Saturday, April 30, 2011

just how the fragments work

Books! I have finished some while procrastinating on editing my own.

The Disinformation Phase, Chris Toll.
Great stuff here. Chris' poetry is full of addictive word games (lots of "who put the [word] in the [larger word]") and odd/charming images. I kept picturing the scenic artwork from Machinarium while I read this book, which is a pairing I don't fully understand yet. Maybe it's because Chris' poems hint at a communicative dystopia without losing the twinkle in their eye. Or something. I could just be weird.

alt.punk, by Lavinia Ludlow
Be warned, there is a lot of barf and semen in this book. Not physically in the book itself, but in the story of a germ-phobic suburbanite whose journey towards independence (for good or ill) means unshackling herself from the various controls over her life - her mother, her job, her fears. Naturally, this process has to involve numerous bodily fluids. Like any punk band worth remembering, alt.punk plays too fast and too hard and exhausts itself at points throughout, but the book's charm lies in all that effort, that sheer cussedness. And the parallel stories of the main character's developing self-reliance and her budding rock star boyfriend's plummet into complete dependence don't get lost in the telling - rather, they shine because of it. I really enjoyed this, and I'm proud of my friend for writing it.

Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt, Ken Sparling
Bought this at AWP and had a couple of false starts before diving in - I think the micro-episodic scene structure intimidated me or something. I also know jack all squat about parenting, which is the focus of this book. But Sparling knows how to build tension in small, subtle movements, and the main character's mounting frustration with having to be "on" all the time, his distant relationship with his wife, and his ranting private arguments with the author/himself assemble themselves as a surprisingly riveting narrative. The ending is a little sudden and flags in comparison to the middle and near-end of the rest of the novel, but this is still one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time, both for style and content.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

contrary to the others

Apologies for the lack of updates - this semester is dragging its belly towards the finish line, leaving me with precious little time to do much more than homework and empty my cat's litter box. But I do have a few random thoughts that I may expand in future postings if I remember/feel like it/am not dead or crazy from exhaustion by then.

People have FEELINGS about memoirs. It's probably a bad sign that whenever I hear the word memoir I think of vacuous celebrity ghostwriter jobs or boring hipsters waxing on about their bad relationships and wacky relatives. Especially because there are a couple of memoirs that I really like, namely Mick Foley's 500-page whale of a book that I bought the day it came out and still revisit today. Good/bad memoirs and good/bad novels share a lot of the same characteristics, so maybe the issue is that I find "memoirists" in writing programs to be extremely off-putting and just project that feeling onto memoirs as a whole.

This future/death of the novel stuff needs to stop for a while. It's just navel-gazing at this point, since no one really has any idea how to answer the question beyond a few limp intellectual poses.

Chris Toll's The Disinformation Phase is a damn fine book of poems. I'll definitely have more on that later, but yeah. Good book.

I thought I had more than this. Oh well. Back to the screenplay, I s'pose.