I’ve heard that by the time Bukowski was really into the swing of things as a writer he had stopped reading much of anything because he did not feel that most of what he came across had life. It felt dead and, as such, was worthless. I can’t really say for sure because I didn’t know old Buk’, but I believe he would have felt very differently about the writing in Shenanigans! If there was ever writing with life, Shenanigans! is it.
In some cases, I mean this quite literally. The writing in “Contemptibly, A Hair” blasts out of the page with more energy than a hyperactive toddler on meth, though with much more pleasurable results. It dances, it spins, it screams. In short, it is the language equivalent of class ten rapids.
Today it happened. I received an otherwise wholly unassuming little black book in the mail today: my advance review copy (ARC) of my upcoming ‘collectio[novella]’ Shenanigans! Of course, after opening the envelope, I felt compelled to snap a few quick iPhone photos to share with friends and a seemingly infinite number of Internet denizens! For whatever number of likely capricious and inconsequential reasons, I feel a great deal more–I dunno–authorial today than, say, for instance, yesterday, or really any day that came before that. Anyway, the pictures suck but you get the point.
1) Cracking the cover, 2) The cover itself, 3) First page of the TOC, 4) Officially official writerly–type-stuff like ISBN and Library of Congress #s
I felt a sense of relief when I opened up to the T.O.C. of the latest issue of The New Yorker and saw—under Fiction—Roberto Bolaño’s name. The previous two issues featured Saïd Sayrafiezadeh and John Lanchester (and before them, upon taking a second look at my back issues: Etgar Keret, Margaret Atwood, Nathan Englander, César Aira and Alice Munro).
I’d never heard of Sayrafiezadeh or Lanchester. (I’m probably late to the party here; it’d be par for the course, etc.) As a consequence, I had a strong, capricious kneejerk feeling that The New Yorker was tending toward the, well, underwhelming. How about another story from George Saunders? (Even though he just had one published recently.) How about Sam Lipsyte? (See George Saunders comment.)
And then it hit me and I became sad.
Not because the writers I seem to like reading most weren’t in the two most recent issues—for that, I simply began to feel childish and, honestly, a little dumb. I felt sad because I realized I’d just been guilty of being both a literary snob and a hypocrite. I felt sad also because I’d quickly dismissed two writers I’d (honestly and apologetically) never heard of. I felt like a hypocrite because I’m usually among the first critics of The New Yorker for never printing fresh new voices [like Joseph Michael Owens(?)].
Truth be told, there are very few things I wouldn’t do to be published in The New Yorker. I say “very few” only because there might be things I’m not willing to do, but I simply can’t think of any right now. And who would any of us be kidding, really? Few people outside of Amy Hempel would pass on a chance to see their name in that famous typeface.
Because here’s the (oh so very obvious) thing I realized: the stories I dismissed out of hand must be pretty darn good to even have made it into the magazine in the first place. The other thing I realized is that I can be kind of an asshole reader some times.
Perhaps I give myself too much credit for checking out as many indie lit. magazines as I do. I mean, there are plenty of fresh voices in in those, right!? But, similarly, I’m guilty of many times doing the same thing with the indie lit. mags as I am with the more prominent publications. I tend toward automatically seeking out the writers I know and, oftentimes, skip over writers I’ve never read before. And that bothers me.
Bulls on Parade
“…just feed the war cannibal animal I /
walk tha corner to tha rubble that used to be a library line /
up to the mind cemetery now…
What we don’t know keeps tha contracts alive an movin’ /
They don’t gotta burn tha books they just remove ’em!!”
We’ve addressed this before, but SOPA is some serious bullshit you should NOT be OK with.
Read on (via Mashable):
This is one aspect of SOPA This means that YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Gmail, Dropbox and millions of other sites would be “Internet sites…dedicated to theft of U.S. property,” under SOPA’s definition. Simply providing a feature that would make it possible for someone to commit copyright infringement or circumvention (see: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0) is enough to get your entire site branded as an infringing site.