you really want to get into it, Dylan Thomas was probably greatly influenced by the BBC's Third Programme, and IIRC his parents also paid for special elocution lessons to expunge his natural accent, BUT ANYWAY.)

Sam takes us to church

Friday, February 6, 2015

dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio

"Up," Margaret Atwood

You wake up filled with dread.
There seems no reason for it.
Morning light sifts through the window,
there is birdsong,
you can’t get out of bed.

It’s something about the crumpled sheets
hanging over the edge like jungle
foliage, the terry slippers gaping
their dark pink mouths for your feet,
the unseen breakfast— some of it
in the refrigerator you do not dare
to open— you will not dare to eat.

What prevents you? The future. The future tense,
immense as outer space.
You could get lost there.
No. Nothing so simple. The past, its density
and drowned events pressing you down,
like sea water, like gelatin
filling your lungs instead of air.

Forget all that and let’s get up.
Try moving your arm.
Try moving your head.
Pretend the house in on fire
and you must run or burn.
No, that one’s useless.
It’s never worked before.

Where is it coming from, this echo,
this huge No that surrounds you,
silent as the folds of the yellow
curtains, mute as the cheerful

Mexican bowl with its cargo
of mummified flowers?
(You chose the colours of the sun,
not the dried neutrals of shadow.
God knows you’ve tried.)

Now here’s a good one:
you’re lying on your deathbed.
You have one hour to live.
Who is it, exactly, you have needed
all these years to forgive?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

did nobody edit this

....she saw her friend and neighbor....He was kneeling beside her, watching, his kind eyes life preservers thrown to a drowning woman. She held them. 
(Louise Penny, A Trick of the Light)

Uncharacteristically, I kept on reading, because I'm getting the flu and want some brain candy, and actually the book picked up quite a bit and got fairly good. (Except she tends to write in sentences. Like this. To increase the tension. I think. Except. It makes me want to punch something.) BUT, SWEET BABY JESUS. SHE HELD HIS KIND LIFE PRESERVER EYES.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015



current book wishlist

The Dream Lover, Elizabeth Berg
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
House of Ghosts, Brendan Duffy
Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, Barbara Ehrenreich
Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller
From the Fifteenth District: Stories, Mavis Gallant
The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro
Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders, Chris Hoke
The Language of Food, Dan Jurafsky
A Case of Curiosities, Allen Kurzweil
Ghettoside, Jill Leovy
A Reunion of Ghosts, Judith Claire Mitchell
Storm on the Horizon: Khafji--The Battle That Changed the Course of the Gulf War, David Morris
God Help the Child, Toni Morrison
Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in WWII, Bruce Myles
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, Anna North
The Children's Crusade, Ann Packer
The Dead Lands, Benjamin Percy
Early Warning, Jane Smiley
A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler
Life Studies, Susan Vreeland
Rodin's Lover, Heather Webb
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
The interesting thing about platforms like Facebook and Twitter is that they are really entertainment companies, with a large news division: They control an increasingly large majority of what you watch, read, listen to, and learn about the world. But they are successful precisely because they have divested themselves of the most burdensome costs of traditional media: They have no responsibility to locate, screen or pay the artists and journalists whose work they distribute.

Instead, social media companies make you do all that work; they trust you to provide an endless chain of interesting links and promotional copy for free. Your “likes” are calculated reward mechanisms, the little bits of validation that create a compulsion to “share” (that is, do unpaid writing, marketing and editorial work) and thereby keep the site relevant and engaging. Meanwhile, the relative “importance” of all this content is not determined by expert judgment, or even by humans: It’s compiled algorithmically, via Trending Topics and the like. The story with the most links is the story that the site officially promotes. So Facebook is, effectively, the single most widely read newspaper in the world — and it has no editors, no fact-checkers, no staff writers, no reporting budget, no political stance and no obligation to pay or provide benefits to any of the millions of people who work there.

- Sady Doyle

Altho the NYT has been doing that for years and years now, with "most e-mailed" and "most blogged" and a lot of other sites now have buttons showing how many times a piece has been shared, liked, blogged, etc. etc. But I do think more people now get their 'news' from Facebook than from anywhere else, which is deeply scary. Even Twitter links are better than that. Maybe.

Kate Zambreno on writing, via Twitter

I should get a Storify or something, but 1) I hate Twitter 2) I hate Storify 3) I log in like once a year. (I wish she'd go back to blogging, Frances Farmer Is My Sister was amazing. sigh.)

I didn't go to MAPH for writing, I wanted to be a writer, but thought maybe I would become a performance theorist (didn't happen)
I think, as Carson McCullers writes, Writing a novel is a lonely life. It's like a marathon where you're asthmatic and depressed.
Have faith in yourself- don't show writing to others unless they give you energy, don't think abt the market, pick away slowly...
and I think, your style becomes what you're capable of. Keep notebooks of that singular obsession. Something will emerge.
the truth is writing a novel takes a lot longer than media stories suggest. if you're not impatient for time it will happen.
and write out of reading - a lot of people think a book has to be totally new, nothing's new, it is new by being yours
if you dont' think writing will turn into a career, you will write &get stuff out there. promise. if that is your singular desire
but worry about a)writing first and then b)getting stuff out there. The b) comes, with the work. Good luck!
if you want to write novels - don't get a Ph.D. That's just my two cents. Writing takes time. a Ph.D. will suck up all time.


Isaac Asimov said it first*

*I think it was Isaac Asimov, it's the quote about how there's a machine you can pause at any point and run backwards and forwards and compare multiple points and it never wears out etc. etc. and it is DUN DUN DUNN A BOOK, I think that was quoted in a Carl Sagan book but now Google's basically trashed itself so I can't really search for it
Seen a certain way, this is an already defeated position: apparently finished as an art form, the novel defends itself as mental hygiene, as the cruciferous vegetable of the language arts. The English novelist Will Self, in an article in the Guardian last spring, noted how unsatisfying the cognitive defense of fiction feels: The idea that novels exist so we can learn to “achieve deep and meditative levels of absorption in others’ psyches” sounded to him like a “circling of the wagons,” a last-ditch attempt, from within a culture ever more biologically reductive, to save a struggling form. If reading a novel is merely mental exercise, why bother?

- Nicholas Dames

Monday, February 2, 2015


Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Horreur sympathique"

De ce ciel bizarre et livide,
Tourmenté comme ton destin,
Quels pensers dans ton âme vide
Descendent? réponds, libertin.

— Insatiablement avide
De l'obscur et de l'incertain,
Je ne geindrai pas comme Ovide
Chassé du paradis latin.

Cieux déchirés comme des grèves
En vous se mire mon orgueil;
Vos vastes nuages en deuil

Sont les corbillards de mes rêves,
Et vos lueurs sont le reflet
De l'Enfer où mon coeur se plaît.

books read in February 2015

Fiction is in red. Date of first publication in (parentheses).

12. Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie Jones (2009)
13. This Land is Their Land, Barbara Ehrenreich (2008)
14. A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny (2011)
15. Trigger Warnings, Neil Gaiman (2015) (skipped all his dreadful poetry, per usual)
16. The Long Way Home, Louise Penny (2014)
17. Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, Barbara Ehrenreich (2009)
18. The Whites, Richard Price (2015) (good beginning, mediocre middle, picks up again in last fourth -- miles better than the awful Lush Life, tho) (he's still wildly overrated, and Kakutani comparing him to le Carre? AS FUCKING IF) (also, any book deliberately basing itself in Melville has to work that off with me, why aren't people fucking obsessed with Hawthorne instead? now he was such a good writer)
19. The Wilkomirski Affair: A Study in Biographical Truth, Stefan Maechler (2001)
20. Mistakes Were Made, Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (2007) (mentioned in a review of Maechler)
21. The Poet, Michael Connelly (1996)
22. Freedomland, Richard Price (1998) (damn fine)
23. A Life in Pieces: the Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkormirski, Blake Eskin (2002)
24. Blue Windows: A Christian Science Childhood, Barbara Wilson (1997)
25. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1963) (reread)
26. The Family That Couldn't Sleep, D.T. Max (2006) (pop sci, but not bad)

all 2015 booklist posts