Saturday, May 21, 2011

of great value to the community

"We don’t need critics obsessed with the real, or with whether the novel is alive or dead. We need critics willing to look at the novels that are already out there, going about their business, quietly making the future of literature, whether “we” like it or not."
--taken from Jess Row's The Novel Is Not Dead

"In order to prevent the fabric of elite art society from being torn apart by the rampant proliferation of the contemporary artist, a specific modus operandi must be introduced into the institutional framework of art schools so as to control and shape the former’s behaviour and functional purpose. That is, through systematic inculcation of the institution’s ethos contemporary artists are manufactured en masse as purveyors of meaninglessness, instruments of obfuscation that safeguard and conceal the locus of the elite from the bewildered eyes of the vapid, homogenous masses."
--taken from David McGill's The Death of Modern Art

Have fun with all that. I got some very encouraging feedback on the finished draft of my screenplay (and considering what inspired it, that's no small thing), and the novel is humming along nicely. Creatively speaking, life's pretty good right now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

those twin engines of all

So yeah, I finished Jane Borden's I Totally Meant to Do That recently, and because my own life is incredibly dull and full of apathy and pantslessness/frenzied productivity that I can't put into words, I will talk about this book. I actually bought it from her when she read from it at Atomic Books, and was pleasantly surprised to find that she's from my hometown. My write-up of the event kinda turned into a book review, so I'll try not to pull too much from it.

Jane's book is pretty much a memoir based around the transition from her debutante North Carolina upbringing (where my Catholic family wouldn't have been welcome) to her current semi-hipsterish life in NYC. Books like this get written all the time, but Jane is actually funny, which makes the familiar premise much easier to get into. It's also amusing to me that her parents wouldn't let her go anywhere near UNCG or Guilford College, while I spent a lot of time in those areas as a sullen black-clothes-wearing asshole teenager. Anyway, DigBoston.com's review of this book calls it "a crisis of location," which is exactly what's happening here - Jane spends a lot of time trying to figure out which culture she belongs to, searching for pieces of one in the other, and interestingly presents NYC as a city full of classless hedonists compared to the more elegant South of her youth. Given the South's cultural legacy in this country, that's a nice inversion of stereotypes on Jane's part.

I also, finally, finished The Intuitionist, which I skimmed in college and always wanted to go back and read again. It was Colson Whitehead's first novel, and it's excellent, creating an urban noir atmosphere fueled by the labyrinthine politics of elevator manufacturing and inspection, which are also an allegory for racial uplift. Whitehead's talent is creating a truly speculative setting that feels strange and unreal, but also plausible. In a world where speculative fiction = gimmicky nerd-pandering most of the time, his approach is really nice to see. He also commands a lot of vivid imagery throughout, even in sections that feel a little expository or overwritten - rush hour traffic doesn't always need a metaphor, ya know? But that's a minor quibble, and I think I'll be reading Sag Harbor, his most recent novel, once I get through some other ones.

And, y'know, once I bash my own novel into shape. It's getting there - a few troublesome characters are smoothing out, and I've gotten some good work in this week, with more to come. Progress!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

glass under human teeth

My semester is done! The screenplay is turned in, the final graphic design project has been graded, and now I have the summer to finish revising the novel and get some other projects doing. Finally. I was beginning to think I'd never see this day.

I also contributed some more artwork to The Light Ekphrastic, where I was paired with awesome experimental poet Catherine Maire. I'm not what you'd call a brilliant artist, but I did the best I could and messed around with two different styles - the first image is hand-drawn (and badly photographed), while the second is a digital collage.

Also, I sent my buddy Lavinia Ludlow a .pdf copy of Gouts of Angry Mist - her response-blurb is on my Praise... page with the others. And I might be a featured reader at Artichoke Haircut's next reading here in Harm City - I read during the open mic portion of their last event, and they must have liked me, because one of their editors offered it to me on the spot. More updates on that as they occur.

Now then, sleep! I'll post about Jane Borden's book, which I just finished, next time around.