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Showing posts from July, 2013

Kerouac, Fante, a few others dropped in without supporting detail

So I'm thirty-five pages from the end of Point Doom, the serial-killer novel I had to step back from, and twenty-six pages from the end of The Dharma Bums, the Kerouac does Zen and backpacking I sought safety in, and I just remembered that the two have also intersected within the text, and this could be another reason Fante drove me back to Kerouac.

Early on the gritty SoCal AA mystery, Fante's protagonist notes:

Jack Kerouac once wrote that "the only people for me are the mad ones. . . who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn burn burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

That's crap, but thanks, Jack. For the last few years in New York I'd tried to be one of Jack's people. In my spare time I wrote a book of poems and, before he died, I had even worked with my dad, Jimmy Fiorella, and coauthored a couple of screenplays, but eventually I discovered the truth about Kerouac, that crap, and those people: most…

they aren't "mooching"

CNN had the audacity to post this "mooching millennial" headline on the homepage in the Business section just below an image of and article on Detroit's new 444 million-dollar arena (yes, that Detroit, the bankrupt one). Even if by some miracle this isn't largely corporate welfare funded by taxpayers, the paring of these two headlines is gruesome. An entire generation, our 18 to 34-year-olds are taking on the greatest college debt in our history, facing a tough job market, and thus many are forced to live at home, and yet they are labeled as "mooching." Closer to home, our kids in South Carolina are facing higher tuition each year while the Governor receives two years of stadium suite space valued at $58,000.

It never ends.

Russell Banks on Jack Kerouac

I'm rereading Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, the only Kerouac I read as a young man, and because it did not make much of an impression, I didn't return to him to try On the Road until twenty years later. The return was mainly because I'd begun teaching a course called "contemporary literature" and felt obliged to have some familiarity with Kerouac and The Beats.

In my current couple weeks of accidental single-parenting, I'm finding The Dharma Bums to be surprisingly enjoyable and a welcome escape, this reading about younger writers with the time and energy to run screaming down mountains, in this case, Matterhorn. It's good escapism from parenting, and also from my first (and only!) serial-killer novel which I put down fifty pages from the end (something I rarely do, and because I like the author, I will go back and finish).

Old Jack will always be a victim of his fame, and the fact he managed to be popular and hip while somehow getting his name int…

pay

Ending on Isaac Sweeney's career progress seemed a bit too beyond the pessimistic pale of this blog, so I thought I'd return to my usual doom and gloom with this alternet piece on privatizing to reduce wages among janitors and cafeteria workers at charter schools.

This common tactic, that leads to downward pressure on wages for all "nonessential personnel," was something I noticed even in the 1990s, and it has always bothered me. Maybe the new healthcare law solves this problem, but for now, for most of my adult life, I've lived in a country where we tolerate food workers without access to healthcare serving school children. You don't have to be a "skilled professional" in any field to see how an illness exacerbated by lack of timely medical treatment could be far more expensive to society once hundreds of kids also become sick.

Although Philly.com posted this video on how absurd it is to use an 80-hour work week to teach employees how to budget mon…

Holic and Sweeney

Within the last week, my copies of Nathan Holic's American Fraternity Manand Isaac Sweeney's Same Track, Different Track arrived by mail.


Holic's fast-paced novel has an absolutely fantastic cover, and of course, I was excited to see this blurb on the back:

Both writers are full-time teachers now, but both have paid their adjunct dues, and in different ways continue to support the cause of the more tangentially employed among us. For Atticus Review, Nathan has delivered six sets of graphic frames for Fight for Your Long Day, and Isaac continues to write about adjunct issues and more for The Chronicle of Higher Education. More or less, what we have are two early 30-somethings with small children working constantly to survive but also thinking of the less fortunate of higher education, whether they're instructors or students. I've already skimmed Isaac's book, and although I'd call most of what I read a nonfictional summary and assessment of how he fought hi…

A Day in the Life

It's possible that my day-in-the-life adjunct's novel is partly the inspiration for Lee Kottner's newish project of encouraging part-time faculty to post their daily lives as blogs.

So far, for contributions, Migrant Intellectual is back after months of archive hibernation, and Brianne Bolin posted a touching one about adjuncting while raising a special-needs child. Both Baum and Bolin focus in part on how the contingent life adversely impacts physical and mental health, and it should be noted you could be  part-time and overworking anywhere, not only in academia, to experience these negative impacts.

On a related note, Isaac Sweeney, the publisher of my commencement-angst e-story (it's 35 pages) has his new nonfiction out on his transition from adjunct to full-time community-college faculty. It's called Same Track, Different Track, and here's the mostly memoir's first sentence quoted from the Amazon Book Description:

"I was never supposed to be where…

Fante and Holic

A nice reason to be back in South Carolina is to receive a couple paperbacks in the mail.

I've been a fan of the Fantes, father and son, since finding Dan's Chump Change as a Sun Dog trade paperback years ago, so although the serial-killer angle is a bit beyond my usual, I was excited to open my preordered Point Doom. I'm already 250 pages into it, and so far, the book is a page turner with some good SoCal AA and car-sales grit and satire to it.

Also, workaholic Nathan Holic's American Fraternity Man is due to arrive at my place in a few days, and I'm proud to say that this Greek satire will be the first novel I see with my blurb on the back cover.

Xi'an, China

We're back from Xi'an, China, where at the beginning of a two-month stay I posted these first impressions. One of Xi'an's most famous landmarks is the Da Yan Pagoda (Wild Goose Pagoda):