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Showing posts from March, 2010

A Joke? No Kundera's birthday is April 1

So Milan Kundera, author of The Joke--yes, you could add "among other titles"--was born on April Fool's Day:

Tangential at best, but I'm reminded of the opening of Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project, where he informs us that Bosnian Independence is celebrated on its official February 29 every four years and on random nearby days for the other three.

Back to Milan, it looks like 81 is in his immediate future... unless I am counting incorrectly from April 1, 1929.

Well, happy birthday, Milan Kundera. Stay healthy and keep writing! If the truths or rumors about your informant youth are true, don't sweat it. People have all kinds of blemishes on their official, unofficial, and other dust-strewn records. A bit guilt or shame always beats a significant jail term in this regard. To make amends (if the informed upon is still alive), you could buy the guy a modest but well-crafted automobile; if he has passed on, then buy h…

where do poems come from?

As it turns out, they come from baby's nap time according to Brooklyn's Poet Laureate Tina Chang:

Yes, it did occur to me that the real Brooklyn would never have a Poet Laureate, or if she did, it would be some guy in the cheap seats of right field cursing out his "bums," the Dodgers.

Well, I suppose the Dodgers have been gone for over fifty years, but wouldn't today's Brooklyn have about 10,000 Poet Laureates? How did they choose just one?

barry hannah, heck of a writer

Again on Hannah, the more obituaries I read, the more amazing he sounds. A friend appreciates Hannah's honesty when he describes his teaching "haggardly" at Clemson (LATimes, linked one blog below); the NYTimes obit makes his language and characterization sound immediate and intense:

Hannah's honesty appears again in the piece: “I am doomed to be a more lengthy fragmentist... In my thoughts, I don’t ever come on to plot in a straightforward way.”

Again, I'm reminded of Ha Jin's thought that many of the great novels have technical flaws; language, voice, and/or character dominate plot and pacing in so many of my favorites, ranging from Knut Hamsun's Hunger to Fred Exley's A Fan's Notes. For fans of plot, pacing, and action, I recommend a trip to the movies.

I'm pretty sure the bookstores could stimulate sales by pasting obituaries of writers on the windows by the entrance; the …

"teaching at clemson was very hard work"

Or at least this is what Barry Hannah told the Paris Review according to his obituary in yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

Save for the "bourbon" and the "total loosening and release," this quotation is strangely reminding me of my own predicament: the baby's Mom is out of town for most of March, the first manuscript deadline is March 31, and the five classes continue.

I like what Hannah says about the "high mark" that Faulkner sets and his goal of shooting for it. There are too many "contemporary classic" novelists who excell at what they do, but what they write is clearly not challenging the American canon. You might say that what they lack is a "distinct voice."

Of course, I tend not to be too keen or amazed by some of today's other footstep followers of Faulkner--Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison come to mind. Despite ancestors, both have that &quo…

to e-book or not to e-book

My hunch is that paper books stay in the game much longer than the e-bookists believe and that production and unit sales of both will continue to rise. This article describes how the costs of e-books are not as dramatically lower than paper books as one might suspect:

If the cost-driven corporate publishers do gravitate en masse to e-book-only production (which I severely doubt), then I suppose the superbookstores could add a lot of seats to the coffee bars and sell more greeting cards and chocolate. And of course, the children's section would appear safe until amazon comes out with a chew-proof toddler model.

Well, when you book your flight to the future, remember that all electronic devices must be turned off during extreme turbulence, departure, and landing.