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Showing posts from March, 2012

the old man and his hemingway

I believe that the photograph of my father is from the late 1970s, and below it rests his college copy of The Sun Also Rises.


The Scribner Library trade paperbacks were built to last, and please do "think I am very much impressed by that."

New Hope, Pa

March 22 was a wonderful Thursday for sitting outside Farley's Bookshop in sunny New Hope, Pennsylvania.


True or False? I'm not seated because I was behind the postal vehicle, begging the letter carrier to buy a copy.
No tellsies, but later that afternoon, I found a tasty Philly cheesesteak and Turkish Delight ice cream down the street.

And three days later I was back in the teaching game.

dollar store realism

If Raymond Carver's dirty realism is K-Mart realism, then perhaps Barry Graham's The National Virginity Pledge could be called Dollar Tree realism. His short, spunky stories arrived in my mail slot with Ben Tanzer's This American Life. Tanzer hasn't told me that his new marketing strategy is to get sued by NPR and made famous thusly, but his title story does tackle this concern in part. I did get a chance to tell Ben that his productivity and pace of publication is amazing. He's written a lot of books. And he just burst through the doors of Powell's and got all of his paperbacks on the shelf. He's an animal. I fear for his wife.

But back to Graham, a couple writers his dirty themes and spare prose remind me of would be Dan Fante and Mark SaFranko, and both of these guys were recently seen in the cyberworld. SaFranko's No Strings Attached, a new novel, arrives this fall from Black Coffee Press:


And Dan Fante was found signing books in Barcelona this wee…

Roberto Bolano's "I Can't Read"

In the April 2012 Harper's Magazine, Roberto Bolano's "I Can't Read" has a final paragraph that will make you chuckle. Alas, it's trapped behind a paywall. Even if it's not Bolano's best writing, and was left unpublished but saved on his hard drive for a reason, this blogger is a fan. At the end, Bolano reports that he is getting trashed by Chilean writers from both left and right-wing political positions, and that it is most likely either due to the major prize he had recently won or his offending teeth. And I'd say that life, often, can be just like that.

men in their prime

I just posted on the recovering economy, and so it makes sense that one of the very next articles I read online would suggest that this is hardly your father's recovery--particularly in the sense that he might not be working. Middle-aged male worker participation rates (what Brett Arends calls "the Guy Rate") remain among the lowest ever recorded:

http://www.smartmoney.com/invest/strategies/what-does-bernanke-know-1332799616772/?link=SM_hp_ls4e#article_tab_article

And the past couple weeks, Atticus Books has shared some rough-draft memoir about my father's experiences in relation to his father and son, and although the year is 1991, the song resonates somewhat with the current situation, or at least the malaise we're hopefully climbing out of.

Here's part two:

http://atticusbooksonline.com/summer-1991-broke-and-back-in-philly-part-2

and in case you missed it, part one:

http://atticusbooksonline.com/summer-1991-broke-and-back-in-philly-part-1

and an earlier sect…

a third of us

It's been reported that as part of the 21st century "transformational" economy, a full third of the American workforce works as freelance, contingent, by the contract, or in some other capacity decidedly not full-time at one company. This should be no shock to the many of us who've worked in such a capacity for most of our adult lives, and yet, if you describe this phenomena in the classroom, you can still be greeted with looks of disbelief.

And mainstream news sources, such as cnn.com, can still report that such a trend is new information, indeed newsworthy information. But in reality, even as the economy improves, the trend in growth of contract work as a larger share of the total work in our country, and the world, will continue. And so no one should be surprised that we have folks in the workforce who write journalism by day, teach as adjuncts in the evenings, and then get paid as strippers a bit later on. After all, you don't have to be a fan of Rabbi Jesus …

Philadelphia

<> at Love Park, as i passed through on my way to grading papers in the lounge of the Marriott at 12th and Market, i strolled past plenty of homeless people sleeping in the a.m. (with one guy engrossed in mass market fiction, a fat book whose title i could not discern), and then eating in the p.m. (from the Meals on Wheels type of outfit I believe that the city is now in a tussle with although i apologize for not having time to retrieve the facts on this). doesn't appear as if anyone is bothering anybody. peaceful. no fountain water, so that's a bit of a downer.

<> after the casual extra-credit, stop-go analysis grading in the lobby (okay, an easy one to assess), a rather swank French professor approaches, and yes, he is in fact the guy i'm meeting for lunch. we talk about all of it--long and short--corruption, anxiety, work, overwork, fatigue, children, parents, homecare workers, abroad, Europe, China, greed, poverty, etc.--and, well, the Hong Kong duck and sp…

insomnia

Insomnia, you never cease to amaze me in how you come at the most predictable times in my life.

Could you at least wake me up at an original time or day of the week? I've been watching you, and I don't like what I see. Not one bit. And so I've no other recourse than to grade you down for this assignment, and you should expect demerits in the future if you continue to act in such a mediocre manner.

Insomnia, you can do better than this. Don't you think?

i came, i read. . .

The Spill the Beans reading was fun, and I had a chance to compete with loud line chatter and cash-register chiming, so that should help prepare me for all future obstacles. Which at the moment seem too overwhelming to consider. . .

Life is good, but insomnia isn't?

Insomnia, in fact, is not always so bad although it's better for those days when there's no teaching the next a.m. I can report that I finished grading a stack of essays earlier in the day and even did some light editing of Cartoon Bubbles after the reading. And a sliver of memoir excerpt will run at Atticus Books on March 19.

And so it goes.

"No Returns" in Romania

I'm very pleased to report that Dr. Daniel D. Peaceman, the international emissary to all things whole and healing, chose "No Returns," an excerpt from The Book of Jay for inclusion in the second annual Contemporary Literary Horizons anthology. As rough draft, it has already appeared here.

On the topic of Dr. Daniel's global excursions, I happened to find Philly's own Don Riggs smiling back at me from a Tunisian blog by poet, teacher, and translator Chokri Omri.

willing to work? able? qualified? the usual questions remain

Here's another article about American companies recruiting overseas to find capable workers--in this case, in manufacturing jobs. Together with all the article's comments below, you a get sense of the strongly divergent discourses surrounding the issue. Are Americans being ignored? Is the pay too low to attract "qualified" Americans? Are we sending too many of our teenagers off to colleges and universities and not enough to trade schools? Are we unwilling to work? Do we blame corporations, our government, or ourselves?

I don't know, but I do know that during economic booms in America, such as the late nineties, urban school districts routinely recruited abroad because the college educated Americans who would be qualified refused the work. The teachers would come countries like India, Austria, and Romania-- places where English is not the first language, but you can find a math or science teacher who speak it well enough. I suspect that the school districts were g…

The Ivy Bookshop added for Saturday, March 24

We're still waiting on a time, but we've added The Ivy Bookshop to the famous 2012 Goodman-Kudera book tour. So this is what we know right now:

March 24, Saturday, time TBA, The Ivy Bookshop (with Eric D. Goodman) 6080 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21209

The Ivy Bookshop is under new management as the charming and savvy Berliners have come down from Manhattan to fight for Indy store freedom.