Weekly Roundup

13 07 2008

I’m too tired to come up with an interesting title this week.  We saw Tom Petty last night and after standing on concrete for two hours (and stayig up late) I’m wiped out.  I don’t want to move off the couch.  so let’s begin…

In comics, beyond the pile I always have (which my local comic book guy said was a sign of my problem), Secret Invasion 4 came out this week and the cross over keeps getting better and better. Usually with a Marvel summer cross over I can figure that things will be the same at the end but with this one, I’m not sure. It’s really quite good. Some other thoughts on comics this week include:

In movies, the AVClub has finally recognized the greatest achievement in film history… Roadhouse.

In music, Electricity & Lust has released a list of their favorite albums since the year of their birth. I might have to try that. Check it out here. I agree with a good number of the choices.

In books, the Times highlighted The Size of the World, by Joan Silber. It looks worth picking up, but I’m a sucker for short fiction.

In television, I’ve TiVo’d the first installment of HBO’s Generation Kill, I’m lookign forward to it.

That’s it for now. I’ll write more once I recover.


Quiet Week

22 06 2008

Once I finished the The Corrections it’s been a pretty quiet week. I tried to plow through a bit of my pile of old New Yorkers and basically picked over articles and stories. Nothing too exciting. So here goes nothing:

In short-fiction, I did read a few things. Like I said, I’m chipping away at a pile of New Yorkers and a few One-Story issues. I also started The Boat by Nam Le (so far it’s fantastic).

In not-so-short fiction, Shannon tells you to go read The Hobbit.

In music, Guns ‘N Roses’ long awaited album was leaked for like 13 minutes this week on the interwebs. I write a little about it over here.

  • Also, I keep meaning to link over to Plain or Pan? a really great music website from a Scot with a huge collection of stuff.

In television, the AVClub interviews Billy West of Futurama and Ren & Stimpy fame. I, however, was introduced to him via the Howard Stern show where he did such imitations as Marge Schott and The Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley.

In links, the following sub-finds…

  • I found Wordspy a site that introduces you to newly coined phrases.
  • In art, I found a site this week that gives you cheap options for art. It’s called 20×200 and gives you the option of buying a $20, $200, or $2,000 version of the same piece. My problem is that I think some of the pictures from my vacation are better and I can’t figure out how to sell them here!
  • Not so much art as photography, I did try a very cool site affiliated with Flickr this week. It’s called MOO and enables you to make postcards, notecards, mini-cards, etc. from your own pics stored on Flickr. I’ll let you know what I think when I get the first pics back.

I’m behind on comics and don’t have anything to report this week. Hopefully I’ll attack the pile this week and have something to report back on.  Hope all are having a good summer.

Raymond Carver

20 01 2008

As with most of my reading I’m catching up on issues of The New Yorker. In the Christmas/New Year’s issue (aka the Winter Fiction Issue) there is an interesting collection of pieces about the short fiction author Raymond Carver.

I read some of his work in the short fiction classes I took as an undergraduate. Bob Olmstead (the Writer in Residence at the time) told us a few stories about his first classes with Carver at Syracuse University. The encouragement to keep writing, but never really seeing him that semester. Those stories along with his writing stick with me now, nearly 15 years later.

The New Yorker articles discuss the role of Carver’s editor Gordon Lish in helping him craft his stories and collections, cutting down nearly 40% in some cases. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the workings of how fiction ends up on your plate so to speak. Even better, they include a number of letter from Carver discussing the edits. What comes out of it gives the reader a glimpse of who the author was and the discipline he poured into his work. Writing, writing, writing until every bit of him was tied into it.

Read the full article here
Read the letters here

Most interesting read the story Beginners here. What’s very cool about this is that the New Yorker has put the original up against the edits in the same document. One thing I took away from those fiction workshops was that a good editor could do more than clean up your mistakes, they could add punch. They had distance that the author doesn’t have and can see things in a new light.

When I read the original and the edits on the same page I find myself drawn to the newer version, the collaboration. Why? It brings us from being told to being shown. It leaves less said and more to my imagination. Through omission, we get so much more about the characters. The empty spaces in our own lives fill in the empty spaces in theirs. The tension that Carver writes into his last section of the story is punched home in two or three sentences by the editor.

Carver’s widow, Tess Gallagher is pushing to have some of the stories re-released as Carver had originally written. I think it would be more interesting to see the original and the edit side-by-side. Let’s see how they endure.

New Yorker Short Fiction

7 01 2008

A few conversations of late, plus an article sent to me by Shannon has made me think a bit about The New Yorker’sshort fiction as of late. To be honest, I’ve found it to be rather flat and boring. Occasionally the magazine will feature an author I like or a new, interesting story, but I’ve found more often than not I am bored. I am bored with the stories by the end of the first paragraph. For a while I thought this was a bad thing, a sign of decreasing quality. Now I’m not so sure.

Shannon and I have a theory on books. If I like them a lot, she usually dislikes them (and vice versa). She posited a theory this weekend in that we both have very strong styles of fiction that we prefer. That being said, I suspect that my problems with the New Yorker stem from their efforts to expose their readers to a wide variety of fiction and styles. While that might not be a great “a ha!” moment, I suspect that there is a method to their so-called madness.

Shannon sent me an article today that briefly discusses the fiction in the New Yorker. What is really interesting is that someone out there has taken the time to actually catalog a bit about the stories and their authors. You can read about it and find the link here. One person commented that they think the New Yorker is going after more foreign writers or those discussing immigrant stories.

For more short fiction, check out One Story Magazine. I’m terribly behind in my reading of them, but the magazine is what it says. The stories more often than not are excellent.