Sunday, February 24, 2019

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hampshire College

Some of my most fond memories from Wesleyan entail driving an hour north to play in Ultimate Frisbee tournaments at Hampshire College as well as hosting their team at Wes, so it is not only to defend liberal arts colleges in general that the news Hampshire may close is disappointing. So far, it's not clear as to what will happen although I believe that Hampshire has decided to admit a smaller class for Fall semester, 2019, with the thinking that it is much more appropriate to guarantee four years for a smaller number of students than to shut the doors on students who would be forced to leave before graduation. Undoubtedly, colleges and universities assigning Fight for Your Long Day and Auggie's Revenge as university-wide or first-year Book of the Year selections will have a much better chance of surviving than the others. Indeed, the experiences of the protagonists (or anti-heroes) of these novels are central to the predicament of the humanities in the twenty-first century, so I hardly see hope for any liberal arts college or curriculum failing to consider these novels.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"A great line editor is a miracle. . ."

In literature class, I'm teaching Kate Braverman's "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta" and Jayne Anne Phillips's "Home," so that sent me searching for articles about the former (follow this link for an interview with Braverman) and news of the latter. For Phillips, I found Nick Ripatrazone's memories of her as a teacher and editor in "Is Line Editing a Lost Art?"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Kate Braverman's "Jewish money"

"Right from the beginning," Braverman says, "I had subversive instincts." Born in Philadelphia, she moved to Los Angeles with her Jewish parents and younger brother, Hank, in 1958, the year the Dodgers left Brooklyn. She was reared on welfare in "the stucco slums" of Los Angeles. No car, none of the glamour one associates with Los Angeles. Her father gambled; her mother had a nervous breakdown. Alienated, suffering a "squalid adolescence," she took refuge in books.

Because "Frantic Transmissions" is spotty on details, I ask Braverman what her father did when he worked. "He had cancer and so he was a professional invalid," she sighs. "We came to California originally because he was not expected to survive the winter back East. And lo and behold, he survived 25 years of Los Angeles."
At 15, she ran away to Berkeley, lived with a group of UC students, collected food stamps and wore Army surplus outfits. She went to Berkeley High, then UC Berkeley and returned to Los Angeles in 1971. L.A. scorched her soul but Braverman found connections in the alternative culture of the '70s and '80s. Her best-known novel, "Lithium for Medea," came from that period. At the Venice Poetry Workshop, her students included John Doe and Exene of the band X. She was a drug addict for 17 years, the first 14 with IV cocaine, then "a shorter but rather intense excursion into heroin addiction."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fat City

I've never read Leonard Gardner's contemporary classic Fat City, but I recently enjoyed this new interview with the author in The Paris Review.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Super Bowl Weekend

To honor Super Bowl LIII, let's send you to recognized writers Walter Kirn and Tony O'Neill for appreciation of the greatest football story ever told, A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley. Of course, it's set against football and American success and not merely about it. . .

Thank you for your help

Thank you for ratings, reviews, purchases, or reads of my novels, Fight for Your Long Day and Auggie's Revenge, as well as my published short stories. I could never feel this alienated and miserable without you, generous family, friends, and fans who have forgotten to publicly acknowledge my life's work.

And less than a day after that lovely thought, an unprovoked friend informed me he had just bought Auggie's Revenge, and he apologized for not attending to it sooner. So that, of course, changes everything, and with or without you, I know once more that I'm destined for literary respect, if not greatness, and will no doubt get at least one more book published. Would it be too much to ask for two or three? A novel and two memoirs? Don't forget film options, translations, or story collections! Hah! Ugh. Oy.

Happy new year!

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Auggie's Revenge: Reviews, Interviews, and Excerpts

Book Reviews: "The Teaching Life as a House of Troubles," by Don Riggs, American, British and Canadian Studies , June 1, 2017 ...