Monday, July 21, 2014

Comic Duffleman

Inspired by the Joseph A. Domino book review posted at the end of this exclusive interview with Cyrus Duffleman, H.E. Whitney, in The Disposable Adjunct, included some of Joe's text and rendered this graphic interpretation:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

new review of Fight for Your Long Day

Follow these links for complete lists of reviews, interviews, comics, videos, and more.

Please consider supporting small press by purchasing alt.punk or Fight for Your Long Day direct from the publisher.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting into the Grove at the Paris Review

Friday, June 20, 2014

from A Moveable Feast

“The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”

“The one who is doing his work and getting satisfaction from it is not the one the poverty is hard on.”

― Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast 

(Both quotations are from Chapter 5, "A False Spring"; I'm rereading the book as included in The Restored Edition, which is, according to this edition, the one Hemingway had completed when he passed.)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

college affordability and creative writing

"The college affordability dream is dead for these students" notes that the median debtor now owes $29,400 and includes this section relevant to the teaching of creative writing:
Lucy Parks, 18, enrolled at New York University in 2012 armed with a $60,000 college fund — the fruit of decades worth of her parents’ diligent saving — and a $30,000 annual scholarship from the school itself.
NYU is one of the most expensive universities in the country, running more than $60,000 a year for a full-time student, including room and board. After applying her scholarship money, she still had to pay $30,000 a year for tuition, room and board. For Parks, who wanted to take advantage of the school’s unique creative writing program, NYU was her first and only choice.
“I didn’t want to sacrifice my dream simply because I may not have enough money,” she says. To make ends meet, Parks worked three part-time jobs and eventually moved into an apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn with two friends to save money on housing."
“There were some unpleasant periods when I wasn’t working and I would run out of money and I wouldn’t eat,” she says. “Another issue is that when you have to work 20-plus hours a week, your schoolwork takes a major hit. So does your social life."
When her college funds dried up in sophomore year, she went to the school’s financial aid office for help. She left with $2,000 in grants and advice to take out more loans. Rather than take on more debt, Parks, who has a 3.75 GPA, decided to drop out. It was a decision she didn't make lightly, and she says she may enroll at a more affordable college sometime in the future. In September, she’ll move with a friend to Atlanta and try to find part-time work until something more permanent comes along.
“That kind of debt severely limits the amount of things I could do with my life,” she says. “I want to continue educating myself, but I don’t want to pay $60,000 a year for it.”
When I was 18, I ditched my math/comp-sci leanings soon after high school graduation, and more than anything I wanted to read Western classics. So early in college, I ignored my father's advice about choosing a more vocational track and read widely from the traditional European canon. After my two-year MA with a 9K stipend, I didn't listen again when he told me if I wanted to get anywhere teaching college I would have to get a PhD (he had one semester of a PhD program under his belt although for years I thought he was ABD and even proudly used that expression as a teenager). Instead I drifted into adjunct work, embraced it, in fact, because I greatly enjoyed teaching, and I could continue to pay back my student loans and support myself in modest fashion and not have to return to car sales after taking a meagerly paid vacation (the stipend) from harder work. I still support myself in a modest fashion although sometimes I get a chuckle thinking about what some of my students would think of the primary residence I rent or the 12-year-old vehicle I drive (which could easily be a 20-year-old car had that one not unfortunately been rear-ended last summer).
Anyway, lives take all kinds of twists and turns, so it's hard to say what will happen to Lucy Parks, but I hope her involvement with N.Y.U. (well regarded as one of America's leaders in academic capitalism both home and abroad) does not prove catastrophic to her life's finances or long-term plans. It sounds like this particular young writer made the smart move of leaving, and I only wish she had recognized before she enrolled that there are enthusiastic, conscientious instructors teaching creative writing at almost every state school in the country (typically, you can get in-state tuition after a full year of state residence) as well as private universities offering better financial aid. 
Affordable college should be a national priority, but only some of our politicians seem aware of this.
If any young writers reading this would like advice on writing, submitting, publishing, or trying to survive in a world where it often appears as if the game is rigged against them, find me online and drop me a line. I'll answer for free.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

check your prose

This is a slightly modified version of a comment I never posted at The Chronicle of Higher Education after reading "Check Your History."

I wouldn't reduce Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind to the category of "memoirs of oppressed white men," and I'd also argue that Bloom and his text, and perhaps Saul Bellow's Ravelstein as a reader's companion to, are far more intriguing than Tal's tiny essay, even if I disagree with Bloom's political orientation as well as his hilarious, if minimizing, thoughts on Nietzsche and Mick Jagger.

Anyway, Fortgang is much more of a cliche than an interesting writer, and, yes, he's 18 or 19 and we're supposed to think of him as innocent or allowed to be naive or something like that. Still, it's rather disturbing that his "Checking My Privilege" is getting so much more attention than, say, chapter 5 of Fight for Your Long Day, "Check Your Package At The Door," which offers a fuller, richer, darker, and funnier look at the academy and what goes on between classes.

But back to Tal, this fine reminder that most of us "whites" have not been white for much more than a century, or even half of one, is my favorite essay response to the original

And here is two to twenty cents from The New Yorker.

I've also been getting into the anger and satire of Paul Beatty's first two novels and thinking of them within the context of the very recent Ta-Nehisi Coates article on reparations to African-Americans. I may write more on this later, and at the least, I'm hoping that Tal Fortgang reads it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Struggle

"My Struggle" is the original title I have for 200 pages I wrote twenty years ago, in the early nineties. It was my second burst of novel writing, and a parody of the liberal arts grad who winds up broke, slacking, experiencing angst, and so on. See Less Than Zero and Bright Lights, Big City for examples of the genre. It seems like a valid title for anything that intends to draw attention to the fact that the author or narrator has not struggled, has no right to think of his life as struggle, or has struggled in such a psychological or emotional way that it hardly seems like struggle compared to the starving, enslaved, overworked, terminally unemployed, etc.

But I don't know why Karl named his book thusly.