brothercyst: 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

n+1, Maryland, blood

I read the latest issue of n+1. It's really, really good. The essay on "the rage of the loser class"--nominally about Cho Seung-hui but mostly about the author's cold-eyed impression of his life and the lives of people around him--is particularly terrific. The essay about the stages of Gawker's existence is great, too.

******

In Maryland. I've been reading Ron Hansen's The Assassination of Jesse James... but having a little trouble getting into it, although it seems wonderfully written. I saw Juno, which I hated so much that I was overwhelmed with the desire to bludgeon every character; I can't describe how much I hated this movie; I hate cute. I got (bought, not received as a gift) a new computer, since the old one was virtually spitting blood. I wrote a short story. I got (received as a gift, not bought) a digital camera.

took pictures of this person

and this person

and this person

who took a picture of me & some sort of extraterrestrial orb

and also there was some foliage

*****

UPDATE: Here is maybe my favorite scene from There Will Be Blood. And the beginning of another incredible sequence. Spoilers, obviously.

*****

A hell of a review for There Will Be Blood in the NYT. I was thrilled to read it. Anderson and Park Chan-wook are my favorite living directors. I loved Blood--but not as much as I love Boogie Nights, I don't think. I don't know, I need to see it again. But I thought there were a couple flaws--one that's been mentioned elsewhere (Dano's no match for Day-Lewis, especially in the final scene) and another one that no one else seems to mind (what the hell is up with the Paul Sunday character? he never reappears... it feels like PTA just didn't want to deal with the hassle of having two characters played the same actor appearing in the same scene... weird). That said... the film is fucking amazing and Daniel Day-Lewis's performance has to be beheld to be believed. Now that it's officially out I'm going to see it again (curious to do so with an audience of paying customers) as soon as I'm back in New York.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Today I had lunch with someone who introduced me to one of the most fascinating concepts I've encountered since I learned what a strangelet was: "programmable clay." It's... I can't even say how cool it is. It will revolutionize everything. (Especially long distance relationships and battlefield surgery.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Midnight Picnic comes out next fall. Originally it was May but we pushed it back a couple months--I'm still doing some edits. Here is a random moment. One of the main characters, a six year old named Adam, has gotten lost in the woods and met an old man who seems to live there. Click for big.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

passage

"The reality was, you only knew you were loved if you were left and returned to, if you were ignored and then craved. Occasionally you would be seen for slightly less than the sum of your parts, and that was love, too. Love announced itself with a sting, not a pat. If love was love, it was urgent and ripe and carried with it the faint odor of humiliation, so that there was always something to be made up for later, some apology in the works."

Alicia Erian, "The Brutal Language of Love"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

french cooking, ike turner, winter party

A french cooking blog post mentioning Fires.

***

Ike Turner died.

I prank called him one time.

But then my friend Nicole grabbed the phone--her phone--away.

***

"Work"--that is, work at the hedge fund where I spend many of my daylight hours--is essentially an afterthought in my life, so I tend not to mention it here except in passing. This week we had our infamous company winter party, though. So I will very briefly engage in the internet tradition from which I usually abstain: posting pictures of people who are "shitfaced." (Note: not all the people pictured are "shitfaced".)

w/ my friends P. and Fred, looking dour. Fred: roommate from college.

Tom, the most dapperly festive one, with other friends from yale.

w/ Tom, who began to disrobe. Five minutes after this, he smashed a glass on the floor and passed out.

w/ P., respectable.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

art

Lot of art lately. Saw the Klimt at the Neue Galerie two weekends ago. New Museum soon. Some other gallery opening that was underwhelming. Didn't go to Art Basel but actually, for a half-second, considered it. The AL was having a lavish-sounding event to which I RSVP'd before realizing it was in Miami, too. I replaced my old moleskine with a new one without lines, so I can sketch more assuredly. Sketching helps me write. I feel like I just started strangelets but I can't believe how much I've written. Still at least a year to eighteen months from completion. Home sick from work today. Seeing Atonement soon. Listening to Clint Mansell's score for The Fountain. A flawed movie with a terrific soundtrack. On the subject of films, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle is the first (and will probably turn out to be the only) critics organization to name as their favorite film of the year The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. As anybody who's had a conversation with me in the last three months knows, I think Assassination is pretty much the best film I've seen so far this century. The only other one I loved as much is Park Chan-wook's Oldboy.

***



A strange weekend with regard to sleep. Little patches here and there. (Writing this on Sunday afternoon.) I've become convinced of the value of moments of self-enforced mental isolation. At work or in crowds now I force myself to not speak for periods of time and shut out external sensory stimuli as completely as possible. Then I try to populate the spaces around me with people and things of my own imagining. (Usually they turn out to be large humanoid insects.) I find this calms me and I get ideas. fuerzabruta is a fascinating thing. P. took me. In one setpiece, a transparent ceiling is lowered to head-height (the audience stands for the entire show) and covered in water, and then lightly-clad, nymph-like women cavort on it. Friday I went to a program where I volunteer twice a week with little kids who are doing creative writing; I'm helping a kid named Vincent write a story about a killer plant. He's a startlingly good storyteller; he's nine years old. Yesterday I remained supine in my apartment. In the evening, dinner with Tom, birthday party of coworker, palm-reading and night-long conversation session with E. Didn't sleep til almost dawn. For today: isolation, silence, pomegranate juice, and pastries.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

statistical data

regarding rap music

**



A strange weekend with regard to sleep. Little patches here and there. (Writing this on Sunday afternoon.) I've become convinced of the value of moments of self-enforced mental isolation. At work or in crowds now I force myself to not speak for periods of time and shut out external sensory stimuli as completely as possible. Then I try to populate the spaces around me with people and things of my own imagining. (Usually they turn out to be large humanoid insects.) I find this calms me and I get ideas. fuerzabruta is a fascinating thing. P. took me. In one setpiece, a transparent ceiling is lowered to head-height (the audience stands for the entire show) and covered in water, and then lightly-clad, nymph-like women cavort on it. Friday I went to a program where I volunteer twice a week with little kids who are doing creative writing; I'm helping a kid named Vincent write a story about a killer plant. He's a startlingly good storyteller; he's nine years old. Yesterday I remained supine in my apartment. In the evening, dinner with Tom, birthday party of coworker, palm-reading and night-long conversation session with E. Didn't sleep til almost dawn. For today: isolation, silence, pomegranate juice, and pastries.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

strangelet, click for big:




**

i have purchased the soundtrack to I'm Not There, and listened many times to these tracks in particular:

calexico & jim james - going to acapulco
john doe - pressing on
black keys - wicked messenger
antony & the johnsons - knocking on heaven's door

and there is the best song on the album, dylan's own "I'm Not There," which I had never heard before.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

snow fell

Had brunch with Ned Vizzini and Alex Remington this morning in Union Square as the first snow of the winter fell outside the windows. Before that, wandered in the very early a.m. hours through the snow with P.; the snow had just started falling and the financial district was nearly deserted and freezing and pretty beautiful. Humans have been tolerable lately. I appreciate it when women are awesome. Saw I'm Not There at Film Forum tonight with my friend Esme. Strange, frustrating, generally excellent movie. Reading Alicia Erian's short story collection, which is terrific. Aguirre next week. Wrote more in the last two weeks than I had in the previous three months. Beginning a new thing now. Haven't submitted any stories to magazines in months. But writing new ones.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PLEASING: Today I saw There Will Be Blood.

This reminds me a lot of that sex story I wrote for $500. Even the random use of second person. I should do that again. That money paid for a flight to France. Related: Alicia Erian is great.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The warmth outside the window this week feels eerie. The soundtrack for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is so lovely it changes your brain a little. VN's "Perfection" and "The Vane Sisters" get better with each reading. Live Free or Die Hard is modestly entertaining but an insult to the aesthetic of the Die Hard series. This year's Best New Voices contributors, who just read at KGB, are very good, particularly Jedidiah Berry and Oriane Delfosse. Day job=numbness. Cold is good, and riding the subway on cold days can be pleasant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

a review of a concert my dad produced at the national gallery of art; i went home for this last weekend.

****

here are three strangelets. the main character in strangelets is named Brian but some sections focus on other people or things.






Monday, November 12, 2007

.




There is your life as you know it and also as others know it, perhaps incorrectly, but to which some importance must be attached. It is difficult to realize that you are observed from a number of points and the sum of them has validity.

—James Salter, Burning the Days




Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Winter Was Hard" in Short Fiction

I wrote like four sentences last night and I can't even remember what they were. I was writing for an hour and produced half a paragraph. Alarming.

**************

Copies of "Short Fiction" magazine came from the UK; it has a story of mine called "Winter Was Hard" in it. The magazine looks good, much better than most literary magazines. There is a weird illustration accompanying the story. I scanned some pages. Click for big.

Helen O. introduces the story:



Title page:


Illustration:


First page:

Monday, November 05, 2007

people sobbing in public; Quiet Girl

It's disconcerting to see someone overcome with emotion in a public place. A week or two ago I was walking to work through Times Square and an elderly man walked past me with his face all screwed up in tears, just openly crying. The first thing I thought of was how several years ago in New Haven, near the corner of Park and Chapel, I walked past a restaurant and saw a young Indian guy crouched on the ground outside sobbing. There was nobody else nearby and the guy's face was in his knees so he didn't see me. The image always upsets me. The fact that the guy was just sitting on the street... there's something really unpleasant about the idea of being blindsided by emotional catastrophe so suddenly that you don't even have the time or opportunity to completely isolate yourself and deal with it.

This morning when I went into the subway station I thought about both those incidents again because there was a middle-aged guy in a suit sitting on the stairs and sobbing. A cop came over to him and gently said, "Are you okay?... What's the matter?... What happened?" I didn't hear his answer, if there was one (and if I had heard it, I doubt I would write it here anyway). I'd rather not know.

*******************

Here's a Washington Post review of The Quiet Girl, which I reviewed last week and thought was fucking awesome. Regarding the protagonist:

Kasper is erudite, self-confident, enchanting and vegetarian. The scenes where he finagles his way past security guards, secretaries and other gatekeepers -- particularly women -- are breathtaking in their audacity and humor.

Indeed. This is seriously the most I've enjoyed any novel in a very long time and I can't recommend it strongly enough.

(Update: a Bookslut reviewer hated it.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

temperament, walrus nightmare

Is a predisposition to depressive ideation just wired into some brains--is that really all it is, a chemical condition?

Saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Performances excellent. (Albert Finney, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei. Tomei is naked a lot.) But I did not enjoy the movie. Admired it, didn't enjoy it.

Doing a lot of writing. That's good.

A certain venue owes me a lot of money and is very late... I'm not pleased.

I saw this walrus thing, the "lolrus," fell asleep, and had a nightmare about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Haneke



Saw Funny Games tonight at the MoMA; Michael Haneke answered questions after. I have the movie on DVD and had seen it before and admired it, but it's much more excruciating to watch it in a theater surrounded by people--the screaming seems to assault you, and so does that John Zorn music. (There were a number of walk-outs, including one guy who barked, "Garbage!" as he left.) One thing I love about it is how mercilessly it abuses an audience's presupposition that in a game there are options; there are possibilities; there are ways to avoid death. In this game, even when you are told, "You can live if you do this," there is no way you can live. And when you are told, "If only you hadn't done that, none of this would've happened to you," you are just being tormented. It was always going to happen to you, and there was no way you could win.

So it's a brilliantly constructed movie with much to admire about it but there are the What's the point? and Is this necessary? questions, which are, it seems to me, entirely reasonable. Cache is a better film--Haneke's best, I think--not as viscerally upsetting as Funny Games but more profound, with real, affectingly examined human pain and with an authentic sense of consequence (though not without Haneke's austere formal tricks). Funny Games is shallow. As Haneke said tonight, it's a parody of a thriller/horror film--and that's really all it is. It's not about violence in the real world. Brilliant and absolutely engrossing but shallow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

vagrant in candyland



Wandered the city all day running errands and editing Midnight Picnic on the subway. Kept running into people I know. It's as if Manhattan below 16th is just a big campus. Went to an event hosted by my friendly neighborhood literary society at a pseudo-communist club with a very nice bouncer who was a dwarf. Then walked with my friend Tom through the West Village and had a surreal moment: we stopped at Pinkberry, which is this twee little futuristic wonderland/ice cream store, and as we're ordering, an utterly bedraggled and filthy homeless man gets right up next to me and begs for money. Right away the effeminate store manager with stylish titanium glasses leans across the counter and hisses at the beggar to leave ("Sir, you cannot solicit my customers!"), which the beggar dutifully does, saying he'll wait for me outside. The sight of this absolutely wretched, grime-encrusted human bursting into the gleaming, spotless anime fantasy-land of Pinkberry and being sternly ejected back out on the street just seemed kind of--I don't know. If I'd seen it in a movie my brain would've said, "Too much... too obvious." Anyway I went outside when I got my change in order to give it to him but he was gone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

misanthropic humanism + caviar & national book award

1:15 am, what a pleasing night...had dinner with a friend who is disturbingly witty/entertaining (and isn't a writer, so it's legit for me to modify that material for use in a book... a standard rule I learned from Lorrie Moore when she talked at yale), ate amazing food, had weird waitress who told us, about the rack of lamb, "it's highly recommended by my cat" and indeed it was excellent. went to friend's house, saw other friends, wrote section of novel in gmail docs on friend's computer, walked around, collaboratively created a new verb (to "level"--in parlance, to take something to a higher level; but a more specific meaning is to speak to someone in a metalanguage when they think they're being spoken to a more basic language... sarcasm being a basic example but also like if you hit on a girl by casually saying to her, "What's more important, art or science?"--causing her brain to go okay, this guy's hitting on me, asking me this silly question, okay, i'll answer it dutifully, but we all know the real intent here--and once she's answered it, you explain that the question you just asked is something a friend of yours is always asking girls as a quirky pretext to hit on them, and you are now trying it on random sample populations to test his assertion that it works... this is obviously absurd [and, it should be noted, does not and is not intended to "work"...not the point here] and vaguely insulting but mostly just confusing to her... you have "leveled" her), and then I got on the subway to go home and encountered Joshua Ferris and his wife, which is absurd, because just today he got nominated for the National fucking Book Award, which is obviously a huge honor. I congratulated him and talked for a bit and people around us were sort of trying to listen and surreptitiously staring like wait who's this guy, is he a celebrity... you should check out his book, I was reluctant to for a long time and whatever about a brief excerpt I read but then I started reading the book and was quickly persuaded of its quality.

Sickeningly busy in the past week. Writing reviews, revising Midnight Picnic (much more slowly than I ought to be), trying to write new stuff, dealing with a ton of day job stuff, eating, honoring obligations that I made before I realized how insanely busy these two weeks were going to be, like having multiple dinners on the same day with different people. So some things are annoying right now but other things are pleasing, even highly pleasing. I've met a couple people I like. It's strange when that happens because I dislike so many people. Mike Young, editor of Noo Journal, was crashing on my couch for a bit. He visited New York, that's good. I saw Benny's Video at MoMA; very grim movie. How many times do you need to see a pig get shot in the head? Going to see Funny Games, which I like a lot, on Monday; had to run up there today to buy some advance tickets in person. Also I'll be reading 10/24 at my friend's reading series, Guerrilla Lit. More later.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

strange music

Last week I participated in one concert and saw another one. The one I participated in was done by Steve Antosca (my dad, a composer), Lina Bahn (a violinist), and Colin Oldham (an inventor of instruments). This was at The Stone, John Zorn's club on 2nd Street. There were two violin/distortion pieces, and then one longer electronic composition. I read a Neruda poem with voice distortion and some death scenes from Flannery O'Connor. It went really well, and we got paid. One of the guys in the audience was from the Kronos Quartet, which is perfect because the next day we went to see them play at BAM. They played accompanied by an ominous 15-foot wooden puppet (its heart opened up to reveal a velvet-lined stage for other puppets) created by Lounge Lizard Erik Sanko, who also composed the (excellent) piece they premiered, Dear Mme. Then they played a piece called Uniko, which was fucking amazing. Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen, the composers of that piece, performed with them (sampling and distorting, and also just playing) and were terrific.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Burning Babies, chapter one: Death of an Outlaw

Yesterday I wrote, "One of the great modern novels is Burning Babies by Noah Cicero. It is Noah's best novel [which is saying something, because Treatise and The Insurgent are also excellent]. No one has published it, and someone needs to." Today I'm publishing the first chapter of it here. When I first read it, a friend gave me the galley (a small press was going to publish it, then decided not to at the last minute) at lunch and I opened it, read the first few sentences, and said, "This guy can't even use commas, it looks like a kid wrote it... I'm not reading this." But I took it anyway and happened to pick it up one Saturday and read the whole thing. Seriously, take a few minutes to read to the end of this chapter, which isn't very long. It was when I got to the very end of the first chapter that I was like, "Okay, fair--I need to read all of this." The below is copied and pasted here from a Word doc Noah sent me a while ago.

*************************


Death of an Outlaw

“I’m going to kill myself,” said Josey into a cell phone in Kentucky.


“Oh, don’t do that. You’ll go to hell,” said his mother from her house in Youngstown.

“I’m serious you fucking assholes!”

Josey was in a poorly painted gray van that was once red.

He had to paint the van gray because THEY were coming he said.

Josey was convinced people were coming for him.

Josey was right.

Two days earlier THEY found him.

Beat the fuck out of him, busted up his genitals, and left him for dead.

He crawled to the hospital and stayed there for two days.

That was somewhere in Georgia.

Now he was driving his van down the Kentucky highway to Ohio, to Youngstown, his home, where he’d matured into an unhealthy fucked-up adult.

The conversation continued.

“Josey, you can’t kill yourself, I love you.”

“I can’t take it anymore! I’m serious, I can’t fucking take it.”

They randomly spoke like this as he drove home.

Josey screamed in the van, pounded his fists on the steeling wheel, punched himself in the face, wringing his hands, growling, making fists, crying, bawling, screaming, wailing! He screamed, “Fuck you all, who am I! Fuck fuck fuck! WHY! WHY! WHY! How did this happen! Can’t someone make this stop! Can’t someone help me! Fuck fuck fuck!”

He drove for hours and hours like that.

Going home to where he grew up, to parents that never cared about him.

Going home to a place where no one cares about anyone.

There is no time to care, work must be done.

And when the time-clock is punched, errands like going to the bank, writing out bills, sending boxes, buying toothpaste, eating ice-cream, checking your credit report, going to the dentist, back doctor, psychic, and Asian Spa must be done.

Shit must be done; there is no time for friendship, no time for sex, romance, conversations, swimming, relaxation, no time for happiness. Work must be done!

Josey had done his work.

It gave no rewards.

Josey graduated high school with good grades. No scholarship, no money, no sex for that.

Josey graduated from a state university with a business degree because his parents said he should go.

No rewards for that.

What does the world of free-market Information Age business want with a kid who has a business degree from a
state university, nothing, jack shit, no rewards there, no sex, no big house in Burbank, no 1970 mint-condition Camero, nothing but wasted time and money.

So there was Josey a thirty-year-old man wearing dirty underwear, jeans with holes in them, a mullet, and shirt with beer and coffee stains on it driving a shitty fucked up looking van down a shitty highway to his shitty home where no one cared he existed.

Josey continued to scream and holler at the top of his lungs while running the thoughts through his head.

Should I kill myself!

Should I not kill myself!

Josey didn’t recite Hamlet’s speech in his head, but it resembled it. Hamlet’s speech is in no way special; it is what all humans who kill themselves say in their heads while deciding to pop a cap in their face.

Josey didn’t know Hamlet’s speech either.

He went to college but didn’t know shit about literature, painting, or classical music.

He didn’t care, why should he?

A lot of people have read Hamlet and continued to kill themselves.

People committing suicide always make some kind of fantastic wager like if there is a shooting star in the next five minutes I won’t hang myself from this tree, or if the wind blows east I won’t do it.

I assume Josey thought of a similar concept.

He was probably like, “If the next car is blue, I won’t kill myself.”

Well, the next car that passed was blue, but he still wanted to kill himself.

He screamed in horror!

Bitched!

Smacked the dashboard!

Punched his own face!

Moaned!

Screamed!

But there was no answer.

Josey was out there alone..

Alienated disfigured!

Alone!

Full of violence!

Other people seemed like aliens, non-humans, beasts.

How could he feel anything but that, his parents apprenticed him and their other two boys like little businesses competing against each other for attention the parents were never willing to give.

His mother was a useless factory worker who would have worked at a fast-food-restaurant if it wasn’t for getting hired at the factory.

But since she did get hired at the factory she thought she was an elite member of the bourgeoisie.

She wasn’t, she was white trash.

A no-good narcissist who thinks Africa is a country, and Reagan was a great president.

She came from truck-driving stock that voted Republican because the rich do as she liked to say.

She wasn’t rich and neither were her family, they are a bunch of sluts, child-molesters, benny addicts, racists, misogynists, and losers.

Josey’s father was Sicilian mobster trash, the kind who blow buildings up, have people shot in their supermarket parking lots, rob their way into political offices, own booze stores, and basically are lazy and have cheated their way through life.

Which is fine with me, but they make lousy parents.

Josey decided to kill himself, the die had been cast, whatever that means.

He pulled the van over to the side of the highway.

He picked up his shotgun, loaded one bullet, and stepped out of the van.

Went over to the side of the van.

Put the gun in his mouth.

What are the very last thoughts of a person who actually kills themselves, who actually does it knowing there is no escape from the choice they have made. I don’t know.

I’m not going to assume that I know either. I’m not an asshole.

Well, he had the end of the gun in his mouth.

And BLAST!

Nothing happened, Josey died, that was all.

A huge hole was in the back of Josey’s head.

Josey no longer moved.

His heart stopped.

His thoughts stopped.

Nothing remained of Josey.

No more fun for Josey.

No more dancing.

Sex.

Drinking.

Partying.

Good times.

Goals.

Self-help quotes.

Movies.

Hunting.

Golf.

Music.

Work.

Tying his shoes.

Putting on his shirt.

Taking showers.

Swimming.

Conversations.

Needing to impress anyone.

Having to care of what other people think about him.

Needing to sell his labor to cheap no-good assholes.

Assholes.

Family.

Need to hope.

Lottery tickets.

Police.

Prostitutes.

Saying cheese when taking pictures.

Christmas.

Easter.

Fourth of July.

U.S. Presidents.

Religions.

Computers.

Prime-time sitcoms.

No more.

No more.

No more.

Josey died, and the world went on without him.

I don’t know if he has a tombstone I’ve never been to his grave.

Perhaps it is unmarked.

It should be.

It should say:

Here Lies an Outlaw

Because that is what he was in his last years an outlaw.

I think he was a drug runner for the Mexicans.

Don’t know though, but that’s everybody’s guess.

His heroes were from the movies like all good American kids. A lot of outlaws; moon-shiners were his favorite. Being a moon-shiner wasn’t in big demand when he became an outlaw, but drugs were, and that’s what he did.

*

My mother always said to me, “Monco, when starting a book, always start with a suicide, a murder, or a rape.”

So, I started the book with suicide; it’s her own son’s, so I hope she’s not mad. But since I had the chance of impressing her by using her advice I did it anyway..

I hope she is very happy with that first chapter.







.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We Go Liquid


Nice cover. Christian TeBordo's We Go Liquid is out now (although Amazon's page for it seems a bit screwy) from Impetus Press. Here it is on BN.com too. I've read it (on the plane back from Iowa City this summer) and found it highly pleasing. It has fingers getting cut off with an electric carving knife and so forth. And some other fucked up stuff... you should read it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Look here: A book called Midnight Brunch by a person whose last name is Acosta. Well, fuck that. My cover isn't going to look anything like this, at least.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saw the American Gangster screening. Liked it. Saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I don't think I can adequately describe how much I loved this movie. Like, with every fiber of my being, and my eyes kind of welled up because it was overwhelming. I made a token attempt on Huffington, however.

Very excited about this Haneke retrospective. Going.

Friday, September 21, 2007

online conversation w/ female friend who invited a guy on tuesday to a movie tonight and was alarmed when he waited three days to accept. still wants to go, but...

her: but i don't want him to think that my only plan for tonight was to go and see a film alone
even though it is true
also i'm sort of annoyed that he took so long

me: as would i be
bring a friend along, then, so it doesnt seem as if you were to go alone

her: hm
no friend will go

me: i would offer, but i'm going to see a film alone

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007



Man I feel like a fucking wreck today. Bad sore throat...insomnia for like a week. I just can't sleep anymore unless I stay up until 4 in the morning.

Friday, September 07, 2007

etc etc

Caught In the Valley of Elah screening last night. First half is powerful movie about grief and loss, second half is where contrivances start to sneak in, terrible song at the end. Overall not bad though. Tommy Lee Jones and his saddlebag ears are great. Reception afterward where rich old man tried to give me weed.

Started reading new book, seems good. Archipelago's an excellent press.





I don't know why people complain about those American Apparel ads that are all over New York. "Look underage" this, "in poor taste" that. I think they're great. I like how they seem to be shot on Polaroid and just look sort of unglamorous and slouchingly sexual. (They remind me of one of the best music videos of all time: Mark Romanek's video for Fiona Apple's "Criminal.") Glossy Ambercrombie and Fitch models bore me. The AA ads are sexy.

Friday, August 31, 2007

weekend lock-in

While nearly everyone I know will be spending this three-day weekend on vacation or at least be pretty profligate in their attendance of social events, I won't be leaving my apartment until Tuesday morning. Shades down, music on: much to do. God, it's going to be hard to do this without cigarettes. Quitting smoking was easy--I quit around end of June--but I now remember that it was so pleasant to smoke while taking a break from feverish writing. I miss it! But not that much. Eating apples, peaches, and grapes is a substitute behavior. I'm re-reading The Rachel Papers now. I have a stack of other books to read and write about. My day job is busier and busier. Has anyone seen Halloween or Death Sentence? I had a strong desire today to see both today, but the reviews were so terrible and my friends refused to go... they're probably shit anyway, it's good that I didn't go.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My review of Engleby by Sebastian Faulks, which is probably my favorite of the books I've read for the paper so far. This whole writing-for-a-newspaper thing has reminded me on what unsteady ground you are when reading someone's published writing and regarding it as his or her "own" writing. The edited & published version of the piece is often a good bit different (or a little bit different, but in ways that affect the sentences tonally, even if they don't affect the overall sentiment) from the original. The Engleby review needed more editing than most because I turned in a piece 100 words over the limit. So a lot of sentences understandably were condensed wherever possible. They mean the same thing, but now their construction is a little crabbed and curt. The books editor at the Sun is pretty great about editing (it's not like when I wrote for the paper in college and I'd have to go to their office every night before one of my pieces ran to delete all the bizarre hipster witticisms that they'd inserted) but occasionally there are weird things, like how I wrote "titular character" in the first sentence of the review and it was eventually changed to "eponymous character." In summary, Engleby is quite good.

Also, I am made reference to in a Bobby Farouk story.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

challenged by mouse

Totally fucking bizarre dream I just had. Went to sleep with a bunch of debris on my bed--books, notebooks, etc. Dreamed I was lying in bed with a bunch of debris on the bed. The debris included an open cereal box. A little mouse jumped on the bed and started running around. Somehow this mouse was my romantic rival--it thought it could steal my girlfriend! She had seen it in the subway, pointed to it, and said, "What a cute mouse!" It got into the cereal box and was nibbling on the cereal and sometimes coming to the mouth of the cereal box just to stare at me. All I had to do to trap it (and subsequently kill it) was close the box fast. But I was incapable of movement or speech. I was lying in bed but couldn't move and was absolutely sure I was awake. Tried to scream and couldn't--feared I was making some sort of bizarre croaking/keening noise instead. Thought I heard someone right outside my bedroom door say, "Nick?" The mouse kept nibbling the cereal and looking at me. Finally woke up and regained movement in my limbs, breathing hard, heart pounding. No cereal box, no mouse, no one outside the door.

After thinking about it, I believe the dream was related to this.

Last night, went around Brooklyn with EJ, we ate, went to Ned Vizzini's apartment, saw Bess and Olena from KGB plus Jami Attenberg and her editor plus Marty and Jess plus Ned's girlfriend S., then went to terrible place, then went to swim at 3 am: great and surreal.

Bourne movies make weak people throw up. Oh no, the camera's too shaky! Come on.

Finished reading Engleby, my really positive review of which should eventually materialize. Why does such a good book have a such shitty, uncreative cover design? Realized I badly want to reread The Rachel Papers. Now to write and eat.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

wretched hipster movie (updated with good movies)

Gawker editors have terrible taste. Who watches the trailer of Hannah Takes the Stairs and thinks, "Oh, that speaks to me"? I watched it and it made me want to kill five puppies.

Then I watched it again. Seriously, Hannah Takes the Stairs looks like the worst movie ever made.


UPDATE: But here are some trailers for movies I am anxious to see:

There Will Be Blood (PT Anderson, amazing)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (great trailer)



No Country for Old Men (link updated with red-band trailer)

Eastern Promises (Cronenberg)

Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen--inscrutable trailer but should be great)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Last night I went to a Rupert Thomson reading at McNally Robinson. He was quite good and I'll probably read his new novel. Then there was a discussion between Thomson and Maud Newton, which was good. I wandered away for a minute, found some copies of my book, and signed it. Then I came back and listened to the rest of the talk. After it was over, I suddenly noticed Richard Grayson in the audience. I went over to say hi, and then I met Maud for the first time in person. That was cool. She is cool. Then Richard introduced me to Edward Champion, another person I had corresponded with (and "guest-blogged" for repeatedly) but never met in person. We talked about Martin Amis and Ed's excellent interview with him. Then a person next to Ed was introduced by someone: "This is Matthew Cheney." Matthew Cheney reviewed Fires in Rain Taxi. It was a smart, pretty accurate review. Then Ed introduced the woman standing next to him: "This is Sarah Weinman." The entire crowd was composed of people whose names I knew and who knew my name but who I had never met in person. I talked to Sarah for a bit. There are some people who just have an encyclopedic knowledge of serial killers. I am almost one of those people. Sarah Weinman is one of those people. Afterward, I went home and took a little nap and woke up too late to go to my friend's birthday thing, as I had intended to do. Sorry, man.

Also, last night I had a dream that life on earth was about to be wiped out. We had about a day left.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

what to wear during an orange alert has a good name and interviewed me.

Huh. I went--well, was taken--to this spa one time. It didn't really seem weird. But I'd never been to a spa before and haven't since. Massages hurt.

Moving quickly all day today--and awake since 3 a.m. I can't get my sleep schedule right. I get it for a week and then it's fucked again.

I updated the description of Midnight Picnic.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A new Impetus Press release, We Go Liquid, is available for pre-order on Amazon. I've read it and it's very good.

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Some highly pleasing new old fiction. For you to read and enjoy.

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If you haven't read the Richard Preston article in last week's New Yorker, do. My dad pointed it out to me the other day. It's about a bizarre syndrome that causes people who suffer from it to mutilate themselves (biting off their own lips, compulsively putting their fingers in their mouths and gnawing them off) and also to do self-defeating, perverse things, like shout "fuck you" and "eat shit" to people they like. (One way you can tell if people who suffer from this syndrome dislike you is if they're being nice to you.) Most die young but some live to be adults. Some self-enucleate--pull their own eyes out.

If you don't have access to the article, email me. I made a .pdf.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I reviewed a very interesting novel called In Her Absence.

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Today is a horrible, disgusting day in New York City. It is muggy and sick and nauseating. The trains are broken. I was stuck on one for forty minutes this morning, and in the sickening subway station for twenty minutes before that. Started throwing up shortly after I got off, totally nauseous. I'm still sick now. My stomach feels like a shark fin keeps cutting through it. Back at home, trying to sleep.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I never sleep. The weekend was long. A bit of waiting in airports with rain all over the windows. I saw my parents and brother and went to the movies and we drove around in the fog a little and ate ice cream. Yesterday I stayed home sick. Read some books, did some writing. Midnight Picnic is (for me) a good thing to play with, a pleasure to touch and reshape. I'd like to go swimming. I'm listening to Lou Reed's Berlin right now, which is amusingly dour.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Midnight Picnic

A good thing: looks like Impetus Press will be publishing my next novel, Midnight Picnic, in or around May 2008.

Midnight Picnic is a ghost story, sort of. It has a skeleton being found on a lake shore after a storm, an old man who lives in the woods for twenty years, a depressed girl who sits in a bathtub, a bored lap dance from a stripper in New Orleans, and a road trip through the afterlife.

It is a (mostly) linear novel, but its "plot" is not normal.

Some early excerpts from Midnight Picnic:


atlantic city

shoals of ghosts

birthday

ocean that moves around

fast food restaurant

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mammals + HP interview + sex & IQ + crustaceans

I have a story on Identity Theory today.

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Posted an in-depth, professional, hard-hitting interview with literary wunderkind Helen Oyeyemi on the Huffington Post. (Apparently "the cut-and-paste Gchat aspect of it didn't go over well" with the Huffington Post editors, however...too bad!)

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Sex and intelligence. I mean, this is kind of intuitively plausible for the high school set. Certainly it reconciles comfortably with my experience/observations. Some of the data that appears later seems a little bizarre, though--only 56% of Princeton undergrads have had sex? Only 59% at Harvard? Difficult to believe.

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There's general agreement: the third Bourne thing is fucking awesome. And it is.

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I'm leaving town briefly this weekend to go see family, mostly because I want to go to the movies with my little brother. Talked to Impetus yesterday--they've signed a bunch of new authors. More news soon. Lot of free food lately.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

walken + codex s

Long strange weekend. Very strange. Not over yet. Look: Christopher Walken cooking a chicken.

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to look over a copy of Codex Seraphinianus. My friend David at the NYPL set this up. You can't take the book out but you can look at it. I only had about twenty minutes so I'll probably go back and pore over it again sometime. It really is lovely.

I only had my shitty camera phone--the RAZR is terrible; never buy it; you already know this--but I took some pictures. The quality is terrible but if you are curious about this strange book, which is written in a language of the author's creation (and it may be gibberish) click on a few and you will get at least an idea of what it is.

Horse/larva

Recursive bird hatching

Strange chicken

Strange fruits and vegetables

Death/life procedure

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Man, I cannot wait to see this movie. Paul Greengrass is getting up there with Park Chan-wook as one of my favorite modern directors.

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Tao Lin sent me some questions about my HuffPo Noah Cicero piece from yesterday. That Q&A is posted on 3 AM Magazine HERE.

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Interview with Lexy Benaim of the Harlem Shakes; is good; mentions Fires. Their EP , as I've said before, is a very good one...

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Look at this. But how are they defining "obesity"? Using the body mass index? Hasn't the definition changed during the time period shown?

In other news, I've begun writing a novel about the "obesity epidemic" in America.

Monday, July 23, 2007

new Huffington Post post + strange WWII dream


I wrote a profile-thing of Noah Cicero for Huffington Post.

Everybody who reads this site already knows who Noah is and has maybe read some of his books. (You can download Treatise for free, you know.) But ideally some HP readers will get an introduction.


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Memorable dream last night. Dreamed I was part of some espionage group that was infiltrating a compound in Nazi Germany. It was kind of a park-like place, laid out like Yale, with big quads and then buildings with many rooms.

We had entered the complex of buildings undetected and had to move stealthily. Nazi soldiers were always coming down the halls.

The thing was, a lot of rooms were often empty, but they had been set up for meetings that had been canceled or something. It seemed the Nazis ate a lot of desserts, because the tables were covered with bowls of whipped cream and strawberries and plates of delicious cakes and pastries. I just kept eating these delicious cakes and creamy desserts.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Midnight Picnic finished, sort of

It has been a long two days. Most notably, I finished what I think is the showable rough draft of Midnight Picnic. I sent it to my most trusted reader, the dedicatee of Fires, who loved about 90% of it and hated the other 10% and wants me to cut the specific subplot/subtext he hates.

He might be right but I don't think he is right. (I also, for what it's worth, don't agree with the "kill your darlings" edict. That is MFA talk.) To get a second opinion I have to find another reader who would be attuned to this book. I don't want to show it to most of my male writer friends, I think--they're mostly Martin Amis, Bret Ellis types who don't seem predisposed to get into...what the fuck should I call this...I'm not even sure...

Anyway, I need a strange reader.

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Also, spent yesterday wandering around a soccer tournament. There was a lot of free food and it was sunny. But I smoked too much and felt sick after. A pounding headache that lasted for hours. The barbecue probably didn't help much either. But I feel better now and it looks lovely outside.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

home + suicide

The irritation caused by delays and obnoxious fellow passengers (I hated the guy I was sitting next to on the flight today) on my return to New York was mitigated by the fact that the waiting allowed me to read and nearly finish Peter Singer's Rethinking Life and Death, a book that came out almost fifteen years ago and made some cogent and reasonable arguments for a reevaluation of the "sanctity of life" moral ethic, saying frankly that (among many other things) not all human life is of equal value and that it is reasonable to harvest organs from humans who will never regain consciousness even if they are not "dead."

He also writes at great length about the right of incurably ill patients to exercise control over their deaths and says that physicians should be allowed to assist in well-considered suicide efforts. I agree with this but I wonder (because he doesn't get into it) how the new ethical code he describes would deal with physically healthy patients who request assistance in taking their own lives. Well, you say to yourself upon reading the previous sentence, if a physically healthy person wants to commit suicide, then he or she must not be of sound mind and therefore incapable of rationally making the decision to commit suicide; psychiatric treatment is the answer here. But what if the person is of sound mind? Should people only have agency over their own deaths if they are incurably ill? If a healthy, sane patient goes to a doctor and says, "I'd like you to prescribe enough painkillers to me for me to commit suicide... If you don't, I'm still going to kill myself--maybe, say, with a handgun, in a sort of half-assed way largely based on what I've seen in movies--but I'm asking you first, because I'd like to do it painlessly and in a way such that the end is smooth and assured..." then is the doctor ethically obligated to prescribe the drugs? (Of course not. If I go to the doctor and say, "Prescribe me Ritalin. If you don't, I'm just going to buy it on the street, where it might be expired or tampered with," he's certainly not obligated to do that if in his medical opinion I don't need Ritalin.) Are there any circumstances in which a physician might be ethically obligated to assist a patient who isn't terminal or in agonizing physical distress in taking his or her own life?

Of course, the question underlying the one I posed above is whether there is ever a legitimate reason to take your own life if you are not terminally ill or in unbearable pain. (Also, does anguish--sadness, loneliness, self-loathing, etc--count as unbearable pain?)

So--is there?

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Maryland was pleasant. Ate a tremendous amount of apple/blueberry pie and pork tenderloin sandwiches (Singer would not approve, being a strong proponent of the animal liberation movement, apparently), and had mexican food with a neighbor/former classmate from many years ago.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Iowa

Briefly back in New York this evening; will leave again tomorrow for my grandmother's 90th birthday party.

Iowa: highly pleasing. Iowa City is a college town with good food. Impetus brought me out there, took me out to eat a lot, then we went to Prairie Lights Bookstore and did a reading. A lot of people came; it was a success. People from Boundoff. Other people--college students, some high school students. A chef. I can't remember. Everyone was nice. I signed like twenty-five copies of my book. The reading was for this radio show, which is on the Iowa affiliate of NPR. Then they interviewed us--mostly Jennifer and Willy, since it was about the press. The show is called 'Live from Prairie Lights,' but it's not actually live. It'll be broadcast, then available online, in the next week, I think.

After the reading we had a delicious meal of triple-grilled Kobe beef with bleu cheese mashed potatoes. This was really excellent. My publishers know how much I like food. This is good. Then I just sat around in my hotel room. Impetus arranged all this and it was very large and good.

I saw a copy of the Daily Iowan while I was there. Apparently it is a student-run newspaper that publishes in the summer--astonishing. Vanessa Veiock wrote a review of Fires; it is rather bracingly enthusiastic.

On the plane I read over Midnight Picnic and did some editing. All is well. Life is good today and yesterday was also very good. This is a good month, except when people annoy me.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

from Midnight Picnic
the beginning of a chapter in the second half of the book
click, then enlarge

Friday, July 06, 2007

A nice short story by Bobby Farouk.


Anyway, we took him upstairs, promising a reunion with his family, and when he sat down Williams shot him through the left eye. Something went wrong with that because he stood up, pointing and shouting at us.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

i'm ashamed

i went to see Transformers. it's just a bunch of...devices...squirming.

and saying things like, "GIVE ME THE CUBE, BOY."

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but life is good...eventful. mentally eventful. working on a new novel. working on Midnight Picnic. (soon presentable in rough form.) and i keep having strange encounters on subway cars.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tonight's nerve.com reading at McNally Robinson was very crowded, at least 60 people in the audience, and the bookstore is nice. I liked all the readers. I signed a lot of copies of Fires. I like signing books.

Any pleasure I might have derived from this very successful reading, however, was imperiled by an audience member who attended, sat quietly in the back throughout the entire event, and then berated me on the street afterward with furious accusations. I'm sure it didn't help that this person, who I usually like a great deal, was the basis for a character in the story I read. All in all, an evening as problematic as it was rewarding.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

gmail chat with helen oyeyemi

me: i need something
i dont know what it is

helen: what?
hmmmm

me: i think it's love, or unmitigated worship
or just money

helen: wowwwrrrr
it'll come, i expect
find something to fill the time
like maybe you could read all of proust

me: i need a lobster roll
every day

helen: sounds good
(vomits)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

GRANTS

Readers of this site, your attention please. I need to apply for some grants. Or fellowships or whatever, prizes, anything that gives you money for writing, or to write.

Some grants are not advertised or widely known. Tell me about any grants you know about, please. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

3:AM magazine asked if I wanted to give them 5 Tunes. I wrote about my Chan Marshall fixation.


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Interview with Noah Cicero.

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Starting to lose mind. So fucking busy. My mind doesn't thrive on overactivity; it likes to sort of lounge about and read books and strive toward the achievement of thoughtless sorts of pleasures, like food and sex, and then from time to time rise languidly from its squalid bed to produce some long-pondered piece of fiction. But lately...

HuffPost, reading, germs, YM&Fire

Here is a Huffington Post thing I wrote about Miranda July's story collection and the attention it's getting.

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Reading again tonight at KGB with Mike Edison, because the last time was a lot of fun. Again, Mike's band will be playing. I'll basically be opening for them.

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A couple days before I went to Ohio last week I felt nauseated and got a sore throat. The nausea went away but the sore throat didn't. It stuck around through Ohio, through Mosquito Lake and the "forest ghetto" and the strippers and the two planes rides, and it's still not gone. It's going, but not fully gone. New York germs are just absolutely horrific. This shit never used to hit me in New Haven, and I'm living a much, much healthier lifestyle now than I did then--my immune system should be able to just slap this garbage around. Fucking Darwinian bugs.

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Young Men and Fire. I've written about this before... amazing book. Here's a short thing I wrote about it. First published I think last month in Post Road.

Page One

Page Two

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Frederick News Post

An article in my old city paper. I really like the article. (Although for the record, the Impetus details are a little off; they're in Iowa, not NY, and I emailed them.) I should re-read The Magus soon.


In Youngstown I saw this sign outside a car wash. This is the only advertising the car wash had. Imagine if you were on acid and drove past it.

And here is a picture of Noah at Mosquito Lake where he got spinal meningitis by swimming in it as a kid. And here is a picture of me and Noah at Mosquito Lake. We didn't take many pictures because neither of us had a digital camera. These were on my cell phone camera.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm in Youngstown, Ohio, at Noah's house. We went to a lake where he got spinal meningitis once (we saw an old man catch a large green fish) and we drove around some housing projects. Last night we played pool with two Puerto Rican dancers at the strip club. I walked around Noah's neighborhood and read his new manuscript. It's been a pleasure, very interesting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Patti Smith covering Smells Like Teen Spirit. Interesting take.

Thanks Marty.

Next couple days, out of town, I think.

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I have a short piece (not available online, unfortunately) in the latest print issue of Post Road, recommending Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire, the book from which the epigraph of Fires is taken.
I wrote an essay for The L Magazine's Book issue.

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I'd like to take a moment just to duly note that last night's reading at KGB Bar was pretty insane. Mike Edison and I were the only readers. It started about an hour late, but that was fine because there were a lot of people there--50 or 60. I'd never seen almost any of them before. (Exactly 4 came to see me: EJ, Marty, his girlfriend Jess, and my friend David, who gave me a copy of Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance, which I've never read but will now.) I read a passage I've never read before and hadn't really re-read beforehand--I felt like it was a little awkward but at this point I've done so many readings...whatever. A nice girl bought a copy of the book. Then Mike Edison read, which was the insane part. His band, which I think is called Edison Rocket Train, accompanied him. They played kind of like--I don't know, the Lounge Lizards? Do you know the Lounge Lizards? With John Lurie? They're terrific. So is Edison Rocket Train. Mike read about working in porn and at High Times and so forth, smoking "cocaine cigarettes" and...I can't remember, but it was "intense." Unusual and pleasing reading.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I hate Ted Nugent because he presents his bullying harangues as "tolerance" and recites clich├ęs while acting as if he's some kind of iconoclast. This made me laugh. It's just a list of strident opinions presented as facts with no evidence to support them. His entire, complete argument against the estate tax:

"The unfair, un-American, unconstitutional death tax literally destroys mom-and-pop businesses across the land. Think about it."

Go on--think about it.

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"class matters" at Yale... a friend forwarded this to me a moment again, and much as i hate linking to wretched gawker, it's worth it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

publishing stuff

I have a story that's about 10,000 words long. The only place i can think of offhand that publishes things of that length is Cloverfield Press.

Reader: tell me if you know other good ones.

I am out of touch with the literary magazine scene now, somehow. I haven't been paying attention, just writing novel length stuff.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

an interview + there will be blood

Blake Butler interviewed me for Word Riot, Jackie Corley's online literary magazine. I dream cast an imaginary Fires movie and talk about a lot of other things.

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I love Paul Thomas Anderson. Boogie Nights and Magnolia are movies that never cease to please me. Here is the strange, wonderful trailer for his newest, There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Friday, June 15, 2007

miami

It was fun.

I got a lot of writing material in addition to my sunburn. I wasn't required to spend time with people from my firm if I didn't want to. The sky at night was red and beautiful. Unfortunately I don't have pictures of that.

But here are pictures of other things.


i wrote on the plane

i was dazed on plane beside ej

i encountered seaweed

i got past the seaweed

some yale people inexplicably showed up

i wore sunglasses

Thursday, June 14, 2007

eating the creatures of the sea

A question for the few readers of this blog--is there any rational reason to become a vegetarian who doesn't eat seafood? (I know there are seemingly rational arguments for becoming a vegetarian who doesn't eat, say, cows and pigs. But I like eating them. Interesting piece about vegetarianism.)

Particularly shellfish--oysters, etc? Does an oyster feel pain?

cocaine, writing projects, new books

Another Huffington Post piece by me (but titled by them). About cocaine this time.

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What I really need to do--but am afraid to--is reread Midnight Picnic and get started on the edits. (What I also need to do is sell this other manuscript, but that's another story.)

Last night I read Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island. Despite a great title (creepy, no? and strange), it was boring. I read it in like two hours. Now I'm beginning Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. I'll reserve judgment until I've read further.

Tonight I'm off to a photography class, where as a favor to EJ I'm to be the photographed, not the photographer, even though my whole face is peeling off as a result of the Miami beach weekend. But maybe I can get a good author photo.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This pleases me. Why?

back from water

Back from Miami. Night swimming was a pleasure. I failed to read any of the books (or unpublished manuscripts) I intended to read while there. Okay. Regarding the previous post (brief exchange with Marty about the decade of our "youth"), I agree with both Kati and Ned's comments, actually (but only in spirit--I don't like many of the books/films/musicians they cite). I just posted it because it was a funny exchange on instant messenger right before I left for Florida.

Politically I do feel it has been one of the most unpleasant decades for America in the last fifty years--worse even than the 80s, due to Iraq and a president who it seems may truly believe he follows the orders of a stern creature that lives beyond the sky.

Culturally though, yes, not shitty at all. In terms of books, just The Known World is a ten ton gorilla. Treatise, I loved too. TV-wise, The Shield, I love. The Sopranos, I don't. (Though the final scene of last night's series finale was, I thought, masterful.) Cinematically the '00s are nowhere near as bad as the 80s. When I think of 80s film, I have the impression of only like 2 or 3 extraordinary American movies being released during that entire decade. Raging Bull, The Shining (both of which came out in 1980 and were therefore made in the 70s, like a last gasp of that cinematically indelible decade), uh, maybe Blood Simple...um...

This current decade has done better, I think (let's caveat this entire post by saying it's all, obviously, my very subjective opinion): Requiem for a Dream, Children of Men, War of the Worlds (yes--I thought Spielberg's version was a great movie), Undertow,
as well as--

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Okay, I wrote that last bit about two hours ago and then I had to go to lunch and now I'm back. I don't care about talking about that anymore. I had lunch with a hyperbolically intelligent person. A particle physicist who explained to me why the physicist who best understands muons will probably be the one to identify the Higgs once the LHC begins running in only a couple years. And how "the new physics" will soon begin. And how string theory, while mathematically beautiful, is unverifiable and thus considered by many of his colleagues to be a sort of cultish religion. And many other, far more complex subjects of which an attempted explanation on my part would probably result in mangled information.

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Reading on June 19th at KGB with Mike Edison, feel free to come.

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Regarding a new novel by Alan Cheuse: That's annoying.

Friday, June 08, 2007

[Marty]: do you ever feel cheated that the decade of your youth is going to be remembered as one of the shittiest ever, politically and culturally?

[me]: no, it's fine

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A particularly good Bobby Farouk story.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Huffington Post

I'm fairly surprised they actually posted this. I like the Huffington Post.
I'm losing my mind today--I cannot concentrate. Worse, a server is down at work and I can't do anything, further encouraging mindless diversions, like this (listen with sound). Wait, I have my particle physics book here. Hydrogen has only one proton. Only 20 atoms of francium exist at any given instant. The internet was invented at CERN.

natural languages

beautiful, ominous, inevitable.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

trips

Some minor trips around the U.S. in the next six weeks.

My employer is sending us--me, EJ, some others--to Florida this coming weekend. No particular purpose. Sitting on the beach, I suppose. Writing a little.

Then to Ohio to visit a friend--much more on that later.

Then briefly to Iowa for a reading.

And at some point, Maryland, for my grandmother's 90th birthday.

I prefer trips that involve very short plane rides--two hours or less. Cruising altitude is lower and you can see the ground (and the plane is smaller, usually). When I have a window seat, it makes me feel calm and I feel like I have a lot of time to think, and then I do think, usually, and due to my state of calmness, my thoughts are more rational. It's like meditation or something.
This woman, actually, sounds like an appealing girlfriend. I'm not trying to be amusing.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Noticed Fires on the "staff pick" table in the fiction dept. of the Union Square Barnes & Noble; took a picture before my cell phone battery died; bought some soy milk; drank the soy milk. Good staff.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I have a "tall tale" short story on The Barcelona Review. It has swans being guillotined, and a Boerboel.
With Marty Beckerman last night at Lolita. Young authors bitching, etc.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

publishing's a bitch

tonight i was talking to quite a few other writers--all young-ish novelists, none above their early thirties. some got rich deals for their first books; others, like me, published on independent presses for pretty much no financial reward. of them, only one has easily found a publisher for his/her most recent book. everyone is fatalistic and frustrated. i've got two new novels, one maybe novella, and maybe a collection. Midnight Picnic is written but rough. Strangelets doesn't exist beyond a few pages and may never, or may yet--too early to know. i think/hope Impetus will be publishing another of my novels. everything feels like thin ice and i feel largely indifferent, except that a) i want money and b) i want to write without any consciousness or consideration of money. see title of post.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Naming the two new Yale residential colleges. I like Nathan Hale College and Charles Ives College. I would definitely want to live in Charles Ives College. Or Coffin College--it would be great to have one called Coffin College.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Full house last night at KGB. Amy Fusselman (in blue) read accompanied by a monster truck video. Her new novel sounds good. I was jetlagged and sick and read briefly: just two elimae pieces from Midnight Picnic.

(Also: behold the site of our charming and charismatic hostess.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

solipsism

One of my third grade classmates picked up and read Fires. (I recall having a sleepover at his house once.) Yes, I found that post by blogsearching my own name. Jetlag has reawakened (so to speak) my insomnia. With a vengeance. It was gone for a while. I slept maybe an hour last night. Read a book. Watched TV. Considered the rational underpinnings of solipsism as a basis for a philosophy of how to live. Unsurprisingly I see none: even though it is theoretically rational to be agnostic about the existence of all things other than oneself* (just as agnosticism is the most rational religious philosophy), it is irrational for, ironically, reasons of self-interest to behave in practice as if nothing else exists**.

(That's assuming that if I believe my consciousness is all that truly exists, then self-interest becomes my only rational motivation for any behavior or decision. Which seems a correct assumption because if I'm the only thing that exists, what other interest could there be? Is it also correct to assume that instant gratification would then become a guiding principle of how to live? Perhaps not, because if "sooner" exists as a different thing than "later," then time exists, and that is something that is not my mind. That argument can be expanded to all qualia; even if I can't verify the existence of external forces, I still perceive them and feel their effects, which is why I prefer to have something I want "sooner" rather than "later." If I were fully convinced that nothing existed outside my mind [that everything was an illusion], and if my desires/perceptions could be made to obey my mental calculations, I would have no preference for anything at all. Therefore the most rational way to live with regard to the idea of solipsism, against which no ironclad empirical argument can be made, is nominal agnosticism toward the existence of all things outside the mind but practical acceptance of their reality as well as of the ability of other conscious beings to experience qualia. Which is in fact totally intuitive and most everyone except sociopaths does it without contemplation.)


* For the obvious reason that each quale, or individual experience, is available to one and only one consciousness. Am I wrong about this? Is there any example that contradicts this?

**For the even more obvious reason that such behavior would probably result in painful "real world" consequences, such as jail.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

still meandering in france, extremely sporadic web access

impetus sent me a link to the Dogmatika review of Fires