brothercyst: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

THIRST REVIEW

Review of Park Chan-wook's Thirst for Film Threat. (A positive one.)

I slept a lot last night. I just woke up. Feel weary, resigned.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

AVAILABILITY OF FIRES: UNCLEAR

"Is Fires still in print?" someone asked me the other day. "Because I asked my Barnes & Noble to order it for me and they said they couldn't."

I realized I had no idea if my first novel is still "in print." Last I checked, many months ago, what still existed of the Impetus Press inventory was in some kind of limbo. I'm not sure, physically, where those books ended up. I think the distributor was responsible for storing them, but I really don't know for sure. It's true that brick&mortar bookstores can't order the copies anymore. But you can still order the book on Amazon, which seems to have a direct line to the distributor... or maybe they just have a supply of books in their own warehouse that were shipped to them before Impetus folded. Who the fuck knows...

On a cheerier note, I was in the Union Square Barnes & Noble the other day and noticed that Midnight Picnic was on the Paperback Favorites table--beside a Gombrowicz book! Not the great one, but what can you do. So I signed the copies.




Speaking of Midnight Picnic, here's a good interview with Jackie Corley at 3 AM--check it out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

GRADE THEFT

This is insane. Is there only one copy of each file??? They don't scan or in some way digitally archive the records?

This actually makes me want to see Orphan. (spoilers in the link)

A GRANT THAT SHOULD EXIST

I bought Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Looking forward to reading it, I've heard it's essential. People on the "nature of evil" panels that I was on at Readercon were referencing it and I hadn't read it.

But right now I'm reading an erotic novel from the 1740s called Fanny Hill - Memoirs Of A Woman Of Pleasure. It's pretty good. Let me tell you, the literacy level of porn aficionados has apparently declined over the past few centuries.

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There should be a grant for New York-based writers and artists who want to move to L.A. but need to buy a car. Wealthy readers, please consider this. Also, there should be an organization that helps wealthy but childless folks redirect their money into grants for writers and artists whose rent and living expenses aren't subsidized by parents. I was walking down the street tonight with ASB and pointed at an apartment building.

"X lives there," I said.

ASB: "He does? In this neighborhood?"

Me: "His parents pay part of it."

ASB: "I hate people whose parents pay their rent."

Me: "If you were wealthy, would you subsidize your kid?"

ASB: "First month's rent, security deposit... no more. Would you?"

Me: "I would buy them a used car if they were moving to L.A."

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It's starting to get light outside the window. I've been writing all night. I don't understand how I used to "go out" so much. Or, even worse, "hang out." What the fuck was I doing?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

CUDGEL MOVIES: (500) Days of Summer

One of the most unpleasant movies I've ever seen in my life was Juno*. Cloying, stomach-turning, sickly-cute... ugh. It performed for trembling emaciated emo-hipster girls the same function that Entourage performs for fratty meathead douchebag guys: "I want to be a winsome plucky gamine who says 'honest to blog' and 'homeskillet' just like Juno," thinks the aspiring pixie in just the same way that the Beta house date-rapist says to himself, "I want to be a chilled-out alpha male who fucks tons of gorgeous bitches just like Vinnie Chase." Both Juno and Entourage are/were so successful because their false realities so closely resemble the fantasy worlds of their respective target audiences.

What made me think of this is (500) Days of Summer, a total piece of shit movie that I saw tonight. Like Juno it's a palsied hipster movie full of "indie rock" on the soundtrack. I didn't hate it as much as Juno, but I hated it a lot.

I think Gene Siskel was the film critic who often asked himself while watching a film, Is this movie more interesting than a documentary of the actors in it having lunch for two hours would be? I have different questions. I ask myself, Am I getting more pleasure from this movie than I would from either a) watching the actors in it engage in hardcore sex acts for two hours or b) watching these characters be beaten with cudgels for two hours? Certainly in the case of (500) Days of Summer the answer was NO to both a) and b).

As the movie played I kept soothing myself by letting bits of other movies run in my head. Mostly scenes of vigorous activity--gunfights, car chases, Leatherface with his chainsaw. Actually, more than anything else, (500) Days of Summer made me want to watch The Departed. Cathartic head-shots galore!

One big problem I had with the movie is that the main character is such a worm. His little sister tells him, "Don't be a pussy." Someone should have told the filmmakers not to make him such a pussy. Always flopping on his bed and sighing and making a sad-face. My God. The scene early on where they're outside the karaoke bar and she asks him if he likes her and even though he's infatuated with her he hems and haws and says "Yeah... um, er... as a friend... er, um..." is where I really checked out. That's it, over, I'm not interested in a character who's such a fucking pussy he can't even say that he likes the girl when she asks him outright if he likes her, when the screenwriters have thoughtfully declined to place any obstacles in his path or give him any reason not to act on his feelings. Because in real life of course, that would be the end. Whether it's in romance or anything else, you have to take an opportunity when it presents itself or you don't deserve it in the first place. But of course because she's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl she wordlessly approaches him the next day at the copy machine and kisses him and floats away. At that point it's just: Okay, done, over--I'm mentally checking out. These characters don't live in any universe I need to pretend exists.


* My roommate Rachel made an interesting argument yesterday that Diablo Cody was given the Oscar as a "fuck you" from the industry to the writers after the writers' strike. "Oh, you'll go on strike and shut down production and send us into a panic? Then fuck writing, we'll give your award to this novelty hack!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

BEAST MOTH

Here's a post I wrote on The Daily Beast about Helen Oyeyemi's new book, White is for Witching.

It's so early. I have pizza in the fridge and I'm going to go eat it and then write for a while before my friend comes over to have lunch on the roof. On second thought maybe I shouldn't eat the pizza now.

Last night I went to a fundraiser run by The Moth for The Bronx Defenders, where ASB works. The event was terrific, particularly the stories by Jack Hitt and Ed Gavagan. Jack Hitt's story, apparently a Moth/NPR classic, can be heard here. It's initially a story about moving to New York and having a crazy super, and then it becomes truly incredible. FWIW, some of the best parts of the story he told last night are not included in the audio file I just linked to, or are glossed over (for example, in the audio file, he only alludes briefly to the scene in which his super blows up his sink; last night he described it in more detail, doing the accents of the super and the super's terrified assistant). Very much worth listening to. And Ed Gavagan's can be heard here. It seems to be structured a bit differently than the version he told last night. All the stuff at the beginning about the bar and the carpentry wasn't in the story last night, since they have to be under ten minutes on stage. Either way, it's an absolutely amazing story about surviving being stabbed almost to death randomly as part of a gang initiation.

Monday, July 20, 2009

THE DISTRICT 9 SHORT FILM



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About to go do an interview. Exhausted from weekend--didn't do nearly the writing I intended to do. This week requires drastic measures, both in terms of my creative life and professional life. (That is, the writing and the selling both.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DIRDA POST

Michael Dirda of The Washington Post writes an interesting post about Readercon. Of particular note is the news (which I hadn't heard) that Charles Brown, editor of Locus, died on the plane ride back--very sad.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ARTIST OBITUARY

I just randomly came across this sad obituary in the Times. It immediately reminded me about reading this article about him and his friends several years ago--and thinking "Who are these people? I must pass them on the street sometimes. How do they manage to live like this without consequences?" But I guess I was naive. "The things he did to cope with the strain of his own life were often misunderstood as partying.” Okay.

The feeling I had reading the 2007 NYMag article was different but not unrelated to the one I get when I read things like this, or that I once got listening to a hedge fund managing director rhapsodize about the beauty and benevolence of the financial markets while an eight-foot-tall pointillist image of his firm's owner stared down at him from his office wall. A combination of envy and incredulity. It's exhilarating to live in determined, richly compensated obliviousness, whether that compensation is in traditional wealth, attention, or hedonistic rewards.

FWIW here's the complete text of Matt Taibbi's amazing Rolling Stone article from last week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

READERCON DECOMPRESS


The above is a picture of a baby rabbit I encountered at Readercon. It seemed not to fear humans.

(It occurs to me only now that the creature pictured above directly relates to Midnight Picnic in multiple ways.)

Okay, so. I'm on my roof in the sun right now, doing all sorts of online tasks I've neglected like responding to emails and harassing sluggards, etc. It's extremely sunny. This is the universe's apology for June.

Yesterday I had to go by D.E. Shaw and sign some papers saying I can't sue the firm even if it sets me on fire and murders and dismembers my family, or something like that, in exchange for getting my severance pay. But now I'm completely done with that job, and all set to start living hand-to-mouth... like at least some of the many excellent authors I met this weekend in Massachusetts.

So it was Readercon 20, and I was invited I can only assume at the urging of one of blurb-bestowers for Fires or Midnight Picnic who were in attendance. I was a participant in some workshops, but more interestingly, I was on two panels. One was called "The Killers Inside Us" about the portrayal of psychopathology in fiction. That went well. Everybody on the panel was cool and the audience was big. Elizabeth Hand moderated. Paul Tremblay of the excellent-looking and soon-to-be-read-by-me The Little Sleep was also on it. One thing I really regret I didn't mention during the lively discussion was the story of Krystian Bala--I remembered while on the panel, but couldn't remember his name or enough details of the fairly incredible story to discuss it intelligently.

There was another panel called something like "The Nature of Evil in Horror Fiction." I went to watch this panel and one of the Readercon organizers said, "Somebody's plane has been delayed and we need an extra panelist, will you be on the panel!?" So I got onstage and did that panel, too. It was fun. John Clute, among others, was on it as well.

More fun than the panels were the dinners and nights. I met a lot of terrific writers during the weekend, some for the first time and some for the hundredth. I can't even name them all. John Crowley was there of course, a former guest of honor and generally worshiped by most of those in attendance. Little, Big was one of the most referenced titles in general discussion. I saw some pages from the 25th anniversary edition, which promises to be gorgeous. Elizabeth Hand, too, who I'd never met face to face before, was there. She was the guest of honor this year, and she's a wholly awesome person. Super-intelligent, talented, and disarmingly kind and easygoing.

Samuel Delany was there, and every time I saw him, I thought, "Oh shit, that's the guy who wrote Hogg."

Particularly thrilling for the adolescent reader alive and well inside me was the presence of Peter Straub, one of my favorite writers of all time, whose novels I devoured when I was a kid and still love. Shadowland, Ghost Story, and especially Koko were the ones I read most. Straub is an extremely friendly and engaging guy with more of a physical presence than almost anybody I know. Always wearing a dark suit, huge and broad-shouldered, with an enormous bald head and intensely hungry eyes behind big horn-rimmed glasses, he looks like--yes, I'll say it--a character from a Peter Straub novel.

Anyway, the weekend was great fun. Here are some pictures taken and posted by the awesome Ellen Datlow. By the time I got back, I was exhausted. I'd taken the bus up, but got a ride back with a funny, smart agent who told me stories for the whole four hours, like how she once dated James Ellroy (another writer about whom I can't hear enough). In a random diner just off the highway, we ran into a Yale classmate from my year who lives in, of all places, Palestine. It seems we're everywhere.

I just read The Devil's Butcher Shop: The New Mexico Prison Uprising, a very bootleg-looking book about a horrific New Mexico prison riot. It's actually quite well-written and more scholarly and dry than dramatic, but the details are utterly grotesque. Think snitches killed with acetylene torches. Having finished that, I need to read something calming and quiet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I RETURN

ReaderCon has ended and I return to New York. It was fun. I was on two panels talking about serial killers and evil. I met a great many people, including one of the great literary icons of my youth, who is an enormous, boulder-shouldered man with horn-rimmed glasses who always wears a suit and looks extremely determined, like he's about to eat a steak or a small child. Thunder and lightning came and made my hotel room a strange place in the middle of the night. More details soon, when I'm properly ensconced back in my apartment.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

PUBLIC VIPERS

A brief post on Film Threat I wrote about the cinematography in Public Enemies. Going to see Thirst again tonight. Wrote all last night until 7 am, lay in the sun this morning so long I felt a little sick, hung out w/ Ned for a bit, now going swimming before the movie.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

BIRNBAUM ON MIDNIGHT PICNIC

This is really cool--Robert Birnbaum, one of the most intimidatingly well-read writer/critics around and also one of the best author interviewers around, does a book blog for The Morning News, and he read and liked Midnight Picnic. He just put up a post about it. I'm sitting on my roof in the sun working on a new novel, and this makes me happy.

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Also, Saturday at 11 AM I'll be on a panel at ReaderCon in Burlington Massachusetts.

The Killers Inside Us. Mike Allen, Nick Antosca, Elizabeth Hand (L), Barry B. Longyear, Paul Tremblay

[Greatest Hit from Readercon 11.] There is no obvious division between normality and horrific psychopathology (a thought that occurred to us long before Littleton [Columbine], by the way). How have writers exploited this fact? What’s it like to read a text that reminds you that you exist on a continuum with the monster?


In addition, I'll be participating in several workshops during the weekend. If you're going to be there, say hello.

Monday, July 06, 2009

PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITION STEADY

I returned from Maine yesterday; had a terrific time. Was there with ASB and friends/family. Everyone seemed to have a good time. We had lobster. Many of the people there seemed very capable with things. I liked the guy who, when it was suggested that we make a fire, immediately ran outside. Then, seconds later, we heard the heavy, methodical thwomps of an axe hitting a tree.

For two days it rained steadily. The best thing about that Maine was the fog. I've never been soo enclosed by it. The clouds were at ground level. Then the bad weather ended and it became extremely sunny. We got in the car to go to the beach. A freak thunderstorm arrived. We got to the beach and stood in the rain. We left. The storm ended before we got home, so we turned around and went back to the beach. A woman stopped us at the entry. "Four dollars each." We turned around and went home. But then it was gorgeous and sunny again, so we had dinner at Pemaquid Point with roast chickens and various pies. A very good vacation.

During the trip, I read Tao Lin's Shoplifting from American Apparel and an unpublished novel by Ned Vizzini. I read them both in one day. I read almost for the entire day. Enjoyed both--more on those later.

Now back and writing. Today was GORGEOUS in New York. I sat on my roof for a while, then Ned came over and we worked for a bit, now I'm going swimming and writing. I need to make money in some way or another, but in the meantime, I feel fucking great. This weather... Jesus. And I'm getting a fair amount done these days, which also feels amazing.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

INTERESTING THOUGHT FOR TODAY

"Why is Jackson's legend and memory so big with so many? It's not just because they loved Jackson's sugar-pop music but, I suspect (and correct me if I'm wrong) because he lived in a manner that they themselves would love to savor -- a kind of whimsically perverted, high-denial, candy-cane existence in which all malignancies are ignored or suppressed in order to satisfy each and every fantasy-dream whim, without compromise or hesitation. This is why we're truly doomed -- why the country will never do what's necessary to face much less avert whatever greenhouse-gas, ice-cap-melting apocalypse is coming our way. A nation that worships a monster like Michael Jackson is a nation of undisciplined "I want!"-ers and high-lifestyle drunkards."