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Showing posts from December, 2010

two new reviews

Here are two new reviews of Fight for Your Long Day. Both writers have experience teaching college-level classes, but they are about 1000 miles away from each other, three decades apart by age, and have led radically different lives thus far. (For example, one knows tenure whereas the other knows Philadelphia.) Here's a quote I found to be highly relevant:

"Indeed, this middling nature reflects Duffy’s life as a whole. He exists purely in the middle, unable to move upward, terrified of sliding down."

OK. Here: http://freedomfromthings.com/post/2458438021/book-review-fight-for-your-long-day-by-alex-kudera

and the more recent "Steve" review at goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8612461-fight-for-your-long-day

And yes, "Muriel" on goodreads is the author's mother, but please don't hold that against her.

philly bookstores, Christmas 2010

Bauman's Rare Books has left Walnut Street but still operates out of New York City. Larry Robin's has used books and speaking events but no longer carries new titles. Book Trader finally chased Big Jar off of Second Street, and the latter now operates a smaller store at the corner of 4th and Bainbridge. The Liberty Place Borders Express has been closed for months now, and the bookstore in the basement of the Bourse is long gone, closed down before I left Philly if I'm not mistaken. Skip at Giovanni's Room described holiday traffic as "slow," but he's open and would welcome a visit.

On the brighter side, as in, if there are bookstores in Philadelphia, there are likely more readers, jobs, etc., the chains I went into were bustling. Both Barnes and Noble and Borders downtown seemed to be moving plenty of "product," as in books, gift cards, games, etc. Joseph A. Fox on Sansom was quite busy too on the Tuesday afternoon before Christmas. Likewise, th…

European Horizons

Don Riggs's review of Fight for Your Long Day can be read in Romanian and English at our favorite bi- to trilingual literary blogspot (and print journal).

At the end of his journey, perhaps Cyrus Duffleman will rest easy, sigh aloud, but in a pleasant way, acknowledge his great debt to not just Romania but all of Eastern Europe.

Dr. Daniel Daniel, you are floating in a most mysterious way--with the Flying Duffler!

cold kickin' it live with don riggs

I'm headed North on Sunday, home to Philadelphia, and as scheduled, I'll be reading, discussing, and signing Fight for Your Long Day at Larry Robin's Moonstone Arts Center on December 22 at 7 p.m. Discounted books will be available for twelve dollars (cash only). Don Riggs will also be available, introducing the festivities, but I have no information on his price point at present.

American unemployment

The New York Times has a somewhat accurate portrayal of the situation in this op-ed.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/opinion/14tue1.html?hp

But then again, some of their statistics fail to give us a clear idea of the American economy or the desperation experiencd by millions of American workers. The article tells us that the pay of the median college-educated male is $72,000, but I bet you anything that does not include the millions of college-educated males in America who are no longer counted as working unless they are still counted as unemployed (actively looking for work within the last 6 or 9 months). But discouraged males, willing house husbands, college-educated men who have been "bought" off the rolls with disability, as well as our imprisoned, mentally ill, couched at Mom's, or drunk in older sibling's basement are not counted.

For women, this median is only $52,000, so yes, they most likely experience greater want than men (on average). But again, all th…

the world made straight

i'm reading my first ron rash, the world made straight. so far, i can see he is cursed with being able to make something difficult look easy. maybe polished fiction with great transitions is always like that?

this reminds me of ultimate teams with great throws and spacing on their cuts. all the spectator sees is one perfect 40 yard pass after another, with no sense of the endless practice that led to the live performance.

back to rash, he also knows a whole bunch of words--big ones, small ones, rural ones, etc.--that i've never used in my life. and some i've never seen.

free lunch

In Greenville, South Carolina, we stumbled upon a free lunch at the grand opening of the new Carolina Ale House. There was so much tasty pub food we didn't have to pay for that I left almost certain something bad would happen later in the weekend. I'm not sure of why I believe in such balance, and hey, perhaps the bad thing has already happened?

After lunch, we found a free ounce of wine and French bread with olive oil in the kitchen store. The give-aways reminded me of the precarious economy, how it still seems like we're a couple months removed from revisiting a bottom or creating a new low. Still, it was impressive to see how one restaurant could instantly create 100 jobs or more, and the regional chain has plans to open up several more locations in the Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia. (To the best of my knowledge, Temple U. Freshman English isn't paying to bus their unemployed adjuncts to the next Carolina Ale House career fair.) Our server told us she had five chi…

Exley and the book resurgent!

This morning, I read an e-mail about my lone interview on Exley's A Fan's Notes, and it made me feel like the book is alive. Not just A Fan's Notes but books in general. The kind interviewee, Eleanor Henderson, has the galleys for her own first novel, and millions around the world will give and receive novels and other books this holiday season.

How do I know this?

For one, it was what my father gave me in the late seventies, the winter my father couldn't afford more than the upper two feet of a Christmas tree (yes, for ten dollars, he asked the man to cut off the top of the tree), and so A Wrinkle in Time and another Madeleine L'Engle were my gift for that Christmas. I remember that these were mass market paperbacks with green trimming on the sides (back when the edges of the pages could still be colored).

I also know, or at least hope, because I worked in the old Philadelphia Borders Bookshop during the winter recession of '91-'92 and remember how mobbed…

my father the italian

Mistaking Mark SaFranko for Italian reminded me of my childhood, where for a while there, I thought we were Italian on my father's side. I think this related to all the spaghetti, ravioli, Italian sausage, and meatballs with caesar dressing on the salad along with the many trips to Pagano's for pizza, which if I'm not mistaken was located across from where the R&S Strauss is at 48th and Chestnut. (I believe I could be off a block or two here.) I also remember a white and purple storefront. And then there may have been acquaintances thinking "Kudera" was Italian and perhaps I misunderstood these overheard conversations with my Dad. Or I never really thought we were Italian, or I wasn't even old enough to know this kind of thing could be considered, or I invented this thought years later, after I already knew we weren't Italian but liked this kind of story, or the way I could add it as an interesting section to the memoir (which in fact I would have to …

delillo on bellow

Their names share four letters, split between vowels and consonants, and now Delillo has won a PEN award in the more ashen man's name: http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5442/prmID/1865. For lifetime achievement defined by quantity of good to great novels, could there be a post-war American writer greater than these two? Don't give me Roth and don't tell me Bellow isn't only post-war.

Delillo I've read: Americana, End Zone, Great Jones Street, Ratner's Star, Players, The Names, White Noise, LibraMao IIUnderworld, and Cosmopolis. (I think that's it.) I've also read Delillo's somewhat famous essay on 9/11 as well as a short story or two.

Bellow I've read: Seize the Day, HerzogMr. Sammler's PlanetThe Dean's December, Ravelstein, and perhaps a short story or two. A short piece by Bellow I like is his introduction to Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, where, to me, he makes it clear that he does not necessarily s…

kalder, lipsyte, pocket wockets, and misprints

I finished Daniel Kalder's Strange Telescopes and heartily recommend; I intend to write an assessment of that and Lost Cosmonaut at some point. But for now, I jumped right back into Sam Lipsyte, so to speak, and am now fifty pages into The Subject Steve, his first published novel. I doubt Cyrus Duffleman would have time to indulge in Kalder's longer books, but he might enjoy his recent cynicism on the joys of social-media marketing for writers. And I doubt Sam Lipsyte would mind reading it at all (but this doesn't imply I found Lipsyte's e-mail on the Columbia U. MFA website and spammed him with Kalder's essay, my own malaise, or any other set of steak knives.)

Meanwhile, over Thanksgiving break, I picked up three Dr. Seuss books for the price of two at a Walden Books in Charleston, and although I mistakenly grabbed a misprinted copy of There's a Wocket in My Pocket, we are still enjoying it a great deal at home. The Foot Book is also of interesting although no…