An aspiring author confronts the literary demons of the world and sets off in search of an agent.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Deadening Sensation

A friend of mine is taking a course at Georgetown University that takes an analytical, structural look at literature. She was explaining how the professor analyzed and broke down the sentence structure used by Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises. As I listened, I had curiously conflicting reactions: at the intellectual level it was interesting...but at the gut level, the place from which my writing and imagination pours forth, it felt deadening.

Why this reaction?

The answer lies in an observation by Robert Pirsig from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:  “When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process. That is fairly well understood, at least in the arts. Mark Twain's experience comes to mind, in which, after he had mastered the analytic knowledge needed to pilot the Mississippi River, he discovered the river had lost its beauty. Something is always killed.”

Something is always killed...that explains the deadening sensation.

'nuff said!

Friday, January 28, 2011

What the iPad taught me about dealing with criticism

Writers, aspiring and successful, have to deal with criticism...often lots of it. I've considered shopping for an electric cattle prod, or even a quality used flame thrower, to ward off such unwarranted (in my mind, at least) aspersions and fault-finding. Well, I read the following piece about the nitpicking, know-it-all, nay saying nimrods who knocked the iPad when it was first launched. 

  • "Maybe underwhelming isn't the right word," wrote Engadget editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky. "Unimaginative might be more accurate..."
  • Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik called the iPad "less than revolutionary" and "underwhelming."
  • Adam Frucci at Gizmodo wrote a scathing early review, titled "8 Things That Suck About the iPad."
  • Monica Guzman, with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, took issue with the device's name... "the 'iPad' name seems at worst odd, and at best -- just a little bit funny."
(The above is from the Huffington Post.)

For the record, Apple has sold nearly 15 million iPads. So much for the critics! Still, I wonder if I can get a Cattle Prod app for my iPad...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Censoring Mark Twain

Regarding the censoring of Huckleberry Finn, Bill Maher has the final word!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Haiku as Query Letter

On two previous occasions, I imagined various authors using Haiku by Basho for their query letters (first post, second post). This time we'll try the Haiku of Chiyo-ni.

to tangle or untangle
the willow---
it's up to the wind
     The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

morning glory -
the truth is
the flower hates people
     The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

green leaves or fallen leaves
become one---
in the flowering snow
     Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

purple cloud
isn't it the same color
as the iris?
     The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 From the mind
of a single, long vine
one hundred opening lives
     Sideways by Rex Pickett

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Rereading Challenge

 Curiously enough, one cannot read a book:
one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader,
an active and creative reader is a rereader...
                                                Vladimir Nabokov

Reading challenges seem to be popular: bloggers post a list of the new books they wish to read during the coming year. In the spirit of Nabokov, I've set a different challenge: a list of books I wish to reread in 2011. 

In no particular order, they are:

- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- Blindness by Jose Saramago
- Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry
- Night by Elie Wisel
- The Essential Fantastic Four, vol. 2 by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
- An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
- Something, anything by Ray Bradbury!

'nuff said!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Can a Book Save Your Life?

From the folks at Electric Literature!


If you had to choose one song (continued)...

In an earlier post, I asked: if you had to choose one song upon which to base a novel, which song would you choose? My choice at that time was Black Horse and a Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall.

Call me fickle, but I've been watching the Wallander TV series which is introduced with a haunting song featuring a beautiful Aussie voice. The song is Nostalgia by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo.

Here are the lyrics:

Tram wires cross Melbourne skies
Cut my red heart in two
My knuckles bleed down Johnston street
On a door that shouldn’t be in front of me

Twelve thousand miles away from your smile

I’m twelve thousand miles away from me
Standing on the corner of Brunswick
Got the rain coming down and mascara on my cheek

Oh whisper me words in the shape of a bay

Shelter my love from the wind and the rain

Crow fly be my alibi

And return this fable on your wing
Take it far away to where gypsies play
Beneath metal stars by the bridge

Oh write me a beacon so I know the way

Guide my love through night and through day

Only the sunset knows my blind desire for the fleeting

Only the moon understands the beauty of love
When held by a hand like the aura of nostalgia