Tuesday, September 28, 2010

biographies of Exley and Yates

A PS that can stand alone as its own post:

If you're in the market for literary biography, I'd recommend books about Fred Exley and Richard Yates although Yates's biographer was able to comb the world for a lot more material and produce a much more comprehensive book. In fact, Blake Bailey's A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates is rather excellent and satisfying. I loved learning from this book that the Elaine character from Seinfeld is based upon Richard Yates's daughter, and so the suede-leather clown-jacket episode, where Jerry and George drink with Elaine's father in a hotel lobby, is a sensational look at the author himself (although quite exaggerated and fattened up for television). Jonathan Yardley's Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley is still worth a read though; I can see why some reviewers on amazon were disappointed, but I'd say its average of three stars is about right.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Exley and Richard Yates

In honor of Brock Clarke's Exley and Tao Lin's Richard Yates, I'm changing the title of Fight for Your Long Day to Anais Nin.

Duffy can dream, no?

To me, the Exley is forgiveable because we aren't coming off a blockbuster movie version of A Fan's Notes. Also, Clarke has paid all kinds of dues--advanced grad work, multiple books, and more--and more than anything, based upon a review, at least the father-son relationship that dominates Clarke's outer frame can be directly related to a significant tension in Exley's novel. And Exley is the man (although, yes, from a technical perspective, Yates was the superior novelist), so Clarke should get props for recognizing that fact. The only customer to review it so far (arrives October 5, 2010) gives Exley three stars but insists we read the original first. But, yes, if you're reading this, then it is likely you've done that. Like amazon customer reviewer Mark Levine of Jersey City, New Jersey (aye, my father's hood of origin), I've reread and recommended A Fan's Notes many times. I'm guessing that Clarke has too. Does that make us any less alone in this world?

So back to Richard Yates. Tao, isn't it tacky to name your novel after a brilliant writer who lived largely among basement cockroaches for most of his life? And particularly when the relationship to Yates is tangential to your book?

Of course, if it sells I might change the title of Fight for Your Long Day to the Tao of Lin.

No escape!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

inside higher ed

Yesterday, as you've possibly already heard from me too many times, I got inside higher education after decades of peripheral engagement with schools and books. Editor Scott Jaschik gave Fight for Your Long Day a nice review and helped the novel shoot up to 8,000ish on amazon.com as both a trade paperback and e-book. I'm afraid to know how few sales this actually translates into, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

And now it's time to take coffee... nap time, anyone?

Sleepy schleep.

Friday, September 17, 2010

eagleton on judt and nussbaum

Terry Eagleton has a fun book review in the October 2010 print Harper's Magazine. Nothing to do with Judaism; a lot to do with education and the humanities and the current vast economic inequalities of the U.S. and Great Britain. Eagleton ends one paragraph thusly:
"Then again, I am the brainwashed product of a communistic state: my own education at Cambridge University was entirely free of charge, though it would not be so today."

In fact, Eagleton is teaching at Notre Dame these days; there's no word on whether or not he has mingled with sports agents or accepted cash from literary alums.

He does do a quick and easy hatchet job on both writers, but Nussbaum gets it worse than Judt. But nothing on their ties to sports betting or University of Chicago's plan to eliminate doctoral work in the humanities in order to fund a new Division One football team while NYU brings exorbitant tuition to thirty-seven cities in the next five years. Maybe the numbers are off here. . . search for their plans in http://www.nytimes.com/.

briefly noted

I think we've lost the Jesus Blesses the Children picture book. No sign of it anywhere, and Yiyi hasn't requested it. Convenient for the high holidays, I suppose.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

just another psychotic clown?

In the famous words of a psychotic clown from Seinfeld, "Who am I supposed to be?" Always a good question, no? Well, here's one summary:


If you are moved to do so, please send me yourself in a page or less with photograph (optimal one would match the one included with my "me"--3 years younger but in cooler weather).

And if you have an unbearable urge to print my page and plaster it all around your town or environs--mailboxes, bulletin boards, dogs, pigeons, trees, and park benches--well, you have my blessings although I am in no position to be held legally responsible for such heroic acts of signage and vandalism.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


a huge one, South Carolina style, tickling me behind the right knee...  i leap up and away and brush it off and thankfully the tea spill is minor and not on the kazin or judt.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

firing on all topics

I've begun Tony Judt's Postwar: Europe Since 1945 as well as Alfred Kazin's Coming Up in the Thirties. Yeah, it feels great to be back in Depression and genocide.

In a phone interview for the novel late this morning, it went well, but I fear I may have come across some petty apologist for tenured professors when my big plan was to get everybody else decent health coverage and working conditions! (Yes, with the help of one good journalist, I was going to send everyone from the classroom to the doctor's waiting room free of charge!) But aye, the tenured profs (in many cases) are overworked and exhausted too. A few appear a bit too bright and energetic and chirpy for my taste, but I believe some proper guidance from yours truly in all the ways of anxiety, neuroses, doubt, angst, and general ennui could get them in shape.

But has anyone figured out how to apply Andrew Hacker's idea? I mean if everyone is reduced to a three-year contract, can we still protect free speech and the exchange of ideas? Isn't this the slippery slope to Nazi Germany where only the little Heideggars survive? And why did he pick on Virginia Woolf scholars and not political scientists studying all the wrong numbers in such a way that we'd wind up starving half the world?  (Has that not already been brought to us from the "political economy" part of the academic world?) Sure, contract teachers are fucked (so to speak) and may need to cowtow to specialists mimicing Derrida and Foucault (in the very same ways their predecessors did thirty years ago), but without any tenure, what would prevent university presidents, CEOs, boards, and wealthy donors for firing at whim or making donations contingent upon the expressed intellectual ideas of professors? Arghh!

It also annoys me that Hacker risked so much--as in NOTHING--by publishing this book after his whole career was over. As Melville said, "I love all men who dive." Maybe he addresses this cowardice (no doubt caused by his pursuit of job security) in the book?

Also, if we begin to destroy the incomes and guarantees of all kinds of teachers (K through Lacan), we'll devastate the economy even more and there won't be anyone left to sell goods and services to. Everybody will be on short-term contracts and no bank will loan anyone money without a huge down payment and all of our current problems will be even more aggravated.

But yeah, it may be true that many tenured track and tenured professors do not work as many hours per week as conscientious adjuncts; and yet, I'd love to know exactly how we would devise a rubric for determining both the "quality" and "quantity" of work required to determine and "correct" these inequalities.

Another point is that once we recognize that the vast majority of tenured professors are not 200K hotshots at Ivy League schools, we soon see that their pay packages are inferior to high school teachers in suburban districts (read in part, "fixed income pension"). I know of sociology professors at Ivys starting at 47,000 per year and at small, obscure colleges around the country, even a tenure track can begin in the low 20s).

OK, but yes, none of this honesty or admission of complexity helps the people on the frontlines--the instructors and the students.

And contrasted with most from these groups, I'm afraid President Obama has no idea of what it really means to be treated like a dog:

But I look forward to his cash! Thanks, Barack.

Fight for Your Long Day!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

yiyi wants to "read jesus"

So in the annals of disorganized but functional parenting, I'm sure this would not come as the most shocking revelation, so to speak. But for the sake of full blogging disclosure, it should be noted that Yiyi has been on a Jesus kick for the last couple weeks. In the past three days alone, I think we've read the Jesus Blesses the Children picture book ten times. I suppose that's less of a fire hazzard than lighting Channukah candles, but I don't think I'll mind too much when she loses interest. For Yiyi, it's probably just another twist to her occasionally eccentric but mostly common South Carolina childhood. The key here will ultimately be for me to appear as boring as possible so that in her adults years, she'll never once think of writing a memoir about her father.

Well, in closing, I must say that Jesus in the picture book sounds like one of heck of a caring, sensitive guy. Inspiring!

Friday, September 3, 2010

amazon deal available; b&n problems resolved

So direct from Itasca Books is still the purest play in the Duffleman aftermarket, but amazon.com has priced me down to size as expected:


Amazon has me at $10.08 now, and supposedly B&N is working again (but no one has reported to me that the purchase was reinstated). Amazon calls $10.08 33% off whereas B&N calls $10.08 32% off.

Either way, I wish I could lose weight so easily.

But if you want to send me a check for $17 (shipping included), I'll send you a signed copy.

Alex Kudera

218 Charleston Avenue

Clemson, SC 29631

Yours in every twist and turn of the Dufflechase,

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Indie Bound

My understanding is that "Indie Bound" has nothing to do with George Constanza tied to the bed and left for broke or Harrison Ford tied anywhere and left for dead. Slavery or indentured servitude in the West Indies? I hope not.

I'm told all it means is that any independent bookseller in the world can easily order Fight for Your Long Day and show off the snazzy cover in the store window.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

franzen's freedom

the fat fucker set me back twenty-one smackeroos earlier today. a meek, humbled,
stooped-low-to-the-grading-grind author (me) wanders in to the campus barnes and noble to arrange his own sinister book profit and leaves with a hardcover at thirty percent off. and forgets to use the gift cards too. well, i hope johnny franz feels more free as a result of literature's market forces. and my lack of impulse control.

Itasca Books in St. Paul, Minnesota

I'm a bit worried about Duffy's toes growing pink and numb at such a Northern storage facility and distribution center, but they sound like a nice operation. I believe they are somehow involved in shipping Greywolf and UMinnesota Press product as well.

Well, Duffy has exposure at amazon, barnes and noble, ingram (according to an email I was forwarded); he does indeed feel like a legitimate paper product packaged as a novel and intent on blowing your entire worldview to the Southern hemisphere and back because the laughs are so long and the writing so fucking good. At least in a few paragraphs.

Here is the most direct route to Duffleman as of September 1, 2010:


Feel free to spread the URL if it's tax-free in your state. And, of course, until next time, Fight for Your Long Day!

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