Posts tagged with ‘lit’
My traveling companions were a dog named Charlie Chaplin and an architect named Michael Meredith. Michael and I became friends in Marfa—where the minimalist artist Donald Judd exiled himself in the 1970s from the “harsh and glib” New York art scene—in 2000, when he was in town designing a house for Judd’s longtime companion, Marianne Stockebrand, and my wife Daphne and I were guests of an arts foundation, each working on a book. Michael left for a teaching job back east, and Daphne and I stayed on—that’s when I saw the truck, in front of the post office: boxy, banged up, covered in sky-blue house paint, half-smashed windshield a lattice of stars and linear cracks, like a flag. A Mexican man in his sixties walked outside with his mail (smoking a cigar, wearing a cowboy hat) and drove it away. I biked around town till I found it parked out by the cemetery, around the corner from the beauty parlor. Jesse Santisteban, the owner, said I could take a closer look. The doors had handmade wooden armrests, and the seat belts were canvas and chain link. There was orange shag on the floorboards. He opened the hood and showed me the spot in the engine compartment where he’d signed it like an artist. I asked if he’d ever thought of selling. He said, “Never thought of selling.” Then he told me he had kidney stones and needed an operation.
Without even thinking I offered him $1,200.
nedhepburn convinced me, while wondering through Strand Bookstore years ago, to buy Wilsey’s Oh The Glory of It All, which was about Wilsey growing up with his socialite mother and the various ne’er-do-wells of San Francisco high society. I figured why not, the book was five dollars. When I was home that summer, I burned through it and it helped me through what was a difficult time. My mother read it and she loved it too. I forgot about Wilsey until yesterday when I saw this pop up in my Feedly, so now I’m excited to check out what he’s been up to in the years since his first and only book.
Ralph Waldo Emerson in Nature, a Penguin books Great Ideas series. Finished last Thursday.
I’m reading this for my current project, and it gave me so many ideas, it’s deeply felt and I don’t think I would have been able to really tackle it if I wasn’t surrounded by woods and mountains, and, well, nature.
This was an excellent interview. I especially like the last bit, about thirty three minutes in where Wallace talks about our interaction with screens and images and how we would rather interact with those than people.
Trailer for Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris. Directed by David Fincher.
I finished this last weekend and it’s completely deserving of the praise it gets.
What I enjoyed most about it was Gillian Flynn changing voices between the writing of Nick Dunne and his wife Amy Elliot. The style isn’t too different, but there are gender specific turns of phrase and slight differences that really make the characters pop. The opening half of the book is definitely some of the best first person character writing I’ve read in a long time. Like Amy’s insistence that she’s correct when she refers to things like “Nick and me (the correct grammar)” rather than Nick and I. This is the kind of personality Amy has, she’s always correct, perfect, and the best person all around. Amazing, and she is amazing.
One thing should be clear: these characters are amazing, but they are totally unlikable. They could be interpreted as constructs/commentaries on patriarchal and feminist ideologies. The point might be to show how both ideologies are justified but still lacking, because, simply, ideologies—like people—are flawed. To hold on to one is to come out empty in the end.
There’s a fine line there. My reading of this book suggests that if you’re a subscriber to either feminist or patriarchal ideology than you’re not seeing things completely.
The plot is simple: woman decides to burn her cheating husband, and pulls something off to get that man back in spades, but instead that man is not as simple as the woman thinks he is, and basically finds her out in no time at all. She’s buying into the archetype of the dumb, cheating husband. She’s not giving him enough credit, and he’s becoming exactly what she was hoping he would, and he’s finding out who his wife really is: a psychopath. Again, this is just my reading and perhaps isn’t accurate, or I’m reading too much into it, which wouldn’t be far off, but I think Flynn is saying that believers in ideologies want to be right all the time, in their assumptions, their beliefs, and in their actions, but that’s not going to happen. You’re going to come up short if you put too much stock in ideologies; you’ll have to settle for the ways things are, and you’re not going to get the revenge you want or what you think you deserve, but you’ll keep on telling yourself that you got what you wanted. When you did not. It’s a pessimistic book, but a good one, and deserving of the praise it gets. So far, it is my favorite book I’ve read this year.
Let’s all Get Awesome Jobs by Kevin Fanning (@kfan), finished yesterday.
I loved this. If there is anything more demoralizing, devaluing, and just plain reducing it’s finding a job. I get to do it every three months. Fanning’s good humor on this nightmare is a fresh perspective. His expertise as well as his cheerful manner is delightful. I would recommend this book to anyone who currently engaged in a job search. Some highlights:
“When they ask you to describe your weaknesses, use that as an opportunity to acknowledge the areas where you’re interested in improving.”
On networking: “People want to feel useful. They want to seem smart and successful, and they want other people to listen to their advice. It’s a trait all humans are born with, and you should exploit it.”
Most of all, believe that you are awesome and make a habit out of behaving that way.
“Schedule an hour a couple times a week and then just get through that that hour. Make your job search your habit, just the dumb thing you have to do every so often in order to get to the things you actually want to do…You have talents. If you’re smart about how you present yourself and thoughtful about how you conduct yourself in the process you will eventually find a company that recognizes you for the awesome person you are.”
— From Karen Russell’s Sleep Donation, a weird read. It was deeply creepy and funny though I was always reading it before bed, which is why it took me so long to finish reading it when it was just a novella. There were quite a few segments that led me to think that I was never going to sleep again, but that’s Russell’s point.
The digital only book is about a volunteer named Trish Edgewater and her work to acquire people’s sleep so it can be donated to insomniacs across the USA. She works for a Red Cross-like agency that travels household to household taking newborn babies’ sleep like Nurse Ratchett posing as the BFG.
Insomnia has run rampant through the country, like an STD, and there are “Night Worlds” where people use poppy flowers to fall asleep and mixologists create cocktails to help people stay awake and away from the Donor Y nightmare that’s wreaking havoc across the world. This nightmare is ”infecting people on airplanes” somehow. Sex is regarded as a “transaction” between sleep donation volunteers (?!)
There is some very nice writing in this, but it read like Russell wanted to wrap it up and there wasn’t enough to make a novel out of it so she buttoned it up quickly. There are, however, downright awesome ideas in this but it felt rushed.