brothercyst: 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tom* vs. Rich** (probably not of interest to anyone who reads this except Tom or Rich!)

Okay I'm going to do a little bit more revising and then go out for the traditionally desultory celebration of an arbitrary milestone. Tritest night of the year, yes. Wait why don't I not go to any parties, stay in, and try to meet a stranger for sex on craigslist?? Ugh, not two years in a row.

Anyway, happy new year!


* codemonkey
**seamlessweb VP

Monday, December 29, 2008


Chandrahas Choudhury sent me his list of best books of the year and I had to admit I hadn't read any of them except part of Netherland.

Mike Young's Noo Journal 9 is out, with an excerpt from Strangelets (which is still so far from a final draft it's not even funny).

A giant anthropomorphic continental rabbit that could talk (but mostly would just sigh) and be endearingly grouchy would probably be the ideal grandparent.

I don't want to go to work tomorrow.

GIRL IN WINDOW

Images from some sort of lingerie/fetish photo shoot going on in the building across from my bedroom window a few days before Christmas. (She's holding a whip or riding crop in the second one, although you can't really see it.) Snapped quickly before I had to dash out to see Man on Wire--just rediscovered them on my memory card. This window, which is the size of the whole wall, has afforded me lots of entertainment over the years. I've even made friends through the window.





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

I think I want a new apartment (not because of this). But they're so expensive. I have a good deal on this one. But I've lived here a long time. And I'll have to requalify when the lease runs out. Fuck. Who knows of a cheap place?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

MERRY POST-CHRISTMAS LIP-POP

I hope everyone had a good holiday. I did. It was freezing when I left New York. It was five a.m. and I woke up at my friend's house in Brooklyn and walked outside and everything was ice. I was pretty much asleep and I took a real spill on the ice, not as bad as when I went ice skating, but still a body-on-the-ice situation. Then I got on the plane and fell asleep and got to Maryland and it was already warm. My dad's friend's grandson from Mexico is staying with us. We went to the Hirschhorn and saw the infamous Ron Mueck "Big Man."

For Christmas I got a lot of books, maybe some other things, a pair of nice slippers, a nice shirt from Mexico, a bottle of mezcal with the worm in it, some prescription drugs that were my present to myself, and a jacket that isn't here yet.

Yes, lots of books. I got Mating by Norman Rush, Light in August by Faulkner, Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, Shadow Country by Peter Mathiessen, and maybe something else, I can't remember right now. In the bookstore I picked up a paperback of The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg, my favorite novel from 2007, and noticed that the quote on the cover is from my review.













I also saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Some beautiful, amazing moments, but they're isolated, and I didn't like the movie much. The deathbed framing device is damning... rarely have I seen clearer evidence built into the structure of the movie that the filmmakers lacked confidence in the strength of the story they were telling.

But probably the best part of the last few days was when I went to the doctor at NYU cancer center for a lump in the flesh of my lip. "Well, it's either a tumor or a mucocele," he said. "We'll just see." So he anesthetized my lip and then took a syringe with a huge needle and stuck the needle into the lump... which immediately popped and I saw a fat droplet of clear fluid burst into the syringe. Oh my god. Why are experiences involving the sudden, slightly painful extraction of matter from the body (pulling loose teeth, bursting ripe zits) so satisfying?

Monday, December 22, 2008

THREE FILMS AND A VIDEO CLIP

This weekend I saw Gran Torino, The Wrestler, and Man on Wire.

Gran Torino and The Wrestler are very very similar movies--both feature aging Hollywood icons (one elder statesman, one prodigal son) playing men long past their prime who confront death and dredge up old skills/abilities for one last big harrowing scene. Both stories are incredibly formulaic--they revel in formula, they roll around in it, they make no apologies. Both lead performances aren't performances, they're audience-pleasing caricatures. (And they are most pleasing.) Eastwood's face and Rourke's face are like the sides of mountains. The pleasure in these cases isn't in seeing people act. The pleasure is in watching their faces be faces. The permutations of Eastwood-face and Rourke-face are limited but quite mesmerizing. Actually what I've said is a little misleading. Eastwood has a face. Rourke has a slab of face.

What mostly differentiates the movies is style. Gran Torino is classical Hollywood cinema mode, shot-countershot, establishing shots, etc. The Wrestler is faux cinema verite, with grainy stock and handheld camera, attempting to capture the "grittiness" of strip clubs and crappy gyms where downmarket wrestling matches are held. It does feel "real."

That said, I liked Gran Torino a lot more. I admired The Wrestler but was mostly bored. (I would have preferred to see The Stripper, starring Marisa Tomei's supporting character.) Gran Torino doesn't feel "real" (the gangbangers seem like actors, the dialogue feels like dialogue) but it employs formula rules in a very effective way... formula rules function to get the audience emotionally invested in the story, that's IT, and that's exactly what happens here... but it turns out to be an insidious tactic, because while Eastwood does religiously follow the formula playbook until the very end, cranking up your anticipation, making you believe a certain thing is going to happen, making you look forward to violence--at the last moment, he pulls the rug right out. Punishes the audience for looking forward to violence. As I left the theater, it actually reminded me of Funny Games in the way it manipulates your desire to see brutality onscreen and then subverts that desire. It's not a confrontationally radical film in the way that Haneke's is--it brilliantly makes the subversion/punishment work as an audience-pleasing ending!--but it's radical all the same.

Man on Wire. Man on Wire is fucking lovely. It's the story of a narcissistic egomaniac who enlisted his friends and girlfriend to--for years--help him live out his dreams of tightrope-walking above places like Notre Dame and the World Trade Center. It's more suspenseful than just about anything I've seen all year. And honestly it is beautiful. It will cause grinning.

****

Also this weekend I saw a few seconds of that viral video of a murder that happened in the Ukraine. You may have heard of this too, but I hope you had better sense than me and didn't click on it. Apparently those kids are on trial now, and one can only hope they stay locked in jail for their entire lives.

"Space Oddity" by Cat Power

What the fuck... come on... release the whole cover.

Friday, December 19, 2008

MIDNIGHT PICNIC KINDLE [UPDATE]

I was wrong about this earlier. If you have a Kindle, you CAN read Midnight Picnic on it now.

So...

Read Midnight Picnic on your Kindle. (print not fucked up)

SNOWSTORM IN TIMES SQUARE




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THOUGHTS JUST AFTER FINISHING 2666

My feelings about 2666 are extremely mixed; in fact, they're in conflict with one another. Not only do I feel that some parts were boring/pretentious while other parts were engrossing, I found some parts somehow boring/pretentious and engrossing. I have very little patience for books I'm not enjoying and I have no reluctance to put a book down forever if I'm not getting "pleasure"* from it. But there were parts of 2666 where I was bored, exasperated, and resentful (of Bolaño for boring me), and I still didn't put the book down. I did occasionally skim, but I'll get to that later.

(I will say one thing right off--the critical adoration for Bolaño seems to me more inflated than the real estate market was in the summer of 2007. I'm thinking in particular of the infamous NYT review by Jonathan Lethem, whose novels I have sometimes enjoyed, but who I must now and forever consider to be a person who smokes crack. Rereading that review, it seems to me to be literally the ravings of an insane person. "a landmark in what’s possible for the novel as a form in our increasingly, and terrifyingly, post-national world...delivering itself into our hearts, sentence by questing, unassuming sentence..." Are you kidding me? And his favorable comparison of Bolaño to two other giants of modern popular fiction--Murakami and Ellroy--only serves to remind me how much more resonant, affecting, and memorable their huge, eccentric novels about human evil, L.A. Confidential and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, are than 2666.)

Although the manuscript was apparently finished before Bolaño died, it feels like a first draft. Bolaño veers too often and too arbitrarily into random digressions about previously unheard-of characters. I'm going to try to give you an idea of what these passages are like by writing a paragraph in the style of Bolaño:

Alfonso was holding a book, either hardback or paperback, called Reflections on a Melancholy Diadem. For some reason it reminded him of another book, The Prismatic Email, which he had read in 1997 in Italy while his ex-wife Ramona was in the bathtub, either talking to God or knitting. One summer when it was very hot, Ramona went hitchhiking to Brussels with her lesbian seer friend Rafaela, whose words seemed to tremble like a bronchitic and morally horrified earthworm that was more gigantic than anything that had ever existed, more gigantic than the world even, although it lived, and always had lived since the beginning of time, or even before the beginning of time, in the space between an infant's eyelid and his eyeball. Ramona and Rafaella were going to see a famous circus clown, not really famous but admired in certain circles, who had gone insane and was now living peacefully in an asylum. On the trip, they only ate tuna fish sandwiches or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, one or the other.

And on and on.

Most of these digressions are totally boring and intolerable, and after a while I began to skim them. I didn't start skimming until near the end of Book 2, "The Part About Amalfitano," which is maybe the worst of the books. In it, a scholar named Amalfitano finds a book in his house that he doesn't remember buying, so he hangs it on a clothesline in the backyard and watches it. Later, he draws geometric figures, and at their vertices he writes the names of philosophers and writers. Still later--in the most exciting part!--that book reminds him of another book about Araucanian Indians and ancient Greeks. That book is then summarized.

I really can't emphasize how extraordinarily boring this is.

The third book, "The Part About Fate," is also fairly bad. The main character is named Fate. We are subjected to a tedious monologue from a completely unncessary character, a faux-mystical ramble about his wanderings. Slightly interesting things begin to happen--we hear about murders happening on the edge of the desert.

The fourth book, "The Part About the Crimes," is the one everyone talks about. It is a list of murder scenes. It is a desert of boredom containing sites of interest. Once in a while, things happen--certain characters reappear (a suspect, a few detectives). Young women are being killed in a Mexican city. We don't see the crimes, we just get a detached third person voice describing the bodies. Always, "the hyoid bone was fractured." Occasionally there are scenes of horrific prison torture and murder. (These scenes are much more disturbing than the murders, which we never "see.") I found this section the most problematic--it is generally tedious, for one thing, but worse, I think it's exploitative. I haven't heard anyone else say this about 2666, but I really felt like Bolaño was using the murders for easy literary capital--using the dead women as props, as flavor, and illuminating nothing. (Remember, these are based on real murders--hundreds of women dumped in the desert outside Juárez.) Describing horrific crime scenes in a politely repetitive tone for 300 pages isn't interesting, productive, compelling... it's wasteful and it's boring, and after a while I became angry at Bolaño for building his novel around this litany in what seems a very arbitrary way. Certainly a powerful novel involving the Juárez murders (which do feel apocalyptic and unreal) could have been written. This isn't it.

The first book ("The Part About the Critics") and the fifth book ("The Part About Archimboldi") are the best, although in retrospect the first feels a bit arbitrary (in fact, "arbitrary" might be the best word to describe the entire novel, toward which, as I read, I kept mentally directing words like, "Why?" and "So?"). The fifth doesn't quite bring things together, but it is the most engrossing, and the sequences involving its protagonist wandering through WWII and swimming in the ocean as a child are sometimes easy to get lost in (in a good way, I mean). It also contains the novel's best sequence, a digression (yes, another) about a mid-level Third Reich bureaucrat who got an unexpected trainload of Jewish prisoners delivered to his obscure town and put them to work as street sweepers, until he was informed that they had only been sent to him by accident and were actually destined for Auschwitz... but since he had them already, could he please just go ahead and dispose of them? It's this section that reminded me a little of Murakami's Mongolia chapter from Wind-Up Bird.

So I liked those two books, even though I did skim some digressions in Five, and there is something compelling about the whole thing--the aura of creeping death, the sense that artistic genius (Archimboldi) is only a fleck of genetic material removed from sociopathic, perhaps homicidal weirdness (Klaus Haas), the feeling of the Mexican desert being the center of some horrible impending paradigm shift in human evil. Certain recurring images (the giant, the swaying stalks of seaweed) take on a totemic feeling. I kept reading because something pulled me along, and I often felt/hoped that if I wasn't enjoying what I was reading, I might enjoy the next part. And when I found parts I liked, I was thrilled--but it always seemed to throw itself away again. Like in the novel's final passage, with its silly, solemnly "meaningful" anecdote about the inventor of a kind of ice cream. That's how he ends his 900-page book? I'm not saying it couldn't work... but it doesn't. On some level I deeply admired the novel and what it was trying to do... but I wanted it to do it better.


* "pleasure" in the reader's sense, meaning addictive stimulation, meaning any strong emotion excluding boredom or moral repulsion directed toward the author. so fear and horror can be kinds of pleasure in this case.

Friday, December 12, 2008

**WAIT, HOLD ON A SECOND: "DIFFICULT AUTHOR" DELAY**


Okay, so... the novel that has been subject to all sorts of delays (original Impetus release date: Spring 2008!) will have one more last-minute delay.

Some printed copies of Midnight Picnic emerged from the printer about a week back, but I didn't see them until a couple days ago, and when I did, I wasn't happy with the interior*. So Jackie and I talked about it and we both agreed we should push it back and take the time to re-set the font and get new copies. I've already done some interviews for the book and there are reviews and so forth... but we'll get all that moved to a bit later. Publishing--it's an adventure!

***Anyway, the new copies will be ready on or before FEBRUARY 15, two months from now.***

And here, incidentally, is a post by a reader (of one of the hard to read copies)...


* When the book switched from Impetus to Word Riot, we decided for the sake of speed to just go with the files that already existed, although I didn't love the font. Well, bad call on my part--in the printed copies, at least many of them, the font is just indisputably fucked-up and hard to read (although the look of the book is otherwise beautiful). My grandmother called me up about her copy, because that one was so light she couldn't read it. Some are worse than others. If you too got one of the copies that's really hard to read, email me, and we'll get you a replacement copy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

LEAVING

About to go home. My dad's doing a concert at the Library of Congress tonight. (Come if you're in D.C.) Then I'm hibernating and writing and spending time with my family for a couple days.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Joe the Plumber: a TRUE FUCKING IDIOT. This bottom-of-the-food-chain redneck reptile was maybe the most pathetic of the minor players in the 2008 election. His smug, sheltered, have-a-beer-and-hock-up-a-bromide brand of store-bought "patriotism" literally turns my stomach. And now here he is, still shitting from his mouth: "Sarah Palin is absolutely the real deal..."

I absolutely despise this child-man.

MIDNIGHT PICNIC ON AMAZON

UPDATE: Blake at HTMLGIANT posted this great mash-up of Dylan Thomas reading to a Dr. Dre beat.

FYI, it's on Amazon for pre-order.

(But remember, better to buy from Word Riot and support independent publishing.)

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

Ned wrote a good post about regrets.

2666 summary (first half)

Dread and whimsy.

HTMLGIANT winners


Ben Spivey and Ken Baumann won the death contest at HTMLGIANT.

Ken already has Midnight Picnic so his copy will float in the ether or be given to someone else and I will buy him a drink sometime.

There were also runners-up who receive a prize if they email me their mailing addresses.

Thanks for dying.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A POEM: TONIGHT I FEEL LIKE _______

I'm semi-sick but it's a weird kind of sick.

Sinuses are clear; skull is crammed with cotton & face is hot.

Body is tender & sore.

It snowed tonight and I wished I was in a cabin in the woods.

I'm in my bedroom in New York, reading 2666.

Intermittently tired.

Many interesting movies are out--Milk, Man on Wire, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire.

NO LETS GO SEE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE.

I saw Punisher: War Zone tonight for no defensible reason.

It sucks.
Somebody came to this site by googling "is a walrus a reptile."

NO A WALRUS IS NOT A REPTILE.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

WIN A COPY OF MIDNIGHT PICNIC

from HTMLGIANT

go there now


MIDNIGHT PICNIC EXISTS

There are copies of Midnight Picnic out in the world right now. Good job, Word Riot--that was fast.

If you pre-ordered from the Word Riot website, which you can and should still do (it will be on Amazon shortly, but ordering from the publisher is better and avoids the Amazon skull-fuck), the books will ship today, I think.

Official release date is still 12/15.




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

Furthermore, I do like the walruses.




Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'M SICK...

Home from work today, sick. My leg hurts for some reason also... I feel anxious because I didn't go swimming this morning.

Was The Dark Knight the best movie of the year?

Most smart people I know didn't like it. I loved it.

I think I didn't get a grant I applied for... disqualified for having a book published even though the print run was low... fuck.

Instead of reading quality books right now I'm reading true crime books. The Man With the Candy... titles like that.

Sick...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

GIVING ORANGES FOR CHRISTMAS

Well, Jackie tells me that you have been pre-ordering Midnight Picnic from the Word Riot site. Good job, readers. For those who haven't, consider it--buying directly from the (independent) publisher avoids the "Amazon skull-fuck." That's what independent publishers call it. You don't want that to happen to independent publishers, do you? Books are nice Christmas presents. (I'm getting a book and a shirt, I think. My family's poor this year!)

I finished another draft of that novel about the nervous breakdowns, now time to let it sit for a bit (which means send it to the one person who can see my shitty first/second/third drafts... the one person... please live forever, B) and then fuck with it some more. I cut like 10,000 words and wrote some new scenes and restructured most of the first section.

Tomorrow: Thanksgiving with blood relations. Food, rest, calm.

God, the days lately are insane. I shut down my brain and play the same adrenalized rap song over and over again as I massage numbers and cell comments and =sum( formulas in excel spreadsheets for hours. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

SHIELD ENDS

The final episode of The Shield was on tonight.

NY Times
Newsday
("The episode is one of the truly great finales in TV history, and - like "The Shield" itself - a towering achievement for this medium.")
Chicago Tribune ("I don’t really know how any show could come up with an ending any better than “The Shield’s” final outing.")
Salon ("Holy mother of all finales!")


Now that they can't drop the ball, it's official:

Favorite show of all time, hands down.

Monday, November 24, 2008

SO COLD OUTSIDE

It's so cold outside my testicles hurt just thinking about it. And Tom wants to go to a movie! Anyway, I am back in the city. Reading something called Hollywood Animal, one of the more criminally entertaining things I've read in a long time. Did a lot of revising this weekend.

Probably this will be a terrible movie, but that water... I've had nightmares exactly like that.

Story in New Haven Review, a literary magazine run by Brian Slattery. This story has been floating around for a while and is finally published. It was nominated for Best New American Fiction 2006. It's called "The Thickness of Clown Blood." You can download it here. They called me a "short story master"... this is an unsubstantiated claim and has never been made before, by anyone... it is a quark-claim. (I'm so flattered!!) And the non-me sections of the issue look pretty great...

Issue #3 of New Haven Review is available in full PDF glory here. It features terrific stuff from Jess Row, one of Granta's "Best Young American Novelists"; legendary cult-fave writer Jim Knipfel; Willard Spiegelman, editor of Southwest Review, whose new book is forthcoming from FSG; poets George Witte and Ian Ganassi; photographer Desirea Rodgers; short story master Nick Antosca; and essayists Joy Ladin and Stephen Ornes. It's our best issue yet (although the other two were pretty decent, if we may say so).

And a review of GUD #3.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

BOOKS

EDIT: Looks like they're sold out at Powell's already? Maybe they'll get more, I don't know.

about to depart, but first a note:

"Rat Beast" sold out at ML Press, but you can buy it for $2 now, for a limited time, from Powells.com.

Buy "Rat Beast" from Powell's here. I'm not sure if the $2 includes S&H, like it did from the publisher.

Even better idea--pre-order Midnight Picnic from Word Riot Press.

My stomach is knot of stress. I'm getting everyone oranges for Christmas.

SURREAL

The guy in the bloodstained pants slaughtering turkeys behind Palin, grinning at the camera. Wow.



And listen to these two early songs by Charles Manson.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NEW JERSEY BURNING

Mountain of smoke from an overturned New Jersey tanker, seen from my office window, this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SHREDS

Grimness. I might have to go out of town for a few days. Better to think of distracting things.

Like how good the penultimate episode of The Shield was. The plot is so labyrinthine now that there are some inevitable holes (didn't the feds want to know what Vic wanted immunity for??), but the brilliant character writing makes up for it ten times over. Mackey's confession scene was incredible (as this guy orgasmically gushes), and I love the perversity of the scenario the show's writers managed to set up: Anything Mackey can confess to, he gets immunity for, and any falsehood in the confession invalidates the immunity, so he has to fully confess, in one sitting, to every crime he's ever committed. Multiple murders, torture, everything. Brilliant episode, one of the best ever, great last line: "I've done worse."

Last night was surprising. Got free bottle of absinthe at the Moth Ball. Worked on Strangelets late night. Had healthy conversations.

I have a huge crush on L.A. attorney Allison Margolin. Look how stoned she is in her self-promotional video!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

EMAILS, PHONE CALLS, DREAD (plus MLP & MP comments)

The dread-to-pleasure ratio of the emails and phone calls I received today was not good. Generally frightening things are happening. But some good. I got an email forwarded by an editor... an author I admire wrote to him about me... I exist.

Also, J.A. Tyler read and enjoyed Midnight Picnic.

Also, here are HTMLGIANT reviews of the three new MLP press chapbooks, including "Rat Beast."

Here's another person who read and liked "Rat Beast."

And another, JSS from the UK, who blogged about Midnight Picnic also.

Thank you for reading, readers.

My friend Rob Spiro won a Hawaiian dance competition against MC Hammer the other day. This is true. He's in a tech start-up and MC Hammer has started a tech start-up and they were at a conference where that was one of the activities.

Last night I went to Momofuku Ko. Outside of New York this means nothing to anyone. It was delicious.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I LOVE DOGS

Midnight Picnic begins with a dog being crushed but surviving.

I love dogs.

When I was a kid I rolled over on a dog while I was asleep and to this day I have a small scar on my face from that incident.

Today has been fairly stressful day with too many phone calls of a bad nature, but this dog video cheered me up:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amazing images of the fires in Los Angeles. Jesse is out there right now & just called me about the fire. I looked at a lot of pictures like this when I was writing/researching Fires. Just the other day I wrote a new fire story, "Playground in the Fire." I need to send that out. I'm lazy. Read Young Men and Fire. It's one of my favorite nonfiction books.

CREATIVE EUPHORIA IS BETTER THAN HEROIN AND COCAINE MIXED TOGETHER (AND IT DOESN'T EVEN KILL YOU)

Okay, fine, don't ever comment on my posts. I know from statcounter that 60-100 unique visitors come to this blog every day, but I have the anxious suspicion that most are people who hate me and just lurk to see if I have disgraced myself in some way or lost my shit.

I had lunch today with another writer and we talked about an idea and I am always shocked when I remember how good it feels to get excited about an idea and go with it. So good. Better than any drug, better than sex, better than anything else. Just had a glimmer of that today, that stirring of memory, where it's like, Yeah, I know that feeling.

I got my Mud Luscious Press books today, including "Rat Beast." They look good. You can (maybe) still get a copy of "Rat Beast" for $2! I'll read and comment on the Blake Butler and Brandi Wells editions soon.

So many people come up to you when you're carrying Infinite Jest around. When waiters are like, "That's my favorite book, I've read it three times," and you're struggling around pg. 350 of a 1,000 page novel, it's amusing/humbling.

Friday, November 14, 2008

FAMILY PLANNING

So last night I went to see Karan Mahajan read from his new book Family Planning at KGB Bar. I read the novel in an earlier draft and it was excellent. It's about a man in the Indian government who is only sexually attracted to his wife when she's pregnant, and so he keeps having children with her. In addition to begetting a huge brood, he's also responsible for the proliferation of flyovers throughout Delhi... flyovers being weird, half-completed overpasses that ripple the landscape and never seem to get finished, although they keep getting funded. It's also about his oldest son, who learns some things about his past and nurses persistent issues regarding his parents' marriage. Themes include Bryan Adam, pregnant sex, secrets parents keep from children, secrets children keep from parents, and comic absurdity of Indian politics. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MY BED IS A NEST OF PILLOWS

I have an excessive number pillows on my bed. Mostly blue or black. I buy new ones on a pretty regular basis. I like to have a sort of large nest to sleep in, and I like to sleep only when incredibly tired and, if alone, fully dressed. For example, I'll sit in the living room (so I will be less inclined to sleep) writing on my laptop until very late at night/early in the morning, until I'm so tired I'm wobbly-feeling, with the world kind of queasily moving in the manner of an egg yolk. Then I'll move quickly into the bedroom, turn the heat on, fall into the bed fully clothed (usually wearing jeans and several shirts) and lose consciousness almost immediately. My insomnia has almost completely disappeared since the summer.

Last night, I stayed in the living room writing and reading, sitting up with the light on, and the world did not turn egg yolky and I didn't get so tired I had to collapse. So, I stayed up all night, and now I'm here, awake, and I went swimming and feel simultaneously very awake and very tired, and I seem to see the world through the body of a jellyfish.

Midnight Picnic, my "second" novel, is at the printer. Pre-order Midnight Picnic from Word Riot. You'll like it.

"Rat Beast" is either sold out or almost sold out. Order "Rat Beast" for $2, including shipping.

Karan Mahajan reading tonight at KGB, go see that. Outline to write, multiple outlines, Strangelets to write. Infinite Jest to read. 2666 to read. New York Tyrant party to go to? Essay to write. Also I am a subject in a clinical study involving sleep disorders?? For which I will be paid. I wrote a new story called "Playground in the Fire" but I thought of something about it and I need to revise it. Also, a reptile is bleating confusedly at me. (Reptiles can bleat.) It always seems to be the case that when someone is being a reptile to you, you are, in a different realm of your life, being a reptile to someone else, so there is cruel balance in the universe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HUMANS ARE REPTILIAN

I do not deny that I am a reptile.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MP

*Mediabistro post on publication of Midnight Picnic.

*This blogger read a galley.

*KGB reading January 9.

*Pre-order Midnight Picnic

*Buy "Rat Beast" for $2 (including shipping!) before supplies sell out.

**********

Ned Vizzini writes a really good appreciation post about, yes, Michael Crichton. When I was a little kid, I loved Congo, Jurassic Park--and especially Sphere. Later, when I got more "literary," I didn't like Crichton anymore. On occasion, I made fun of Ned for liking Crichton. I was wrong. Sphere is fucking good.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

MY ASS IS BRUISED

from falling on the ice. And all my muscles are sore, and there's a blood bruise on my palm. Soreness is from skating and from I don't know what else, maybe doing pull-ups on a random pull-up bar in someone's doorway? I read Consider the Lobster, which Alison gave to me and which is very good.

I got 2666, which got the ultimate book review in the New York Times, at its release party. Do other people like Bolaño? I started By Night in Chile and didn't like it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

PRE-ORDER MIDNIGHT PICNIC AND RAT BEAST

I have a short novel, MIDNIGHT PICNIC, and a short story, "RAT BEAST," being published soon. Both are available for pre-order from the publishers.

MIDNIGHT PICNIC will be published on December 15 by Word Riot Press (it was pushed back from its original Oc 31 Impetus Press release). You can pre-order it here directly from the publisher for $15.95. (Do not pre-order it from Amazon.com! That Amazon page is obsolete and there will be a new one soon.) MIDNIGHT PICNIC is a ghost story.

"RAT BEAST" is a short story being published as a limited edition chapbook by Mud Luscious Press. It costs $2 (including shipping) so it is basically free. Pre-order it here. It's good. I strongly recommend this.

Thank you,
Nick

Friday, November 07, 2008

Word Riot to publish Midnight Picnic on Dec. 15th

.
More info here (press release).

Pre-order Midnight Picnic from Word Riot Press here (do it).

It's better to buy it from the publisher.

I'm glad to announce that Jackie Corley and Word Riot Press are going to publish Midnight Picnic, and it will be delayed less than two months. Pleasing! The release date will be December 15th.

Jackie took this project on fast and I'm really impressed.

More to come.

********

I just got back from ice skating in Bryant Park with Tom and Clare. It hurt. I have never been skating before. People were having fun but every once in a while we'd skate by a dent in the ice that had fresh blood in it (really). It took me a long time to be able to skate all the way around without touching the wall. I did it. Then I fell--the kind of hard fall that makes your ears fill up with cotton and disables your equilibirum and you feel like throwing up. I got up and skated around again until I got to the gate and I left the ice. By this time I was drenched in sweat. I sat on a bench beside the ice and took my shirt off because I was so soaked. (Sorry for toweling myself off with your nice red scarf, Clare!) Tom took his shirt off in solidarity. Here's a picture Clare took of us (and a confused little child) before the people in charge told us to put our shirts back on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

RAT BEAST AND OTHER THINGS

- rat beast -

I stayed up all night last Thursday and (in addition to completing many other tasks, like writing a budget and responding to a million emails) wrote a story called "Rat Beast." It will be published as a short chapbook by Mud Luscious Press. pre-order here for $2, including shipping, I think.

You should definitely buy chapbooks from Mud Luscious Press. It is run by J.A. Tyler and it publishes very short, digestible stories from excellent indie-based writers (like Blake Butler, Shane Jones, etc.--see them all on the Mud Luscious site). If you buy "Rat Beast," I think you will enjoy it. It costs $2! That's basically the same as free.

On Sunday night I stayed up all night and wrote a short story (both of these stories were very short) called "Playground in the Fire."

- midnight picnic -

I signed a contract today for Midnight Picnic. We'll announce soon who'll be putting it out.

And Impetus has passed on; so it goes. I've been in touch with Willy Blackmore pretty consistently since I heard the news and it seems he's been dealing with the fallout heroically. I feel bad for their other authors, especially those whose books were scheduled to come out next year or in the indefinite future.

- swedish vampires -

I saw Let the Right One In. Watch the wonderful trailer. The film is good, it's elementally discomfiting. It's an art movie, a vampire movie, a love story, and a movie about how violence gets passed on. The whole time, I was going, "This is very good, it's interesting and strange, I don't love it, but it's really really good." And then comes the last scene, which is the single best bullies-get-their-comeuppance scene I have watched. It happens suddenly and perfectly and is over fast. It's sick and wrong and profoundly, profoundly cathartic.
Pre-order my 9-page chapbook, "Rat Beast," from Mud Luscious books. It costs a total of $2, so it's basically free. I promise it's good. More on this to come.

ELECTION!

Spent the weekend in Pennsylvania, going to door to door. Went with Bess, Ryan, Brian, Nicole, and Alison. We saw a stag in a suburban backyard. Alison and I went to one house where a sad-looking woman with lank hair sighed, not threateningly, almost apologetically, "Oh, you're at the wrong house. My mother will beat you with her cane." An elderly woman doddered out of a back room with a walker. "Mom," the first woman said, "do you want to beat these people?"

Here are some pictures.

Bess and Alison

Alison, me, Nicole, Brian

suburban stag

very weird window

me taking a rare break

Yesterday during the day I was agitated and unable to pay attention to anything. I was literally covered with sweat all day. (This may have had something to do with the wakefulness drugs I took to stay awake on recent nights; I've slept an average of 3 or 4 hours a night since last Thursday. But it was mostly genuine anxiety.) Then tonight I went to the Huffington Post's election returns party. It was one of the happiest/most exciting parties I've ever been to. It was fucking exuberant.

video

After the party, we went out onto the street. Cars were rushing by blaring their horns and people were screaming out of their windows. I wandered around SoHo for a long time before I went home. Screams all over the place. Finally I went into the subway, where, perfectly, a team of workers were hosing all the accumulated grime and trash away.


video

Friday, October 31, 2008

AWAY

Leaving town shortly to do campaign work in Pennsylvania. Not confident about an Obama election.

Jottings:
  • Eventful week what with sudden death of Impetus Press.
  • Plans underway for Midnight Picnic to be published, possibly before the end of 2008, by another press. Willy Blackmore has done a lot here. Announcement forthcoming assuming all goes well/things are signed.
  • I saw Darling Darling this week, one of the most excellent short films I've ever seen.
  • Saw Pride and Glory this week; it was decent.
  • Wrote a new (very) short story called "Rat Beast" last night.
  • Applying for this fucking grant that I neglected until it was way, way late. If the application doesn't arrive at the place in the mail by tomorrow, I'm disqualified.
  • I seem to have lost time like I have a hole in my pocket. I have no time left lately.
  • Read the David Foster Wallace article in Rolling Stone.
*******

"Soon... the aliens are coming." What the... I forgot about this! An animated trailer for a short story I wrote a while ago that was published by the weird, cool GUD magazine (they pay):

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

R. I. P. Impetus Press (UPDATED)

More on this, and the fate of Midnight Picnic, later.

UPDATE: FYI, it appears that another small press has stepped up (rather quickly) and would like to publish Midnight Picnic. If so, there will be a delay as ISBN numbers and colophons are changed, and then an official announcement.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

MY EMAIL IS UPSETTING ME

I apologize if I haven't responded to your emails or done something I said I was about to do. I will do it soon. If I do not do it because so much time has passed that I have forgotten about it or because to do it now would be somehow worse than not doing it at all, I apologize in advance.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

THUDDINGHEAD

I feel neutral, but in a bad way, which means the neutral feeling is just a cover for a bad feeling. I've been away all weekend in Massachusetts, which was nice. Fascinating times. Lobster, music, writing, walking on pleasantly chilly beach. Got very bad news on the way up but put it on mental hold. Read more Infinite Jest.



photo by Richard Berger, taken from the ferry this weekend and not altered

Monday, October 20, 2008

UGH

Saturday productive; Sunday unproductive. I saw W.; it sucks. Freaked about getting references for a grant I probably will miss the deadline for. Saw friends; rewrote much of Strangelets. I'm trying to read Infinite Jest from beginning to end now. I read J.A. Tyler's The Girl in the Black Sweater; enjoyed it; fervid, intense. Somehow caused a terrible scene late last night that resulted in lots of crying; WHY CAN'T PEOPLE BE MORE DISPASSIONATE? Everyone is looking at me like this:



I am involved in a reading this Wednesday at Bluestockings Books with Jackie Corley and Marty Beckerman. Probably some other ones soon. You can pre-order Midnight Picnic but the date is wrong, it's not out yet. I don't know why the date is wrong. It should be available in early November. And there should be, like, a cover picture up. I feel like people have masks on when they talk to me; I'm feeling puzzled/disgusted today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

I seriously do not know what the fuck is going on right now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NOTIONS

I just rewrote a scene for like the twentieth time. The more times you rewrite something, the greater the interval of time it takes afterward to decide if it's any good or not.

Went swimming. I'm wearing a shirt that's not a color I normally wear; I feel like a different person. I feel inclined to be a different person. I'm annoyed. I have too many business cards on my desk. THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING NOW AND ARE NOT HAPPENING. Fuck.

Midnight Picnic will exist soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

THREE TEACHERS

I went to Brunswick High School, a public school in Maryland. Charles Murray, the father of one of my high school friends, recently wrote a book about education. In the book, he briefly mentioned three great teachers from Brunswick, one of whom, Frank Booth, is the dedicatee of my first novel, Fires. Booth was the reason I got into Yale and has been the most influential person in my life not related to me by blood. Here's an interesting, rather sad piece from the Washington Times in which Charles Murray writes about where Booth and the two other teachers he names, both of whom I remember well, are now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

STOP SNITCHIN, KUNDERA

Oh no! Can this be true? I hope it isn't. Tomas's dilemma in The Unbearable Lightness of Being seems a little... false, if so. Have you seen The Lives of Others? It's very good.

Friday, October 10, 2008

BLOOD

This has been an exciting week. I'm glad I live on Wall Street, although it's awkward to get around because of all the blood. There is a lot of fresh, fresh blood all in the streets, basically lakes of it, up around my shins and knees. Some of it is my blood. For whatever reason, I don't feel particularly bad or all that worried about it though. People live in poverty; I can't complain. But it isn't just that I feel fatalistic. I feel... what's the word... sanguine.

Monday, October 06, 2008

LIGHTS ARE OUT; FIRST PAGE OF MIDNIGHT PICNIC

I'm alone in a very tall building right now. The lights are off and I'm listening to Terry Riley's Requiem Quartets performed by the Kronos Quartet. From the window I can see huge buildings and brightly lit avenues and even New Jersey in the distance. Everything looks very eerie. I just wrote some of Strangelets. I lost a lot of money in the stock market, but that's okay. It feels funny to say that, "I lost a lot of money in the stock market." I think that sentence means I'm an adult. The stock market crash is exciting and I hope it crashes a lot more before the election. Who knows what will happen. Richard Fuld's testimony before Congress was fascinating. He snarled. He said, "Until they put me in the ground, I will wonder." It made me admire him a little.

Midnight Picnic layout is done. I know, it's late. But that's how this works. It looks good. If you want to review it somewhere, email me for a galley. Midnight Picnic. I want to give a copy to Stephen King. I read a lot of Stephen King books when I was young. If you know Stephen King, tell him.

Here's the first page of Midnight Picnic. Click to enlarge.

FINALLY, KEATING FIVE!

Yes! Good job, Obama campaign.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

WE NEED TO BE WET MORE

Yesterday was a day that started out nastily, got worse, settled into bitterness, and then got good. I woke up and tried to get on the train, but my metrocard didn't work. I tried to buy a new one with my "Etrac" credit card, but it only had $79 on it and I needed $81 but I'm not allowed to put $2 extra on it. So I had to pay $81 out of pocket and fill out various forms and mail them off in order to get the $79 sent to me in check form. Then I had to buy a plane ticket but the website wasn't working. I went swimming and it calmed me a little, but then I ran into an ex-girlfriend I didn't want to see. Then I heard some unrelated terrible news. And my phone kept ringing at work, and intolerable emails kept arriving. I felt like I wanted to be that kid in that story who has a hammer and just beats things with it. (Bunnies and cats, I think?) Then the sun started to go down and I got calmer and ordered food (salmon, vegetable dumplings... I might be going vegetarian--though I will still eat fish). I wrote. I looked out the window from 40 stories up with the lights off and music playing; it was calming. My friend CB called and I said I was in a strange mood and we decided to go to the former Hotel QT and swim. It felt pleasing. "We don't get wet enough," CB said. "In daily life. We should spend more time in water." (I already spend a lot of time in water.) If you lie flat on the water in a swimming pool and roll over again and again, you feel really strange. I recommend it. We sat in the steam room for a long time. I was incredibly relaxed. Then we took the train home. Everything was all right by 0:01 AM.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crowley writes on his blog about the reading last week, namechecks me. Right now I'm reading about the financial collapse of our society.
I just posted a quick thing about Sarah Palin on Huffington Post.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

CRIPPLED MAN WITH EMPATHETIC SEXUAL POWERS

John Crowley and Marilynne Robinson's reading was tonight. It was good. Crowley read from his novel that comes out next summer, Four Freedoms. I'm not a particular fan of the title, but the book sounds pretty great. He read a section about one of the main characters, whose legs don't work from the knee down. Nonetheless, the man understands women very well and can interact with them and understand them in ways other men can't, and so he sleeps with a lot of them. The section--Crowley read for maybe thirty minutes--was funny, smart, appealing. Listening for that long takes concentration, though, and when Robinson came on, I had trouble paying attention. She read from Home, which has been highly praised. I should read Gilead. After the reading there was dinner. Some restaurant just nearby. As we walked to the table, one of the frail and pale waitresses stopped me and nervously, excitedly whispered, "The president of Bosnia is over there." "What?" I said. "Yes, him," she said, pointing at this man, who was seated casually behind us with three or four other men in dark suits and one cute young brunette woman in casual clothes. We ate some food, drank some, and left after an hour or so. Lajčák was now leaning on the chair beside his, his elbow resting on the back of it, his fist pressed into his cheek, his face, as Tom Wolfe would say, gloriously bored.

Thursday, September 25, 2008



You can't really tell, because I took it with my cell phone and the angle isn't helpful, but this is the side of a ten-story building on Canal and 6th Avenue. The Accompanied Literary Society set this up with flash fiction contributions from Jonathan Lethem, Gary Shteyngart, AM Homes, Paul Haggis, Colum McCann, Jay McInerney, and others. And then--you may be shocked to hear this--they threw a big party. It was a success.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VERGE

My dad's ensemble had a concert the other night, review in the Washington Post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T LIKE HEARING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S DREAMS

Last night I dreamed I was staying at a house in the woods. It was a big, well-appointed house. It was night. In the first part of the dream, there were huge, weird hogs in the woods. Gigantic, feral, filthy hogs. If you tried to leave the house, it was clear they would attack you. Everything was moonlit and strange outside. Somehow I managed to get away in a stranger's car. I drove for a long time down country roads flanked by grass so tall--taller than the car--that you couldn't see beyond it. Finally I came to a crossroads. I was sure that one road led to a small town, Burkittsville, near where I grew up. I took that road.

Then the second part of the dream began. Somehow I was back inside the house. It was still night. One or two other people were with me. The house was still in the woods but it seemed to be located differently... now, when I looked out the big glass doors in the back, I could see a long sloping yard that ended at the edge of a lake. There was a dock on the lake and two figures were standing on it. They were wearing cloaks and had masks or makeup on. They had rifles and, when they saw us in the glass, shot at us. We hid and turned off the lights. There were more people outside--four, not two--and they were all cloaked and costumed as animals or trolls. There was something familiar about them--their posture, the way they moved. We had to stay away from the windows and the glass or they would shoot at us. They were keeping us prisoner in the house but not approaching the house. It was still night. The inside of the house was dark because we didn't want them to be able to see us. In the corner of the living room there was a big, dirty, drying plant. The figures came closer and closer to the house.

Then it seemed to be a different night. Some time had passed and something had happened and we were relieved, laughing. The figures weren't outside anymore. They had come to the house and we had placated them somehow, or driven them away. Now we were laughing and eating. Then one of the other people who was there went sort of mischievously over to the big, dirty plant in the corner. He grabbed it and started sort of peeling it, and what emerged from it was himself, but now painted to look like a blue troll, and very devilish. He was no longer there, and the troll-version of him ran outside laughing, down to the lake, and stood where the other figures had been and started watching the house.

Monday, September 22, 2008

PRODUCTIVITY

Weird mood continues. A very busy weekend. And a gorgeous one. Yesterday, Saturday, woke late and wandered in the sun, read parts of A Man in Full, which has a few astoundingly great scenes, like the one where the laid-off factory worker goes to Oakland to try and get a typing job--a euphorically good sequence. And the horse-breeding scene, also excellent. Sat in the park with a friend, randomly noticed that a person shooting a music video nearby was the Fred. Ate duck. Birthday party. Researched bifurcated vaginas. Spent most of today working on minor, grueling script revisions. Read more.

If you emailed me to ask for Midnight Picnic galleys, I will have them soon.

An Amazon seller has a copy of Fires listed for sale at $500. Hurry, before it's gone!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CROWLEY READING THURSDAY

John Crowley and Marilynne Robinson are reading this Thursday at 8 PM at the 92nd St Y. I'll be there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

JUMP JUMP

Friday night, back at work. It has been a rollercoaster-y week. The script is written. I put all my money into index funds on Monday and Tuesday.* Working on other manuscript. I think I might sleep here tonight, on the floor.

Midnight Picnic is coming out soon. I feel anxious about it because I gave my galleys away. When Midnight Picnic comes out, I hope some people will read it. I feel restless with energy.

If you left me a voicemail this week and I haven't returned your call yet, I am truly sorry. (Except in one case. Do not leave me a voicemail asking to stay in my apartment if I don't know you and haven't responded to your earlier voicemails.) There is too much right now. Remembering everything I have to do is like herding cats. And books and the internet distract me.

Midnight Picnic.

UPDATE: It is 4:07 AM and I just got home from the office.


*Why is no one really commenting on the fact that the SEC just outlawed short-selling? What the fuck??? That's insane. It's not like I have a super-comprehensive understanding of how the stock market works, but... how the fuck is anyone supposed to get market-neutral now?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MAKING LIST OF SOME FAVORITE AUTHORS TO CALM SELF DOWN

.
Greatest Ever
Nabokov

Old Master
James Salter

1,000 lb. Rabid Dog
James Ellroy

Sex Therapist Comic
Alicia Erian

Glum Sociopath
Bret Easton Ellis

Cold Dry Wit
Martis Amis

Hangdog Tomboy
Lorrie Moore

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DFW THOUGHTS

Ed Champion posted remarks from writers about David Foster Wallace's death. Ed asked if I'd like to contribute and I declined. I replied:

"Thanks so much for asking me, but in this case I frankly don't feel able. I really don't know what to say--I've been less than well since I read about it last night. The idea that someone who *thought* so much concluded that he ought to hang himself is terrifying."

And that is still really all I have to say about it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

LONG WEEKEND

I was on and off depressed all Sunday about David Foster Wallace. That was truly a person who spent most of his time thinking. He even did a commencement address that was basically about How To Think. He was a compulsive thinker. And eventually he thought, "I'm going to hang myself." That makes me uncomfortable; I feel dreadful about it, actually.

Also, the financial world is collapsing. This morning I took all my money out of savings in order to throw it into the stock market.

I've had pains in my legs all weekend. They got worse and worse but now they seem to be better. On Sunday, Ned and I finished a draft of the script we've been working on. Then we drank a bottle of Champagne. I did not do enough thinking about Strangelets. There was some thinking done about a new project, Lesbian Die Hard in a Hotel Pool. My friend took me shopping. I show up on fundrace now. Reading A Man in Full. Anxious, very anxious.

Monday, September 08, 2008

POETRY READING BY VALZHYNA MORT

I got a couple blurbs for Midnight Picnic in the last few days that I'm really happy about. (I still want David Lynch, but that might not happen...)

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

The epigraph for Midnight Picnic is from a poem by Valzhyna Mort, one of the weirdest, coolest poets I've met. She's reading this Friday in New York, and I'd be there if I weren't going to be in Massachusetts, but if you're looking for something to do in Brooklyn that night, you should consider going to the Poetry Brothel:

Friday September 12th (I'll be sharing the stage with all in peacock feathers Madame herself Stephanie Berger, Nicholas Adamski aka Tennessee Pink and others)
from 9 pm to 2 am (full bar, gambling and music)
at
Papa B Studios 907 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (sex and verse)

Cost 10 dollars, includes one free drink of absinthe and one free private poetry reading (yes, there are private readings for money there!)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

BOOKS COMING OUT NEXT SPRING?

Any to be particularly excited about? Let me know.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

CHASING FINGERS

Watch this music video. Directed by Philipp Mühlbauer. Song is "Export Tripoli" by Murena.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

GUD

I'm fond of GUD Magazine. You can buy a .pdf copy for $3.50 on their website and I encourage you to do so. Then you get to read my story about aliens, as well as a lot of other very good stories.

Monday, September 01, 2008

RETURN FROM L.A./IRAQ MARINE




L.A. is an eerie place.

As soon as we left LAX we passed a gun range near Inglewood, I think, and decided to stop there. Let me tell you about the difference between gun ranges in New York and gun ranges in LA (based on the one time I've been to one in each city). In New York, they give you these light plastic rifles that could very well be BB guns, and the ammunition you fire is .22 bullets that are thin, tiny and look about as dangerous as a Frito. The gun--which is chained in place when you fire it--makes a little pop! noise, and you can't really see the hole in the target until you bring it back and look at it closely. Before you shoot, you take a half-hour class on how to use the gun safely.

In LA, they give you whatever gun you ask for--we got a .44 magnum ("Give us the most powerful handgun we can use") and some sort of powerful shotgun. Plus several of ammunition. And then we were ushered onto the range. There was no mention of safety, or of the safeties on the guns, or of how to load the guns. Apart from the NY .22 rifles, none of us had ever shot a gun before. The shotgun had two kinds of ammo, fierce and ferocious. When you fired the heavy duty ones, it made your teeth clank together and your body jerk back (shoulder soreness the next day) and, sometimes, the target go fluttering completely away in tatters.

That was pleasurable. The whole trip was pleasurable. It wasn't as pleasurable as the last one, which was just pure, almost unreal pleasure, but that was in part because everything was a first and weird, happy things just happened. Last time the purpose was 100% pleasure. This time it was 94% pleasure, 6% business. I wanted to do a lot of things (like go to a cemetery screening) that I didn't get a chance to do, but I did go to Venice, and I went to a party where I realized the person standing next to me smoking was, appropriately enough, MaryJane Watson, and I met and spent time with people whose company I enjoy. I also went to a 1920s themed party where people were dancing around in boas and drinking bathtub gin. By the very end, I started getting a little anxious.

On the plane home I managed to get an exit row seat. When I sat down there was this kid next to me who I kind of didn't want to sit next to because he looked like a stereotype of a football jock. And I wished I had picked the exit row seat behind mine since there were two pretty foreign students there. Then the football kid started talking to me and at first I smiled politely and didn't encourage him, but it seemed he really wanted to talk, so I got a little more engaged, and I learned that he was on his way home against Marine Corps orders because he wanted to see his pregnant girlfriend before he ships to Iraq in a week. Fucking scary. He said he was going to a place in Iraq called Korean Village where just a few nights ago a guard fell asleep and someone crept up and slit his throat. He was twenty years old and clearly scared, but also clearly, if not "smart" in the intellectual sense, pretty tough in a character sense--that is, capable of achieving significant things through sheer will that, for example, I would not be capable of. (Indeed, the contrast between what he was likely about to be doing--toting around and firing an assault rifle in defense of his life and his fellow soldiers' lives--and what I had so recently been doing--fucking around with a high-powered shotgun like it was a toy--was not lost on me, and didn't make me feel great.) He said he had been an honor graduate in the Marines, which 7 out of 750 soldiers get, and had turned down football scholarships all over the place to join the marines. I asked him about his political affiliations and he said he didn't care, and he liked doing what he was told, and he didn't plan to vote. I genuinely liked him as a person, I hope (as I told him) that he makes it through his seven month tour mentally and physically healthy, and I truly wish him the best. But man, on that last count, what a tool.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HALF-BAKED RIFFS ON THE SOUL

The Publisher's Weekly review of Midnight Picnic is out. It's on this page (you have to scroll down) but here it is in full:

Midnight Picnic Nick Antosca. Impetus (www.impetuspress.com), $15.95 paper (163p) ISBN 978-0-9776693-6-3

In Antosca's second novel, a campy page-turner set in contemporary backwater West Virginia, 22-year old Bram becomes obsessed with a murder after a child's bones are discovered in the woods behind his home. The ghost of the dead boy, six-year-old Adam Dovey, soon appears to Bram and urges him to help get revenge against Jacob Bunny, the introverted, kind-hearted, ex-con alcoholic who 23 years ago drowned Adam. Bram's initial reluctance gives way, and before long, Bram torches Jacob's cottage, killing him. Just about then the narrative begins to fall apart, as Bram and Adam wander through a netherworld exurbia in pursuit of dead Jacob's soul. The further they go, the campier the novel becomes, accented by half-baked riffs on the soul and journeys into strip clubs and back alleys that read like an ersatz hybrid of David Lynch and Brian Evenson. It's a demented little novel that'll appeal to readers into weirdness for weirdness's sake. (Oct.)

I take issue with the adjective "campy" and I wouldn't say it's "weird for weirdness's sake" but otherwise, that seems about right. Pleasing. "Page-turner" warms my heart. As does "demented little novel." I do try to write demented page-turners.

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

Laura left New York. But only to go back to law school in Philadelphia. Be well, Laura.

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

I'm going back to LA this weekend. I'm only going to be there for like 40 hours. Meeting some people. Discussing some stuff. And hanging out in the sun. Yes.

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

They are building the tents for fashion week in Bryant Park. This is right by my office. My friend who works in fashion said she could "give me style." I have no style. I wear a black t-shirt and jeans almost every single day. She also said that boxer shorts are terrible and boxer briefs should be worn by men. I was shocked. I checked with Laura and she agreed. Diala, who is now in Connecticut, was less emphatic but also advocated for boxer briefs. Are these women outliers? Are they crazy? Offer opinions, if you like.

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

I have a story in issue 3 of GUD. It's called "Soon You Will Be Gone and Possibly Eaten." This blogger wrote something nice about it. ...Wow, I just got payment by Paypal from these people. I didn't know that was going to happen. Awesome.

Monday, August 25, 2008

PRETTY DAY

The No Colony reading Friday night was good. I read a section of Midnight Picnic and a section of Strangelets. I have been thinking a lot about Strangelets now that the first draft is done and it's time to revise. At the reading I met Blake Butler and Ken Baumann, who came from out of town. A lot of other people were there. Ned, Laura, Kendra, Mike Young, Gabe Durham, Mick Lexington, Noa, Lucy, Tom sort of (just back from Israel and having meltdowns right and left), this guy Peter and his wife Heather, Bess, other people, I'm trying to remember...

The weather continues to be gorgeous. I wandered in the sun some this weekend. But mostly what happened this weekend was that Ned and I worked on our script. I lost The Third Policeman and I hadn't finished it.

I've been thinking about addictions. Addictions can be good. People who get really good at something have to be addicted to it. I was reading two NYT magazines articles--this one, about lulz, and this one, about the robot water creature Michael Phelps--and considering how these people dedicate their whole lives, basically every waking minute, to a single pursuit. Don't they ever have existential crises, I wonder? Perhaps not. When you have an addiction, feeding the addiction makes you happy. It's nice to smoke a cigarette when you're kind of addicted to cigarettes, and I'm sure it makes you happy to shoot heroin if you're addicted to heroin. But you have to stop doing those things because eventually they rot you and kill you. How nice, then, that there are good addictions! Like writing, which every writer I know is (and should be) addicted to. Or swimming, which I realized I'm addicted to when I went two days without getting in a pool and became despondent in a very quick, irrational way one night--clearly the result of some sudden chemical event in my brain. You can be addicted to another person, too, or other people. If you're not addicted to anything at all, probably your life is unhappy or at least pretty dull.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

THE THIRD POLICEMAN / LAW SCHOOL

I'm reading The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. It's very good, I think. It's detailed and every detail seems a little tilted and eccentric. I don't think it would be published today, or maybe it would but only by an independent press.

Yesterday was the most gorgeous day in New York. I didn't go to work. In the morning I worked on something at home, in the afternoon I wandered, and in the evening I behaved socially. Later I got to work again. This manuscript is done in a very first drafty way. Now to go to work.

Everyone is going to law school. Should I go to law school? I don't think so. Should I quit my job and get a new job just to get a new job? Just because? Even though my job is "comfortable"? In a relative sense? Should I move to California, or another country? Should I go to the park and eat lunch?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Huh, the link below doesn't work.

Monday, August 18, 2008

THIS THING

This thing has become an important part of my life recently.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm always a little reluctant to link to New Yorker stories since so many people have probably already seen/read them, but seriously, this is amazing. I can't believe the events described in the story really happened.

It's raining out. I'm not going out tonight. I had a large pleasant dinner with a friend and now I'm going to be solitary and read and work on the Strangelets manuscript tonight.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sterling Hayden was in the OSS!

NO DESIRE TO SLEEP

I feel really well-programmed today. I have done a lot of work. I swam half a mile. I saw the first half of Tropic Thunder (sloppy, unfunny, I walked out), and the second half of Pineapple Express (seemed good).

Here's an article about how much more interesting a human Mark Spitz was than Michael Phelps:

After the swimming ended, the Germans cringed again when he was asked how he felt about his success in Germany and replied, “Actually, I’ve always liked this country, even though this shade is probably made out of one of my aunts.”

I thought I just saw a mouse run across my floor but I think it was light from the TV.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

THE EASTER PARADE by RICHARD YATES

I have heard people say that no good book (or movie) can truly be depressing whatever its content because the fact that it exists is heartening or something. The process by which the art evokes the "bad" emotion in the reader/viewer is actually exhilirating. Like sometimes you feel so bad you wallow in it, and it feels good. Like how Requiem for a Dream is grim and nasty but also exciting to sit through and watch again. The Easter Parade is just depressing. Smart and good and also just depressing. Sad people, sad lives, unfulfilled, no catharsis, bad teeth, alcoholism, the men always leave (or beat you), etc., etc. I actually can't think of a more depressing book. I think I'd rather reread Hogg than reread The Easter Parade, although I certainly admired The Easter Parade a lot more.