Thursday, January 12, 2017

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mo Yan and the writer's wealth of dumplings

"One old-timer talked about all the famous dishes he had seen as a waiter in a Qingdao restaurant: braised beef tournedos, pan-fried chicken, things like that. Wide-eyed we stared at his mouth until we could smell the aroma of all that delicious food and see it materialize, as if it had dropped from the sky. The 'rightest' student said he knew someone who had written a book that brought him thousands, maybe tens of thousands, in royalties. Each and every day the fellow ate jiaozi, those tasty little pork dumplings, at all three meals, the oil oozing from inside with each bite. When we said we didn't believe anyone could be so rich as to eat jiaozi three times a day, the waiter said scornfully, 'He's a writer, for goodness sake! Do you understand? A writer!' That's all I needed to know: become a writer and you can eat meaty jiaozi times a day. Life doesn't get any better than that. Why, not even the gods could do better. That's when I made up my mind to become a writer someday."

~~from Mo Yan's introduction to his stories collected in Shifu, You'll Do Anything For A Laugh

Monday, December 5, 2016

Interview with Don Riggs

Don Riggs, the Poet-Laureate of this blog, was interviewed recently by News & Press from the Future Fire. Below is one of his recent sonnets posted to Facebook and set for the entire world to read.

Contemporary Realist Composition
(In the Right Now)

I've been getting up around 3 lately,
sometimes having gotten a word or phrase...
or concept for a poem in a dream
and sometimes not knowing whether I have
but writing anyway on my yellow
pad on the assumption that there may be
something I don't consciously remember
but if I start writing and don't wake up


too much it will inform my chance jotting
so coming to the same thing, but tonight
I haven't gone to bed yet and except
for nodding off over my reading, I
haven't slept but I thought I'd write something
anyway just to see whatever comes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Forest for the T-Bills?

from Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees:

If there were some way to ensure that doing good work or working hard would guarantee some sort of financial return, the investing in a money market fund does, the writer motivated by money could type his copy into the ATM machine and wait for his cash. Likewise, any publisher motivated solely by profit would do better to liquidate his assets and invest solely in long-term bonds. Though publishers look bigger and badder with each passing day, it's still a nickel-and-dime business. . . If you want money, invest in stocks.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Auggie's Revenge Predicts Trump Presidency?

Fight for Your Long Day is the novel to read if you want to understand how divided America's economic inequality, rise of contract work, increasing debt, and uneasy tension with the globalized world make a Trump Presidency possible. Auggie's Revenge could be more entertaining, but both books have plenty of laughs.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Tender Hour of Twilight, "Publishing's Golden Age"

Translator-publisher Richard Seaver's memoir, The Tender Hour of Twilight: Paris in the '50s, New York in the '60s: A Memoir of Publishing's Golden Age, is well edited by Jeanette Seaver, his French wife of six to eight decades, and includes his literary service bringing to American readers' attention Beckett, Genet, Malcolm X, Ionescu, Burroughs, Henry Miller, Hubert Selby, and others; his clandestine translating of The Story of O; and then toward the end the paradoxical introduction of unionizing efforts by women at Grove Press who did not feel fairly compensated by the male champions of free speech and literature leading the way. Although there is a dismissive tone to these workers' complaints, it is possible the workers were unaware of all the publisher's significant debts due to litigation against the house for their bold list of books. Regardless, the memoir is a page turner on Paris in the 1950s, New York publishing in the '60s, and it left me with a great sense that there have been moments where transgressive literature mattered. A few days after I finished I found a used second printing of the original Grove Press hardcover of Jean Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers, the only Genet on the shelf, which for two dollars plus tax I took home although I have a trade paperback of the same in my storage space back home. I've never read the entire Genet, and probably won't this time around, but when I see the book at home, I'll likely be reminded of Richard Seaver's memoir and "publishing's golden age."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Adjunct Novel at Inside Higher Ed

From Colleen Flaherty's "The Adjunct Novel" at Inside Higher Ed:

Alex Kudera, who has spent many years as a non-tenure-track professor of English, made waves in 2010 with his book about Cyrus “Duffy” Duffleman, a Philadelphia-area adjunct who travels around the city to five different jobs. Fight for Your Long Day traces Duffleman’s steps and the various indignities he experiences inside the classroom and out. He’s always running late, for example, and is wrongly accused of sleeping with a student by a college counselor, but still shows dedication to his work.

Kudera published Auggie’s Revenge, which touches on similar themes and features as adjunct as its central character, earlier this year. Hinting that some audiences aren’t quite ready for a full-on fictionalized takedown of adjunct issues, he said via email that his work might be “a more brutal version of socioeconomic America than relatively affluent urban readers like to see in their novels.”