Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo: George Saunders wrote a fine book that could have also been a fine short story but was a fine book afterall

Image result for "Lincoln in the bardo" cover

George Saunders's Booker Prize-winning book Lincoln in the Bardo is a powerfully good book. One of my favorite reads this year by far. 

The unique structure and the chops it took for Saunders to write so well and so distinctly in so many different voices while still maintaining the narrative was nothing short of miraculous. 

It had more funny moments than poignant, though, in case you've heard otherwise. Most of the heart of the book was in sections that went deeply into Abe Lincoln. It may sound strange, but Saunders, I think, invoked Day-Lewis's performance in Lincoln with those sections. They just felt dead on perfect. 

Now, although I loved that Saunders basically invented a new form to write this book, I will say that it did also up the page count, an important consideration for a short story writer's first attempt at a novel. With this in mind, I believe whole-heartedly that this novel could have worked, and worked better, as a longish short story. There's a lot of of open space on each page due to the breaks. Take out those breaks and you've got what most people would consider more of a novella, probably. I'm not sure. 

All in all, read this book. I don't really care if he was fluffing with breaks for length or not. It doesn't matter. The book still works beautifully and deserves the Booker, something I wasn't convinced of before reading it, to be perfectly honest. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

China Miéville might try too hard to not be understood

Image result for "Three Moments of an Explosion"I liked some of the stories in Three Moments of an Explosion, such as the story "A Second Slice Manifesto," but, most of the time, I found myself looking to see how many more pages I had until the next story. I always read collections straight through. I know if I don't then I'll never go back and read the ones that were too long or slow to get started, etc. 

In this book, I felt like Miéville tried too hard too often to be, I don't know, obscure in what he was giving the reader. It was like he used this technique we all know as writers how to use but just went way beyond what was needed. Some stories were insanely frustrating because of this. "The Design" comes immediately to mind. 

All in all I suspect he's a better novelist than a short story writer. If I read another of his it'll be Kraken I think. But it might be awhile. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Some Really Solid Writing Advice

Putting this here for remembering, but also because it may strike some of you in the same way it struck me. From the film Rebel in the Rye:

A scene with Salinger and his guru. It begins with a back and forth that may be the best explanation of why to write I've ever heard.

Salinger: I'm afraid I've lost my talent.

Guru: Do you write to show off your talent or to express what is in your heart?

Friday, June 1, 2018

For Yesterday, For Today

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

                                                                      - Jiddu Krishnamurti 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Electrocurrent #1

I don't know, I'm reading a lot and writing a lot. Reading Robert Coover but dipping into and away from his playfulness to read about the North Pond Hermit. That book is captivating. I beginning to think I may be more inclined to nonfiction these days. I don't know why. The more fiction I read the less I understand about what people are trying to say with their art, honestly. I'm beginning to think, you see, that literature might be transcendent. Not in some kind of young and innocent kind of way, the way I used to think I'd be able to make a living writing stories, but transcendent in the way that it's the only thing we can create that can live outside of all this. I sound crazy. Don't care. It's the only thing that can live outside all of this simulation, this whatever this is. Coover takes it seriously but he is compelled to be playful. Proust took it seriously but was consumed with his own sense of self-importance. From Proust to Coover I'm sure each writer has their own compulsion for doing what they do. But is it worthy? Is the time taken, the viewpoint taken, worthwhile? Is it worthy of immortality? Does is add a story to the human condition? Or maybe Coover and the postmodernists are right. Maybe it is all just farting around. I don't like to think so. I like to think that the writing of literature is truthful kind of miracle. When I'm moving sleekly in my compulsion, when I'm writing the same way I breathe, when I'm writing and I literally feel as if I have stepped out of this world and into some other kind of existence that goes beyond our ability to articulate in any other way but the written word, when I feel these electrocurrents I believe in something beautiful, even in the face of all this horror. I've learned while writing this that there's no way to articulate what I hope to say, not even with the written word. It's an unspoken perfection found only by those who sit down for hours and hours a day, day after day, and write. But I can tell you this, friends, it is transcendent. Try it and see. Write until you are floating and then keep writing. The stratosphere is amazing. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Band Marches On

There are still three stories I'm working to finish so I can put this latest collection to bed. Two haven't been started, but I have the bead down on them pretty good. The third will be done this evening.

The collection, which I've now, and with finality, titled Sway, is likely about a month from being completed.

I've been listening to some William Elliott Whitmore while finishing up this collection. In particular WEW's wonderful collaborative EP Hallways of Always. It's a good one, if you've not listened it. Also, for general stimulation, I've been hitting Hellbilly Deluxe. Rob Zombie has three masterpieces on that album, each one better than the last. Are they songs that became popular? Yes. But that doesn't always translate as pop.

Lincoln in the Bardo: George Saunders wrote a fine book that could have also been a fine short story but was a fine book afterall

George Saunders's Booker Prize-winning book  Lincoln in the Bardo  is a powerfully good book. One of my favorite reads this year ...