Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Kate Braverman's "Jewish money"

"Right from the beginning," Braverman says, "I had subversive instincts." Born in Philadelphia, she moved to Los Angeles with her Jewish parents and younger brother, Hank, in 1958, the year the Dodgers left Brooklyn. She was reared on welfare in "the stucco slums" of Los Angeles. No car, none of the glamour one associates with Los Angeles. Her father gambled; her mother had a nervous breakdown. Alienated, suffering a "squalid adolescence," she took refuge in books.

Because "Frantic Transmissions" is spotty on details, I ask Braverman what her father did when he worked. "He had cancer and so he was a professional invalid," she sighs. "We came to California originally because he was not expected to survive the winter back East. And lo and behold, he survived 25 years of Los Angeles."
At 15, she ran away to Berkeley, lived with a group of UC students, collected food stamps and wore Army surplus outfits. She went to Berkeley High, then UC Berkeley and returned to Los Angeles in 1971. L.A. scorched her soul but Braverman found connections in the alternative culture of the '70s and '80s. Her best-known novel, "Lithium for Medea," came from that period. At the Venice Poetry Workshop, her students included John Doe and Exene of the band X. She was a drug addict for 17 years, the first 14 with IV cocaine, then "a shorter but rather intense excursion into heroin addiction."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fat City

I've never read Leonard Gardner's contemporary classic Fat City, but I recently enjoyed this new interview with the author in The Paris Review.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Super Bowl Weekend

To honor Super Bowl LIII, let's send you to recognized writers Walter Kirn and Tony O'Neill for appreciation of the greatest football story ever told, A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley. Of course, it's set against football and American success and not merely about it. . .

Thank you for your help

Thank you for ratings, reviews, purchases, or reads of my novels, Fight for Your Long Day and Auggie's Revenge, as well as my published short stories. I could never feel this alienated and miserable without you, generous family, friends, and fans who have forgotten to publicly acknowledge my life's work.

And less than a day after that lovely thought, an unprovoked friend informed me he had just bought Auggie's Revenge, and he apologized for not attending to it sooner. So that, of course, changes everything, and with or without you, I know once more that I'm destined for literary respect, if not greatness, and will no doubt get at least one more book published. Would it be too much to ask for two or three? A novel and two memoirs? Don't forget film options, translations, or story collections! Hah! Ugh. Oy.

Happy new year!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A Nigerian Among the Turks

"His daughter," he said. "I’m sorry, Obi. His little daughter. Want to touch you, Kanki. You say yes?"

~~ from "The Desire to Unlearn" by Chigozie Obioma

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Cry of the Sloth

"Meanwhile, I have been practicing, and I believe I have learned to do a pretty good imitation of the sloth's cry. I place my thumbs firmly against the openings of my nostrils, blocking them completely. I then give a vigorous snort and at the same time fling both thumbs away from the nostrils in a decisive forward motion. The result is a woofling whistle which I imagine is quite close to what a young ai must sound like. I did it at the post office the other day when the clerk told me I had insufficient postage on my package."

~~ from The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage

Friday, January 18, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

R.I.P.

Mary Oliver and Sam Savage passed on. If you are literary and dead as of this week, don't be shy about dropping me a line, so I can add your news here. And I already feel guilty and weird about neglecting or mentioning that Jack Bogle has positioned himself long on the afterlife in the total market index fund in the sky.

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Auggie's Revenge: Reviews, Interviews, and Excerpts

Book Reviews: "The Teaching Life as a House of Troubles," by Don Riggs, American, British and Canadian Studies , June 1, 2017 ...