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Showing posts from February, 2014


I woke up too early, neither exhausted nor rejuvenated, and went downstairs to heat water and prepare corn flakes with milk.

Now it's back to thin herbal tea and Dave Newman's Two Small Birds. The book is trucker fiction, heavy on the fried chicken and poetry.

A facebook comment suggested that Cartilage and Skin author Michael James Rizza picked up some match boxes at the Atticus table at the Book Fair.

On his way to the conference, Dan Cafaro of Atticus walked by a musician busking on the street in Seattle. The guitarist may or may not be Charlie Parr of Austin, Minnesota, but Rizza will understand when I say that it looks like Parr has gotten beyond Duluth.

I'm not at the conference, but the Seattle Public Library system has five print copies of Fight for Your Long Day.

I may soon add swimming or stationary bicycle to my regular walking routines, but for now, I'll count as additional exercise an unease I've experienced, during turbulence, on the smaller planes …

libertie, equalitie, selfie

Portrait of the blogger with a copy of Keith Hoeller's Equality for Contingent Faculty:

Vanderbilt Press is on it. Are you? 

Frank Conroy

On social media, the writer Michael Leone posted this quotation from Frank Conroy's Stop-Time:

It was as if all the saints, martyrs, and mystics of human history were gathered into a single building, each one crying out at the moment of revelation, each one truly there at the extreme of joy or pain, crying out with the purity of total selflessness. There was no arguing with these sudden voices above the general clamor, they rang true. All around me were men in a paroxysm of discovery, seeing lands I had never known existed, calling me with a strength I had never known existed. But they called from every direction with equal power, so I couldn’t answer. I stood balanced on the pinpoint of my own sanity, a small, cracked tile on the floor. 

turning his buck

In the screenplay, I'm depicting myself as a marginal man turning his buck by analyzing the marketing strategies of short films from Passenger and the owner of La Colombe.

A key is to say you're doing something you love and that it's not about the money.

But hey, what's not to like about good music and coffee?

If while sipping your La Colombe coffee in Rittenhouse Square, you hear the strumming of the world's happiest busker, be sure to think of L.U.S.K.

And have a good weekend.

How Iowa Flattened Literature

I'm so tired I can't even remember if I've read the entire article, but I did reflect a bit on the following two quotations from it:

"If your central motive as a writer is to put across ideas," the writer Steve Almond says, "write an essay."

I found this interesting because one reason I enjoyed Almond's excellent lead-off story from the Richard Russo 2010 Best of American Short Stories is that it does have ideas we can play with. They relate to the analyst v. analyzed, caution v. risk, card games and gambling, and fathers and sons among other things. I also appreciated the ideas in Almond's intro to the story, about the link between autobiography and fiction. Of course, "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched" has many other things going for it, such as strong flow, timing, and characterization. Anyway, I do like novels with ideas, if not precisely of ideas, and for me that's partly what I get out of Voltaire, Nabokov, Pynchon, Dostoyev…

Iowa Writers' Workshop

"How Iowa Flattened Literature" has been around the interwebs recently, about the CIA and the workshop, and in fine blogging fashion, I've only skimmed parts of it so far. Nevertheless here are more than ten things, mainly books and writers, I think of when free-associating about the Iowa Writers' Workshop:

1) The Stone Reader a documentary about a forgotten Iowa writer that the director determines to find

2) The Same River Twice by Chris Offutt

3) After the Workshop by John McNally

4) Fred Exley at Iowa in Pages from a Cold Island

5) drinking stories about Raymond Carver and John Cheever at Iowa

6) stories I've assigned by Bharati Mukherjee, Nam Le, and Sana Krasikov

7) John Gardner and T.C. Boyle, wildly successful, prolific novelists with PhDs from Iowa (if I'm not mistaken, Gardner was one of America's first PhDs in creative writing although this is perplexing as I've always been under the impression Iowa does not offer such a degree)

8) John Irvi…

Throwaway Americans, 10th Anniversary Edition

In "Throwaway Americans," Stu Bykofsky has the audacity to wave a white race card and get the reader to sympathize with a guy who went to private schools, once owned an airplane, and even has a part-time job, and, alas, maybe because the guy is 54, just as in my 1994, non-airplane-owning, flat-broke father's experience as fictionalized for "My Father's Great Recession," I do, at least somewhat, even as I wonder where I'll be in ten years. In 2024, just as in 1994 and 2014, it seems likely a majority of the folks making the "hiring decision" will be other white men.

At least that was certainly true in my dad's situation 20 years ago when he finally found his way back into the world of employment. I've noted this before at L.U.S.K., that he wound up getting his 15 seconds of fame as "the poet, Jay Roberts" while working at a gas station convenience store off A1A in Ponte Vedra, Florida after his downstairs neighbor in the beach…

2014-15: inequality, unemployment, poverty

One reason Fight for Your Long Day is worth reading is that the novel clearly predicts the direction we are heading in--toward contract work (35% of all U.S. Workers), increased inequality, and global "flattening" for most of us even as the elite prospers. In 2014, from Robert Reich's "Why There's No Outcry" to Stu Byfosky's "Throwaway Americans," inequality, unemployment, and poverty articles remain the easiest ones to find between Miley, Bieber, and Sochi headlines. Apologies again for pasting in URLs, but I'll update this list as I see them, and I'm sure it will prove impossible to capture even "the 1%" of the total. So to speak.



beating around the academia

Quickly, a couple blogs on academia caught my eye recently, and inspired by both, I wanted to renew the L.U.S.K consumer and gifting pledge!

So here it is:

No matter how low our marketing strategists stoop, under no circumstances will we be sending underwear to any standing U.S. governors (and, yes, we are including both long and flannel as part of this pledge), and, likewise, we will never ever, or ever never, purchase a pre-owned automobile from any curbstoner who happens to be moonlighting as a university president (not even if he has taken to calling himself a sales and leasing consultant or referring to student debt as "the collective vig").

That's our guarantee to you, friend.


The stock market rallied fiercely the past two days despite a second straight month of mediocre job creation. For the January report, five people left the workforce for every one who gained a job, and the February report suggests a similar pattern, as the number of jobs created fell below expectations even as the unemployment rate was reduced to 6.6%. It's also hard to get a raise these days.


On Tuesday evening, after devouring chicken and eggplant in garlic sauce, I broke a cookie and read this fortune:

Happiness is a state of mind.

Happiness is activity.

capitalist immigration

Australia sings give me your tired, your hungry, your rich for investment, and in return receive a "millionaire visa." And, of course, even as millionaire investors are welcome with open visas, part-time employment is surging in Australian academia. Indeed, these trends are global, and yeah, what else is new?

Just a week later, on February 12, 2014, I read that Canada is cancelling a similar program with a less expensive "entry fee," citing many immigrant investors were not making a firm enough commitment to Canada. The article includes information on comparable visas to additional countries such as the United States, Greece, and Portugal.

So many Chinese want to leave their closed society and its crowded cities, yet from an outsider's perspective it seems there are plenty of reasons to stick around.

Woody and Philip

So one of my favorite actors killed himself by overdosing on heroin while one of my favorite directors faced renewed accusations that he's a pedophilia.

For Woody Allen, I feel no need to defend him, and, alas, bad behavior does seem prevalent among too many superstar athletes, entertainers, and writers, but who really knows? I guess Woody and Dylan know, and it's even possible they are both remembering inexactly. An awkward aspect to the whole business is that those of us who respect Woody's several masterpieces (and willingly admit he has at least a dozen mediocre ones) do tend to return to them as a kind of "comfort food" for film. That is, we watch Annie Hall or Manhattan when we are feeling blue. Yeah, we turn to Woody to take the edge off our own lives.

Even before Dylan's op-ed in The New York Times, there were already plenty of swirling rumors, so I guess this isn't exactly the unexpected thing. And of course, everyone is innocent until proven gui…

2014 Adjunct Articles