Thursday, January 3, 2013

We Both Have Truths - Are Mine the Same as Yours?

Finally, FINALLY, I finished 2666 this week. Although I enjoyed the fifth and final section far more than the fourth and longest section, what had come before had wearied me so much that I was really pushing to get through it, force-feeding my eyes with the content of each page, rather than enjoying the journey, which is a shame. Also, I had hoped the storylines of the book would all tie up, because the writer so obviously knew what he was doing. They did not. Very little, close to nothing, was clearer at the close than it had been when I started the damn thing. I admire this book, but can't recommend it. Pieces of it took my breath away, and I enthusiastically enjoyed its unpredictability in the first few hundred pages, but I wouldn't wish on anyone such frustration as I ultimately felt.

I do agree pretty much 100% with this review. Spoilers there, and a real shock: the crimes, the murders of hundreds of women described in sickening, wearying detail, are real.

On New Year's Eve I read The Lifespan of a Fact, which engaged and interested me more than pretty much anything I've read in print (i.e. anything not longform journalism on the internet) since The Chronology of Water. I previously wrote about its central problem, and about it, here. I know I have friends reading this who are as interested as I am in nonfiction vs. fact and the awkward place of "the truth" in both essays and reality. Buy. This. Book. Don't miss it. Don't let the formatting or the overpricedness deter you. Get it and read it, and maybe read it again.

My other suggestion (presuming that you take the first one) is that you read a little tidbit about John D'Agata and his purpose as a writer before you read the book, or you may end up thinking he's just a complete dickface right up to the point where the book's 75% over. For instance, that he has an MFA in poetry lent some meaning to his claims about the rhythm of this or that phrase.

If you hate the fact-checker instead for his obscene attention to detail, well, let's dialogue about that. Soul of nitpicking that I am, I adored him.

Right now I'm reading The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I'm having a bit of a where-have-you-been-all-my-life reaction to her. Such fascinating, subtle, unique writing. Like Poe with sharper knives.

A break for music. I'm having an intense romance with electropop and I can't stop listening to this one:

I also recently read two longform articles I wanted to draw some attention to. First is this one, a Wired article (which I read in the actual physical magazine!) about John McAfee, the guy who invented the eponymous software and is now being sought for murder in Belize. In the reading it reminded me of one of the most interesting longform articles I've ever read, this one, about a guy who crashed a $1.3 million Ferrari after many bizarre only-in-America (and-possibly-Dubai-at-this-point) adventures. If you like long interesting profiles, the one about McAfee is as much a no-miss as the one about Eriksson.

I also read this article, which I found unfocused and snooty and indulgent and confusing. What am I missing about it? Maybe just that it's Harper's? I thought it had some kind of essential, thundering, Rome-too-shall-fall point to make but completely missed the mark in making it. But perhaps I'm not smart enough or old enough to see it.

On to the writing: I revised the opera story yesterday thanks to some strong feedback and sent it out to a market. I also typed the chapter of KUFC that I'd written in my notebook back in the halcyon days of 2012 and fretted briefly about chapter divisions not working out especially well in the last 5,000 words or so. Then I wrote another few pages before bed, a scene that I'm not sure I'm actually going to use, and laid in bed for a few minutes wanting very much to go back into the living room and turn on the light and write for another three hours. And then I fell asleep. There are lots of reasons why I don't stay up late and write (something I am always wanting to do but never do), all of them good, but I wish I had the stones to push them all aside and do it.

Yesterday I learned that Victrolas don't have horns; those are gramophones. Victrolas are big cabinets. I think I'm going to have to learn some things about Zeppelins in order to keep writing. I love learning things, but annoyingly, my projects seem to set me in search of obscure shit instead of easy-to-find shit. It was a pleasure to have to learn a bit about the Civil War last year, because it was so much easier than learning about the history of goddamn Greenland.

On Saturday I go to the opera for Les Troyens. Which is five hours and forty-five minutes long. I'm bringing a sandwich.

Finally, a PSA. On this blog I tried to keep to every-other-day posts in 2012, and I've determined that that's too often. Not for me, but for you. When I space out the posts, I get more comments, which indicates to me that people are reading with more interest. So maybe it'll be every three days, or twice a week, or something. Not as often as before. Just so you know.

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