Tuesday, September 19, 2017

the state of ponzi

Also, this week The New York Times covered the plight immigrants who bought taxi medallions in New York City in the years before Uber and other ride-hailing apps moved in, and found that their investments have lost such value so quickly that's it's nearly impossible to break even or survive at all.

I should say that in both cases, Florida housing and New York ride services, although neither is entirely unlike a ponzi scheme, there's a difference between buying at or near a bubble's top and a ponzi scheme as traditionally understood. I imagine that in America in 2017, we are accustomed to various unfortunates facing financial ruin due to the rapid rise and fall of prices.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Not Only On Moral Fiction

As has been reported here, reading John Gardner's Mickelsson's Ghosts led to my return to writing novels and from there, through effort and luck I was able to publish one, and then two, but Gardner was never my favorite writer. Based upon my reading of that one long acclaimed novel, he was fundamentally sound and usually interesting, but the book was not on the same level as Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, or John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor. I once read an interview where Gardner placed himself in a big three, which possibly included Pynchon and Norman Mailer, I can't remember exactly, but this wasn't evident to me from reading Mickelsson's Ghosts. The novel trended toward realism, but for American realism, I prefer Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road, John Updike's Rabbit is Rich, Fred Exley's A Fan's Notes (I think of it as such), and several others. Gardner did have wider range than all of these writers though, working as a scholar and teacher even as he produced in many different genres although to the best of my knowledge none were what we would call "genre fiction."

Everyone knows that Gardner was the first to mentor Raymond Carver, but before reading this new piece in The Paris Review, I was unaware that he also taught greats like Charles Johnson and Toni Morrison. And the final motorcycle ride off the road makes it seem as if he was a far badder dude than writers like Bellow and Morrison who aged gracefully in the comfort and security that we imagine prestigious tenure lines ensure. I suppose that would have been Gardner's destiny too if he had lived. But he died at 49, only a year older than I am now. The Paris Review article mentions that he has remained "on the syllabus," although I've only read On Moral Fiction for a class. In twenty years of teaching literature classes, the majority of which were for Gardner's period (American, after 1945), I've never assigned any of his fiction, and I think I've only seen Grendel and On Moral Fiction assigned by others. (It's possible that Bellow, Barth, John Updike, and a few others have done even more of a disappearing act. I'm not sure.) The only time I've ever discussed Gardner, I'm almost certain, was in the context of his lending a hand to a young Raymond Carver, janitor, who needed quiet office space. Gardner was there for many other writers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

the author's house

An old stone house where Fred Exley wrote sections of A Fan's Notes is on the market for $69,000.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

it's a catastrophe

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

on the writer's mental state

A podcast interview with Michael Wayne Hampton and a print interview with Tao Lin both include interesting things to say about each writer's process, mental state, productivity, and more. If you enjoy these interviews, be sure to purchase my books, rate or review any you have already read, stay tuned for more on my leadership pilates video collection, and look forward to my finance pamphlet on how to lose all of your money in penny stocks by the end of 2017.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Philadelphia Free Library has three copies of Auggie's Revenge

An old friend saw Auggie's Revenge as a staff pick at the Walnut Street West location of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and from there I searched to learn the there are three copies in the system.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Over at Goodreads, I added a few quotations from Fight for Your Long Day, Auggie's Revenge, and Frade Killed Ellen.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Carver as Bukowski

Dr. Don Riggs, Poet Laureate of L.U.S.K. and recent reader on a rooftop near you, alerted us to Raymond Carver's "You Don't Know What Love Is," a poem inspired by the life and work of Charles Bukowski.