Infinite Jest

Doing a reading today, a Dead Authors thing, where we all take turns reading stuff from writers who died this year. I’ve got David Foster Wallace, and’ll of course be doing the aloud thing to some Infinite Jest. Too, it was cool: I wrote a friend, asked him what I should read, and one of the two passages he got back to me about was one I already had marked. So that one it’ll be.

Anyway, paging through again, and I remember buying this book. I was in Tallahassee at the time, deep in grad school but about to jet north to Montana for a week or so. However, first stop before the airport was this little bookstore I’d never been into, a long hall of a place, no clue about the name. I wasn’t there for Infinite Jest, though — I was late for that, really (I’m thinking this was 97) — but Mason & Dixon. Which I quickly nabbed. On the way to the counter, though, there was this blue cardboard fold-up little display stand thing, with this big brick of a blue book on it. With clouds on the cover. I couldn’t help myself, I had to read it a bit. And then it was like, I don’t know, is ‘kismet’ the word that means something like ‘serendipity?’ Then why not just say serendipity, yeah (because it always reminds me of dragons, that word, I don’t know why). Anyway, either on the dustjacket of Infinite Jest (I don’t know; first thing for me is always getting rid of the useless, useless dustjacket, so I don’t have that anymore, now) or from talking to somebody at the same shelf, they told me that this David Foster Wallace, he was outPynchoning Pynchon. Which of course had to be a joke. But of course, too, I had to see for myself. So I charged both of them, am probably still paying for them. Happily. Too, I was lot tougher back then. I slammed through Mason & Dixon in something like three days, then spent the rest of the week in Infinite Jest. Good times, good times. I was stuck in Bozeman with it, I think. Snowed in close to a McDonald’s. Charged some excellent boots that week as well, which I would have paid for twice over.

read more

Colored Chalk: Sins of the Father

New story up over there, “These Amber Waves of Grain”. Good company. I wrote it the same sitting almost with that “‘Tis the Season,” in Passages North. And with one I always forget to try to get published, about an archery accident / nipplebotomy (or, not -botomy, yeah, but I don’t know the right-sounding suffix for ‘amputation,’ though I suspect it’s ‘excision’-related, and it’s not only about that, but about a dog too, and a son, of course. A father. But aren’t they all).

read more


I’d guess we’ve all got holes in our reading. Which I’m likely saying just to make myself feel better, yeah. Anyway, Faulkner, say. I’ve read maybe five of his novels? But I don’t feel bad about that either, because I was pretty bored about two novels in. And Hemingway, man. Only made it through two there, and wish I could scrub those out. And, probably only thinking this because I was at Powell’s last week. Both sad I hadn’t read a lot of the stuff and happy too, because I still had it to read. The best invention, I think, it’s going to be one that can burrow into our memories, erase certain books, just so we can read them again. I mean, to read Catch-22 for the first time again. Or The Crying of Lot 49. The Virgin Suicides. Love Medicine. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Deliverance. Ubik. It. I’d pay for that, yeah.

read more

Too/two fast

Links, that is:

— in the mail today, the French version of Native Storiers. Five stories from Bleed Into Me in it.

— the flyer for Wednesday in Portland. Which I really thought I’d linked already, but the world’s a confusing place . . .

Anyway, hopefully HEROES and TERMINATOR are both new tonight. Just bought another bike too. Becuase, yeah, that’s just what I need. Like this hasn’t already been a weekend of painkillers and muscle relaxers and whatever else I could find. [ just noticing, actually, that I guess the weekend’s over, been that way for a day or so. in defense, though, that/this was a very smeary day for me — the high point being THE ORPHANAGE, which is just so, so cool ]

read more

Palahniuk & Bond


The only connection there being that I’m writing about both of them now: hit RANT the other day, and, like SNUFF, I really dug it. I’m liking the direction he’s going lately. Anyway, I guess that’s the complete text of my review there, ‘I dug it,’ but, specifically, and all spoilerly, so watch out, he does a move in RANT which is just so, so slick. But again, don’t read this if you haven’t read RANT. Anyway, there’s this one part where Echo’s telling Rant’s story a bit, saying how Rant’s dad told him to specifically look for her, when it’s impossible either of them could, at the point, even know her, which already gets our narrative suspicions tingling, but then the immediate follow-up to that is somebody else, I forget who, but somebody close to her, he says not to believe a word she says. And that’s so, so wonderful, as it introduces an element of uncertainty into the story. The illusion so far’s been that all these voices speaking at once, there’s authority there, as they’re not conradicting each other. But now there’s this kind of internal conflict just in the storytelling. Which just amps everything up fastlike. But he’s not done yet, either: later in the story, the text ‘gains back’ its seemingly lost authority by using the very questionable science of (possibly real, possibly not) time travel to ‘allow’ what Echo had said to be true. It’s a very, very slick move. Only thing I’ve seen even somewhat close is in DAVE THE BARBARIAN, when Chuckles the Silly Piggy, tired of being foiled again and again, just kidnaps the show’s narrator, makes him narrate it such that Chuckles is finally on top.

read more

Thus Spake Pumpkinhead

Don’t know if everybody’s been keeping up, but over at Popmatters Marco Lanzagorta (of the never uncool “Dread Reckoning“) has been doing a Night of the Living Dead fortieth anniversay essay collection the last five days. Some ridiculously cool stuff, including a little intro from Romero. Anyway, got a piece up there today, as a Happy Halloween trick. Title / link: “The Kind of Murder Happy Characters We Have Here.” About, um, you guessed it: zombies. Too, the illustration they gave me’s so cool, so perfect. Would nab it, paste it up here, but you need to get yourself over to Popmatters, just see it all.

read more