Sunday, December 20, 2009

sunday short stack


“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” - E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web


Friday, December 18, 2009

santa baby

Dear Santa -

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you'd check off my Christmas list

XO Chris






Gramercy Gate Compact
@ Etsy (citybitz) $40


















Miz Mooz Amelia Button Boot @ Amazon $220


















Pictorial Webster's Dictionary @ The Curiosity Shoppe $35
















Aesa Diamond Vein Necklace @ Barneys $267


















Stanton T90 USB Turnrable @ ebay $299

















Electra
Orbit 3i (Emerald) @ Cyclewerks $549















The Bombshell Woolie @ Etsy (superjennylove) $46
















Collins Sofa @ Crate & Barrel $2499

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a life beyond nostalgia

Anne Trubek on the death of handwriting:

The moral of this story is not that typing is superior to handwriting, that parents should have to transcribe the stories of their offspring or that private schools are superior to public ones. The moral of the story is that what we want from writing — what Simon wants and what the Sumerians wanted — is cognitive automaticity, the ability to think as fast as possible, freed as much as can be from the strictures of whichever technology we must use to record our thoughts. As Wolf writes: "A system that can become streamlined through specialization and automaticity has more time to think. This is the miraculous gift of the reading brain." This is what Palmer wanted for his students — speed. This is what the typewriter promised Twain. This is what typing does for millions. It allows us to go faster, not because we want everything faster in our hyped-up age, but for the opposite reason: We want more time to think.

Related, a student brings a typewriter to class (via Open Culture).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

33. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Sigh...I'm not getting the accolades. I am a huge Lorrie Moore fan, but this novel did not do it for me at all. It took many, many pages to emerge from a somewhat boring beginning and never quite seemed to find its purpose. Of course, because it's Lorrie Moore, there were sentences of quirky, startling insight, but not as many as I would have liked. However, if the praise for this novel leads to more rapid release of another, then that's fine by me.

34. A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century by Cristina Nehring

I love anyone who dares to point out that twenty-first century heterosexual relationships are suffering at best, totally fukakte at worst. Nehring doesn't explicitly state she's focused on male-female connections, but her use of literary and historical examples of this type imply it. She attributes this contemporary dilemma to a denial of much of the emotional currency that supported the traditional romantic economy. Is everything she says reasonable? Not necessarily, but at least she's saying it.

35. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

I grew up in Massachusetts and took summer vacations in Maine, so I hoped the settings would charm me, regardless of any other narrative element. No such luck. This book wasn't painful to read and the second half was much more engaging, but I didn't really connect with any of the characters in this character-driven novel. There is one successful scene of absurdity that seems out of place, but it is also the most memorable section of the story.

36. Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

I can't quite believe this is my first Doctorow novel, but there it is. I enjoyed this quick read that fictionalizes the story of New York's most famous hoarders, the Collyer Brothers. There's a mild Forrest Gump-like narrative arc that shows the brothers responding to different monumental events of the twentieth century. I questioned whether the idiosyncratic recluses would have never had a fight (really?), but the men and their increasingly cluttered home were effectively evoked.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

sunday short stack



"Telepathy and clairvoyance play a part in every love story." - Isaac Bashevis Singer


End of the year "Best of" lists are piling up. A random selection:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

the death of uncool

Brian Eno thinks we're living in a stylistic tropics.

There’s a whole generation of people able to access almost anything from almost anywhere, and they don’t have the same localised stylistic sense that my generation grew up with. It’s all alive, all “now,” in an ever-expanding present, be it Hildegard of Bingen or a Bollywood soundtrack. The idea that something is uncool because it’s old or foreign has left the collective consciousness.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

going west

A beautiful short film for the New Zealand Book Council:


Monday, November 30, 2009

you should have offered her your boots

V.L. Hartmann reflects on Joan Didion after seeing her on the street.

For some of us, mimicking Joan Didion has become the height of literary ambition, and not just her sentences. “Goodbye to All That” is a jumping-off point, California will fall short of its promise, but there is always Hawaii, and a penthouse, even when you are broke. There is a husband across the hall in his own study in your house in Malibu while you write. This is the Joan Didion who is forever leaning out of that Stingray with a cigarette in her hand. She appeared to be living in her sentences, and it was this intimacy that took me everywhere that she had been, even in the decades before I was born. The text might say it was hard, but the style makes it look easy.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

sunday short stack


"Only a world without love would be worse than one without music." - Kingsley Amis



Friday, November 27, 2009

ladwp holiday light show by day

Every year, the LADWP hosts a bizarrely retro light show along a road through a golf course at Griffith Park. Yesterday, I made a Thanksgiving morning pilgrimage in order to take some photos. The whole collection can be seen here, but below are some of my favorites.











Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

judging a book


i09 presents a history of 16 science fiction classics, told in book covers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

sunday short stack


“Humor is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to.” - George Saunders


Saturday, November 21, 2009

what an essay is, exactly, these days

Zadie Smith wonders what essays offer to a novelist:

Within the confines of an essay or – even better! – an aphorism, you can be the writer you dream of being. No word out of place, no tell-tale weak spots (dialogue, the convincing representation of other people, plot), no absences, no lack. I think it's the limits of the essay, and of the real, that truly attract fiction writers. In the confined space of an essay you have the possibility of being wise, of making your case, of appearing to see deeply into things – although the thing you're generally looking into is the self. "Other people", that mainstay of what Shields calls the "moribund conventional novel", have a habit of receding to a point of non-existence in the "lyrical essay."

These are all satisfactions the practice of writing novels is most unlikely to provide for you. Perfect essays abound in this world – almost every one of Joan Didion's fits the category. Perfect novels, as we all know, are rarer than Halley's comet. And so, for a writer, composing an essay instead of a novel is like turning from staring into a filthy, unfathomable puddle to looking through a clear glass windowpane. How perfectly it fits the frame! How little draught passes through!

disco bloodbath is a pretty great name

The New York Times looks at the indie music scene in Greece.

One factor in Athens’s downtown indie transformation was a recent explosion of free press in the city. Five years ago, there was only The Athens Voice, an alternative weekly that then had a meager listings section and only a few pages devoted to the arts.

But along came Velvet (www.velvetmagazine.gr), a free monthly first published in 2004 by the Athens-born brothers Lakis and Aris Ionas, who run a veritable do-it-yourself culture factory out of their fourth-floor downtown studio.

In addition to running the magazine, devoted entirely to the local indie scene, the Ionases have an art collective, a fashion line (their mother sews all their futuristic neon-colored metallic wool creations), and an art-punk band called the Callas. The group has self-released two albums and performed throughout Europe — often in homemade spandex Superman costumes — with the Callasettes, their five “laboratory-made groupies.” Following Velvet, many other locally focused free publications, like Lifo, FAQ, Don’t Panic Athens and Ozon, which has an English-language Web site (www.ozonweb.com/en), have sprung up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

video fun thursday

The new Beck/Charlotte Gainsbourg video:



The N.A.S.A. Tom Waits/Kool Keith video:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

sunday short stack


"For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes." - Dag Hammarskjold



Friday, November 06, 2009

the ladies, they write good!

Lizzie Skurnick weighs in on the all-male Publishers Weekly top ten.

Before I continue, let me borrow a phrase from the majority and say that some of my best friends are men. Some of my best friends are male writers. There are many men I love, many male writers I love, and many loves counted by me among writers of the male persuasion.

But that said, I, female, longtime book critic, longtime lover of males, writers, and male writers, must nonetheless point out an inconvenient truth: It has been a very strong two years for female writers and a weak two years for male ones, and the fact that the latter have garnered unseemly armfuls of praise and prizes for their tepid output is a scandal.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

the impossibility of contentment

The Smart Set excerpts a new translation of Kierkegaard's Repetition.

The older one gets, the better he understands life and the more he comes to care for and appreciate comfort. In short, the more competent one becomes, the less content. One will never be completely, absolutely and in every way content, and it is hardly worth the trouble to be more or less content, so one might as well be thoroughly discontented. Anyone who has really thought through the issue, will agree with me that no one is ever granted even as little as a half an hour out of his entire life where he is absolutely content in every conceivable way. It goes without saying that more is required for this sort of contentment than that one has food and clothing. I was close to achieving it once...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

sunday short stack


"There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction."
- Edgar Allen Poe

Saturday, October 31, 2009

something about verandas

Colson Whitehead describes his what-to-write-next dartboard for The New York Times.

I recently published a novel, and now it’s time to get back to work. If you’re anything like me, figuring out what to write next can be a real hassle. A flashy and experimental brain-bender, or a pointillist examination of the dissolution of a typical American family? ­Generation-spanning door-stopper or claustrophobic psychological sketch? Buncha novellas with a minor character in common? To make things easier, I modified my dartboard a few years ago. Now, when I’m overwhelmed by the untold stories out there, I head down to the basement, throw a dart and see where it lands. Try it for yourself!

As a side note, Whitehead's appearance at the LA Public Library earlier this year was one of the most entertaining readings I've ever seen. He's got the funny.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

thoughts upon returning from a hike

1) If you're a middle-aged white man, we're the only two on the trail, and you don't make eye contact, I *will* think you're a serial killer.

2) I have mad respect for the girl who took the time to apply full-on Amy Winehouse eye makeup before heading out to hike.

3) Sometimes I worry that I run like Phoebe in that one episode of Friends.

checking into the doctoral motel

Louis Menand on "The Ph.D. Problem":

Up to half of all doctoral students in English drop out before getting their degrees (something that appears to be the case in doctoral education generally), and only about half of the rest end up with the jobs they entered graduate school to get—that is, tenured professorships. Over the three decades since the branch was grabbed, a kind of protective shell has grown up around this process, a culture of “realism,” in which exogenous constraints are internalized, and the very conditions that make doctoral education problematic are turned into elements of that education. Students are told from the very start, almost from the minute they apply to graduate school, that they are effectively entering a lottery. This has to have an effect on professional self-conception.

I wonder if Menand feels responsible for contributing to my professional self-conception as one of my grad school professors. (Not at Harvard, folks.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

sunday short stack


"To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself." - Albert Einstein


Saturday, October 24, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

29. The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

The narrative voice in this epic history of 18th century Jamaican slavery is fiercely hypnotic from page one. The story is told in a linguistically compelling dialect; it reminded me a bit of the "Sloosh'a's Crossin'" chapter in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. The plot is dramatic and, at times, brutally violent, but there is something about the telling that comes a little too close to historical romance for me - not in the "romantic" sense, but in the lengthy, overly descriptive tendency toward repetition.

30. You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

Oh, Jonathan. What are you doing to me? I love your novels - I've pushed Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude on dozens of readers, but what the heck was this? That poor pathetic girl was not an engaging protagonist, and if you're going to have a kangaroo kidnapping subplot (and I would have lobbied against this), I need details to make it at all credible or absurd. I, too, would like to write a novel landscaped with all my favorite LA eastside spots, so perhaps I can just appreciate it for that.

31. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

If you like The Turn of the Screw, you will love The Little Stranger. Waters's post-WWII ghost story very skillfully captures the historical detail and sense of place that make for a creepy haunted house narrative. What takes the novel beyond conventional imitation is the richness of Waters's characters. The not-quite-successful country doctor, his likely closeted paramour, her fading gentry mother, and even the adolescent scullery maid are all fully drawn. They easily carry the weight of trying to do something new with a long-established genre.

32. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

Perhaps the best part of this book was having cocktails with Dan Chaon after his Vroman's appearance while I was in the middle of reading it, but I digress. Chaon deserves the accolades he's been receiving. This novel is both parts literary and cinematic - his descriptions stretch the boundaries of how common objects are usually perceived. He brings his scenes to life in a way that is vividly visual. The complicated plot is woven well between the three alternating narratives, and the denouement does not disappoint.

Friday, October 23, 2009

is hip-hop a cat?

Das Racist respond to Sasha Frere-Jones's claim that hip-hop is dead.

Before a handful of (white) internet commenters wild on me saying “Sasha Frere-Jones is not a racist,” let me clarify that I’m not saying he’s consciously and intentionally trying to assert his superiority. I’m just trying to point out that his language is typical of that (white) journalistic voice which presupposes the (white) journalist’s authority.

Perhaps it’s first worth examining further why “periodization” is such a “dicey proposition” to begin with, regardless of how early or late. Concepts like “periods” and even “genre” are loose collections of tropes that have no inherent meaning but rather contextual meanings that are only useful to the extent to which they can help organize texts. The point at which they actually serve to define texts is when they can enter a lens of scrutiny so intense as to render them meaningless.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

her voice is full of money

What can be learned from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns?

To start with, his popular reputation as a careless spendthrift is untrue. Fitzgerald was always trying to follow conservative financial principles. Until 1937 he kept a ledger—as if he were a grocer—a meticulous record of his earnings from each short story, play, and novel he sold. The 1929 ledger recorded items as small as royalties of $5.10 from the American edition of The Great Gatsby and $0.34 from the English edition. No one could call Fitzgerald frugal, but he was always trying to save money—at least until his wife Zelda’s illness, starting in 1929, put any idea of saving out of the question. The ordinary person saves to protect against some distant rainy day. Fitzgerald had no interest in that. To him saving meant freedom to work on his novels without interruptions caused by the economic necessity of writing short stories. The short stories were his main source of revenue.

Until the Hollywood years (1937–40), Fitz­gerald handwrote his income tax returns. During the Hollywood years, the returns were prepared by accountants and typed. He, of course, kept his ledgers by hand. Regardless of how they were transcribed, the returns and the ledgers reveal a great deal about Fitzgerald—how he lived and how he struggled.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sunday short stack


"Writing is like sex: a lot of trial and error."
- Winston Churchill



Saturday, October 17, 2009

art isn't a surface activity

Jeanette Winterson writes in praise of the crack-up.

The stories are well known; Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear and went mad. Sylvia Plath gassed herself. Anne Sexton committed suicide. Emily Dickinson was manic-depressive. Virginia Woolf worked through alternating bouts of madness and depression for most of her life. The mad, bad and dangerous wild boys of high art and popular culture make great copy—whether it's Caravaggio on the run for murder after one of his rages, or Allen Ginsberg, naked and drunk, howling through Manhattan. The women—Plath, Frida Kahlo, Maria Callas, Janis Joplin—imploding like dark stars, are the stuff of obsession.

The collision of creativity and mental instability is so marked that the tortured artist has become a cliché. But with depression rising fast right across the population—and twice as fast among women as men—it is worth trying to separate the cliché from the truth it masks, and to ask whether the connection between creativity and depression can help us think again about the bigger picture.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

sunday short stack


"The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink." - Fran Lebowitz


Saturday, October 10, 2009

drama is everywhere

I love the internet for the sheer fact that, on any given day, you can stumble upon something like a post by Jim Shepard on the subject of fiction based on non-fiction.

The first worry writers have when they consider working with something like historical events has to do with the issue of authority: as in, where do I get off writing about that? Well, here’s the good and the bad news: where do you get off writing about anything? Where do you get off writing about someone of a different gender? A different person? Where do you get off writing about yourself, from twenty years ago?

Writers shouldn’t lose sight of the essential chutzpah involved in trying to imagine any other kind of sensibility. And that they should take heart from that chutzpah, as well. The whole project of literature – the entire project of the arts — is about the exercise of the empathetic imagination. Why were we given something as amazing as imagination, if we’re not going to use it?

Friday, October 09, 2009

whatever makes you happy

"I Cut Like a Buffalo" is by far my favorite track off the Dead Weather album. Now the Jack White-directed video is out.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

landscape of the dispossessed FTW

Herta Müller - "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed" - has won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read an excerpt from her latest book Atemschaukel (or as it's known in English Everything I Own I Carry With Me) here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

sunday short stack


"The bear must deal with 20 obstacles, and each one of them involves pears, because the bear adores pears." - Sufi proverb


Saturday, October 03, 2009

a double shot of virginia woolf

New Scientist excerpts correspondence between Virginia Woolf and science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon. She was a fan. (via io9)

Dear Mr. Stapledon,

I would have thanked you for your book before, but I have been very busy and have only just had time to read it. I don't suppose that I have understood more than a small part - all the same I have understood enough to be greatly interested, and elated too, since sometimes it seems to me that you are grasping ideas that I have tried to express, much more fumblingly, in fiction. But you have gone much further and I can't help envying you - as one does those who reach what one has aimed at.

Many thanks for giving me a copy,
yours sincerely,
Virginia Woolf

Friday, October 02, 2009

to smooth out all traces of that crab-like and crooked path

Virginia Woolf on criticism and Hemingway:

And here, indeed, we may conveniently pause and sum up what point we have reached in our critical progress. Mr. Hemingway is not an advanced writer in the sense that he is looking at life from a new angle. What he sees is a tolerably familiar sight. Common objects like beer bottles and journalists figure largely in the foreground. But he is a skilled and conscientious writer. He has an aim and makes for it without fear or circumlocution. We have, therefore, to take his measure against somebody of substance, and not merely line him, for form’s sake, beside the indistinct bulk of some ephemeral shape largely stuffed with straw. Reluctantly we reach this decision, for this process of measurement is one of the most difficult of a critic’s tasks. He has to decide which are the most salient points of the book he has just read; to distinguish accurately to what kind they belong, and then, holding them against whatever model is chosen for comparison, to bring out their deficiency or their adequacy.

Recalling The Sun Also Rises, certain scenes rise in memory: the bullfight, the character of the Englishman, Harris; here a little landscape which seems to grow behind the people naturally; here a long, lean phrase which goes curling round a situation like the lash of a whip. Now and again this phrase evokes a character brilliantly, more often a scene. Of character, there is little that remains firmly and solidly elucidated. Something indeed seems wrong with the people. If we place them (the comparison is bad) against Tchekov’s people, they are flat as cardboard. If we place them (the comparison is better) against Maupassant’s people they are crude as a photograph. If we place them (the comparison may be illegitimate) against real people, the people we liken them to are of an unreal type. They are people one may have seen showing off at some café; talking a rapid, high-pitched slang, because slang is the speech of the herd, seemingly much at their ease, and yet if we look at them a little from the shadow not at their ease at all, and, indeed, terribly afraid of being themselves, or they would say things simply in their natural voices. So it would seem that the thing that is faked is character; Mr. Hemingway leans against the flanks of that particular bull after the horns have passed.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the street as platform

I'm enjoying this meditation by Dan Hill on "The Street as Platform" (via @mkgold).

We can’t see how the street is immersed in a twitching, pulsing cloud of data. This is over and above the well-established electromagnetic radiation, crackles of static, radio waves conveying radio and television broadcasts in digital and analogue forms, police voice traffic. This is a new kind of data, collective and individual, aggregated and discrete, open and closed, constantly logging impossibly detailed patterns of behaviour. The behaviour of the street.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

sunday short stack


"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
- Ernest Hemingway


Saturday, September 26, 2009

forever stuck in the background

Miranda July's extra self-portraits for Vice.














legitimate discipline? pastime? empty tank?

At The American Scholar, William M. Chace examines "The Decline of the English Department."

In one generation, then, the numbers of those majoring in the humanities dropped from a total of 30 percent to a total of less than 16 percent; during that same generation, business majors climbed from 14 percent to 22 percent. Despite last year’s debacle on Wall Street, the humanities have not benefited; students are still wagering that business jobs will be there when the economy recovers.

What are the causes for this decline? There are several, but at the root is the failure of departments of English across the country to champion, with passion, the books they teach and to make a strong case to undergraduates that the knowledge of those books and the tradition in which they exist is a human good in and of itself. What departments have done instead is dismember the curriculum, drift away from the notion that historical chronology is important, and substitute for the books themselves a scattered array of secondary considerations (identity studies, abstruse theory, sexuality, film and popular culture). In so doing, they have distanced themselves from the young people interested in good books.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

duckface with gang signs

The LA Weekly linked to Stop Making That Duckface! (a.k.a. antiduckface.com), which reminded me of a favorite video from 2006: White Chicks & Gang Signs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

best fiction of the millenium

The Millions is/are counting down The Best Fiction of the Millenium with an all-star panel. I'll be interested to see the top 5 after today's entry at #6: The Road.

This is perhaps the most shocking aspect of The Road: what remains, what you remember years after you’ve read the book, is the beauty, the compassion, the relentlessness of possibility that burns on the colorless horizon. You understand—much in the way that you first understand poetry, through feeling and syntax and imagery rather than logic—that no matter how desolate the story, it is made bearable through language. There is, the novel asserts, something like triumph in the very telling of a tale, a commitment to the act of witness, and to receive a story is to exalt the imagination, to participate in the process of faith, to accept deliverance. Why else, then, would the father in the novel—when his son is too scared to sleep, when the noise of the world dying its cold death keeps him awake—comfort the boy with narrative? They’ve been stripped of everything except voice, but even on the darkest path words can retain their meaning, their promise of light that will lead lost travelers home.

Update: At least Cloud Atlas is in the top 3 (although nothing else could possibly belong in the #1 position, IMHO).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

grounding in what is beautiful















I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a group of people who were reminiscing about learning cursive. Some people found it an oppressive tyranny on their block printing and still look back upon the lessons with dismay. Others - including myself - saw learning cursive as a doorway to adulthood that had finally been breached. I recalled writing looping lines as a cursive-less child, thinking they somehow conveyed meaning I just couldn't understand yet. My parents were trained as elementary school teachers, and they were both indoctrinated into the penmanship standards of the time. And I mean indoctrinated - to this day, when I receive cards in the mail from either of them, I am unable to tell their handwriting apart. As their daughter, I take great pride in my cursive style, so I read with interest Umberto Eco on the lost art of handwriting:

My parents' handwriting was slightly slanted because they held the sheet at an angle, and their letters were, at least by today's standards, minor works of art. At the time, some – probably those with poor hand- writing – said that fine writing was the art of fools. It's obvious that fine handwriting does not necessarily mean fine intelligence. But it was pleasing to read notes or documents written as they should be.

My generation was schooled in good handwriting, and we spent the first months of elementary school learning to make the strokes of letters. The exercise was later held to be obtuse and repressive but it taught us to keep our wrists steady as we used our pens to form letters rounded and plump on one side and finely drawn on the other. Well, not always – because the inkwells, with which we soiled our desks, notebooks, fingers and clothing, would often produce a foul sludge that stuck to the pen and took 10 minutes of mucky contortions to clean.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

sunday short stack


"Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content." - Paul Valéry


Thursday, September 17, 2009

alphabetary vitals and viscera

In preparing a new syllabus, I was reminded of this Gary Lutz talk published in The Believer earlier this year: "The Sentence Is a Lonely Place"

...I favored books that you could open to any page and find in every paragraph sentences that had been worked and reworked until their forms and contours and their organizations of sound had about them an air of having been foreordained—as if this combination of words could not be improved upon and had finished readying itself for infinity.

And as I encountered any such sentence, the question I would ask myself in marvelment was: how did this thing come to be what it now is? This was when I started gazing into sentence after sentence and began to discover that there was nothing arbitrary or unwitting or fluky about the shape any sentence had taken and the sound it was releasing into the world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

no coffee, no ads, no sign

This is an unexpectedly romantic story about a couple in Wisconsin who run a 12-building bookstore.


Via @maudnewton

Sunday, September 13, 2009

jim carroll (1950 - 2009)

Jim Carroll died of a heart attack Friday in Manhattan at age 60.

James Dennis Carroll, the son of a bar owner, spent his childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he attended Roman Catholic schools. After the family moved to Inwood, at the northern end of Manhattan, he won a basketball scholarship to Trinity. There he discovered a love of writing and began spending time at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the East Village, falling under the spell of Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara.

Still in his teens, he published a limited-edition pamphlet of his poems, “Organic Trains” (1967), which, with its successor, “4 Ups and 1 Down” (1970), won him a cult following that was enhanced when The Paris Review published excerpts from his journals in 1970. “Living at the Movies” (1973), issued by a mainstream publisher, won him both acclaim and a wider audience.

His life was colorful. Hailed by Ginsberg, Berrigan and Jack Kerouac as a powerful new poetic voice, he became a fixture on the downtown scene. After briefly attending Wagner College on Staten Island and Columbia University, he found his way to Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he contributed dialogue for Warhol’s films. Later he worked as a studio assistant for the painter Larry Rivers and lived with Ms. Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer. He chronicled this frenetic period in “Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973.”

sunday short stack


"You should know more about human nature every year of your life." - Norman Mailer



The following links have been around for awhile, but they're still good: