Thursday, September 15, 2016

from The Lay of the Land

"I watch CNN every night, but never afterward think much about anything I see--even the election, as stupid as it is. I've come to loathe most sports, which I used to love--a loss I attribute to having seen the same thing over and over again too many times. Only death-row stories and sumo wrestling (narrated in Japanese) will keep me at the TV longer than ten minutes. My bedside table, as I've said, has novels and biographies I've read thirty pages into but can't tell you much about."

~~ Frank Bascombe from Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land, p.250  

Friday, September 9, 2016

a writer's question

In an interview worth reading, I appreciated this "writer's question" directed at Chelsea Martin.

Z: Writers are well known for mining art from personal tragedy, a process which Mickey deconstructs and pokes fun at with great success by listing titles for the narrator’s theoretical art installations (“Untitled #13 – Nostradamus predicted I would feel sad today and everyday hereafter” being a particular favorite of mine). In life there’s the kind of despair that can make it difficult to attribute meaning to anything, let alone commit words to paper. But there’s also a more functional, low-level depression or malaise during which I’d wager many writers perhaps function at their “best.” 

I think it’s a state you capture brilliantly in the book, as when you write: “When I had a job, I had to pretend to be happy for at least part of the day…But now I’m home almost all the time and, having exhausted many of my friends’ capacities for compassion, I am able to devote full days to plotting petty revenge and going over my past failures ad nauseam.” Do you find you are able to accomplish much of your writing at times like this, that it almost proves inspiring in some way? 

CM: Yes, definitely. That can be a great time to write. I find there is a rawness to my writing when I’m low-level depressed. I think you can kinda tell I don’t give a fuck, and I really like that quality. When I’m in a more positive headspace I’m more cautious and analytical about what I’m writing, so that can be a good time to edit. But I try not to expect certain emotional states from myself, especially when it comes to productivity, because things like that end up being excuses not to write, or to not make myself feel better.

Economic Hardship Reporting Project

It's always a bit disappointing to see these somewhat simplistic articles get a shiny new website when my more developed and nuanced novels which take on similar topics are mostly ignored, although here's an interesting one on Americans choosing to retire overseas in order to afford a retirement.

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