“In the first place, it is true that I turned 40 this year, and it is equally true that, for the 40th time, my writing did not make it into the New Yorker’s “Forty Under Forty” issue, or Granta’s “Forty Under Forty” issue, or the LA Times’s “Forty Faces Under Forty” issue, or the Guardian’s annual “Forty American Writers Under Forty to Watch”, or even McSweeney’s “Forty Writers Under Forty Who Live Near Us in Brooklyn and We Hang Out With Quite a Bit or At Least Would Like To”.”—From Shalom Auslander’s wonderful essay “Shalom Auslander on the Tyranny of Literary Talent Spotting” at the Guardian, where he discusses judging a “Three Under Three” contest. (via largeheartedboy)
“”There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter—the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest for something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last—the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidarity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”—
Hobart, Australia looks very beautiful, considering most of the tumblr photos, but y’all should tumbl about “another literary journal” more so I see stuff about myself when I click on that tagged “hobart” explore button over there on the right of my dashboard and not just always Tasmanian countryside. Just sayin’.
In the nine short, satisfying stories of this fluid debut collection from Nice, strained moments of intimacy and misunderstandings appear along with the clipped prose, which is at times lyrical and, at others, sobering and stark. Often, as in “Flat Land,” “Ice Floe,” and “Wet Leaves,” boys from mining families, whose fathers “said things that sounded like scripture, like it had all been thought about long and hard and decided upon,” end up liking girls who come from different, warmer worlds. The results are conversations under streetlights and over beers that usually lead to unreturned phone calls and wishes for what wasn’t meant to be. While each brief story flows into the next, it can be difficult to remember which was which or what really happened. Yet, although the long-term resonance of plot is thin, the immediacy of the words and images make for reading that is visceral and alive with the smell of rain and the pulse of silence. (Nov.)
In our country, a musician can make a living as a musician. Not by selling albums—most musicians don’t make their living from record sales—but by touring. By playing their music live. Musicians don’t have to get gigs teaching intro to music courses to undergraduate college students to pay the rent on their apartments—they pay their rent with their art. Writers, however, have to get gigs teaching intro to writing courses to undergraduate college students. That’s the best a writer can do, in this country. And I think that’s largely because writers are so uptight. It’s not fun to see a writer reading their work live—our writers know nothing of storytelling. All our writers know is how to string together some metaphors, how to avoid using adverbs. They can’t captivate an audience in the same way that storytellers could once captivate an audience. They can’t captivate an audience in the same way that Lady Gaga can. Our literature, in this country, is some of the most unentertaining in the history of our species.
Nobody’s paying $50 a seat to see even George Saunders reading live. Nobody’s paying $50 a seat to see Michael Martone. But what if I published under the name The Thief Vagabond of Worchester, and what if at readings I wore costumes as odd and whimsical as David Bowie’s? What if George Saunders published under the name Cat Killers, and what if Cat Killers and The Thief Vagabond of Worchester went on tour together, headlining readings opened by local writers? Our shows, they would be sellouts.
- Michael Martone interviewed by the real(?) Matthew Baker at Hobart
I really want someone to design a “Cat Killers and The Thief Vagabond of Worchester” poster.
“Part of why I was frustrated with acting was because I took it so seriously. I want it to be so good that I get in my own way. It’s like love: when you fall in love, you’re not yourself anymore. You lose control of being natural and showing the beautiful parts of yourself, and all somebody recognizes is this total desperation. And that’s very unattractive. Once I became a total buffoon, it was so liberating. I’d see child actors and I’d get so jealous, because they’re just completely wide open. If you could convince them that something frightening was going to happen, they would actually feel terror. I wanted to feel that so badly. I’d just been acting too long, and it had kind of been ruined for me. I wanted to put myself in a situation that would feel brand-new and hopefully inspire a new way of approaching acting. It did do that for me.”—
Is it lame and/or insanely vain to have a Tumblr tracking your publications? Sometimes I think so. Actually usually I think so, but in case you don’t, I remembered this exists just in time to tell you that I’ve got a short funny thing up on Hobart’s site,
which features a fresh-to-death! redesign. The essay is about, mostly, how this one time a man tried to break into my apartment and what happened, as a direct result of that night, was I ended up nulling nearly 8 years of vegetarianism by demolishing a big fat Iowa steak. With bleu cheese spread and everything. And all I’ll say is yum…
“Somewhere along the way, I began to fear everything I didn’t know, and what could it do by twenty-two but continue to grow and swell? It bubbled like a thing that, you know, bubbles in the way it does. I began to experience panics about my future—because all of that uncertainty!—and these sensations were so severe the only solution was to drive twenty minutes to the local mall. I’d walk the upper-level atrium in frantic circles, past Dillard’s and Peeble’s and Macy’s, and look in the windows of home goods shops, imagining all the lives I could play out within the safety of their storefront.”—
The storm was a convenient metaphor. What happened, technically speaking, was that I ate shit. Then it started raining very hard.
And still it was fun. So my point is that the really vital common denominator between writing and skateboarding isn’t creation, or reinterpretation, or translation of the world. It is failure. What the activities have in common is the blood they draw, or at least should draw if we’re doing them right.