brothercyst: August 2008

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

SEAMLESS WEB-THEMED POST

One thing that I'm glad exists is Seamless Web. That I can just go on the internet, click on some food, and have it brought to me--that's the way it should be. Yes. Last night Ned and I ordered off Seamless Web. But Ned doesn't like duck. I don't know what's wrong with him. Who doesn't like duck? So tasty and fatty. I like vegetarian dumplings. You know, vegetarians, soy protein is no good for you on its own. You need certain enzymes to digest it, and those enzymes are in meat. That's what Brady says, at least. His friend grew up on a hog farm, and his friend says, according to Brady, "Tofu? That's garbage. I feed that shit to hogs." The Chinese used to eat their soy-containing foods with a little piece of bacon on top. A few weekends ago it was three in the morning and Laura and I were watching a horror movie and decided to order off Seamless Web. If you blog about Seamless Web, you get $50. We got some very greasy food and threw half of it away, because I value my health more than the principle of "eating everything that's on your plate." But what we ate was good. From now, when Ned is over, I'm going to insist on eating healthy food, because we always eat badly. It isn't healthy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

!%^*^&%

My head hurts. I'm pretty tired but I feel good. There was an astonishing storm this afternoon that completely blanketed Manhattan, and watching it roll in from the windows in my office was amazing. I'm reading The Easter Parade. I swam a mile on Sunday morning. The only thing I eat now is Naked Juice and chips, although last night I had a Chang Dog, which is wrapped in bacon and slathered with kimchi. A famous author whose books I read as a child politely declined to read Midnight Picnic and blurb it; I still love him. I watched Mulholland Drive basically twice this weekend, worked on Pipedream (as I'll refer to the project that's consumed much of my time this summer) all evening Friday, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. I did a little work on Strangelets.

Friday, August 08, 2008

MIDNIGHT PICNIC stuff

Excerpts of Midnight Picnic will appear in two things edited by Blake Butler--No Colony and Brain on Lynch, a limited edition hardbound book centering on the work of David Lynch.

Midnight Picnic feels strange to me. Not that many people have read the manuscript so far. Almost all the male readers had a fairly muted reaction to it and almost all the female readers had an effusive reaction; that hasn't happened to me before. I'm excited about it.

Monkey situation.

My room got hit by a tropical storm last night. I'm really busy. I want to go back to L.A.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

There is a lot to post about and I will post about it but in the meantime I am trying to sort through some prescription pills that accidentally got mixed together, so watch this:

Monday, August 04, 2008

BILL HENSON PHOTOS

Someone from Australia emailed me today and said he had read Fires and it reminded him of these photos by Bill Henson. I think these photos are great. They don't make me think of Fires all that much but they are how I see Midnight Picnic. Not the nudity so much as the barren landscapes and roads in the dark. That's very very Midnight Picnic.

OX-GHOSTS AND SNAKE-DEMONS

I've been reading about the Cultural Revolution ever since I learned the lyrics to "The Howling Song" last week. The most interesting article I read is about the persecution of teachers by their students: http://museums.cnd.org/CR/english/articles/violence.htm

It's a fascinating academic paper by Wang Youqin on a topic that doesn't seem to have been widely documented. The bizarre "ox-ghost and snake-demon" meme... huh, I forgot what I was going to write there. I totally lost my train of thought and forgot how I was going to finish that sentence.

Though she died after approximately two hours of torture, it did not satisfy the students. All other teachers in the "ox-ghost and snake-demon team" were forced to stand around Yu's corpse and take turns beating her...

After the Cultural Revolution started, the phrase "ox ghosts and snake demons" was frequently used to refer to those who should be struggled against. The editorial of the People's Daily on June 1, 1966 was entitled "Fiercely Sweep away All the Ox Ghosts and Snake Demons." This phrase, which was from a poem from ancient times and referred originally to characters in a masked parade, was not clearly defined as a criminal title. In fact, the ambiguity of the title caused many teachers to be beaten arbitrarily.