As scanned injudiciously from the current Wired! :
Category Archives: bookish
Well, ‘new,’ I don’t know — I’m just seeing them anyway. And one I’ve been waiting for, I don’t know, feels like ever, but a few months anyway:
Really, just two passages I’ve stumbled onto these last couple of days. The first is from Eric Miles Williamson, a guy I really respect because he can seriously write. On the editorial board of some mystery-press a couple of years ago, I read a book of his in manuscript which I still think of just a whole lot, and wish I’d kept my copy of. Can’t even remember the title of it, even. But it really got to me. Anyway, East Bay Grease is of course what he’s known for, but none of that’s what I’m doing right now, here. This is all I’m doing — pulling a chunk from this piece he did for the LA Times:
Man, except for re-hitting ReAnimator the other day — and maybe even including it — Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon is far and away the best horror I’ve seen all year. Best I’ve seen since Feast, really.* And Feast is that holy kind of good for me. The only time I plan on being this horror-movie happy anytime soon is come fall, when we get the sure-to-be-beautiful All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Cannot wait for that one.** Though I do suspect I’m going to have to.
As part of my quest to not write any reviews, either book or movie, I submit this by way just of suggestion: William J. Cobb‘s Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled Books, who, going by this, man, they produce some seriously clean books. And pretty too. If I’m not mistaken, they even commissioned the painting for the cover here. A press to watch, I’d say. Them and Dzanc and Chiasmus).
“In a great turnaround, upstart Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, billed as something of an homage to The Omega Man‘s Charlton Heston, whom McCarthy once did stunt-work for, but owing more probably to Walter Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Liebowitz, managed to steal the 2007 Pulitzer for fiction from — “
Okay, sorry. Just figured out that any book I put in there’s either going to be insulting that book or trying to pull down The Road. Neither of which I want to do. And putting Demon Theory there’d be almost as cheap as just mentioning it here.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr: no more. Gone. Maybe like Billy Pilgrim, though, he’s just rollercoasting back and forth through it all now. Laughing. Hope so, anyway.
Which, I’m finding, aren’t at all the same as my five favorite books. Ridiculous, yes? Wish I had some fix for that, or at least an explanation, or suspicion. I mean, it’s kind of presupposing some major disconnect between intensity and . . . I don’t know: appreciation? Revisitability? Not some Pirsig-ish ‘quality,’ I don’t think. But who knows. Anyway, today, were I picking my five favorite-ever books, they’d look something like this:
Man, turns out Only Revolutions, at 360 pages, was an easy read, yeah? I mean, as compared to three million pages. But it is Richard Grossman, so maybe three million pages is just the right amount [ see below ]. As some of y’all know, I’m always pushing that seventy-page sentence fragment from his The Book of Lazarus as maybe the most beautiful piece of prose in the English language (like I know any other languages — it just sounds ‘grand’ to qualify it like that, I guess). At least that piece of writing which I’m most jealous of. Anyway, cue the trumpets, here’s the blockquote:
What I wrote after (finally) reading Ben Marcus’s piece in Harper’s on Jonathan Franzen and experimental fiction
[ the title and the whole piece here may not make much sense–it may not anyway–without cueing into TheValve.org, which, it looks like, may have the orignial Marcus article in PDF ]
Just what is experimental fiction, then?
The easiest definition for experimental or innovative or non-conventional fiction is fiction that, both at armslength and upon closer inspection, doesn’t look or read at all like standard, mainstream, commercial fiction. A more biased definition would be ‘fiction that takes chances.’ The other side of that, of course, would be ‘fiction that doesn’t sell.’ Take them both together, and what you have is ‘Fiction that plays enough with form or language or narrative syntax that, quite often, it loses the audience altogether.’ The ‘innovative’ writer’s response to this will often be that it’s not their job to spoonfeed their story out in easily digestible bites—that the real corruption here is an audience that feels entitled to ‘easy’ stories; the ‘mainstream’ writers will counter that, really, it’s not all that hard to make your story difficult to swallow. The hard part, actually, is making it not only edible, but sweet enough that the reader will want more and more.