writes about nerdy things, and celebrates those things as an English teacher. He lives in the mountains. Thanks for reading; feel free to leave a message.

Posts tagged with ‘lit’

I’m sweating. I walk down to the utility road and come back. Come on, I say. An old fuck in a green sweat suit comes out of the Hacienda, his hair combed up into a salt-and-pepper torch. An abuelo type, the sort who yells at you for spitting on his sidewalk. He has this smile on his face—big wide, shit-eating. I know all about the nonsense that goes on in these houses, the ass that gets sold, the beasting.

From “Aurora” collected in Junot Diaz’s first book, Drown

I finished this a couple of weeks ago and it was odd reading things in reverse order. The Kirby connection to Diaz’s work is well-established but many of these stories have a kind of Newsboy legion tone to them. I’m probably reading too much into them. This is from “Ysrael”:

“Everyone had a different opinion on the damage. Tio said it wasn’t bad but the father was very sensitive about anyone taunting his oldest son, which explained the mask. Tia said that if we were to look on his face we would be sad for the rest of our lives.” 

There’s something that can be said about reading his work backwards. I read Oscar Wao first and then This is How You Lose Her with his first book last, and there is definitely a change in maturity. There’s a carefree attitude of a young man here who doesn’t really feel any connection to anyone other than himself. You can’t say that about Yunior in Oscar, followed by his reflections on his family in Diaz’s third book. Perhaps we’re entering into Diaz’s second turn at Marvel after escaping to DC for a while, like Kirby.

"Francis" written by Dave Eggers for This American Life, adapted and directed by Richard Hickey. 

Oh also did you know there’s another new Eggers book coming out in June

Have you read this story? You really should. It’s a wonder of what web writing can do by the guy I’m obsessed with. 

Have you read this story? You really should. It’s a wonder of what web writing can do by the guy I’m obsessed with

Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman’s home on Remodelista, because I’m in a nesting phase..
Soccer I actively hated. But it lasted only a few weeks, until I figured out that if you were too tired to keep playing, or if you had a cramp, you could raise your hand and the coach would pull you out. So as soon as he put me on, I would raise my hand. Once I did this and he yelled, from the sidelines, “Come on, John, goddamnit!” Our eyes met. I kept my hand in the air.

From johnjeremiahsullivan's Blood Horses

I woke up this morning at 4am. I’m staying at home with my parents to help pre-empt the flooding that always occurs during April. Mud season. We go right from awful March, my least favorite month, to April where there is mass flooding. It’s awesome.

I woke up and started reading John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Blood Horses, because I’m so into what it is he does. I really enjoy his work, and I can’t quite get enough of it. You know a writer is for you when you read something and say, “Yeah, me too.” I say that all the time when reading him and the thing I’m learning from him is compassion. A willingness to empathize with people, all people of various shapes and sizes, and their interests.

This quote literally sprang me from my bed, all of his sports-related anecdotes could have been pulled whole-cloth from my own athletic misadventures.     

These people at Mohegan Sun were not even drunk; they were dancing in front of the stage, mostly sober—had I ever known anyone who could or would dance sober? I was still in the back, by the bar, but I was jumping up and down, and the rest of the bar was jumping up and down, everyone’s face positively stupid. And it occurred to me then that fun is only fun when’s stupid. That there is no joy without stupidity, without abandon, without judgment—that music is best enjoyed in this stupid way, in a stupid place like this, with people you love holding stupid tambourines and playing with strangers amid strangers, who are dancing around to a song about spaceship-people building municipalities without permits or city planners but with pop songs.

Dave Eggers in an excerpt from his forthcoming book of travel essays, Visitants. A book that doesn’t seem like it’s going to come out in the US, but I definitely want to read. 

I’ve been to Mohegan Sun. I found the place to be a den of sadness. Generally, that’s my reaction to strip clubs and casinos. I had a poorly cooked hamburger there.

SBU journalism professor pens first novel with encouragement of peer and former students.
I can’t summarize how great and wonderful this is so I’m going to do it in list form.
Denny was my first college writing professor and many of his lessons I’ve brought over to my own classes.
One of them is William Strunk’s admonishment “Omit needless words.”
So teaching Strunk and White.
Having reading quizzes.
Understanding how to show and not tell in writing is by using the five senses humans use to know anything.
Like omit needless words, my second favorite note on student papers is “I’m sorry that’s vague—can you be more specific?”
Holly McIntyre.
Denny told me about this book one day in my senior year at St. Bonaventure when I asked him if he would read a chapter of my aborted first book, which was just a college student pseudo-memoir that tried too hard to be an impersonation of Rules of Attraction—basically something nobody wants to read. He echoed Bob Schreck’s advice to Nick Spencer: That I don’t know anything since I’ve spent my entire life in school, and I should go out and experience other things than stay in school, because that gives you life experience to write about.
And I listened and didn’t go back to graduate school until six years after I graduated from undergrad.
He is, probably, the very first influence I had as a writing teacher.

SBU journalism professor pens first novel with encouragement of peer and former students.

I can’t summarize how great and wonderful this is so I’m going to do it in list form.

  1. Denny was my first college writing professor and many of his lessons I’ve brought over to my own classes.
  2. One of them is William Strunk’s admonishment “Omit needless words.”
  3. So teaching Strunk and White.
  4. Having reading quizzes.
  5. Understanding how to show and not tell in writing is by using the five senses humans use to know anything.
  6. Like omit needless words, my second favorite note on student papers is “I’m sorry that’s vague—can you be more specific?”
  7. Holly McIntyre.
  8. Denny told me about this book one day in my senior year at St. Bonaventure when I asked him if he would read a chapter of my aborted first book, which was just a college student pseudo-memoir that tried too hard to be an impersonation of Rules of Attraction—basically something nobody wants to read. He echoed Bob Schreck’s advice to Nick Spencer: That I don’t know anything since I’ve spent my entire life in school, and I should go out and experience other things than stay in school, because that gives you life experience to write about.
  9. And I listened and didn’t go back to graduate school until six years after I graduated from undergrad.
  10. He is, probably, the very first influence I had as a writing teacher.
First Look At Jason Segel As David Foster Wallace.
This is weird. 
This is one of my favorite scenes from Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments.
I finished this last Tuesday. It took much longer than expected but it was a joy over every sentence, every bit of dialogue. Rowell didn’t try to stick to a type she just wanted to have characters that a reader would know, and I think I can say I know people like Lincoln and Jennifer and Beth. Every novelist tries to do this, and your mileage may vary, but when one truly hits it, it’s fantastic. How do they do it? I don’t think they even know. The best answer is probably: pay attention to people, be a fly on the wall, listen. This creates an incalculable moment when one tries to emulate a writer creating characters that are a part of one’s life that makes the reader infuse their meaning into the writer’s words.
This was a delightful book, one of my favorites so far. Here’s my favorite bit:

“There are moments when you can’t believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening. Lincoln felt like he’d dunked his head into a sink full of Pop Rocks and turned on the water.” 

This is one of my favorite scenes from Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments.

I finished this last Tuesday. It took much longer than expected but it was a joy over every sentence, every bit of dialogue. Rowell didn’t try to stick to a type she just wanted to have characters that a reader would know, and I think I can say I know people like Lincoln and Jennifer and Beth. Every novelist tries to do this, and your mileage may vary, but when one truly hits it, it’s fantastic. How do they do it? I don’t think they even know. The best answer is probably: pay attention to people, be a fly on the wall, listen. This creates an incalculable moment when one tries to emulate a writer creating characters that are a part of one’s life that makes the reader infuse their meaning into the writer’s words.

This was a delightful book, one of my favorites so far. Here’s my favorite bit:

“There are moments when you can’t believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening. Lincoln felt like he’d dunked his head into a sink full of Pop Rocks and turned on the water.” 
From a profile of J.P. Donleavy in the NY Times Style Magazine: 

Back in the kitchen, I tell Donleavy I’d noticed a Bankers Box that would seem to contain notes for a sequel to his bracing 1975 guide to etiquette and social climbing, “The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival & Manners” — a follow-up called “The Unexpurgated Code of Growing Old.” “The problem with that is the title,” he says. “I’ll have to change the title when I’ve reached the final page — the point where you can’t grow old any more.”

"…reached the final page…" I quite like that. 

From a profile of J.P. Donleavy in the NY Times Style Magazine

Back in the kitchen, I tell Donleavy I’d noticed a Bankers Box that would seem to contain notes for a sequel to his bracing 1975 guide to etiquette and social climbing, “The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival & Manners” — a follow-up called “The Unexpurgated Code of Growing Old.” “The problem with that is the title,” he says. “I’ll have to change the title when I’ve reached the final page — the point where you can’t grow old any more.”

"…reached the final page…" I quite like that.