Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What It Is I Know Not

This is a great song for those hours of the morning that just slip away while you catch up with what you missed on the internet the night before. You're welcome.

Funny story. I got some shocking but useful feedback on Highbinder a few weeks ago, and one bit of information I couldn't reconcile was about me mentioning 1930s movie stars in the early chapters of the book. My reader said that he found this confusing and odd. I talked it through with Matt, and at length I realized that I was myopic about what these references meant. To me, movie stars are signposts, references that help me determine when and where I am. To others, that's not so at all. They might appear to be name-checking to no purpose, or deliberately confusing, rather than orienting the reader, which is what I intended.

I laughed about this for a long time, because that is what comes of being too obsessed with cinema for one's own good - feeling like, well, mentioning Garbo is helpful, because her American career was at its height in the 30s. How could that not be helpful? If, unlike me, the average person doesn't think about Garbo in any given week, it's not helpful. It's actually the opposite of helpful. Well, now I know.

This is Garbo. For me, the question is really how you can not think of her in any given week. 

Recent reads include Toni Morrison's Jazz, Sharon Olds' Stag's Leap, and Mary Gaitskill's Don't Cry.

Jazz: I don't know. I feel unqualified to talk about Morrison's books. I felt the same way after this as after Beloved: WTF was that? Did I like it? Am I supposed to feel white guilt? Am I supposed to feel rapture? I have no idea. It was Something, but what it was I know not.

Stag's Leap: Whoooooo. If you've ever been in a relationship that has ended (and duh, who hasn't?), these poems will bring up some stuff. What a gutsy, straightforward, marvelous collection. Even a little fun at times.

Don't Cry: Er...reply hazy. I don't think I got some of the stories, or perhaps I didn't like them. Others I liked a lot, even loved. She definitely has a grip on language that is entirely her own. Reminds me of George Saunders in a way - they don't write very much alike, but they do both write quite idiosyncratically. This made me want to read more of her work in the hope of understanding it better, which I guess is a positive reaction.

I also did a bit of reading of early Joan Didion from Slouching Towards Bethlehem. A very small bit, just a couple of essays, and I enjoyed them. I've read two? three? of her books and have not yet liked her work over the long haul, but I've put her collected essays on my Amazon wish list anyway in the hope that I will come to my senses.

Up next is A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and a book of poetry by a fellow named Erik Campbell, whose poems (these poems, in fact) I read in Prairie Schooner and loved enough to buy his book, and then maybe I'll get back to some genre reading. I like switching back and forth between genre and literary, and it's growing easier to figure out when it's time to do so - I'm getting to know the signs of becoming exasperated with one set of characteristics or the other.


Last week was physically challenging for me, so I did a lot of lazing around and feeling impotent. I read (obviously) and I watched MST and I did crosswords, in between resting. Real work was actually impossible for a lot of that time and seemed impossible later on.

I'm putting together a short story in my head, about two women, but I haven't opened up my notebook just yet except to take notes. There's work I could probably be doing on the wikibook but I am not doing it. After a big 4,500-word release on that project, I haven't done anything else but notes and thinking, and I don't know if it's because I'm still in the Let's Fuck Around For A Few Months Before Getting Down To Business stage of the book or if I'm in the No, I've Gotten Started stage and I'm just completely denying that I need to do any work on it at all for the book to spring magically into existence.

In either circumstance, I need to work on it. Don't I end my blog posts with that imperative a lot?

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