Saturday, October 30, 2010

somber city?

We're in Chicago--with no periods, semicolons, or colons on this netbook--but we're here, at the Association for Business Communications Conference, hobnobbing with the B-School and Communications crowd, perhaps unlike creative writers, they can discern a career path in the near and far terms, so now I feel like a paragraph from Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Camera, stopping with commas, and then moving on, it's life in windy weather, indeed

but i wanted to drift back to the bit of Saul Bellow quoted by Fred Exley, the "somber city" of Augie's first paragraph if I'm not mistaken, and truth be told, I've read four or five Bellow novels but not that one and yet I think of it a lot, think of reading it, own it in fine trade paper, and have already named a central character in a future novel Auggie in recognition of Bellow's fellow and also the Harvey Keitel cigar-store photographer in Paul Auster and Wayne Wang's Smoke

But back to Chicago--is it a somber city? it certainly is a windy one, so much so that our flight was delayed three hours due to strong gusts and then receiving luggage straight from the plane, outside on the runway became an exercise in survival of the most sensibly dressed, and it helped if you hid behind the other passengers and let their bodies break the wind (so to speak)

Chicago hasn't seemed so somber, it's seemed cold, and we haven't really been very far from the hotel, just one trip to Chinatown, which seemed quite empty, and this could be due to the economy or the cold although there were people inside the restaurants, we were told by the concierge to take a taxi because they don't want guests walking by the government housing on the way to Chinatown, a "for your own safety" kind of thing, so we passed the projects in a taxi minivan (seeing more of those for whatever reason), and we saw some people but neither the buildings nor the citizens looked particularly somber although at the restaurant, Old Sze Chuan, it was more or less, "first to knock, first admitted"

OK, maybe we gather more data and report back later, we're hoping to see University of Chicago later and will report back on the ghosts of Bloom and Bellow if such are seen preparing for their Halloween spooking

PS--amazon recently notified me that bellow's letters are available there at discount

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the writer's finances in America

Here's a feel-good piece from the recent past on the state of literature (and the writer) in the U.S. Or, I suppose, it could be called a money column by Keith Gessen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interview with Mark Safranko

My interview with novelist Mark Safranko has arrived at http://www.whenfallsthecoliseum.com/. Hating Olivia looks like strong stuff but could be worth it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

buried in The Ask

. . . and it does not disappoint. Sam Lipsyte is an unstoppable force of literature in a dim, darkening world.

Never surrender!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hurricanes Anonymous

Matt Johnson's "Hurricanes Anonymous" (found in the 2009 Best American Short Stories) will not disappoint. I think it is the only short story I've read that takes place after Katrina and Rita, but I'm sure there must be many more. Any good ones come to mind?

The Joseph Epstein story in this collection is quite strong too although his story about a famous writer in another recent Best American Stories (sorry, no date) struck me as an amazing one. Epstein apparently writes about writers (and their widows) quite a bit. I'm the kind of writer who will gobble these down.

Eleanor Henderson next!

Friday, October 1, 2010

the real exley

Janet Maslin has a review of the new novel, Exley, and in it she includes a link to this memorial piece by Mary Cantwell from 1992.