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Can You Imagine the Rumble?

February 25, 2016

In truth I was not aware of any particular rivalry ‘twixt authors of novels and memoirs, but neither is that definitive … or indicative of pretty much anything. Nonetheless, here we go:

Salon.comBy the end of this treatise on “appropriate choice of vocabulary” and the human impulse to “relativise” emotions, the reader still has no clear sense of how [Catherine] Millet feels about her mother’s suicide or what, if anything, this suicide has to do with her pained relationship with her husband. We learn more in one sentence of [Edouard] Levé’s about both the precise nature of the narrator’s feelings for his dead friend and the complications of intimacy in general.

And while I will not take a side―nor even try to figure out what the sides are, or if they actually exist at all―in Hannah Tennant-Moore’s introspection, I would at least go so far as to note she would seem to have a point with that paragraph.

Yeah, I know. Everybody’s a critic. Doesn’t mean a one of us has an answer. The answer. I mean, you know. An answer? Do I need an umbrella today? “Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nineteen! Nineteen!” Yeah, you know? It’s an answer.

―bd

____________________

Tennant-Moore, Hannah. “Too real for reality TV — or even memoir: The new novels that dare use fiction to reveal secret truths”. Salon. 14 February 2016.

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Murmur and Buzz: A Wrinkle in Time

February 25, 2016

Via Deadline:

'A Wrinkle in Time' ― original 1963 dustjacket (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)Selma director Ava DuVernay has just been set by Disney to direct A Wrinkle In Time, an adaptation of the 1963 Newbery Medal-winning Madeleine L’Engle fantasy classic novel that has a script by Oscar-winning Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee. Deadline revealed February 8 that DuVernay had been offered this film and was also in the mix at DreamWorks for Intelligent Life, a sci-fi thriller scripted by Colin Trevorrow and his Jurassic World collaborator Derek Connolly. DuVernay now has the offer on that film and is in negotiations on a pic that has 12 Years A Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o attached to a fable about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever contact with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be one. That film is produced by Frank Marshall, Trevorrow and Big Beach principals Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub.

I would imagine this is good news.

―bd

____________________

Fleming Jr., Mike. “Ava DuVernay Set To Direct Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’; Script By ‘Frozen’s Jennifer Lee”. Deadline. 23 February 2016.

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Style and the Twenty-First Century

November 26, 2015

I am sorry to drag political writing into this, but it happens to be where the example arises. In truth, you can ignore the politics, inasmuch as that is possible. Writing for Salon, Heather Digby Parton notes:

Huh?The CNN story goes on to interview various scholars who all say that to one degree or another Trump is, indeed, fascistic if not what we used to call “a total fascist.” Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back.

It’s hard to understand why this has been so difficult to see. On the day he announced his campaign, Trump openly said ....

As long as I have been aware of Digby, it has been through electronic media. And in the question of the ever-growing online world, I have tended to compare the reading experience to paper; this might well be the wrong context in the twenty-first century. She is good at what she does, but this is a quirk of the new era that continues to defy me.

That truncated second paragraph is not a quote; it is the next paragraph of her narrative. As one raised on paper, the last sentence of that first paragraph just reads strangely to me; without the embedded hyperlink, it makes no sense.

Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back.

Or … am I being pedantic?

Maybe I’m just too accustomed to the idea of the Martian eye, or alien anthropologists. Even as we find the internet today, hyperlinks can break. Imagine trying to put the record together sometime in the future.

____________________

Digby Parton, Heather. “The unprecedented nightmare of Donald Trump’s campaign: We’ve openly begun using the F-word in American politics”. Salon. 25 November 2015.

Perlstein, Rick. “Donald Trump and the ‘F-Word'”. The Washington Spectator. 30 September 2015.

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Happiness, Recalled

November 23, 2015

Ray BradburyIt occurred today that an associate recalled a particular thought experiment, which in turn sent me searching for a Ray Bradbury story. The Saturday Evening Post has been so kind as to offer an electronic copy of their 1957 presentation of the maestro’s story, “The Happiness Machine”, from Dandelion Wine.

Read. Enjoy. Be well.

―bd

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The Shadow Over Lovecraft

November 23, 2015

It is true I hold a soft spot for H. P. Lovecraft; his stories are among those that made me want to write. It is an unfortunate history, then, fraught with caveats; this is the problem:

First, Lovecraft―who wrote “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Colour Out of Space” and other influential tales of madness and “sentient blob[s] of self-shaping gelatinous flesh”―is one of weird fiction’s most celebrated authors. He is enshrined in the Library of America.H. P. Lovecraft Stephen King calls him “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” The author of the novel “Psycho,” Robert Bloch, once wrote, “Poe and Lovecraft are our two American geniuses of fantasy, comparable each to the other, but incomparably superior to all the rest who follow.”

Second, as Lovecraft’s letters―and, to a lesser extent, his stories―reveal, the guy harbored a fierce loathing for almost all non-WASPs. Blacks were “greasy chimpanzees,” in Lovecraft’s words. French-Canadians were a “clamorous plague.” New York’s Chinatown was “a bastard mess of stewing mongrel flesh.” And so on.

Phillip Eil’s explanation, for Salon, of the final distribution of Howards for the World Fantasy Award does, indeed, follow the gravity of the tale. It only goes downhill from there.

We can try making what excuses we want; he was a misanthrope, he was crazy, he was an extreme product of something whatnot whonow … er … right. It’s possible to do the five stages; I recommend skipping tracks to acceptance. Then again, neither do I know how many of the generation that comes after me even bothered with Lovecraft, so maybe my own years of reflecting on the question really are as useless as they have always felt.

Still, though. Sigh.

No, no, I’m not fretting for the trophies. It’s just, you know, it’s just one of those, This is why we can’t have nice things! feeling. Lovecraft, Koestler, Cosby. Sometimes it just hurts to face up to what all goes into the art we love, y’know?

But it’s true, he was a miserable, sickly, repulsive sort of genius.

―bd

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Image note: H. P. Lovecraft in undated photo via Wikimedia.

Eil, Phillip. “The ghost that haunts American literature: The genius & the repugnance of H.P. Lovecraft”. Salon. 21 November 2015.

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Familiar Desolation

July 23, 2015

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 22 July 2015.Ever have one of those days?

Okay, here’s another one. Ever have that urge to do the old Bugs Bunny bit with Yosemite Sam, the one about okay I’ll shut up because I’m not the type of guy who keeps on blabbing after someone tells me to shut up … Shut up shuttin’ up!

It was that or the bit about doing the Whatchamacallit advert, and you do the “What’s right?” part, except do it in Scooby Doo’s voice. You know, one of those random things that comes up during the set break at a Phish show. Never mind.

Sometimes writer’s block is best. Just ask Adam.

―bd

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Huber, Adam. “Writer’s Blockhead”. Bug Martini. 22 July 2015.

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The Story, and the Stories Behind the Story

May 8, 2015

Alright, easy enough. In no particular order, except, well, it seems a reasonable enough order:

'My Life Is a Joke', by Sheila Heti (Illustration by Mark Smith for The New Yorker)“My Life Is a Joke”, a short story by Sheila Heti, published in The New Yorker, 11 May 2015.

“Sheila Heti’s Short Story in the New Yorker This Week Only Exists Because of Hugo House”, by Christopher Frizzelle of The Stranger, 6 May 2015.

“Good Writing Matters: A Conversation With Tree Swenson, the Director of Seattle’s Hugo House”, by Russell C. Smith and Michael Foster for Huffington Post, 9 December 2014.

“Seattle Dispatch: The Richard Hugo House”, by Ming Holden for Huffington Post, 9 July 2010

• And after all that I would be remiss if I didn’t point to Hugo House itself.

True, this one’s up in my corner of the world, but remember that good writing is everywhere, and always waiting. And something goes here about a village, or how it could be you, or … or … er … right. Anyway, have fun.

―bd

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